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RAPID RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section.  It will offer fresh, quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in this rapid-fire world of ours.  Of course, as in military campaigns, a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction.  Charge that to "the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or military campaign must maintain to be effective.  But the mission will always be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick", supported by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.  That's all I promise.
GS

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list


SUNDAY through WEDNESDAY, December 28 through 31, 2008

A Pot Pourri today.
So: are these the END-TIMES, or just the end of good times for a while?  I believe the latter to be true.  But that doesn't mean that there won't be "wailing and knashing of teeth".  Fear not.  As the philosopher said: WHATEVER YOU SURVIVE MAKES YOU STRONGER".

GS


SATURDAY, December 27, 2008

Christmas and New Year to you all.  GS

My Confession (Reportedly by Ben Stein)

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish.  And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees..  I don't feel threatened.  I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. 

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, 'Merry Christmas' to me.  I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto.  In fact, I kind of like it.  It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu .  If people want a crèche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away. 

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians.  I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period.  I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country.  I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat. 

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?  I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too.   But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to. 

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different : This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking. 

Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her 'How could God let something like this happen?' (regarding Katrina) Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response.  She said, 'I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives.  And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out.  How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?' 

In light of recent events... terrorists attack, school shootings, etc.  I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.  Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself.  And we said OK. 

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr Spock's son committed suicide).  We said an expert should know what he's talking about.  And we said OK.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out.  I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.' 

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.  Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding Jesus Christ or God, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace. 

Are you laughing yet? 

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it. 

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us. 

Pass it on if you think it has merit.  If not then just discard it... no one will know you did.  But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.   

My Best Regards,  Honestly and respectfully, 
Ben Stein


FRIDAY, December 26, 2008

No, I'm not getting lazy.  But there's no need to reconfigure my thoughts...exactly.  GS

Time to Reboot America
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: December 23, 2008

I had a bad day last Friday, but it was an all-too-typical day for America.

It actually started well, on Kau Sai Chau, an island off Hong Kong, where I stood on a rocky hilltop overlooking the South China Sea and talked to my wife back in Maryland, static-free, using a friend’s Chinese cellphone. A few hours later, I took off from Hong Kong’s ultramodern airport after riding out there from downtown on a sleek high-speed train — with wireless connectivity that was so good I was able to surf the Web the whole way on my laptop.

Landing at Kennedy Airport from Hong Kong was, as I’ve argued before, like going from the Jetsons to the Flintstones. The ugly, low-ceilinged arrival hall was cramped, and using a luggage cart cost $3. (Couldn’t we at least supply foreign visitors with a free luggage cart, like other major airports in the world?) As I looked around at this dingy room, it reminded of somewhere I had been before. Then I remembered: It was the luggage hall in the old Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport. It closed in 1998.

The next day I went to Penn Station, where the escalators down to the tracks are so narrow that they seem to have been designed before suitcases were invented. The disgusting track-side platforms apparently have not been cleaned since World War II. I took the Acela, America’s sorry excuse for a bullet train, from New York to Washington. Along the way, I tried to use my cellphone to conduct an interview and my conversation was interrupted by three dropped calls within one 15-minute span.

All I could think to myself was: If we’re so smart, why are other people living so much better than us? What has become of our infrastructure, which is so crucial to productivity? Back home, I was greeted by the news that General Motors was being bailed out — that’s the G.M. that Fortune magazine just noted “lost more than $72 billion in the past four years, and yet you can count on one hand the number of executives who have been reassigned or lost their job.”

My fellow Americans, we can’t continue in this mode of “Dumb as we wanna be.” We’ve indulged ourselves for too long with tax cuts that we can’t afford, bailouts of auto companies that have become giant wealth-destruction machines, energy prices that do not encourage investment in 21st-century renewable power systems or efficient cars, public schools with no national standards to prevent illiterates from graduating and immigration policies that have our colleges educating the world’s best scientists and engineers and then, when these foreigners graduate, instead of stapling green cards to their diplomas, we order them to go home and start companies to compete against ours.

To top it off, we’ve fallen into a trend of diverting and rewarding the best of our collective I.Q. to people doing financial engineering rather than real engineering. These rocket scientists and engineers were designing complex financial instruments to make money out of money — rather than designing cars, phones, computers, teaching tools, Internet programs and medical equipment that could improve the lives and productivity of millions.

