July 9, 2004
MARKET NEWS DIGEST
-> Ridge Warns of 'Credible' al-Qaida Plot -AP -- July 8 -- The United States is tightening security in the face of a steady stream of intelligence indicating al-Qaida may seek to mount an attack aimed at disrupting elections, the White House said.
-> Gold Firm on Weak Dollar, Fund Buying, Russia Banking Crisis -ODJ- Jul 9 - After a breach of resistance at $405 a troy ounce Thursday during New York hours, spot gold has been in demand, with continued disinvestment in the U.S. dollar and safe haven buying interest, dealers said. Spot gold $408.50/oz.
-> Stocks slip on earnings woes, Lay in FBI hands -CBSMW Jul 8 -- Stocks lost ground Thursday as disappointment over Alcoa and Yahoo's quarterly earnings, a downbeat outlook ... Ex-Enron chairman surrenders after being indicted in connection with fraud ...
-> Crude Oil Jumps to One-Month High, Iraqi Exports Halved
the Middle East's fifth-largest oil producer, reduced exports by half for a fourth day because of a pipeline rupture...
-> Independence Day in Iraq a time for relaxation, reflection
Submitted by: 1st Force Service Support Group Story by Sgt. Matt Epright
-> CIA analyst's book says US losing war on terror
Miami Herald - Miami,FL,USA A top CIA analyst, writing anonymously, criticized US actions and said recent decisions have only helped Osama bin Laden's cause...
-> INFLATION rears its ugly head as prices climb at 5.1% rate
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Milwaukee,WI,USA ... buyers strike on Wall Street. After being given up for dead in the 1990s, inflation has made an unwelcome comeback. So far this year ...
-> SAFE HARBORS -Craig R. Smith, CEO SATC
Uncertainty is the word of the day and investors just can't seem to shake it so far this summer. Topping the list of uncertainties Americans face are...
-> ‘Two Americas’ focus of Kerry, Edwards ticket -WSJ
July 7 -- Edwards, the 51-year-old son of a Southern mill worker, talked of the emergence of "two Americas" - one affluent, one financially squeezed...
-> CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS: The Third Great Jihad
The strategy for this "holy war" did not begin with the planning of the destruction of the World Trade Center. It began with the toppling of the Shah of Iran back in the late 1970's...
-> THE business of ethics -Guardian
... federal US courts following a trail of greed and financial scandal across the ... Corporate failures in the US, combined with consumer and pension fund pressure on ...
-> A republic, if we can revive It -Paul Jacob, Townhall
What kind of government do we have? Upon leaving the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked whether Americans had a monarchy or republic. 'A republic,' responded the grand old revolutionary, 'if you can keep it.'
-> A THEOLOGY OF TERRORISM -Don Walker, Arrows of Truth
Theology does carry with it consequences. The view one adopts of God, and Man’s relationship with Him, shapes all other aspects of his thinking...
FOUNDERS QUOTE OF THE DAY
"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground."
MARKET NEWS DIGEST
Ridge Warns of 'Credible' al-Qaida Plot -AP
Jul 8, 2004
By KATHERINE PFLEGER SHRADER
WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States is tightening security in the face of a steady stream of intelligence indicating al-Qaida may seek to mount an attack aimed at disrupting elections, the White House said.
The Department of Homeland Security is addressing the threat and has efforts under way to "ramp up security," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Thursday.
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said the Bush administration based its decision to bolster security on "credible" reports about al-Qaida's plans, coupled with the pre-election terror attack in Spain earlier this year and recent arrests in England, Jordan and Italy.
"This is sobering information about those who wish to do us harm," Ridge said. "But every day we strengthen the security of our nation."
U.S. officials do not have specific knowledge about where, when or how such an attack would take place, but the CIA, FBI and other agencies "are actively working to gain that knowledge," Ridge said.
Notwithstanding the heightened air of vigilance, the government is not raising its color-coded terror alert status, he said.
July 6 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil futures rose to a one-month high as Iraq, the Middle East's fifth-largest oil producer, reduced exports by half for a fourth day because of a pipeline rupture.
The amount of crude oil being loaded onto tankers fell to about 44,000 barrels an hour from about 80,000 barrels before the rupture in a pipeline in southern Iraq on Saturday, shipping agents said. Prices also rose on concern that OAO Yukos Oil Co., Russia's top oil exporter, may cut output after the government froze its bank accounts in a tax dispute.
