Barak Obama — Just a reminder

  • Democratic Senator from Illinois
  • In 1992, was the Director of Illinois Project VOTE, which registered approximately 150,000 mostly Democratic voters in Chicago’s Cook County
  • Opposes the death penalty and school vouchers
  • Supports racial preferences, gun control, and the right to partial-birth abortions

Barack Obama was born in 1961 in Hawaii to a white mother from Kansas and black father from Kenya who met while attending the University of Hawaii. His mother Anna, as Obama describes her in his 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, was “a lonely witness for secular humanism, a soldier for New Deal, Peace Corps, position-paper liberalism.”

His father, also named Barack (Swahili for “One who is blessed by God,” and perhaps via Arabic and Semitic roots related to the Hebrew baruch, “blessed”) Obama, left his rural Luo-speaking village and his Muslim father to become an “agnostic” and study economics abroad. His son was two when the elder Barack left the boy and his mother to return to Harvard University and then to Kenya, where he became a globe-traveling economist for the government.

When young Obama was six, his mother married an Indonesian oil manager, a “non-practicing Muslim,” and the family moved to Jakarta, where his half-sister Maya was born. In this exotic Islamic country, wrote Obama’s good friend, the liberal lawyer and best-selling novelist Scott Turow, Barack Obama spent “two years in a Muslim school, then two more in a Catholic school.”

At age 10 Obama was sent back to Hawaii to be raised largely by his middle-class white maternal grandparents, and to attend the prestigious Punahou Academy. For only one month of his life, when he was 10, Obama was visited by and talked with his biological father. During adolescence he struggled to comprehend his mixed racial and cultural identity and experimented with marijuana and cocaine. Obama wrote about this in his memoir, he told Turow, because “I wanted to show how and why some kids, maybe especially young black men, flirt with danger and self-destruction.” 

Obama attended Occidental College in California and then Columbia University in New York City. After graduating in 1983 with a degree in Political Science, he applied for work as a community organizer with groups across the United States while working as a writer and financial analyst for Business International Corporation. One small group of 20-odd churches in Chicago offered him a job helping residents of poor, predominantly black Far South Side neighborhoods. He moved to Chicago and in June 1985 became Director of the Developing Communities Project, working for the next three years on efforts that ranged from job training to school reform to hazardous waste cleanup. In 1986, after meeting his Kenyan half-sister Auma, he traveled to Africa and sat at the grave of his father who had died in a Nairobi traffic accident four years earlier.

In 1988 Obama enrolled at Harvard Law School, graduating magna cum laude in 1991. While there, he became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. From April to November 1992, he served as the Director of “Illinois Project VOTE,” which registered approximately 150,000 mostly poor, mostly Democratic voters in Chicago’s Cook County before that year’s presidential election. The following year he became a litigator of voting rights and employment cases with the law firm Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C., where he remains a Counsel today. In 1993 he also became a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, another position he still holds. 

In 1996 Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate from the 13th District, which mostly represents poor South Side blacks but also a few wealthy neighborhoods. “Barack Obama is one of the brighter men I’ve worked with in the Legislature,” said State Senator Steve Rauschenberger (R.-Elgin), but he described Obama’s location on the political spectrum as “to the left of Mao Tse-tung,” the founding dictator of the Communist Peoples’ Republic of China. This description, Obama told Tim Russert July 25, 2004 on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” was “a little overblown.”

Barack Obama as a lawmaker has opposed the death penalty and pushed through legislation requiring that any questioning and confession in capital cases be videotaped to prevent deception and coercion. He also authored legislation requiring police to keep records of the race of everyone questioned, detained or arrested. These rules to deter racial profiling, say critics, lead to “de-policing.” To avoid charges of racism if they question or arrest too many minority suspects, police find it easier to protect their careers by turning a blind eye and leaving minority criminals alone. 

Obama favors racial preferences for select minorities in both the business world and academia. A strong supporter of gun control, he has proposed banning all civilian semi-automatic weapons. He is strongly pro-abortion, including the partial-birth abortion procedure many regard as infanticide. He is a proponent of socialized medicine. 