For all these reasons, our present crisis is not just a financial meltdown crying out for a cash injection. We are in much deeper trouble. In fact, we as a country have become General Motors — as a result of our national drift. Look in the mirror: G.M. is us.

That’s why we don’t just need a bailout. We need a reboot. We need a build out. We need a buildup. We need a national makeover. That is why the next few months are among the most important in U.S. history. Because of the financial crisis, Barack Obama has the bipartisan support to spend $1 trillion in stimulus. But we must make certain that every bailout dollar, which we’re borrowing from our kids’ future, is spent wisely.

It has to go into training teachers, educating scientists and engineers, paying for research and building the most productivity-enhancing infrastructure — without building white elephants. Generally, I’d like to see fewer government dollars shoveled out and more creative tax incentives to stimulate the private sector to catalyze new industries and new markets. If we allow this money to be spent on pork, it will be the end of us.

America still has the right stuff to thrive. We still have the most creative, diverse, innovative culture and open society — in a world where the ability to imagine and generate new ideas with speed and to implement them through global collaboration is the most important competitive advantage. China may have great airports, but last week it went back to censoring The New York Times and other Western news sites. Censorship restricts your people’s imaginations. That’s really, really dumb. And that’s why for all our missteps, the 21st century is still up for grabs.

John Kennedy led us on a journey to discover the moon. Obama needs to lead us on a journey to rediscover, rebuild and reinvent our own backyard.

Merry Christmas!


THURSDAY, December 25, 2008

A Chritsmas Blessing (6.5 MB)

MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, December 22 through 24, 2008

After all...to our extended family, a unique nation: MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A PEACEFUL NEW YEAR.  GS

Read this excerpt from a Romanian Newspaper. The article was written by Mr. Cornel Nistorescu and published under the title 'C'ntarea Americii, meaning 'Ode To America ' in the Romanian newspaper Evenimentulzilei 'The Daily Event' or 'News of the Day'
 
~An Ode to America ~

Why are Americans so united?  They would not resemble one another even if you painted them all one color!  They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations and religious beliefs.

Still, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart.
Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the Army, or the Secret Service that they are only a bunch of losers.  Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. 
Nobody rushed out onto the streets nearby to gape about. 
Instead the Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand.

After the first moments of panic, they raised their flag over the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colors of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car a government official or the president was passing. On every occasion, they started singing:'God Bless America !'

I watched the live broadcast and rerun after rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey player, who gave his life fighting with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that could have killed other hundreds or thousands of people.

How on earth were they able to respond united as one human being?  Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put into collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit, which no money can buy.

What on earth can unite the Americans in such a way? 
Their land?  Their history? Their economic power?  Money? 
I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases with the risk of sounding commonplace, I thought things over.  I reached but only one conclusion... Only freedom can work such miracles.

Cornel Nistorescu


SATURDAY and SUNDAY, December 20 and 21, 2008

This has got to be read to be believed. When and where will the outcry come that says "I'm not gonna take it any more"?  GS

AP study finds $1.6B went to bailed-out bank execs
By FRANK BASS and RITA BEAMISH, Associated Press Writers

Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals.

The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue. Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages.

Benefits included cash bonuses, stock options, personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, home security, country club memberships and professional money management, the AP review of federal securities documents found.

The total amount given to nearly 600 executives would cover bailout costs for many of the 116 banks that have so far accepted tax dollars to boost their bottom lines.

Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services committee and a long-standing critic of executive largesse, said the bonuses tallied by the AP review amount to a bribe "to get them to do the jobs for which they are well paid in the first place.

"Most of us sign on to do jobs and we do them best we can," said Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat. "We're told that some of the most highly paid people in executive positions are different. They need extra money to be motivated!"

The AP compiled total compensation based on annual reports that the banks file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The 116 banks have so far received $188 billion in taxpayer help. Among the findings:

_The average paid to each of the banks' top executives was $2.6 million in salary, bonuses and benefits.

_Lloyd Blankfein, president and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, took home nearly $54 million in compensation last year. The company's top five executives received a total of $242 million.