``We should expect these disruptions in Iraq but every time they occur there is a big uproar in the market,'' said Carl Larry, associate director of energy futures at Barclays Capital Inc. in New York. ``When the oil is flowing we quickly get used to it.''
Crude oil for August delivery rose $1.26, or 3.3 percent, to settle at $39.65 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest closing price since June 2. Oil has declined 6.6 percent from a record $42.45 a barrel reached during intraday trading on June 2. New York markets were closed yesterday for the U.S. Independence Day holiday.
The 365-day moving average for the contract closest to expiration is at $32.97, the highest since oil futures in New York began trading in 1983.
Stocks slip on earnings woes, Enron fraud -CBSMW
Tough June for retailers adds to investor gloom
By Mark Cotton, CBS.MarketWatch.com
July 8, 2004
NEW YORK (CBS.MW) - U.S. stocks lost ground Thursday as disappointment over Alcoa and Yahoo's quarterly earnings, a downbeat outlook from Siebel Systems and weak June same-store sales from a number of retailers hit sentiment.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 11 points, or 0.1 percent at 10,228, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 11 points, or 0.6 percent, at 1,954.
The S&P 500 was down 2 points at 1,116 while the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks was down 2.51 points at 569.52.
"There are new sets of worries on the earnings front," said Peter Cardillo, chief market analyst and strategist at S.W. Bach.
"The market is in a downward trend. It appears that low volume is setting the stage for the market to re-test the lower end of its trading ranges."
Ex-Enron chairman surrenders after being indicted in connection with fraud that brought collapse of energy trader. FULL STORY
Friday, July 9, 2004 10:51:50 AM
By Chanyaporn Chanjaroen
LONDON (Dow Jones)--Spot gold prices remained firm in early Europe trade Friday in line with continued gains in the euro against the dollar.
After a breach of resistance at $405 a troy ounce Thursday during New York hours, spot gold has been in demand, with continued disinvestment in the dollar and safe haven buying interest, dealers said.
At 1029 GMT, spot gold was at $408.50/oz, up from $406.60/oz at the London morning fix. More buying interested expected in New York could lift spot prices to retest next key resistance of $410/oz, analysts said.
"We believe that the weakening trend of the U.S. dollar has resumed. This, together with the first signs of resumed large-scale speculative buying of gold keeps us well disposed towards the metal," analyst John Reade of UBS said.
Sharp rebounds in base metals and gold prices have brought back speculative buying in silver, spurring a sharp rally which saw the metal at a high of $6.49/oz Thursday. In early trade in Europe Friday, spot silver retained the firm tone, spending most of the time above $6.40/oz.
* * *
Jul 8 (OsterDowJones) -- Comex Aug gold futures arched to $407 per ounce and their highest level in nearly three months Thursday on fund and dealer buying spurred by the continued decline in the U.S. dollar.
The U.S. currency descended to its lowest level since mid-March against the euro and three-month lows on the U.S. Dollar Index to send investors scurrying for cover in low and negative-correlating U.S. dollar assets such as gold.
Should the U.S. currency continue to decline the resulting buying in gold could in time erode that overhead resistance and target a push beyond the $407-$407.50 area toward the $410 level and beyond.
Sep silver headed higher with gold and thanks to pre-placed stop-loss buy orders charged to nearly three-month highs of $6.385 by late morning. Dealers said further progress toward the $6.40 and $6.45 levels should not be ruled out near term, but that profit taking should also be expected as long as gold remains below $407.
* * *
July 7 (Bloomberg) -- Gold futures in New York had their biggest gain in 13 months after Russia's central bank reduced reserve requirements to avert a banking crisis, boosting the metal's appeal as a haven.
Russia central bank lowered the amount of money banks must set aside to 3.5 percent from 7 percent, effective tomorrow. Gold gained on Friday after U.S. employers in June added about half as many jobs as expected by analysts, sending the dollar to its biggest decline in almost four months.
``There are some problems appearing in Russia, and the employment numbers on Friday didn't look that good,'' said Robert McEwen, chief executive of Toronto-based Goldcorp Inc., Canada's fourth-largest gold producer. ``Some of the problems that everybody thought had disappeared are starting to appear again, and that has some people concerned.''
Gold for August delivery rose $10, or 2.5 percent, to $403.40 an ounce at 12:53 p.m. on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. A close at that price would result in the biggest one-day gain since May 19, 2003. Prices were 16 percent higher than a year earlier.
