Tuesday, April 25, 2017

One of My Weaker Memos.

Our dear friends, Susana and Charlie Bourland attended the Communion of their Grandson.
Erickson also says shut it down. (See 1 below.)
Can my friend, Bret Stephen's, be comfortable in his new home? (See 2 below.)

Is N Korea a weapon supplying surrogate on Israel's door step? (See 2a and 2b below.)
A picture is worth a thousand words: " An entertaining and easy visual way to understand what has been happening with US immigration.   Also watch the lower left of the screen.  For the past 200 years where have all the people been coming from? Notice what happens after 1970. 

What should one believe Obama's claim regarding fossil fuels and their alleged social costs? Is it based on junk science? (See 3 below.)
Yesterday, Saudi Arabia was appointed to a seat on the U.N's Commission on the Status of Women.  Talk about hypocrisy. Talk about an organization that is worthless.  If Trump does not cut our contribution to the U.N. by some $300 million, as stated, he is a fool.
Markets continue on their move based on the fact that France will probably stay in the E.U.,war is not going to break out before the weekend and rumors relating to Trump's tax proposals are finding favor in Wall Street.. The higher it goes the more overvalued it is unless earnings begin to rise and GDP growth kicks in above 2 plus %.  We are in new statistical territory so selling pressure should not be overly oppressive for a while barring some unforeseen event.

1) Shut Down the Government, Please

My daughter’s fifth grade class is headed to Washington in the next week to tour the city and see the sights. It would suck if the Smithsonian were closed. Nonetheless, I find myself cheering on a government shutdown, if only to give the GOP a chance to show how much of the government sustains itself.

We have reached a point where polling shows more Americans than ever want a giant, robust government doing all sorts of things. That is a terrible position to be in as we sail past $20 trillion in national debt. Americans need to be reminded that the world will not end if the government shuts down. They need to be reminded to take care of themselves instead of relying on Uncle Sam’s teat.
A government shutdown with the GOP in charge would be a far different thing from a government shutdown run by Democrats. President Obama tried to inflict maximum pain on the American people to force the GOP to reopen government. President Trump, instead, could take a different approach and use the experience to show Americans how out of control government has really gotten.
We are cruising past $20 trillion in debt. While I favor a 15% corporate tax rate because I think the economic growth and capital repatriation it would cause would offset debt concerns, I do think both parties must worry about the debt. And I think Washington not spending money would be a very good thing, even if my kid doesn’t get a chance to see inside the Smithsonian.
2) New York Times Marks Holocaust Remembrance Day by Defending Iran and Smearing Israel

avatarby Ira Stoll

The New York Times marked Holocaust Remembrance Day with an editorial condemning what it called the American government’s “ominous tendency to demonize Iran” and a news article accusing “Zionist forces” of eradicating a Palestinian village.

The Times has been editorially plumping for Iran for years. But it takes a certain exquisite level of tone-deaf obtuseness to choose — on a day devoted to commemorating the victims of the Holocaust — to publish an editorial essentially carrying water for the Holocaust-denying, Jew-killing terror-supporting regime in Tehran.
On any day, such an editorial would be cringe-inducing and objectionable. But on this particular day, it’s enough to make a person want to toss the newspaper aside in disgust.

The Times editorial complains that the Trump administration has a tendency to “misrepresent the threat” that Iran presents. Yet it also concedes that the administration’s concerns about “Iran’s meddling in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, its support for extremists and its capacity to fan regional tensions” are “legitimate.”

Well, if the concerns are indeed “legitimate,” how does reporting them, accurately, to Congress constitute a misrepresentation?

The Times seems to worry that they might lead to military action against Iran:
Where exactly is Mr. Trump going with this? His comments echo statements used by past presidents when they tried to build a case for military action, as, for instance, against Iraq. This is not the time for such action.
When, one wonders, would be the time for such action? After Iran nukes an Israeli city? Or after it bombs another Jewish community center? Or after it funds more missiles and rockets aimed at Israeli Jews from Gaza and Lebanon? Or after it jails more Americans on phony charges?

