Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Bible Protects Unborn

God sees embryos as full and complete humans - Pope

Wed Dec 28, 2005 1:08 PM GMT

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - God sees embryos as "full and complete" humans, Pope Benedict said on Wednesday in an address that firmly underlined the Roman Catholic Church's stance against abortion and scientific research on embryos.

"The loving eyes of God look on the human being, considered full and complete at its beginning," Benedict said in his weekly address to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Quoting Psalm 139, Benedict said the Bible teaches that God already recognises the embryo as a complete human. That view is the basis for the Church teaching that aborting or manipulating these embryos amounts to murder.

In Psalm 139, the psalmist says to God: "Thou didst see my limbs unformed in the womb, and in thy book they are all recorded."

"It is extremely powerful, the idea in this psalm, that in this 'unformed' embryo God already sees the whole future," Benedict said.

"In the Lord's book of life, the days that this creature will live and will fill with works during his time on earth are already written."

Benedict has already weighed into an Italian debate on abortion ahead of a general election in April, publicly supporting a pro-life group that right-wing Health Minister Francesco Storace wants to have access to counselling centres advising women seeking to terminate pregnancy.

The Pontiff also raised the theme in his Christmas Eve mass on Saturday, saying the love of God shines on each child, "even on those still unborn".

As well as being against abortion in all cases, the Church opposes stem-cell research which extracts useful cells from unused embryos left over from fertility treatments.

The United States Congress is debating whether to expand federal funding for this kind of research, which scientists say could provide cures to many debilitating diseases.

For the truth on this topic please visit my April 8th, 2005 post, "Conflict of Church & State - The Stem Cell Funding Debate" found at:

For the complete truth on abortion, please visit my May 26, 2005 post, "This Is What "Choice" Looks Like!!!", found at: .

An Enemy Within.

For the truth on this topic, please visit my March 21st, 2005 post, "We Are All Guilty" at:

MEXICO - Fox hires lobbyist for U.S.

The Texan who advised President Vicente Fox's election campaign will now try to sweeten U.S. views on immigration.
BY SAM ENRIQUEZ - Los Angeles Times Service

MEXICO CITY -- President Vicente Fox has rehired the Texas public relations man and GOP political consultant who quietly helped engineer his election victory in 2000. This time, Fox wants Rob Allyn & Co. to put the brakes on growing anti-immigration, anti-Mexican sentiment in the United States.

Last week, the U.S. House approved a bill to add 700 miles of border fencing and make illegal immigration a felony. Fox denounced the measure as shameful. His foreign minister called it stupid and underhanded.

''The contributions of Mexicans in the United States, who are making their best effort, generating lots of wealth, are not known,'' said Rodrigo Iván Cortés Jiménez, an elected deputy in Mexico's lower house and a member of its commission on foreign affairs.

The immigration bill, expected to reach the Senate in February, has no provision for allowing temporary Mexican workers -- a further slap, in Fox's view. He and President Bush agree on the need for a ''guest worker'' program.

Fox cannot seek reelection next year, and his legacy may rest in part on his pledges to secure an agreement with the United States to grant legal status to the millions of Mexicans living and working illegally north of the border.

So the Mexican leader last week turned to the political operative who helped him topple Mexico's longtime ruling party to win the presidency.

Rob Allyn helped George W. Bush defeat Ann Richards for the governorship of Texas in 1994. Three years later, Allyn saw another potential winner in Fox, then governor of Guanajuato state. He agreed to join Fox's presidential campaign, but only in secret.

For three years, Allyn worked clandestinely, helping craft Fox's message of change, as well as his TV commercials, his polling and his wardrobe. Allyn made dozens of trips to Mexico, traveling under one of three pseudonyms.

Fox, of the National Action Party, came from behind to defeat Francisco Labastida of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which had ruled Mexico for seven decades. During Mexico's official campaign season in the first six months of 2000, Allyn worked with Penn, Schoen & Berland, a polling and political consulting firm. They operated Democracy Watch, a nonpartisan group hired by Mexicans to conduct national exit polls as a hedge against election fraud.

After the July election, Allyn told the Dallas Morning News he hid his work for Fox because he didn't want to be a political liability. Mexicans are sensitive to foreign interference, especially involving the United States.

Allyn, who also worked on the Bush presidential campaigns, now faces a bigger challenge with the migration issue.

Demands to stem illegal immigration are growing louder in the United States as Mexican and Central American workers spread across the country.

''Our focus is on public opinion, which influences policy outcomes in Congress,'' said Allyn, 46, who grew up in Huntington Beach, Calif., and moved to Texas when he was in high school. ``There is a huge misperception among the U.S. public about Mexico.''

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez said Allyn's message should be that Mexicans have sunk roots deep in their U.S. neighborhoods and that they contribute more through their work, taxes and families than they take away in public services.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Atrocity Uncovered...

Estimated numbers of victims of Saddam's mass graves total over 300,000 now!!!

Mass Graves Unearthed In Karbala

BAGHDAD, Dec. 27, 2005
(CBS/AP) Municipal workers doing maintenance work in the Shiite holy city of Karbala uncovered remains that police believed were part of a mass grave thought to date back to the early 1990s, when Saddam Hussein's regime crushed a Shiite uprising in the south.

The remains, which were discovered on Monday, were sent for tests on Tuesday in an effort to identify the bodies, a Karbala police spokesman said.

The men who claim to have discovered the graves were working on underground sewer lines, CBS' Jennifer Donelan reports.

Police will not say how many bodies were found.

Ayad Mashaalah, a local restaurant owner, said he saw bags filled with decomposed bones and corpses. Mashaalah said human rights workers came and took the bags, which are thought to date back to 1991.

BBC estimates that as many as 30,000 people could have been killed and buried in mass graves during the particular Shiite uprising thought to be the source of Monday's finding.

Why We Must Protect The Amendments...

Why do we fight for religious freedom? Freedom of speech? The right to bear arms? When God given right's are lost...we are no longer free. Read on...

Putin's liberal economic adviser resigns, saying Russia 'not free'
Dec 27 8:09 AM US/Eastern

President Vladimir Putin's outspoken liberal economic adviser Andrei Illarionov announced his resignation to protest what he said was an end to political freedom in Russia. "It is one thing to work in a partially free country, as Russia was six years ago. It's another when the country has stopped being politically free," Illarionov, 44, was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS news agency on Tuesday. He said he expected Putin to accept his resignation.

Illarionov, who became Putin's economic adviser in 2000, said he did not recognise the country anymore.

"In these six years the situation has radically changed and in the last year it became clear that not only the political, but economic model of the country has changed," he was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS. "I did not go to work for such a country, or sign a contract, or swear an oath."

"As long as I could do at least something, including talking, I thought it was important to stay," he was quoted as saying by RIA-Novosti.

Illarionov has long been the highest profile critic within the Kremlin of the Putin administration. Just last week, in what may have been his last major press conference as adviser, he said: "Russia has ceased being a free and democratic country."

Illarionov has cut an increasingly lonely figure as he lashed out at the direction the country was taking -- in stark contrast to the rest of the Kremlin's tightly managed information machine.

In January of this year he lost his job as the Kremlin's point man on relations with the influential Group of Eight (G8), which includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Rationalization At It's Worst...

The report said 95.7 percent of abortions were carried out for the physical or mental health of the woman. That's almost 96% of 85,000 abortions?! This is precisely why a matter of life and death such as this should not be left up to subjective interpretation. When it comes to life and death...THERE IS NO GREY AREA!!!

Abortions in Spain rise by 72 percent in 10 years

Dec 27 1:29 PM US/Eastern

The number of abortions carried out in Spain has risen by almost three quarters in the past decade but the figure remains low by European standards, the country's health ministry said. In 2004 the total reached 84,985, up by 6.5 percent on 2003 (79,788) et 72 percent on 1995 (49,367), it reported.

For women aged between 15 and 44 the rate per thousand was 8.94 in 2004 compared with 8.77 in 2003.

But Health Minister Elena Salgado, taking the 2002 figure, said that Spain's figure was lower than that of Germany (15.35 percent), Finland (16.41 percent), France (18.34 percent), Denmark (18.9 percent), Italy (20.46 percent), Britain (22.82 percent) and Sweden (25.63 percent).

The great majority (86.7 percent) of abortions were carried out in private clinics, while 9.7 percent were carried out in private hospitals and 3.6 percent in public hospitals.

The intervention in the first weeks of pregnancy costs between 300 and 400 euros in a private clinic.

Abortion was decriminalised in Spain in 1985 for certain cases: after rape, in the case of malformation of the foetus and if the pregnancy represents a threat to the physical or mental health of the woman.

The report said 95.7 percent of abortions were carried out for the last reason.

Bush Overstepping Bounds

He may be doing it in the interest of the American people. He may be doing it with the best possible intentions. But ignoring the constraints of the Executive Branch is dangerous and should NOT and can NOT be tolerated. In doing so...the President is claiming infallibility that no one, save God himself, can claim.

