October 31, 2005

Bush Nominates Sam Alito To Supreme Court

The President has nominated Federal Appeals Court Judge Samuel Alito to replace Sandra Day O’Connor as an associate Justice at SCOTUS.

Judge Alito has a staunchly conservative record and one that’s almost sure to blast Senate Democrats into overdrive in an attempt to fight an Alito confirmation.


NAME: Samuel A. Alito, Jr.
AGE-BIRTH DATE: 55; April 1, 1950 in Trenton, N.J.
PERSONAL FINANCE: more than $615,000 in assets
EDUCATION: AB, Princeton, 1972; JD, Yale, 1975
EXPERIENCE: Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, 1990-present; U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey, 1987-1990; deputy assistant to the U.S. attorney general, 1985-1987; assistant to the U.S. solicitor general, 1981-1985
JUDICIAL STYLE: Known among conservatives as a strict constructionist in the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia. Abortion-rights activists point to his dissent in the 1991 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey — in which he argued to uphold a Pennsylvania law requiring a married woman to inform her husband before getting an abortion — as putting him in the anti-Roe v. Wade camp.
FAMILY: Alito and his wife, Martha, live in West Caldwell, N.J. They have two children, a college-age son, Philip, and a younger daughter, Laura. His late father, Samuel Alito Sr., was the director of New Jersey’s Office of Legislative Services from 1952 to 1984. Alito’s sister, Rosemary, is a top employment lawyer in New Jersey.

Okay, Republican senators, it’s time to get your game faces on and support a serious Bush nominee for a change. That means no more cowardice in the face of the enemy, as you’ve demonstrated during past confirmation hearings for conservative Bush nominees: You will fight to the death over this one, “blood and gore and things in your teeth” if necessary, and get Alito confirmed!

If you play the nose-up-Democrat-butt game as you’ve become so proficient at doing and fail us again, then don’t complain the next time POTUS nominates someone with less of a conservative track record…

by @ 12:40 pm. Filed under The Court

One Approach To Addressing Illegal Alien Affairs

In view of the government’s apparent determination not to guard our borders against illegal aliens nor enforce very many statutes regarding their deportation, it seems one Law Enforcement official has found a way to recoup the expenses of picking up Uncle Sam’s slack, and I’m behind him 100%.

Sheriff bills Immigration $71K for ‘illegals’ in jail
HAMILTON — The federal government will soon receive the first of several hefty bills from Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones for the housing of suspected illegal aliens in the county jail.

Following through on a threat made last week, Jones on Wednesday mailed a bill totaling $71,610 to the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the cost of housing 15 “undocumented” people, some of whom have been in the jail since June.

Last week, Jones, County Commissioner Michael Fox and state Rep. Courtney Combs announced a multi-tiered initiative to eliminate illegal aliens living in the county and throughout the state.

Among the initiatives was the implementation, on Monday, of a new booking process to include the signing of declarations of citizenship by jail inmates.

Those in jail for misdemeanor offenses who falsify their information, or are found to be illegal aliens, will be reported to ICE — the enforcement arm of the Federal Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services — for possible immediate deportation.

Those who are jailed for a felony offense, will first stand trial for their crimes and then face possible deportation.

To force the issue, Jones is billing the federal government $70 a day for every illegal alien housed at the jail — $10 above the average daily cost of housing an inmate.

In sending the first bill to ICE, which represents 1,023 billable days of housing illegal aliens, Jones said he’s hoping other sheriff’s offices throughout the country start following suit.

“We want to put extreme pressure on ICE to do its job with regard to illegal aliens,” Jones said. “This isn’t just a local issue. This is a national problem.”

While Jones acknowledged that ICE is not under obligation to pay the bill, he said his next step will be to load the questionable inmates into buses and deliver them to immigration offices in Cincinnati.

“Why should Butler County taxpayers have to pay for jail costs associated with people we don’t believe should ever have been in this country, let alone this state or county?” Jones said.

“These prisoners appear to be undocumented, in that they have no Social Security numbers,” Jones said. “They are in my jail because they have committed crimes here. It’s time the federal government should at least pay for the criminals they let stay here. If they don’t want to pay for them, then they can deport them.”

A message left with Greg Palmore, of the ICE Regional Office in Detroit, was not returned Wednesday.

Since announcing the local initiative last week, Jones said he has been inundated with e-mails and telephone calls, mostly from people expressing support for the measures.

Jones has also sent letters to sheriffs in Ohio’s 87 other counties urging them to implement similar measures in their jails.

