Current Events

Vice President Biden–Less Than Truthful?

Fox News reported on April 9:

“Republican strategist Karl Rove called Vice President Biden a ‘liar’ on Thursday, dramatically escalating a feud between Biden and aides to former President George W. Bush over Biden’s claims to have rebuked Bush in private meetings.

“‘I hate to say this, but he’s a serial exaggerator,’ Rove told FOX News. ‘If I was being unkind I would say liar. But it is a habit he ought to drop.’ Rove added: ‘You should not exaggerate and lie like this when you are the Vice President of the United States.’

“Biden’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, although Biden spokesman Jay Carney told Fox on Wednesday: ‘The vice president stands by his remarks.’ Carney was referring to two controversial assertions by Biden, the latest coming Tuesday during an interview on CNN.

“‘I remember President Bush saying to me one time in the Oval Office,’ Biden began, “Well, Joe,” he said, “I’m a leader.” And I said: “Mr. President, turn… around [and] look behind you. No one is following.”‘

“The exchange is purely ‘fictional,’ said Rove, who was Bush’s top political adviser in the White House. ‘It didn’t happen,’ Rove [said]… Rove’s skepticism was echoed by a variety of other Bush aides, including former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, chief of staff Andy Card and legislative liaison Candida Wolff…

“Throughout his career, Biden has often been accused of boasting about his accomplishments, embellishing his credentials and even stealing the words of others. He dropped out of the 1988 presidential race after being accused of plagiarizing British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock.

“Last July, Biden came under fire for telling a questionable story about being ‘shot at’ in Iraq. When questioned by the Hill newspaper, Biden backpedaled by saying: ‘I was near where a shot landed’…

“In September, Biden again raised eyebrows with another story about his exploits in war zones — this time on ‘the superhighway of terror between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where my helicopter was forced down.’

“‘If you want to know where Al Qaeda lives, you want to know where bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me,’ Biden bragged to the National Guard Association. ‘Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down, with a three-star general and three senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are.’ But it turns out that inclement weather, not terrorists, prompted the chopper to land in an open field during Biden’s visit to Afghanistan in February 2008…”

The White House–Less Than Truthful?

On April 8, 2009, the Politico reported about President Obama’s bow to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, as follows:

“The White House is denying that the president bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at a G-20 meeting in London, a scene that drew criticism on the right and praise from some Arab outlets. ‘It wasn’t a bow. He grasped his hand with two hands, and he’s taller than King Abdullah,’ said an Obama aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“The Washington Times called the alleged bow a ‘shocking display of fealty to a foreign potentate’ and said it violated centuries of American tradition of not deferring to royalty. The Weekly Standard, meanwhile, noted that American protocol apparently rules out bowing, or at least it reportedly did on the occasion of a Clinton ‘near-bow’ to the emperor of Japan.

“Interestingly, a columnist in the Saudi-backed Arabic paper Asharq Alawsat also took the gesture as a bow and appreciated the move.”

Same Sex Marriage Bill in New York?

The Global News Coverage wrote on April 16:

“New York Governor David Paterson announced legislation this morning that would legalize same sex marriage in the state. The same bill passed the state Assembly, but was defeated in the state Senate in 2007… The New York state Senate is currently ruled by a slim 32 to 30 Democratic majority and many reports indicate that the bill’s passage in the Senate is unlikely. If the legislation is passed, New York would be the fifth state to permit same sex marriage in the United States after Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont.”

More Bank Failures–And no End in Sight…

The Associated Press reported on April 10:

“Federal regulators shut down two more banks Friday, raising the number of bank failures so far this year to 23. The first bank was Cape Fear Bank in Wilmington, N.C., the first North Carolina bank to fail in nearly 16 years. The other bank was New Frontier Bank of Greeley, Colo., the second Colorado bank this year to collapse… This year’s tally of 23 bank failures is nearing the total for all of 2008, when 25 U.S. banks were seized by regulators…

“A growing number of banks are becoming insolvent as home prices fall and unemployment rises, causing more individuals and businesses to default on their debt.

“The FDIC estimated that the closure of Cape Fear Bank will reduce the federal deposit insurance fund by $131 million, and that the closure of New Frontier Bank will lower it by another $670 million. As of the end of 2008, the insurance fund stood at $18.9 billion – the lowest level in nearly a quarter-century, and down from $52.4 billion at the end of 2007. The FDIC expects that bank failures will cost the insurance fund about $65 billion through 2013… At the end of 2008, the FDIC had 252 banks and thrifts on its list of troubled institutions, up from 171 in the third quarter of last year.”