The Times insistence that now “is not the time” for military action against Iran might be more credible if the editorial set out guidelines for when it would be time for such action. In the absence of such guidelines, one suspects that the Times would never support it, no matter how many Jews are killed. Or that there is some acceptable level of Jew-killing that the Times doesn’t think warrants a military response. What a strange message for Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The news article isn’t any better. “Oldest Holocaust Museum Recasts Lessons as ‘a Warning Sign’” is the headline over a dispatch from the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum in Israel. It includes this passage:
The museum does not shy away from dealing with Israel’s own inner conflicts. Its Center for Humanistic Education, founded in 1995 by Raya Kalisman after she spent a year at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, runs a six-month program for Jewish, Arab and Druze high school students, mostly from northern Israel. The program encourages the students to confront the complexity of their identities as citizens of the country.
Reflecting that complexity, Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot was established in the vicinity of Al-Sumeiriya, a Palestinian village that Zionist forces occupied and destroyed in the 1948 war over Israel’s independence, turning its inhabitants into refugees.

While paying rhetorical homage to “complexity,” the Times one-sentence account of what happened in Al-Sumeiriya is a disturbing example of the perils of oversimplification. The Times has a lead editorial complaining about “the ominous tendency to demonize Iran,” but this passage in the news article is an example of what might be called the “ominous tendency to demonize Israel.”

Don’t just take my own word for it. Here is how the Times itself reported the situation, in its May 15, 1948 edition. The newspaper carried the text of Israel’s Declaration of Independence: “In the midst of wanton aggression we call upon the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to return to the ways of peace and play their part in the development of the state, with full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its bodies and institutions, provisional or permanent.”

The newspaper reported that Arab troops were massing for an invasion, and that “the Arab League’s General Secretariat proclaimed last night that a state of war exists between the Arab countries and Palestine Jewry.”
And under the headline “Haganah Reports Capture of Acre,” the Times reported, “a United Press dispatch from Haifa and Arab sources in Beirut, Lebanon, reported the Jewish capture of Ez Zib and El Bassa, two small towns between Acre and the Lebanese border. [Sumaria, in the same region, was also reported captured.]”

As Ephraim Karsh detailed in his 2000 Commentary article “Were the Palestinians Expelled?” some of the Palestinian Arab flight during 1948 was engendered by Arabs. Jews were urging the Arabs to stay. It was a wartime situation in which not only “Zionist forces,” but also surrounding Arab armies, were on the move.
As for the particular case of Al-Sumeiriya, details are scant, but those there are, even from sources highly sympathetic to the Arab side of the story, suggest a narrative that conflicts with the Times fantasy of a Zionist occupation and destruction.

In an article titled “The Zionist Occupation of Western Galilee, 1948,” published in the Spring, 1974 issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies, Nafez Abdullah Nazal reports on interviews he conducted in Lebanon with families who came from Al-Sumeiriya.

Nazal reports: “During the day of May 13, Yusuf Nafa’a, believed to be an officer in the Arab Liberation Army stationed at Acre, visited the village and assured the villagers of military aid in case of a Jewish attack.” The Arab Liberation Army, the article further explains, “was an army of volunteers from the various Arab countries, formed by the Arab League on January 1, 1948 under control of the Arab League Military Committee in Damascus.”

Nazal goes on: “At dawn the next day, a Jewish force approached the village from the north-west. The few families remaining in the village began to flee to the neighboring villages…only about thirty-five armed men remained in the village to repel the Jewish attack.”

Even by May 13, Nazal reports, “many of the villagers had already moved their families out of the village. A few armed men remained in the village to protect it.”

