Sunday, February 29, 2004

Here's a joke that's been going around. I've received it so many times via email that I thought I'd post it for you to read too!

Subject: President Bush
George Bush goes to a primary school to talk about the war. After his talk he offers question time. One little boy puts up his hand and George asks him what his name is.


"And what is your question, Billy?"

"I have 3 questions. First, why did the USA invade Iraq without the support of the UN? Second, why are you President when Al Gore got more votes? And third, whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden?"

Just then the bell rings for recess. George Bush informs the kiddies that they will continue after recess. When they resume George says, "OK, where were we? Oh that's right question time. Who has a question?"

Another little boy puts up his hand. George points him out and asks him what his name is.


"And what is your question, Steve?"

"I have 5 questions. First, why did the USA invade Iraq without the support of the UN? Second, why are you President when Al Gore got more votes? Third, whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden? Fourth, why did the recess bell go 20 minutes early? And fifth, what happened to Billy?"
"I was not ready to give up cocaine though... After all, some of my best stories were inspired by drug-­fueled writing" -- Former NYTimes reporter, Jayson Blair, in his soon-to-be-released "Burning Down My Masters' House."
Hooray! Another entertaining, enjoyable, enlightening, and fun "On Language" by William Safire in this week's magazine. What excited me most was his mention of the "horse race" of politics, given the heavy emphasis my professors are placing on the phrase this semester.

<< There is one word that Kerry and his connotation-conscious top staff deliberately resist: ''I don't like the word front-runner,'' Shrum told The Times, ''and John Kerry abominates it.''

This is one of the many horse-racing terms adopted by political writers. >>
Great article, read the whole thing (just click on the link above!)
While I agree with the beginning of this op-ed in today's Times, namely that the real question regarding gay marriage of how it will affect society, is not being asked. However, I totally disagree with the author's explanation and think that his own answer (that it will weaken the institution of marriage and perhaps give adulterous spouses more wiggleroom) does not really get to the bottom of the issue. Maybe next week...
Perhaps from this Washington Post article we can uncover the reason as to why my GSM cellular phone did not work on a recent trip to Israel.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

You know an article is important when, the night before it even hits the newsstands, it's already #17 on the "top 25 most emailed articles" on There are so many good points in this article about anti-Semitism in France that it's impossible for me to comment on each of them. However, I would like to highlight one short paragraph:

<< Stora said that when she complained to Hanna's teacher about the anti-Semitic remarks, the teacher was dismissive. ''Of course it's because of Sharon,'' Stora recalled the teacher saying. ''I'm surprised your daughter takes it so personally.'' >>

Can someone explain to me, LOGICALLY, how criticism of the Israeli Prime Minister translates into the harsh anti-Jewish comments the author writes about [read the rest of the article to understand the context here]?

The great thing about this article is that it really debunks all the stupidity around the excuses coming out of Europe. If you read nothing else from this blog today, PLEASE read this one.
More on SCOTUS justice Scalia's recent hunting trips [follow up from yesterday's news clipings], this one from the NYTimes editorial page.
In light of the fact that Palestinians have been killing for "the right of return" so that descendents [or not] of landowners in pre-Israel "Palestine" can return to their ancestors' homes, the reaction of the Iraqi Governing Council to a similar issue is quite striking. According to this article, there seems to be little will within the IGC to allow Jews to return to the homes they either left or were evicted from beginning in the 1950's. Among other things, they claim that such a move would isolate them in the Arab world given the current climate in that world toward Israel. That's true. Nonetheless, apparently Paul Bremer dropped the ball on this one. If they can have a 'right of return' why can't Jews? Read the article, it's quite telling.
Mazel tov to NYTimes columnist, David Brooks, on his son's bar mitzva this morning in Washington, DC. May he continue to be a source of nachas and inspiration to all of klal yisrael! Here's a moving and poignant piece printed in today's Times that he wrote in his son's honor. Mazel Tov!!!

Friday, February 27, 2004

Today's headlines:

<<Blair Government Beset By UN Spying Charge.

CBS Evening News (2/26, story 3, 2:10, Rather) reported, "A former member of Prime Minister Tony Blair's Cabinet accused the British government today of spying inside the United Nations, and she said the United States was involved. But the real eye-opener is who the target was." CBS (Phillips) added, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan "apparently…was being spied on -- his every word being listened to by the two countries most intent on waging that war: The US and Great Britain."

NBC Nightly News (2/26, story 3, 2:50, Brokaw) reported, "If true, it might not be the first time, and it might not be a surprise to the US." NBC (Mitchell) added, "Tonight the British…do not deny the charge. The US would not comment, but one senior official said, ‘I am shocked, shocked that anyone would try to collect information on international diplomacy.’"

The Los Angeles Times (2/27, Daniszewski) reports, "Blair, already under pressure at home for his handling of the war, called the comments" by a former Cabinet member "‘deeply irresponsible’ and refused to confirm or deny them. ‘Our security services in this country exist for a reason, as they always have done, and that is to protect Britain, to protect this country,’ the prime minister said. It would be a ‘very dangerous situation’ if people thought they could just ‘spill out allegations, whether false or true...and get away with it.’"

The Washington Post (2/27, A12, Frankel) reports, "The United Nations reacted sharply to the allegations, asserting that any attempt to eavesdrop on the secretary general would constitute a violation of three international treaties that govern diplomatic relations. ‘From our point of view it is indeed illegal’ to spy on UN premises, said Annan's chief spokesman, Fred Eckhard. But he noted that there was little the United Nations could do about it. ‘The United Nations doesn't have a police force or any other means of enforcing these laws,’ he said.">>

So basically what he's saying is that the United Nations has laws that prohibit certain actions but no infrastructure established to punish the perps? I would've never guessed!!!

