Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Stamp Collector

While the world politicians are doing their best to split the globe apart by means of iron curtains and brute force, the world postal services are demonstrating - in their quiet, unobtrusive way - what is required to bring mankind closer together: a specific purpose cooperatively carried out, serving individual goals and needs. It is the voices of individual men that stamps carry around the globe; it is individual men that need a postal service; kings, dictators and other rulers do not work by mail. In this sense, stamps are the world's ambassadors of good will.
Ayn Rand

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Is It Time to Pull Out of Afghanistan?

By Bernie O'Hare

Right now, there are approximately 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. By the end of the year, there will be 90,000. And next year, another 23,000 troops will come home, right before the election.
“America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home,”says President Obama.
But that's not why we're there. Anybody who thinks we're in Afghanistan to raise the standards of living or improve the status of Afghan women, is nuts. We're there because we perceive it to be in our interests to be there. And for good reason.
Let me lay it out. We screwed up the balance of power in the Middle East the second we set foot in Iraq, and now there's no turning back. We've done a fine job driving that country into the arms of Iran, and while doing that, completely forgot about Afghanistan, the one country that should have worried us. As a result, the Taliban has strengthened in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
So what? Who cares what they do, right? Wrong.
Pakistan has been completely destabilized. Things are so bad that Obama decided against telling its leaders he'd be dropping by with a Navy Seal team for bin Laden. And right after that, the Taliban waged a 12-hour attack on a Pakistan military base.
Did I mention that Pakistan has nukes? A Taliban resurgence almost guarantees that some of those nukes will fall into Taliban and al-Qaeda hands.
So what? They can't launch missiles that can reach the U.S., so who cares, right? Wrong again.
It would be amazingly easy to launch a nuke at the U.S. from a scud mounted on something as unsophisticated as a fishing trawler off the Atlantic coast.
That's why we're there. The soldiers who die there are saving countless lives here.
But there's an election coming.

LV Congressman Charlie Dent, in a statement released late last night, wants to know what the military thinks. Noting that President Obama's surge was motivated by the recommendation of military commanders, he questions whether Obama's decision is politically motivated. "I hope the President’s decision to begin drawing-down our troop presence in Afghanistan, with the goal of returning to pre-surge levels by the end of 2012, is similarly based on changing conditions on the ground and the recommendations of American commanders, rather than political advisers." Dent wants to hear from the military. "I am eager to be briefed by Department of Defense officials on today’s decision by the President and expect to receive regular updates on the effect the drawdown is having on American and Afghan security.”

Mitt Romney, a Republican presidential candidate, echoes Dent. "This decision should not be based on politics or economics. America's brave men and women in uniform have fought to achieve significant progress in Afghanistan, some having paid the ultimate price. I look forward to hearing the testimony of our military commanders in the days ahead." But there are GOP presidential contenders, like former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who want us pull out now. "We need a safe but rapid withdrawal which encourages Afghans to assume responsibility, while leaving in place a strong counter intelligence and special forces effort proportionate to the threat."
written by Bernie O'Hare, and reproduced from his blog, Lehigh Valley Ramblings

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Last Jews of Egypt

There are only a few dozen Jews still living in Egypt, all in either Cairo or Alexandria. The number of remaining synagogues outnumbers the remainder of Jews. Many of these synagogues are magnificent structures, and to the credit of the Egyptian government, they are protected and some are being restored. Prior to 1948, well over 80,000 Jews lived in the two cities. The current Ben Ezra in Cairo dates from 1892. The site, once a Coptic Church, became a synagogue in 882.. Tradition marks this as the spot where the prophet Jeremiah gathered the Jews in the 6th century after Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the Jerusalem temple. The adjacent spring is supposed to mark the place where the pharaohs daughter found Moses in the reeds, and where Mary drew water to wash Jesus. It was here that the famous Philosopher Maimonides studied. Last century a collection of ancient manuscripts was discovered in the compound.

reprinted from molovinsky on allentown, June 10, 2010

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mount of Temptation

The Palestinian Authority unsuccessfully tried to increase tourism to Jericho last year, no rush, the town might be the oldest inhabited city on earth, 10,000 years. In 1895 the Greek Orthodox Church built the Mount of Temptation Monastery, where the devil tried three times to tempt Jesus during his forty days of prayer and fast. Steeped in both the Old and New Testaments, next to Jerusalem, it is the most excavated city in the Holy Land.

reprinted from molovinsky on allentown, December 12, 2010

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Legend Begins

On July 4th, 1934 Joe louis made his debut as a professional fighter. Thirteen months and nineteen straight victories later, most by knockout, 62,000 fight fans would jam Yankee Stadium to watch the new sensation fight the giant, Primo Carnera.
New York, New York - Primo Carnera, giant Italian boxer and former heavyweight champion of the world, and Joe Louis, hard-hitting negro heavyweight from Detroit, Michigan, weighed-in this afternoon at the offices of the New York State Boxing Commission for their fifteen round bout tonight at the Yankee Stadium. - 6.25.1939
Although badly battered from the first round, Carnera would gamely stay in the fight till it was stopped in round six. The legend of the Brown Bomber was clearly established.

photo of Primo Carnera
reproduced from molovinsky on allentown, August 20, 2010

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Jews and Sarah Palin

The media is pouring over thousands of emails from Sarah Palin's time as governor. Huffington Post wants readers to help, and point out anything unusual they discover. Perhaps they can find grammar mistakes, or better still, some incorrectly stated geography.

The local rabbi and I began corresponding about some insensitivity toward Jewish matters expressed in the hometown paper. A young man with a growing family, he hopes eventually to live in Israel. When McCain picked Sarah Palin in 08, he lost the rabbi's vote. Despite long term associations with outspoken anti-Semites, Obama captured 78% of the Jewish vote. The rabbi, and other Jews disturbed about Reverend Wright and other red flags, couldn't accept Palin's lack of sophistication. They joined the media elite in questioning her intelligence. After all, wouldn't she be one heart beat away from the presidency? Soon enough Joe Biden would be in Jerusalem telling Netanyahu where Jews could live. Not surprisingly, Obama would come to tell Netanyahu where he must begin negotiations. After all this, the rabbi might vote Republican in 2012, but only if they put up a good candidate. For Jews, it's apparently important, that Israel be compromised in an articulate fashion.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Newspapers Pluck Fruit of Bloggers

In this internet age, information gleaned by bloggers appears to be tempting low-hanging fruit for the remaining short staffed newspapers. Back in April, The Morning Call, failed to properly attribute a story on the school district to my local blog, molovinsky on allentown. The reporter did reference my blog, but the editor removed my name and inserted "local blogger" instead. In a subsequent back and forth email, the editor defended his action by claiming the reporter verified all information himself. In my post and subsequent comments, I had both a comment from a school board member, and an email from the superintendent. Although the reporter did subsequently contact both gentleman himself to verify the information, nevertheless, the story originated with me. The newspaper's columnist joined the fray and defended the editor's position. In this era of struggling newspapers, the editor is boss of reporters who are understandably more interested in their jobs, than my ego. Other editors, of bigger newspapers , see the issue differently. Marcus Brauchli, of the Washington Post, says “Taking information without attribution is unethical and not in keeping with The Post’s standards of journalism. There are no mitigating circumstances for plagiarism.” The reporters at The Morning Call have told me that they read my blog. I would urge them to insist that I and other bloggers receive proper attribution when our material is sourced. Other bloggers who had material expropriated in a similar way, please add your testimony by comment. Welcome to The Morning Chronicle.
Bernie O'Hare contributed to this post