Military Blows Up Pigs and Rats To Test Armor

USA Today wrote on April 8:

“Military researchers have dressed live pigs in body armor and strapped them into Humvee simulators that were then blown up with explosives to study the link between roadside bomb blasts and brain injury. For an 11-month period that ended in December, researchers subjected pigs and rats to about 200 blasts, according to Pentagon documents and interviews. The explosions have ranged in intensity, wounding some of the pigs and killing others. Roadside bombs are the top killer of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The research on pigs has determined that body armor does not worsen brain injury, said Jan Walker, a spokeswoman for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, which conducted the study. ‘If use of animal subjects in testing results in our ability to save lives or prevent injury to our troops, we’re confident this is the right thing to do,’ Walker said. Pigs without body armor died from blasts within 24 to 48 hours, while those with armor survived ‘significantly higher blasts,’ she said.

“Blasting pigs raises ‘red flags,’ said Martin Stephens, vice president for animal research issues at the Humane Society of the United States… ‘I think the relevance of this is highly questionable’…

“DARPA declined to say where the tests had taken place. The next round of the testing is scheduled for later this year. Stephens called on the Pentagon to end testing on pigs. ‘Is this the best they can do after several years of losing soldiers to roadside bombs?’ he said. U.S. car companies used live animals, including pigs, for crash tests until the early 1990s. They stopped after protests from animal rights groups…”

America’s Betrayal of Its Allies

The Jerusalem Post wrote on April 9:

“Like it or not, the United States of America is no longer the world’s policeman. This was the message of Barack Obama’s presidential journey to Britain, France, the Czech Republic, Turkey and Iraq this past week.

“Somewhere between apologizing for American history – both distant and recent; genuflecting before the unelected, bigoted king of Saudi Arabia; announcing that he will slash the US’s nuclear arsenal, scrap much of America’s missile defense programs and emasculate the US Navy; leaving Japan to face North Korea and China alone; telling the Czechs, Poles and their fellow former Soviet colonies, ‘Don’t worry, be happy,’ as he leaves them to Moscow’s tender mercies; humiliating Iraq’s leaders while kowtowing to Iran; preparing for an open confrontation with Israel; and thanking Islam for its great contribution to American history, President Obama made clear to the world’s aggressors that America will not be confronting them for the foreseeable future…

“This news is music to the ears of the American Left and their friends in Europe. Obama’s supporters like billionaire George Soros couldn’t be more excited at the self-induced demise of the American superpower. CNN’s former (anti-)Israel bureau chief Walter Rodgers wrote ecstatically in the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday, ‘America’s… superpower status, is being downgraded as rapidly as its economy’…

“If Obama’s assertions that Israel must support the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state, his declarations of support for the so-called Saudi ‘peace plan,’ which requires Israel to commit national suicide in exchange for ‘peace’ with the Arab world, and his continuous and increasingly frantic appeals for Iran to ‘engage’ his administration weren’t enough to show Israel that Obama is sacrificing the US’s alliance with the Jewish state in a bid to appease the Arabs and Iran, on Tuesday Vice President Joseph Biden made this policy explicit.

“When Biden told CNN that Israel would be ‘ill-advised’ to attack Iran’s nuclear installations, he made clear that from the administration’s perspective, an Israeli strike that prevents Iran from becoming a nuclear power is less acceptable than a nuclear-armed Iran. That is, the Obama administration prefers to see Iran become a nuclear power than to see Israel secure its very existence.

“AMERICA’S BETRAYAL of its democratic allies makes each of them more vulnerable to aggression at the hands of their enemies – enemies the Obama administration is now actively attempting to appease…

“THE RISKS that the newly inaugurated post-American world pose for America’s threatened friends are clear. But viable opportunities for survival do exist, and Israel can and must play a central role in developing them. Specifically, Israel must move swiftly to develop active strategic alliances with Japan, Iraq, Poland, and the Czech Republic and it must expand its alliance with India…

“Obama’s similarly disastrous bid to denude the US of its military power under the naive assumption that it will be able to use its new stature as a morally pure strategic weakling to win its enemies over to its side will fail spectacularly…

“But to survive the current period of American strategic madness, Israel and the US’s other unwanted allies must build alliances with one another – covertly if need be – to contain their adversaries in the absence of America. If they do so successfully, then the damage to global security induced by Obama’s emasculation of his country will be limited. If on the other hand, they fail, then America’s eventual return to its senses will likely come too late for its allies – if not for America itself.”