This year, Goldman will forgo cash and stock bonuses for its seven top-paid executives. They will work for their base salaries of $600,000, the company said. Facing increasing concern by its own shareholders on executive payments, the company described its pay plan last spring as essential to retain and motivate executives "whose efforts and judgments are vital to our continued success, by setting their compensation at appropriate and competitive levels." Goldman spokesman Ed Canaday declined to comment beyond that written report.

The New York-based company on Dec. 16 reported its first quarterly loss since it went public in 1999. It received $10 billion in taxpayer money on Oct. 28.

_Even where banks cut back on pay, some executives were left with seven- or eight-figure compensation that most people can only dream about. Richard D. Fairbank, the chairman of Capital One Financial Corp., took a $1 million hit in compensation after his company had a disappointing year, but still got $17 million in stock options. The McLean, Va.-based company received $3.56 billion in bailout money on Nov. 14.

_John A. Thain, chief executive officer of Merrill Lynch, topped all corporate bank bosses with $83 million in earnings last year. Thain, a former chief operating officer for Goldman Sachs, took the reins of the company in December 2007, avoiding the blame for a year in which Merrill lost $7.8 billion. Since he began work late in the year, he earned $57,692 in salary, a $15 million signing bonus and an additional $68 million in stock options.

Like Goldman, Merrill got $10 billion from taxpayers on Oct. 28.

The AP review comes amid sharp questions about the banks' commitment to the goals of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), a law designed to buy bad mortgages and other troubled assets. Last month, the Bush administration changed the program's goals, instructing the Treasury Department to pump tax dollars directly into banks in a bid to prevent wholesale economic collapse.

The program set restrictions on some executive compensation for participating banks, but did not limit salaries and bonuses unless they had the effect of encouraging excessive risk to the institution. Banks were barred from giving golden parachutes to departing executives and deducting some executive pay for tax purposes.

Banks that got bailout funds also paid out millions for home security systems, private chauffeured cars, and club dues. Some banks even paid for financial advisers. Wells Fargo of San Francisco, which took $25 billion in taxpayer bailout money, gave its top executives up to $20,000 each to pay personal financial planners.

At Bank of New York Mellon Corp., chief executive Robert P. Kelly's stipend for financial planning services came to $66,748, on top of his $975,000 salary and $7.5 million bonus. His car and driver cost $178,879. Kelly also received $846,000 in relocation expenses, including help selling his home in Pittsburgh and purchasing one in Manhattan, the company said.

Goldman Sachs' tab for leased cars and drivers ran as high as $233,000 per executive. The firm told its shareholders this year that financial counseling and chauffeurs are important in giving executives more time to focus on their jobs.

JPMorgan Chase chairman James Dimon ran up a $211,182 private jet travel tab last year when his family lived in Chicago and he was commuting to New York. The company got $25 billion in bailout funds.

Banks cite security to justify personal use of company aircraft for some executives. But Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., questioned that rationale, saying executives visit many locations more vulnerable than the nation's security-conscious commercial air terminals.

Sherman, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, said pay excesses undermine development of good bank economic policies and promote an escalating pay spiral among competing financial institutions — something particularly hard to take when banks then ask for rescue money.

He wants them to come before Congress, like the automakers did, and spell out their spending plans for bailout funds.

"The tougher we are on the executives that come to Washington, the fewer will come for a bailout," he said.


FRIDAY, December 19, 2008 (and probably again on Christmas)

Merry Christmas Everybody. . .

click here ---> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAckfn8yiAQ


THURSDAY, December 18, 2008

President Bush, glad to have you back.  GS

Bush says he didn't compromise soul to be popular
Thu Dec 18, 12:22 am ET

WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush knows he's unpopular. But here's what matters, he says: "I didn't compromise my soul to be a popular guy." In a wide-ranging interview with Fox News Channel, Bush also praised the national security team assembled by President-elect Barack Obama, offered hope to U.S. automakers seeking government assistance and said the people of Illinois will have to sort out allegations that Gov. Rod Blagojevich sought kickbacks in choosing a successor for Obama's Senate seat.

Bush said presidents fail when they make decisions based on opinion polls.

"Look, everybody likes to be popular," said Bush.

"What do you expect? We've got a major economic problem and I'm the president during the major economic problem. I mean, do people approve of the economy? No. I don't approve of the economy. ... I've been a wartime president. I've dealt with two economic recessions now. I've had, hell, a lot of serious challenges. What matters to me is I didn't compromise my soul to be a popular guy."