“If ICE is having so much trouble locating illegal aliens, heck, I’ll help them out — I’ll send them 20 a day from our county jail,” Jones said.

Meanwhile, Combs is drafting new state legislation that will make it a state offense for illegal aliens to cross over Ohio’s borders and Fox is working on initiatives to discourage employers from hiring illegal aliens.

Contact Mary Lolli at (513) 820-2192, or e-mail her at mlolli@coxohio.com.

Please bear in mind that I’m a limited government, states’ rights kind of guy, to the max. Certain issues belong to the Fed, others are the property of the private sector.

Border/frontier security issues are the property of the federal government. They have a job to do that they are not doing. The only thing that will fix that will be an onslaught of email from the general public to the human weevils that ultimately decide what makes it into the newspapers and on to TV news programs.

My source for the article posted above is the website produced by Tom Tancredo and Bay Buchanan, from the headquarters of Team America.

These are an issue and an organization we, as Americans, need to support.

by @ 6:17 am. Filed under General

For Some, Deportation’s Not Enough

According to members of both the F.B.I. and the Homeland Security Department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, the government’s policy of deporting illegal aliens belonging to MS-13, the gang named Mara Salvatrucha has been working in the gang’s favor.

…a deportation policy aimed in part at breaking up a Los Angeles street gang has backfired and helped spread it across Central America and back into other parts of the United States. Newly organized cells in El Salvador have returned to establish strongholds in metropolitan Washington, D.C., and other U.S. cities. Prisons in El Salvador have become nerve centers, authorities say, where deported leaders from Los Angeles communicate with gang cliques across the United States.

A gang that once numbered a few thousand and was involved in street violence and turf battles has morphed into an international network with as many as 50,000 members, the most hard-core engaging in extortion, immigrant smuggling and racketeering. In the last year, the federal government has brought racketeering cases against MS-13 members in Long Island, N.Y., and southern Maryland.

Very interesting story, one that indicates the need for a change of policy where dealing with MS-13 members is concerned.

It is certainly bad enough, thanks to our porous borders, that we face a veritable infestation of illegal aliens in the United States –Mustang at Social Sense has a great post on our lax border security situation and the illegal alien problem that continues in a long, highly informed comment thread, well worth checking out — but to be infiltrated also by gangs of violent criminals who make our own domestic gangs seem like weak amateurs is an inexcusable breach of homeland security.

by @ 12:17 am. Filed under Homeland Security

October 29, 2005

Say It Ain’t So!

I quite enjoyed reading The DaVinci Code, a book which spurred massive controversy in global religious circles by its premise that Jesus and Mary Magdeline married and their line has survived into modern times.

It’s a novel, people, wake up! You know, a work of fiction provided for readers’ entertainment! There are far more serious events occurring in the world today than a mere novel, for God’s sake, all this profound discourse and controversy at the highest levels of the religious establishment is absurd. If you don’t like it, don’t read it!

That said, I thought it was a great read and, while I’m not at all enamored by today’s films, actors and actresses, I definitely look forward to seeing how the Hollywood crowd treats it. The movie company seems to be dedicated to the story line, a rarity for Hollywood, as they actually went to the trouble of convincing the French government to allow them to do some location filming inside the Louvre. That in itself had to be a great personal sacrifice, since having to deal with those socialist weasels would be a putrid experience at the best of times, but then again, our movie industry is a liberal socialist enclave{albeit rich socialists, go figure} whose denizens scream that we should model our government after those like France’s, so maybe they were happy as the proverbial clams, dealing with their idols and all.

Now, it seems that a couple of people are suing Random House, The DaVinci Code’s publisher, claiming that the novel plagiarized a nonfiction book they published back in 1982 called Holy Blood, Holy Grail that put forth the theory on which Dan Brown’s novel is based.

Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh are suing publisher Random House, claiming that Brown’s “The DaVinci Code” lifts ideas from their 1982 nonfiction book, “The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail.” Their work explores theories that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and had a child and that their blood line continues to the present day.

A similar theme is explored in Brown’s novel, which has sold some 25 million copies around the world and is being made into a Hollywood movie starring Tom Hanks.

I, for one, fervently hope Doubleday and Brown are able to prove that this was not the case, as I had attributed the novel to Dan Brown’s imagination and a lot of in-depth research with a view to weaving realism into the story as most good novelists do.

Time will tell, I suppose, but I sure am rooting for Doubleday in this instance.

by @ 1:23 pm. Filed under Hmmmmmm....

Turtle Bay Blues

Paul Volcker certainly exposed a quagmire of malfeasance, corruption and what’s apparently come to be accepted as “business as usual” at the U.N.