France Unhappy with Obama

Times On Line wrote on April 15:

“Mr Sarkozy is pouring cold water on President Obama’s efforts to recast American leadership on the world stage, depicting them as unoriginal, unsubstantial and overrated… The American President’s call ‘to free the world of the menace of a nuclear nightmare’ was hot air, Mr Sarkozy’s diplomatic staff told him in a report. ‘It was rhetoric – not a speech on American security policy but an export model aimed at improving the image of the United States,’ they said… ‘The President [Sarkozy] is annoyed by what he sees as the naivety and the herd mentality of the media,’ said a journalist who is privy to Elysée thinking…

“Mr Sarkozy has put out a version of the proceedings at the London G20 economic summit which casts him as hero… This is to counter last week’s reports of Mr Obama saving the day by persuading President Hu of China to accept Mr Sarkozy’s demands for naming tax havens. According to the leaks, Mr Sarkozy shamed Mr Obama into intervening: ‘You were elected to build a new world. Tax havens are the embodiment of the old world,’ he is quoted as saying…

“Again, according to the Sarkozy version, at the Nato summit in Strasbourg, Mr Obama was meekly yielding to Turkey’s refusal to endorse Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the alliance’s new Secretary-General. It took pressure from Mr Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel of Germany to stiffen him up and change his mind, say the French…

“It sounded like old Franco-American business as usual this morning when Bruno Le Maire, Mr Sarkozy’s Europe Minister, accused Washington of backing the northern and eastern EU members by wanting to turn the union into a mere free-trade zone. France and Germany are sticking to their vision of the ‘political’ Europe that others do not want, he said.”

North Korea Plays Hardball

The Financial Times wrote on April 14:

“North Korea on Tuesday ordered international nuclear inspectors to leave the country as it vowed to restart its nuclear reactor in response to United Nations condemnation of its long-range missile launch. The Stalinist state threatened to reactivate its nuclear plant at Yongbyon and start reprocessing fuel rods, which would increase its stockpile of weapons-grade plutonium. It also declared that it would not return to the six-party talks aimed at eliminating nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula…

“‘In case anyone missed the Taepodong-2 shot, which they practically posted on YouTube, the North Koreans are reminding everyone that they can do nuclear weapons too,’ said James Shinn, a former top Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency official on Asia. ‘Pyongyang is announcing itself an officially declared nuclear state – this was the foreign ministry speaking, not some anonymous cadre on background. It is a mockery of all their previous commitments within the six-party talks.’

“Bruce Klingner, a former CIA expert on North Korea, said the situation was ‘a case of the UN dithering and North Korea blustering’, agreeing with critics who accuse the UN of failing to enforce sanctions imposed on North Korea after it tested a nuclear weapon in 2006. He said the latest North Korean moves underscored that relations would not improve just because the US has a new administration…

“North Korea has also expelled international food aid workers who were helping deliver 500,000 tonnes of food that the US agreed to provide last year.”

Are the USA and Europe Giving In to Iran?

Reuters reported on April 13:

“The Obama administration and its European allies are considering dropping a long-standing U.S. demand that Iran immediately shut down its nuclear facilities if it enters talks over its atomic program, The New York Times reported on Monday on its website. The proposal would also allow Tehran to continue enriching uranium for some period during the talks and would be a sharp break from the Bush administration, which had demanded that Iran halt its enrichment activities, the report said…

“The New York Times cited European officials as saying that in talks during Obama’s visit to Europe there was agreement that Iran would not accept the immediate shutdown of its facilities that the Bush administration had demanded.”

The Netherlands and Europe Threaten Israel

Haaretz reported on April 11:

“The Netherlands must impose economic sanctions against Israel if the new government in Jerusalem thwarts the peace process with the Palestinians, the Dutch Labor party said last week. Members of Labor, which is a member of government as the country’s second largest party, said they intended to write a manifesto on the matter to the foreign minister, Maxime Verhagen, from the centrist ruling CDA party, who is largely seen as a staunch supporter of Israel.

