Thursday, February 23, 2006

Much Ado Over Nothing?

Oh the trials and tribulations of the embattled Bush Administration; if it is not one thing its another; in this case the rising and rather rancorous debate over Dubai Ports World’s assumption of the terminal operations in six American ports. With visions of terrorists dancing in their wee little heads, Congressman and women took to the airwaves in strenuous opposition. I say it all much ado over nothing.

This all began when Dubai Ports World a state-owned company based United Arab Emirates (UAE) bought London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., which current runs the terminals in the American ports in question. Peninsular and Oriental runs commercial operations at ports in Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans and Miami.

The initial reports had had internationally helmed Dubai Ports World taking over the ports in their entire, or at least gave the impression that that would transpire. Predictably the Democrats accused the Administration of compromising America’s port security. And the Republicans not wanting to be left scratching their legacies on an issue of National Security quickly and amazingly, piled on, in (very) rare bi-cameral, bi-partisan unison, bashing Bush and threatening to pass legislation to stop the deal.

Bush quickly countered that he would, gasp, veto such a bill. And later, yesterday, we all learned that Bush knew nothing about the bill until he learned about it in the news; boy that inspires confidence in his leadership, and stewardship of our government.

But the real story of the port operations is a lot less dramatic then they would have use believe; in other words my fellow Americans we are bring duped and manipulated again.

Here is the 411 on the ports: All American ports (foreign ports as well) are divided into terminals (a pier where ships tie up and off-load and or load cargo), with each terminal then being leased to a company or set of companies to manage on a daily basis. Security is still managed by the U.S. Customs Enforcement Agency, and the U.S. Coast Guard, and the employees on the docks are overwhelmingly American.

For example, the Port of New York and New Jersey, which is jointly owned and run by the two states under the guise of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The port has six terminals, which the Port Authority leases out. Two of the terminals are leased to American companies, and the rest are leased to foreign run companies. Dubai Ports World, which runs terminals in other countries, would lease one terminal in partnership with a Danish firm which is already in place. Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. currently holds the lease. In addition Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. also holds leases to terminals in six other east coast ports.

According to a report from National Public Radio (NPR), roughly 40% of the terminals on the eastern seaboard of the United States are managed by foreign companies, while 90% of the terminals on the West coast are leased to foreign companies, including a large percentage to Communist China.

So as you can see, Dubai Ports World would hardly be “running” the ports; they would in fact be running the operations of a terminal, or terminals within the port. Much ado about nothing? You decide. It would appear to me as though Congress and the majority of the American media are getting the story wrong. For the politicians the doom-and-gloom spin is probably 70% spin and 30% ignorance. As far as the media is concerned (NPR and PBS are the exceptions), there is no excuse for the gross misinformation and resulting hysteria.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Accused Holocaust denier gets 3 years - Europe -

Accused Holocaust denier gets 3 years - Europe -

Now people are being arrested and thrown in jail for their opinions? Does this sound like the principles of a free and open society, even if it is in Europe? Denying the Holocaust ever took place certainly brands David Irving and ignoramus, but a criminal, I don’t think so.

No rational learned person will deny the German atrocities of World War II, after all they are well cataloged in photos and in (German) writings; the Germans after all kept very detailed records of what they were doing and why. Their records coupled with those of the Allies as they liberated the Nazi death camps, and the eye witness accounts of the Holocaust survivors, Jewish and otherwise, will forever mark 1938 -1945 as one of the darkest, if not the darkest, periods of man’s short existence on this planet.

But cataloging the atrocities has not been a bulwark against it happening again and again and again, while the world waits and watches, reluctant to do anything except talk about it happenstance. And while the United Nations talks, and bickers, and hesitates, millions more people have died at the hands of those who practice Genocide; do Serbia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Sudan, and Croatia ring a bell?

And it is ironic that Europe, including Austria, has historically and habitually thrown their support behind the Palestinians and other Arab groups that seek to ouster Israel from its now well established home on the banks of the Mediterranean. And correct me if I am wrong but don’t some of the group supporting the Palestinians in their cause, just or no, deny the Holocaust ever took place. Can you spell Hamas?

So excuse me if I think it a might bit hypocritical and nonsensical for the Austrians to throw a man in jail for three years because he dared write a book and made two speeches calling into question the passage of the Holocaust some 17 years ago.

Whatever happened to freedom of expression and of speech? In light of the current carton debacle this sentence is laughable. Or is derision reserved for those with brown skin? Yes, the Holocaust was horrific, but denying its rightful place in the annals of human history should brand one a criminal.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Abbas warns of financial crisis

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Abbas warns of financial crisis

Ahh, the old ode “you lie down with dogs you wake up with fleas,” has never been more apt. I have heard throughout the press that the poor, average Palestinian people are going to suffer because the (cash) aid will be cut off by the West. But isn’t it the poor average Palestinian people who vote for Hamas in the first place? Should the West support an avowed terrorist group that has killed hundreds of innocent Israelis and no doubt some Americans? I don’t think I want my tax money supporting such a group of murders, do you?

I think its past time for the Arab world to step up and support their Palestinian brethren with more than just angry words and empty rhetoric designed to inflame the ignorant mind.