October 29, 2005 — Paul Volcker’s final report on his investigation of the United Nations’ $64 billion Iraqi Oil-for-Food program is a stunning indictment of, well, the entire United Nations.
Yes, Saddam Hussein himself pocketed $1.8 billion through kickbacks alone from a program that was meant to feed his nation’s starving people — endangered by the economic sanctions he himself had provoked by his violations of the 1991 Gulf War ceasefire accords.

Yes, fully half of the 4,500 companies involved in the program — many of them recognizable corporate names — kicked back funds to Saddam’s regime in order to land lucrative oil contracts.

And, yes, political figures from around the world — especially from Russia and France — landed contracts in direct proportion to their willingness to oppose continued sanctions against Iraq.

George Galloway, the malignant British parliament member who was Saddam’s virtual mouthpiece in the run-up to the war, appears to have pocketed $270,000, funneled through his (now estranged) Palestinian wife.

Fr. Jean-Marie Benjamin, a former top aide to the Vatican’s secretary of state who had formed an anti-sanctions group, and France’s former U.N. ambassador, Jean-Bertrand Merrimee, both got six-figure deals.

Some were simply profiteers — like Marc Rich, the fugitive financier who was spared a U.S. prison term for tax evasion thanks to a last-minute presidential pardon from Bill Clinton.

Read on…

One wonders, however, why the former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve spared Kofi Annan.

As for Annan himself, we don’t really know the full extent of his culpability, beyond his son Kojo’s widely reported involvement in oil contracts.

Volcker, you see, has admitted taking care that his investigation not result in Annan’s being toppled from his post.

“I felt uncomfortably,” he said, of the point where he realized Annan might lose his job.


Well, we feel uncomfortably that Annan still has his job.

by @ 1:09 pm. Filed under The United Nations

A Dubious Enterprise

A friend of mine disappeared nearly two months ago and was finally resurrected in the form of a collect call informing me that he was{still is} in jail in a place called Dawson County, Georgia.

Apparently the reasons for his incarceration are somewhat complicated and so, not being exactly sure what they are, I pass no judgement — I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt until a jury says otherwise. I’ve known him for a long time and can not imagine what he could possibly have done.

But he’s been in there since the start of September, evidently Dawson County’s not known for being in any hurry where paperwork is concerned, and we’ll hopefully have him out of there wihin the next couple of weeks, one way or the other.

But the subject of this post is not my friend’s problem with the Law, it’s the means by which we can communicate: A company called Evercom, or Correctional Billing Services as they refer to themselves when you get recordings of theirs on the telephone.

For prisoners with phone privileges, Evercom is ready with a dial tone. The company provides collect and prepaid phone service to inmates in over 2000 city, county, state, and private correctional facilities across the US. As an exclusive phone provider, Evercom installs and maintains its equipment at no cost to the facility. It also handles billing and collection services for other providers of inmate phone services and offers software for jail and facilities management, records management, and computer-aided dispatch services. The company was formed in 1996 with the acquisitions of AmeriTel Payphones and Talton Telecommunications.

In order to receive my friend’s collect calls, I had to open an account with these people, providing my personal info and the telephone number(my landline)he could call me at.

They charge 89 cents a minute and place a maximum number of minutes on each call.

Whenever the collective minutes reach a certain amount, they block any further calls until you’ve made a $50.00 payment to your local phone company and call them with a confirmation number.

That is ridiculous! Their billing appears on the phone bill as part of the total, and you pay it.

When I first encountered this, I made a $100.00 deposit. When they hit me with the block I called and talked to a woman who had to be an eagle among turkeys as she actually seemed to know, unlike her associates, what is involved in having a home telepone.

“Look,” I said, “I deposited a hundred last time instead of fifty, that’s in your computer. So what’s the big deal? I hate paying bills, and have an arrangement with SBC where they simply debit my checking account every month. There’s more than enough money in that particular account to pay my phone bill for the next twenty years.”

“So you have credit with your phone company?”

“Yes,” I answered, “plenty. I even have my DSL through them.”

So she went ahead and reset the account, and now here we are again at a block due to “high call volume.”

This is idiocy.

A company like this seems totally unnecessary — incarceration facilities don’t need to outsource outgoing collect calls by inmates — they can easily have their own call monitoring systems attached to banks of telephones.

When I see something like this, a totally unneeded government outsource, the first thing I ask myself is “why?”

In this case, the second thing I ask is, “Who in the prison system would have gotten the ball rolling on the use of such a company as this, and what did/do they stand to gain?”

