"Babylon" is a comic book retelling of the story of the "Babylonian Captivity" of the Jewish people. Kingstone Comics is publishing a series of books that tell the story of the bible in comic book form. Apparently, the comic book "Babylon" was written as a movie script. I would like to see Babylon/Assyria on film. The only accurate depiction that I am aware of was the brief scenes in the panned movie "Alexander" by Oliver Stone. "One Night With the King" showed Persia but not very accurately. "Intolerance" by D.W. Griffith also showed Babylon in all of its glory-and it is one of the earliest historical epics filmed.
Babylon: Mesopotamia and the Birth of Civilization. Civilization was born eight thousand years ago, between the floodplains of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, when migrants from the surrounding mountains and deserts began to create increasingly sophisticated urban societies. In the cities that they built, half of human history took place. In Babylon, Paul Kriwaczek tells the story of Mesopotamia from the earliest settlements seven thousand years ago to the eclipse of Babylon in the sixth century BCE. Bringing the people of this land to life in vibrant detail, the author chronicles the rise and fall of power during this period and explores the political and social systems, as well as the technical and cultural innovations, which made this land extraordinary. At the heart of this book is the story of Babylon, which rose to prominence under the Amorite king Hammurabi from about 1800 BCE. Even as Babylon's fortunes waxed and waned, it never lost its allure as the ancient world's greatest city. Engaging and compelling, Babylon reveals the splendor of the ancient world that laid the foundation for civilization itself.
Mark Levin-The Best Post-election Commentary
Bill O'Reilly, "Is Traditional America Gone for Good?"
My Position on General Petraeus-as a military person-As I have said before, General Petraeus gets too much credit. Our success in Iraq was due to our soldiers-and because the Iraqi people turned against the insurgency and began cooperating with the American military. General Petraeus strategy seems to be to turn the army into the peace corps. Some opposition to the COIN strategy within the US military was discussed in "Is this any way to fight a war?" by Matthew Teague in Men's Journal, January 2011. (http://archive.mensjournal.com/is-this-any-way-to-fight-a-war). "Al-Qaida in Iraq" had a strategy of unleashing chaos in Iraq. Through suicide attacks they killed about 30,000 Iraqi civilians-mostly fellow Muslims. (Although they did specifically target Aramaic Christians and even the Yezidi.) So, the Iraqis realized that it was in their best interests to cooperate with American forces to get rid of the insurgeants. I read parts of the COIN (Counter Insurency) manual and I was offended when Petraeus discouraged the use of Assyrian Christian translators because Moslems would feel more comfortable with fellow Muslims as interpreters. This offended me-I have worked with the Assyrian interpreters and they are often American citizens and were the best translators we had. Then Petraeus became infuriated that serial numbers of certain rifle scopes had bible verses in them (like JN316). This was a non-issue and initially the Pentagon dismissed it as such. (They were manufactured by a devout Christian in South Africa and the motivation of the manufacturer was only his way of giving glory to God.) That Petreaus had a cow over serial numbers convinced me that he must be an islamophile-just like Obama who said that it is his duty as president of the USA to protect Islam against negative stereotypes (see the Cairo speech). Bush brought in two liberals at last two years of his office to run the war on terror-Bob Gates and General Petreus. As an Islamophile-since his COIN strategy is a surrender and appeasement strategy-I wouldn't be surprised if he was in on the scheme to deflect blame for the Bengazi attacks from radical Islam and onto the USA. (We provoke them by making a movie offensive to Muslims.) (I believe that if Gore was in office on 9-11-01-the Democrats would have placed the blame for the attacks on Americans-for being intolerant-which certain Democrats did-I kept some pamphlets from some "sensitivity training" I had to undergo that said as much.) Petraeus's faulty strategy has been abandoned-as is discussed in a Time magazine article (Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2012/11/12/exit-petraeus-and-his-famous-military-doctrine/#ixzz2C46Aqbxx) I believe that Petraeus's working with the Obama administration shows his loyalties. This "I can't testify because I had an affair" in non-sense. Also, I am highly offended that these hearings are not opened to the public. So, I realized years ago that General Petraeus is a butt-hole. Unfortunately, the American public has a long tradition of hero-worshiping of generals who are in command in what is viewed as a successful military operation. No general I know of has endured the hardships that I experienced in Iraq. Another good article about this issue: Troubling questions in the Benghazi-Petraeus mess By Victoria Toensing, Published November 12, 2012, FoxNews.com.