Here's a funny story:

<<Chairman Of Smith & Wesson Resigns After Armed Robbery Convictions Surface. The Wall Street Journal (2/27, O’Connell) reports, "The chairman of Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., the nation's second-largest gun manufacturer, resigned after it was disclosed that he spent time in prison in the 1950s and '60s for an armed-robbery spree and an attempted prison escape." The Journal continues, "James J. Minder, a 74-year-old management consultant and Smith & Wesson board member who became chairman in January, has had a clean criminal record since his 1969 release from prison.">>

<<Scalia Went Hunting With Lawyers While Cases Were Before Court. The Los Angeles Times (2/27, Serrano, Savage) reports, "Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was the guest of a Kansas law school two years ago and went pheasant hunting on a trip arranged by the school's dean, all within weeks of hearing two cases in which the dean was a lead attorney. The cases involved issues of public policy important to Kansas officials. Accompanying Scalia on the November 2001 hunting trip were the Kansas governor and the recently retired state Senate president, who flew with Scalia to the hunting camp aboard a state plane. Two weeks before the trip, University of Kansas School of Law Dean Stephen R. McAllister, along with the state's attorney general, had appeared before the Supreme Court to defend a Kansas law to confine sex offenders after they complete their prison terms. Two weeks after the trip, the dean was before the high court to lead the state's defense of a Kansas prison program for treating sex criminals." The Times adds, "In a written statement, Scalia said: ‘I do not think that spending time at a law school in which the counsel in pending cases was the dean could reasonably cause my impartiality to be questioned. Nor could spending time with the governor of a state that had matters before the court.’">>

It seems that his recent trip with VP Cheney was just the tip of the iceberg and may be common practice for this SCOTUS justice. While he may not have violated any laws outright, it does taint his reputation, taints the trust the public has in the institution he represents, and (though he denies it) could taint his impartiality. After all, if you're buddying up with one side, aren't you more likely to find favor in their arguments? We're all fallible when it comes to bribes...I find it quite difficult to believe that he is above human nature and am concerned about this troubling trend.

<<Audit Finds NASA Unable To Account For Public Property Worth $34 Million. The HoustonChronicle (2/27, Reinert) reports, "NASA has lost about $34 million in government property since 1997 and has failed to keep track of items ranging from outdated laptops to a $300,000 robot. An audit found $58 million in items missing, but about $24 million of the property was later accounted for. The space agency concedes it has no idea what happened to the rest. Members of Congress say that even though a lot of the items show up later, the shoddy record-keeping hurts efforts to gain support for boosting NASA's budget.">>

Ooops? Hey, that's 74% of A-Rod's salary for the year! I know, NASA has an enormous budget and $34B is but a drop in the bucket, but for we common-folk, that is a large sum of cash. They really should be keeping track of this stuff a bit better. Or is this institutional carelessness on the part of NASA? From lax accounting to not making sure the spacecraft are safe for re-entry....

<<Grasso Refuses To Return Any Of The $139.5 Million Paid To Him Last Year. The Washington Post (2/27, E1, White) reports, "Former NYSE chairman Dick Grasso is refusing to return any of the $139.5 million paid to him last year by the exchange and may seek over $50 million more that he believes he is owed, according to Grasso's attorney. In a sharply worded letter sent on Thursday to NYSE interim chairman John S. Reed, Grasso's attorney, Brendan V. Sullivan Jr., argued that the former head of the exchange did nothing wrong in accepting the $139.5 million payment, which mainly covered Grasso's eight years as chairman.">>

What? He doesn't want to return the money? Another shocker.

<<EU Sanctions On Some US Goods Set To Begin Monday. The Washington Post (2/27, E1, Weisman) reports, "With Congress deadlocked on a remedy, the United States on Monday will for the first time feel the bite of trade sanctions imposed under World Trade Organization rules, when U.S. exporters begin paying duties to Europe that could top $300 million this year. … Free-trade advocates fear that the first WTO-sanctioned penalties will revive arguments in Washington that the United States has ceded its sovereignty to a politically unaccountable international body. And, they said, by not complying with an international trade authority it helped establish, the United States may provide an excuse for other countries to flout WTO rulings.">>

I'm not quite sure that's the best way to reinforce our economy, is it?
Some insight, from Ha'aretz into the "state of the union" in the Palestinian territories in the grips of arch-terrorist, Yassir Arafat.
While I'd prefer not to quote Rush Limbaugh for anything other than jokes (he is, after all, nothing more than another entertainer), he did bring up a great point this afternoon, sometime around 1:45pm.

In a speech last fall before the Arab American Institute, John Kerry berated Israel's security fence, probably in an attempt to pander to his audience, saying, "I know how disheartened Palestinians are by the Israeli government's decision to build the barrier off the green line cutting deep into Palestinian areas. We don't need more barriers to peace."

Earlier this week, however, he actually seemed to support the idea. Senator Kerry, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post, said, "Israel's security fence is a legitimate act of self-defense. No nation can stand by while its children are blown up at pizza parlors and on buses."

Which will it be senator? A "yea" for the fence in support of Israel, or a "nea" for the fence, in support of the Palestinians?

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Does the New York Times really think that an op-ed like the one in today's edition by Michael Oren actually makes up for the harm done by yesterday's piece by Noam Chomsky? I'd say there's no way they're quite that naive, but they are, after all, the New York Times and they probably are that naive.

I'm too upset about the article to post anything that I wouldn't be upset about later, or that my audience would not admonish me for posting online, so I'll keep quiet. But I do think it was very indicative of the opinions and views of the members of the NYTimes op-ed page board. They're just not intelligent enough to follow it up with a comparable piece by, say, Meir Kahane. Not because I necissarily believe that Kahane was right [as the bumper stickers say all over Israel], but that Chomsky's piece was so vitriolic that the only way to balance it would be printing something on par with Kahane's writings. There, I'm done, comment if you'd like.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Another Recess Appointment

Ah, yes, I almost forgot to mention this one. President Bush made another recess judicial appointment yesterday. Gee, if I were a Democrat in the Senate, I'd really plead with Sen. Frist to cancel all recesses from now on at risk of having him appiont every judge he's nominated up to this point. Oh well. Poor Dems.

