You are browsing the archive for 2013 August 28.

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Where Are Protests against Murders of Christians?

August 28, 2013 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

Largely absent from nearly all our sources of news and commentary is deep, continuing coverage, if any, of the horrifying massacres of Christians in Egypt and especially Syria and the burning down of their churches.

The world’s most prominent Christian, Pope Francis, has denounced the violence, but our media has mostly ignored him, instead giving him a justly favorable response for his concern for the poor and otherwise vulnerable.

One of the few penetrating protesters of this violence is Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review:

“For the first time in 1,600 years, they didn’t pray this past Sunday at the Virgin Mary and Anba Abraam monastery in a village in southern Egypt.

“Islamists firebombed and looted the monastery, which dates back to the fifth century. For good measure, they destroyed a church inside. They then announced that they would be converting the monastery into a mosque” (“Egypt’s Anti-Christian Pogrom,” Lowry, National Review, Aug. 20).

He adds: “The Christian church was founded in Alexandria around 50 A.D. …

“None of recent regimes in Egypt — including the latest set of military rulers — has shown any interest in protecting them.”

And as for our president: “In his remarks after the bloodshed began in Egypt, President Barack Obama relegated his concern over the anti-Christian attacks to a three-word dependent clause at the end of one sentence.”

As for daily life in Egypt, Morning Star News reported that earlier this month, “a Coptic Christian girl walking home from a Bible class at her church was shot and killed … in Cairo by an unidentified gunman, human rights activists said.”

The girl’s uncle, a church pastor, said “he didn’t know for sure if the shooting was religiously motivated but quickly added that violence against Christians ‘seems to be normal’ in Egypt now” (“Coptic Christian Girl Shot Dead in Egypt,” Morning Star News, Aug. 9).

Meanwhile in Syria, “the nation’s 2 million-plus Christians are caught in the middle of a Muslim war.

“Jihadist rebels threaten and kidnap them while coercing others to become Muslims. Government troops loyal to President Bashar Assad order them to fight the opposition or face death” (“Christians are in the crosshairs of bloody Muslim wars in Mideast,” Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times, Aug. 1).

But in spite of all this, says John Hayward of Human Events, “the international community never seems terribly exercised about the persecution of Christian minorities.

“The Western world is sometimes complacent about the inevitable triumph of pluralistic democracy, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Sen. Paul Statement on Syria

August 28, 2013 in Politics & Elections

Sen. Rand Paul released the following statement today regarding reports of potential military action by the Obama Administration in Syria.
‘The United States should condemn the use of chemical weapons. We should ascertain who used the weapons and we should have an open debate in Congress over whether the situation warrants U.S. involvement. The Constitution grants the power to declare war to Congress not the President.
‘The war in Syria has no clear national security connection to the United States and victory by either side will not necessarily bring in to power people friendly to the United States,’ Sen. Paul said.

…read more


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The WMD Excuse, Again

August 28, 2013 in Economics

By Alan Reynolds

Alan Reynolds

When it comes to reports of civilian deaths from chemical weapons in opposition-occupied Syrian towns, the Obama White House suddenly claims to be as certain of its own intelligence as the Bush White House was about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in October 2002. But it is much easier to rush into war, without congressional or popular approval, than it is to get out.

There was far more humility at the Obama White House the last time similar atrocities led the usual suspects to urge the U.S. to become militarily entangled in Syria. Complaining that “Mr. Obama made no response to a previous claim of chemical-weapons use,” a recent editorial in The Economist concludes that “America’s credibility depends on intervening.” Today, President Obama evidently agrees. But intervening cannot avoid taking sides — helping some favored group of thugs to either seize or retain control of the government (meaning the treasury, army, and police). So, which side is the U.S. supposed to take and why?

The previous claim of chemical-weapons attacks, which The Economistnow accuses President Obama of neglecting, occurred in Aleppo on March 13 and 19. One of the four U.N. investigators, Carla Del Ponte, then said the commission had found some evidence only that anti-government rebels may have used chemical weapons, not the government. Even aside from who used which chemicals, there were other war crimes going on in that rebel-occupied area, including an illegal siege, executions, kidnapping, rape, and torture. As the June “Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic” explains, “Since July 2012, anti-Government armed groups in Aleppo have surrounded Nubul and Zahra, blocking food, fuel, and medical supplies to 70,000 residents. As the siege tightened in recent months, the population, especially women and children, began to suffer malnutrition. The wounded and sick cannot receive medical treatment. Persons attempting to leave the villages are often kidnapped, held for ransom, or killed…. Torture has been documented in detention facilities run by the Judicial Council and the Shari’a Board in Aleppo.”