Given past samples of corruption in the prison system(including county jails, etc), is this one of those deals where some officials somewhere in the system are getting kickbacks from this telephone operation?

It is apparent, when you accept the collect call(press 0) and a recorded voice tells you your call may be monitored, that this outsourced company also monitors the call.

That, to me, is a system-approved security breach of the first magnitude. These people are not Law Enforcement or Corrections personnel, they are outsiders, civilians who might have their own agendas, and the contents of these calls should not be accessible to them.

Undoubtedly, a goodly amount of these conversations from jails and prisons contain hooded or, in the case of some more moronic mutts, not so hooded references to criminal affairs that constitute useful intelligence for Law Enforcement that can be followed up on. On the same token, some of this information might provide outsourced listeners with opportunities to “cash in” on it.

Prison system officials are conversant with security issues involved in their field, so why would they outsource thus? They could say that it is “cost efficient” having the telephone system installed and maintained by an outside firm, but the intended results still would not outweigh the potential for harm.

So, once again I wonder, who are the graft practitioners in the prison system who are making money off Prison Billing Services, ne Evercom?

by @ 11:40 am. Filed under Is There Corruption Afoot?


Cruising around the blogosphere, I’ve run into some spot-on posts I’d like to share.

For the “feminists” among us who bash the War on Terror as a way of bashing Bush, yet also purport to champion the cause of fellow women, RomeoCat at Cathouse Chat has a “right to the point” post about what these feminists and other liberals really support when they oppose the battle against the Muslim fundamentalists who are at war with us. Good read!

At GM’s Corner is a reality based look at “our friends,” the Saudis.

And Rightly So’s Raven’s got a great “pop quiz” up that explores the hypocrisy of a number of wealthy lefties who do the very same things they accuse the right of doing and condemn us for it.

Happy reading.

by @ 11:17 am. Filed under General

October 28, 2005

Gross U.N. Mishandling Of Palestinian Refugees

Overshadowed by news of terrorism and Middle East political issues is the “Palestinian” refugee situation, which even after more than half a century is still an ongoing problem. It is one the United Nations, who took responsibility for resettling some half to three quarters of a million Palestinian refugees after Israel achieved statehood, does not like to discuss — that number of unsettled people has since grown to over four million, demonstrating abject failure on the part of the U.N. and the agency it created specifically to address the problem, The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA.

Arlene Kushner has written a thorough report and analysis on this problem, including references to terrorism involvement by UNRWA members and the entire wasteful, mismanaged, horrendously criminal undertakings of the U.N. agency in Azure, an outstanding Jewish magazine. Access to the article requires registration{free}, but it is definitely worthwhile.

The article is here.

In the aftermath of World War II, when it became apparent that millions of destitute refugees were not going to be attended to by existing organizations, the United Nations saw fit to establish an agency–the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)–to coordinate assistance to them. The UNHCR worked in accordance with the binding parameters and regulations of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, adopted in Geneva in 1951. In the decades that followed, as the problem of refugees increasingly took on a global dimension, the need arose for a global organization dedicated to their assistance. Thus did a relatively small and specialized agency expand into an organization with offices in over 100 countries, an annual budget of $1 billion, and the ability to provide both legal protection and emergency relief. Today, the UNHCR’s makeshift blue tents have become immediately recognizable symbols of humanitarian assistance to millions of displaced people around the world. Combined with measures such as monitoring national compliance with international refugee law, the UNHCR takes as its ultimate goal the attainment of long-term or “durable” solutions to refugee crises, such as voluntary repatriation or resettlement in countries of asylum or “third” countries. To date, the UNHCR has helped over 25 million people successfully restart their lives.

There is one group of refugees, however, for whom no durable solution has been found in the more than fifty years since their problems began: Palestinian Arabs who fled Israel in the period 1948-1949 as a result of its War of Independence. Originally numbering between 500,000 and 750,000 persons, there are today more than 4 million refugees, the majority of whom live in or near one of 59 camps in five areas, making for one of the world’s largest and most enduring refugee problems.1 There is no practicable solution to their situation in sight.