Secret court modified wiretap requests
Intervention may have led Bush to bypass panel


WASHINGTON -- Government records show that the administration was encountering unprecedented second-guessing by the secret federal surveillance court when President Bush decided to bypass the panel and order surveillance of U.S.-based terror suspects without the court's approval.

A review of Justice Department reports to Congress shows that the 26-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court modified more wiretap requests from the Bush administration than from the four previous presidential administrations combined.

The court's repeated intervention in Bush administration wiretap requests may explain why the president decided to bypass the court nearly four years ago to launch secret National Security Agency spying on hundreds and possibly thousands of Americans and foreigners inside the United States, according to James Bamford, an acknowledged authority on the supersecret NSA, which intercepts telephone calls, e-mails, faxes and Internet communications.

"They wanted to expand the number of people they were eavesdropping on, and they didn't think they could get the warrants they needed from the court to monitor those people," said Bamford, author of "Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency" and "The Puzzle Palace: Inside America's Most Secret Intelligence Organization." "The FISA court has shown its displeasure by tinkering with these applications by the Bush administration."

Bamford offered his speculation in an interview last week.

The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, adopted by Congress in the wake of President Nixon's misuse of the NSA and the CIA before his resignation over Watergate, sets a high standard for court-approved wiretaps on Americans and resident aliens inside the United States.

To win a court-approved wiretap, the government must show "probable cause" that the target of the surveillance is a member of a foreign terrorist organization or foreign power and is engaged in activities that "may" involve a violation of criminal law.

Faced with that standard, Bamford said, the Bush administration had difficulty obtaining FISA court-approved wiretaps on dozens of people within the United States who were communicating with targeted al-Qaida suspects inside the United States.

The 11-judge court that authorizes FISA wiretaps has approved at least 18,740 applications for electronic surveillance or physical searches from five presidential administrations since 1979.

The judges modified only two search warrant orders out of the 13,102 applications that were approved over the first 22 years of the court's operation. In 20 of the first 21 annual reports on the court's activities up to 1999, the Justice Department told Congress that "no orders were entered (by the FISA court) which modified or denied the requested authority" submitted by the government.

But since 2001, the judges have modified 179 of the 5,645 requests for court-ordered surveillance by the Bush administration. A total of 173 of those court-ordered "substantive modifications" took place in 2003 and 2004 -- the most recent years for which public records are available.

The judges also rejected or deferred at least six requests for warrants during those two years -- the first outright rejection in the court's history.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said last week that Bush authorized NSA surveillance of overseas communications by U.S.-based terror suspects because the FISA court's approval process was too cumbersome.

The Bush administration, responding to concerns expressed by some judges on the 11-member panel, agreed last week to give them a classified briefing on the domestic spying program. U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard, a member of the panel, told CNN that the Bush administration agreed to brief the judges after U.S. District Judge James Robertson resigned from the FISA panel, apparently to protest Bush's spying program.

Bamford, 59, a Vietnam-era Navy veteran, likens the Bush administration's domestic surveillance without court approval to Nixon-era abuses of intelligence agencies.

NSA and previous eavesdropping agencies collected duplicates of all international telegrams to and from the United States for decades during the Cold War under a program code-named "Shamrock" before the program ended in the 1970s. A program known as "Minaret" tracked 75,000 Americans whose activities had drawn government interest between 1952 and 1974, including participation in the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War.

"NSA prides itself on learning the lessons of the 1970s and obeying the legal restrictions imposed by FISA," Bamford said. "Now it looks like we're going back to the bad old days again."

Monday, December 19, 2005

Media Bias A Reality


Media Bias Is Real, Finds UCLA Political Scientist

Date: December 14, 2005
Contact: Meg Sullivan ( )
Phone: 310-825-1046

While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper's news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times. The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left. Coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, almost all major media outlets tilt to the left.

These are just a few of the surprising findings from a UCLA-led study, which is believed to be the first successful attempt at objectively quantifying bias in a range of media outlets and ranking them accordingly.

"I suspected that many media outlets would tilt to the left because surveys have shown that reporters tend to vote more Democrat than Republican," said Tim Groseclose, a UCLA political scientist and the study's lead author. "But I was surprised at just how pronounced the distinctions are."

"Overall, the major media outlets are quite moderate compared to members of Congress, but even so, there is a quantifiable and significant bias in that nearly all of them lean to the left," said co‑author Jeffrey Milyo, University of Missouri economist and public policy scholar.

The results appear in the latest issue of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, which will become available in mid-December.

Groseclose and Milyo based their research on a standard gauge of a lawmaker's support for liberal causes. Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) tracks the percentage of times that each lawmaker votes on the liberal side of an issue. Based on these votes, the ADA assigns a numerical score to each lawmaker, where "100" is the most liberal and "0" is the most conservative. After adjustments to compensate for disproportionate representation that the Senate gives to low‑population states and the lack of representation for the District of Columbia, the average ADA score in Congress (50.1) was assumed to represent the political position of the average U.S. voter.

Groseclose and Milyo then directed 21 research assistants — most of them college students — to scour U.S. media coverage of the past 10 years. They tallied the number of times each media outlet referred to think tanks and policy groups, such as the left-leaning NAACP or the right-leaning Heritage Foundation.

Next, they did the same exercise with speeches of U.S. lawmakers. If a media outlet displayed a citation pattern similar to that of a lawmaker, then Groseclose and Milyo's method assigned both a similar ADA score.

"A media person would have never done this study," said Groseclose, a UCLA political science professor, whose research and teaching focuses on the U.S. Congress. "It takes a Congress scholar even to think of using ADA scores as a measure. And I don't think many media scholars would have considered comparing news stories to congressional speeches."

Of the 20 major media outlets studied, 18 scored left of center, with CBS' "Evening News," The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times ranking second, third and fourth most liberal behind the news pages of The Wall Street Journal.

Only Fox News' "Special Report With Brit Hume" and The Washington Times scored right of the average U.S. voter.

The most centrist outlet proved to be the "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer." CNN's "NewsNight With Aaron Brown" and ABC's "Good Morning America" were a close second and third.

"Our estimates for these outlets, we feel, give particular credibility to our efforts, as three of the four moderators for the 2004 presidential and vice-presidential debates came from these three news outlets — Jim Lehrer, Charlie Gibson and Gwen Ifill," Groseclose said. "If these newscasters weren't centrist, staffers for one of the campaign teams would have objected and insisted on other moderators."

The fourth most centrist outlet was "Special Report With Brit Hume" on Fox News, which often is cited by liberals as an egregious example of a right-wing outlet. While this news program proved to be right of center, the study found ABC's "World News Tonight" and NBC's "Nightly News" to be left of center. All three outlets were approximately equidistant from the center, the report found.

"If viewers spent an equal amount of time watching Fox's 'Special Report' as ABC's 'World News' and NBC's 'Nightly News,' then they would receive a nearly perfectly balanced version of the news," said Milyo, an associate professor of economics and public affairs at the University of Missouri at Columbia.

Five news outlets — "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," ABC's "Good Morning America," CNN's "NewsNight With Aaron Brown," Fox News' "Special Report With Brit Hume" and the Drudge Report — were in a statistical dead heat in the race for the most centrist news outlet. Of the print media, USA Today was the most centrist.

An additional feature of the study shows how each outlet compares in political orientation with actual lawmakers. The news pages of The Wall Street Journal scored a little to the left of the average American Democrat, as determined by the average ADA score of all Democrats in Congress (85 versus 84). With scores in the mid-70s, CBS' "Evening News" and The New York Times looked similar to Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., who has an ADA score of 74.

Most of the outlets were less liberal than Lieberman but more liberal than former Sen. John Breaux, D-La. Those media outlets included the Drudge Report, ABC's "World News Tonight," NBC's "Nightly News," USA Today, NBC's "Today Show," Time magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, NPR's "Morning Edition," CBS' "Early Show" and The Washington Post.

Since Groseclose and Milyo were more concerned with bias in news reporting than opinion pieces, which are designed to stake a political position, they omitted editorials and Op‑Eds from their tallies. This is one reason their study finds The Wall Street Journal more liberal than conventional wisdom asserts.

Another finding that contradicted conventional wisdom was that the Drudge Report was slightly left of center.

"One thing people should keep in mind is that our data for the Drudge Report was based almost entirely on the articles that the Drudge Report lists on other Web sites," said Groseclose. "Very little was based on the stories that Matt Drudge himself wrote. The fact that the Drudge Report appears left of center is merely a reflection of the overall bias of the media."

Yet another finding that contradicted conventional wisdom relates to National Public Radio, often cited by conservatives as an egregious example of a liberal news outlet. But according to the UCLA-University of Missouri study, it ranked eighth most liberal of the 20 that the study examined.

