Uneven Treatment, Uneven Coverage

As a former New Englander, I remember when Rhode Island representative Patrick J. Kennedy was driven home in Washington, D. C. after a small automobile accident. His spokespeople reported that he was taking sleeping pills and had suffered side effects. There were other drug-related incidents, and Representative Kennedy eventually entered a short rehabilitation program for OxyContin use. He was re-elected until 2010, when he decided not to run for office.

Fast forward to 2013.

On January 27, 2014, the Christian Science Monitor reported:

US Rep. Trey Radel (R) of Florida, a once-rising star in the tea party movement, resigned from Congress on Monday, following a November conviction of cocaine possession.

Congressman Radel pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of narcotics possession in November, after he was caught Oct. 29 trying to buy 3.5 grams of cocaine from an undercover federal agent in Washington’s Dupont Circle area. During his trial, he reportedly told Judge Robert Tignor that he had “hit a bottom” and realized that he needs help. Radel was sentenced to a one-year probation and a $250 fine.

The story was widely reported.

Today, this story was reported in the Huffington Post:

Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) will resign his seat Tuesday, a source familiar with the situation told The Huffington Post. The congressman will hold a press conference at 11:30 to make the announcement.

The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported that Andrews was leaving to take a job at a Philadelphia law firm.

Andrews is the subject of a House Ethics Committee investigation over whether he improperly spent campaign cash to pay for personal trips to Scotland and Los Angeles, and over allegations that he used a graduation party for his daughter to raise funds. His legal bills have risen as a result of the investigation.

A resignation would likely end the ethics investigation against him.

The story also appears at ABC News, but Representative Andrews political party is not mentioned in that version of the story.

Above are some examples of why we need alternative media.

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Things Are Not Always What They Appear To Be

On Wednesday Breitbart.com reported that actress Scarlett Johansson has resigned her role as “ambassador” for Oxfam International after the global charity criticized her for appearing in a Sodastream commercial that was prepared for the Super Bowl. Sodastream has a factory in Ma’ale Adumim, an eastern suburb of Jerusalem (the area referred to as the West Bank). The entire concept of the West Bank as Arab territorial is not historical (see rightwinggranny.com), but that discussion can continue at some point in the future.

It gets more interesting. Breitbart reports:

Though it is widely understood that Ma’ale Adumim and its roughly 40,000 residents would remain part of Israel in any likely peace agreement with the Palestinians, Palestinians have long opposed its construction and continue to demand its removal. Sodastream, like other Israeli companies, has been criticized for several years by the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Oxfam has not officially endorsed the BDS movement, but openly opposes trade with Israeli companies doing business in the West Bank.

But sometimes international organizations do not represent the view of the people they claim to represent. Yesterday the Christian Science Monitor reported:

The Jewish actress’s promotion of the company in a Superbowl ad has propelled an international campaign to boycott the home sodamaker and today forced the actress to step down as a global ambassador for the humanitarian agency Oxfam.

But those most familiar with the factory – Palestinians who work there – largely side with Ms. Johansson.

“Before boycotting, they should think of the workers who are going to suffer,” says a young man shivering in the pre-dawn darkness in Azzariah, a West Bank town cut off from work opportunities in Jerusalem by the concrete Israeli separation wall. Previously, he earned 20 shekels ($6) a day plucking and cleaning chickens; now he makes nearly 10 times that at SodaStream, which also provides transportation, breakfast, and lunch.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a website called 14u is reporting that the Sodastream ad intended to be played during the Super Bowl has been revised and will be played during the Super Bowl. Just for the record, I own a Sodastream and love it!

Before calling for a boycott, it is a good idea to make sure you are not hurting the same people you claim to be supporting.

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The Obvious Answer Is Not Always The Best One

First the Saturday People, then the Sunday People. That is an example of graffiti found in Muslim countries around the world. We are now seeing that idea acted out in Egypt. The Jewish population has already been driven out, now the Muslim Brotherhood is going after the Christians. There are two stories up at the Drudge Report this morning that illustrate that principle in action.

One of those stories was posted yesterday in the U.K. Mail. The story relates the story of an Islamist mob in Egypt that attacked a Christian school, knocked the cross off the gate, and paraded the nuns from the school through the streets as prisoners of war.

The article reports:

Police told Sister Manal that the nuns had been targeted by hardline Islamists, convinced that they had given Muslim children an inappropriate education.

‘We are nuns. We rely on God and the angels to protect us,’ she said. ‘At the end, they paraded us like prisoners of war and hurled abuse at us as they led us from one alley to another without telling us where they were taking us.’

Siblings Wardah and Bedour, two Christian women employed by the school, also found themselves having to fight their way through the mob while being groped, hit and insulted by the extremists.

So far two Christians have been killed since the military-backed government moved against protesters calling for former president Mohamed Morsi’s reinstatement.