Obama has occasionally attacked special interests in the Democratic Party. In the past he was prepared to help students escape from bad public schools by considering school vouchers, but he now toes the anti-voucher party line and thus the special interest of the Demoratic Party’s biggest funding and activist base, the teachers’ unions. At the 1996 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Obama criticized members of his own party for the convention’s lavish display of money and the special access given to big donors. “The convention’s for sale,” he said at the time. Tim Russert noted that in 2004 the appearance and influence of big money at the Democratic National Convention was bigger than ever before – but Obama has recently muted his moral outrage over this issue. 

Obama has learned from hard experience. In 2000 he ran against former Black Panther and incumbent Congressman Bobby Rush in the Democratic Primary. Rush denounced him as an “elitist” who “wasn’t black enough,” and crushed Obama by nearly a two-to-one vote margin. Months earlier Obama had delayed flying home from Hawaii to vote on a gun control bill backed by both Chicago’s Democratic Mayor Richard Daley and Republican Governor George Ryan. After the bill’s defeat, Obama took a beating politically from disgruntled liberals, including the editorial writers of the Chicago Tribune.

As the Democratic Party moved center in the 2004 campaign, Obama’s website quietly removed a blistering anti-war speech he had given in 2002 and replaced it with a milder statement more in step with the party line of Senators John Kerry and John Edwards.

The Chicago Tribune has endorsed Obama’s run this year for the U.S. Senate. More importantly, the Tribune, whose holding company now also owns the Los Angeles Times, persuaded a Democrat-appointed judge in California to open the sealed divorce records of Obama’s Republican opponent to a press fishing expedition. The resulting sex scandal, based on allegations in the divorce records by a Hollywood actress eager to prevent her ex-husband from getting custody of their children, prompted the Republican to resign from the race. With a $10 million campaign war chest from contributors, and with no Republican opponent who could garner much support, Obama had an open road to become the next U.S. Senator from Illinois. 

Obama won the Democratic Senate nomination by 53 percent against a field of powerful candidates, including one from the Daley political machine and another who spent millions of dollars. But Obama prevailed with backing from wealthy white “Lakeshore liberals,” the Jesse Jacksons, Junior and Senior, and Rev. Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition organization.

In September of 2005, Obama spoke at a town hall meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus‘ 35th Annual Legislative Conference. Featuring some of the leading figures of the Democratic Party, and nominally devoted to the subject of “eradicating poverty,” the meeting was replete with condemnations of President George W. Bush, the Republican Party, and America’s purpotedly inherent racial inequities. (A webcast can be accessed here.) Although he stopped short of suggesting that the allegedly slow federal response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina (which had devastated New Orleans earlier that month), especially blacks, was motivated by racism, Obama nonetheless claimed that racism was the cause of what he deemed the Bush administration’s indifference to the struggles of American blacks generally. “The incompetence was colorblind,” said Obama. “What wasn’t colorblind was the indifference. Human efforts will always pale in comparison to nature’s forces. But [the Bush administration] is a set of folks who simply don’t recognize what’s happening in large parts of the country.” Blacks in hurricane-hit areas were poor, Obama further charged, because of the Bush administration’s “decision to give tax breaks to Paris Hilton instead of providing child care and education…”

Former U.N. oil-for-food head charged with bribery

Former U.N. oil-for-food head charged with bribery
Tue Jan 16, 2007 12:19 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A former executive director of the U.N. oil-for-food program for Iraq and a brother-in-law of a former U.N. secretary-general have been charged with bribery and conspiracy to commit wire fraud tied to the program, a U.S. federal prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Former executive director Benon Sevan, the highest ranking U.N. official to be charged in relation to the program, and Ephraim Nadler, brother-in-law of Boutros Boutros-Ghali, were named in an indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday.

Michael Garcia, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement that Sevan, a Cypriot, allegedly received about $160,000 from Nadler on behalf of the Iraqi government.