Gold also climbed as economists scaled back their expectations of U.S. economic growth, sending the dollar lower against the euro and yen. Hedge funds have boosted their holdings in gold futures for two straight weeks, figures from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission show.
``I expect hedge funds to continue favoring gold as an alternative asset,'' said William O'Neill, a partner at Logic Advisors LLC, a commodity consulting company based in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.
Russian banks are struggling to prevent a crisis after the central bank in May shut Sodbusinessbank amid money-laundering accusations, sparking a squeeze on lending. Consumer bank Guta ceased operations yesterday.
New bank crisis in Russia? -- 07/07/2004 -- Crowds of customers of Alpha-Bank have blocked the Moscow branches of the bank. Long lines of the people willing to withdraw their money, are near all Alpha-Bank cash machines...
Independence Day in Iraq a time for relaxation, reflection
Submitted by: 1st Force Service Support Group
Story Identification #: 200474162159
Story by Sgt. Matt Epright
CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq (July 5, 2004) -- What little beer they had was non-alcoholic and the fireworks were nonexistent, but that didn't stop service members from celebrating their independence here, July 3 and 4, 2004, just days after helping to deliver the Iraqis theirs.
The two days of Independence Day activities included a comedy show and blues concert, as well as several sporting events and a barbecue.
Several hundred Marines, sailors and soldiers from all across the camp packed around a stage and stayed late into the evening July 3, to enjoy the comedic styling of Detroit-based Pete Gray and the rock and rhythm of Los Angeles band The Red Hot Blues.
"It's kind of like a little piece of home coming out here," said Cpl. Scott T. Schultz, from Headquarters and Service Battalion, 1st Force Service Support Group.
Camp Taqaddum was the entertainers' second stop of a three-camp tour. They were at Camp Fallujah July 2 and went to Camp Al Asad July 4.
"I think it's really cool that these guys came out here, to a hostile area, just to be with us," said Schultz, a 21-year-old native of Mayville, N.D.
Gray, who has been to several other hot spots around the globe, including Bosnia and Kosovo, said he feels it is his civic duty to perform for deployed troops, though his friends at home think he is crazy for doing it.
Service members tend to be a much more appreciative audience, said the 26-year-old native of Birmingham, Mich.
Camp residents enjoyed the opportunity to unwind and forget, for a little while, that they are away from home.
"I think it's good for the morale of the Marines," said Staff Sgt. Howard R. Shadwell, a 30-year-old native of Paris, Texas, who is also from H&S Battalion. "It breaks up the monotony of having to do work every single day."
The next day's events kicked off before the sun even peaked over the horizon, with a 3.2-mile foot race, followed by morning volleyball and horseshoe games and a softball tournament that lasted throughout the day.
For a traditional Fourth of July meal, the camp's mess hall fired up outdoor grills and cooked up hamburgers and barbecued chicken for the troops.
The concert was put on by the camp's morale, welfare and recreation coordinators and the second day's events were set up by civilian contractors from Kellogg, Brown and Root.
Throughout the days' activities, troops also had a chance to look back on what they have accomplished since deploying to Iraq. Independence Day held special meaning for many of them, as they had a hand in bringing about independence for the Iraqis.
"It's really sort of an honor," said Schultz. "We get to give them the same freedom that we have."
Many feel that is what the holiday is all about.
U.S. losing war on terror, CIA analyst's book says
Fri June 25, 2004
By Tabassum Zakaria
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is losing the war against terrorism, and sticking to current policies will only make its enemies in the Islamic world grow stronger, a CIA analyst says in a book signed "anonymous."
"Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing The War on Terror," scheduled to be released on July 15, is the latest book by a government insider criticizing the administration's national security policies.
This one is still more unusual in that the CIA's role in government is to provide intelligence to policymakers, not formulate opinions about those policies.
"Anonymous" has appeared this week in silhouette on television news shows talking about the book. His first name is Mike and he is an analyst at the CIA's Counterterrorist Center where he once led the unit that focused on al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The book's main point is that U.S. leaders are wrong to tell the public that Muslim extremists attack Americans because of disapproval of the American way of life.
Instead, it is anger at specific U.S. policies that is fueling growing anti-American sentiment in the Islamic world, even among non-radicals.