Nazal quotes “Ahmad Ibrahim Yusuf, a farmer and a member of the village militia”:
It was impossible to withstand the Jewish attack on two fronts. We were very few in number and very poorly armed. We attempted to repel the attack from the north-west, but we never expected this armored unit to approach our village on the main road from Acre, since we assumed that Acre was still in Arab hands… We retreated, leaving behind many killed and injured.
Nazal reports further:
I was told that among those who remained in the village were Zaynab al-Zayneh, her husband, and their three children. Her oldest son left the village with the rest of the villagers. The family is still separated. (Ibrahim Taher Sa’iyah, interviewed at ‘Ain al-Hilweh, Lebanon, March 1, 1973.)
In other words, at least five Arabs who chose to remain in the village were allowed to do so. That conflicts with the Times narrative that “Zionist forces occupied and destroyed” the village, “turning its inhabitants into refugees.” So does the fact that most of the villagers left before the “Zionist forces” even got there, and that most of those who remained weren’t unarmed “inhabitants” but rather a garrison of armed combatants.
I mention all this not so much to re-litigate the story of Israel’s War of Independence, but to underscore how grotesque it is that the Times has managed to turn a news article about Holocaust remembrance into an opportunity to launch false accusations against the founders of the Jewish state. The Times perfervid fantasy of marauding Zionist occupiers liquidating Arab villages goes well beyond the facts recounted by even the fleeing villagers themselves in the Journal of Palestine Studies. It seems un-moored to reality. The Times cites no evidence or historical sources to support its claims.

Happy Holocaust Remembrance Day to you.

2a) Right From Wrong: North Korea on Israel’s doorstep
“The greatest threat we face from [Supreme Leader] Kim Jong-un is probably not a suicidal attack against the United States or our allies in Northeast Asia with nuclear missiles.” Iran is reacting angrily to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s announcement last Tuesday, and to subsequent comments made by US Defense Secretary James Mattis Wednesday during a visit to Saudi Arabia, about the launch of a review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed between Tehran and world powers in July 2015.

On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif – a chief negotiator of the nuclear deal – tweeted: “Worn-out US accusations can’t mask its admission of Iran’s compliance with JCPOA, obligating US to change course & fulfill its own commitments.”

Zarif was referring to claims by the Trump administration that it would not walk away from the deal in the meantime.

The part that Zarif and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have been leaving out of their anti-American rhetoric – and assertions that the US is the party violating the agreement – is the real reason for Washington’s review of the JCPOA, which in any case merely delays Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

As Tillerson explained, it is Iran’s “alarming and ongoing provocations that export terror and violence, destabilizing more than one country at a time” that make it necessary to prevent the regime in Tehran from “travel[ing]... the same path as North Korea.”

Indeed, even as it engaged in repeated talks with representatives of the P5+1 countries (the US, the UK, China, France, Russia and Germany), Iran continued funding and training terrorists across the Middle East to do its dirty work.

One of its key proxies is Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Shi’ite organization that has also been fighting on the ground in Syria on behalf of President Bashar Assad.

Though Iran unveiled missiles inscribed with a Hebrew warning about wiping Israel off the map, it nevertheless has been relying on Hezbollah, situated along Israel’s northern border, to carry out this objective, bit by bit, through battles of attrition that involve both limited terrorist operations and all-out war. Its last major military campaign against the Jewish state took place in the summer of 2006. The 34-day Second War in Lebanon, during which rockets blitzed northern Israel and reached as far south as Haifa, culminated in UN Security Council Resolution 1701, according to which Hezbollah would be prevented from re-arming.

Before the ink on that resolution was dry, however, the terrorist group began to rebuild its arsenal and recruit additional fighters – all courtesy of Iran.

When it set up shop in Syria, with weapons provided by Tehran and Moscow, Israel – abandoned by the Obama administration – was forced to appeal to Russia.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Kremlin several times, to “coordinate” military air traffic with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Netanyahu requested and reportedly received an assurance from Putin that he would not shoot down any Israel Air Force jets conducting strikes against Hezbollah convoys from Syria transporting weapons to its base in Lebanon.

So far, this arrangement seems to have been kept, as a few alleged Israeli attacks on such convoys have been carried out successfully, without interference from Moscow. Even more significant is the fact that these convoys reportedly contained advanced North Korean missiles.

Nor is this the first evidence of the tight ties between Tehran and Pyongyang. In fact, North Korea has been in nuclear cahoots with Iran for years. Tillerson’s concern, therefore, is as apt as it is late in coming.

Israel, the only US ally in the Middle East that actually shares its democratic system and values, hasn’t had the luxury of ignoring such developments, which constitute a concrete threat to its survival.

To prepare for the next, inevitable war with Hezbollah, backed openly by Iran and indirectly by North Korea, the IDF has been busy reinforcing its defensive positions along its northern border.