And dozens of churches, homes and businesses owned by Christians have been attacked and razed to the ground.

The second story, from The Christian Science Monitor, was also posted yesterday.

That article reports:

The Saint Virgin Mary church in Al Nazla is one of 47 churches and monasteries that have been burned, robbed, or attacked since Aug. 14 in a wave of violence against Christians since the brutal police crackdown on the former president’s supporters, according to Ishak Ibrahim of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. He adds that dozens of Christian schools, other religious buildings, homes and shops have also been attacked and burned, and seven Christians killed. Police have done little to stop the attacks.

The victims say the attackers are Morsi supporters angered by the deaths in Cairo, and spurred on by Islamist rhetoric blaming Christians for Morsi’s ouster. The attacks are a realization of the long-held fears of many Christians and have prompted deep worry about widening religious violence in Egypt.

Had President Morsi remained in power in Egypt, these events would have been condoned by the Egyptian government. Although the bloodshed in Egypt is horrendous and will probably continue for a while, there would have been bloodshed if President Morsi had remained in office. A parallel to the coup in Egypt would have been a coup that ousted Hitler shortly after he came to power. Would the world have supported the leaders of that coup? That is the choice we are faced with.

This is not the time to deny aid to Egypt’s military. Egypt’s military will eventually bring stability to Egypt. It would not be wise for the United States to alienate them–they support peace with Israel, they keep the Suez Canal available to American warships, etc. I know our law says we will not give aid to a country after a coup, but we need to look at what this coup removed. The Obama Administration has had a habit of making up laws as they go along and ignoring the actual law. In this case that would be a good idea.

To deny aid to Egypt at this time would be a serious mistake in foreign policy.

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Amazing Logic

On Friday The Christian Science Monitor posted an article explaining why President Obama’s economic proposal contained a large amount of stimulus spending.

The article reports:

The argument in favor of such stimulus? The tax measures, at least, could minimize the drag on the economy from Mr. Obama’s proposed tax increases on the wealthy.

This is an amazing statement. Why increase taxes on the wealthy if you know that it will slow down an already struggling economy? How is going deeper into debt going to solve the deficit problem? The logic behind this policy amazes me.

The story goes on to outline the rest of President Obama’s proposal. After reading the details, my question is, “What part of out of money don’t you understand?” I hope there is a grownup somewhere in Washington who will make the case for cutting spending and be willing to stand his ground.

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What Has Happened To America?

This is a picture of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula being led away from his house in California to be questioned by federal officials. Mr. Nakoula is said to be the person who created the anti-Islam film that is incorrectly being blamed for the current riots in the Middle East. This picture is from Power Line.

The picture is disturbing.

On Saturday, the Christian Science Monitor reported:

Just after midnight Saturday morning – his face and head covered – a man identified as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was taken from his home in Cerritos, Calif., by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies for what law enforcement officials described as a “voluntary interview.”

Do the police routinely come to anyone’s house in the middle of the night for a ‘voluntary interview’? To be fair, Mr. Nakoula was on probation for a crime involving the Internet and was not supposed to use the Internet. However, this does seem a bit like using an atomic bomb to swat a fly. We do have free speech in America, don’t we?



We Don’t Have A Solution, But We Need To Acknowledge That There Is A Problem

Yesterday the Christian Science Monitor posted an article about the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) held in Tehran, Iran, which ended Friday. The summit was attended by 120 countries.

The Obama Administration has consistently claimed that the sanctions the United States has placed on Iran have isolated the country and will slow down the Iranian quest for a nuclear weapon. I don’t think a country that has been successfully isolated could host a conference of 120 nations. It is also disturbing to me that that conference included both Afghanistan and Egypt.

The article reported the positives and the negatives of the summit:

The US pressured NAM members not to go to Tehran, but many countries nevertheless “sent their highest delegates – their head of state, kings, prime ministers,” noted Mr. Zibakalam (Sadegh Zibakalam of Tehran University). “So I think…Iran can justifiably say, ‘I have scored some points against the United States and Israel.”

That view was countered by Mehdi Khalaji of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“What Iran does not want to admit [is] that many of these countries that participated in this summit, they are not non-aligned anymore, they have close relationships with the United States, countries like Saudi [Arabia]…like Bahrain, they do not have good relations with Iran,” Mr. Khalaji told AJE.

“The fact that many countries participated in this summit doesn’t mean that Iran can make up [for] its political isolation,” said Khalaji. “Iran has to look for [a] real solution for its problem, instead of focusing on propaganda and public diplomacy.”

Both were on display in Tehran during the two-day summit meeting.

“They put the cars of the murdered scientists in front of the venue, then they had a special press briefing from the families of the murdered scientists,” says the European diplomat. “They were feeding the media all these stories, ‘We are the victims here, and we are getting killed,’ which done with a slightly lighter touch may have worked. But they’ve just overdone it.”