"While important voices in the United States claim the intent of U.S. policy is misunderstood by Muslims, that Arabic satellite television channels deliberately distort the policy, and that better public diplomacy is the remedy, they are wrong," the book says.
"America is hated and attacked because Muslims believe they know precisely what the United States is doing in the Islamic world," it said.
"We are at war with an al Qaeda-led, worldwide Islamist insurgency because of and to defend those policies, and not, as President (George W.) Bush mistakenly has said, 'to defend freedom and all that is good and just in the world'," the book said.
U.S. policies that generate anger in the Muslim world include support for Israel, occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, support for Russia, India, and China against their Muslim militants, and U.S. pressure on Arab energy producers to keep oil prices low, the book said.
Unchanged policies leave America only a military option for defending itself, the book said.
"Let me stress that we are not choosing between war and peace. America has a war it cannot avoid and, at least for now, one that will grow more savage no matter what we do," the book says.
"The choice we have is between keeping current policies, which will produce an escalating expenditure of American treasure and blood, or devising new policies, which may, over time, reduce the expenditure of both," the book said.
Inflation rears its ugly head as prices climb at 5.1% rate
July 2, 2004
The abrupt return of an old nemesis has spawned a full-blown buyers strike on Wall Street.
After being given up for dead in the 1990s, inflation has made an unwelcome comeback. So far this year, consumer prices have risen at a 5.1% annual clip after averaging only 2.5% since 1991.
In a statement accompanying its quarter-point increase in benchmark interest rates on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve sought to assure financial markets that the inflation spurt was "transitory." The central bank attributes the bulk of this year's acceleration in prices to sky-high energy costs and not to the super-low interest rates it engineered to fight recession and potential deflation.
Judging from the nervous reaction of the stock market Thursday and Friday, in which the Dow dropped more than 150 points and the S&P 500 was down nearly 16, many investors think the Fed is complacent about the problem and that a return to 1970s-style inflation is a possibility.
Certainly, there are disturbing similarities between the early 1970s and the recent financial environment. Advertisement
Thirty years ago, monetary policy-makers badly miscalculated the nation's non-inflationary speed limit, or the rate at which the production of goods and services could rise without stoking price pressures. At the time, it was widely assumed that productivity would keep increasing at its impressive post-World War II average of 2.7% per year.
Of course, large productivity gains absorb price pressures and allow the economy to grow faster without fanning inflation. Given the government's overly optimistic forecast regarding productivity, interest rates were kept unusually low for most of the 1970s.
But starting in 1974 - just as Uncle Sam began running budget deficits - business efficiency hit the wall. Over the next nine years, productivity grew at a minuscule 0.4% rate.
With growth in hourly output slowing, companies resorted to price increases to keep profits climbing. Facing higher prices for consumer goods, workers responded with aggressive wage demands - which businesses passed along in the form of still-higher prices.
The inflationary cycle intensified until late 1978, when then-Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker slammed on the brakes with an earnest tight-money policy.
SAFE HARBORS -Craig R. Smith, CEO SATC
July 6, 2004
Uncertainty is the word of the day and investors
just can't seem to shake it so far this summer.
Topping the list of uncertainties Americans face are;
- Terrorism, Iraq
- Oil, Inflation
- The Election
- Rising Interest Rates
- A Debt-Weakened U.S. Consumer
For centuries Swiss bankers have known that the secret is prudent asset allocation, in all types of economic environments -- with a solid foundation of gold to build upon.
Without a golden anchor, investors should be worried. Every day the world seems to become a little more dangerous place to live.
Through it all, gold will survive and shine as never before in history. Perfect storm or not!
Bush and Kerry will now begin their economics debate. This should be interesting to watch, as the future of the free world appears to be destined to fall upon the shoulders of one of the two in November.
I invite you to join in the debate in a new interactive link. Let us know if you think Bush or Kerry economics will bring America back to greatness.
P.S.Will the 21st century usher in a new era of peace and prosperity, or more war and poverty? The choice is in our hands right now.
Ronald Reagan was committed to restoring the standard of greatness in America based on free market principles. Come let us discover from the Gipper why our money and our morality must be reconnected. Register below to get your free copy of RESTORING THE STANDARD: A TRIBUTE TO REAGANOMICS
‘Two Americas’ focus of Kerry, Edwards ticket -WSJ
By Jacob M. Schlesinger and David Rogers
Wall Street Journal
July 7, 2004
In tapping North Carolina Sen. John Edwards as his running mate, John Kerry has placed a bet on his bid to win the White House: that middle-class voters are feeling an acute economic squeeze.