Silencing General Petraeus? By Judge Andrew P. Napolitano
The evidence that Gen. David Petraeus, formerly the commander of US troops in Afghanistan, the author of the current Army field manual, Princeton Ph.D. and, until last week, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was forced to resign from the CIA to silence him is far stronger than is the version of events that the Obama administration has given us. The government would have us believe that because the FBI confronted Petraeus with his emails showing a pattern of inappropriate personal private behavior, he voluntarily departed his job as the country's chief spy to avoid embarrassment. The government would also have us believe that the existence of the general's relationship with Paula Broadwell, an unknown military scholar who wrote a book about him last year, was recently and inadvertently discovered by the FBI while it was conducting an investigation into an alleged threat made by Broadwell to another woman. And the government would as well have us believe that the president learned of all this at 5 p.m. on Election Day. We now know that the existence of a personal relationship between Broadwell and Petraeus had been suspected and whispered about by his senior-level colleagues and by his personal staff in the military, who worried that it might become publicly known, since before the time that he came to run the CIA.
Troubling questions in the Benghazi-Petraeus mess By Victoria Toensing, Published November 12, 2012, FoxNews.com Something is rotten in Benghazi-Petraeus. But we cannot find the rot in these two tragedies because the information is classified and the administration remains silent at the pleasure of the press. Benghazi first: The CIA Libyan Chief of Station within 24 hours of the Tuesday September 11 attack on our consulate cabled CIA headquarters that it was carried out by militants and not in reaction to an obscure American-made internet video that criticized Islam's Prophet Muhammed. Yet on Friday, September 14, Director of Central Intelligence, General David Petraeus, ignored his chief boot-on-the-ground and briefed the House Intelligence Committee, as described by Vice-Chairman Ruppensberger (D-Md), that the attack was "spontaneous." What happened in those two days that the causal theory turned 180 degrees? Did the now discarded theory belong only to Director of Central Intelligence Petraeus and the CIA? Because on that same day, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chief Vice Chairman Admiral James Whinnefeld, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that they believed the attack was premeditated. The administration had time to co-ordinate the two inconsistent assessments. It did not. On Sunday, September 16, UN Ambassador Susan Rice fulfilled the quinfecta of all Sunday shows during which she vigorously backed the CIA/ Petraeus position: "What happened…in Benghazi…was a direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated, which the U.S. government had nothing to do with, which we have made clear is reprehensible and disgusting." (ABC Jake Tapper) The press reported the CIA provided her "talking points," a job usually reserved for a press secretary. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was nowhere to be seen or heard that day. Her spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, has steadfastly deferred to others when asked whether the video was the cause. The White House had 9 more days to gather facts to decide which theory was supported by the evidence. It did not. Or it chose not to tell us. Nine days later in his speech to the United Nations, President Obama was still accusing the video of being the proximate cause where he referred to it six times, declaring "a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world." This discredited claim was made notwithstanding Libyan President Mohammad Magarief's telling NBC on that very day that the attacks "had nothing to do with" the video. Did these two presidents not communicate during this time? Or did President Obama ignore the president-on-the-ground's assessment? For some reason DCI Petraeus backed the Obama unsupported theory that the video made the attackers do it rather than his own Chief of Station's assessment that it was a planned military attack. Why do the shifting stories and misplaced theory of cause matter? Because if an administration pushes a political agenda that applauds the killing of Bin Laden as the ultimate act for eradicating the radical Islamic threat, then that same administration ignores its Ambassador's urgent pleas for more security for fear it will appear Bin Laden's demise was not the answer to that threat. Our country's chief spy is supposed to know which theory is held up by the evidence. Having pointed out the context of Petraeus' strange support of that now refuted theory, we must turn to the bizarre circumstances of his resignation as DCI after the FBI discovered he had an affair with his biographer. Something is terribly amiss for those of us steeped in federal criminal law, national security, and Congressional protocol. We have been told that the president knew nothing of the investigation until post-election Wednesday. Similarly, the relevant Congressional committees said they either heard about it on television (Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein) or just a few hours before the announcement. Yet policy and the law—depending on the gravity of the facts--call for the FBI to inform the Intelligence Committees and the White House whenever there is a concern about any person involved in national security. Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/11/12/troubling-questions-in-benghazi-petraeus-mess/#ixzz2C40Zh73W