"By our estimate, NPR hardly differs from the average mainstream news outlet," Groseclose said. "Its score is approximately equal to those of Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report and its score is slightly more conservative than The Washington Post's. If anything, government‑funded outlets in our sample have a slightly lower average ADA score (61), than the private outlets in our sample (62.8)."

The researchers took numerous steps to safeguard against bias — or the appearance of same — in the work, which took close to three years to complete. They went to great lengths to ensure that as many research assistants supported Democratic candidate Al Gore in the 2000 election as supported President George Bush. They also sought no outside funding, a rarity in scholarly research.

"No matter the results, we feared our findings would've been suspect if we'd received support from any group that could be perceived as right- or left-leaning, so we consciously decided to fund this project only with our own salaries and research funds that our own universities provided," Groseclose said.

The results break new ground.

"Past researchers have been able to say whether an outlet is conservative or liberal, but no one has ever compared media outlets to lawmakers," Groseclose said. "Our work gives a precise characterization of the bias and relates it to known commodity — politicians."



Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Don King On Bush...


Wed Dec 14 2005 19:23:37 ET CNN, THE SITUATION ROOM 4:00 PM EST

WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Don king is known worldwide as a big-time boxing promoter. But has also taken some new fights on recently...

You love George Bush?

DON KING; I love George Walker Bush because I think he's a revolutionary. He's a president that comes in with conclusiveness. What they're doing in tomorrow in Iraq is a demonstration of that for the vote for democracy. The fundamental process of democracy is freedom of speech, law and order, being able to have freedom, working with people and working and governing yourselves. George Bush is that. He included in...

BLITZER: Do you have any regrets supporting him? Take a look at that picture when you and I were there at the diner last year. Do you have any regrets supporting him as enthusiastically as you did?

KING: No, I don't. In fact, I want to support him more now because it seems like everybody is punching him. You know what I mean? But he's fighting back, and he's throwing great combinations. And I think he's the guy that is really a revolutionary president.

I think he's a president that cares about the people he represents, but doesn't compromise himself to the extent that he acquiesce and accommodate. He goes out there and says like it is, and tries to make things better. Inclusiveness, education, is fighting for that.

These are the things that many guys that don't fight for -- George Walker Bush is a tremendous advocate to America, a great president for the great American people, and he's decisive. He's doesn't equivocate.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

In God We Trust!!!

Gallup: Poll Finds Americans' Belief in God Remains Strong

By E&P Staff
Published: December 13, 2005 12:15 PM ET

NEW YORK A new Gallup survey released today finds that four decades after the "God Is Dead" controversy was first noted, Americans retain a strong belief in a higher power. Some 94% think God exists.

Only 5% feel God "does not exist" -- and even most of them "are not sure" of that. Exactly 1% are certain there is no God.

But how strongly do the believers believe? Nearly 8 in 10, in fact, say they are "convinced" God exists, although Gallup does not ask them why that is.

Conservatives are more likely to be convinced than liberals (87% vs. 61%), women a little more likely than men (82% vs. 73%), and residents of the South more than those in the East (88% vs. 70%).

Surprisingly, some 61% of those who seldom or never attend church are nevertheless convinced that God exists.

E&P Staff (

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Whose Country Is It?

Will we still be the Country of choice and still be America if we continue to make the changes forced on us by the people from other countries that came to live in America because it is the Country of Choice ??????

Think about it .

All I have to say is, when will they do something about MY RIGHTS? I celebrate Christmas, but because it isn't celebrated by everyone, we can no longer say Merry Christmas. Now it has to be Season's Greetings. It's not Christmas vacation, it's Winter Break. Isn't it amazing how this winter break ALWAYS occurs over the Christmas holiday? We've gone so far the other way, bent over backwards to not offend anyone, that I am now being offended. But it seems that no one has a problem with that.


I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Americans.

However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the "politically correct" crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others.

I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to America. Our population is almost entirely made up of descendants of immigrants. However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand. This idea of America being a
multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity.

As Americans, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.

We speak ENGLISH, not Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!

"In God We Trust" is our national motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.

If Stars and Stripes offend you, or you don't like Uncle Sam, then you
should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We
are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really
don't care how you did things where you came from. This is OUR COUNTRY, our land, and our lifestyle.

Our First Amendment gives every citizen the right to express his opinion and we will allow you every opportunity to do so. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about our flag, our pledge, our national motto, or our way of life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great American freedom, THE RIGHT TO LEAVE.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

An Apology From America

This "Letter of Apology" was written by Lieutenant General Chuck Pitman, US Marine Corps, Retired:

For good and ill, the Iraqi prisoner abuse mess will remain an issue. On the one hand, right thinking Americans will abhor the stupidity of the actions while on the other hand, political glee will take control and fashion this minor event into some modern day massacre.

I humbly offer my opinion here:

I am sorry that the last seven times we Americans took up arms and sacrificed the blood of our youth, it was in the defense of Muslims (Bosnia, Kosovo, Gulf War 1, Kuwait, etc.).

I am sorry that no such call for an apology upon the extremists came after 9/11.

I am sorry that all of the murderers on 9/11 were Islamic Arabs.

I am sorry that most Arabs and Muslims have to live in squalor under savage dictatorships.

I am sorry that their leaders squander their wealth.

I am sorry that their governments breed hate for the US in their religious schools, mosques, and government-controlled media.

I am sorry that Yassar Arafat was kicked out of every Arab country and high-jacked the Palestinian "cause."

I am sorry that no other Arab country will take in or offer more than a token amount of financial help to those same Palestinians.

I am sorry that the USA has to step in and be the biggest financial supporter of poverty stricken Arabs while the insanely wealthy Arabs blame the USA for all their problems.

I am sorry that our own left wing, our media, and our own brainwashed masses do not understand any of this (from the misleading vocal elements of our society like radical professors, CNN and the NY TIMES).

I am sorry the United Nations scammed the poor people of Iraq out of the "food for oil" money so they could get rich while the common folk suffered.

I am sorry that some Arab governments pay the families of homicide bombers upon their death.

I am sorry that those same bombers are brainwashed thinking they will receive 72 virgins in "paradise."

I am sorry that the homicide bombers think pregnant women, babies, children, the elderly and other noncombatant civilians are legitimate targets.

I am sorry that our troops die to free more Arabs from the gang rape rooms and the filling of mass graves of dissidents of their own making.

I am sorry that Muslim extremists have killed more Arabs than any other group.

I am sorry that foreign trained terrorists are trying to seize control of Iraq and return it to a terrorist state.

I am sorry we don't drop a few dozen Daisy cutters on Fallujah.

I am sorry every time terrorists hide they find a convenient "Holy Site."

I am sorry they didn't apologize for driving a jet into the World Trade Center that collapsed and severely damaged Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church - one of our Holy Sites.

I am sorry they didn't apologize for flight 93 and 175, the USS Cole, the embassy bombings, the murders and beheadings of Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl, etc....etc!

I am sorry Michael Moore is American; he could feed a medium sized village in Africa.

America will get past this latest absurdity. We will punish those responsible because that is what we do.

We hang out our dirty laundry for the entire world to see. We move on. That's one of the reasons we are hated so much. We don't hide this stuff like all those Arab countries that are now demanding an apology.

Deep down inside, when most Americans saw this reported in the news, we were like - so what? We lost hundreds and made fun of a few prisoners. Sure, it was wrong, sure, it dramatically hurts our cause, but until captured we were trying to kill these same prisoners. Now we're supposed to wring our hands because a few were humiliated?

Our compassion is tempered with the vivid memories of our own people killed, mutilated and burnt amongst a joyous crowd of celebrating Fallujahans.

If you want an apology from this American, you're going to have a long wait! You have a better chance of finding those seventy-two virgins.

Chuck Pitman

Lieutenant General, USMC

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

New Policy: Catch & Deport

U.S. to end "catch and release" at Mexican border

Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:55 AM ET
By Bernd Debusmann

LAREDO, Texas (Reuters) - The United States is closing a legal loophole which has allowed tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to slip into the country and join the estimated 11 million undocumented foreigners already here.

Under long-standing procedure along the U.S. border with Mexico, illegal crossers of nationalities other than Mexican -- dubbed OTMs by the Border Patrol -- have been entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge before they could be deported.

Because of a severe shortage of space to hold them until the hearing, they were released after being fingerprinted and given a "notice to appear," a document stating they had agreed to show up at court at a certain date.

The notice serves as a travel document allowing its holder past Border Patrol checkpoints on the roads leading from the border to the interior. Most OTMs do not show up for their hearing and meld into the population.

Known as "catch and release", the practice has become part of an increasingly acrimonious debate over immigration policy and border security, an issue likely to loom large in Congress, next year's mid-term elections and the 2008 presidential poll.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said last month his department's aim was to "return every single entrant -- no exceptions" but gave no deadline. Mexicans are usually returned immediately -- and most of them try again, some within hours.