In other White House news, President Bush's dog (the "First Dog"?) passed on today. Spot, who was actually born in the White House on March 17, 1989, will be sorely missed. A national day of mourning is in the works, along with dog appreciation day, and an "American Idol" type competition to pick another "First Dog."
Ironic that the Times publishes an op-ed in today's paper [I won't bother linking it, it's not worth your time] that sort of cuts into George Steinbrenner for buying the best team in baseball. Considering this is the 'hometown paper' couldn't they, maybe, support the deal?


Oh, that's right, I forgot. The Times is a partial owner of the Red Sox.

Ironic, isn't it?

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Another article from the NYTimes, this one about security improvements in and around the nation's capital. It's sad to read about it, honestly. The x-ray machines at the Capitol are not that unusual, in this day and age you'd expect something like that in a building that houses our nation's chief legislators. But to see a picture of construction around the White House, walls around the Washington Monument [good thing I got some amazing pictures my last time down there] etc, it's very depressing. They're basically preparing for what goes on Israel, without the bombers [for now, and let's keep it that way]. I wonder what it will look like when I work down there this summer. Ah, but I'll have an official ID tag so I'll have access to it all anyway...yes, the good life.

I guess this would be a good time to publically apologize for my comments on an article from the Christian Science Monitor a few weeks back about a tourist who was afraid to travel the buses of Jerusalem. While I thought it was naive back then, I do see the point and was wrong to belittle and criticize the author. Riding ten or fifteen buses over the course of my stay does not make me an expert. Some might say that I'm lucky, but at no point do [or did] I have the right to make the comments I did. I'm sorry if I offended any readers.
Here's an article detailing the mess that will go on here in New York on primary day next Tuesday. Without the chads, our ballot is confusing enough. Apparently they've listed the delegates names next to the candidates but not all candidates managed to get delegates in each congressional district. Does that mean that a vote for a candidate like John Kerry in a certain district of New York will be meaningless? Or what about a vote for a candidate no longer running, like Joe Lieberman? Or a candidate who is no longer 'actively' running but still in the race, ala Dean and Clark? This article explains it all very clearly. Just read slowly if you need to.
More than William Safire, I do wish that David Brooks would be offered a more frequent column in the New York Times. He always seems to save his best for his Saturday column and this week was no different. An interesting look into the life of a candidate, he shows how mechanical and robot-like presidential candidates [although this would probably apply to any candidate] become as the campaign and the celebrity status progresses.
As we approach the big number, can the 1000th hit to this website PLEASE leave a comment so I know who, when, where you were when the momentous occassion occurs?


Thank you so much,
After much searching [both on Foreign Affairs' own website, Lexis Nexis etc] I've managed to track down an online copy of David Makovsky's article "How to Build A Fence" that appears in the current issue of Foreign Affairs [on newsstands next week] from the website of his own employer, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He recently testified in front of the Middle East Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee along with Amb. Dennis Ross [the text of the hearing is only partially available through Nexis but because a subscription is required, I can't post a link to the transcript]. However, the article that prompted his testimony can be found here. I read it over the weekend [there's also an article by Shilbey Telhami about the U.S., Israel, and the Palestinians but I can't find a link to that one because Foreign Affairs does not post the complete article for free and it hasn't been uploaded to Nexis yet because it's in the upcoming issue which hasn't hit newsstands yet]. Most of the article is pretty good though he does leave some loose ends at some points.

[I'd especially appreciate some feedback from my cousins who, I'm sure, will have much to say about this one.]

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

While I'm under the weather, I thought I'd share a nugget of useless knowledge with my audience:

Candy is dandy, and there's plenty of it out there at this time of year. The Census Bureau, which tracks just about everything, helpfully reports that there were 3,839 candy stores in the United States in 2001, the last year such information was collected. And in 2002, candy consumption totaled 24 pounds for every man, woman and child in America. But that per capita figure was actually down from the 1997 total of 27 pounds. Atkins diet, maybe? For those seeking a less fattening way to celebrate Valentine's Day, it shouldn't be hard to find a florist. There were 23,870 of them nationwide in 2001, the bureau reports. Or to really show off, stop by one of the country's 29,780 jewelry stores. Regardless of the season, diamonds are a girl's best friend.
-CQ Midday Update [2/13/2004]

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Top Ten Reasons Joe Lieberman Dropped out of the Presidential Race

Top Ten Reasons Joe Lieberman Dropped out of the Presidential Race

10. Couldn't get Congress to pass his "Leave work early on Friday" Bill

9. Thought he was running for the Presidency of the White Shul, not the White House

8. Only had enough campaign money to last for one campaign in 2000, but miraculously it lasted through most of a second run

7. Staff was getting tired of starting every conversation with "I don't want to speak about politics on Shabbos, BUT" (Nish Gshabbos geretin)

6. Thought it might effect his kid's shidduch prospects

5. White House wouldn't commit to having mezuzah's in the West Wing

4. Depressed to hear Jon Stewart turned down his VP offer

3. Bottomline: Jewish men can never commit

2. Didn't want the myth "Jews control America" to actually have some truth to it

1. Realized his speeches were boring enough to make it the rabbinate
What's up with all the homosexual marriages taking place in San Francisco these days? My favorite line about them, "They marriage licenses aren't even worth the paper they're printed on." Why does this maverick mayor believe that his stamping a piece of paper can overrule state and federal law? Isn't it enough of an embarassment that his state not only kicked out a sitting governor, but replaced him with a body builder? How much more embarassment can one state bear? I don't get it.
DC Caucus results

As always, John Kerry wins this one, capturing 47%. What's more surprising is the runner-up in this one. It's none other than Al Sharpton with 20%. That's right, Al Sharpton beat Howard Dean! Savor this night, Al, that's the closest you'll get to being elected President.
Will Grills Kerry

A masterful op-ed by the Washington Post's George Will. This is just a great piece, a la David Brooks' piece in last Saturday's NYtimes [I apologize for not posting it]. The only thing better than this one is the knowledge that Will has twenty eight more such questions in mind!!!! I can't wait!
For those who haven't yet noticed, the Washington Post has added a Twenty Most Emailed articles section. One blogger thinks the staffers on the Hill control it, but I beg to differ. Though he used to work up there and should know a bit more than I do, I still think I have a license to argue. Don't I? ;)
Is it marketing or politics?