An Associated Press-GFK poll last week showed just 28 percent of the public approving of the job Bush is doing, about where he has been all fall. Among Republicans, 54 percent approve, a low figure from members of a president's own political party.

Bush said he didn't think he would be viewed as the 21st century's Herbert Hoover, who was president during the Great Depression. He said he worked to keep the economy from collapsing.

"I'm a free market guy," Bush said. "But I'm not going to let this economy crater in order to preserve the free market system. So we made a lot of very strong moves and it's been painful for a lot of people, particularly because, you know, this — the excesses of the past have caused a lot of folks to hurt when it comes to, like, their 401(k)'s or, you know, their jobs."

He said his administration is continuing to look at options for helping the Big Three automakers and that it needs to get done "relatively soon." He said a "disorganized bankruptcy" of one or more of the automakers could cause great harm to the economy "beyond that which we're now witnessing."

"That concerns me," he said. "And the other point is that I — I'm not interested in — in really putting good money after bad."

On other subjects:

• Bush called Obama's national security team "solid," especially praising his own Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who will continue in the post in Obama's administration.

"I think the incoming administration's going to have to fully analyze the risks and the tools and — come to their own conclusion," he said. "But one thing's for certain. I'm confident that President-elect Obama knows that one of his most solemn duties is to protect the American people."

• Bush avoided discussing Blagojevich.

"They're going to have to sort it through in Illinois," Bush said. "Obviously anytime anybody allegedly betrays the public trust there's got to be great concern because, you know, democracy really is, you know, really rests on the trust of the people. It's a system of people and by people and for people. And, therefore, the public trust is important."


TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY, December 16 and 17, 2008

And what happened to "The Buck Stops Here"?  The only "buck" these bastards are talking about come in bundles of billions. 
So, go out and buy a good mattress...one that won't produce lumps when you stash your money in it.  GS

AG takes himself out of Madoff fraud probe
By PETE YOST and MARCY GORDON, Associated Press Writers Pete Yost And Marcy Gordon, Associated Press Writers Wed Dec 17, 6:13 pm ET

WASHINGTON – The fraud investigation of Wall Street money manager Bernard L. Madoff took unusual twists Wednesday as the U.S. attorney general removed himself and the Securities and Exchange Commission looked into the relationship between Madoff's niece and a former SEC attorney who reviewed Madoff's business.

The developments reflect growing criticism that Wall Street and regulators in Washington have grown too close. Madoff himself has boasted of his ties to the SEC.

The question of Madoff's connection to regulators goes to the heart of the investigation of the alleged $50 billion fraud, SEC Chairman Christopher Cox told reporters.

Congress jumped into the Madoff scandal, too. The chairman of the House capital markets subcommittee, Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., announced an inquiry that will begin early next month into what may be the biggest Ponzi scheme of all time and how the government failed to detect it.

In New York, Madoff showed up at the federal courthouse to sign some papers in his case, wearing a baseball cap and walking silently past a reporter who asked Madoff whether he had anything to say to his alleged victims. Free on $10 million bail, Madoff now has a curfew and an ankle-bracelet to monitor his movements.

U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey recused himself from the Madoff probe because his son, Marc Mukasey, is representing Frank DiPascali, a top financial officer at Madoff's investment firm. The Justice Department refused to say when Mukasey became aware of the conflict but confirmed Wednesday he was removing himself from all aspects of the case.

DiPascali was the Madoff employee who had the most day-to-day contact with the firm's investors. Several described him as the man they reached by phone when they had questions about the firm's investment strategy, or wanted to add or subtract money from their accounts.

The turmoil at the SEC came as the investigation into the scandal widened.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin's office said he subpoenaed Madoff's brother, Peter Madoff, who is the chief compliance officer of Madoff's company, and Marcia Beth Cohn, chief compliance officer of Cohmad Securities Corp., which is in the same building in New York. Galvin is trying to determine the relationship between Madoff's firm and Cohmad Securities, as well as the names and numbers of all Massachusetts investors with both companies.

The events unfolded the day after Cox delivered a stunning rebuke to his own career staff, blaming them for a decade-long failure to investigate Madoff.