“Instead, coming out of Iran were stories that this was not a successful conference for the Iranians, because the two issues they didn’t want to talk about were talked about from the very beginning, right at the top: the nuclear dossier and Syria.

The longer the Iranian nuclear program goes unchecked, the more dangerous the world becomes. I have no idea what the solution is to the Iranian nuclear threat, but I suspect that killing their scientists and introducing computer viruses into their software is more effective than the current sanctions. I don’t want to see a war in the Middle East, but unless Iran is stopped, we are going to have one.

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But I Like Brownies !

Monday is the day the agency I work for makes ...

Monday is the day the agency I work for makes good chocolate chip cookies. The rest of the time it's hit or miss on over cooking them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday the Christian Science Monitor posted a story about the ban on bake sales in Massachusetts schools which will go into effect in August.

The article reports:

In Massachusetts, a state law that becomes effective in August will limit access to junk food (including bake sale treats) at schools from a half-hour before the school day until a half-hour after it ends, according to local news reports this week. New guidelines from the state Department of Public Health go further, encouraging schools to apply the nutrition standards at all times.

Has it occurred to anyone that home-baked goods might be healthier than some of the store-bought desserts these students are bringing from home? How come twenty years ago we did not have the obesity problems we have now and we had bake sales whenever we wanted them (and you could bring cupcakes to class on your child’s birthday)? What changed that created the obesity problems we have now? Bake sales didn’t change–they happened then and they happen now (at least until August). What are some of the things that did change? Schools have cut or limited recess. Dodge ball is now illegal. Tag on the playground is now illegal.

Has anyone thought to look at the restrictions we have put on physical activity during the day and the impact that might have on our children? I understand that many children are playing video games when they come home from school rather than going out and play, but that is between the children and the parents–the school (or the government) should not control the behavior of children at home. 

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There Is No Way This Is Going To End Well

The U.K. Guardian reported today that Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak has stated that it may soon be too late for a military strike on Iran.

The article states:

But the veteran politician also publicly acknowledged the extent of debate and disagreement within Israel’s political and military echelons over the merits of a military strike.

He told an international conference in Herzliya, Israel, on Thursday: “The world today has no doubt that the Iranian military nuclear programme is slowly but surely reaching the final stages and will enter the immunity stage, from which point the Iranian regime will be able to complete the programme without any effective intervention and at its convenience.”

At that point it would be impractical to attack, he said.

Yesterday The Christian Science Monitor posted an article by Reza Kahlili (a former CIA spy in Iran) explaining why negotiations with Iran will not work. In his article he describes the five reasons that he believes that war with Iran should be avoided.

Some highlights from Mr. Kahlili’s article in The Christian Science Monitor:

I explained that the very ideology of Iran’s Islamic leaders was the sole reason for no progress in a negotiated settlement. They simply would not close an honest deal with infidels.

… I was working for the CIA in Europe then when my American handler told me to consider the more moderate Rafsanjani, by then president, as the new king of Iran. This despite information I had passed on about Iran’s involvement in the 1988 Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland – and despite the fact that Rafsanjani and other regime leaders were involved in worldwide terrorism and assassination. The elder Bush’s efforts at negotiation failed.

Mr. Kahlili concludes:

America must openly support the democratic aspirations of the people of Iran – facilitating a direct channel of communication with them and finding a way to bring Iran’s leaders to court for crimes against humanity. 

Only then can we can hope for real change in Iran, for peace and stability.

Unfortunately President Obama voted ‘not present’ during the last Iranian uprising in the false hope that his silence would further negotiations with the Iran’s leaders. We cannot afford to make that mistake again.

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Regardless Of What Is True, The Damage Is Done

The Christian Science Monitor posted a story today about the latest allegations against Herman Cain. I can honestly say I don’t know what to think. I am not worried about what it will do to the candidate if these accusations are true–I am more concerned about what will happen to the candidate of these accusations are not true. I’m not even sure what I would believe were I to see so-called evidence of Mr. Cain’s indiscretion(s). Now before you decide that I have gone soft in the head, let me explain. In the world of desktop publishing and the internet, evidence is very easy to manufacture. You will note that, as of yet, the only evidence of any misbehavior on the part of Mr. Cain has been the accusations of the women who claim to have been mistreated by him or the woman who claims that she had a long-term affair with him. The problem right now is the number of accusations–there is no actual proof that any of the accusations are true. If a candidate can be destroyed by numerous accusations without proof, we are in serious trouble. I am not suggesting that we automatically decide Mr. Cain in innocent–I just think that no accusation should be taken seriously unless there is irrefutable proof to back it up. Otherwise, anyone running for office can be destroyed simply by having a few people come forward with this type of accusation.

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