The Kerry campaign considers that line of attack central to its case for replacing President Bush, even as the economy overall gains steam and Iraq keeps national-security issues in the headlines. Edwards, a gifted orator whose skills were honed in courtroom appeals to juries, sketches out a picture of a middle America whose economic anxiety can’t simply be wiped away with promising numbers on new jobs that are coming out each month. He argues that the new jobs pay less, debt burdens remain crushingly high and costs are soaring for health care and education.
In a memorable primary stump speech, Edwards, the 51-year-old son of a Southern mill worker, talked of the emergence of "two Americas" - one affluent, one financially squeezed. His campaign outlined an agenda to attack that problem by giving government incentives to encourage savings by the working poor, to put "a great teacher" in every public-school classroom, to expand health-care coverage and to roll back Republican-backed tax cuts for the wealthy while preserving them for the middle class.
"I have chosen a man ... who has shown courage and conviction as a champion for middle-class Americans and those struggling to reach the middle-class," Kerry said during a morning rally in downtown Pittsburgh.
The choice of Edwards will also complicate Kerry’s recent efforts to reassure the business sector that he would offer the kind of centrist agenda Bill Clinton pursued through the 1990s boom. Edwards’s trial lawyer career - where he won state-record malpractice awards against doctors, hospitals, and insurers - makes executives nervous.
Edwards made his last-ditch bid to catch Kerry during the Democratic primaries by criticizing the front-runner’s free-trade record. That line of attack helped push Kerry to soften his previously strong support for Clinton-era economic globalization. And Edwards, more than any other leading Democrat, has also blasted financial institutions for "predatory lending"-the practice of making loans to low-income consumers that they’re unlikely to be able to pay back without giving up their collateral - a theme Kerry plans to weave soon into his own campaign platform.
Kerry, Edwards Begin First Campaign Swing - Jul 7, -- CLEVELAND (AP) - An upbeat John Kerry campaigned for the first time with running mate John Edwards on Wednesday and boasted that the Democratic team has a "better vision, better ideas" than its Republican counterpart - and joked, "we've got better hair."
Join the 2004 Election Great Economics Debate
This war [on Terror] is what the Jihadists themselves are calling the "Third Great Jihad." They are operating within the framework of a time line which reaches back to the very creation of Islam in the seventh century and are presently attempting to recreate the dynamics which gave rise to the religion in the first two hundred years of its existence.
The strategy for this "holy war" did not begin with the planning of the destruction of the World Trade Center. It began with the toppling of the Shah of Iran back in the late 1970ąs. With his plans and programs to "westernize" his country, along with his close ties to the U.S. and subdued acceptance of the State of Israel, the Shah was the soft target.
The Third Jihad now had a base of operations and the oil wealth to support its grand design or what they call the "Great Caliphate". What this design calls for is the replacement of all secular leadership in any country with Muslim majorities. This would include, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia, all the Emirates, Sudan, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Malaysia, Indonesia and finally Israel.
As a part of this strategy, forces of the jihad will infiltrate governments and the military as a prelude to taking control, once the secular leadership is ousted or assassinated. Such was the case in Lebanon leading to the Syrian occupation and in Egypt with the murder of Anwar Sadat, along with the multiple attempts on the lives of Hussein in Jordan, Mubarak of Egypt and Musharraf in Pakistan. Pakistan is a particular prize because of its nuclear weapons.
The long-range strategy of the Third Jihad counts on three strategic goals. First, the U.S. withdrawing from the region just as it did in Southeast Asia, following Vietnam. Second, taking control of the oil wealth in the Muslim countries, which would be upwards to 75% of known reserves; third, using nuclear weapons or other WMDs to annihilate Israel. A further outcome of successfully achieving these objectives would be to place the United Nations as the sole arbiter in East/West negotiations and paralyze western resistance, leading to total withdrawal from all Islamic dominated countries.
We are in the battle of our lives, a battle which will go on for many years possibly even generations. If we fail to understand what we are facing or falter in the challenge of "knowing our enemy" the results will be catastrophic. Imagine a world where al Qaeda regimes control 75% of the world's oil, have at their disposal nuclear weapons, legions of willing suicide soldiers, and our national survival is dependent on the good graces of Kofi Annan and the United Nations.