Garcia said the United States had issued warrants for the arrest of Nadler and Sevan and will seek their arrest and extradition to New York.

“The allegations in this current indictment that the executive director of the very program that was created to provide humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people was involved in such a scheme demonstrates how pervasive the corruption was and how that corruption undermined the operation of the program,” Garcia said.

Sevan’s lawyer, Eric Lewis, did not immediately return a call for comment.

The oil-for-food program was designed to soften the blow to civilians of international sanctions, imposed against Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, by allowing Iraq to sell oil to finance purchases of humanitarian goods.

More than 2,300 companies have been investigated and some governments accused of having abused the $64 billion humanitarian program, which ran from 1996 until 2003.

Boutros-Ghali was secretary-general of the United Nations from 1992 to 1996.

Ragin’ Kagen: A loose cannon goes to Washington

 

Ragin’ Kagen: A loose cannon goes to Washington




by Robert E. Meyer

 

When conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh gets an occasional caller from Appleton, Wisconsin, he frequently remarks that Appleton is the place where the football teams playing the Green Bay Packers stay the night before the game. Now he has a less noble reason for citing Appleton.

Appleton’s freshman addition to Congress, Dr. Steve Kagen, has garnered the national spotlight for remarks allegedly made during a recent visit to the White House. Kagen apparently told a group of fawning peace activists, whom he met with in December, that he dissed Karl Rove and President Bush during a reception for new members of Congress.

The short version of the encounter was that he confronted Rove in a small White House restroom, stood in front of the exit door and “gave him a message.” Then he deliberately insulted the president by referring to The First Lady as “Barbara” (or so he says) when they were introduced. Of course, Kagen could say he meant she looked as young as the president’s daughter Barbara, not his mother with the same name.

While Dr. Kagen’s recounting of the event sounds suspiciously similar in stature to tales my late older brother used to tell — you know, where he asked the leader of the motorcycle gang that confronted him if they had enough guys to take him on — there is a disturbing message behind the humorous account.

If Dr. Kagen actually did as he said, then he is a loose cannon. If the story is hogwash, then it shows the level of behavior he must stoop to in order to appease certain portions of his constituency. Neither alternative convinces me that we got the best representative for Northeastern Wisconsin.

Of course, local people understand that such boorish and controversial behavior is hardly an isolated event, but merely another addition to Kagen’s expanding newsreel of media follies.

A local anti-war activist expressed certainty that what the good doctor said about his White House soiree was absolute gospel. I find it curious though, that someone so concerned about world peace seems to gleefully condone such blatant personal incivility. Love those who want to destroy your freedom, but hate those working to preserve it.

Yet this sort of dichotomy is common place. I saw a car recently which sported a bumper sticker declaring support for “random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty,” yet it had a sign festooning the side back door window saying that a small town in Texas was missing its village idiot. It is a loving spoonful of sugar for all the folks who don’t already “deserve” to be loathed and derided.

I can’t really blame Kagen for being bitter. He supposedly spent over two-and-a-half million dollars of his own money countering a relentless publicity campaign in order to gain a congressional seat he wasn’t expected to win. The campaign was coyote ugly, and the first paper cut I received from the shiny postcard paper his opponent used during the election race for cartoon-like daily mailings, was one too many for me.

But I always vote platform over personality, and Kagen came out offering red meat for left-leaning ideologues. That’s why I was disappointed when a local attorney, who was previously a functionary for the Outagamie County chapter of the Republican Party, announced his support for Kagen. It is one thing to say that you don’t approve of dirty opposition campaign tactics, but quite another thing to forsake your party’s platform and embrace the policies of the opponent.

Kagen has got to gain the political maturity to understand what goes with the territory he now occupies, and get the chip off his shoulder. He isn’t the comedy star of “Saturday Night Live” either. He is a liberal who was given a chance in a politically conservative enclave, partly because the media has fed the public a steady diet featuring only the negative side of the situation in Iraq. His opponent John Gard, largely supported the president’s Iraq position. Kagen had better figure out why he was elected, because past Democrats who made even fewer waves then him didn’t stay captain of the ship for long around here.