The plight of the Palestinian refugees is, at first glance, fairly surprising. Whereas the rest of the world’s refugees are the concern of the UNHCR, the Palestinians are the sole group of refugees with a UN agency dedicated exclusively to their care: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which operates independently of the Convention on refugees. The differences between the two agencies are striking: In addition to classifying Palestinian refugees by a distinct set of criteria, UNRWA, through an international aid package of several hundred millions of dollars a year, serves as the main provider of healthcare, education, relief, and social services for its client population–the sort of assistance UNHCR usually devolves to refugees’ countries of asylum. Moreover, while the UNHCR actively seeks durable solutions to refugee problems, UNRWA has declined to entertain any permanent solution for the Palestinian refugees, insisting instead on a politically unfeasible “return” to pre-1967 Israel.2

By operating outside the norms accepted by the international community, UNRWA has succeeded in perpetuating a growing refugee problem. By establishing its own definition of a “Palestinian refugee” and actively encouraging resettlement in Israel, UNRWA not only has failed to resolve the Palestinian refugee issue, but has also lost sight of its original humanitarian goals, subordinating them instead to the political aims of the Arab world. Moreover, by hiring from within its own client population, UNRWA has at best created a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with regard to terrorist activity in its midst, and at worst has become so enmeshed in the terrorist population as to be effectively held hostage by it. In the final analysis, UNRWA’s handling of the Palestinian refugee issue is both antagonistic to the achievement of peace in the Middle East and detrimental to the plight of the refugees themselves.

As the author points out, UNRWA have been perpetuating their job, as it were, by redefining the criteria for their constituency in order to multiply it while setting stated resettlement goals that would require the destruction of Israel to actually reach fruition.

UNRWA, the first UN agency charged with the task of aiding refugees, was established by General Assembly Resolution 302 on December 8, 1949. The agency was tasked with directing relief and works programs for the Palestinian Arab refugees of Israel’s War of Independence, who had fled into the neighboring Arab regions of Gaza (then under Egyptian control), Judea and Samaria (then controlled by Jordan), Jordan proper, Lebanon, and Syria.

From the outset, UNRWA was granted an extraordinary degree of autonomy, largely due to pressure from the UN’s Arab bloc. Unlike most other UN agencies, for instance, the appointment of UNRWA’s commissioner general does not require any approval or confirmation from the General Assembly, but is rather left to the discretion of the UN secretary general, in consultation with UNRWA’s ten-member Advisory Committee. In addition, UNRWA’s Advisory Committee wields no executive or operative authority.3 Bound by no existing statute or international compact, it was free to set its own definitions and guidelines–definitions which differ markedly from those used by UNHCR. Thus, it described “Palestinian refugees” as

persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.4

The use of this definition is remarkable in itself, not least because its very short residency requirement–just two years–allows the inclusion of a great number of people who had recently arrived in Palestine, and were thus newcomers to the region; indeed, many of the people who fled Israel at that time had only just arrived from neighboring Arab countries in search of work.

Contrast this with the definition provided by the UNHCR, established just two years later and charged with functioning within the parameters of the UN’s Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The UNHCR was bound by the Convention, the universal standard for refugee status and the only definition recognized by international law. In this version, a refugee is someone who is outside his/her country of nationality or habitual residence; has well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution.5

By emphasizing “country of nationality or habitual residence,” the UNHCR clearly intends to exclude the kind of transients– for example, a new arrival to the area in question for the purpose of employment–embraced by UNRWA’s definition.

This is not the only way in which the two definitions differ. The UNRWA definition also encompasses many other persons who would otherwise be excluded by the UNHCR. The latter, for example, outlines in detail the conditions under which the status of “refugee” no longer applies, stating that formal refugee status shall cease to apply to any person who has voluntarily re-availed himself of the protection of the country of his nationality; or having lost his nationality, he has voluntarily re-acquired it; or, he has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality; or… he can no longer, because the circumstances in connection with which he has been recognized as a refugee have ceased to exist, continue to refuse to avail himself of the protection of the country of his nationality.6

By excluding people who have found legal protection from established states, or who have refused to do so when offered, UNHCR has sought to prevent expansion of the definition in ways that would encourage the improper use of UNHCR’s services for political ends. UNRWA, however, has done just the opposite: Not only has it declined to remove the status of refugee from those persons who no longer fit the original description, such as the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have been granted full citizenship by Jordan, but it confers indefinitely the status of refugee upon a Palestinian refugee’s descendants, now entering the fourth generation. As the organization’s official website explains: “There are several groups and categories of Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs): UNRWA-registered 1948 refugees and their descendants, unregistered 1948 refugees and their descendants, internally displaced Palestinians in Israel, and persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 war and their descendants.”7 When UNRWA was first conceived, it did not explicitly include the descendants of Palestinian refugees; however, as its refugee population entered the second generation, UNRWA relaxed the definition of the term “Palestinian refugee” altogether, explaining that “for the purposes of repatriation or compensation… the term ‘Palestinian refugee’ is used with a different, much less restrictive meaning as compared to UNRWA’s need-based definition.”8

Sounds to me like what they used to call a “goat fuck.”