Credible and specific allegations regarding Madoff's financial wrongdoing going back to at least 1999 were repeatedly brought to the attention of SEC staff, said Cox. Cox said he was gravely concerned by the apparent multiple failures over at least a decade to thoroughly investigate the allegations or at any point to seek formal authority from the politically appointed commission to pursue them.

Cox's critics said that targeting the staff was Cox's attempt to salvage his own reputation.

"He put in place the people he is now shifting the blame to," said Ross Albert, a former SEC senior special counsel, former federal prosecutor and now a private attorney in Atlanta.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., suggested Cox bears some of the responsibility for what went wrong.

"I served in Congress with Christopher Cox, but I don't think he's going to make the All-Star team," said Reid.

SEC Inspector General David Kotz is looking into the agency's failure to uncover the alleged fraud in Madoff's operation. One area Kotz said he will examine is the relationship between a former SEC attorney, Eric Swanson, and Madoff's niece, Shana, who are now married.

As an SEC attorney, Swanson was part of a team that examined Madoff's securities brokerage operation in 1999 and 2004. Neither review resulted in any action against Madoff. In a statement about Swanson's role, the SEC compliance office cited its strict rules prohibiting employees from participating in cases involving firms where they have a personal interest.

A spokesman for Swanson said that he and Shana Madoff met at a breakfast in October 2003, started dating in April 2006 and married last year.

Kotz said his office would move as quickly as possible to complete the inquiry into why regulators didn't pursue Madoff more aggressively.

Kanjorski, the lawmaker, said his subcommittee's inquiry will examine the alleged Madoff fraud and try to determine why the SEC and other regulators "failed to detect these substantial evasions."

With the scandal swirling around Madoff, he was unable to find co-signers of his bail package. The judge modified the bail package, and gave lawyers until next Monday to come up with additional paperwork.

___

Associated Press writers Lara Jakes Jordan in Washington, David B. Caruso in New York and Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.


MONDAY, December 15, 2008

ANOTHER NO-BRAINER, EVEN FOR THOSE WITH NO BRAINS.  GS

Revive traditional justice: String up Somali pirates

BY R.L. SCHREADLEY

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"I had a mother who read to me, sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth, "blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath."
— Strickland Gillilan
"The Reading Mother"
There is an ancient law, almost as old as seaborne commerce itself, that says pirates are offenders against the law of nations, who may be arrested on the high seas by the warships of any state. Throughout history, arrest commonly was followed by summary trial and execution, either by forcing pirates "to walk the plank" or by hanging them from the foremast — well-deserved ends for criminal elements of the sea. The "blackbirds" referred to in the Gillilan quote above, incidentally, were human cargo stolen from slavers.
What once was clear authority for naval commanders to suppress piracy on the high seas has been clouded by contemporary interpretations of customary and statutory international laws and by rules of engagement that effectively tie the hands of on-scene commanders.
It should be relatively easy for state-flagged warships to curb, indeed to end, the depredations of Somalia-based pirates who, this year alone, have taken and held for hostage some 120 ships, their cargoes and their crews in waters near the Horn of Africa.
Instead, we are treated to the spectacle of small speedboats manned by a handful of lightly armed criminals capturing ships flying the flags of countries from throughout the world. The most spectacular piracies in recent months include the seizure of the Saudi-flagged Sirius Star, a super tanker carrying two million barrels of oil destined for the United States, and the Kenyan-bound Ukranian ship Faina, loaded with 33 Russian battle tanks. Both of these prizes remain in pirate hands. This should not have happened. It need not have happened.
Let's be clear about a few things. First, the coastline of Somalia is vast. In length it approximates that of the eastern seaboard of the United States. There are, however, a finite number of ports, perhaps as few as three, from which the pirates operate. Somalia claims a customary 12-mile territorial sea, but given the chaotic state of affairs existing in that war-torn country, it exercises no effective control over its near waters.
Second, boarding an underway ship at sea from small boats is not easy. Given even a very modest investment in armed security on transiting vessels, boarding such ships should be next to impossible.
Third, unattended small boats do not operate on their own hundreds of miles at sea. (Those that took the Sirius Star were 450 miles from the nearest land.) Somali pirates make use of captured "mother ships" for food, ammunition and berthing, etc. These are few in number and their location is, or should be, well known to the naval ships and aircraft assigned to anti-piracy patrols. As an aside, the much heralded recent sinking of a pirate mother ship by the Indian Navy appears to have been mistaken. It's now reported that the ship sunk actually was an unarmed Thai fishing vessel.
Fourth, a multinational, U.S.-led task force of some 12 to 15 radar-equipped ships has been remarkably ineffective in combating Somali piracy. Operating under rules established by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, it apparently is precluded from taking the initiative against the pirates (firing on them only when fired upon first), forbidden measures to reclaim vessels already held by pirates, and denied authority to operate inside Somalia's lawless territorial sea.
Fifth, U.S. and other Western governments turn a blind eye to the fact that piracy is a rich source of actual or potential funding for Islamist terrorists. They, and the scholarly research organizations hired to advise them, consider piracy more of a nuisance than an actual threat to vital sea lines of communications. No one knows where the many millions paid as ransom to Somali pirates eventually winds up. But even if none of it currently funds terrorists waging war on the civilized world, how long can terrorists ignore such low-hanging fruit in narrow sea lanes? The potential for seized vessels being scuttled or blown up in strategic choke points or even in critical harbors and ports by terrorists is immense, and keeping this from happening should be a first order of business for responsible authorities.
A squadron of U.S. destroyers (with no lawyers on the bridge) could rid the Gulf of Aden, one of the most important sea lanes of communication in the world, of Somali piracy in relatively short order. It would be a signal lesson to other would-be plunderers of the narrow seas. Let's get on with it.
R.L. Schreadley, a former Post and Courier executive editor, is a retired Navy officer.