What I have been saying for some time…Exit Petraeus — and His Famous Military Doctrine By Michael CrowleyNov. 12, 2012 The disgrace of David Petraeus has ended more than a great military career. It is also the symbolic end of a major chapter in American security strategy. The fall of the former Iraq and Afghanistan commander adds a tawdry exclamation point to the decline of counterinsurgency, the military theory for which Petraeus offered a heroic public face. Flash back to the mid-2000s. The Iraq war was an unmitigated disaster, with no apparent hope in sight. Confronted with a potent insurgency, the occupying U.S. forces often fought back with a brute force that backfired, further alienating a hostile population. Along came the Princeton-educated Petraeus, preaching the gospel of counterinsurgency. Defeating an indigenous resistance, the thinking went, required a unique approach to warfare. To oversimplify, it was less about killing the enemy than winning over and protecting the local population; less about guns and bombs than about hearts and minds. That meant forging personal relationships, training local security forces and investing in expensive development projects. In short, it meant nation building. It was often described as the Petraeus Doctrine. As Iraq began to stabilize in 2007 and '08, counterinsurgency got much of the credit. Soon the theory caught fire in Washington: think tanks hired and the media spotlighted some of the doctrine's many well-educated (and combat-tested) proponents. The U.S. military developed more counterinsurgency training programs for its troops, offering tips on things like making nice with village elders and knowing when to let the enemy escape rather than risk high civilian combat casualties. This was a form of warfare that even many liberals (perhaps misguidedly) saw as kinder and gentler enough than the usual shock and awe to tolerate. Petraeus and the counterinsurgency he waged as George W. Bush's top general in Iraq probably get too much credit for turning around that war. Other factors, including the way disgusted Sunni sheiks in Iraq's Anbar province turned against al-Qaeda fighters, were at least as important. But plenty of people, including military and political leaders in Washington, wanted to believe that what Petraeus had done for Iraq could also be done in Afghanistan. Soon after Barack Obama took office, his commander there, General Stanley McChrystal, devised an ambitious counterinsurgency strategy for the country. The White House seemed to accept the idea. Later that year, Obama sent 30,000 more troops to the country — fewer than what McChrystal had requested, but perhaps close enough. When Obama dispatched Petraeus to replace McChrystal in 2010 after the latter's firing, some people wondered if the Petraeus Doctrine might salvage another wrenching conflict. It wasn't to be. The final chapter of the Afghanistan war has yet to be written, but the U.S. seems to have run out of patience — both with that war and with the expensive and grinding work of counterinsurgency. In the 2012 election, Mitt Romney agreed with Obama that the U.S. should aspire to be out of the country by 2014. A few weeks ago, the New York Times published a long editorial calling for an even faster end to the war and warning against more such interventions. ("America's global interests suffer when it is mired in unwinnable wars in distant regions," the Times wrote.) In his third debate with Romney, Obama delivered a memorable sound bite that seemed to complete Washington's abandonment of counterinsurgency: "What I think the American people recognize is that after a decade of war, it's time to do some nation building here at home." Even before he was sworn in as CIA director in September 2011, Petraeus was bending the rules of his own doctrine in Afghanistan. He reversed McChrystal's counterinsurgency-inspired limits on air strikes, which can cause heavy civilian casualties, and bombed the hell out of the Taliban. He also oversaw a steep increase in Special Forces raids and armed drone strikes. Petraeus brought that attitude to the CIA, fighting to expand the spy agency's drone fleet so that it can more easily kill suspected terrorists from Pakistan to Yemen to North Africa. Those sort of targeted assassinations aren't quite the opposite of counterinsurgency. (That would be carpet bombing.) But they fly in the face of the doctrine in multiple ways. Drone strikes — which often kill unlucky civilians — enrage local populations in countries like Pakistan and Yemen and risk "damaging and counterproductive" effects for U.S. interests. At least one recent would-be terrorist who plotted to attack the U.S. said he was motivated by drone attacks in Pakistan. Counterinsurgency requires huge numbers of troops to protect and build relationships with local populations. Drone-based counterterrorism strategy requires few if any boots on the ground. Death is rained down anonymously, usually with no explanation or apology for collateral damage. This is the new American strategy. Hearts and minds have been replaced by drones and SEALs. Working a tribal council is a less valuable skill than piloting a Predator. By the end of his career — in a country exhausted by war and slashing its budget — Petraeus had embraced that shift. He had lowered his profile too far to become the drone war's public face. But to those watching closely, the Petraeus Doctrine had morphed into something different. Counterinsurgency was finished. Much like the general's career. Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2012/11/12/exit-petraeus-and-his-famous-military-doctrine/#ixzz2C46Aqbxx
Should Texas Secede?
The Texas Secession petition reads, "The U.S. continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government's neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending. The citizens of the U.S. suffer from blatant abuses of their rights such as the NDAA, the TSA, etc. Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect its citizens' standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government." It is something to think about.
Obama re-election is a sad day for America. It could possibly be the last election ever in America. What I mean that liberalism will become so dominant in America that conservatives will not be able to field a candidate that can win an election. The RINOs are saying that the Republican party should become more like the Democratic party-so then, if the political parties become the same-why vote? If that happens we will never have a real choice between the two parties. If the Republican candidate can only get 45% or less o f the vote (although it isn't that bad yet) why would the party waste its time and money in fielding a presidential candidate? The government is replacing the population of America with immigrants and they vote 75% and higher for democrats. These immigration trends will kill the democratic process. The worst thing is that Obama's radicalism is going to harm not just America but the world. He is emboldening radical Islam. With Obama's encouragement, the Muslim radicals become more dominant-and Middle Eastern Christianity thus faces a decline that it may not ever be able to recover. Christianity is obviously in decline, in America and in the Middle East. Although the left doesn't realize it yet, and neither do the Muslims-Islam is on decline as well. There my still be hope yet for America. We must keep things in focus! Obama won 51% of the vote-in no way was this a landslide (except for in the electoral college-which doesn't represent the popular vote). About ten million less voted for Obama than voted for him in 2008. Also, the Republicans maintained control of the house. Obama's situation is weaker-although he is to arrogant to realize this. With his policies it is unlikely that the economy will improve. Nixon won a second term and had to resign before it was over. George W. Bush was re-elected-but in his second term he became an object of hatred and scorn. I believe that the Obama presidency is going to unravel and it has already began with the Benghazi scandal. I don't see how Obama is going to get away with letting Americans die in Libya and then trying to cover it up and lie to the American people. The truth will come out and Obama will be exposed. I discuss this issue more in depth at my youtube channel: www.youtube.com/aramaic12
The Battle for Religious Freedom:
A federal judge on Monday denied a Christian group's bid for a preliminary injunction to force Santa Monica to allow the display of a Nativity Scene — leading critics to fear the ruling could jeopardize religious liberty. U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins formalized an earlier tentative ruling during a hearing. William Becker, the attorney for the Christian group, told Fox News that it was an "extraordinary ruling." "The next step will be for them to stop any religious speech at all in a public park — whether it's singing hymns or merely handing out leaflets or merely discussing religion," he said. "One day it will all be banned." Christmastime Nativity scenes had been erected in Palisades Park for decades. Last year, atheists overwhelmed the city's auction process for display sites, winning 18 of 21 slots and triggering a bitter dispute. The city then banned private, unattended displays at the park. Santa Monica officials snuffed the city's holiday tradition this year rather than referee the religious rumble, prompting churches that have set up a 14-scene Christian diorama to sue over freedom of speech claims. "It's a sad, sad commentary on the attitudes of the day that a nearly 60-year-old Christmas tradition is now having to hunt for a home, something like our savior had to hunt for a place to be born because the world was not interested," Hunter Jameson, head of the nonprofit Santa Monica Nativity Scene Committee, said in advance of the hearing. (See Todd Starnes, Fox News, http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/judge-denies-bid-to-save-nativity.html
Christian company Hobby Lobby forced to pay for Abortions: A federal judge Monday rejected Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.'s request to block part of the federal health care overhaul that requires the arts and craft supply company to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after and week-after birth control pills. In a 28-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton denied a request by Hobby Lobby to prevent the government from enforcing portions of the health care law mandating insurance coverage for contraceptives the company's Christian owners consider objectionable. The Oklahoma City-based company and a sister company, Mardel Inc., sued the government in September, claiming the mandate violates the owners' religious beliefs. The owners contend the morning-after and week-after birth control pills are tantamount to abortion because they can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman's womb. They also object to providing coverage for certain kinds of intrauterine devices. At a hearing earlier this month, a government lawyer said the drugs do not cause abortions and that the U.S. has a compelling interest in mandating insurance coverage for them. In his ruling denying Hobby Lobby's request for an injunction, Heaton said that while churches and other religious organizations have been granted constitutional protection from the birth-control provisions, "Hobby Lobby and Mardel are not religious organizations." Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/11/19/judge-rejects-hobby-lobby-case-against-obamacare-contraceptive-coverage-mandate/#ixzz2CjERFLsw
Another planned terror attack (NOV. 19, 2012)
Four Southern California men have been charged with plotting to kill Americans and destroy U.S. targets overseas by joining Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, federal officials said Monday. The defendants, including a man who served in the U.S. Air Force, were arrested for plotting to bomb military bases and government facilities, and for planning to engage in "violent jihad," FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a release. A federal complaint unsealed Monday says 34-year-old Sohiel Omar Kabir of Pomona introduced two of the other men to the radical Islamist doctrine of Anwar al-Awlaki, a deceased Al Qaeda leader. Kabir served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001. The other two -- 23-year-old Ralph Deleon of Ontario and 21-year-old Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales of Upland -- converted to Islam in 2010 and began engaging with Kabir and others online in discussions about jihad, including posting radical content to Facebook and expressing extremist views in comments. They later recruited 21-year-old Arifeen David Gojali of Riverside. Authorities allege that in Skype calls from Afghanistan, Kabir told the trio he would arrange their meetings with terrorists. Kabir added the would-be jihadists could sleep in mosques or the homes of fellow jihadists once they arrived in Afghanistan.
Obamacare's threat to religious freedom
The Supreme Court on Monday ordered a federal appeals court to reconsider Liberty University's legal argument that President Obama's health care law violates the school's religious freedom. The case will be returned to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. "Today's ruling breathes new life into our challenge to ObamaCare," Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which filed the suit on behalf of the school, said Monday. "Our fight against ObamaCare is far from over." A federal judge in 2010 rejected Liberty's claim, and the appeals court later ruled the lawsuit was premature and failed to address the substance of the school's arguments. The Supreme Court upheld the health care law in June 2012. In the high court's 5-4 decision, the justices used lawsuits filed by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business to uphold the health care law, then rejected all other pending appeals, including Liberty's. The school is challenging the constitutionality of the part of the law that mandates employers provide insurance and whether forcing insurers to pay for birth control is unconstitutional under the First Amendment's free exercise of religion clause. The appeals court ruled last year the Anti-Injunction Act barred it from addressing the merits in the case. The act blocks any challenge to a "tax" before a taxpayer pays it -- in this case referring to the penalties associated with failing to obtain health insurance. However, the Supreme Court's ruling stated the act did not serve as a barrier to lawsuits challenging the health care law. On that basis, Liberty University immediately petitioned the court to allow it to renew its original case.
The leader of the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt claimed dictatorial power in Egypt. Morsi announced his intentions last week, just one day after he helped broker a cease-fire agreement in Israel between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas in the Gaza strip. The move by the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Morsi has sparked violent street protests, largely in Cairo, that have reportedly resulted in more than 500 injuries. The protests are expected to continue, unraveling the stability brought after political protests ousted President Hosni Mubarak and put Morsi into power this past summer. Morsi's attempt last week to consolidate power shields his efforts from the country's judiciary branch, which he considers an unreformed part of the Mubarak era. Senator John McCain calls upon Obama to condemn Mohammed Morsi's power grab. (Don't hold your breath.) Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi won praise from President Obama for brokering a peace deal, but one day later seized new powers. (AP) President Obama, who praised Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for brokering a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, has not spoken to the Islamist since his alarming power grab, a White House spokesman said Monday. One day after Arizona Sen. John McCain appeared on the Fox News Channel and called on Obama to renounce the decree by Morsi putting himself above the law, White House spokesman Jay Carney repeated the State Department's muted call for Egyptians to work out their "internal" problems. "We call for calm and for all parties to work together to resolve their differences peacefully," Carney said. "We've raised concerns about it," Carney added later. "We are constantly monitoring developments in Egypt and working with the Egyptians, with whom we have a very close relationship." But asked point blank if the White House "condemned" Morsi's move, Carney stopped short.
The War on Men By Suzanne Venker
The battle of the sexes is alive and well. According to Pew Research Center, the share of women ages eighteen to thirty-four that say having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives rose nine percentage points since 1997 – from 28 percent to 37 percent. For men, the opposite occurred. The share voicing this opinion dropped, from 35 percent to 29 percent. Believe it or not, modern women want to get married. Trouble is, men don't. The so-called dearth of good men (read: marriageable men) has been a hot subject in the media as of late. Much of the coverage has been in response to the fact that for the first time in history, women have become the majority of the U.S. workforce. They're also getting most of the college degrees. The problem? This new phenomenon has changed the dance between men and women. As the author of three books on the American family and its intersection with pop culture, I've spent thirteen years examining social agendas as they pertain to sex, parenting, and gender roles. During this time, I've spoken with hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women. And in doing so, I've accidentally stumbled upon a subculture of men who've told me, in no uncertain terms, that they're never getting married. When I ask them why, the answer is always the same. Women aren't women anymore. To say gender relations have changed dramatically is an understatement. Ever since the sexual revolution, there has been a profound overhaul in the way men and women interact. Men haven't changed much – they had no revolution that demanded it – but women have changed dramatically. In a nutshell, women are angry. They're also defensive, though often unknowingly. That's because they've been raised to think of men as the enemy. Armed with this new attitude, women pushed men off their pedestal (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise) and climbed up to take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs. Now the men have nowhere to go. It is precisely this dynamic – women good/men bad – that has destroyed the relationship between the sexes. Yet somehow, men are still to blame when love goes awry. Heck, men have been to blame since feminists first took to the streets in the 1970s. But what if the dearth of good men, and ongoing battle of the sexes, is – hold on to your seats – women's fault? You'll never hear that in the media. All the articles and books (and television programs, for that matter) put women front and center, while men and children sit in the back seat. But after decades of browbeating the American male, men are tired. Tired of being told there's something fundamentally wrong with them. Tired of being told that if women aren't happy, it's men's fault. Contrary to what feminists like Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men, say, the so-called rise of women has not threatened men. It has pissed them off. It has also undermined their ability to become self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family. Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it's in their DNA. But modern women won't let them. It's all so unfortunate – for women, not men. Feminism serves men very well: they can have sex at hello and even live with their girlfriends with no responsibilities whatsoever. It's the women who lose. Not only are they saddled with the consequences of sex, by dismissing male nature they're forever seeking a balanced life. The fact is, women need men's linear career goals – they need men to pick up the slack at the office – in order to live the balanced life they seek. So if men today are slackers, and if they're retreating from marriage en masse, women should look in the mirror and ask themselves what role they've played to bring about this transformation. Fortunately, there is good news: women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs. If they do, marriageable men will come out of the woodwork
The Death of Hostess-A Union Contract Hit By Dennis Kneale
the death of Hostess Brands, progenitor of Twinkies, Devil Dogs and Ding Dongs and other artery-clogging, icing-adorned icons of Americana, plenty of factors get the blame. Management didn't cut deep enough, soon enough. Plants didn't update. Marketing failed to innovate. The product line stayed unstintingly junky, defiantly flouting America's reluctant reset to low-fat fare. But the real reason Hostess had to die at this particular time? This was a union contract hit. And that offers a disturbing glimpse into the delusional, drunk-with-power mindset of unions -- which represent barely 7% of the private work force in the U.S. -- as they embark on a second term of way-too-cozy relations with their supplicant in the White House. President Obama, ever grateful for the millions of dollars and thousands of foot soldiers provided by union support, will continue trying to end-run Congress and make it easier for unions to sink their hooks into business. Yet unions are in stark denial of the need for significant cutbacks in their lush contracts if their employers are to survive. This is especially true in the demise of Hostess Brands. Hostess's hired gun and CEO, Gregory Rayburn, the workout "cleaner" creditors had brought in to try to save the company, had said repeatedly that he would have to shut it down unless a dozen unions accepted cutbacks in pay, benefits and stupid, featherbedding union work rules. Even the Teamsters had agreed to his plan. (And those guys "will crack you over the head," as a union guy warned me many years ago when a strike loomed at the Detroit News and I, a lowly intern, had said I might cross any picket line.) But the 5,600 workers in the bakers union at Hostess went on strike. The leadership of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers whispered to workers that the company was bluffing, or a white-knight buyer may emerge. Hard to know whether this was blatant deception or foolish miscalculation; I'd suspect a bit of both. Then Rayburn, somber not swaggering, came on-air with me on "Markets Now" in the noon hour on Thursday and reiterated his threat: The bakers must return to work by 5 p.m. that day, or the company would file to liquidate on Friday. See the video here. Rayburn even had a company press release hand-delivered to picketing workers at a dozen plants, warning them of the 5 o'clock ultimatum. He was hoping to separate the members from their kamikaze leadership. It didn't work. On Friday, Hostess filed in bankruptcy court to liquidate the company. With extreme prejudice. Today, Rayburn seeks court permission to start selling off pieces. So now all 18,500 workers at Hostess Brands just lost their jobs. Way to go guys! Bake me a lie, as fast as you can. Brace yourself for a wave of union propaganda-as-apologia. You'll hear Obama-echoes of sniping against private equity a la Mitt-Bain Capital: "Romney-Style Economics Behind Decline of Hostess, But Workers Are Paying the Price," says one website affiliated, predictably, with the AFL-CIO.Those vulture capitalists must have sucked out hundreds of millions of dollars by leveraging up the company, right? (Answer: wrong. Ripplewood Holdings injected a total $150 million in three dollops as Hostess sank deeper into trouble. It lost every dollar.) The unions will say management had given itself millions in pay raises while demanding worker cuts. (True, but the raises were barely a rounding error at a company that had lost almost half a billion bucks in two years; and Rayburn rescinded the raises anyway, making the brass work for a dollar a year apiece.) The unions will blame the company for taking on almost $900 million in debt. (Yet that debt cost Hostess all of $45 million in interest last year, when its total losses swelled up to $340 million). And here's what you won't hear the unions ever talk about:
--Hostess paid out almost $100 million in health benefits for retirees last year, but over half of it covered workers who never had worked at Hostess. The Teamsters' onerous and antiquated "multi-employer pension plan" foists the pension obligations of a bankrupt company on to the balance sheets of surviving rivals—ensuring a steady death spiral in any declining industry. A similar "MEPP" almost killed YRC, one of the largest trucking companies.
--Union rules forced Hostess to run separate truck fleets for delivering bread vs. sweets. A sweets driver, serving a 7-11 store, was forbidden from restocking shelves with breads already delivered and waiting in the back—he had to call for a bread driver to swing by and handle.
--The union restrictions on the 5,500 distribution routes at Hostess made it unprofitable to serve tiny outlets, yet Hostess was barred from using smaller, sleeker—and non-union—distributors.
--Workers were asked to take an 8% pay cut and pay 17% of their health-care costs instead of zero. Welcome to the club, guys. For this, they would have received 25% ownership of Hostess plus $100 million of Hostess debt to be paid back to the unions.