So, too, did the General Assembly resolution establishing UNRWA intend its mandate to be temporary: It sought “the alleviation of the conditions of starvation and distress among the Palestinian refugees” with “a view to the termination of international assistance for relief” at an early date.10 The provision of direct relief was originally set to end no later than December 1950; yet its mandate has been renewed by the General Assembly every few years, and its current term now runs through June 2008. This begs the question: If UNRWA was set up as a temporary agency, why is it still operating more than half a century later?

One reason, again, lies in its singular definition of a refugee: By conferring the status of refugee on descendants, UNRWA has ensured an ever-growing population in need of its services. Yet a more significant reason has to do with its policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: UNRWA refuses to consider any resolution to the Palestinian refugee issue other than that demanded by the Arab world–the “right of return” to Israel. As explained on its website, UNRWA claims its services to be necessary until repatriation, “as envisaged in UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) of December 1948,” is enacted.11 While the legitimacy and applicability of resolution 194, which states that refugees wishing to return to their original countries of residence under certain conditions should be permitted to do so, can be, and is, debated ad infinitum, the fact remains that by staunchly adhering to this resolution, and actively encouraging its beneficiaries to do the same, UNRWA is denying the Palestinian refugees the one thing that the UNHCR takes as its essential purpose for existence: An end to their unwanted status.

Keep in mind, here, that the U.N., which funds this agency, is financed by the tax dollars of working Americans and citizens of other member countries.

Finally, it should be noted that, over the years, groups of Palestinian refugees have been offered opportunities to move into permanent housing–opportunities that have almost always been thwarted. In 1985, for instance, Israel attempted to move refugees into 1,300 permanent housing units constructed near Nablus with the support of the Catholic Relief Organization–without, it must be stated, demanding that they relinquish the “right of return.” Yet the UN intervened to prevent such an occurrence.23 In response to Israel’s attempts to provide housing, a General Assembly resolution was passed asserting that:

measures to resettle Palestine refugees in the West Bank away from the homes and property from which they were displaced constitute a violation of their inalienable right of return… [the GA] calls once again upon Israel to abandon its plans and to refrain from… any action that may lead to the removal and resettlement of Palestine refugees in the West Bank and from the destruction of their camps.24

Put simply, if UNHCR struggles to bring an immediate end to the plight of refugees through any means available, UNRWA’s entire efforts are geared towards a single “solution” which is both extremely unlikely ever to happen and not in the best interests of the refugees’ humanitarian needs. Rather it is in the interests of their political leaders’ aims.

The difference between the two organizations is felt also in the respective services they provide and the extent to which they are willing to place a burden of assistance on sovereign states. The UNHCR aims to provide basic material assistance only as necessary, and with the expectation that host or new countries of residence will cooperate as far as they are able in providing for refugee needs. The Convention states clearly that UNHCR is “charged with the task of supervising international conventions providing for the protection of refugees,”25 and the UNHCR website maintains that “UNHCR’s main role in pursuing international protection is to ensure that states are aware of, and act on, their obligations to protect refugees… and cannot be considered as a substitute for government responsibility.”26 UNRWA, by contrast, has been providing material assistance to Palestinian refugees for over fifty years in the form of “educational services, including general and higher education as well as vocational, technical and teacher education” and “a wide range of health services, including disease prevention and treatment, health protection and promotion and environmental and family health programs”–services far beyond the scope of “emergency relief” envisioned by UNHCR as a temporary measure on the road to self-sufficiency.27 Indeed, Palestinian Arabs provided for by UNRWA are the only refugees in the world to have guaranteed health care, primary education, and welfare benefits–as befitting a quasi-governmental body aimed at nurturing a people over the long haul rather than providing humanitarian relief. Not surprisingly, in the course of providing these services, UNRWA has developed an extensive bureaucracy–according to its website, UNRWA’s staff currently stands at 24,324 members28–with one staff person per 164 refugees (compared to one staff person per 2,803 refugees in UNHCR), and 99 dollars spent per refugee annually (compared with the UNHCR’s 64 dollars per refugee).29 The result is a kind of mutual dependence: The Palestinian community has become dependent on UNRWA’s services, support, and employment; and UNRWA has become dependent on its clients for its own survival and operational growth.