Along the border, agents say ending the practice will take time and depends on how quickly the government can build additional detention space told hold OTMs before they are sent to their home countries.

OTMs were a relatively minor problem until 2003, when word of the loophole spread and triggered a growing flood -- including thousands of Brazilians inspired by a popular soap opera, "America," whose sultry star plays an illegal immigrant who swam the Rio Grande and made good in the United States.


According to Border Patrol statistics, apprehensions of OTMs tripled from fiscal 2003 to fiscal 2005, which ended in October, from 49,545 to 165,175. Brazilians made up the second-biggest group this year, after Hondurans and before people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

The Brazilian rush northwards highlighted the complex nature of international migration patterns. Apart from the lure of emulating soap opera stars, Brazilians were taking advantage of easy travel from Brazil to Mexico, which abolished visas for Brazilians in 2000 to promote tourism and business.

After flying into Mexican airports, the Brazilians would head north to cross over the river or the deserts further west.

Mexico re-introduced visas last month.

"Catch and release" is gradually being replaced by "Expedited Removal," a process which cuts out the hearing before an immigration judge and allows border patrol agents to decide whether an illegal crosser should be deported.

In one of the many quirks of the complicated U.S. immigration rules, someone who crosses illegally, manages to get 100 miles beyond the border and stay undetected for more than 14 days cannot be subjected to Expedited Removal and is entitled to make a case for staying on to a judge.

(In another immigration law oddity, Cubans who sail across the Straits of Florida and make it to land are entitled to stay while those caught at sea can be returned.)

First introduced in the Laredo sector of the southwestern border, Expedited Removal is now being expanded to the entire 1,951-mile international line.

Administration officials stress that faster deportations and tighter border controls alone are no solution to illegal immigration. "We are going to need more than just brute enforcement," Chertoff told the Senate Judiciary Committee recently.

President George W. Bush has been pushing a guest worker plan that would allow foreigners working in the U.S. illegally to get three-year visas, renewable once. After that, they would have to return to their home countries and apply for a new permit.

The Bush plan appeals to part of the president's support base -- employers who want cheap labor -- but falls short of the demands of conservatives who say that even with the additional measures now being implemented, border security is not nearly tight enough.

(BC-USA-BORDER-LOOPHOLE, editing by Cynthia Osterman;

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Environmentalists Catch 22

Forests paying the price for biofuels

22 November 2005 news service

THE drive for "green energy" in the developed world is having the perverse effect of encouraging the destruction of tropical rainforests. From the orang-utan reserves of Borneo to the Brazilian Amazon, virgin forest is being razed to grow palm oil and soybeans to fuel cars and power stations in Europe and North America. And surging prices are likely to accelerate the destruction

The rush to make energy from vegetable oils is being driven in part by European Union laws requiring conventional fuels to be blended with biofuels, and by subsidies equivalent to 20 pence a litre. Last week, the British government announced a target for biofuels to make up 5 per cent of transport fuels by 2010. The aim is to help meet Kyoto protocol targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Rising demand for green energy has led to a surge in the international price of palm oil, with potentially damaging consequences. "The expansion of palm oil production is one of the leading causes of rainforest destruction in south-east Asia. It is one of the most environmentally damaging commodities on the planet," says Simon Counsell, director of the UK-based Rainforest Foundation. "Once again it appears we are trying to solve our environmental problems by dumping them in developing countries, where they have devastating effects on local people."

The main alternative to palm oil is soybean oil. But soya is the largest single cause of rainforest destruction in the Brazilian Amazon. Supporters of biofuels argue that they can be "carbon neutral" because the CO2 released from burning them is taken up again by the next crop. Interest is greatest for diesel engines, which can run unmodified on vegetable oil, and in Germany bio-diesel production has doubled since 2003. There are also plans for burning palm oil in power stations.

Until recently, Europe's small market in biofuels was dominated by home-grown rapeseed (canola) oil. But surging demand from the food market has raised the price of rapeseed oil too. This has led fuel manufacturers to opt for palm and soya oil instead. Palm oil prices jumped 10 per cent in September alone, and are predicted to rise 20 per cent next year, while global demand for biofuels is now rising at 25 per cent a year.

Roger Higman, of Friends of the Earth UK, which backs biofuels, says: "We need to ensure that the crops used to make the fuel have been grown in a sustainable way or we will have rainforests cleared for palm oil plantations to make bio-diesel."

From issue 2526 of New Scientist magazine, 22 November 2005, page 19

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Ignorant Rappers?!


Producer/composer QUINCY JONES has blasted modern rappers for turning their backs on their jazz and blues heritage.

The jazz and R+B legend fears he could ask 100 hip-hop stars about their musical roots in New Orleans and other southern US cities, and most of them wouldn't know what he was talking about.

Jones, 72, says, "These guys really think they can continue this wonderful life and not know anything about (Mississippi) delta blues music. Jazz and blues are the two most powerful types of music we've ever had.

"You cannot afford to not know this music. Americans, period, do not know anything about that music, especially black kids, not a clue.

"I bet most rappers you ask wouldn't know who DUKE ELLINGTON or CHARLIE PARKER is."

Sunday, October 30, 2005

World History (In the beginning) ;-)

History began some 12,000 years ago. Humans existed as members of small bands of nomadic hunter/gatherers.

They lived on deer in the mountains during the summer & would go to the coast & live on fish & lobster in winter.

The 2 most important events in all of history were the invention of beer & the invention of the wheel. The wheel was invented to get man to the beer. These were the foundation of modern civilization & together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into 2 distinct subgroups: Liberals & Conservatives.

Once beer was discovered it required grain & that was the beginning of agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented yet, so while our early human ancestors were sitting around waiting for them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That's how villages were formed.

Some men spent their days tracking & killing animals to B-B-Q at night while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as "the Conservative movement."

Other men who were weaker & less skilled at hunting learned to live off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly B-B-Q's & doing the sewing, fetching & hair dressing. This was the beginning of the Liberal movement. Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. The rest became known as 'girleymen.'

Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats, the invention of group therapy & group hugs & the concept of Democratic voting to decide how to divide the meat & beer that conservatives provided.

Over the years conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized by the jackass.

Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer white wine or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish but like their beef well done. Sushi, tofu, & French food are standard liberal fare.

Another interesting evolutionary side note: most of their women have higher testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal injury attorneys, journalists, dreamers in Hollywood & group therapists are liberals. Liberals invented the designated hitter rule because it wasn't "fair" to make the pitcher also bat.

Conservatives drink domestic beer. They eat red meat & still provide for their women. Conservatives are big-game hunters, rodeo cowboys, lumberjacks, construction workers, firemen, medical doctors, police officers, corporate executives, fighter pilots, athletes & generally anyone who works productively outside government. Conservatives who own companies hire other conservatives who want to work for a living.

Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to "govern" the producers & decide what to do with the production. Liberals believe Europeans are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in Europe when conservatives were coming to America. They crept in after the Wild West was tame & created a business of trying to get MORE for nothing.

Here ends today's lesson in world history.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Hail Mary!!!

New York Times

Increasingly, Football's Playbooks Call for Prayer

October 30, 2005

Every preseason for 30 years, Coach Bobby Bowden has taken his Florida State football players to a church in a white community and a church in a black community in the Tallahassee area in an effort, he said, to build camaraderie. He writes to their parents in advance, explaining that the trips are voluntary, and that if they object, their sons can stay home without fear of retaliation. He remembers only one or two players ever skipping the outing.

Since becoming the football coach at Georgia in 2001, Mark Richt, too, has taken his team to churches in the preseason. A devotional service is conducted the night before each game, and a prayer service on game day. Both are voluntary, and Mr. Richt said he does not attend them.

On game days, Penn State players may choose between Catholic and Protestant services or not go at all. Coach Joe Paterno and the team say the Lord's Prayer in the locker room after games.

As in politics and culture in the United States, college football is increasingly becoming a more visible home for the Gospel. In the past year more than 2,000 college football coaches participated in events sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which said that more than 1.4 million athletes and coaches from youth to professional levels had attended in 2005, up from 500,000 in 1990.

Mr. Bowden believes that prayer and faith are part of the American way.

"Most parents want their boys to go to church," he said. "I've had atheists, Jews, Catholics and Muslims play for me, and I've never not started a boy because of his faith. I'm Christian, but all religions have some kind of commandments, and if kids would obey them, the world would be a better place."

But others raise concerns about separation of church and state.

"This is a lawsuit waiting to happen, and I believe university administrations are playing a game of chicken," the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, a lawyer and executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said. "But eventually, you got to believe that one kid is going to say, 'I've had enough,' and step forward."

The spiritual fervor of some coaches and athletes at public institutions, however, did not escape notice at the high school level this month. Marcus Borden, the football coach in East Brunswick, N.J., resigned rather than stop participating in a player-initiated pregame prayer, as he was ordered to do by the district after parents complained. He returned to his team after agreeing not to pray, but is considering a legal challenge.

Last June, in the wake of a Pentagon task force investigating broader allegations of religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy, Fisher DeBerry, the football coach, stopped leading pregame prayers and removed a banner in the Falcons' locker room. It bore the Fellowship of Christian Athletes' Competitors Creed, which begins "I am a Christian first and last."

"The problem inherently is the hierarchal nature of the player-coach relationship, where the coach is all-powerful," Mr. Lynn said. "Team members want face time and playing time. And if they don't go along with what the coach offers, they fear that they will become second-stringers."

Peer pressure in a group dynamic, Mr. Lynn said, has prevented any college player from coming forward to mount a legal challenge. No one wants to alienate a coach, especially a popular one.

In 2000, the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed its decisions against officially sponsored prayer in public schools in a case involving a district in Santa Fe, Tex., where prayers preceded high school football games over the public-address system.

The 6-to-3 majority opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens said that even when attendance is voluntary and when the decision to pray is made by students, "the delivery of a pregame prayer has the improper effect of coercing those present to participate in an act of religious worship," which violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

That may be the law, but God has long played a prominent role in the game's mythology, from the postcards of the former Alabama Coach Bear Bryant walking on water, to the mosaic of Christ with raised arms on a Notre Dame library that looms above the football stadium and is known as Touchdown Jesus.

"It's an awkward issue to raise because much of these things are grounded in boosting team morale and building unity more than hard gospel," Leo Sandon, professor emeritus of religion and American studies at Florida State, said. "When you juxtapose it with the iconic status of some of these coaches, it becomes more daunting and doesn't get much comment. "

Mr. Richt, 45, was once Mr. Bowden's assistant at Florida State and has followed his successful ways on the field. Entering yesterday, the Bulldogs (7-0) were ranked No. 4, while the Seminoles (6-1) were No. 10 in the Associated Press news media poll. Mr. Richt has also followed his mentor's lead by making his private faith a matter of public record.

He has one supporter with a different perspective: Musa Smith, a rookie running back for the N.F.L. Baltimore Ravens, who played at Georgia. Smith was reared a Muslim and did not attend chapel services with his teammates. When he did pray with them, he stuck to his own prayers. Mr. Smith said he was inspired by the example set by Mr. Richt.

"At the end of the day, it was about strengthening your spiritual foundations and to walk in a righteous way in whatever you believe," Mr. Smith said. "It reminded me of my fundamentals and made me a better person."

Mr. Bowden, 75, who has been outspoken about his faith throughout his 50-year career, does not doubt that he has kept critics at bay because of his success and his popularity in north Florida, where the predominantly Christian population recognizes one of its own in his folksy ways.

"I win too many games," said Mr. Bowden, who is major college football's most successful coach with 357 victories.

Neither Mr. Richt nor Mr. Bowden drinks alcohol or smokes, and both adhere to a spiritual regimen. Mr. Richt reads a chapter of Proverbs a day, and prays between meetings and before interviews; Mr. Bowden begins his day at 4 a.m. with an hour of reading the Bible and is known for offering fiery church sermons.

Each believes that by exemplifying his religious values he can develop not only better players, but also better students, sons, husbands and fathers.

Center David Castillo, who is in his final season at Florida State, said that Mr. Bowden has been sensitive to the diversity of his players. The pregame and postgame prayers Mr. Bowden leads are nondenominational and directed at the safety of both teams and those traveling to see them, Mr. Castillo said.

"He tells us that he doesn't care if we don't believe what he does, "Mr. Castillo, who is preparing for medical school, said. "But he wants us to believe in something."

Mr. Bowden, however, injected himself in the Air Force controversy when he told attendees of a Fellowship of Christian Athletes event in Colorado Springs, home of the academy, that Mr. DeBerry was in a "heck of a battle because he happens to be a Christian, and he wants his boys to be saved."

"I want my boys to be saved," Mr. Bowden added.

In fact, he said, when about 70 percent of his players come from single-parent homes, or are reared by an extended family, it is his right and responsibility to be candid about his faith. "You got 90 kids in a history or psychology classroom around here, and a professor can stand up and say anything he wants in creation," Mr. Bowden said recently in an interview at his office. "Why can't I tell my boys what I believe?"

Ron Riccio, who is representing Mr. Borden in New Jersey, said God and religion have not been swept away by the government: the Pledge of Allegiance, and the words In God We Trust remain on currency. Legislative bodies often begin sessions with a prayer, and "you have nearly every president in history saying, 'God bless America,' " Mr. Riccio, who teaches constitutional law at Seton Hall's law school, said.

Mr. Sandon, the retired Florida State professor, has had an amicable relationship with Mr. Bowden since serving as a member of the university's athletic board. But in his syndicated newspaper column, Religion in America, Mr. Sandon criticized Mr. Bowden's remarks regarding Mr. DeBerry and Air Force.

"Don't make any mistake - the biggest man around here is Bobby Bowden, and I have never seen any president or athletic director call him to heel," Mr. Sandon said. "If you have a strong religious dimension to your program, there is going to be church-and-state issues."

Despite the Santa Fe decision, T. K. Wetherell, the president of Florida State, said he did not believe Mr. Bowden had violated the Constitution, nor was he worried that Mr. Bowden would.

"Coach Bowden has the right and ability to speak his mind, as do all of our faculty," Mr. Wetherell said. "He doesn't push his views on his players. It gets back basically to the academic-freedom issue, and we give that some leeway for all our faculty and staff. He understands that he works for a public institution."

So does Mr. Richt. Yet in 2001 and 2003, Americans United for Separation of Church and State wrote to Georgia saying that Mr. Richt's program was in violation of the establishment clause. In both instances, Stephen M. Shewmaker, the executive director of legal affairs at Georgia, replied that because participation was voluntary the university had found no violations of the Constitution.

Mr. Richt has shown he is sensitive to both the threats to the Constitution and public opinion. In 2002, after Georgia clinched the Southeastern Conference East title, he began his news conference with religious comments. He was criticized by some fans and the news media, and subsequently apologized.

"My goal is not to cause somebody grief or to make anyone upset," Mr. Richt said. "My goal is to love these guys and put them in a situation where they can grow up to be the best men they can be. We are an authority over them, and I have influence over them, and I take that responsibility seriously."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


US security chief strives to expel all illegal immigrants

Oct 18 11:47 AM US/Eastern

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department aims without exception to expel all those who enter the United States illegally.

"Our goal at DHS (Homeland Security) is to completely eliminate the 'catch and release' enforcement problem, and return every single illegal entrant, no exceptions.

"It should be possible to achieve significant and measurable progress to this end in less than a year," Chertoff told a Senate hearing.

Thousands of "Mexicans who are caught entering the United States illegally are returned immediately to Mexico. But other parts of the system have nearly collapsed under the weight of numbers. The problem is especially severe for non-Mexicans apprehended at the southwest border," Chertoff explained.

"Today, a non-Mexican illegal immigrant caught trying to enter the United States across the southwest border has an 80 percent chance of being released immediately because we lack the holding facilities," he added.

"Through a comprehensive approach, we are moving to end this 'catch and release' style of border enforcement by reengineering our detention and removal process."

Chertoff's remarks in favor of returning "every illegal entrant, no exceptions" appeared to conflict directly with the US policy toward illegal Cuban migrants.

Though Cubans picked up at sea are returned to their country, those who reach US soil by air, sea or ground are allowed to stay and work -- a fact Cuba says encourages dangerous illegal emigration attempts.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Big Melt

The New York Times:

October 10, 2005

As Polar Ice Turns to Water, Dreams of Treasure Abound

This article is by Clifford Krauss, Steven Lee Myers, Andrew C. Revkin and Simon Romero.

CHURCHILL, Manitoba - It seems harsh to say that bad news for polar bears is good for Pat Broe. Mr. Broe, a Denver entrepreneur, is no more to blame than anyone else for a meltdown at the top of the world that threatens Arctic mammals and ancient traditions and lends credibility to dark visions of global warming.

Still, the newest study of the Arctic ice cap - finding that it faded this summer to its smallest size ever recorded - is beginning to make Mr. Broe look like a visionary for buying this derelict Hudson Bay port from the Canadian government in 1997. Especially at the price he paid: about $7.

By Mr. Broe's calculations, Churchill could bring in as much as $100 million a year as a port on Arctic shipping lanes shorter by thousands of miles than routes to the south, and traffic would only increase as the retreat of ice in the region clears the way for a longer shipping season.

With major companies and nations large and small adopting similar logic, the Arctic is undergoing nothing less than a great rush for virgin territory and natural resources worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Even before the polar ice began shrinking more each summer, countries were pushing into the frigid Barents Sea, lured by undersea oil and gas fields and emboldened by advances in technology. But now, as thinning ice stands to simplify construction of drilling rigs, exploration is likely to move even farther north.

Last year, scientists found tantalizing hints of oil in seabed samples just 200 miles from the North Pole. All told, one quarter of the world's undiscovered oil and gas resources lies in the Arctic, according to the United States Geological Survey.

The polar thaw is also starting to unlock other treasures: lucrative shipping routes, perhaps even the storied Northwest Passage; new cruise ship destinations; and important commercial fisheries.

"It's the positive side of global warming, if there is a positive side," said Ron Lemieux, the transportation minister of Manitoba, whose provincial government is investing millions in Churchill.

If the melting continues, as many Arctic experts expect, the mass of floating ice that has crowned the planet for millions of years may largely disappear for entire summers this century. Instead of the white wilderness that killed explorers and defeated navigators for centuries, the world would have a blue pole on top, a seasonally open sea nearly five times the size of the Mediterranean.

But if the Arctic is no longer a frozen backyard, the fences matter. For now it is not clear where those fences are. Under a treaty called the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, territory is determined by how far a nation's continental shelf extends into the sea. Under the treaty, countries have limited time after ratifying it to map the sea floor and make claims.

In 2001, Russia made the first move, staking out virtually half the Arctic Ocean, including the North Pole. But after challenges by other nations, including the United States, Russia sought to bolster its claim by sending a research ship north to gather more geographical data. On Aug. 29, it reached the pole without the help of an icebreaker - the first ship ever to do so.

The United States, an Arctic nation itself because of Alaska, could also try to expand its territory. But several senators who oppose any possible infringement on American sovereignty have repeatedly blocked ratification of the treaty.

Indeed, not everyone agrees that warming of the Arctic merits concern. No one knows what share of the recent thawing can be attributed to natural cycles and how much to heat-trapping pollution linked to recent global warming, and some scientists and government officials, particularly in Russia, are dismissive of assertions that a permanent change is at hand.

"We are not going to have apple trees growing in Vorkuta," said the mayor of that coal-mining city, Igor L. Shpektor, who is also the president of Russia's union of Arctic cities and towns.

But the current thaw is already real enough for the four million people within the Arctic Circle, including about 150,000 Inuit. "As long as it's ice," said Sheila Watt-Cloutier, leader of a transnational Inuit group, "nobody cares except us, because we hunt and fish and travel on that ice. However, the minute it starts to thaw and becomes water, then the whole world is interested."

Increasingly, big corporations, the eight countries with Arctic footholds and other nations farther south are betting on the possibility of a great transformation. Energy-hungry China has set up a research station on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and twice deployed its icebreaker Snow Dragon, which normally works in Antarctica, to northern waters to conduct climate research.

Interest in Arctic-hardy vessels has picked up so much that in January, Aker Finnyards, a giant shipbuilder based in Helsinki, created a subsidiary just to develop ice-hardened ships. Its new double-ended tanker slips smoothly through open water bow first but can spin around and use an icebreakerlike stern to smash through heavy floes. A Finnish energy company bought two for about $90 million apiece, and after buying one Russia licensed the design and is building two more.

In January, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research held a closed two-day meeting to hear from experts on the implications of a warming, opening Arctic.

"There are likely to be a number of foreign-policy issues that must be addressed by the United States and other nations" if the climate trends persist, said a summary of the meeting. "These issues include the availability and potential for exploitation of energy, fisheries and other resources; access to new sea routes; new claims under Law of the Sea; national security; and others."

A look at a map of the globe with the North Pole at its center explains why a new frontier matters. Some countries that one might think of as being half a world part appear as startlingly close neighbors, and relatively speaking, they are.

In the days of empire, Rudyard Kipling called jockeying among world powers in Central Asia the Great Game. Christopher Weafer, an energy analyst with Alfa Bank in Moscow, says this new Arctic rush is "the Great Game in a cold climate."

The Petroleum Rush

To understand the practical terms of this new competition for territory, opportunity and resources, a good place to begin is Hammerfest, Norway, one of the northernmost towns in the world and one of 12 Arctic settlements visited over six months by correspondents of The New York Times preparing this series of articles.

Hammerfest, once an austerely beautiful fishing village burned to the ground by the Nazis in World War II, is starting to swell with young people from other parts of Norway, Finland, Russia and Asia, as well as with highly trained technical workers from Europe and North America. They are drawn by Snohvit (in English, Snow White), a mammoth complex being built to receive natural gas piped from the Barents Sea and liquefy the gas for shipping.

The Norwegian government, which controls Snohvit in part through its majority ownership of the energy company Statoil, is desperate for Snohvit to be a success and put the country in the forefront of Arctic energy exploration. Being first, however, has had its challenges in the severe operating environment of the High North, as Arctic areas are called in Norway. Overruns have put the price of Snohvit at $8.8 billion, almost 50 percent above its original estimate.

The project has a firm backer in John Doyle Ong, the blunt United States ambassador in Oslo. Snohvit is scheduled to start sending liquefied natural gas to the Cove Point port in Maryland in 2007, just as American imports of liquefied gas from competing sources in the Middle East and Africa are set to rise rapidly. Importing natural gas from a stable country like Norway - already the world's third-largest oil exporter, after Saudi Arabia and Russia - is a rare option these days.

"Norway's importance to the United States in terms of our national energy policy is increasing with every passing year," Mr. Ong said.

But the United States' interests go beyond that - too far beyond for many in Norway. In September, the opening of frontier areas in the Barents and Norwegian Seas emerged as a central issue in elections that brought a leftist coalition to power, with some coalition members favoring a ban on Arctic oil and gas exploration in environmentally sensitive areas.

And besides supporting Snohvit, Mr. Ong, a former energy executive, has stepped into disputes between Norway and Russia over a large gray zone in the Barents. His insistence that Arctic-related matters be "trilateral" rather than bilateral is viewed as belligerent by some Norwegians.

In private, Norwegian officials welcome the heft of the United States in its negotiations with Russia. Norway is eager to resolve the territorial dispute so that some order, and Norwegian drilling expertise and environmental standards, can be imposed on Arctic exploration. Because as large as Snohvit is, it is dwarfed by a far bigger gas field to the east in Russian waters. That field, called Shtokman, is being developed by Gazprom, Russia's gas behemoth.

In September, Gazprom selected five companies - Statoil and Norsk Hydro from Norway, Total from France and Chevron and ConocoPhillips - as finalists in a search for partners to develop Shtokman, in the Barents Sea, 350 miles north of Russia's Kola Peninsula. The development costs are estimated at $15 billion to $20 billion. The field is reported to hold more than double all of Canada's gas reserves.

"They're going to find more of them," Mr. Weafer, the Moscow-based energy analyst, said of Arctic gas deposits. "It's the next energy frontier."

And while natural gas is certainly valued, the prize that is generating the biggest interest is oil. Virtually every large international energy company is studying how eventually to win permission from Norway and Russia to explore in the Barents, and the Norwegian Polar Institute has been contacted repeatedly by oil companies to explore the feasibility of drilling in the icier waters north of Spitsbergen.

Jan-Gunnar Winther, director of the institute, said the seasonal melting of the polar cap might allow access to more petroleum deposits but also create more challenges.

"A warmer climate in the north would mean more icebergs, rather than less," he said. "There will be obstacles in getting to the petroleum, but if oil prices stay high there will be enticements as well."

A push into the Barents Sea could help redraw the politics of energy allegiances, and gas in particular puts Russia in a strong position. "It has a good chance of becoming a more effective counterbalance to OPEC," Mr. Weafer said.

As for Norway, the warming world gives it the chance to seek influence far beyond its size. Energy-hungry countries that might have written off the Arctic not long ago are showing considerable interest in Norway's opening of the Barents; one visitor to Oslo in September was India's oil minister, seeking a role in exploration. And if a route farther north opens just four or five months of the year, Norway could even become a major supplier of oil and gas to China, said Sverre Lodgaard, director of the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs.

Norway is trying to position itself as "a dwarf among giants," Mayor Alf Jakobsen of Hammerfest said. "We're attracting young people to Hammerfest instead of sending them away, for the first time in years. The opportunity to become a springboard into the Arctic is upon us."

Fisheries Head North

Charlie Lean easily recalls when he realized that big changes were sweeping the fish stocks along the northern shores of Alaska.

Just over 10 years ago, when Mr. Lean was the state's fisheries manager for the northwest region, a call came in from the tiny Eskimo outpost of Kivalina, on the Chukchi Sea 150 miles northeast of the Bering Strait. A village elder was reporting "a massive fish kill" in the Wulik River, Mr. Lean said. Everyone assumed it was from some toxic spill upriver at the giant Red Dog zinc mine.

"I rounded up a plane and blasted off and flew up there," he said. "Flying overhead I could see right away it was the end of a pink salmon run. They were dying of natural causes as they always do once they spawn."