But the bakers wouldn't budge. In the months ahead a chop-shop or food giant may resurrect various Hostess brands, but those 36 plants are shuttered, those 18,500 jobs are gone for good. The union preferred to picket while an 85-year-old company suffocated . . . rather than risk having to face inevitable demands for similar concessions at other employers across the country. Those demands will be forthcoming, anyway, because, as President Obama likes to say in slapping the rich with higher taxes, the math doesn't work. The only questions are which union will be next, and whether anyone reasonable (or sane) will be listening. Even a parasite is smart enough to know not to kill its host. In the case of unions, the presence of such preternatural intelligence isn't yet readily apparent.
Time for US to review links with Hamas sponsor Qatar
With the dangerous and ever-changing political dynamic in the Middle East and North Africa replacing the previous status quo with new governments with very different agendas, the tiny Gulf state of Qatar has emerged as an increasingly significant player in the power-politics of the region. The state that is home to the Al Jazeera TV corporation, that will stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup football tournament, and whose capital Doha is fast becoming a major international business centre, is governed by the Al Thani family, with Crown Prince Hamad al Khalifa al Thani the ruler of the oil-rich state holding the reins of power since deposing his father in a peaceful coup in 1995. While Qatar is seen in some quarters as a progressive Arab state and enjoys generally good relations with the United States and other western democracies, concern has been growing over the apparent ambitions of the Crown Prince to step into the vacuum left by the recent travails of both Syria and Iran, the long-time sponsors of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. The recent official visit of the Qatari leader to Gaza – the first foreign leader to visit the Strip - in which he made a massive $400 million donation (ostensibly for 'infrastructure projects') to the Hamas regime, has only served to increase a sense of unease in some quarters that Al Thani's huge wealth is being used to insert himself as a major figure in the Israel/Palestinian conflict and complicate the already near-impossible impasse reached in the peace process. Noel Clay, spokesman for the US State Department, told FoxNews.com: "We share the international community's deep concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people, including those Palestinian civilians residing in Gaza. We urge all those wishing to provide international humanitarian support to Gaza to do so through established channels to ensure that the Palestinians' humanitarian needs and Israel's legitimate security needs are both met." Clay stressed however, "We oppose engagement with Hamas, which remains a destabilizing force in Gaza and the region, and which remains a U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization." Clay's statement strongly hints at US dismay at the Qataris behaviour. The US has aggressively pursued a policy of sanctions against Iran and other countries that sponsor terrorism, so will Qatar's brazen public support of Hamas result in a clamp down on business ties with the aspirational Gulf state? The US-Qatar Business Council, for example, is made up of a raft of household names, including major companies with strong business interests in Qatar. The likes of the Chevron Corporation, Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips, The Boeing Corporation, and Lockheed Martin, all value their ties to Qatar, but should such US business luminaries really be engaging with the financial backers of Hamas, an internationally acknowledged terrorist regime? FoxNews.com attempted to put that question to the US-Qatar Business Council, but no one was available to comment. Professor Eytan Gilboa, an expert on US policy in the Middle East at the Begin Sadat Center for Stategic Studies, believes that Qatar has seized its opportunity to become a major player in the Israel/Gaza conflict. "Qatar's interest is to diminish as much as possible the Iranian influence in Gaza...where Iran still sponsors Islamic Jihad. Hamas has long been receiving weapons and training from Iran, but since the war in Syria relations between Hamas and Iran have been uneasy. The US believes that Hamas is a destructive movement in Gaza and the Middle East and supports Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah government (in the other Palestinian territory on the West Bank). Qatar's strengthening of Hamas is therefore counter-productive from the US point of view, because it reduces Abbas' power and will increase the influence of Hamas in the West Bank." Professor Gilboa continued, "The other major drawback however for the US of Qatar's intervention on the side of Hamas... is that it means that the US has to rely on Egypt's President Morsi to restrain Hamas, through their mutual ties to the Muslim Brotherhood."Qatar's hosting of the Hamas leader Khaled Mashal and their provision of safe haven to Omar Bin Laden, the fourth son of Usama Bin Laden, who reportedly described his father's death at the hands of US Special Forces as, "a criminal act", has also raised eyebrows. Was it merely coincidence then that the significant increase in rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel that precipitated the violent eight days of hostilities between the two sides that threatened to destabilize even further the whole Middle East, followed only days after Qatari Crown Prince Al Thani's visit to the territory, his vast financial donation, and his promise of ongoing support for the radical Islamist regime? Gilboa believes that Qatar is playing a very dangerous game in its use of Hamas as a proxy stick with which to beat Iran. "The ideal US policy would be to keep Hamas strong enough to counter Iran and Islamic Jihad, but weak enough not to threaten Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This is a very difficult balancing act to maintain. It is obvious to me that if Hamas draws Israel into a war again, Israel will invade the Gaza Strip and eliminate Hamas from Gaza. There is no question in my mind about it." "The conflict in Gaza is not just about Gaza" Gilboa concluded. "Everyone is looking to see its effects and repercussions on the region as a whole."