In short, by introducing broad parameters of inclusion, UNRWA has inflated the original numbers on its rolls; by declining to exempt those refugees who subsequently acquire citizenship elsewhere, it has sustained those large numbers over the years; and by counting successive generations, it has succeeded in indefinitely expanding the number of refugees. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, by encouraging the expectation of and desire for a “return” to Israel that is in all likelihood impossible, UNRWA has done a grave disservice to the refugees themselves–in effect, subordinating the humanitarian aims of refugee assistance to the political aims of Arab leaders. Unlike other refugees, who have been helped to regain some measure of autonomy, the Palestinian refugees remain mired in a sense of helplessness and frustration, condemned to an existence as stateless, displaced persons.

So we’re paying welfare and all sorts of other benefits to four million people through an agency whose purpose was to exist for a relatively short time, long enough to relocate roughly one seventh of that amount of refugees, it’s fifty six years later and they can’t even claim to see a light at the end of the tunnel, nor even the tunnel itself. And we’re paying a staff of over twenty four thousand people for this!

As if that isn’t more than enough to make one at least a little angry, the percentage of our tax dollars that find their way into the coffers of UNRWA also aid and abet terrorism.

Of all the problems inherent in UNRWA’s policies, however, the practice of hiring from within its own client population is perhaps the thorniest. Of the approximately 24,000 persons in its employ, all but the roughly 100 “internationals” in executive positions are Palestinian Arabs, the vast majority of whom are themselves refugees.30

UNRWA claims that hiring refugees ensures a greater degree of sensitivity on the part of employees toward the problems facing their client base. Yet there is a general rule of thumb that it is not appropriate for an agency to do large-scale hiring of staff from the population it serves. No other UN agency does this; the UNHCR, for example, maintains by design a certain distance from its client base. The reason for this distance is clear: Employers who share the situation of their clients are vulnerable to conflicts of interest. UNRWA staff naturally share the passions and perceptions of their fellow refugees, and can easily be led to act on them inappropriately. In some cases, this means turning a blind eye to beneficiaries of UNRWA services engaged in terrorism; in others, it means outright involvement in terrorist activity itself.

Unfortunately, there is abundant evidence of such involvement. Incidents like the one on July 6, 2001 are not uncommon: The terrorist organization Hamas convened a conference in an UNRWA school in the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza with the full participation of school administrators and faculty. Students were addressed by Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who spoke about the “liberation of Jerusalem.” He was then joined by Saheil Alhinadi, UNRWA’s representative from the teachers’ sector, who praised the Hamas students who had carried out suicide attacks against Israelis in recent months. “The road to Palestine,” he orated, “passes through the blood of the fallen.”31

It is also common knowledge that Hamas-affiliated workers control the UNRWA union in Gaza.32 Within the teachers’ sector of the union, for example, all representatives are Hamas-affiliated, and Hamas candidates constitute the union’s entire executive committee, as well. Moreover, an organization called Islamic Bloc, ideologically similar to Hamas, has been charged with furthering the goals of Hamas within UNRWA schools; it prepares the next generation of Palestinians for the “liberation of Palestine” by organizing special events and distributing printed materials. Retired IDF colonel Yoni Fighel, a former military governor in the territories, explains how radical Islamic movements have come to dominate the refugee camps: “As long as UNRWA employees are members of Fatah, Hamas, or pelp [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine],” he says, “they are going to pursue the interests of their party within the framework of their job…. Who’s going to check up on them to see that they don’t? UNRWA? They are UNRWA.”33

The full extent of the terrorist infiltration in Palestinian refugee camps was revealed during the IDF’s Operation Defensive Shield, mounted in the spring of 2002 in response to an unprecedented wave of terror attacks inside Israel. The evidence gleaned from that operation is both irrefutable and damning: Hardly innocent residential areas, the UNRWA-run camps which the army entered were riddled with small-arms factories, explosives laboratories, Kassam-2 rocket manufacturing plants, and suicide-bombing cells. The camp in Jenin, site of the most intense fighting, provides the most dramatic example of the terrorist takeovers of UNRWA camps. A letter written by Fatah members in Jenin to Marwan Barghouti in September 2001 grants some insight into the situation:

Of all the districts, Jenin boasts the greatest number and the highest quality of fighters from Fatah and the other Islamic national factions. The refugee camp is rightly considered to be the center of events and the operational headquarters of all the factions in the Jenin area–it is, as the other side calls it, a hornets’ nest. The Jenin refugee camp is remarkable for the large number of fighting men taking initiatives in the cause of our people. Nothing will defeat them, and nothing fazes them. They are prepared to fight with everything they have. It is little wonder, therefore, that Jenin is known as the capital of the suicide martyrs.34