In a rare move, according to a Ynet report Thursday, members of the propaganda wing of Hezbollah took a group of Lebanese journalists on a tour of the border, and provided details – including the name of the head of the IDF Northern Command – of Israeli preparations, which he called a shift “from an offensive doctrine to a defensive one.”

One Hezbollah officer spelled out the large-scale engineering operation, launched by the IDF last August, to prevent terrorist infiltration. This included the building of trenches and erection of a fence around the seven-mile-long area of Har Dov (also known as the Shebaa Farms).

Last April, with a fifth North Korean missile test looming, former US vice president Dick Cheney’s national security adviser, John Hannah, lauded Israel for enabling America to “dodge a bullet in Syria” by bombing the North Korean-built plutonium-producing reactor in the town of al-Kibar, in the desert east of Damascus, in 2007.

In a piece in the journal Foreign Affairs, Hannah – a senior counselor at Washington-based policy institute the Foundation for Defense of Democracies – used the story of active North Korean involvement in Syria 10 years ago to warn against its behavior today. “The greatest threat we face from [Supreme Leader] Kim Jong-un is probably not a suicidal attack against the United States or our allies in Northeast Asia with nuclear missiles,” he wrote. “Rather, the more likely danger is that North Korea’s tyrant sells part of his ever-expanding nuclear arsenal to other rogue actors that mean us harm.”

The Trump administration’s current review of the Iran nuclear deal is not likely to reveal anything worse than has already been publicized about the disastrous document, which simply provides Tehran time and money to keep its centrifuges going.

Of greater importance is its tough stance on North Korea, whose demented dictator is not only unpredictable but doesn’t even pretend to observe international agreements.

Let us hope that Israeli authorities have been supplying their American counterparts with the proof that Pyongyang has Tehran’s back. Seeing North Korea’s shadow of Iran’s footprint on the edge of the Jewish state, the rest of us can pray that Tillerson’s threat about “all options [being] on the table” is not empty.

The writer is an editor at the Gatestone Institute




In rare remarks, IDF MAG hints that he would approve more targets than were approved in the 2006 Lebanon War in the event of a new conflict between Israel, Hezbollah

The IDF Military Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Sharon Afek hinted strongly on Tuesday that he will approve a wider range of Lebanese targets than were approved in the 2006 Lebanon War in the event of a new war with Hezbollah.

Speaking at a Ramat Gan conference of military Judge Advocate General (JAG) officers from as many as 20 countries around the world, Afek said that “Hezbollah’s integration into state institutions raises questions of state responsibility.”

He continued saying, “Hezbollah’s location of its military assets in dense urban areas raise questions about how to implement the principle of proportionality.”

All of this is in the context in which Israel’s newer foes like Hezbollah “create operational and strategic challenges by the fact that they directly target civilian populations, act in urban environments and make ground operations necessary in order to locate their military assets,” said Afek.

While legal advisers like the MAG never completely share their hand in advance of a war of what targets they will approve, it is even rare for such advisers to publicly and specifically cite a potential targeting issue.

The statement was that much more unusual with an ongoing line of reports from the security establishment that in a future conflict with Hezbollah, the IDF would “take off the gloves” and attack wider Lebanese targets. In contrast, in the 2006 Lebanon War, the IDF overwhelmingly focused its attacks on Hezbollah controlled areas in order to avoid striking Lebanese-Sunni and Christian areas viewed as unaffiliated with Hezbollah’s military actions.

However, since 2006, Israeli officials have said that Hezbollah has taken deeper control of the state and that the Lebanese state is now more directly supporting even Hezbollah’s military efforts.
3) The phony ‘social cost of carbon’
The war on fossil fuels ignores carbon’s benefits
By Paul Driessen and Roger Bezdek 