He never had a chance of getting my vote, even though I have been a patient in his office before. I was never given treatment by him directly, but by another physician who was related to him. I never detected a whiff of political ideology at that time. If I need similar treatment in the future, I won’t avoid going back to his clinic because of political differences. Still, I can’t help wondering if a few years from now he will hold the door closed to the examination room, and say, “Ah, about that column you wrote against me some time ago…”

 

 

Robert Meyer is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

Terrorists Training in South America Threaten US National Security

Terrorists Training in South America Threaten US National Security




by Jim Kouri, CPP

 

As Americans remember the horror of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington more than five years ago, the US borders are practically as porous as ever. Yet Americans get few answers during the heated debate. What many hear are abstractions about tightening border security with no mention of how that is to be achieved.

According to testimony given to the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee by General Peter Pace, then Vice Chairman, now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Hamas has joined Hezbollah and Al Qaeda in the Triple Frontier Zone in Latin America where the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay converge.

There the Islamic terror groups train recruits, gather intelligence on targets, launder money and sell drugs. There is evidence that these terrorists and narco-terrorists will soon migrate north into the United States. He cited terrorism reports indicating terrorist groups are active in Canada and Central-South America.

Border Patrol agents began to voice what many believed were legitimate concerns about “armed incursions” into the United States from Mexico-based assailants. They reported that heavily armed Mexican army units and federal police, called Federales, had infiltrated US territory and fired upon them, in some cases because — federal agents would later discover — Mexican drug lords had put prices on the heads of American law-enforcement agents serving along the border. Where was the outrage by our political leaders and the mainstream media over this blatant violation of our national sovereignty?

Recently, a number of armed gunmen entered the US from Mexico and caused National Guard troops to retreat. Not only did the President and his administration remain silent about this incursion, but the elite media either ignored the story or minimized its significance.

Most government and news reports of the illegal aliens’ confrontation with the Guard troops appear to assume the invading gunmen were Mexican. But with all involved in the investigation of the incident saying they’re not certain who these armed men were, how do we know they weren’t terrorists conducting a recon mission?

Some security experts had high hopes that President Bush would bring up the border security problem during his many meetings with Mexican President Vincente Fox. It never happened. Quite the opposite occurred. The two leaders discussed ways of relaxing immigration restrictions including a de facto amnesty program.

The GAO conducted a vulnerability test at both borders and their undercover operatives were successful in sneaking radiological material across both. The operation merited a few news stories and was given short shrift even by the liberal-left who seek any opportunity to denigrate the president and government agencies.

Putting aside terrorism, the lack of border security contributes to crime. In Los Angeles, a look at outstanding arrest warrants for homicide reveals that over 90% are for illegal aliens. Examination of all LA felony arrest warrants (murder, rape, armed robbery, etc.) shows that 65% are for illegal aliens, according to the Manhattan Institute.

The Institute estimates that 350 killers managed to escape back into Mexico and the Mexican government refuses to extradite them to the US to stand trial. In another study — this one by the Government Accountability Office — a sample group of about 55,000 criminal aliens committed over 700,000 criminal acts.

Meanwhile, our northern border with Canada has many law-enforcement leaders even more concerned. Canadian security experts concede that there are several radical Islamist groups active in their country. In fact, Hezbollah’s largest headquarters is located not in the Middle East but in Toronto. One Canadian intelligence officer claims that his country’s immigration policy is more lax than US policy and their politicos more liberal when it comes to refusing to restrict illegal aliens from entering Canada.

If these killers aren’t afraid to target or kill cops, or are willing to confront National Guard troops, then who in America is really safe from terrorists, murderers, rapists and other offenders; and anyone wishing to address the problem is labeled a racist or xenophobe.

Americans can probably count on one hand the number of congressional leaders who will even debate the issues of illegal immigration or border security honestly. What sense does it make to inspect shipping containers in New York seaports while ignoring the vulnerabilities existing on our borders?
 


Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations.  He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.   Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com and PHXnews.com.  He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com.   He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc.  His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own website is located at http://jimkouri.us

Stoking the Fires of Inflation

Stoking the Fires of Inflation
By Thomas E. Brewton

The Fed doesn’t need help, but the Democrats already are putting logs 
on the fire.

Democrat Barney Frank, the new chairman of the House Financial 
Services Committee, has served notice that he won’t tolerate efforts 
by the Federal Reserve Board to forestall inflation, if such measures 
might curb employment numbers.

The Wall Street Journal, in a January 13, 2007, article by Greg Ip, 
reports, <i>When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies on 
monetary policy next month, he is likely to get far more scrutiny 
than usual……… Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who took 
over the House panel this month, said he plans to hold an additional 
day of hearings in which witnesses, such as economists and labor 
experts, will give their views on what Mr. Bernanke said.

…….Mr. Frank said the Fed shouldn’t allow a target to result in 
employment being subordinated to inflation, and he wouldn’t allow the 
Federal Reserve Act to be amended to allow that to happen.</i>

Why should you be concerned?  After all, inflation, we are told, has 
not been a threat since the late 1970s and early 80s.  Depending upon 
what measure is used, inflation currently is running in the vicinity 
of 2% per year.  That doesn’t sound like much, but consider the 
effect on a family’s savings over a 35 year working life.

Saving $1,000 each year the family would have nominally $35,000 for 
retirement.  If inflation were 2% each year, however, the inflation 
adjusted dollar would be worth only about 51¢ in year 35, and the 
inflation-adjusted cumulative total of savings would be $25,500, a 
loss of 27% in purchasing power.  If inflation were only 1% higher 
each year, the cumulative loss would be 37% in purchasing power.

Why then are liberals and most Democrats so indifferent to the 
scourge of inflation?

First, for the Federal Reserve to stop inflation requires tightly 
squeezing the money supply, as Fed chairman Paul Volcker did in the 
early 1980s.  But this drives interest rates to high levels in the 
short run, making it difficult for consumers to borrow and spend.  
The Fed today avoids squeezing the money supply, preferring instead 
to influence total economic activity by the indirect method of 
nudging short-term interest rates.

Second, liberals aim to maximize welfare state spending, and 
controlling inflation with a tight money supply and high interest 
rates make that an expensive proposition.

Third, inflation is a disguised tax increase.  By robbing voters of 
purchasing power, the government gets free rein on spending, 
supported by the Fed’s money creation.  Additionally, as inflation 
progresses, people’s nominal incomes increase along with prices, and 
they move into higher tax brackets, paying more into the IRS’s coffers.

The origin of this pernicious pattern is Franklin Roosevelt’s New 
Deal of the 1930s.

Since the 1933 New Deal, the United States has been committed to a 
form of socialistic collectivism that presumes the role of government 
to be managing the entire economy as if it were a corporate 
business.  Beginning with economist John Maynard Keynes’s 1936 “The 
General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money,” the economic 
orthodoxy of liberal Democrats and liberal Republicans has decreed 
that, without intervention by the Federal government, unemployment 
will rise to dangerously high levels.

In that hypothesis, people save too much and businesses invest too 
little to keep the economy from contracting.  The spending gap must 
be filled by Federal spending, and the Federal Reserve’s job has been 
to monetize the Federal debt, i.e., to create money out of thin air 
so that financial institutions can buy government bonds to fiance 
Congressional deficit spending.

This paradigm unavoidably imparts an inflationary bias to the 
economy.  The record shows that, after three centuries of near price 
stability, the United States has suffered steady inflation since the 
institution of socialism in 1933 by President Franklin Roosevelt.  
According to statistics of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, the 
Consumer Price Index since 1933 has soared an astonishing 905% as of 
2007.

The Employment Act of 1946 made this inflationary bias official 
policy by committing the government to maintaining full employment 
via Federal management of the whole economy.  That legislation 
created the Council of Economic Advisors, who perform as socialist 
state-planners.

 From the politicians’ viewpoint, all new spending programs are feel-
good methods to buy votes.  They have no problem with employing 
excessive numbers of people in the Federal bureaucracy, at higher 
costs, to enhance the image of helping “the little guy.” The actual 
effect is the same as giving an addict ever larger doses of crack 
cocaine.

There is the added benefit that Federal spending projects employ 
members of labor unions, who are major contributors to liberal-
socialist political campaigns.

Additionally, under the New Deal’s 1931 Davis-Bacon act, workers on 
Federally-funded projects have to be paid union-scale wages, no 
matter how much higher than local wages they may be.  This forces 
local, private-business employers to pay higher wages, if labor is in 
tight supply, and in some cases forces them to lay off workers if the 
resulting costs are too high for profitable operation.

Here we see state-planning in action, the proverbial bull in the 
china shop, kicking over restraints against inflation.  The new 
Democratic-controlled Congress is just reflexively following the 
orthodoxy of the American Socialist Party.

Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. 
The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of 
writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776
http://www.thomasbrewton.com/

PERSIAN PERIL

PERSIAN PERIL By PETER BROOKES

January 15, 2007 — ALMOST nobody noticed last week’s second most important speech. President Bush’s address on Iraq deserved our undivided attention – but so did Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte’s Senate testimony on the intelligence community’s consensus views of global threats. The DNI talked plenty about Iraq, but the real eyebrow-raiser was his extensive testimony on Iran. He highlighted the Islamic Republic’s “emboldened” nature, painting the significant increase in Iranian influence in the Middle East as a “strategic shift.”

For starters, Negroponte reported that government spooks see a marked change in Tehran’s international outlook: The regime is encouraged by the demise of such enemies as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam in Iraq, and buoyed by vast increases in oil/gas revenues from elevated global demand and prices in recent years.

Also pumping up Persian power and morale, said the DNI, were Hamas’ electoral victory last January and Hezbollah’s showing in its conflict with Israel this past summer. (Tehran must be giddy about Hezbollah keeping Lebanon on the rocks, too.) The intelligence community concludes Iran sees its ability to conduct terrorism abroad as key to its national security strategy, helping to: 1) deter U.S. and Israeli intervention in Iran, 2) intimidate its neighbors and 3) drive the U.S. from the region.

Negroponte reported that our Arab allies fear Iran’s increasing standing and are concerned about “worsening tensions” between the region’s Shia and Sunni.

Even more ominous, he noted that Iran’s growing clout has coincided with a “generational change in Tehran’s leadership,” now filled with “second-generation hardliners imbued with revolutionary ideology and deeply distrustful of the U.S.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a veteran of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps – the hardline “children of the revolution.” Many believe he was one of the students who held 52 American embassy personnel hostage for 444 days back in 1979. (No wonder Bush is reluctant to directly engage Iranian leaders. . .)

The U.S. intelligence community thinks that generational shift also explains Iran’s increased use of more “assertive and offensive tactics” in its foreign policy. Negroponte was no doubt referring to Iran’s mucking around in Iraq as well as the aggressive nature of its terrorist tools, Hamas and Hezbollah – not to mention Ahmadinejad’s globe trotting, including his trip this week to Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

The problems go far beyond the mullahs’ drive to build nuclear weapons. Iran is also juicing up its conventional military, said the DNI – enhancing its ability to project power by developing a prodigious ballistic-missile arsenal and strengthening its navy – “with the goal of dominating” the Persian Gulf and deterring potential enemies.

All this helps account for why a number of Middle Eastern states recently declared their intention to pursue “peaceful” nuclear programs, and why most states in the regions are spending more on conventional weapons than ever before.

Fortunately, the regime faces some internal challenges. Ethnic tensions between majority Persians and minority Baloch, Kurdish, Arab and Azeri communities could foster large-scale, counter-regime activities, Negroponte noted.

The head spook pointed to Iran’s shaky economy as another weakness. Both inflation and unemployment are on the rise thanks to Ahmadinejad’s policies, exacerbating social pressures, especially among the restive young – and leaving Iran potentially susceptible to economic sanctions.

Last week signaled re-energized White House concern about Iran’s intentions and capabilities.

In his Iraq speech, the president declared, “We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria . . . seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.” And Secretary of State Condi Rice said that the United States isn’t going to simply stand idly by while Tehran continues to disrupt our efforts to stabilize Iraq.

There was more than talk, too: A second carrier battle group and Patriot air-defense batteries are being deployed to the Gulf region. Their mission wasn’t specified, but you can bet that it has little – if anything – to do with securing Baghdad’s streets. And U.S. troops raided an Iranian diplomatic office in Irbil, Iraq – seizing computers, documents and cuffing a number of Iranian intelligence operatives, er, I mean, “employees.”

Treasury is getting tough with the Iranians, too, barring their banks from doing business in U.S. markets to hinder Iran’s nuke program. (U.S. spooks now estimate Iran could have the bomb by 2010.)

Such steps aren’t enough to contain Iran, but they’re a start – and a framework, along with Negroponte’s testimony, for Rice, on her Middle East jaunt, to convince friends that the time has come to deal with the growing Iranian menace.

Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense.

peterbrookes@heritage.org

Haifa Company Transforms Rocks to Fuel

Haifa Company Transforms Rocks to Fuel

Monday, January 15, 2007 / 25 Tevet 5767

An Israeli company has patented a way to turn oil shale rock into high quality oil and natural gas – a project that may bring jobs to the Negev and low-cost energy to the Jewish state.

The “Hom-Tov” process, brainchild of A.F.S.K. – Hom Tov CEO Yisrael Feldman, involves mixing the bitumen residue left over after refineries produce crude oil together with oil shale rock.

Refinery production leaves a minimum residue of ten percent bitumen – also known as asphalt – per barrel of crude oil. The substance is used today only for road work or waterproofing materials because it requires too much additional processing to be used for conventional fuel, but is a key component in the “Hom Tov” process.

According to Hebrew University Professor Ze’ev Aizenshtat, an energy resource expert, the method also results in a dry fuel byproduct that can be used to power the “Hom Tov” production plant, as well as provide additional electricity for the national grid.

Feldman told ISRAEL21c that his method was first introduced in 1992 as a way to extract combustible organic material which could then be used to produce oil at a fraction of the current refinery cost. In 1994, then-Energy Minister Moshe Shahal ordered further investigation in the hope that researchers could come up with a way to produce quality oil at rock-bottom prices. Shahal’s hopes were soon realized.

A Boon for the Negev
Backers of the project are now considering placing a production plant in the Negev, where oil shale is plentiful and has already been unearthed by phosphate plants that must dig past the rock in order to reach the lower minerals they seek.

The rock itself contains approximately 20 percent organic material and has been used as a direct fuel for more than a century in countries such as Brazil, China, Estonia and Russia.

The proposed Negev plant, depending on its size, will be able to produce up to 30 percent of Israel’s energy needs for the next 70 years, at an initial construction cost of $700 million.

Ultimately, the plant could produce oil that would cost only $25 per barrel, half the cost of today’s crude – a financial bonanza for the Haifa-based company. “We won’t see that price for oil again,” says Feldman.

There are other benefits that may ultimately be derived from the process as well. Aizenshtat says the “Hom Tov” method may be used in the future to recycle industrial refuse such as tires, plastics and manufacturers’ waste from pesticide and fertilizer plants.

The price of the oil produced from refuse may be different, but the end result is the same – alternative fuel at a fraction of today’s prices.

“The world is looking for a replacement for oil supplies,” observes Shahal, an attorney who now serves as the project’s legal representative.

The company is already in the process of applying for construction and mining permits. If approved, the plant is expected to begin full production by 2011.

To view the article on the ISRAEL21c website, click here.