A NYTimes Magazine describes the lengths to which the RNC and DNC are going to find out who you are, what your interests are, and whether they should waste money to persuade you to vote their way.
How America Doesn't Vote

While I was hoping NYTimes editorial would urge its readers to vote this November, all it does is lambast the government for not allowing people to vote in the first place. Claiming that the process of maintaining election rosters is "shrouded in secrecy" is not exactly what I was hoping for. So I stopped reading.

That doesn't mean you can't though. :)
Women’s Section of Western Wall Closed

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Dung Gate how you enter the plaza, not anywhere near the women's section? The only wall near the women's section is the Western Wall itself, not any of the gates to the Old City, right? I know, I've been gone a few weeks but I don't think I forgot everything...or did I?

Also, isn't it amazing that there are worshipers at the Wall in the middle of the night!?!
What will they do during seder?

According to Israel's pirate radio station, Arutz Sheva, members of the Gur sect of chasidim who are learning in seminary or yeshiva are not allowed to own cell phones. This ban, however, does not apply to those in the business world the article claims.

But what about Cellcom, Orange, Pelefone, Amigo and all the other cellphone companies?!?
It's a blizzard!!!

As of 7:05AM [local time] over three inches of snow have fallen in Jerusalem, Israel's capital city. Schools in Jerusalem [including Hebrew U., though that doesn't help Edna], Gush Etzion, Safed, and parts of the Golan have been closed due to the weather, and Egged buses operating in Jerusalem and leaving Jerusalem seem to be at a standstill at this time.

[It's a snow day for Yonatan! Refu'ah Sheleima b'karov!!!]
Arrow intelligence shared with the enemy?

Could Israelis really be that dumb? According to this Ma'ariv article, it possible that some technology regarding the Arrow missile defense system was shared with members of IBM's Egypt office. I don't assume Israelis to be so dumb as to share sensitive information with the enemy. Not yet, at least.
Foggy Bottom to implement Syria Accountability Act

According to Ma'ariv, Sec.State Powell testified on Wednesday that the State Department is laying the groundwork towards implementing the SAA within the next few weeks.
Snow in Israel!!!

Woohoo! Snow day for students in Jerusalem! I wish I were quite that lucky...well, it's supposed to snow on Wednesday here in New York but probably not that much. We'll see.

Monday, February 09, 2004

HIRC Hearing on the Israeli Security Fence

House International Relations Committee: Subcommittee on Middle East and Central Asia Scheduling Announcement:

On Tuesday, February 10, 2004 at 11:00AM in 2200 RHOB, the Subcommittee will be holding a hearing on the Israeli Fence.

Briefers (Not witnesses?): Amb. Dennis Ross, Director and Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; and David Makovsky, Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

-I'll try to track down the transcript once it's posted on Lexis but have a feeling excerpts will be available in the press even before the hearing concludes.
Here's an article in Ha'aretz that seems to support the position one of its reporters, Zvi Bar'el (whose article was featured below). Apparently the United States will allow Israel to pull out of Gaza but not to relocate those settlers to areas within the West Bank. Nor will they allow Israel to expand settlements in the West Bank in return for the withdrawal from Gaza. Interesting. While this will most definitely save lives in Gaza (both of civilians and soldiers), it's long-term benefit appears to be diminishing somewhat.

[I'm shocked that Uzi Landau is, "vehemently opposed" to the plan. Really, are they sure they got their facts right? Oh, that's right, I met him on my recent trip, he MUST oppose this plan. ;) ]

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Let's try this again...

Reports in Ma'ariv that PM Sharon is once again attempting to draft chareidim into service (either military or national). Hasn't worked before, but let's see what happens this time.
There will be no evacuation from Gaza

A thought-provoking article by Ha'aretz's Zvi Bar'el argues that in the end, Israel will not pull out of the Gaza Strip and brings some very compelling arguments to support his thesis. I had not thought of some of them and this does make me reconsider. I'm not sure how much influence this particular journalist has, but they are definitely points that should be considered (though it seems the plan has already been drafted and will be presented to PM Sharon tomorrow).
Here's a link to the full text of President Bush's interview with Tim Russert on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Ah, the power of blogs. My favorite is the DC Metro Blog Map, a site that lists bloggers according to the nearest Metro stop.
Thanks for the analysis

For those of you who have been sleeping for the past 3.5 years, the Washington Post has just realized that President Bush's policies benefit the business sector.
Good morning America
Among the more mundane results of finding ricin [that's RICE-in for those of you that missed the pronounciation tips the first, say, million times!] in congressional mail is a desire to abolish 'snail mail' entirely, for security reasons. Here's a Washington Post article detailing what happened to the mail, what other members hope to use instead, and the thoughts of affected [and disenfranchised?] constituents.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Putin Blames Chechen Rebels For Moscow Subway Blast; Bush Telephones Condolences. An explosion in Moscow’s subway killed at least 39 people and injured about 130 more today. Police said a suicide bomber was responsible, and President Vladimir Putin accused Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov of being behind the incident. A spokesman for Maskhadov denied the Chechen was responsible and condemned what he called "a bloody provocation." President Bush telephoned Putin this morning to express his condolences. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters, "The President condemns this terrorist attack in the strongest terms. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families." McClellan added, "We stand with Russia in her determination to bring those responsible to justice."

Israel Considering Relocating Settlers From Gaza To West Bank. Spokesman Assaf Shariv said today the Israeli government is considering moving people from the Gaza Strip settlements that are to be vacated to areas of the West Bank Israel wants to annex in a final peace agreement. Shariv said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is examining several options and will present them to US officials. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia called the relocation idea unacceptable, saying, "The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are an integral part of our homeland, and we will not give up even one centimeter of our homeland."