The “social cost of carbon” (SCC) is the foundation for numerous Obama-era energy policies, regulations and programs. Under complex SCC metrics, agencies calculate the “hidden costs” of carbon-dioxide emissions associated with fossil fuel use, assigning a dollar value to each ton of carbon dioxide emitted by power plants, factories, homes, vehicles and other sources.
Originally, in 2010, every ton of U.S. emissions averted was thought to prevent about $25 in global societal costs allegedly resulting from dangerous man-made climate change: less coastal flooding and tropical disease, fewer droughts and extreme weather events, for example.
Within three years, regulators increased the SCC to around $40 per ton, the better to justify the Clean Power Plan, the Paris climate agreement, and countless actions on electricity generation, drilling, fracking, methane, pipelines, vehicle mileage and appliance efficiency standards, livestock operations, carbon taxes, and wind, solar and biofuel mandates and subsidies.
The Trump administration is challenging this climate cataclysm edifice — prompting activists to launch campaigns asserting that the SCC is so rooted in solid science and economics that any attempted rollback would fail.
In reality, the social cost of carbon is little more than junk science and garbage in-garbage out forecasting. That’s why the House science subcommittees on oversight and the environment are holding an investigative hearing on the subject.
First, the supposed bedrock for the concept is the shifting sands of climate chaos theory. New questions are arising almost daily about data quality and manipulation, the degree to which carbon dioxide affects global temperatures, the complex interplay of solar, cosmic ray, oceanic and other natural forces, and the inability of computer models to predict temperatures, sea-level rise or hurricanes.
Meanwhile, as the 2015-16 El Nino dissipated, average global temperatures have fallen back to their 1998-2014 level, according to Britain’s Meteorological Office. That means there has been no measurable planetary warming for 18 years.

The very notion that U.S. emissions impose significant climate costs is increasingly indefensible — and developing nations are burning fossil fuels and emitting carbon dioxide at many times the U.S. rate.
Second, the SCC scheme blames American emissions for supposed costs worldwide. It incorporates almost every conceivable cost of oil, gas and coal use on crops, forests, coastal cities, property, “forced migration,” human health, nutrition and disease.

However, it utterly fails to mention, much less analyze, tremendous and obvious carbon benefits.
This violates a 1993 executive order signed by President Bill Clinton requiring that federal agencies assess both benefits and costs of proposed regulations. It is also irrational, completely contrary to human experience.
Fossil fuels created the modern world and lifted billions out of destitution and disease. They supply over 80 percent of the energy that powers the United States and other modern civilizations, and will continue doing so for decades to come. They generate up to $70 trillion in annual global gross domestic product.
Using readily available data on global living standards, economies, disease, nutrition, life spans and other benefits — and the government’s own SCC cost figures and methodologies — we estimate that carbon benefits exceed costs by orders of magnitude: at least 50 to 1 and as much as 500 to 1.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that fossil fuels will provide 75-80 percent of worldwide energy through 2040 — when the total amount of energy consumed will be at least 25 percent greater than today. That means these notable benefit-cost ratios will continue.
Third, SCC schemes likewise impute only costs to carbon-dioxide emissions. However, as thousands of scientific studies verify, rising levels of this miracle molecule are “greening” the Earth — reducing deserts and improving forests, grasslands, drought resistance, crop yields and human nutrition.
No matter which government report or discount rate is used, asserted social costs of carbon dioxide are infinitesimal compared to its estimated benefits.
Fourth, government officials claim they can accurately forecast damage to the world’s climate, economies, populations and ecosystems from U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions over the next two to three centuries. They say we must base today’s energy policies, laws and regulations on those forecasts.
The notion is indefensible, even delusional. The rate of change in energy generation, communication, medical and other technologies has become exponential over the past several decades, but forecasting ability has not. Uncertainties over natural forces and climate change during the coming decades and centuries are colossal.
Amid all the other SCC assumptions, injecting such predictions into high-speed computer models simply paints scientific varnish over a phony endeavor.
Politicians, activists and corporate rent-seekers certainly welcome the intellectual special effects and facades, but taxpayers and consumers should be wary of the power that the SCC gives them over energy, economic growth, livelihoods and living standards.
Eliminating the social cost of carbon and programs implemented under its aegis requires little more than applying the same rules and standards that government regulators have imposed on Volkswagen, Fiat and Wall Street dishonesty.
However, rooting out this government deception is far more important, because the scope, impact and cost of the agenda-driven SCC chicanery are infinitely greater, affecting every aspect of our lives.
Congress, President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt need to review, rescind and defund the scheme and replace it with honest, objective cost-benefit analyses.
• Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. Roger Bezdek is an energy analyst and president of Management Information Services, Inc.

No comments: