After katrina - seven things you can do

: If you are like me, you are living some distance from the devastation wrought by Katrina. If you are like me you not physically impacted and can watch the plight of others on television in the comfort of your home. And if you are like me, you are wondering what you can do. I believe the answer to that question is an important one. It can help define who you are and what you have and choose to give to the world. The list that follows is not meant to stimulate your thinking. It is meant to stimulate action. All of us can do all of these things. And in doing them we will not only be helping others, we will be helping ourselves deal with and grow from these events as well. Give Resources. You have heard it and will hear it often. The resources required by these events will be unprecedented. Open your wallet and give. It doesn’t matter which charity you choose, just give. Pick a number, then add to it. Do a search on Katrina relief to find places to contribute. You can give more than money though. Perhaps you have other resources that you could offer. Spare blankets or other supplies will inevitably be leaving from your community in the coming days. Watch for these announcements and donate. If you know someone affected, or know someone who knows someone, perhaps you can provide a spare bedroom. You can even support relief efforts each time you search the internet. Go to http://allgive. com to search and learn more. Give Yourself. If your situation allows, perhaps you feel drawn to go and help. If you are thinking about that and you can, go. Many of us won’t be able to go and lend a hand directly. You can still give of time and talents locally and have a direct impact on efforts there. Organizations like The Salvation Army and The Red Cross will be spread thin for months. If you volunteer in your town, more physical resources can remain on the Gulf Coast longer. Encourage Others to Give. This is a way for you to give of your talents. Use the leadership and influence skills that you have to encourage others to give. If you own a business, match employee contributions to relief efforts. If you are involved in any sort of organization, start a fund raising effort. A colleague of mine sent an email saying he would match any gifts given by those on his list up to a total of $500. Every person could do this. Ask yourself who you could influence and how you could personally help increase giving. Get creative! And get started. Say a Prayer. Regardless of your religious beliefs, or how you would state this, say a prayer. Say one for those who have lost family. For those who have lost their homes. For those who are sick or thirsty or hungry. And say a special prayer those involved in rescue and recovery efforts - those giving of themselves to make things better for others. Keep Your Perspective. It is sometimes hard to keep a healthy perspective as you watch the events on television. It is easy to let the worry and concern become overwhelming. Do yourself a favor and don’t let these events overpower your life. Be grateful for your situation. Rethink how upset or frustrated you become at little inconveniences or challenges, because these situations mean little in the bigger scheme of things, and the events of recent days should make this very clear to us. Conserve. Our country is going to be dealing with the aftermath of Katrina for a long time. There are other little things that we can do that will make a difference. Conserve fuel. Carpool to work. Combine your errands, or just stay home. Turn off your air conditioning and turn off the lights. Fossil fuels will be in short supply and every little bit helps. Plus every dollar you don’t spend on fuel, is another dollar you could choose to donate to relief efforts. Give Again, Later. Many will give now, but agencies like The Red Cross will tell you that after the situation leaves most people’s conscious thoughts, the needs will still be great. Make a commitment now to make another contribution later in the year. One way to do this is to reduce your holiday spending and earmarking the difference for Katrina relief. I’m sure there are many more things that you can do to help both yourself and others in the coming weeks. It matters less what you do than that you do something. That is my urging to you. You can make a difference, but only if you take action.

Denmark cartoons or islamic caricatures six of one or half dozen of the other

Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten newspaper issued an apology and whisked it off to the Jordanian news agency Petra for publishing cartoons that supposedly were insulting to the prophet Muhammad. The arguments about the poor taste of the cartoonist notwithstanding, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Denmark’s prime minister says he and his government cannot apologize for the country since the newspaper is independent and not an agency of the government. To most people this makes sense but Islam is not most people.

It would seem that this entire tip toeing around Islam is far above absurdity and much closer to insanity. Can anyone remember an apology coming to Indonesia for the bombings there by radical Islamists? Did the British get an apology for the bombings of its subway? Who has heard one representative of any radical Islamic group apologize for the death and destruction wrought in America on 9/11?

Is the apology offered by the Danish newspaper for there lack of taste and discretion or is it for other reasons? Is it because boycotts of Danish products like milk, insulin and food stuffs? Or finally is it the fear or reprisals in the form of terrorist attacks on embassies, public places, schools and homes. Perhaps it is only a reasonable attempt at diplomacy that a free nation would employ under any circumstances in a civilized world.

Terrorism by any other name is still just terrorism, insulted prophets notwithstanding. If free nations have decided not to negotiate with terrorists on any level then we are forced to ask, why then are we making apologies for cartoons? Last time I looked, no cartoon had ever toppled a building or killed a child in the street.

The behavior of radical Islam is creating a cartoon all on its own. It is more like a caricature than a cartoon. A caricature by nature is a cartoon that depicts something by exaggerating it’s most prominent or obtrusive qualities. The “would be” beauty has hips and other feminine features exaggerated to say she is voluptuous. The guy who wants his strength accentuated has the artist draw muscles way out of proportion to his body to accentuate that point.

Islam has been creating a caricature not with brush or pen for the last several years all around the globe. It has exaggerated features including the bombing of men, women and children almost always without mercy, without warning and without reason. Not one apology has ever been offered for this dreadful radical Islamic cartoon.

I have been warning Christians for over thirty years of the coming portent of the world’s last dictator commonly referred to as the Antichrist. It is well known to them that the bible clearly predicts that he will exalt himself above every other world leader before him and above every kind of worship of God, be it the worship of the true God or some aberration, heresy or cult. II Thessalonians 2:4 “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”

It is barley known to the Muslim faith and certainly would not be heeded or even acknowledged but that last dictator will make no apologies to them either. He will endeavor to crush every major religion in the world. He will momentarily succeed but not with warfare of force but rather by drawing the entire world into an economic system that no one will escape.

Only a handful of westerners have ever converted to Islam in its entire history because of pictures it draws much like the Danish cartoon. Those pictures make a caricature of its ugliest components which are death, judgment and punishment, both on an unwarranted and unreasonable scale. Maybe civilized people still prefer pictures of a gentle Savior with children around him. Or a woman caught in adultery saved from stoning by a merciful Messiah who came to save the world rather than judge it. Millions of people have been converted by these pictures and will be much more until the end of time.

Rev Bresciani is the author of two popular Christian books, one on the second coming of Christ. He has hundreds of articles published both online and in print. Visit the website at www. americanprophet. org

Trends for a not-so-new millennium

We construct maps of the world around us, using cognitive models, organizational principles, and narratives that we acquire in the process of socialization. These are augmented by an incessant bombardment of conceptual, ideational, and ideological frameworks emanating from the media, from peers and role models, from authority figures, and from the state. We take our universe for granted, an immutable and inevitable entity. It is anything but. Only change and transformation are guaranteed constants - the rest of it is an elaborate and anxiety-reducing illusion.

Consider these self-evident "truths" and "certainties":

1. After centuries of warfare, Europe is finally pacified. War in the foreseeable future is not in store. The European Union heralds not only economic prosperity but also long-term peaceful coexistence.

Yet, Europe faces a serious identity crisis. Is it Christian in essence or can it also encompass the likes of an increasingly-Muslim Turkey? Is it a geographical (continental) entity or a cultural one? Is enlargement a time bomb, incorporating as it does tens of millions of new denizens, thoroughly demoralized, impoverished, and criminalized by decades of Soviet repression? How likely are these tensions to lead not only to the disintegration of the EU but to a new war between, let's say Russia and Germany, or Italy and Austria, or Britain and France? Ridiculous? Revisit your history books.

2. The United States is the only superpower and a budding Empire. In 50 years time it may be challenged by China and India, but until then it stands invincible. Its economic growth prospects are awesome.

Yet, the USA faces enormous social torsion brought about by the polarization of its politics and by considerable social and economic tensions and imbalances. The deterioration in its global image and its growing isolation contribute to a growing paranoia and jingoism. While each of these dimensions is nothing new, the combination is reminiscent of the 1840s-1850s, just prior to the Civil War.

Is the United States headed for limb-tearing inner conflict and disintegration?

3. The Internet, hitherto a semi-anarchic free-for-all, is likely to go through the same cycle experienced by other networked media, such as the radio and the telegraph. In other words, it will end up being both heavily regulated and owned by commercial interests. Throwbacks to its early philosophy of communal cross-pollination and exuberant exchange of ideas, digital goods, information, and opinion will dwindle and vanish. The Internet as a horizontal network where all nodes are equipotent will be replaced by a vertical, hierarchical, largely corporate structure with heavy government intrusion and oversight.

4. The period between 1789 (the French Revolution) and 1989 (the demise of Communism) is likely to be remembered as a liberal and atheistic intermezzo, separating two vast eons of religiosity and conservatism. God is now being rediscovered in every corner of the Earth and with it intolerance, prejudice, superstition, as well as strong sentiments against science and the values of the Enlightenment. We are on the threshold of the New Dark Ages.

5. The quasi-religious, cult-like fad of Environmentalism is going to be thoroughly debunked.

6. Our view of Western liberal democracy as a panacea applicable to all at all times and in all places will undergo a revision in light of accumulated historical evidence. Democracy seems to function well in conditions of economic and social stability and growth. When things go awry, however, democratic processes give rise to Hitlers and Milosevices (both elected with overwhelming majorities multiple times).

The gradual disillusionment with parties and politicians will lead to the re-emergence of collectivist, centralized and authoritarian polities, on the one hand and to the rise of anarchist and multifocal governance models, on the other hand.

7. The ingenious principle of limited liability and the legal entity known as the corporation have been with us for more than three centuries and served magnificently in facilitating the optimal allocation of capital and the diversification of risk. Yet, the emergence of sharp conflicts of interest between a class of professional managers and the diffuse ownership represented by (mainly public) shareholders - known as the agent-principal problem - spell the end of both and the dawn of a new era.

8. As our understanding of the brain and our knowledge of genetics deepen, the idea of mental illness is going to be discarded as so much superstition and myth. It is going to replaced with medical models of brain dysfunctions and maladaptive gene expressions. Abnormal psychology is going to be thoroughly medicalized and reduced to underlying brain structures, biochemical processes and reactions, bodily mechanisms, and faulty genes.

9. As offices and homes merge, mobility increases, wireless access to data is made available anywhere and everywhere, computing becomes ubiquitous, the distinction between work and leisure will vanish.

10. Our privacy is threatened by a host of intrusive Big Brother technologies coupled with a growing paranoia and siege mentality in an increasingly hostile world, populated by hackers, criminals, terrorists, and plain whackos. Some countries - such as China - are trying to suppress political dissent by disruptively prying into their citizens' lives. We have already incrementally surrendered large swathes of our hitherto private domain in exchange for fleeting, illusory, and usually untenable personal "safety".

As we try to reclaim this lost territory, we are likely to give rise to privacy industries: computer anonymizers, safe (anonymous) browsers, face transplants, electronic shields, firewalls, how-to-vanish-and-start-a-new-life-elsewhere consultants and so on.

11. As the population ages in the developed countries of the West, crime is on the decline there. But, as if to maintain the homeostasis of evil, it is on the rise in poor and developing countries. A few decades from now, violent and physical property crimes will so be rare in the West as to become newsworthy and so common in the rest of the world as to go unnoticed.

12. In historical terms, our megalopolises and conurbations are novelties. But their monstrous size makes them dependent on two flows: (1) of goods and surplus labor from the world outside (2) of services and waste products to their environment.

There is a critical mass beyond which this bilateral exchange is unsustainable. Modern cities are, therefore, likely to fragment into urban islands: gated communities, slums, strips, technology parks and "valleys", belts, and so on. The various parts will maintain a tenuous relationship but will gradually grow apart.

This will be the dominant strand in a wider trend: the atomization of society, the disintegration of social cells, from the nuclear family to the extended human habitat, the metropolis. People will grow apart, have fewer intimate friends and relationships, and will interact mostly in cyberspace or by virtual means, both wired and wireless.

13. The commodity of the future is not raw or even processed information. The commodity of the future is guided and structured access to information repositories and databases. Search engines like Google and Yahoo already represent enormous economic value because they serve as the gateway to the Internet and, gradually, to the Deep Web. They not only list information sources but make implicit decisions for us regarding their relative merits and guide us inexorably to selections driven by impersonal, value-laden, judgmental algorithms. Search engines are one example of active, semi-intelligent information gateways.

14. Inflation and the business cycle seem to have been conquered for good. In reality, though, we are faced with the distinct possibility of a global depression coupled with soaring inflation (known together as stagflation). This is owing to enormous and unsustainable imbalances in global savings, debt, and capital and asset markets.

Still, economists are bound to change their traditional view of inflation. Japan's experience in 1990-2006 taught us that better moderate inflation than deflation.

Katrina cash crisis continues

The need to continue giving aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina must remain a priority ...

It's now months after the American Gulf Coast was devastated. Billions have been spent in relief, but billions more are needed. Such is the scope of a storm that ranks among the most severe in modern North American history.

To this day, residents' lives are still wrecked. Vital services are still wanting. Homes and businesses remain unrepaired. The effort to do so is not lacking; far from it. The hard fact is that the resources available are still spread too thin.

Recently, the Washington Post conducted a survey to determine an accounting of the charitable aid that has been provided to date. The results are impressive, showing this to be the largest donation drive in American history. Almost $3billion has been raised and approximately $2billion of that amount has already been disbursed.

It's a mind-jolt to grasp the concept that, even with a record level of heartfelt giving, only a dent has been made in improving lives there and that the remaining $1billion will be impossibly stretched in order to have any overall impact. Very little has apparently slipped into administrative hubris. Virtually all monies, says the Post, have gone toward cash, food and temporary shelter, medical care, tarps for damaged homes and school supplies for displaced children.

Here are other facts which were determined by the Post's survey:

The Red Cross , which was criticized for slow distribution of donations after the Sept.11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has given out 84 percent of its Katrina and Rita donations.

Fifty cents of each donated dollar went out in cash to victims.

Six percent of contributions came in the form of supplies — building materials, food, water, clothing, heavy equipment — contributed mostly by corporations.

Fifty-six percent of remaining donations are controlled by faith-based organizations. They include such well-known institutions as Catholic Charities USA and the Salvation Army but also lower-profile groups like the United Methodist Committee on Relief and United Jewish Communities.

It's estimated that the American government will need to spend a minimum of $200billion, simply to rebuild infrastructure and re-establish basic services in the region. There will be budgets for housing grants, low-income food support and medical care, but longstanding parameters on those programs will still leave many hurricane victims out in the cold. Literally.

Some of the Gulf states, such as Mississippi and Louisiana, were far from the richest in the USA before the disaster struck. Now, with much of their tax base blown away, their resources are hardly sufficient to cope with anything more than the most urgent requirements.

Americans should take great pride in going to amazing lengths to look after their own. That those being assisted are doing all they can to become self-sustaining again makes the act of donation feel even more rewarding.

It is still time to experience that feeling. There are many causes in life, but this one is about providing fundamental needs to people who are aching to provide for themselves. If you're visiting the Longer Life site, don't make those Red Cross boxes on each page fade into your background. Once a month, or more if you can, use them. When you're out on the town, instead of ordering an extra round of beer, wine or spirits, re-direct that amount to the Katrina relief fund. When you're in the store, instead of purchasing an extra snack item, re-direct that amount to the Katrina relief fund.

Those proceeds will be used for so much more by people who are grateful to receive because they have no other choice.

It's still difficult to comprehend that a few dollars can do so much good when billions are needed, but we can never 'massify' the human condition in the Gulf states or anywhere else. The few dollars you give will help one person, or one family, who will then be allowed a welcome moment of respite for at least another day.

To them, your donation would seem like a million dollars. Maybe even a billion.

Americans unite return government to the people

Tired of paying too much in taxes while your government continues to waste your hard-earned money and not listen to what you want? Do something about it, says a provocative new website working to give the power back to the people. Voter powerusa. com says there are four simple things you can do to take back your government from corporate lobbyists, special interest groups and dishonest politicians.

1. Unite and vote. In a two - party system only one side can win, but no matter who wins, nothing changes. By voting together on major issues at voter powerusa. com, both parties can win no matter who's elected. You win by getting both candidates to commit to what you want.

There are many issues to vote on. An affordable national health care and prescription drug plan that cuts costs for all Americans, illegal immigration, government waste, unfair taxes, identity theft and many others.

2. Spread the word. Forward the website to everyone you know and tell them to do the same.

3. Support voterpowerusa. com with a donation to keep you informed on what experts say about the issues, and help produce a TV show based on helping you get what you need. You can also purchase Get Out The Vote apparel, CDs, books, souvenirs and many other items.

4. Vote out politicians who vote against what you want. This sends a clear message that you will hold them accountable for their actions. Don't you think it's time?

Katrina questions - anyone got answers

I wrote a very positive article about the responses to Katrina for http://ezinearticles. com

Entitled “New Orleans My Home - Katrina My Nightmare” and another article “Katrina What It Is Like To Be An Evacuee” In both articles I endeavored to stay on the upside and we aren’t complaining to anyone but today was the straw that broke…etc

Everyone it seems, has an answer for who is to blame or who to call for help or how to deal with your insurance company. But I wonder if anybody is really asking the right questions! As evacuees, as victims of Katrina we have our own set of questions. They are not a product of bitterness but of pure frustration and at times exhaustion. Anyone may answer these questions since the people or agencies we are dealing with have not…so far.

Here is just a short list of our questions. The long list would overwhelm you.

Why has my wife been dialing Red Cross for five days only to hear someone say she should keep trying but all the lines are busy. Then a recording says we are going to hang up now, and they do!

Where are the 40,000 volunteers said to be helping the Red Cross when we call them?

What does Red Cross do exactly with the billions of dollars it collects in times like these?

Has anyone of the agencies helping people in shelters considered that giving people food, water and a blow up mattress for the next few months contributes nothing to their starting a new life.

Do insurance companies that are already trying to find ways out of paying for losses have a legal right to do this? Is it decent? Is it moral?

Do the national guard soldiers that were standing by as we entered our neighborhood and assuring us that all was safe and secure realize that it is a little to late for safe and secure. Does a pile of rubble need to be secured?

Do all the warnings about those who are committing fraud when it comes to being a legitimate Red Cross site or collection point sufficiently scared away what might amount to thousands of donors. What ever happened to check it then give. Is “it might be fraudulent” the new excuse for indifference.

Is there something wrong with helping an individual or a family. Is it just as conscience soothing to dump big checks into big organizations as to actually help a real person, one with a name and not just a social security number.

Does FEMA really expect people to return from places they have gone to for refuge, some that are hundreds or thousands of miles away from the Gulf coast area to keep an appointment with them to see their house? Is there even a child in America that doesn’t know that these houses have been photographed sitting in ten feet of water for the past ten days? Could one of these children please call FEMA and let them know? Oh, I forgot it took my wife over five hundred attempts to reach FEMA before she got through. The result is now the familiar “hurry up and wait.”

Will America with its worldwide reputation for its short attention span and its penchant for the pop culture, hottest item, latest news mentality really carry this thing through. Will interest wane before we can begin again.

President Bush said, “New Orleans will rise again.” But infrastructure and Superdomes do not a city make. A city is people. How can we help people?

Bhutanese refugees in nepal

This has made Bhutan one of the highest per capita refugee generators in the world due to the implementation of the “Driglam Namzha” (Cultural Code of the Ruling Elite) with a "One Nation, One People" policy which imposed the language, dress code, and customs of the northern Bhutanese on the entire population. The crackdown on the southern Bhutanese continued as the government began closing schools and hospitals in an attempt to force out those of Nepali origin.

Often the countries most overburdened with refugees are already among the poorest in the world. Nepal continues to be ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world in terms of human development yet hosts more than 100,000 Bhutanese and 20,000 Tibetan refugees. Nepals inadequate social and physical infrastructural services are overstrained by such an

influx of refugees.

There are seven camps with a population of 101,000 refugees, about half of whom are located in Beldangi camp. The camps are situated on the plains of east Nepal, spanning two districts (Jhapa and Morang) which are the most heavily populated in Nepal.

To get to the refugee camps, one has to drive on winding dirt roads through fields or forested land for at least half an hour. The forest clears out all of sudden and distinct rows of huts appear in the clearing. It seems as if you have come upon a civilization long hidden from the rest of the world.

In the seven camps there are 45 schools, 40,000 pupils and 956 teachers. The

student/teacher ratio is an average 40:1 but in reality the classes are much bigger than this as the number of teachers includes headmasters and teacher trainers which are given very few periods, if any at all.

A school environment provides more than just basic needs to read and write, but also provides an outlet for children to experience a sense of normality, safety and routine after many years upheaval.

Most of the classrooms are temporary structures (often made of a mixture of brick, bamboo and grass) due to the limited life-span of the camps. Many of the lower classes do not have desks and the children are sitting on jute mats which have been manufactured in the camps during the income generating activities initiated by Oxfam. However, all classrooms are provided with a table and chair for the teacher. The blackboards are portable with an easel.

Senator breaux calls for ceasefire on health care

The country's health care system is in crisis. The number of uninsured Americans is at an all-time high, health insurance premiums are rising, health disparities are plaguing our nation and Medicaid is under major strain. While I wholeheartedly support broad health reform, we'll never get there if policymakers can't even implement gradual reforms that have broad-based support.

We all remember the television program "Crossfire," where the moderator's goal was to encourage heated debate between people on opposing sides of an issue. I've come up with an alternative: the "Ceasefire on Health Care: Finding Common Ground for the Uninsured" series to stimulate dialogue among leading bipartisan policymakers and advocates. Over the last year, I have moderated several events in which participants are encouraged to come to an agreement on health care issues and public policies.

Since the inauguration of Ceasefire, I have held forums featuring prominent health care reform advocates, among them former HHS Secretaries Donna Shalala and Tommy Thompson, and Senator Hillary Clinton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. I can report that there are indeed practical solutions to the nation's health care problems that have bipartisan support. But for progress to be made, members of Congress must put aside their differences and focus on these areas of agreement.

First, Americans want Congress to work together to end the crisis of the uninsured. Lawmakers must talk to each other so that they can develop a meaningful solution to the problem. The answer lies not in a government-run system or a fend-for-yourself marketplace, but, instead, a middle path that combines the best of both. This incremental, market-based approach will also stipulate that individuals take greater responsibility for their own health.

Another idea that has bipartisan support is the modernization of health information technology. Providers of health care services should be able to access a patient's medical record on a computer and systems should be able to "talk" to each other; health care costs will be reduced, as will medical errors.

Making children a priority is a message we have received loud and clear in our forums. The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) was created in 1997 to expand health care coverage to needy children. It has been very successful, yet there are still millions of children who remain uninsured. Expanding SCHIP will help them significantly gain access to health care, but it must be done in a responsible manner. It also creates an opportunity for the states and federal government to work together.

We must shift our health care system away from being treatment-focused to concentrating on prevention and wellness. Chronic diseases are among the most common and expensive health problems, yet they are also often preventable. Given the enormous toll chronic diseases are taking on our health care system, I believe that there could be bipartisan support for programs that study the causes of these diseases and promote healthy behaviors.

The nation as a whole strongly supports bipartisan health care reform. Eighty-eight percent of those recently surveyed by Ceasefire support this proposition. I also personally believe most of our legislators have a proven interest in healing our ailing health care system and that the first step in any reform is dialogue. Now it's time for Congress to quit fighting each other and in a bipartisan fashion fight to solve this major problem.

• Former Senator John Breaux (D-LA) served in the United States Senate from 1987 to 2005.

Neo-containment for a nuclear iran

: As anyone who has opened a newspaper or watched the news over the past few years knows, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been pursuing nuclear capability. Iran’s government insists its only goal is to develop nuclear power plants that would not threaten anyone. The United Nations, though, is concerned Iran might instead covet nuclear weapons. The United States is convinced that is the case. In any event, for an aggressive and fanatical theocracy such as Iran to research nuclear technology is worrisome. This is especially true in light of statements by Iran’s current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declaring he would share nuclear capability with other repressive Muslim nations and wishing for the destruction of Israel. So, what can the United States do about the situation? To answer that question, knowledge of Iran’s historical circumstances, as well as of the history of its nuclear program, is essential. I. Historical Background To predict how Iran will react to an American or UN stratagem, one must consider the history that will inform Iranian actions. This history is one of both foreign exploitation and increasing clerical power. The 19th century would be a good point at which to begin telling the tale. Fath ‘Ali Shah, the first sovereign of the Qajar dynasty, ruled from 1797 to 1834. His realm had suffered through decades of warfare, leaving his government’s coffers unable to pay operational costs. Therefore, Fath turned to the British to help fund government activities, which gave the British Empire influence in the country. Meanwhile, after more wars that resulted in the Treaty of Golestat in 1813 and the Treaty of Turkmanchay in 1828, Iran had to cede the Caucuses to Russia. The Turkmanchay treaty also opened Iran to Russian merchants and diplomats. This development sparked nearly a century of diplomatic feuding between Britain and Russia, with the two nations vying for dominance in Iran, that would have dire consequences for Iran in the 20th century. Even before then, though, Iran slipped more and more under the umbrella of the West, and not to Iran’s benefit. As European influence expanded and transportation systems developed, tying Europe and the Middle East more closely together, Iran’s economy shifted in the process. The economy became more susceptible to “global market fluctuations and… periodic famine.” But the shahs of the Qajar dynasty did nothing to slow the pace of European encroachment. Instead, to raise money, they sold land to wealthy capitalists, hindering customary patterns of land usage and harming the economy even more. To raise more money, Naser al-Din Shah, who ruled from 1848 to 1896, granted “excessive concessions” to foreigners over trade issues in exchange for hard cash. This, he did not spent on his people or his country, but on his court and his luxurious vacations to Europe. The shah’s behavior, in collaboration with foreigners, enraged many Iranians. [1] The Tobacco Riots of 1890 constituted the start of backlash against the shahs. Naser al-Sin had given the British massive concessions on tobacco trading in Iran. Angry protests and a boycott of tobacco forced Naser to rescind the concession. The events of 1890 showed: 1. Iranian merchants could organize and whip up public support. 2. The Iranian people could curtail the power of the shah. 3. The Shi’a clergy, men to whom Iranians traditionally turned for guidance for hundreds of years, who had helped agitate the people against the tobacco concession, were increasing in power.[2] With these factors at work, the Tobacco Riots would serve as a preview of future events, including the Islamic Revolution nearly a century later, as well as something much sooner… Concurrently with Iran’s increasing interaction with the West, newly arisen Iranian intellectual circles interested themselves in democratic procedures. These intellectuals found solace in the 1905 Russian Revolution[3] during which popular uprisings convinced Tsar Nicholas II to substitute Russia’s absolutist state with a constitutional monarchy.[4] After the shah’s government beat some Iranian merchants, the intellectuals united with the merchants and the clergy to stage colossal strikes and protests against the government. Eventually, to appease the Iranian masses, the shah allowed for the writing of a constitution in 1906. (This was the first alignment of all these forces that would prove strong in 1978-1979.) Foreign intervention would spell the doom of the constitutional government. First, in 1907, the almost century-old squabbles between Britain and Russia culminated in the Anglo-Russian Convention. This Convention carved for the two empires “exclusive spheres of influence in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tibet.” In Iran, as per the treaty, Britain controlled areas “along the Persian Gulf,” and Russia regions “in northern Iran and the Caucuses.” As a result of the agreement, then, both Russia and Britain had large stakes in the internal politics of Iran.[5] Four years later, in 1911, Iran’s constitutional regime paid an American consultant, William Morgan Schuster, to advise the government regarding finances. Schuster recommended aggressive means to obtain funds from all over Iran. This upset the British and the Russians, from whose spheres the Iranians would also acquire money under Schuster’s plan. Russia demanded the Iranian government fire Schuster; upon said government’s refusal, the Russians deployed soldiers to march on Tehran. Facing this threat, the shah sent Schuster home and terminated the constitutional regime. Until World War I, the Russians acted as the de facto masters of the Iran outside its official sphere of influence. The Great War, however, forced the withdrawal of Russian soldiers from the country. Unfortunately for Iran, its respite did not last long. The Russians soon came back, along with the British, the Germans, and the Turks, who fought battles amongst themselves in Iranian territory. In 1917, though, the new Soviet Union ended Russia’s claims in Iran, engendering much Iranian love for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (despite the elites’ dread of Communist ideas spreading to their country). A few years later, in 1921, the British also abandoned their spheres of influence in Iran, after “international pressure.” Britain did not leave Iran without a parting gift: It supported an Iranian military officer, Reza Khan, who in 1920 had been crucial in suppressing a Communist revolt. Reza Khan seized control of the Iranian military and eventually overthrew the last Qajar shah, after which he anointed himself Reza Shah Pahlavi, the first shah of the Pahlavi dynasty.[6] Reza secularized Iran somewhat through educational and judicial changes. He shifted jurisdiction over many issues from Shi’a religious tribunals to state courts or government agencies. He instituted secular schools. But the new shah was not a liberal dedicated to the welfare of his people. His government censored the media and prohibited unions and political parties. The shah also renewed trade concessions for oil, which would inflame Iranian wrath for decades.[7] Iran’s shah was not a complete stooge of the West, although he chose an unethical way to show it. In the 1930’s, afraid of the Soviet Union and desperate for more commerce, Reza increased trade and enhanced relations with the Third Reich. When Reza would not renege on his deals with the Nazis, the British and the Russians invaded Iran in 1941 and deposed him. The familiar conquerors elevated Reza’s son to Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi. Ironically, during World War II, foreign rule increased media freedom, political liberty, and economic prosperity. New political parties and trade unions arose. At the same time, the Shi’a clergy enhanced their strength, with the dissolution of the previous shah’s secularization initiatives. After the war, when the foreign occupiers withdrew, moderate leftists, Iranian nationalists, and some clergymen loosely coalesced into the National Front, under the leadership of Mohammed Mosaddeq. The purpose of the National Front was to limit the shah’s and the clerics’ power (although the latter goal caused tensions in the political alliance). Another objective of the National Front was to achieve Iranian control of Iranian natural resources, ending “foreign exploitation” of them.[8] Toward that end, after Mosaddeq became prime minister in 1951, he nationalized all of Iran’s oil. Britain, the primary recipient of Iran’s oil largesse, hated Mosaddeq’s action and, ergo, placed trade sanctions on Iran. Subsequently, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and current British Prime Minister Anthony Eden advocated a combined United States-United Kingdom operation to topple Mosaddeq. Nothing quite that grandiose occurred. Despite that, August 1953 saw the end of Mosaddeq’s administration. Mosaddeq’s grip on the state’s helm had been loosening because his social democratic programs had been alienating his clerical supporters. Following the shah’s hasty departure from Iran after a political conflict with Mosaddeq, the Iranian prime minister lost his already tenuous position to a Central Intelligence Agency-sponsored coup. Mohammed Reza resumed his position within a week of his flight. Thanks to American intervention in Iran—not even to contain the Soviet Union, but to protect business profits—any chance for Iran to become a progressive republic vanished. The resurgent shah, to avoid another Mosaddeq, stifled all further political deviation from his agenda. Israel’s Mossad and the CIA assisted Mohammed Reza in this regard by helping him in 1957 to forge his own Gestapo, the Organization of National Security and Information, also known as Sazman-e Amniyyat va Ettela’at-e Keshvar (SAVAK). This secret police cemented the shah’s ruled for decades, causing Iranians to quake with fright. (As Yoda said, fear leads to anger…) In 1960-1963, Mohammed Reza introduced the White Revolution. As part of this Revolution, the shah liberalized laws to convey more equality to women and began economic reforms that increased Iranian incomes. These measures angered the Shi’a clergy, whose power the economic reforms eroded and who wanted to continue subjugating women as per Islamic tenets. Soon, ordinary people became discontent as well with the White Revolution, as the economic reforms backfired. Failing farms compelled an Iranian rush to the cities, where Iranians found “high prices, isolation, and poor living conditions.” An ever-decreasing standard of living accompanied rampant inflation. During all this misery, Iranians had no political outlet through which to vent their dissatisfaction. No political freedom existed, with SAVAK arresting and torturing anyone who dissented from the shah’s policies. Only bloody rebellious actions could serve as channels for the people’s rage.[9] Supporting the shah while this was happening was the United States of America. Ever increasing numbers of American consultants assisted Mohammed Reza with economic planning and military strengthening. With American aid, the Iranian military emerged as the strongest in the region and one of the biggest on Earth. The shah’s reliance on Americans tarnished both him and them in the eyes of the Iranian people. Finally, in the 1970’s, Iranian intellectuals tired of Mohammed Reza’s tyrannical maladministration. They joined forces with Shi’a clerics loyal to the exiled philosophy professor Ruhollah Musawi Khomeini. Khomeini had condemned the White Revolution in 1963, for which government agents stormed Khomeini’s madrasah, “killing several students,” and arrested him. Eventually, the government forced Khomeini into exile. This did not stop Khomeini from constructing doctrines for the maintenance of a Shi’a Muslim state and disseminating them to the Iranian people, thereby fortifying and gaining allegiance.[10] The alliance of intellectuals and clerics fomented a revolution in 1978-1979 that forced the shah to abdicate and allowed Khomeini to return home. Iranians voted for the institution of an Islamic Republic by a large margin. Ayatollah Khomeini (of whom current Ayatollah Khameini is the successor) and his Shi’a clerics and mullahs brutally crafted this Islamic Republic, eliminating whatever Western influence they could along the way. The ayatollah and his cronies have dominated Iran from 1979 until today, exhibiting as much barbarism as the shah ever did. Iran’s democratically-elected president serves as a figurehead. He possesses little authority to thwart the designs of the Shi’a theocrats.[11] All this history reveals a Western proclivity for harmful interference in Iranian affairs extending back 200 years. One could defend the intervention in World War II as necessary to constrict German trade and ensure the flow of Lend-Lease materiel to the Soviet Union.[12] Every other intrusion into Iran was an imperialistic endeavor to protect Western business interests. After two centuries of detrimental foreign exploitation, Iranians would have little reason to trust in the good intentions of the United States and Europe. This distrust, in concert with Iranian hostility toward foreign interference in political life and usurpation of natural resources, could make UN attempts to command Iran backfire. Iran could perceive such ultimatums as yet more Western efforts to dominate Iran’s future. The Shi’a clergy emerges in the history as a force that, after embedding themselves into Iranian culture for centuries, have exercised rising societal influence over the past century, until they took over the country outright in 1979. Shi’a clerics have entrenched themselves in the local ways and traditions. These clerics will not disappear as a concern anytime soon. Domestic rulers in ivory towers could not rid themselves of Shi’a clergy as a potent social influence; foreign soldiers definitely will not be able to accomplish that. With cognizance of the broad historical context of Iran, description and analysis of the current nuclear crisis with Iran is now proper. In August 2002, an Iranian dissident movement accused the theocratic government of operating in the city of Natanz a uranium enrichment facility and in the city of Arak a heavy water plant. In December 2002, while on its weapons of mass destruction allegations binge, the United States proclaimed Iran’s guilt of “across-the-board pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.” Unlike with Iraq, American declarations about Iran turned out to be at least partially true. The IAEA examined Arak and Natanz in February 2003, and it declared a few months later Iran had broken the Non-Proliferation Treaty. [13] Iran promised the European Union Three—Germany, France, and Britain, who had taken the lead in diplomacy with Iran—in October 2003 it would cease all research into the enrichment of uranium, an essential procedure in constructing both nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons. That December, Iran pledged it would cooperate with surprise inspections of its nuclear installations. Iran did not keep that oath, though, as the IAEA chastised Iran in June 2004 for insufficient cooperation. To strike back, Iran announced it would start researching and making centrifuges, vital to uranium enrichment, again. But Iran reversed course several months later, in November 2004, assuring the Europeans it would halt “all nuclear fuel processing and reprocessing work.” Iranian President Mohammed Khatami seemed to negate this the next year, in February 2005, when he said no Iranian government would surrender Iran’s right to nuclear technology.[14] The frothing hard-liner Ahmadinejad replaced the moderate Khatami in the middle of 2005.[15] With Ahmadinejad as its spokesman, Iran dropped all pretense of cooperating with the Europeans. On September 15, 2005, Ahmadinejad told the world his country would spread nuclear technology throughout the Muslim world. Nearly four months later, on January 1, 2006, Iran revealed it had discovered how to extract uranium from ore. Ten days later, on January 10, Iran restarted its research on nuclear fuel. This finally compelled the Europeans to give up their efforts to negotiate. They recommended the United Nations Security Council take up the matter. On January 13, Iran threatened to toss the IAEA out of the country if the Security Council itself involved itself in the situation. Regardless, in a rare occurrence of agreement between the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China, and Russia, all six nations wanted the Security Council to take action.[16] This produced a Security Council resolution on March 29 demanded Iran totally cooperate with the IAEA within 30 days. The Security Council’s declaration was not “legally binding,” however, because Russia and China were reluctant to impose sanctions or start war in the event of Iranian noncompliance.[17] Afterward, on April 11, Ahmadinejad said Iran had learned how to enrich the uranium after they had extracted it. The Iranian Atomic Energy Organization announced the Natanz facility had accomplished the feat. Because of this, on April 28, the IAEA declared Iran in defiance of the March 29 Security Council requests.[18] That is where the nuclear confrontation with Iran stands now. II. Problem Statement Iran, a barbaric theocracy whose president has wished for Israel’s destruction and indicated he would disseminate nuclear technology, has been researching such technology. The Iranian government claims it only wants peaceful nuclear energy. (Plenty of oil sits beneath Iran, and lots of desert that could accommodate solar collectors lies across the country. One could wonder why Iran would need nuclear technology for energy production.) The United States and its diplomatic partners worry Iran desires nuclear weapons for its own use and to give to terrorists. Hence, the United States wants Iran to end its nuclear program. III. A: Policy Options—Diplomatic (Political) The United States has been seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis with Iran for the past several years. Washington, D. C., has not negotiated directly with Tehran, with which Washington has no diplomatic relations. Instead, the administration of American President George W. Bush stepped back to let Britain, France, and Germany attempt to convince Iran to terminate its nuclear program. This constitutes an exception to normal American foreign policy; the US government, especially under Bush, has preferred to address what it perceives to be security threats by itself or as a leader of an alliance. Relying completely on other countries in this instance means the US government is not in ultimate control of what happens. If the president says jump, the leader of another country will not necessarily say, how high. Still, with the American commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US government might not have wanted to stretch itself further by tackling the Iranian problem. The Europeans did not accomplish their objective. Iran continued its nuclear research while not taking its negotiations with Europe seriously. Iran was always ready to go with another nuclear transgression for any imagined slight. Eventually, the Europeans conceded defeat, so the Security Council has now taken charge of the issue. The Security Council has not had any more success than the Europeans did alone so far, though. It has only managed a toothless resolution on March 29 that Iran ignored altogether. Furthermore, nearly a month after the Security Council issued its commands, Iranian President Ahmadinejad speechified regarding the Security Council: “The Iranian nation won’t give a damn about such useless resolutions… Today, they want to force us to give up our way through threats and sanctions but those who resort to language of coercion should know that nuclear energy is a national demand and by the grace of God, today Iran is a nuclear country.”[19] UN diplomacy does not appear to be a winning strategy. The US could engage with Iran directly, but that would necessitate recognizing Iran’s government and opening diplomatic relations with it. Washington would be averse to doing that, especially with Ahmadinejad occupying the Iranian presidency. Besides which, Iran already knows the might of the United States forms the backbone of every diplomatic maneuver so far, yet Iran does not seem to care. For the US to open direct negotiations with Iran would, therefore, not help. All it would do is give Iran the status of being a nation the US has deemed fit for recognition, in exchange for nothing, which would bolster Iran and humiliate the United States. III. B: Policy Options—Economic In an effort to fabricate a compromise whereby Iran could have nuclear energy but the rest of the world could feel safe Iran was not gaining dangerous nuclear know-how, Russia offered to enrich uranium for Iran on Russia’s own soil and then ship the uranium back to Iran. Nothing has come of this Russian initiative, though.[20] Iran has apparently decided it wants to enrich uranium itself. If Iran does not start cooperating with the United Nations, the Security Council could meet again and insist Iran alter course for “international peace and security.” Iranian noncompliance with such a resolution would permit the Security Council to enact economic sanctions against Iran. China and Russia, however, have been squeamish about such a move.[21] Also, implementing broad economic sanctions against Iran would constrict or prevent the flow of oil out of that country. As the world grapples with high oil prices, across-the-board sanctions could damage everyone’s economy even as Iran hurts. The situation could be like Thomas Jefferson’s embargo of Britain and France all over again. Perhaps sanctions could leave alone oil trade with Iran; that would have a better chance of sticking. Because oil is already the lifeblood of Iran’s economy, and because oil would become more important with trade in everything else forbidden, Iran could not afford to cut off oil supplies or fiddle with prices too much. So the rest of the world would not hurt for oil, although Iran would still suffer the pain of sanctions. If Iran continues its intransigence, Russia and China might support limited sanctions, as they would not threaten oil supplies, although a lot of skilled diplomacy would be necessary. III. C: Policy Options—Military In the April 17, 2006, issue of The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh unveils to the American people secret plans the US government has for war with Iran. The end objective of the war would be the overthrow of the theocracy. To achieve this, the US military would bomb Iran extensively, which planners hope would embarrass the Iranian government, thereby inspiring the Iranian citizenry to revolt and depose the mullahs. Concurrently, the American military would drop bunker-buster tactical nukes on Iranian nuclear facilities, such as the one at Natanz.[22] That is one of the most idiotic plans in the history of military strategy. The American dream of happy Iraqis valiantly rising against their oppressors and eagerly embracing regime change Washington would like turned out to be fantasy. No reason exists to believe the same American dream would come true in Iran. Two hundred years of Western imperialism in Iran has ensured Iranian revulsion of foreign influence. Most Iranians would stick by their own people rather than act as foreigners attacking their home want. The Shi’a clergy, who have centuries-old traditional claims to Iranian hearts, and not bomb-happy Americans, would find the most supporters in Iran. Because of this, not even Iranian opposition groups want American intervention, believing it would damage their cause.[23] Plus, targeted American strikes against Iranian nuclear infrastructure could likely fail. The Iranians have had the Israeli destruction of Iraq’s French-supplied nuclear reactor at Osirak, as well as hundreds of American and British sorties across Iraq in the 1990’s, from which to learn. They protected against bombing runs by constructing some of their nuclear installations underground. In addition, the US government does not know the locations of a few of Iran’s important nuclear assets. A bombing campaign could miss them.[24] After the United States gained nothing from starting a war, Iran could inflict grievous costs in retaliation. The Shi’a Iranians, through shared faith with Shi’a Iraqis, command enormous influence with them. Many more Shi’a Iraqis than who are insurgents now could become such at the urging of their Shi’a brethren in Iran. Iranian troops could start attacking American soldiers in Iraq. Iran could even capture parts of Iraq. One Pentagon affiliate has said, “The Iranians could take Basra with ten mullahs and one sound truck.” Hezbollah could come out of hibernation as well, attacking Israel and American interests in the Middle East.[25] And, deciding it has nothing to lose, Iran could use its oil as an economic weapon to harm Western economies. Sometimes, the benefits of military action can outweigh horrendous consequences. World War II stands as the most powerful demonstration of that truth. Attacking Iran as the military plans in Hersh’s article suggest would not, however, yield sufficient gains to offset the damage to American interests and operations or to justify the enormous loss of life in Iran, Iraq, and Israel (if not more countries). IV. Policy Recommendation I have not seen any policy or strategy under consideration of which I approve, so I will devise my own. The United States and Europe should continue pursuing diplomatic solutions to the Iranian nuclear issue. I do not think Iran would capitulate to such an approach, though. Iranians, with reason, loathe foreign attempts to influence their politics and control their resources. As a result, I do not believe Iran will voluntarily strike a deal with anyone to limit or eliminate a national program it sees as its right. Meddlesome foreigners can go to hell. Before I outline my proposal, I must state, I do not believe Iran will use nuclear weapons offensively if it learns how to make them. Any obvious first use of nuclear weapons on Iran’s part would invite nuclear retaliation from Israel and the United States, and possibly from France and Britain. Passing nuclear weapons off to terrorists would not be a viable option for Iran, either, because nuclear forensics could trace a bomb’s fissile material back to its source.[26] One might say the so-called “Mad Mullahs” are just that—mad—but Iran’s lack of military aggressiveness over the past 20 years, with trigger-happy Americans and Israelis nearby, argues against that. Iran’s theocrats are evil but not demonstrably insane or suicidal. They would place their own collective survival above global Islamist revolution. If nothing else, a dead revolutionary movement cannot advance its cause. With Iran’s rationality in mind, I propose what I call neo-containment. In the neo-containment framework, if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons, the United Nations would place limited sanctions, as I described above, on Iran. Food, water, and medicine for the Iranian people, in addition to oil, would be the only exemptions to the sanctions. Limited sanctions would prevent mass starvation and famine while squeezing the Iranian economy. Militarily, the United States would officially point nuclear missiles at Iran and promise it will suffer the missiles’ fury if it does use nuclear weapons on anyone. If Iran does not want to struggle under sanctions and squirm under nuclear threat, Iran could dismantle its nuclear weapons and relinquish the capability to create more. If that does not happen, then Iran’s economic and technological capabilities can wilt under sanctions, and its psyche can suffer from knowing the world’s sole remaining superpower, with an arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons, might use those weapons on Iran, annihilating it. Iran could never build enough nuclear weapons to combat that threat. From these economic and military coercive devices, frustration and fear could build in the Iranian population, undermining cultural health and thereby national cohesion. To try to ensure the resulting anger flows to the Iranian government and not the United States, the American government should utilize soft power resources. Washington should emphasize its foe is the theocracy of Iran, not its people. The US should publicly appear not to be interfering with Iran internally, but to be sitting back after promising to recognize Iran officially and extend economic and technological assistance to Iran if the Iranians overthrow their government. Covertly, Americans should spread through Muslim networks messages about the benefits of disarmament and democracy and the evils of nuclear-intent mullahs. When Iranians receive these messages, they should see them as coming from Muslim brothers, not American imperialists. To complement this tactic, Iranian expatriates who know the positives of republican government and the negatives of Shi’a theocracy could tell their stories to the world. This could all inspire hope and desire within Iranians for something better than lives of terror under a repressive theocracy. Containment worked against the Soviet Union. It took 40 years to do its job, but the United States avoided a devastating war that would have left the world a worse place than it is now. I believe the similar strategy I described above would handle Iran just as adeptly. Indeed, neo-containment could perform even better. Iran could never threaten the United States with nuclear extinction, so Americans would not have to live with the dread of that again. Since Iran would be incapable of wiping out either the American people or their nuclear capability, no matter what, the Iranian government would be insane to employ nuclear weapons in anything other than clear self-defense. So Americans need not fear even the loss of a city. The risk of such an attack would not be zero, because Iran’s government could theoretically defy rationality. But the danger would be minimal, and it would not be anything we do not already face from China, Pakistan, or Russia. Neo-containment would thus be the least perilous idea, while promising the most impressive results. The strategy would not guarantee complete success: American soft power might not overcome the tinge of “American imperialist dog.” Cold War victories argue the US would have a good chance of accomplishing its goals, though. Endnotes [1] Encyclopжdia Britannica, “Iran.” Available . [2] Ibid. [3] Ibid. [4] Encyclopжdia Britannica, “Russian Revolution of 1905.” Available . [5] Britannica, “Iran.” [6] Ibid. [7] Ibid. [8] Ibid. [9] Ibid. [10] Ibid. [11] Ibid. [12] Ibid. [13] WashingtonPost. Com, “Timeline: Iran’s Nuclear Development.” Available . [14] Ibid. [15] Encyclopжdia Britannica, “Iran: Year in Review 2006.” Available . [16] WashingtonPost. Com. [17] Paul Kerr, “UN Urges Halt to Nuclear Enrichment,” Arms Control Association: Arms Control Today. Available . [18] WashingtonPost. Com. [19] CNN. com, “IAEA: Iran Defies U. N. Demands.” Available . [20] Kerr. [21] Ibid. [22] Seymour Hersh, “The Iran Plans,” The New Yorker. Available . [23] Jill Jermano, lectures at The George Washington University, 17 April 2006. [24] Hersh. [25] Ibid. [26] Barry L. Rothberg, “Averting Armageddon: Preventing Nuclear Terrorism in the United States.” Available . Gabriele Rennie, “Tracing the Steps in Nuclear Material Trafficking,” Science and Technology. Available .

Recession answers

Are you concerned about inflation, a recession, or even a depression in the early 21st Century? If you are concerned about either one or the real possibility of all the economic woes that potentially face the United States you are surely not alone as more and more people find they are having real trouble paying their mortgages and putting food on the table as money dries up, home values plummet, grocery prices escalate and petroleum prices sky rocket.

America's economic picture is driving the election primaries of both parties as well as the independents. As Tip O'Neill once opined, all politics are local. If your perception is, "it's the economy stupid" you want one candidate. If housing prices are holding in your neighborhood, you want another candidate.

It was not many days ago that our collective major concern was the War in Iraq and American service members scattered around the world in harms way as Islamic Jihadists swore their destruction. If you have a son, daughter, wife, husband, mother or father on their fourth or fifth tour of duty with the United States Military in Iraq as the Tennessee Mountain Man and Computer Man do that may well remain your driving force and you probably support yet another candidate. But it appears to be more and more clear that across the board, America's primary concern in the 2008 election year rightly or wrongly is the economy.

There is a raging disagreement between those well heeled gurus in the know who live on the upper side of town about whether or not we are in a recession. Many on the Fox Business Channel seem to believe we are and that Chairman Ben Bernanke of the United States Federal Reserve Bank is behind rather than in front of the curve. Bernanke disagrees although he did seem to tell congress in middle January, 2008, that we could be in danger of sliding in that direction.

The federal government apparently agrees with the view that a recession is imminent if not in full throttle otherwise why would the captain of the ship be ordering the life rafts deployed with all haste. Both political parties are rushing to get cash back in the hands of the people hoping they will spend it on new purchases driving the economy forward.

Grand ma who was already having a problem deciding whether to buy the medicine her doctor prescribed or the food her body needed and who remembers the great depression don't have any doubts. She has seen the horse and buggy, the model T, the iron horse, the air plane, Sputnik, the man in the moon and a man on the moon and air conditioning (although she can't afford any) replace the funeral home fan along with a recession or two in her life time, and she knows a recession when it comes roaring through her family.

Since Grand ma knows little to nothing about GNP/GDP. She basis her observations on the real life of real Americans struggling to survive, not on the fancy mathematical maneuvering and stats of professors and practitioners isolated in their ivory towers or professional politicians lost in the bowels of government hidden inside the Washington Beltway.

The truth is real people are hurting. There is plenty of blame to go around and probably more than one solution to the recession issue. It is after all a complicated issue, and some business types like auto manufacturers and home builders are hurting more than others.

It does not help that we have shipped so many manufacturing jobs off shore and over taxed and imposed other burdens on businesses to the point many have been forced to either close their doors or move their operations outside the United States.

Remote Helpdesk 1 has seen many businesses come and go over the years. We have seen a recession or two ourselves, and we have learned that there are some fairly safe options for entrepreneurs during an economic turn down. In fact there are some who do much better in tough times.

Tired of punching a clock, lost your job or just want to be your own boss? In bad times there are always ways to thrive if you are perceptive and agile. Never feel that because a recession is under way that there are no opportunities for you.

You might want to consider one of these: the health industry, collections, funeral parlor, auto repair, used furniture outlet, used clothing and household items store, pawn shops also thrive in such times, tutoring, selling on an online auction, internet ad business... use the computer between your shoulders as well as the one on your desk to come up with options.

If you are already in business, this is not the time to become despondent. It is time to drive forward. You can't sit and wait for your ship to come in. There are opportunities! Increase advertising, get more personally involved in your community and your church and business and professional organizations, slash your prices to bare bones if you need to, visit current and dormant accounts and customers and make sure they know you are still around and that you appreciate them.

Remember, we have been here before. You are not going through this alone. It is cyclical, and this too shall pass. In the mean time, make up your mind to enjoy the ride. You have little choice but to take the trip so determine to arrive stronger, happier, and richer as a result of the experience that God, in His wisdom has allowed you to conquer with His provision and guidance.

Freedom of the press threatened by tennessee police chief

The fourth estate received a public rebuke concealed in a not so veiled threat issued by Freeman Cooper, the Chief of Police, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

It could have been a bad April Fools joke but for the fact that it was a day late and not at all funny. It all happened at a hastily called news conference late morning, Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008, where Chattanooga Police Chief Freeman Cooper asked the media to stop asking questions about problem officer Chattanooga Police Captain Jeannie Snyder.

Cooper went on to issue a veiled threat to the media for doing its job by saying the investigation into the female police captain was "bordering on harassment".

He continued, "She is a police officer in good standing and that means that she can be armed at anytime with any weapon, it does not have to be the police department's gun." Snyder who had already voluntarily stepped down as an assistant police chief taking a Ten Thousand Dollar pay cut in November, 2007, also voluntarily turned in her city issued weapon last week citing public concern over her being armed. The Chattanoogan reported, however, that she was still carrying her personal firearm. That is just one of the exceptions the city appears to have made for Captain Snyder when their internal rules and regulations says each officer is issued a service weapon and must carry that weapon when on duty.

Chattanooga City Councilman Leamon Pierce is one of the few apparently not afraid to speak up and question Snyder or the Chief. Pierce opined, "You got to deal with what the perception is, she has a problem no doubt it's a medical problem. I wouldn't want to be around her, in her presence when she has another reaction."

He went on to say what some officers have intimated to the Tennessee Mountain Man - that some of her fellow police officers are leary and fearful of her.

There are those current and retired police officers who tell the Tennessee Mountain Man that they have good reason to walk lightly around Captain Snyder. They maintain that Cooper had little choice but to appoint her an assistant police chief and now has no choice but to defend and protect her to the best of his ability.

Names the Tennessee Mountain Man has not heard in legal and law enforcement circles in 20 years are popping up again. Names like Ralph Cothran, Al Coker, Johnny Wright, and others - even a former madam and drug dealer are surfacing and fueling the rumor mill.

Chief Cooper challenged the press at his news conference, "Tell me something she's done wrong? You can't because she hasn't." He continued, "She hasn't harmed anyone, threatened to harm anyone, or put anybody in any type of danger."

According to public records, it all started in January of 2007 when Snyder was found unconscious in her Red Bank (A Chattanooga Bedroom Community) home after she failed to show up for an appointment. She was "sick", i. e. "passed out" and had to be hospitalized. Drawing on his experience and career as a former intelligence operative, CID Agent, and civilian police officer the Computer Man suspects the roots of Captain Snyder's problems run much deeper and farther into the past.

In September, 2007, she did not show up for work which sparked a search in Marion County, Tennessee. When finally found after costing the city, the state and two counties untold thousands of dollars, she was "sick" and had to be hospitalized.

A few weeks ago Snyder “appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and drugs” at the Town Center Mall, in Cobb County, Georgia at 3 p. m. on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008 according to an incident report from the Cobb County Department of Public Safety where she produced a weapon when an officer asked for some identification. A confrontation ensued. Captain Snyder was "sick" again. An ambulance had to be summoned with several Chattanooga Police Staff to escort her back to Chattanooga, and, of course, once again she required hospital care before returning to duty.

A recurring theme from police officers is that "I am a man". "I can't sleep my way to the top." Which prompted City Councilman Manny Rico to issue a counter comment to Councilman Pierce, according to Abena Williams, Reporter, WDEF-TV, Chattanooga, TN, "I've talked to others that aren't (fearful of Snyder), you hear both sides, police people are very funny I'm sure there are a lot of them that didn't get the promotion they should have got."

The former madam perused this story over a snifter of brandy, then handing it back with a slight smile, said, "new paint, new lipstick, new gloss. Nothing ever changes, baby. Between her and the sheriff there are a lot of important people shaking in their boots tonight."

Some believe it is time for a good house cleaning at the Chattanooga Police Department, and that this could be the biggest thing since Bookie Turner. Another story... Another time.

In the mean time, the question remains whether the local press will bow in fear or deference to Chief Cooper?

Momma always told you don t play in the street

In the cold early morning hours of Saturday, February 16th, 2008, before the St Valentine's Day Celebrities had subsided, about Twenty (20) miles South of Washington, D. C., Eight (8) people lay dead in the street along Route 210, a four lane highway, in Accokeek, Maryland. Why? Because no one listens to momma any more.

Some Twenty (20) years ago the Tennessee Mountain Man transported telephone equipment around the southern states and up the eastern seaboard for ma bell. A prominent sign was displayed at the exit for each of ma bell's maintenance shops which read, "You Are About To Enter The Most Dangerous Place In The World... An American Highway. Buckle Up!". Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and other hot spots around the world notwithstanding nothing has changed and the warning is as applicable today as it was all those years ago.

Concerning the Accokeek deaths, according to FOX News, Prince George's County Police Captain Donald Frick said "there was a speed event going on". That has to be the understatement of the year. There had been an illegal drag race that resulted not only in the high number of deaths but several injuries and an unlimited number of lives that have been changed forever because the immature must play... even if it could reasonably mean they die.

A "speed event" is the Daytona 500 which was scheduled to run the following day or Power Boat Racing... events scheduled and licensed under the appropriate authority in a relatively safe place with safety precautions and viewer protection adhered to. This was a clear criminal violation which resulted in injury and death, and yet the police do not know, they say, whether charges will be filed against anyone or not. Can you say, "duh"?

The Computer man grew up in the backwoods country atop Sand Mountan in Jackson County Alabama. Running in front of the old home place about fifty (50) feet from the front door was a dirt road which mom always told us to stay out of. There were less than Ten (10) vehicles a day that literally crawled down that road, but mom insisted "stay out of the road".

When one of the children was required to make a trip the three quarters (.75) of a mile to the country store that serviced the little community, mom always warned, "walk on the side of the highway... stay off the road". A toe stumped on the asphalt and bleeding (not to mention hurting) when arriving back home was a dead give away and earned an extra punishment which seemed pretty severe until the computerman had a teenage step daughter killed by a car while she was crossing a city street.

Many years ago, Johnny Cash recorded a song about a momma's warning. It was to her young son and entitled "Don't Take Your Guns To Town".

The first verse was:

"A young cowboy named Billy Joe grew restless on the farm

A boy filled with wonderlust who really meant no harm

He changed his clothes and shined his boots

And combed his dark hair down

And his mother cried as he walked out

[Chorus]

Don't take your guns to town son

Leave your guns at home Bill

Don't take your guns to town".

As strange as it may be, that was the first thing that popped in the Tennessee Mountain Man's mind upon learning of this tragedy that happened on a dark unlighted stretch of suburban highway fifty-five (55) miles north of Boston. As the two racing cars sped away and the spectators stepped into the roadway to watch, an eighteen (18) wheel tractor trailer and a car appeared behind them from nowhere. Not being able to see the people standing in the middle of the roadway dressed in dark clothing against the dark of night compounded by the smoke from cars and burning tires there was little the operators of those vehicles could do to avoid the by standers.

For a little fun, a restless crowd of somewhere between fifty (50) and two hundred (200) souls had assembled on a busy roadway in the dark night and gambled their life against a little entertainment, and in only a short moment in time they lost.

Listen to your momma. She warned you, "don't play in the street".

Life just ain t what it used to be

Over the last fifty years or so we have invented all sorts of time saving strategies that have some how managed to leave us with the greatest time deficit ever experienced by man.

Few people live on farms any more where labor is from daylight to after dark. We don't even work in factories today. No. Modern society runs on the service industry from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. How misleading!

Why is there no time to sit on the porch and just enjoy God's nature? Oh, yeah... right. Most houses have no porches and the few that do can't be enjoyed for the fear of gangs and hooligans roaming the neighborhood.

And, should one get passed those concerns who can enjoy the sound of cars literally flying up and down the highway just a few feet away, the ever present blaring of car horns, sirens screaming through the night, and the neighbors you don't know living on top of you when the ones you used to love lived a quarter of a mile away.

Back then we visited on a regular basis and got around to socializing with everyone. Now we barely speak, if we do at all, to the guy living thirty feet away. Maybe we will invite him to a backyard barbeque once a year to assuage our consience, but probably not.

Instead of helping him repair his house, we bitch about the noise he makes during the process, and resent the fact he needs to borrow a hammer rather than taking the time to prepare him a cold pitcher of lemonade made from scratch to quench the thirst he works up.

The Tennessee Mountain Man recalls that there was a time when the city was a million miles away and no one from the country went there unless they had to. In our modern world the city has moved into the country and the new reality is that the farm is now a million miles or so from the city next door. It is dirty. The people there are dirty - never mind that their conscience is clean. The place has a foul odor that assaults our sensitive metropolitan olfactory glands and we dare not venture there unless it is absolutely unavoidable.

At a time when we said grace before every meal, we ate hearty and were in little, if any, danger of being over weight. Now that we think perhaps Grace is the lady living two houses down the street in the home needing it's lawn trimmed we suffer from a national obesity epidemic though religiously practicing our yo yo diet and binge eating.

Computer Man used to get up before daylight to build a fire, do the morning chores, and cook breakfast before going off to a day of work. But that is so passй. Now we get up just in time to gulp down a cup of instant coffee or coffee set to brew automatically the night before while 'nuking' some instant pre-boxed meal stripped of all nutrition to eat while we over charge our metabolic system in front of the boob tube blasting 'The View' into our living rooms and appropriately raising blood pressures.

Man dare not sleep with his face in an open window any more regardless of whether he lives in the country or in the city. Therefore he can't hear the rain on the roof, the barn owl hooting off in the distance, the cry of a new born calf, the mating call of God's creatures that rule the night, the wind whistling through the old barn, nor the defining silence of the new fallen snow.

We used to sleep a little later on Sunday and get up with every action deliberate and geared toward getting us to God's house on time for the morning worship service. Now we repeat the last six days except we are content with getting our religious instruction watching some televangelist because 'The View' is not shown on Sunday television. And, why go to church when some greedy self serving prophet comes to us?

Nope! Life just ain't what it used to be. If you think it is, just open the door or pull out the chair for a lady and notice the looks you get if you manage to escape an outright attack. Listen... did you hear that? I thought I actually heard a child say, "please, excuse me, sir".

Intellectual property - engaging with china

China is well entrenched in the global marketplace, but with Chinese piracy reported at 90 percent, it's the third least friendly country for protecting intellectual property (IP).

China's accession into the World Trade Organization started four years ago. With this commitment to regulatory and economic restructuring, China has indeed been a country of economic opportunity for multinational corporations.

In theory, WTO accession means that WTO members can enjoy IP protections. In China, secure those patent protections carefully. Dot the i's, cross those t's and 'watch your language.' Also, anticipate litigation.

According to attorneys A. Jason Mirabito and Carol Peters, in a March 2005 article published in Chip Scale Review: "In the past there was little enforcement of IP in China. However, in 2002, Chinese courts litigated more than 6,000 civil cases involving IP issues. About 2,000 cases involved patent suits. The rest were trademark and copyright actions."

Those 2002 statistics pale compared to recent figures, reported by the International Herald Tribune: In 2005, "Chinese courts dealt with 12,205 civil intellectual property cases, an increase of 32 percent from 2003 and a few dozen two decades ago."

Consider one recent case, which demonstrates that China's legal savvy is climbing with its growing stake in US markets and the global economy. The case also demonstrates the role of US courts in patent and IP protection, along with the perseverant or 'energized' stance required by US companies threatened by counterfeit goods or the prospect of piracy.

Energizer & Eveready vs. Just about Everybody

The dispute started in the spring of 2003, when Energizer Holdings, a US company, and its subsidiary Eveready filed a lawsuit with the International Trade Commission (ITC). The complaint addressed a signature product, a long-lasting battery design—affecting in particular a line of zero mercury-added alkaline batteries that Energizer has held a patent on for three decades. Also mentioned in the suit are games, toys, and other products manufactured with batteries whose designs are protected.

Energizer asked the ITC to issue a cease-and-desist order and to ban US imports of these products, claiming the batteries exported to the United States by the 26 manufacturers, affiliates or distributors named in the suit had infringed on Energizer's US patent. Among the multiple respondents named in the complaint, nine were Chinese manufacturers, including Fujian Nanping Nanfu. Nanfu Battery is one of China’s largest alkaline battery manufacturers and suppliers. Energizer requested the ITC investigation under Section 337 of the US Tariff Act.

At the time of the original filing, China was considered the world's largest manufacturer and exporter of this specific battery with an estimated 75-80 percent of its goods being exported to overseas markets. According to a China press report, "Chinese batteries usually cost between a 10th and a third less than US-made ones, making them very popular in overseas markets."

The ITC handed down a preliminary ruling in 2004, deciding that nine manufacturers from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong infringed upon Energizer's patent, and recommended banning imports of the batteries. But four months later, the ITC closed its investigation, and ruled that Energizer's patent was invalid because it was …"indefinite as a matter of law…." Or, in the legalese: "The Commission held that Eveready's "proffer of alternative constructions of 'said zinc anode' was an admission of indefiniteness."

In plain terms, the main patent claim, or its language, was incorrectly written. Attorneys Mirabito and Peters reported that the Commission determined "there was no infringement of the Energizer Holdings patents, and the continued importation of Chinese batteries was permitted."

It Just Keeps on Going and Going…

True to the brand as "the battery that never quits," Energizer kept on "going and going," and appealed the ITC's final decision to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In the suit, Energizer named the ITC as defendants. Energizer's main contention was that the issue regarding language was not substantial enough to invalidate the patent.

The Court's January 25, 2006 ruling, and a follow-up March 20 mandate reversed the earlier ITC opinion, finding that the ITC erred and the patent draft was written correctly enough.

"In that regard, we conclude that 'anode gel' is by implication the antecedent basis for 'said zinc anode.' The Commission's holding of invalidity on the ground of indefiniteness is reversed."

In the unanimous ruling, the Court directed the Commission to proceed in accordance with the Administrative Law Judge's prior ruling that the Energizer patent is valid, according to Legal Times analyst, Emma Shwartz.

It was a happy day at Energizer headquarters in St. Louis. "We are pleased that this case has been sent back to the ITC for review," said Michael Pophal, Senior Patent Counsel at Energizer, quoted in a company press release (http://tinyurl. com/kfb6m). "By issuing this mandate, the appeals court has cleared the way for additional inquiry into whether those companies that import mercury-free alkaline batteries into the United States are doing so illegally. If it is indeed determined that they are doing so illegally, the ITC will then determine the appropriate remedy for that illegal activity."

As before, Energizer will seek the general exclusion remedy in the ITC. If the ITC upholds the company's claim, this remedy will bar infringing batteries, including those made or sold by the remaining respondents from importation or sale in the US, and will permit sanction enforcement by US Customs.

What’s Next? A Changing Landscape?

Energizer expects a favorable outcome from the ITC. But even as they await the ITC review, the Internet-surfing public has been reading about the recent ITC mandate in starkly opposite terms: in China, recent press accounts erroneously have been reporting that the Court ruled in favor of Chinese manufacturers. They fail to report that the jury, with respect to the ITC, is still out.

It appears that a gentle, collaboratively toned communication between Energizer and China has helped the situation. Many of the erroneous reports have been pulled from news sites.

While Energizer seems to be battling questionable imports the longest and hardest, they aren't the only company doing battle with Chinese manufacturers and companies alleging technology violations of patents, trademarks and IP infringements. The litigious ranks include Hitachi-IBM and Cisco, who won its patent battle over the Shenzhen-based Huawei in 2003. Cisco eventually proved that Huawei, arguably the top Chinese provider of switches and wireless infrastructure, had copied the U. S. companies' firmware code line for line into its products. Huawei settled.

Still, other recent cases are coming to favorable conclusions for plaintiffs defending goods in China courtrooms, an indicator that China is serious about its place in the WTO and in the global economy.

-- In late 2005, java giant Starbucks Coffee won its two-year-old case against 'Xingbake' (translation Star Bucks), for trademark and logo infringement. The case was decided in Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court, and was considered a landmark judgment and litmus test of China's amended trademark laws. Xingbake has filed an appeal.

-- In 2004, Swiss agribusiness and agricultural chemical maker Syngenta was awarded an apology and compensation after its patent infringement lawsuit was successfully concluded against a Chinese business group. The case was heard in a Nanjing court, one known for its expertise in intellectual property.

There is little doubt that China's government will quickly improve its IP stance, but this analyst believes the most effective pressure will come from its own domestic companies, particularly as they evolve from a heavily manufacturing-depending economy to a service and integrated products economy. This more sophisticated economic profile makes IP rights even more critical, because more Chinese companies will have more at stake when IP is violated.

Recent positive announcements make it clear that rule of law increasingly will be guiding China's economy. In the meantime, keep your intellectual property under a close watch, and build trust with your Chinese partners. Good contracts, good guanxi, and good sense will prove invaluable.

Sources: Chip Scale Review, International Herald Tribune, China Daily, China. org, Legal Times, Syngenta, Energizer Holdings / Eveready Battery, Starbucks, Energizer Court of Appeals Ruling: http://www. ll. georgetown. edu/federal/judicial/fed/opinions/05opinions/05-1018.pdf

Misinterpreting the middle east crisis as an apocalypse

Why is it that some Christian congregations can rejoice at the recent bloodshed of innocent lives in the Middle East? It’s unthinkable that people, totally misusing the Bible and the Book of Revelation, can be that crass and bloodthirsty. The same could be said as people chose to interpret Hurricane Katrina’s effect on New Orleans as God’s divine punishment for the hundreds of sinful residents of that evil city. I’ve heard similar accounts about public congregational prayers of gratitude to God for allowing an earthquake to kill thousands of “infidel” Pakistanis.

These examples illustrate some people’s desire to find simple answers to complex issues coupled with an erroneous conception of the Bible. We all want simple answers to our questions. We want to be able to sort things out in ways that are meaningful to us. However, most of us know that – however wonderful that would be – it simply isn’t in the cards. Complex issues usually require complex solutions. However, when the Bible gets involved or invoked, the issue gets a little thornier.

This un-Christ-like behavior is a phenomenon that comes from believing in the Bible literally. This literalism leads to bibliolatry – an idolization of the Bible.

Although using the Bible literally is very unbiblical, it is not new. It is one of the major bones of contention between priests and prophets in the Old Testament, between Jesus and the priestly class in the New Testament, and between Jewish Jesus groups, including Gnostics, and the Hellenistic Christ Congregations in the development of the early Church and selection of the Books of the Bible.

Biblical literalists seem to believe that Abraham (a Bronze Age nomad – c. 1700 BCE), King David (an early Iron-Age mid-eastern monarch – c. 950 BCE), the Apostle Paul (a first century educated Roman citizen and a devout Jewish Pharisee), and they (as twenty-first century Americans) view faith in God in exactly the same way. For these biblical literalists faith is faith is faith. What Abraham believed and how he expressed his belief, is what David believed and practiced, and what Paul believed and practiced. Consequently, that is what they think they believe and practice today. People who believe this way simply do not understand the Bible.

It seems to me the Bible tells the rather straightforward story of the constant tension between people’s desire for an explicit, prescribed set of approved behaviors that we understand and think God will bless, and God’s (Spirit’s) actual issuance of “fuzzy” moral guidelines.

Some examples of these fuzzy guidelines:

Micah: “What does Yahweh require of you? To do justice, and to love righteousness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Mic 6:8)

Jesus: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But who is my neighbor? Jesus answered with the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). The point? God loves the hated Samaritan who helps someone in need.

We don’t like “fuzzy” guidelines or suggestions. We want specifics that are true all the time and under all circumstances. We want assurances – guarantees. We want teachers to tell us if we do A, B, and C we’ll get a “gold star.” We want to know specifically what God wants. We like explanations to be explicit, cut and dried, and predictable. We like a religion that reassures us we’re on the winning side. And that’s not fuzzy.

In the Old Testament this tension between the explicit and the fuzzy bubbled to the surface early: The covenant with God was given its first shape under Moses during the Exodus. This was followed by the continuing struggle between the ever organizing Old Testament priesthood and the prophets. Priests talked about how rites, rituals, and the Law (Torah) must be kept to ensure God’s blessing. All the major prophets railed against these ideas – that it was love, justice, and humility that God wanted, not obedience to elaborate rite and ritual.

In the New Testament it took only about 150 years for Jesus’ transformational “fuzzy” message of the Kingdom of God (or the Kingdom of Spirit) – which exists within you in the Eternal Now – to be institutionalized by various Jesus groups as a newer form of Judaism and by Paul as a message that the Kingdom incorporated both Jews and non-Jews. Then the Jesus groups dissolved and Paul’s message was overcome with his attempts to reinvent Israel’s scriptural history.

For 14 years Paul experienced the freedom of Jesus’ Kingdom of Heaven in the Damascus/Antioch Christ congregations. It was exhilarating, life-changing, transforming. He began to understand that these Christ congregations, which he once loathed because they undercut his beloved Pharisaic Judaism, had stumbled on to something truly revolutionary: God’s love and presence was not reserved for Jews alone but included all of mankind and was here and now. Nevertheless, he was a Pharisee. He knew the Law (Torah) as well as accepted oral interpretations (the embryonic Midrash) and he just couldn’t let that go. So he became preoccupied with integrating his personal transformation with his knowledge of the Law. He verbalized his sense of this new reality in terms of redefining Israel’s history and thus the meaning of the Law.

As Paul tried to rationally justify his insight, he began moving from the Christ of faith to the Christ of theology. Later biblical writers and early Church fathers began picking up on Paul’s discussion of correct behavior and newly-stated scriptural history. They continued to expand them, getting further and further away from Paul’s Gospel of Freedom. Finally, early church fathers picked up on the Christ of theology and continued the construction of an elaborate, unified dogma. So now the words of Jesus had morphed into the doctrines of Salvation, Christology, Trinity, Original Sin, Atonement, Incarnation, and Apostolic Succession.

Lost was the sense of freedom that had so influenced Paul. Within 150 years of Jesus’ death, the fuzzy had been replaced once again with the explicit.

Contemporary biblical literalists are using the words of the Bible in much the same way as the Old Testament priesthood used the temple rites and rituals. If you listen closely, it is no longer faith in Jesus or in God’s love that matters and transforms lives. There seems to be only two things that matter. First, what matters is the belief in the very words of scripture that one must have faith in, must obey, and must follow. Secondly, what matters is the theology you espouse – a theology that was extrapolated over 300 years immediately following Jesus’ crucifixion. The theology you espouse and faith in the scriptures – that is what makes you a Christian. That is what will “save” you.

Since Christians who know the Bible literally believe that faith is faith is faith – no accounting for linguistic or historical context – they are in a position whereby any scriptural reference can be used – literally – to support any preferred position, including an interpretation of the Book of Revelation that allows them to rejoice in the horror of war in the Mideast. What the biblical literalists do not understand is that to use the Bible in this way puts them at odds with the very prophets they claim to cite, just as the blind use of rite and ritual put the Priestly Class at odds with these same prophets.

I believe many of these Christians not only believe the Bible literally, but have made the Bible an idol – treating the very words of the Bible in the same manner Israel’s priestly class treated the temple rites and rituals in the Old Testament. For Israel’s priests the temple rites were holy, sacred, almost magic-like, to be believed without question, and were absolutely necessary for God’s blessing. If we substitute “words of the Bible” for “temple rites and rituals,” we are describing many of today’s fundamental and evangelical Christians.

The prophets railed against this simplistic idea of what it is that pleases God. Jesus, for example, in telling the parable of the Good Samaritan, railed against this simplistic idea of what it is that pleases God. Paul would turn over in his grave if he knew the early Church was using his temporary lists of behavioral do’s and don’ts as Pharisaical litmus tests for Christian behavior. Paul would have railed against that simplistic idea.

There has always been a tension between the faith, itself, and our attempt to communicate it in a rational language at a given historical period. An authoritarian religious system, either of the Roman Catholic type – with papal bulls & edicts – or fundamentalist/evangelical type – referencing the Bible literally – so confuses the authority of the Church, the Bible, the creeds, and the faith of the people that the tension between God, as we understand God, and our human understanding is removed. Without that tension the doors are opened to idolatry—in this case a blind worship of the Bible itself—which Webster’s defines as bibliolatry.

Righteousness and faith are not equivalent to some form of absolute belief about what’s in the Bible or the New Testament. To believe something literally happened, just because it’s in the Bible, is not the mark of a true Christian. Biblical literalism does not equate to faithfulness.

We can use the Bible and other Spirit-filled writings just like the earliest of Christians used their Scriptures and other material to try to understand their personal transformations. Generations of others have experienced a spiritual awakening before we’ve come along. Those experiences of theirs included grappling with the difficulty of recognizing the spiritual awakening when it happened, as well as the difficulty in verbalizing it after it had been recognized. Just as the initial Christians used their Scriptures and other writings to help them, we can do the same. That’s the timeless value of scripture. Transformed, we begin to focus on the miracles we now see in our own lives, using scripture to help us find the words to communicate those events.

The key words are “our own.”

But if our sense of personal transformation has not developed, then we’ll be operating from an understanding that’s very similar to the children’s ditty, “Jesus Loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” If we cannot see Spirit’s or God’s wonders in our own lives, then we’ll resort to looking for those wonders elsewhere. It becomes very easy then to say, “Well, we’re not sure how God has touched our lives, but we sure believe He touched Paul’s life. Maybe if we believe that strongly enough, we’ll get to Heaven.” Then, in no time we’ll be saying, “Well, we cannot really see how God is working miracles in our own lives, but He sure zapped New Orleans! Praise God! At least He’s still out there and alive. Hallelujah!”

Paul felt free enough to restate the accepted narrative of Israel’s history as he wrestled to explain an answer to the question: “Who was Jesus and why did he die?” If Paul felt confident enough to reconstruct his scriptural heritage, we should have the courage to fully understand, then strip away, the cultural trappings of biblical writers so that we can use the Bible for spiritual guidance rather than as a literal religious instruction manual.

Choosing the best news media type - tv radio or newspapers

In the world today, we are constantly faced with new world events. We hear about how terrorist bombings are going on all over the world, about stocks going up and down, and about crime offenders being reprimanded. These kinds of issues are important to all of us…it affects our economy, our way of life, and mostly, our future.

What goes on around us whether worldwide, nationally, or even just in our community, is the topic of many conversations. You can be in your elevator, at the office water cooler, or your maybe even in your grocery store line-up, people like to talk about who’s being voted for what, which football team to cheer on, and what the weather is going to be like on the weekend. Being informed on these topics makes us part of the community.

How can we stay up-to-date? There is always the radio. There are several stations available on the radio that we can tune in to while commuting to work and running errands. Unfortunately, many of these radio programs do not give you a full coverage. You are probably not commuting long enough to listen to the whole program, and there are so many commercials!

Then there’s your 6 o’clock news on the television. Let’s face it…we are busy people. The children have after-school activities, we have social events, the dogs need to be walked, gym, dinner needs to be made, then there’s that thing called work. We no longer have the evenings free to ourselves to sit on the couch and watch the news.

Your best option? Definitely a newspaper. With the newspaper, you can choose what sections you want to read. You can skip the ads that do not interest you, and it is very portable! You can take it with you to read at your leisure. You even get comics and puzzles to do in most newspapers! Subscribing to a newspaper offers the most convenience.

With a newspaper subscription, you can be assured that your newspaper arrives at your door and is ready to be read at YOUR liberty. You have the benefit of not having to tune in at any certain time, you can put it down when you want if you are interrupted, you can even cut sections out for memorabilia!

Immigration in america - not everyone is dying to get here

Not everyone in America views people from Mexico and Pan America as our little brown brothers to the south. With a deep culture and a rich heritage older than our own these people have much to be proud of. Economically and politically they are suffering behind the eight ball of progress but as in any country life goes on there.

This writer has family in Mexico and because of that I have had the good fortune of spending a lot of time in Old Mexico. The details are too much for this article but I will at the very least relate one single impression I had the first time I spent real time in the neighborhoods of Acapulco.

My first impressions as I viewed the small houses and open air markets were probably similar to every other American before me. I thought of only how poor these people are and how hard life must be for them. In a short time I changed my opinion. I watched as families clung close to each other and neighborhoods would band together closely to protect each other. There were simple peddlers carrying fish and cold gelatins around and children playing together with laughter. They worked hard and ate together at the same table. Respect was given to the elderly and heads of households whether male or female. Fiestas and much celebration were attended by large crowds and participation was hearty and genuine. Dancing, conversation and great food was enjoyed and a neighborhood seemed more like a family than a mere community of citizens. Who could find fault with this and why should we care if they don’t have a lot of money? Apparently it could not keep them from enjoying something we in America may have long since had a while but lost.

I was graced with my time in Mexico long before I had the pleasure of seeing the acclaimed movie, El Norte. This Pan American production was released in 1983 and will soon re-debut thru the DVD medium for those who may have missed it. Only three or four movies I have seen in my lifetime would I consider as “an experience” and not just a movie, El Norte is one of them.

El Norte (The North) is a grand drama produced by Gregory Nava in Pan America. It is considered the hands down best movie ever produced in Central America. It is also considered the best movie to “put faces” on the otherwise invisible people who pick our crops, clean our houses and care for our children. The immigrants of South and Central America and those of Mexico are not only depicted accurately in this film but they could learn from it as well. It is my opinion that if all would be immigrants were able to see this film before they dashed off to America that many of them would lay down the idea of getting here altogether.

The film is fictional but has a reality to it that cannot be contended. It is similar to the experiences of countless Latinos who enter this country illegally and legally. Its impact did not go unnoticed by the National Film Registry where it was selected by the Library of Congress in 1995. It was also nominated for an Oscar and won several other prestigious awards along its glowing path.

The plot of El Norte is based on the travels of a young brother and sister team who endeavor to overcome every obstacle set before them to immigrate (illegally) to the United States. The two siblings come from a Central American village of Mayan Indians. Their life there was simple and they were poor but all they ever loved was also there. They want to come to America and try along with others of their kind to overcome the idea of being no more than “brazos fuertes” (strong arms) that make up the grunt workforce for rich Americans.

Driven by the dream of a place were opportunity abounds and equality reigns they cross hundreds of miles of open desserts and long dreary roads in Mexico. They are robbed, raped tricked, swindled and lied to but pass on undaunted still reaching for their dreams. With nothing left to lose they make the final crossing into the land into America by crawling on hands and knees for miles through a sewer duct from Mexico to San Diego. They are bitten by rats, exhausted and near to death when they emerge to the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The contacts and the promises that they expected to be there for them have dissolved and they battle to find some means of survival. In time they both find housing and meager employment as domestics but the battle has just begun. The heart wrenching struggle they encounter is not just about making money but it is about making impossible adjustments to a culture not only foreign to them but completely undesirable.

They are pulled by druggers to touch and taste and demeaned by employers that work them hard for pittances. They see Americans in a great a race to gain everything but who seem to appreciate nothing. Add to this that one of the siblings’ contracts a disease from the rat bites they incurred while crossing into San Diego and eventually dies.

Before the bitter end the film depicts what would be the mental dreams, visions and remembrances of their native village and their Mayan cultural upbringing. It is impossible not to feel the longing to return to their simpler and more meaningful life. Now it is harder to return than it was to make the first journey…fade to black.

As an American who loves his country this film stood as an indictment against our shallowness and preoccupation with everything that is ersatz and meaningless. I could never argue with the great principles this nation was founded upon but this movie only served to remind me that we are a long way from the founding principles today.

Although the present issue of immigration in this country cannot be ignored this film reminds us that there is an untold side to the issue. If the hearts of all the immigrants could be searched and weighed I’m sure we would find that a great deal of their contents would be disappointment, disillusionment and sorrow.

The lesson here is that it is not just our borders that need to be protected in a reasonable and rational manner but it is our hearts as well. Would be immigrants may want to consider that economic advantage is not all there is to life. Americans may want to remember that there was a time when that was not all there was to our lives.

Far be it for a man of God not to appendage a good didactic endeavor without making an allusion to the scriptures. This is the one that comes to mind. “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Luke 12:15

Rev Bresciani is the author of two books and hundreds of articles. Visit his website at www. americanprophet. org

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Foreclosure is running rampant in northern california. what now for troubled residents

In this country’s uncertain economy, with sub-prime real estate meltdowns and rising gas prices, it is no wonder that American consumers are looking for some financial refuge when it comes to either short term or long term security. This especially rings true in our nation’s housing arena.

The foreclosure ratio has increased dramatically in the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas. This means good people and their real estate values are being negatively affected due to crippling market conditions. This in turn, floods the market with properties that don’t sell. Although, someone could say it is a buyer’s market, and that would be true. But what about the person that is in foreclosure? They can’t mortgage a property. What are their options?

I suppose they could rent an apartment. This could be a very pricey option in the San Francisco Bay (including the east bay) and Sacramento areas. For example, research shows that: as of 12/07 the rental markets in these large areas are down (Excluding San Francisco Proper).

Learning this, I researched further and discovered that a good portion of Americans that are in foreclosure in these areas, are spending their money smart: buying an RV and living in a Luxury RV Resort.

Surprisingly, there are many RV Resorts and Parks that cater to a growing rental market that no one else is utilizing. It is substantially cheaper to rent a site at an RV Park instead of renting a traditional apartment. Typically a one bedroom in Vacaville, CA (between San Francisco and Sacramento) for example, will go anywhere from $850.00 – $1400.00 plus utilities. A monthly site at the Vineyard RV Park in Vacaville, CA will only set you back $500.00 - $750.00 per month plus electric. Keep in mind you are powering a smaller area although, most RV’s on the market today have comparable dimension sizes to your average small apartment which is a huge plus.

“Many people that are or were in foreclosure, that have bad credit can rent in our park for half of what they would spend in the Vacaville/Fairfield area. It is also very convenient for our tenants to commute to work in the San Francisco/Sacramento areas, because of the fantastic freeway access our location offers”, says Carl Bertram, one of the owners of the Vineyard RV Park. He goes on to say “Not only is this option popular for people in foreclosure that have credit issues, but we also cater to a huge traveling nurse and union worker’s community as well (welders, carpenters, and electricians). With all the new construction in the East Bay Area, we figured that we would use this to our advantage”.

Most people would feel a transition like this would be disorientating. Not if you go to the right park. If you do your research, you will find upscale RV Parks and Resorts will offer many guest and tenant services that you would not normally find in the traditional rental situation such as: Round the Clock Security, Guest Concierge Services, and in the case of the Vineyard RV Park – they will even assist you in locating the perfect dealer when you purchase your first RV. It almost makes the transition effortless. I would imagine the smart consumer would take this alternate solution into major consideration when attempting the rental hunting process. If you are moving to the San Francisco or Sacramento Areas or are thinking about visiting and want to learn more about this option, you may contact Carl or Meaghan Bertram toll free at the Vineyard RV Park: 866-447-8797. Or you can view this first class facility at: http://www. VineyardRVPark. com.

Good guys finish last

On the heels of Super Tuesday Two, it may not be immediately clear whether the democratic presidential nominee will be Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, but talk show host and conservative author Ann Coulter has it right. Ralph Nader notwithstanding and irrespective of how one feels about Coulter, in the collective eyes of remote helpdesk 1, the 44th President of the United States, whether one likes it or not - all things being equal, will will be a democrat.

As networks began to call Super Tuesday II in the wee hour as of Wednesday Morning, Obama lead in the pledged delegate count, but the Clinton's have made it clear that they will win at any cost to include stealing the nomination with the help of the super delegates.

Good guys, it appears, truly do finish last. Mike Huckabee compared to the two old angry white men might agree.

The sole reason for the lack of a nominee in the democratic primaries to date is republican interference. Hillary did not win on Super Tuesday II. The primary was thrown to her by the republican party. Ann Coulter opposing Senator John Mc Cain, apparently at any cost, as the republican nominee is urging republicans to vote for Hillary as she (Coulter) sees Clinton as preferable to Obama. Right wing radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, on the other hand, in an effort to keep the chaos going urges his followers to vote for Hillary because he believes her easier to defeat in the November general election than Obama. If this were a baseball team involving America's pass time there would be harsh consequences - ask Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire or anyone mentioned in the

Mitchell Report. Still the Clintons remain Teflon coated.

Right wing conservatives, in the middle of it all, appear willing to cut off their collective nose to spite their face. Ronald Reagan is dead and he cannot be re-elected. So, in the after math of the demise of the father of conservatism, William F. Buckley, many self described conservatives will refuse to vote in the general election. Others will vote for the democratic nominee, and yet others will, as his mother predicted, hold their noses and vote the republican ticket headed by John Mc Cain.

Whatever one's political persuasion, it is clear that more than democrats have fallen in love during the 2008 election year. The question is, if Hillary keeps applying her feminism witchcraft practices, will the hope of Obama continue to float. Many still have not seen the light. While it is not the only factor by far, having daughters of his own, the Tennessee Mountain Man had rather have Michele Obama and her children roaming around the White House than William Jefferson Clinton with his stogie in hand and his arm around his latest uninitiated intern and a knowing smirk on his lips.

Michele Obama asked, how one who could not run her own house could run the White House. Computer Man agrees. It is a legitimate question. If Hillary could not control Bill when he assaulted Dick Morris and had numerous affairs while Governor of Arkansas as Morris articulates and could not control Bill's wild ways in the White House while he was president how is she going to keep a reign on him if she is president? As first lady, Hillary surely had more time to devote to soothing Bill's wandering eyes and various traveling body parts than she would while answering the red phone (which actually no longer exists) at three o'clock in the morning to handle a crises in a far away place in the world.

Like the ever changing internet and web based computer repair, America is in the mood for change. The history of the Bush - Mc Cain wars indicates that no matter who the 44th president of the United States is, there will be change during the next term even should it be that the republican nominee gets elected. Although Mc Cain is trying to pick up the right wing of the political right in the last days he is not and cannot be their cup of tea. We can only hope that change includes hasta la vista to Bush and his Viet Nam Conflict left over cabinet as well as good bye to the Clintons and the nightmare they put the country through inthe 1990s.

The republican party is already looking forward to 2012. The republicans have always expected their hopefuls to fall in line though it has certainly not always worked that way. But, looking forward to 2012 the question today is who will be the presumptive head of that ticket. The current contenders are Former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas of whom Bill Clinton even said publicly "that is a good man" and Former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Of course, depending on Mc Cain's choice for vice president all bets could be off. The only thing for sure is that the party will learn from this election and will know it will need to be someone with more conservative credentials than John Mc Cain.

But then again, if the Myan Calendar is correct, the world should come to an end before the general election of 2012 which would render all of these considerations mute, and make what we do in the next four years all the more important.

The moon one small step for man - one giant bill for america

Going to the moon again is causing far more controversy today than it could have back in the sixties. Some Americans doubt we can afford it and others are not sure they have seen the “giant leap for mankind” that the first moon shot promised. It depends on who you ask but don’t dare ask me. I didn’t think the first moon landing had much significance for reasons that few people share with me.

President Bush announced an ambitious plan to return to the moon by 2013-15 near the birthplace of modern flight, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The centenary of flight celebrations was held in Kill Devil Hills in December of 2003 where the President will announced plans to allow NASA to offer up its best to the effort. With funding from congress to supplement their 15.5 billion dollar existing budget NASA will have to do a great deal of aggressive re-tooling and budget squeezing to pull it off by the proposed deadline.

I have talked to MIT and Harvard grads who still think that if a rocket whizzes by you in space it makes a whooshing sound much like a jet craft does in the atmosphere. Someone forgot to tell them there is no sound where there is no air. So what, you say?

Some of these grads are aware that even if we could travel at warp 9 (Star Trek’s imaginary multiplication of the speed of light) that it would take about one hundred thousand years to make the edge of the Milky Way Galaxy and upon return, the earth would be about 1.2 million years older than it is today. But why harp on the small stuff.

Only once since I began a twenty year fascination with Einstein’s time/light theory have I heard from anyone connected to NASA who dared to address this fact to a sublimely ignorant public. He was hushed up in the slow lane with indifference and a public that couldn’t tell you how the world can make it through the next decade without imploding. With a list of almost infinite problems how can we think of getting people out that far, much less plan for the return of our astronauts after 4000 generations of time.

I’m not anti-science, in fact I think our world has only improved because of it. But science should be no less immune from a serious reality check than was the church in the dark ages. I believe in the bible , and I’m sure it gives us only a very short time to the second coming of Christ. But even at that I would never put the bible against science. I am satisfied that science is the book of how, and the bible is the book of why.

Being a bible believing Christian I also have another view about space travel. It is hard to believe that every Christian may not agree with me. Until the cost of getting to the moon is more affordable if ever, I think the money could be spent more effectively right here on earth and we could be satisfied with singing the official state song of Vermont which is Moonlight in Vermont.

Almost every starving child in the world could be fed and clothed for a decade for the cost of sending up only one moon shot. My bible, my conscience, my common sense and every bone in my body says that would be a far better way to spend the fifteen billion bucks.

I know there are those who will think this is a preposterous proposal and perhaps it is. So I will offer yet one more proposal that I think is on the same level as sticking America with a fifteen billion dollar bill just to bring back a few moon rocks. We could look for that cow, you know, the one who jumped over the moon. We could train his aim for a while so he could hit the darned moon next time. He could jump back with the rocks and dust for our scientists to look over and we’d save a bundle of taxpayers cash.

“Blue moon I saw you standing alone, without a dream in your heart” Watch out, we’re back!

The princess diana hey wanna buy some pix

Hollywood celebrities were cropping up so often on TV talk shows last week that you would have thought it was Oscar time. They were grieved, of course, over the tragic death of Princess Diana. But they were also eager to gripe about the paparazzi, whose aggressive tactics may have played a role in her death. Elizabeth Taylor called them murderers. Tom Cruise recounted how he and his wife Nicole Kidman had been chased by photographers through the very same Paris tunnel. Everyone from George Clooney to Whoopi Goldberg chimed in; boycotts were advocated; legislation proposed. Some stars reportedly even want to investigate the private lives of tabloid editors, to give them a taste of their own medicine.

There was a self-serving side to all this, of course. Hollywood stars would like nothing better than to cow the press into docility, thus clearing the way for nonstop coverage of their thriving careers, happy home lives and unflagging concern for the spotted owl. Yet in this instance, Hollywood perfectly tapped into the public mood. The week of mourning that followed Diana's death also saw an outpouring of revulsion at paparazzi tactics, prompting a fresh round of self-appraisal by publications that use their photos and, tacitly at least, condone their excesses.

Paparazzi--the celebrity photographers who trail stars looking for shots of them in unguarded moments--have been around for decades, dogging the tracks of people like Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Onassis. But the game has grown increasingly fierce in recent years, as media outlets devoted to celebrities have proliferated, and new technology, such as digital photo transmission, has come into use. And lately, the absence of wars and other world crises (as well as skimpier budgets for covering foreign news) has forced many photojournalists to do celebrity work just to make a living.

There's big money to be made. Two weeks before Diana's death, the Globe tabloid ran eight pages of photos of her and Dodi Fayed on their vacation off the island of Sardinia, and boasted in a note to readers of paying $210,000 for them: "It was a big payday for photog Mario Brenna, who stands to make as much as $3 million worldwide." Lured by such sums, paparazzi are resorting to ever more aggressive tactics--sometimes even provoking confrontations with stars in order to catch their temper tantrums on film. "About a year ago there was a real increase in invasive kinds of pictures," says Valerie Virga, photo editor for the National Enquirer, "people really going over the edge to get the picture--climbing roofs, scaling buildings, super-super long lenses into people's backyards. We've turned down hundreds of pictures over the last year for that reason."

U. S. photographers blame their European counterparts for upping the ante. "They are ruthless," says Scott Downie, the owner of Celebrity Photo, an agency that covers official show-biz events. "Those who came here in the '80s laughed at us as babies: 'You don't know how to get a good photo. We're here to get them in a private moment, not in diamonds at an event.'" Yet every paparazzo is familiar with the pressures. "It's a collective hysteria," says Mark Saunders, who has covered Diana for the past five years. "It's the adrenaline flowing and that desperate need to get a photograph. I've seen [U. S. photographers] in action outside John Kennedy Jr.'s house. If America wants a tragedy on the same scale, just allow that to continue."

Saunders says Diana's death confirmed a decision he made six months ago--to get out of the paparazzi game altogether. But most other paparazzi, and the agencies that hire them and peddle their photos to magazines, were incommunicado or unrepentant last week. "I feel no responsibility, legal or moral," says Goksin Sipahioglu, director of the Paris-based Sipa agency. "Of course, I'm sad, because someone we all adored is dead. But when you become Princess Di, you are a public person." In a telling irony, several of the agencies representing photographers detained by French police after the accident would not release photos of them to the press. And some agencies supplying pictures of Dodi and Diana to magazines last week specifically asked that they not be given the usual credit line.

Yet editors of publications that rely on paparazzi are taking a fresh look at how far their intrusive tactics should be allowed to go. Shortly after the accident, Steve Coz, editor of the National Enquirer, publicly vowed not to buy any photos taken at the scene, while claiming that his tabloid had instituted a policy a year ago of not using so-called stalkerazzi pictures. (The Enquirer issue on the newsstands when Diana was killed, however, featured several candid shots of the princess with Fayed, trumpeted by the cover line DI GOES SEX-MAD. The issue was pulled by a number of newsstands after her death.) Dan Schwartz, editorial director of the more freewheeling Globe, also promised to toughen standards. "We're going to become more conservative about our assessment of what will offend people, because we have to," he said. "People's consciousness of what is paparazzi and what isn't has been raised."

Mainstream publications are hardly exempt from the debate. Dozens of publications, including TIME and Newsweek, used paparazzi shots to illustrate their stories on the tragedy last week. A news photo of Diana's two sons glimpsed inside a car after her death--a shot that could easily be regarded as intrusive--ran even in the sober New York Times. Though editors and publishers say clear-cut rules are hard to set, the tragedy has heightened their sensitivity to the issue. "You have to exercise judgment when you know competitive forces are going to exercise less judgment and less taste," says Mort Zuckerman, publisher of the New York Daily News. In a letter to readers in this week's PEOPLE (published by Time Inc.), managing editor Carol Wallace writes that decisions on whether or not to use paparazzi photos are made "on a case-by-case basis, weighing the news value of a picture against a story subject's right to peace and privacy."

Such self-policing is unlikely to satisfy the paparazzi's sharpest critics. California legislators like Tom Hayden are planning to introduce legislation to curb paparazzi exploits, such as requiring photographers to maintain a certain distance from their subjects. Such laws, however, might have a tough time passing constitutional muster because of the threat they pose to freedom of the press. (Not to mention the freedom of any grandmother at Disney World to snap pictures of a famous person who passes by.) Legal experts point out, moreover, that most abuses can be dealt with by current criminal laws (against trespassing and assault, for example) or by civil lawsuits, as Jacqueline Onassis brought when she won injunctions against photographer Ron Galella.

Both legislation and self-regulation have been tried overseas, with mixed results. A French law enacted in 1970 allows the courts to punish press actions that are deemed an "assault on intimacy or privacy." Actress Isabelle Adjani used the law to win a judgment against the tabloid Voici in 1995 for running photos taken without her permission. Still, French paparazzi are widely perceived to be among the world's most brazen. In Britain, meanwhile, the Press Complaints Commission, established in 1991, has drawn up a code of practice to prevent invasive press tactics. Though hard to enforce, the rules have succeeded in removing at least some paparazzi shots from the raucous British tabloids.

The campaign against paparazzi has its dangers. Almost by definition, journalism involves some measure of intrusion--investigating matters that the subject would rather not be publicized. In covering Hollywood, moreover, journalists must battle a sophisticated armada of publicists, who seek to manage every jot and tittle of media coverage of their client. "The paparazzi have become more aggressive because celebrities and their publicists have got so controlling," says Steve Sands, a New York City-based celebrity photographer.

Nor are the stars above using the paparazzi for their own purposes. When the Kennedy family gathered for a family outing in Hyannis Port, Mass., two weeks ago, photographers snapped pictures of the happy clan playing touch football. Far from shooing away the nosy cameras, the family clearly welcomed the coverage as a chance to let the world see their togetherness in the wake of recent family troubles. Then there are the people who buy the newspapers and watch the TV shows that keep the paparazzi in business. These consumers of celebrity news got lectured last week by those same celebrities for not curbing their appetites. They may yet listen. But for now, they are too busy paying their last respects to the biggest celebrity of all.

Us threatens china with massive tariffs

In a surprise move, Democrats and Republicans have written a bill threatening China with a heavy tariff increase on its exports to the United States unless Beijing ceases intentional manipulation of the yuan and agrees to strengthen the currency significantly against the dollar in the near future.

Currently, three US Senators Charles Schumer of New York, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma are in China on a fact finding mission. Depending on what they uncover there, the three senators may put the tariffs to a vote by the congress by the end of the month.

Why is the valuing of China’s currency so important to these senators and the US? The senators are arguing that China is manipulating and unfairly undervaluing its currency by 40%. The senators are also saying that this has led to a major loss of jobs within their states and a $202b trade deficit with China.

The senators have made it clear that if China refuses to allow a significant revaluing of its currency then they will table the Schumer Graham China Free Trade bill that will levy a hefty 27.5% tariff across the board on all imports from China. The US Senators also boldly proclaimed that they have enough votes to get the bill passed quite easily and also to overturn a presidential veto.

Senator Graham stated that he wanted to see China to adhere to global trade rules and emphasized his point by saying “The best way, I believe, to have stability to bring about real reform is to adopt rules where everyone will play the same.” He went on to say “If you want instability, have one group doing it this way; another group doing it that way. My goal is to sell the idea that stability is best achieved when all the countries play by the same rules.”’

The senators are putting up a strong and united front while in China, but meanwhile the Bush administration has made it clear that they oppose import tariffs. Specifically the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve have voiced opposition to these bills. Many economists in the US fear that if this bill is passed China could retaliate triggering a trade war that would send the US Dollar into a downward spiral.

Others are concerned that China could also sell off its huge holding of US Treasury Bonds causing US interest rates to sky rocket. Many people in the US and international community are viewing this recent set of threats as political posturing to address an audience concerned about job losses in the United States. Many are of the opinion that this problem is not entirely China’s fault.

The Chinese position opposes tariffs, but that they will allow flexibility for adjustment of their currency that would not include a mass revaluation move all at once. The Chinese have explained their position by citing the need for national banking and foreign exchange system reform to be able to cope with the risks and fluctuations entailed with revaluing their currency.

The Chinese are resentful of the preaching of the US regarding this situation. The Chinese feel it is not their fault that the US cannot save and invest at a more robust pace. The Chinese have made it clear that they will move toward revaluing their currency at their own pace.

Consistency in the law the death penalty

The United States constitution was designed to provide equal protection under the law. However, from some of the recent stories which have been publicized, it is apparent that the law lacks consistency. Consistency in the law would ultimately mean that for every particular crime of which one is convicted; they should receive the same punishment.

Our society has witnessed this inconsistency with capital punishment. Questions arise as to why certain people receive the death penalty and others just walk away with life in prison. So why the discrepancy in this course of action; it is because before anyone is sent to death the governor of each respective state would have to sign that he agrees to have the death penalty carried on. It must not be surprising that some governors do not believe in this type of punishment, inmates will, however, end up sitting on death row till they die. This can be a very long and daunting experience for the inmates whose fate is rarely unknown.

I challenge the Justice system by asking,” is this social justice under the law?” Does it mean that depending on where one commits a crime you get a better chance of not being sent to death? If so, will it elucidate why certain states have reported higher rates of crime? It is imperative for the courts to come to a consensus as to what will bring consistency within the judicial system. As the adage goes, what is good for the goose is good for the gander; therefore what a convicted felon gets in Texas for murder should be the same in New York. The sovereignty of state courts in declaring certain statutes unconstitutional has been a major factor why each state can not have similar laws.