Officials Say Syria Has Resumed Arms Shipments To Hezbollah, Hamas. The New York Times (2/6, Marquis) reports, "Syria has resumed weapons transfers to anti-Israel guerrillas based in Lebanon, including a covert shipment of weapons from Iran smuggled aboard a Syrian cargo plane that had delivered earthquake relief, American and Israeli officials say. The officials said a Syrian government plane that carried aid to Iran in late December had loaded up with small arms and possibly explosives intended for Hezbollah and Hamas, militant groups carrying out armed attacks against Israel. … ‘The supply flights seem to have restarted for Hezbollah and Hamas,’ a State Department official said." The Times adds, "The reports of the weapons shipment appear to derail hopes among some American officials and experts on Syria that the government of President Bashar al-Assad might take a cue from Libya and reach out to the United States and other Western nations."

White House Praises Musharraf For Role In "Breaking Up" Nuclear Proliferation Network. The New York Times (2/6, Sanger, Broad) reports, "The White House praised President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan on Thursday for breaking up what now appears to have been one of the world's largest nuclear proliferation networks, and made little mention of his decision to pardon Abdul Qadeer Khan, the scientist at its center, and terminate any investigations into whether the military was involved. In a reflection of how far the administration is going to bolster General Musharraf, the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, declined to answer questions from reporters traveling here with President Bush about whether the United States would now press Pakistan to sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty."

German Court Acquits 9/11 Hijacker Associate, Cites US Refusal To Cooperate. ABC World News Tonight (2/5, story 6, :20, Jennings) reported, "In Germany, today a Moroccan national accused of helping the September 11th hijackers was cleared of all charges. The judge said the court was not convinced of Abdelghani Mzoudi’s innocence, but did not have enough evidence to convict him. Prosecutors expressed frustration that the US had not in their view, shared information freely."

Pentagon Scraps Internet Voting Plan. CBS Evening News (2/5, story 9, :15, Rather) reported, "The Pentagon today scrapped plans to let Americans overseas, including those in the military, cast their votes next fall over a special Internet computer system. There are concerns hackers might change votes, or that terrorists might gather information on system users."

Halliburton To Run TV Ads Disputing Democratic Attacks About Contracts. The Washington Post (2/6, E3, Spinner) reports, "Halliburton Co. fired back at its political critics yesterday, introducing a television commercial that declares it was awarded lucrative Iraq reconstruction contracts ‘because of what we do, not who we know.’ Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said in a statement that the ad, which features Halliburton chief executive David J. Lesar, addresses ‘misstatements and wrong information put forward recently in the presidential political campaigns.’ … ‘We are clearing up the record,’ she said in the statement. ‘We are very good at what we do, and we have done it for 60 years for both Republican and Democratic administrations.’" Howard Dean, John Kerry and Al Sharpton "have criticized the Houston-based company, where Vice President Cheney was chief executive from 1995 to 2000, after reports that the Pentagon was probing possible overcharges on its contracts in Iraq."

Halliburton CEO Defends Company Against Columnists’ Allegation That Company Evades Taxes. In a New York Times (2/6) letter to the editor, David Lesar writes in response to Bob Herbert’s January 30, column, "Halliburton is not, despite what Mr. Herbert says, a company that goes to great lengths to escape taxes. We have the highest compliance standards, and above all a commitment to ethics. Halliburton has significant business abroad, and pays taxes abroad, for which the United States gives us a tax credit. This is not a loophole; it is how our tax system works. Unlike competitors who operate domestically but have moved their domiciles to tax-haven countries, Halliburton proudly remains an American company and has a higher effective tax rate as a result. Mr. Herbert says we paid $15 million in United States income taxes for 2002. It is only fair to add that we paid this even though we reported to shareholders a large pretax loss on American operations for the period. As to Iraq, I am extremely proud of our employees there who risk their lives every day to provide housing, meals and other vital services to our troops."

Scalia Under Fire For Not Recusing Himself From Energy Task Force Case. CBS Evening News (2/5, story 4, 2:00, Rather) reported that "the US Supreme Court is often at the center of deeply divisive national issue, but this one's different. The issue is whether a member of the court should disqualify himself from a case involving the Vice President of the United States." CBS (Andrews) adds, "Vice President Cheney and Justice Antonin Scalia are friends and hunting buddies, but to many experts, their last trip crossed an ethical line. According to the Los Angeles Times, Scalia last month flew on Air Force 2 with the Vice President from Washington to Patterson, Louisiana, where they then spent several days of duck hunting deep in the bayou. Which wouldn't be a problem, except that the Vice President has a case pending before the Supreme Court. That means a party to a lawsuit, the Vice President, just took on vacation one of the judges who will hear his case. And it's not just any case. Cheney is asking the court to let him keep secret the records of who he met, including lobbyists, while considering the Administration’s energy policy. Several senators, including Patrick Leahy of the Judiciary Committee, wrote the court asking why Scalia has not recused himself." Leahy: "That's law school 101. You have to recuse yourself."

Internal Investigation Finds TSA Allowed Criminals To Hold Screening Positions. The New York Times (2/6, Shenon) reports, "An internal investigation at the Homeland Security Department has found that hiring of tens of thousands of airport screeners after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was so haphazard that many screeners were allowed to remain on duty at security checkpoints for weeks or months after it had been determined that they had serious criminal records. The department's inspector general issued a report on the findings on Thursday. It said screeners remained on the payroll and retained their badges even after the findings that they had been convicted on charges as serious as manslaughter."