The elders had never seen a run of this salmon species. But they have shown up every year since.

The colonization of new rivers by pink salmon is just one of many changes in fish and crab stocks that appear linked to retreating sea ice and warming waters in the Chukchi Sea and, farther south, the Bering Sea. The changes are important because the Bering is rich with pollock, salmon, halibut and crab, already yielding nearly half of America's seafood catch and a third of Russia's.

Recent studies have projected that in a few decades there could be lucrative fishing grounds in waters that were largely untouched throughout human history.

In a 2002 report for the Navy on climate change and the Arctic Ocean, the Arctic Research Commission, a panel appointed by the president, concluded that species were moving north through the Bering Strait. "Climate warming is likely to bring extensive fishing activity to the Arctic, particularly in the Barents Sea and Beaufort-Chukchi region where commercial operations have been minimal in the past," the report said. "In addition, Bering Sea fishing opportunities will increase as sea ice cover begins later and ends sooner in the year."

But problems could emerge, as well, as stocks shift from the waters of one country to those of another. Snow crabs, for example, appear to be moving away from Alaska, north and west toward Russia, as the sea ice retreats. They depend on nutrients that sink to the bottom from algae growing under the ice. The valuable fishery could eventually move entirely out of American waters, some federal fisheries scientists said.

The fishing industry, a business where surviving one year to the next is the main worry, has largely not taken notice of the changes, although American crab boats are finding they have to steam farther and farther to haul in a decent catch.

"If the crabs move over into the Russian zone," said Glenn Reed, the president of the Pacific Seafood Processors Association in Seattle, "there's not much to be done about that except hope they come back someday."

Who Governs What

"Stalin once just drew a line from Murmansk to the North Pole and then to Chukchi and said, 'U.S.S.R. Polar Region' - and nobody worried about it," said Artur N. Chilingarov, an Arctic explorer and deputy speaker of Russia's lower house of Parliament.

Now, instead of Stalin, the lines will be drawn by an international commission and the geography of the seabed itself.

That means that the Arctic land grab could be decided in part inside a lab at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. There, at the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, scientists are studying sonar scans of the seabed from a 2002 expedition on a United States Coast Guard icebreaker in waters north of Barrow, Alaska.

In the lab, Larry Mayer, the center's director, gave a reporter a joystick-driven virtual tour of the seabed two miles beneath the ice. The ocean appeared on a wall-size screen as a basin with ridges and valleys dropping into the depths around the edges, representing oceanographers' best guess at the topography before the expedition. Then Dr. Mayer pushed a button, adding depth data from the survey, which used new multibeam sonar. Suddenly a giant underwater mountain sprouted up 10,000 feet where the old chart had shown only a vague bump.

One of the old depth-sounding voyages had passed within a few miles but missed it. "That's the state of our knowledge," said Dr. Mayer, who named the undersea mountain Healy, after the icebreaker.

Such physical features matter enormously to nations seeking to expand their undersea territory under a murky clause, Article 76, in the Law of the Sea. With only fragments of the Arctic ever surveyed, by icebreaker or nuclear submarine, various countries are mounting new mapping expeditions to claim the most territory they can.

The exclusive economic zone controlled by a country generally extends 230 miles from its shores. But under Article 76, that zone can expand if a nation can convince other parties to the treaty that there is a "natural prolongation" of its continental shelf beyond that limit.

The shelf is the relatively shallow extension of a landmass to the point where the bottom drops into the oceanic abyss. But in many places, the drop-off is a gentle slope or is connected to long-submerged ridges that, if precisely mapped, might add thousands of square miles to a country's exploitable seabed.

Claims of expanded territory are being pursued the world over, but the Arctic Ocean is where experts foresee the most conflict. Only there do the boundaries of five nations - Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and the United States - converge, the way sections of an orange meet at the stem. (The three other Arctic nations, Iceland, Sweden and Finland, do not have coasts on the ocean.)

"The area does get to be a bit crowded," said Peter Croker, chairman of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, which assesses claims. It is composed of experts appointed by countries that ratified the treaty.

Disputes over overlapping claims must be worked out by the countries involved, but the commission weighs control over areas that would otherwise remain international waters.

Countries that ratified the treaty before May 13, 1999, have until May 13, 2009, to make claims. Other countries have 10 years from their date of ratification.

Russia adopted the treaty in 1997, and four years later laid claim to nearly half the Arctic Ocean. The commission's technical panel rejected the claim, and now Russia hopes the recent voyage of its research ship Akademik Fyodorov to the North Pole will yield mapping data in its favor.

In June, Denmark and Canada announced that they would conduct a joint surveying project of uncharted parts of the Arctic Ocean near their coasts.

Denmark is particularly interested in proving that a 1,000-mile undersea mountain range, the Lomonosov Ridge, is linked geologically to Greenland, which is semiautonomous Danish territory. If it finds such a link, Denmark could make a case that the North Pole belongs to the Danes, Danish officials have said.

Canada could also claim a huge area, and then face challenges from the other Arctic nations. The United States could petition for a swath of Arctic seabed larger than California, according to rough estimates by Dr. Mayer and other scientists. But while the government financed Dr. Mayer's survey, it has not made a definitive move toward staking a claim.

American ratification of the Law of the Sea treaty has repeatedly been blocked by a small group of Republican senators, now led by Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma. They say, among other things, that the treaty would infringe on American sovereignty.

In a Senate hearing last year, Mr. Inhofe said, "I'm very troubled about implications of this convention on our national security." The deadlock has persisted even though the Bush administration in 2002 described ratification of the Law of the Sea and four other treaties as an "urgent need."

Many proponents of the treaty, including the Pentagon, the American Petroleum Institute and Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, say this paralysis leaves the United States on the sidelines while others carve up an ocean.

"We need to be in the game, at the table, talking about fisheries management, mineral extraction, freedom of navigation," said Adm. James D. Watkins, a retired chief of naval operations who is chairman of the United States Commission on Ocean Policy.

Mr. McCain said, "I think what it would require really is a hard push from the president."

Treaty or no, territorial disputes ultimately imply questions about a country's ability to defend its interests. Here, too, the United States has shown less urgency while Canada has acted more aggressively to ensure sovereignty over a fast-changing domain it had long neglected.

Already, oil tanker traffic is rising and fishing boats are going farther north. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is concerned that melting seaways could make it easier for narcotics traffickers to reach indigenous communities, and for organized crime to exploit the growing diamond trade. And the United States, which disputes Canada's control over parts of the petroleum-rich Beaufort Sea, has in the past sent vessels unannounced through other Arctic waters that Canada claims.

Three years ago Canada began patrolling the most remote Arctic reaches with army rangers, a mostly Eskimo force of 1,500 irregulars. Next year the military plans to launch Radarsat 2, a satellite system that will allow surveillance of the Arctic and sea approaches as far as 1,000 miles offshore.

The military is also buying three reinforced tankers to supply ships patrolling the north. The fleet of Twin Otters, the primary surveillance and transport planes in the north since the 1960's, will be replaced with bigger, faster transports. And senior officials are touring places that offer little but symbolic value.

Canada's aim is not only to tighten control of its territory, but also to establish a strong posture in future talks over the Northwest Passage, the long-sought shortcut from Europe to Asia across the top of Canada.

Bill Graham, the defense minister, said, "I don't see the Northwest Passage as something for another 20 years, but at the rate of present global warming, we know that it will be within 20 years and we have to get ahead now." This summer he made a point of visiting Hans Island, a two-mile-long rock claimed by both Canada and Denmark.

The Pentagon has focused elsewhere. The Navy spent up to $25 million a year on polar research in the 1990's, and in April 2001 produced a report warning that weapons and ships were not designed with arctic conditions in mind, and that charts, navigational systems and support networks were inadequate for the north.

"Safe navigation and precision weapons delivery capability," the report said, "may be significantly constrained unless these shortfalls are addressed."

But in the budget shake-up after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Navy severely reduced spending for polar research.

At the same time, America's three large icebreakers are deteriorating. One of them, the Polar Sea, is inoperable and docked in Seattle, where it is being readied for a year or two of repairs. No replacements are planned.

Three Shipping Passages

Churchill, Manitoba, and Murmansk, on the Russian Arctic coast, are unlikely sister cities.

Churchill is not a city at all, but a barren outpost of 1,100 people on the western shore of Hudson Bay. It survives on the 15,000 tourists who visit each year for the chance to see and photograph migrating polar bears.

Murmansk, by contrast, has a population of 325,000, making it the biggest city inside the Arctic Circle. Founded in 1916 as Romanov-on-Murman, just before the revolution wiped out the Romanovs, it is a place of stolidly attractive old buildings, newer high-rises, wide boulevards and green parks. Though it lies north of Churchill, which is ice-bound up to eight months a year, Murmansk's harbor is kept free of ice by the Gulf Stream, the ideal base for the Russian Arctic fleet and commercial shipping.