War crimes and moral obscenities abound on both sides of the Syrian civil war, with thousands of civilians dead and many more displaced. Ruthless people are involved, with Iran on the Assad government’s side and al-Qaeda among the opposition. As for chemical warfare, the U.N. commission concluded in June that “it has not been possible, on the evidence available, to determine the precise chemical agents used, their delivery systems or …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Was Keynes a Brilliant Investor?

August 28, 2013 in Economics

By Hunter Lewis

The latest example of  Keynes hagiography is an article by David Chambers and Elroy Dimson in the Journal of Economic Perspectives (volume 27, number 3, Summer 2013, pp. 213–228).

The thesis is that Keynes was an investment genius and innovator who developed methods later used by Warren Buffett and George Soros.

Keynes did make a modest fortune through a combination of writing and investing. But to compare his speculative style with Warren Buffett’s long term investment style is preposterous. Consider these facts:

Keynes’s initial foray into investing led to a smash up. He lost everything he had unwisely borrowed and had to be bailed out by his parents, who had some inherited money but were not wealthy.

He did not do well in the 1920s. He was taken unawares by the the 1929 Crash and also by the 1937 rout. In both instances, he came perilously close to being wiped out again because of very concentrated holdings of currencies, stocks, and commodities and continuing use of leverage (as much as one pound of debt for every pound of his own). In short, Keynes was a speculator, at the same time that he criticized speculators and the “casino” atmosphere of the market. He also failed entirely to understand that the casino was fueled by the easy money policies which he espoused.

The article does disclose Keynes’s very large gold mining stock position in the 1930′s but fails to note the irony of this holding or his private praise of gold as a portfolio diversifier.

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Exit the Bloody Mess in Egypt

August 28, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Dead protesters litter the streets of Cairo. So much for Secretary of State John Kerry’s theory that Egypt’s military rulers “were restoring democracy.” Unfortunately, the dead will have trouble voting in the new and improved Egypt. The Obama administration should cut off all aid.

The $75 billion provided in “aid” over the years was mostly a payoff to successive dictators and their military praetorian guards. All that Washington worried about was “stability.”

Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011 and last year the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi was elected president.

The Brotherhood is no friend of liberty but it chose to enter the political process rather than remain underground, when it was persecuted by successive dictators.

Unfortunately, Morsi failed to establish his organization’s democratic bona fides and governed badly.

Yet Morsi’s opponents were no better. In particular, the authoritarian Mubarak state remained largely intact and obstructed Morsi at every turn. Army commander Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi worked with the Tamarod movement, which organized the massive demonstrations used to justify military rule.

Had the opposition simply waited Morsi would have discredited political Islam.

In this way, argued Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies: “The Egyptian military may have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Instead, Morsi’s disparate opponents backed SCAF in staging the July 3 coup. Unfortunately, the al-Sisi government restored not democracy but the old Mubarak structure. Overall, reported the Washington Post: “Back are the faces of the old guard, many closely linked to Mubarak’s reign or to the all-powerful generals.”

The Brotherhood resisted the military’s demand for abject surrender. However, the military regime seemed determined to destroy the Brotherhood.

So Gen. al-Sisi and his fellow generals chose violence over conciliation. Reported the Washington Post, “Two weeks before the bloody crackdown in Cairo, the Obama administration, working with European and Persian Gulf allies, believed it was close to a deal to have Islamist supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi disband street encampments in return for a pledge of nonviolence from Egypt’s interim authorities. But the military-backed government rejected the deal and ordered its security forces to break up the protests.”

The military government acknowledged over 600 dead, and the toll almost certainly was much higher.

Many of the killings appeared to be deliberate, the result of army sniper fire which journalists called “indiscriminate.”

Sheriff Mansour of the Committee to Protect Journalists decried the “systematic” targeting of the press.

The slaughter in Cairo sparked more violence nationwide, including Brotherhood attacks on …read more

Source: OP-EDS