SUNDAY, December 14, 2008

Meanwhile, we have to live in the world that we have, while always trying to make it better. 
GS


FRIDAY and SATURDAY, December 12 and 13, 2008

I understand that in London, England during The Blitz, the authorities learned from experience that, in order to avoid panic and riots in the bomb shelters during Nazi air raids,  they would announce to the gathered citizens every fifteen minutes: "Ladies and Gentlemen, the news is ...there is no news."  This evidently had a calming effect. 
Today, I will use a modification of that technique:  LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE NEWS IS...THERE IS NO GOOD NEWS.

I could be more precise, as you know.  We all know the current national facts. 
BUT WAIT; I will soon give you "tidings of great joy": the Holy Season of Christmas is nearly upon us, complete with its everlasting promise.   So pray, folks; pray like you've never prayed before.  We sure need some divine intervention.

GS


MONDAY through THURSDAY, December 8 through 11, 2008

THE ONLY THING NECESSARY FOR EVIL TO TRIUMPH IS FOR THE GOOD TO REMAIN SILENT".  And the "Good" are good at doing that.  GS

*Twas the month before Christmas*
*When all through our land,*
*Not a Christian was praying*
*Nor taking a stand.*
*See the PC Police had taken away,*
*The reason for Christmas - no one could say.*
*The children were told by their schools not to sing,*
*About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.*
*It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say*
* December 25th is just a 'Holiday'.*
*Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit*
*Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!*
*CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod*
*Something was changing, something quite odd! *
*Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa*
*In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.*
*As Targets were hanging their trees upside down*
* At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.*
*At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears*
*You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.*
*Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty*
*Are words that were used to intimidate me.*
*Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen*
*On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!*
*At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter*
*To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.*
*And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith*
* Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace*
*The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded*
*The reason for the season, stopped before it started.*
*So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'*
*Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me..*
*Choose your words carefully, choose what you say*
*Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS ,
not Happy Holiday!*
Please, all Christians join together and
wish everyone you meet
MERRY CHRISTMAS
Christ is The Reason for the Christ-mas Season!


TUESDAY through SUNDAY, December 2 through 7, 2008

December 7, 1941, "a day that will live in infamy".  That was the day that America was jolted out of its decade-long stupor. Weakened by the Great Depression, Americans naturally turned in on themselves.  They ignored the world and hoped they wouldn't be noticed. 
But that's not how life is.  Life must be attacked and squeezed of all it has to offer us and those around us.  Two quotations capture the thought. 
 
As life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his times at peril of being judged not to have lived."  Oliver Wendell Holmes.
 
"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy course; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."  Theodore Roosevelt.
 
And one final thought: LIVE AS IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT...BECAUSE IT DOES.

GS


MONDAY, December 1, 2008

There are a lot of turkey left-overs on my plate today.  The following is my way of avoiding heartburn. 
GS


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