Tenet Admits CIA Allowed "Fabricated" Information Into Powell’s Speech, Intelligence Estimate. The Los Angeles Times (2/6, Drogin, Miller) reports, "The most damaging disclosure was Tenet's admission for the first time that the CIA had allowed ‘fabricated’ information from an ‘unreliable’ Iraqi defector about suspected mobile germweapons labs to appear in two key prewar assessments: Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's dramatic presentation to the United Nations Security Council one year ago Thursday, and the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate provided to members of Congress shortly before they voted to approve the use of force in Iraq. … An intelligence official said later that the Iraqi National Congress [INC], then an opposition group headed by exile Ahmad Chalabi, had delivered the defector to the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency for debriefing. Although the DIA initially circulated the informant's claims about mobile labs, the Pentagon agency later backtracked and warned the intelligence community that ‘this individual was possibly fabricating or embellishing his information.’" But "for reasons still unclear, analysts ‘didn't notice’ the warnings, the official said, and failed to prevent the bogus claims from becoming part of Powell's presentation and the official weapons estimate for Congress."

Editor Urges Fellow Journalists To Call On Novak To Reveal His Source. In an op-ed appearing in the New York Times (2/6), journalism professor and former Des Moines Register editor, Geneva Overholser writes, "Never burn a source. It's a cardinal rule of journalism: do not disclose the identity of someone who gives you information in confidence. As a staunch believer in this rule for decades, I have surprised myself lately by concluding that journalists' proud absolutism on this issue - particularly in a case involving the syndicated columnist Robert Novak -- is neitheras wise nor as ethical as it has seemed." Overholser adds, "As a piece of journalism, the Novak column raises disturbing ethical questions. He apparently turned a time-honored use of confidentiality -- protecting a whistleblower from government retribution -- on its head, delivering government retribution to the whistleblower instead. Worse, he enabled his sources to illegally divulge intelligence information. Now Mr. Novak may be called to testify before the grand jury. To most in the press, this signals an immediate duty: stand shoulder to shoulder beside a colleague. But before we all jump to his defense, there are two questions journalists should consider: one about what should not happen in the courtroom, the other about what should not happen in the newspaper. … In this case…journalists should call upon Mr. Novak to acknowledge his abuse of confidentiality and reveal his sources himself - thereby keeping the control of confidentiality in journalistic hands rather than in those of the legal system. Mr. Novak has in the past shown a willingness to identify sources who turn out to be lawbreakers: three years ago he revealed that he had taken information from Robert Hanssen, the Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who spied for the Soviet Union. He needed to divulge his connection to Mr. Hanssen, he wrote, ‘in order to be honest to my readers.’"

Unemployment Rate Falls As 112,000 Jobs Added To Economy. The unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 5.6 percent in January as 112,000 new jobs were added, the Labor Department reported today. Most of the growth was in the services sector, as retailers added 76,000 jobs. The department also said the average work week increased slightly, from 33.5 hours to 33.7. The 5.6 percent figure is the lowest since October of 2001.

Administration Calls Figures Good News, But Says More Needed. Senior Bush Administration officials were quick to issue statements touting the news while saying once again the Administration is not satisfied. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao issued a statement saying, "Today’s news is good news for workers, and it’s yet another sign that the economy has turned the corner and the nation’s job market is getting stronger. The economy has created jobs in each of the last five months, with hundreds of thousands of Americans finding new jobs." Chao added, "The continuing positive economic indicators show that the President’s economic policies are working. We need Congress to quickly pass his Six Point Plan for the Economy and the new Jobs for the 21st Century initiative, to sustain this economic growth and create even more jobs."

Treasury Secretary John Snow issued a statement today, saying, "Today's report on employment marks the fifth straight month of job growth, pushing the number of jobs created over the past five months to over 360,000. The unemployment rate has continued to drop since its peak in June, the largest sevenmonth decline since 1995. We're seeing solid gains in the underlying fundamentals. Manufacturing is showing signs of progress, a services sector index hit its highest level on record in January, consumer confidence is improved, and the housing market continues to be a base of strength for the economy. Following exceptional GDP growth in the third quarter, 2003 ended on solid ground, coming in above the historical average."

Sen. John Edwards’ presidential campaign released a statement in which Edwards said, "Every month, it becomes clear that this President’s economic policies are working just as he planned: thousands of manufacturing jobs are shipped overseas because his trade policies and tax loopholes encourage it; corporate profits keep climbing because they are cutting payrolls and benefits, and our twin deficits -- our budget deficit and trade and capital deficits -- are preventing our country from providing the real investment in our economy that would create hundreds of thousands of jobs every month. This economic policy is great for corporate bottom lines, but it is bad for our workers and spits in the face of our values."

Domenici Plan For Scaled-Down Energy Bill Could Reopen ANWR Fight. A knowledgeable Capitol Hill source tells the Bulletin this morning that a number of House Republicans are prepared to reopen the fight over oil drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) if the Senate passes scaled-down energy legislation as part of the surface transportation reauthorization bill and sends it to the House for conference. In an effort to get comprehensive energy legislation moving again, Senate Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici has said he is working on a bill that would drop liability protection for makers of MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) and cut tax incentives for energy producers. The source said that attaching the bill to the transportation measure, as Domenici has said he plans to do, would likely prompt a number of House Republicans to insist that the starting point for an energy/transportation bill conference be the original energy bill that passed the House, which would reopen debate on ANWR and a number of other contentious issues.

The source added, "We are two votes short of 60, which is the hurdle the Democrats are making us go through. It is the Democrats who are standing between the bill and the President’s desk and we are not going to let them off the hook. There is no reason why Republicans should enact a weaker policy or no policy. So what you may end up seeing is that we bring the House passed bill as our starting point for negotiations and we will work on that. It would be most interesting if you had Don Young negotiating for ANWR in conference. He is a formidable negotiator."