It may be time for the United States Supreme Court to take a firm stance as to whether the country should follow other industrial nations in abolishing the death penalty or not. Even though their action may not bring contentment to each citizen, it will give to the law what it is lacking; consistency. There are a million reasons advocates of the death penalty will argue as to why it should not be abolished and in countering there are an equal number of reasons why it should be abolished. This text, however, is not debating about the controversy surrounding capital punishment. The law was designed to provide equal protection; therefore that is what the judicial system should try to uphold.

Barack obama will become u. s. president

: Definitive Best-Relationship-Advice on Barack Obama becoming U. S. President Today is Wednesday, February 6, 2008, the day after the Super Tuesday – the single biggest U. S. presidential primary day. Notwithstanding the fact that so far neither Senator Hillary Clinton nor Senator Barack Obama could proclaim the victory of the presidential primaries after the Super Tuesday, Best-Relationship-Advice is, however, prepared to make a bold and definitive advice that the now Senator Obama will become President-elect at the end of 2008. Barack Obama will not only prevail the presidential primaries of the U. S. Democratic Party but also advance to enthrone to the White House becoming the forty-fourth President of the United States. He is making history in the presidency of the United States of America – the first non-white ethnic President of the World’s Super Power. What "An American Dream!" It has to make clear that Relationship Adviser is not American. He is not a member of or an affiliate to any political party – he does not have a slightest interest in politics. He is not a psychic either. This piece of definitive advice is not fortune-telling based on horoscope or psychic power, as most fortune-telling always gives equivocal answers which are largely subject to interpretations after the event to its favor. The advice is like when a traveller books a plane flying from New York to Paris on a certain day with a certain flight time, he or she would be foretold the scheduled time of arrival in Paris on that particular day. When he or she actually takes the flight and onboard the plane, he or she would almost certain that the plane will get to Paris at about the ETA – estimated time of arrival – foretold by the Captain. At the end of the journey, the plane would actually get there at about that foretold ETA. This seems exceedingly natural nowadays but not before May 21, 1927 when The Spirit of St. Louis was flown by Charles Lindbergh which made the first non-stop solo transatlantic flight from New York to Paris. The above analogy is most apparent and easily undertood but not the advice on the outcome of a weighty presidential election campaign. Most people would certainly be extremely skeptical about the credibility of Best-Relationship-Advice, but time will soon prove the stunning accuracy of Best-Relationship-Advice which relies on meticulous calculation and not on guesswork. Afterall, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Best-Relationship-Advice is intended for people who are very serious about making decisions of significant consequence, and today this piece of bold and definitive advice is monumental to demonstrate how credible it is. Best-Relationship-Advice is unprecedented, definitive and invaluable for those seeking for right directions in order to make right decisions, not only in love and marriage relationships.

Taliban infiltrates south dakota legislature

Where are the last vestiges of Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders hiding? Are they cowering in caves near the Pakistani border? Perhaps they own a condo complex in Karachi. More likely they are on a Dude Ranch in America’s Heartland.

Remember 1994? Religious fundamentalists overtook Afghanistan and trounced on that nation’s women with a vengeance. Being draped in a burga and beaten in the streets was standard fair. Most doctors were banned from treating women, and voting – no way!

Is history repeating itself? Last week in South Dakota religious fundamentalists passed a measure making it a felony for doctors to perform any abortion, except to save the life of a pregnant woman. No exceptions are made in cases of rape or incest. There was no state wide vote. Dйjа vu!

Help for victims of religious extremism in Afghanistan was slow to come. Ultimately, refugee camps sprang up along the borders and women’s rights organizations broadcasted messages of support into the occupied country via short wave radio. Response to occupied South Dakota’s oppression is already being mounted. Refugee camps are springing up along borders with Dakota’s more open-minded neighbors, such as Mormonville, Nebraska and Laramie, Wyoming. Citizens of Redecktown, Missouri are collection CB radios to airdrop around Mount Rushmore.

South Dakota’s female population has had a mixed reaction to this Red States recent horrific legislation. When Republican Kellie Clueless was asked her opinion of legislative leaders forcing their will on the intimate lives of free American women she said, “Ah um da.”

Antiabortion activist, Betty Sue Backwoods was interviewed in the bikini wax isle at a Sioux Falls Wal Mart. Betty Sue was quoted as saying, “I think Rep. Roger W. Hunt is a stone-cold fox and I thank God he puts my religion over everyone else’s beliefs. That’s what makes America what it is to day.” Then she tossed her six children into the cart and sprinted off to check the balance on her EBT card.

Surprisingly, one well known Democrat supported the bill outright. Dr Wantmoremoney, owner of the Back Alley Abortion and Penicillin Clinic, in Pine Nut, SD made several lucrative donations across party lines to illustrate his new found love of Catholicism and loathing of the US Constitution.

As the controversy rages, America’s sons and daughters die and kill in Iraq. For what? To protect America from religious fanatics hell-bent on destroying individual freedoms this country was founded on. At least, that is what we are told. Yet, the US Army has not even begun reconnaissance operations around Deadwood.

Meanwhile, in Pierre, Governor Mike rounds added his input. "In the history of the world, the true test of a civilization is how well people treat the most vulnerable and most helpless in their society. The sponsors and supporters of this bill believe that abortion is wrong because unborn children are the most vulnerable and most helpless persons in our society. I agree with them," Rounds said in a statement.

When asked if perhaps a pregnant 12-year-old girl raped by her uncle might be a touch more vulnerable than a pin-sized glob of splitting embryonic cells, Rounds responded by trying to sell this reporter a new auto insurance policy. The policy came complete with the new SD mandated Terrorist Assault Vehicle Insurance attachment for an additional $10.00 per month. My own government now has a 78 Yugo better protected than my uterus.

As for the money that will be wasted fighting this rights-slapping legislation to the Supreme Court, the legislature has laid out a plan sell off more of the Black Hills to special interest corporations in order to finance this loosing battle.

Yes, it would appear the missing Taliban have been found. Religious fanaticism is alive and well in South Dakota. Privacy, individuality and freedom are D. O.A. Perhaps National Guard troops should be searching Jewel Cave in the Black Hills for Osama Bin Laden. It is suspicious that Governor Mike Rounds and Mr. Bin Laden have never been seen together in public. Could they be one in the same?

With each mystery answered a new question arises. For example, when wearing our denim burgas would South Dakota’s legislators prefer we women place rodeo buckles on the inside or out?

The rising risk of a terrorist attack - could it happen today

You’ve read about it, you’ve seen it: terrorist attacks on trains, in nightclubs and the worst terrorist attack in U. S history on September 11th in New York City. But will the next terrorist attack strike even closer to home – your own hospital’s emergency room. Dr. Paulo J. Reyes, a First Responder in California, ER Doctor, and author of the fiction thriller, Sledgehammer fears there exists a clear and present danger today and has written a book on the possibilities of a biochemical attack with smallpox. It clearly outlines how unprepared our nation is and what could happen if we don’t prepare now.

Dr. Reyes contends that our government continually acknowledges that it’s not a matter of “if” we are attacked again, but “when.” He supports voluntary smallpox vaccinations, which the military and President Bush himself have already received, but feels more needs to be more done to educate the nation of the risks involved in order to be adequately prepared for a biochemical attack. Reyes states, “As is evidenced with Hurricane Katrina and the reports that are now publicly known, the government needs to step up its disaster recovery efforts especially for First Responders and Emergency Personnel.”

Also of equal importance is the fact that First Responders and medical doctors can be ill equipped to handle such an attack. A study listed in Archives of Internal Medicine showed 631 doctors, mostly medical residents, were given a test prior to completing an online training course. On the pretest, half the doctors misdiagnosed botulism; 84 percent misdiagnosed plague and a case of routine chickenpox was misdiagnosed as smallpox by 42 percent of the doctors. "We've got a dangerous gap here and we need a much clearer strategic game plan," said Shelley Hearne, executive director of Trust for America's Health, which tracks how well states are prepared for bioterrorism or a pandemic.

Reyes’ book, Sledgehammer, although a fictional account of a small pox outbreak in a Los Angeles emergency room, is based on extensive research by Reyes and his experience and terrorist training as a First Responder. In Sledgehammer the hospital staff of a Los Angeles emergency room face the daunting challenge of preventing the contagious disease from quickly spreading and affecting their patients and colleagues alike. What adds further drama is the discovery that this particular form of smallpox is an aggressive type – sledgehammer smallpox or a malignant smallpox, which although it starts as non-typical rash, it quickly turns into a life-threatening situation. The terrorist’s threats also expand to several sports arenas, airports and shopping malls. The 5 star review book begs to ask the question, what if? What if this happened today, are we ready? After reading this medical thriller, you’ll want to do everything you can to ensure we are.

Aclu or aclj the difference is like night and day

The ACLU has championed many causes since it was founded in 1920 by Mr. Roger Baldwin. Some of the most notable causes or rulings the ACLU supported have to do with abortion rights, homosexual and lesbian rights and removal of prayer from the public schools. Some of its most notable positions were of lesser significance but created much more press because they bordered on the frivolous and were more a nuisance than a legitimate cause. They adopted positions against bible studies and prayer groups in public schools and the removal of manger scenes in public during the Christmas season. Can’t you hear the voices of many grateful Americans in a resounding…gee thanks?

Not to be mistaken for something that actually qualifies as the protection of our civil liberties is the new battlefield conjured up by the ACLU in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The three crosses adorning the city logo is a point of pride and history for the residents there but for the ACLU, they have given cause for it to rear its head and wield the battle axe. It has resulted in making “what ever happened to common sense” being the most oft used phrase in internet blogging history. But wait, it doesn’t stop there.

The latest fit the ACLU has begun; concerns prayer offered by the U. S. military’s chaplains. In short the ACLU thinks it should be stopped. Whew! That’s good thinking. I don’t know about you but the last thing I would want to have happen to me just before I went to battle for my country is to have my country tell me I couldn’t go to God in prayer. In particular they are trying to stop chaplains from praying in the name of Jesus Christ. In a volunteer force made up of mostly Christian men and women isn’t that an infringement of their religious freedom? In fact it is more than that.

The constitution says “Congress shall make no laws touching religion, or to infringe the rights of conscience.” What genius does it take to see that the ACLU is actually crying “unconstitutional” while they are proposing laws that are clearly unconstitutional? Don’t want to be crass but perhaps the ACLU lawyers and aides should all take a day off to watch Forrest Gump together. If I remember correctly the most often repeated line in that movie is, “stupid is, as stupid does”

Diametrically opposite the ACLU is the newly formed but no less formidable, ACLJ. The American Center for Law and Justice founded in 1990 is headed by Jay Sekulow who is the ACLJ’s Chief Counsel. He is a well respected advocate for constitutional freedoms and has argued many cases before the U. S, Supreme Court.

The Center for Law and Justice has successfully argued cases and supported positions in other cases which resulted in an impressive list of good common sense decisions and rulings. A short list of the accomplishments of the ACLJ is as follows.

• A guarantee for minors who want to be involved in the political process by protecting their free speech rights in political affairs.

• Rulings to protect the constitutional rights of religious groups to obtain equal access to public facilities.

• Protection for the free speech rights of pro-life demonstrators

• The right for public school students to form and participate in religious organizations such as Bible clubs.

The ACLJ is currently on the radio waves daily soliciting signatures for a petition to stop the ban on prayer by the military chaplains. The response is said to be very powerful at the least. Upwards of ten thousand people a day are asking to have their names added to the petitions.

It is shameful that Americans must pound away to ward off organizations like the ACLU whose agenda looks like it originated in la-la land. The constitution is under attack by those who feign that they are working to protect it. After all this is America and they have a constitutional right to mess with the constitution. Let’s not mess with their right to do that, but lets hope and pray (if they don’t stop us) that they don’t prevail.

The Bible tells the believer to respect the rulings and laws provided by the secular rulers because the powers that be, are all ordained of God. Romans 13:1. Almost all bible believing Christians take this mandate seriously and endeavor to be law abiding citizens. You would think that this respect for secular law would hold things in balance between those who believe in the Bible and revere the constitution and groups like the ACLU, but it does not. The ACLU seems bent on removing all reference and allusion to God on any level. What would the result be if they were successful in this plight? I choose to let the Bible answer that question.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Romans 1:28

Ministry sends prayers to hurricane survivors

People throughout the country are struggling with how to handle the powerful emotions evoked by the scenes of destruction in the aftermath of the recent hurricanes.

Silent Unity, one of the world's oldest and largest prayer ministries, began receiving prayer requests for people in the path of the hurricanes as soon as the news coverage mentioned the approaches of the huge storms.

Here is one such request, shared by Silent Unity with the writer's permission:

What can I do? I can't even find the right words to say in a prayer because so many lives have been lost and so many people are in need of help. It seems like any words I could pray are not enough to really help in such an overwhelming situation.

We understand your feelings. Many people are seeking reassurance and an affirmation that God is present in the situation, regardless of how dire it appears at the moment. We invite you to keep the faith for all those affected by the hurricanes by affirming the following:

* We affirm peace, protection, healing and divine order;

* the love of God comforts and soothes you;

* the light of God guides you and keeps you safe;

* the life of God heals and renews you;

* the power of God works through you to restore order and rebuild your life;

* you are sustained in body, mind and spirit by the ever-renewing presence of God.

Silent Unity has been praying with people of all faiths for more than 100 years. Its 300 employees respond to each request for prayer support with reverence and complete confidentiality.

Delta force to new orleans

If you are wondering why the United States can send troops around the world, but failed to respond to a domestic emergency in a timely manner, you are not alone. Expect the lack of planning for emergency relief, in the aftermath and devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina, to be the subject of a federal investigation.

The National Guard arrived in large numbers on Friday, September 2nd, but how is it possible that the poor people of New Orleans were left four days to fend for themselves? Doesn’t the United States have a rapid deployment force? Yes, we do, and many large military installations are within an hour of the Gulf Coast, when traveling by air. Many more military bases are within two hours of the devastation.

On Sunday, August 28th - one day before Hurricane Katrina landed on the Gulf Coast it was labeled a category 5 hurricane. So, what was the emergency rescue plan? Was anybody planning any rescue efforts on Sunday night?

As luck would have it, Katrina turned out to be a category 4 Hurricane. Can you imagine the devastation, if this storm had been worse? Some parts of New Orleans are 10 feet below sea level and a system of levees, normally, keeps the surrounding water out.

Referring to the Federal response for relief help, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said, "They don't have a clue what's going on down here." Mayor Nagin’s remarks are an understatement. Logistically speaking, this is not as complicated as a relief effort to Somalia.

President Bush said, "A lot of people are working hard to help those who've been affected. The results are not acceptable." He is not kidding; if we can airlift food and weapons to Afghanistan, why is delivery to the Gulf Coast and New Orleans a problem?

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