One thing the communities have in common, however, is hard times. Churchill, never much to begin with, lost most of its population when Canada finished phasing out the Fort Churchill military base in the 1980's. Murmansk, like much of the rest of Russia, lost economic ground with the collapse of the Soviet Union. But the more relevant connection is an accident of geography and a shared dream: that the thawing of the Arctic Ocean would help create the so-called Arctic Bridge, a shipping route with their ports as the logical terminals.

The advantage of maritime shortcuts across the top of the world can be startling. For example, shipments from Murmansk to midcontinental North America by the well-worn route through the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes to Thunder Bay, in western Ontario, typically take 17 days. The voyage from Murmansk to Churchill is only 8 days under good conditions, and from Churchill, rail links snake down through Manitoba, the American Midwest and points south all the way to Monterrey, Mexico.

For Murmansk, an extended shipping season in Arctic ports that are now frozen much of the year could mean a boon in traffic - to the west and, perhaps once again, to the Far East.

The city was once the anchor of the Soviet Union's Northern Sea Route, which stretched to nearly 3,500 miles to the rich nickel mines at Norilsk and on to newly established Arctic colonies at Dikson, Khatanga, Tiksi and Pevek before reaching the Bering Sea.

At its height, in 1987, more than seven million tons of cargo traversed the icy route. But when the Soviet Union collapsed, so did the Northern Sea Route. Today it handles only 1.5 million tons.

The Murmansk Shipping Company, newly privatized, now uses its icebreakers for tourist cruises to the North Pole - $15,000 to $20,000 a ticket, depending on the cabin.

The same way an Arctic Bridge could drastically cut the distance to Canada, a revived Northern Sea Route could shorten the journey for goods and raw materials from Northeast Asia to Europe by 40 percent.

Vladimir M. Chlenov, the transportation minister from the Siberian republic of Sakha, a vast region that borders the Laptev Sea, envisions dozens of ships carrying gold, timber and other resources up the Lena River to the port of Tiksi, and from there through ice-free seas to Europe and Asia.

The waters near the Siberian shore - when free of ice - are too shallow for giant cargo ships, and the infrastructure needed for navigation has deteriorated. But a study conducted from 1993 to 1999 by researchers from Russia, Norway and Japan found that a route once sustained by Soviet diktat could also be viable for private enterprise.

There is, of course, a third Arctic shipping route besides the Arctic Bridge and the Northern Sea Route: the Northwest Passage. It would be the last of the three main routes to succumb to the thaw. But some Canadian officials, eyeing what will happen in 20 years, say it is all the more justification for investing in the rebirth of Churchill.

"We're gearing up for the future," said Mr. Lemieux, the Manitoba transportation minister. "We look to be the gateway, the logistical hub of the world for circumpolar navigation."

A lucky winner would be Pat Broe, the American who bought the Port of Churchill in 1997 almost as an afterthought, for a token $10 Canadian. Looking to expand his railroad company, OmniTrax, he had already paid $11 million for 810 miles of denationalized tracks in Manitoba. He acquired the port at auction, figuring he would rather own it than have someone else use it as a "toll booth" for his railroad.

Mr. Broe, a private man, declined to be interviewed for this article.

Since his acquisitions, OmniTrax estimates it has spent $50 million modernizing the port to accommodate big ships carrying exports like grain and farm machinery to Murmansk, and incoming Russian products, including fertilizer and steel. By some hopeful estimates, Churchill's shipping season could eventually grow to 8 or even 10 months a year, compared with the current 4.

Michael J. Ogborn, OmniTrax's managing director, said he could see a future for Churchill when "the activity at the port will be as busy as an anthill, with machines, people, freight and ships at dock."

For now, though, there is a problem. While the port has continued to ship grain to Europe and North Africa, it is still waiting for its ship to come in - any ship from Russia, to demonstrate the advantages of the Arctic Bridge.

"There is still a huge marketing effort needed to educate shippers why they should ship through Churchill," Mr. Ogborn conceded.

And in an arena where sharp elbows are often the norm, there is great cooperation between Canada and Russia, not least through Russia's ambassador to Canada, Georgy E. Mamedov. A spreader of good will, the ambassador has even suggested using decommissioned nuclear submarines to transport cargo under the ice. On a visit to Churchill last year, he appointed his local driver honorary Russian consul, and stopped at the "jail" for polar bears that wander into town, laying his hand on the big black nose of one anesthetized inmate and addressing it fondly in Russian.

In the months since, Mr. Mamedov has talked ebulliently of the Arctic Bridge in meetings with Canadian officials, business groups and reporters. "Go to Churchill," he said in one interview. "Go there."

Clifford Krauss reported from Canada for this article, Steven Lee Myers from Russia, Andrew C. Revkin from New Hampshire and Washington, and Simon Romero from Norway. Craig Duff contributed reporting from Canada, Norway, Russia and Alaska.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Long Past Due

With US Politicians long bowing to environmental groups and pandering to environmental refineries have been built since 1976. Even though advancements have led to refineries with little environmental impact at all, to support them is political suicide.

The recent hurricanes had little to NO effect on the US oil supply...yet prices rose sharply. Why??? Because a mojority of our refineries are located in hurricane devastated areas. The United States has a surplus of oil...but a shortage of refineries to convert the crude oil for us. As we speak...the US imports a large portion of it's oil (ALREADY REFINED) by tankers from Europe for high, high prices. Why such a waste of US money? Because politicians don't want to upset environmentalists. Turns out that political careers are more important than doing what is in the best interest of the people you represent. BIG SURPRISE?!

Democrats Attack Bill to Boost Refineries

Oct 07 11:10 AM US/Eastern

Associated Press Writer


A new Republican-crafted energy bill, prompted by the hurricane devastation and high fuel prices, came under sharp attack Friday from Democrats who called it a sop to rich oil companies that would do little to curb gasoline or natural gas costs, while hurting the environment.

Supporters argue the measure is needed to spur construction of new refineries. The House was expected to vote on it later in the day.

In an attempt to ease approval of the bill, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, removed a particularly contentious provision Friday that would have implemented clean air regulation changes long sought by the Bush administration. It would have allowed not only refineries, but also coal-burning power plants and other industries to expand and make changes without adding pollution controls even if emissions increase.

Still, Democrats and a few Republicans lambasted the legislation as debate opened on the House floor.

It does nothing to curb oil use by requiring more fuel efficient cars or promoting alternative energy sources, said Rep. Edward Markey, D- Mass. He called it "a leave-no-oilman-behind bill."

Attempts to add requirements that automakers increase vehicle fuel economy and a measure aimed at producing more natural gas were thwarted by GOP leaders who strictly limited the ability by lawmakers to amend the bill.

"Natural gas is an issue this (Congress) needs to deal with," said Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa., who was prevented under House rules for the bill from offering a proposal that would have opened offshore natural gas resources to drilling.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita shut down more than a dozen refineries and disrupted natural gas supplies. Gasoline prices soared and huge increases in heating bills are expected this winter for users of both gas and fuel oil.

Barton says vulnerabilities in the fuel supply system exposed by the hurricanes show that the country needs to build more refineries, especially away from the Gulf Coast region. No refineries have been built in the United States since 1976 as the industry has consolidated to fewer, but larger facilities.

The GOP legislation also would limit to six the different blends of gasoline and diesel fuel that refiners would be required to produce, reversing a trend of using so-called "boutique" fuels to satisfy clean air demands. And it would give the federal government greater say in siting a refinery and pipeline. It also calls on the president to designate military bases or other federal property where a refinery might be built.

"The bill weakens state and federal environmental standards ... and gives a break to wealthy oil companies while doing little or nothing to affect oil prices," Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., said in a letter Thursday to colleagues.

With prices soaring, "oil companies now have all the profits and incentives they need to build new refineries" without government help, he maintained.

Barton countered that it will give industry more "certainty" that a refinery project will not be delayed "without lessening any environmental law now on the books. ... The bill sets in motion a chain of events for lowering gas prices for Americans."

Among the groups trying to kill the bill were the National League of Cities, nine state attorneys general, most environmental organizations and groups representing state officials in charge of implementing federal clean air requirements. They said the bill would hinder their ability to ensure clean and healthy air.

Environmentalists also have argued that the limit to six gasoline types could jeopardize the requirement for use of low-sulfur diesel fuel. The low-sulfur diesel regulations have been touted by the Bush administration as one of the Environmental Protection Agency's most significant accomplishments.

In 1981, the United States had 325 refineries capable of producing 18.6 million barrels a day. Today there are fewer than half that number, producing 16.9 million barrels daily. Still, refining capacity has been increasing, though not dramatically, for the last decade. Imports have made up the difference as demand has continued to increase.


The bill number is H.R. 3893. Additional information can be found at