Gephardt Endorses Kerry For President. At a rally in Warren, MI, Rep. Dick Gephardt today endorsed Sen. John Kerry for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination saying that Kerry "is the leader our party and our nation need for the 21st Century" and the Democratic candidate "who will defeat George Bush in November."
In a statement released by the Kerry campaign, Gephardt said, "On the campaign trail, I often said my campaign was not about me, it’s about us. My campaign -- and the support of those who stood with me -- was always about bringing the issues of jobs, economic security, health care, and core Democratic values to the White House. I’m here today with John Kerry because he’s deeply committed to these issues. These are serious times that demand a leader who can go toe-to-toe with George Bush on national security issues, who will defeat George Bush in November, and who is ready to meet the awesome challenges of the Presidency. That leader is John Kerry and that’s why I’m proud to endorse him for President of the United States."

The AP reports this morning that Clark said yesterday that he is against abortion, but that he supports keeping it legal.

Air Force One Aborts Landing Because Of Vehicle On Runway. NBC Nightly News (2/5, story 8, :25, B. Williams) reported, "A rare occurrence today at Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington. Air Force One carrying the President home from South Carolina on final approach prior to landing but note the aircraft pulls back up and circles again before landing. The problem? The Air Force says a vehicle was on the runway and so the first landing attempt was aborted without incident." The New York Times (2/6) reports, "President Bush avoids most of the inconveniences that plague ordinary air travelers, like delays, lines and baggage searches. But on Thursday he got a taste of one: an aborted landing approach."

Jay Leno: "The cable news channel MSNBC has hired Howard Dean's former campaign manager, Joe Trippi, to be a political analyst. Is that a good idea, hiring Dean's former campaign manager? Wait two weeks. You can hire Howard Dean."

Jay Leno: "As you know, John Kerry won five of the seven big contests Tuesday night, bringing him closer to nomination. A number of political analysts say the nomination is John Kerry's to lose, and today Dean said, ‘I can show you how to do that. You know, I did that.’"

Jay Leno: "Today, Dennis Kucinich vowed to stay in the presidential race. Stay in? How about getting in?"

Jay Leno: "Today they reopened the Senate office buildings that were closed earlier in the week because of that ricin scare, that poison scare. You know what ricin is? It's a toxic poison that's harmful when it's inhaled, or as we call it in LA, air."

Jay Leno: "Former California Governor Gray Davis has made a guest appearance on the CBS sitcom ‘Yes, Dear,’ which has got to be nerve-wracking for him. I mean, knowing at any minute if he screws up, he could be replaced by an actor again."

Jay Leno: "Rush Limbaugh's lawyer said today that Limbaugh's drug scandal started with a story in the tabloid newspapers. Really? I thought it started when he bought 40,000 pills from his housekeeper."

Conan O’Brien: "Both John Kerry and Wesley Clark are making campaign appearances with the men who saved their lives in Vietnam. That's what they're doing. Meanwhile, President Bush is going to campaign with a man who once took a math test for him."
For those interested, I'm providing a link to the text of George Tenet's yesterday at Georgetown from the CIA website.

Yad Vashem Press Room

(February 3, 2004) Yad Vashem is appalled by reports of North Korea's use of gas chambers to murder and perform medical experiments on political dissidents and their families. Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev has sent an urgent letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in which he calls for a full investigation of this insidious abuse of human rights. The issue is all the more severe due to North Korea's status as a member of the UN. The internment, torture, and murder of North Korean political dissenters and their families was recently reported by the BBC.

In his letter, Shalev states with alarm that only six decades after the utilization of gas chambers to exterminate European Jewry, North Korea has apparently employed them against thousands of its own citizens. "The lives of untold thousands of North Koreans are in danger because their totalitarian government perceives them as a threat", Shalev writes. "Although the rationale, scale, and context are vastly different, the chilling image of the murderers coolly watching their victims' death agonies is all too reminiscent of Nazi barbarism."

Shalev's letter also reminds Annan of his speech on January 26 at the Stockholm International Forum, in which Annan said the world must do more to prevent genocide from ever taking place again, and raised the possibility of having Genocide Convention states set up a Committee to Prevent Genocide. Annan also said that genocide has happened in our time, while states even refused to call it by its name, to avoid fulfilling their obligations.

Shalev continues, "recent reports that a scientist passed nuclear weapons technology to several rogue states, including North Korea, keenly underscores the dangers posed by such regimes. We must remain aware that there is an unmistakable link between rogue states and international terrorists. This confederation of evil is honing its weapons and aiming them at diverse targets. The United Nations must put a stop to their use immediately, and work to disarm the linked forces of evil that threaten the enlightened nations of the world." Shalev concludes, "Now is the time to implement the vision you set forth in Stockholm. You must act in North Korea."
Well here's a dumb article from the Christian Science Monitor by an author who's too afraid to travel the stone streets of Jerusalem or purchase jewelry from the open air markets. How dumb. By holing herself up in Tel Aviv, she's letting the terrorists win. She doesn't realize that while she should take precautions on her life, such as wearing a seat-belt (after all, more people die in motor vehicle accidents than from terrorism in the State of Israel [where one Sunday had over 1500 a state around the size of New Jersey!]), she has no idea of when 'her time' will be and should really live her life as normal. If we give up on Jerusalem, the capital of the country, they'll just continue to Tel Aviv.

I don't know, I know that some people will disagree and will say that there's no reason to put your life in danger by going to such dangerous places. I guess from my experiences, such as taking 10-15 bus trips on my recent stay, walking through those same stone streets and spending hours buying rugalach in the 'shuk' on Machane Yehudah, I see no reason to be so incredibly fearful. I just don't think you can live your life in fear like that.

Feel free to leave a comment, maybe I'm just out of my mind and off my rocker.
This will probably be my only reference to the "Janet Jackson Episode" during Sunday night's Super Bowl halftime show. The fallout continued today as NBC's hit drama, "ER," was forced to remove a portion of a scene out of fear of repeating the mistake made by CBS earlier in the week, albeit in a more tasteful [???] manner. I get it...sometimes nudity on television is ok and sometimes it's not. Who determines this? And why is an exposed eighty year old that much different than a younger woman? Nudity is nudity, it's that simple.
Who forgot to pay the bill???