It should come as no surprise, then, that the IDF found a number of wanted terrorists hiding inside UNRWA schools; that a large number of youth clubs operated by UNRWA in the camps were discovered to be meeting places for terrorists; and that an official bureau of the Tanzim, or Fatah-affiliated, militia was established inside a building owned by UNRWA. UNRWA’s donors might be surprised to learn that funds intended for humanitarian relief sometimes end up serving the goals of Palestinian terror: In an interview with CNN in February 2002, PA Minister of Labor Ghassan Khatib remarked that every young man in UNRWA’s Balata refugee camp has his own personal weapon, since the local steering committee–an official UNRWA body–had voted that charitable donations received would be used for guns rather than food or other relief. UNRWA’s role in the terrorist activity of the Palestinian refugees is not only a passive one. Rather, UNRWA employees themselves sometimes engage in terrorism. According to the 2003 report by the United States General Accounting Office,35 for example, UNRWA employees were arrested and convicted by Israeli military courts of throwing firebombs at an Israeli public bus; possession of materials that could be used for explosives; and transferring chemicals to assist in bomb-making. Also, the IDF demonstrated that UNRWA ambulances have been used to transport terrorists and firearms in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City. Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN, himself saw shahid (martyr) posters on the walls in the homes of UNRWA workers during a visit to Jenin in April 2002. “It was clear,” he said in a December 2003 interview, “that UNRWA workers were doubling as Hamas operatives.”36

Given the U.N.’s record for being anti-Israel, the UNRWA sounds like their dream come true. Foreign tax dollars to finance an organization that supports terrorism while breeding an ever-growing population of “refugees” Palestinian terrorist groups can blame on Israel as another excuse to murder innocent people.

There is much more in the article, register free with a great online magazine and read the whole article…

by @ 6:31 pm. Filed under The Mideast

Iranians In Space

Iran has now put a satellite in space as part of a joint venture with their good friend, Russia.

Iran launched its first satellite into space from Plesetsk in northern Russia on Thursday, joining a select club of countries.
A joint project between Iran and Russia, the Sina-1 satellite will be used to take pictures of Iran and to monitor natural disasters.

It blasted off aboard a Russian Kosmos 3M rocket early on Thursday morning.

The satellite was built for Iran by Polyot, a Russian company based in the Siberian city of Omsk.

Director General of Iran Electronic Industries Ebrahim Mahmoudzadeh said Sina-1 was the result of years of research and 32 months of construction.

I find the very concept just a little scary — they are the 43rd out of the planet’s 191 countries to have a satellite in space — and they are a country governed by extreme ideals several centuries in arrears, a nation that sponsors terrorism, whose president just decried a need for the destruction of Israel, who are the subject of a frantic attempt by the western world to discourage their development of the means to manufacture and deliver nuclear weapons.

Mr Mahmoudzadeh said the $15m research satellite would contain a telecommunications system and cameras that would be used for monitoring Iran’s agriculture and natural resources.

It could also be deployed after disasters such as earthquakes.

He stressed, however, that the satellite represents only the first step in Iran’s space programme.

“Considering that the satellite weights 170kg and is carrying a camera, it is an initial model as far as technical know-how and experience are concerned.”

Great, so perhaps next they’ll have a Russian version of the KH-12{surveillance} satellite to send up, to keep an eye on Israel and on the Great Satan{the U.S.} and other western countries.

It would be nice to think that we have some folks on tap who can intercept their satellite feed and disseminate it for useful intelligence.

Hat Tip The Raw Story.

by @ 5:12 am. Filed under Global War On Terror

October 27, 2005

Just Curious

Just wondering about gas prices, and how high they should be instead of how high they really are.

Are we looking at oil companies taking major advantage of their customers?

Remember the early 1970s, when gas prices were high for the times, the oil companies screaming of a shortage, when people had to drive up to long lines at the pumps on alternate days, depending upon whether their license plate numbers were odd or even, and meanwhile entire fleets of fully laden oil tankers sat calmly offshore, out of visual range?


So what, exactly, is happening now?

We’re reading here that Exxon Mobile has made a 75% profit due mainly to the “increase in gas prices” resulting from the hurricanes that banged up their offshore rigs and some of their refineries. It stands to reason, therefore, that had they merely raised their prices to reflect the situation, they would balance out at about the same profit margin they did before prices “went up.” Instead, they’re collecting exponential profits, which means that if the price of gas, based on the per-barrel price, goes up 80 cents, they’ll charge a dollar and a half, or somewhere thereabouts.

Yup, no question about it, I love the way Mobile Chevron and others demonstrate their patriotism by profiteering on natural disasters.

by @ 8:19 am. Filed under Hmmmmmm....