Paul Alster is an Israel-based broadcast journalist who blogs at www.paulalster.com and can be followed on Twitter @paulalster
NOTE: I have been to Qatar during my deployment to Iraq. We have important military bases in Qatar. But we need to state the obvious, that Qatar is a state sponsor of terrorism.
Israelis believe that they should have gone to war in Gaza
A poll shows about half of Israelis think their government should have continued its military offensive against Palestinian militants in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Sometimes not going to war is worse than going to war-as bad as war is.
The number 1 threat to democracy in America is the liberal news media.
Brazen faking of images reveals Hamas' desperation
There is only one thing worse than the image of a child killed by military conflict, and that is the image of a child killed by military conflict having deliberately been placed in the line of fire. War is, by definition, a very nasty business, and invariably it is the innocents on all sides who bear a significant cost in lives lost, people maimed and communities traumatized. But solid evidence now reveals how Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza have been deliberately placing their civilian population in mortal danger, choreographing a number of seemingly gory scenes, as well as releasing images from other conflicts, such as Iraq and Syria, and passing them off as dead Gazan civilians killed by Israeli missiles. In an attempt to persuade the world that Israel is committing war crimes and to distract attention away from the illegal and immoral use of their own population as human shields, Hamas has resorted to staging a number of fake deaths and scenes of severely injured people right in front of international TV crews. The BBC recently broadcast a news report showing a man being carried off by four others, seemingly the victim of an Israeli missile strike, only for him to reappear in the same clip a few seconds later wandering around completely unharmed. The same organization's Jon Donnison yesterday re-tweeted a picture of the dead body of a young girl on a stretcher in Gaza with the headline "Heartbreaking," only for it to transpire that the girl had sadly been killed three weeks earlier in Syria. Such is the sometimes chaotic nature of the situation on the ground in Gaza that mistakes can be made, but according to Paul Hirschson, spokesman for Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hamas has crossed a red line even in the Arab world by promoting the use of images of dead people – children in particular – against the tradition of their religion and the expected respect for the dead. Hirschson told FoxNews.com that, "There's no question that there are civilians being killed and injured on both sides of this conflict, but respect for the dead within the Muslim world is a core principal and what Hamas is doing is in contradiction to the customs and traditions of the local community.
"As in Judaism, Islam believes in taking the body and burying it at the first opportunity," he said. "Even Al Jazeera is sensitive to this and has blanked out faces as it is an invasion of privacy. This is a cynical abuse of respect and privacy and is not something that is reconcilable with the norms of the community. There are certain moral and ethical codes that we all behave by. In Egypt and Jordan this stuff doesn't get published. Hamas are going to suffer for it amongst their own." Does the apparent manipulation of pictures, the "photoshopping" of images to suggest scenarios that later prove to be false, suggest a desperation then on the part of the Islamists to persuade the outside world of their opinion, regardless of the truth being told or not told? "Hamas is using these pictures in order to deliberately incite Arab public opinion because their leadership is disappointed at the relative lack of public pressure throughout the Arab world on Arab governments to support Hamas," Hirschson argued. "That could be for a number of reasons, but it could very well be because in Syria, in Egypt, or in Bahrain, for example, they have problems of their own. The other factor is that, yes, we have seen a rise in Islamists in the Arab world, but not everyone there is excited at that prospect. It is significant that there has barely been anything from Gaza's brothers in the Palestinian Authority. The (West Bank) leadership is nauseated with Hamas." Some argue that Hamas' manipulation of images is effectively undermining their own case and risking losing public sympathy as viewers and readers cannot be sure if the suffering being displayed is genuine. Those instances of real tragedy and trauma become lost in a fog of spin and manipulation. "War has very ugly consequences," Hirschson continued. "The one thing I don't want to do is to suggest it is all staged, that there are no injuries, and this is all a bluff. People are being killed on both sides, and sadly sometimes uninvolved people are being killed and hurt. I'm not all that concerned about those who are involved (in terrorism), but the manipulation of images, the faking of images, and the presenting of images from other conflicts as fact on the ground in Gaza, is a cynical ploy on the part of Hamas." On Monday, a number of foreign journalists were injured when a media center in Gaza was hit by an Israeli missile. Hirschson suggests that Islamic Jihad had deliberately positioned their command and control center in the building.
"Whether or not those international crews knew that Islamic Jihad were there is unclear. But by effectively using the media as human shields, nothing less than a war crime is being committed," he concluded.
Paul Alster is an Israel-based broadcast journalist who blogs at www.paulalster.com and can be followed on Twitter @paulalster