The brainiacs at the Washington Post forgot to pay the bill for their email domain. Sometime today they lost all email capabilities, as described here.
Somehow the world continued to rotate and everything turned out happily ever after. Imagine that.
The Washington Post details the difficulty law enforcement agencies such as the FBI are having with the new VOIP (voice over internet protocol) phone systems. Basically, the calls are made over the internet using broadband connections instead of the traditional phone lines. Since there is no 'wire' for authorities to 'tap' into, they have yet to find a successful way of monitoring or tapping phone lines. If I were Osama Bin Laden I'd just use this instead of satelite phones etc.
I'm boycotting today's New York Times following Thomas Friedman's disgusting and disturbing op-ed in Thursday's edition. There should be some sort of retraction, apology, or something along those lines. Perhaps he just wants to sell more papers or get invited to the Arab Summit that is set to meet in a few weeks. Either way, the ZOA (on this rare occassion) does, in fact, have a legitimate complaint with this article as expressed in their almost daily negative press release.

I will not give them the honor of having a link. You may visit the Times at and the ZOA at
"Meet the Press" gets the interview of the year! From the MTP page describing this week's show:

In an EXCLUSIVE Sunday morning show interview, President George W. Bush appears for the full hour, one-on-one with NBC's Tim Russert, from the Oval Office.

This will be the George W. Bush's first Sunday morning show appearance as president. He has appeared on Meet the Press twice as a presidential candidate (Novemer 21, 1999 and February 13, 2000).

Every president since John F. Kennedy has appeared on Meet the Press during their political career.

Tim Russert is the moderator of "Meet the Press." Betsy Fischer is the executive producer. Erin Fogarty and Michelle Jaconi are producers.

"Meet the Press" is regularly seen from 9-10 a.m. ET, except in Washington, D.C. and New York City where the broadcast is seen from 10:30-11:30 a.m. ET. Please check local listings for airtimes in your area.

© 2004 MSNBC Interactive
TODAY'S TRIVIA: Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., ranking Democrat on the House Select Intelligence Committee, is married to millionaire audio equipment manufacturer Sidney Harman.
-Yes, that's the company that made my desktop speakers! Do I need to burn them now, being a registered Republican etc? ;)

Jay Leno: "You know, I think he's in trouble. For the first time since his Presidency, President Bush's approval rating has dropped below 50%. The last time Bush was below 50% was when he got his report card from Yale. That was the last time."
Jay Leno: "In fact, they say Bush's popularity is falling so fast, his new Secret Service code name is Howard Dean."

Jay Leno: "Because of this ricin poison scare yesterday, the US Senate postponed all voting. This has a ripple effect on the economy because when politicians can't vote, oil companies, drug companies, tobacco companies, they can't give them money, and that means that bartenders, hookers, they all suffer."

David Letterman: "I don't know what this means exactly, but President Bush's approval rating is down below 50%. Yeah, that's too bad. So now he's going to have to let Saddam go and catch him again."

David Letterman: "Of course last night was a big Democratic primary, they had like seven primaries, and caucuses all across the United States, and today presidential candidate Howard Dean was at a fish market in Seattle catching fish. And he did so well that next week he starts full-time."

David Letterman: "Top 10 Things Never Before Said by a Presidential Candidate (as read by John Edwards): 10. Vote for me or I'll slash your tires. 9. Forget universal health care — I'm buying every American an XBox. 8. In a crisis, I ask myself, 'What would Tony Danza do?’ 7. I'd give you my plan for economic recovery if I wasn't rip-stinkin' drunk. 6. ‘If your last name begins with 'M' through 'Z,' sorry — your taxes are doubling. 5. We're gonna cut the deficit by selling North Dakota to Canada. 4. I have tons of experience from being president of the Burt Reynolds Fan Club. 3. Lady, that is one ugly baby. 2. When I'm president, I'm putting Regis on Mount Rushmore. 1. Read my lips: No new wardrobe malfunctions."

David Letterman: "Also bad news for Dennis Kucinich, he finished behind Punxsutawney Phil."

Thursday, February 05, 2004

I have returned from Israel. I've heard that my cousin Leah is waiting for me to post my reflections on my visit. It's a work in progress, I'll post it in due time. In the mean time, give Shirley and Yonatan big hug and a kiss for me!!!

First of all, here is a link to the International Court of Justice where the "Geder Hafrada" or "Separation Fence" will be considered.

John Kerry is the frontrunner in the Democratic primaries while Ariel Sharon managed to get around a vote of no confidence earlier this week and will be interrogated by authorities regarding the Greek Island Affair. In the mean time he's making plans to unilaterally pull out of the Gaza Strip even if the Palestinians make no progress in regaining control of their people. Interesting.

Meanwhile more toxic substances have turned up at the Senate office buildings...and I hope to work there this summer!?!

In domestic politics, things have gotten even more interesting in the gay marriage debate. One day after the State of Ohio bans same-sex unions, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that homosexuals have full marriage rights. Even before President Bush makes this a campaign issue and introduces a constitutional ammendment [as is expected later in the year though the likelihood of passing such legislation is a longshot at best] banning homosexual marriage, state courts are making their own opinions known on the record.

This article argues that outsourcing labor is beneficial to the global economy. While this might be true, it badly hurts the American economy. Several months ago, the Times ran an article detailing outsourcing in the medical arena, such as radiologists in other nations that read scans over hte internet during their day time which is our nighttime. A "60 Minutes" piece discussed the same issue. While this might help the respective economies of the nations to which the companies outsource, it doesn't help the American economy and doesn't neceissarily increase customer service etc. In a time of such high unemployment and fiscal crisis, I believe that the government should be giving companies greater incentives to maintain their operations here instead of turning a blind eye to outsourcing. It might help the global economy, but we must look out for ourselves first.

There's an interesting op-ed in today's Washington Post detailing the atrocities in North Korea [such as testing chemicals on citizens in gas chambers] and comparing the world's silence today to the silence of the global community during the Holocaust sixty years ago.

That's all for now.

It's good to be back.