“In an interview for Radio 1, Labor’s Martijn van Dam said his party insisted that Verhagen and the European Union take ‘concrete’ action that demands Israel accept Hamas as a partner for dialogue. Van Dam also lamented the Netherlands and the European Union’s decision to blacklist Hamas.

“Van Dam went on to call Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman ‘an extremist who is on the brink of racism,’ adding: ‘This is not a government with much prospect for peace.'”

In a related article, Haaretz wrote on April 14:

“Spain’s foreign minister said Tuesday that Europe would not accept the evasion by Israel of previous commitments made in peace negotiations… [These] comments came after Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said… last week that Western-backed peace efforts with the Palestinians had reached a ‘dead end’ and that Israel intended to present new ideas for diplomacy.”

Jews Bless the Sun at Sunrise Around the World

CNN reported on April 8:

“At dawn Wednesday, Jews around the world celebrated the Blessing of the Sun, an event that happens once every 28 years. Jews in Tiberias, Israel, participate in the Blessing of the Sun at sunrise Wednesday. According to Jewish tradition, the sun was at the same spot in the sky when it rose Wednesday as it was when the world was created…

“Jews first celebrated Wednesday in New Zealand — the first place the sun rises… In Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported 50,000 people celebrated the event at the Western Wall in Jerusalem…

“At Temple Beth Torah in Tamarac, Florida, Rabbi Michael Gold began his service by singing ‘Here Comes the Sun,’ by the Beatles… The middle-aged rabbi said he chose the song because it’s one his generation can relate to and it talks about the power of the sun… Wednesday’s blessing was rarer than most — it fell on the eve of Passover [actually, the first Day of Unleavened Bread], the Jewish holiday [actually, the Holy Day of God] commemorating the release of Jewish slaves [actually, Israelite slaves] from Egypt in Biblical times.

“Only a few times in history has the Blessing of the Sun coincided with the eve of Passover… The next Blessing of the Sun will occur in 2037…”

Is Catholic German Bishop Re-Writing History?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on April 13:

“A Catholic German bishop has come under fire for his remarks condemning atheists. In a sermon given on Easter Sunday, the bishop of Augsburg, Walter Mixa, warned of rising atheism in Germany… He also said that ‘a society without God is hell on earth’ and quoted the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky: ‘If God does not exist, everything is permitted.’

“Most controversially, he linked the Nazi and Communist crimes to atheism. ‘In the last century, the godless regimes of Nazism and Communism, with their penal camps, their secret police and their mass murder, proved in a terrible way the inhumanity of atheism in practice.’ Christians and the Church were always the subject of ‘special persecution’ under these systems, he said.

“However, critics accuse Mixa of rewriting history… Although the Nazi movement included a wide variety of currents of religious thought, ranging from nihilism to neo-paganism to Teutonic mythology to Hinduism, atheism played no significant political role for the Nazis. Avowed atheists were not welcome in the Nazi party or the SS.

“The relationship of the Catholic Church to the Nazis was also an ambivalent one. Individual members of the clergy openly confronted the regime, which in some cases resulted in their persecution and murder. Others voluntarily collaborated with the dictatorship, while most simply did nothing. A systematic persecution of Christians did not take place in the Third Reich — let alone the ‘special persecution of Christians and the Church’ which Mixa spoke of.”

Humorous Addendum on Easter

The wrote on April 9:

“It turns out the Easter Bunny is a German invention, just like everyone’s favourite mythical beast – Santa Claus… The story’s been the same for four centuries – a bunny sweeps through in the night, pumping out coloured eggs… His nocturnal emissions complete, the rabbit hooks up with the Tooth Fairy for a quick beer and a smoke before returning to wherever it is he came from (according to the myth, the Tooth Fairy makes a hasty retreat after a single beer since she has to work the next day).

“The symbolism and timing of the holiday are hard to ignore. For Christians, Easter is about the resurrection of the second of their three gods… The Easter Bunny and eggs were added later but keep with the renewal theme of a time of year when trees blossom, seeds sprout and everyone’s eyes begin itching with hay fever. Easter Bunnies are perfect symbols because – as we know – they mate like rabbits and eggs, well, eggs are what egg-laying creatures get from mating like rabbits. Really, it’s a fertility holiday.”

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