The business of ethics -Guardian
Despite division over the merits of regulations governing corporate responsibility, legislation appears increasingly likely
Monday July 5, 2004
The story of the movement towards corporate social responsibility (CSR), and the debate over legislation, is a long one.
It began with the eruption of violence on the streets of Toxteth, Liverpool, in 1981. Its latest chapter is the prosecutions of company executives in federal US courts following a trail of greed and financial scandal across the boardrooms of corporate America.
This week, one of the main membership organisations in the area of UK corporate social responsibility, Business in the Community, holds its annual conference and gala awards dinner.
The event follows hard on the heels of a spring conference season during which major meetings took place in the UK and throughout Europe - as well as in the US and Canada - on the subject.
In March, the Guardian and Observer hosted their annual meeting on the issue, with more than 200 delegates from businesses, charities, government departments and non-governmental organisations attending the London event.
Many of these people agree on the social and environmental objectives of the movement, but a chasm exists between those who believe they can be achieved by voluntary means and others who see the need for regulation.
What kind of government do we have? Upon leaving the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked whether Americans had a monarchy or republic. "A republic," responded the grand old revolutionary, "if you can keep it."
Democracy was not even on the table. And yet quite quickly democracy increased, as more men obtained land, and then as other extensions of the franchise were put into law, decade by decade. But this progress of voting rights notwithstanding, it is quite clear that democracy strictly defined was not what the founders were up to.
So I have not been surprised to receive quite a few lectures from readers of these columns — and of my free Common Sense e-letter — on the nature of our republican government. My advocacy of further democracy, of initiative and referenda for both statutory and constitutional reform in every state of the union, couldn't help but spark controversy. "America is not now and never was a democracy," I'm repeatedly told.
I wish that were true, in a sense. I wish that we lived in a republic as imagined by the best of our founders. But Ben Franklin's great aphorism was a warning as well as a statement. And it is apparent that Americans have not heeded the warning. We have not kept our republic.
Not that keeping a republic is easy. Franklin's co-conspirator, Thomas Jefferson, explained: "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground."
As it is
So what do we have?
Not a democracy, for the betrayal of campaign promises goes on year after year and district after district without much comment.
And not quite a republic, either. The old idea of checks on government growth, and balances of power, have fallen by the wayside.
Both houses of Congress have ceded leadership to the executive, not only in matters of peace — it has been over sixty years since Congress did its duty and actually declared war, though dozens of wars have been fought — but in matters of domestic policy, too: regularly they blame every legislative tangle on a lack of leadership from the White House.
And in collusion with the executive branch — which has grown with an ever-increasing bureaucracy — Congress manages to increase spending year after year, on projects both noble and idiotic, with no discrimination. Rarely does it review a program and abolish it. Layers of government and bureaucracy just add on, ad infinitum.
The failure of republicanism in general can be seen best by the failure of the party named after the idea. Despite the best efforts of a few men and women who went to Washington and didn't catch the fever, government has continued to grow. Today's united (that is, Republican-controlled) government is increasing both federal spending and debt at an alarmingly advanced rate, making the divided government of the '90s look almost like utopia.
I often define the problem in class or caste terms: through the power of their incumbency, our representatives set themselves apart, nurturing their own interests at the expense of the public, all the while, of course, mouthing the pieties of limited government and the public interest.
But one could also define the problem as Ben Franklin himself did, in terms of corruption:
[T]here is no Form of Government but what may be a Blessing to the People if well administered; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years, and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.
Are you tempted to agree? Don't we live in corrupt times? Our government is increasingly burdensome and despotic. The people, we're told, yearn for more.
But the evidence doesn't quite bear this out. The people, when voting in initiative and referenda in those states and communities blessed with the institution, tend to be far more frugal and freedom-minded than their politicians. It is the political class that is corrupt, not the people themselves. At least by comparison.
This is one reason why I place some hope in greater democracy. We cannot trust politicians or the dominant political parties. So the people themselves remain our only hope to restore limits to government, a return to common sense.
"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone," wrote Mr. Jefferson. "The people themselves are its only safe depositories."
Three first steps ... FULL STORY
A THEOLOGY OF TERRORISM -Don Walker, Arrows of Truth
July 5, 2004
Theology does carry with it consequences. History and the examination of the development of cultures bear this out. The view one adopts of God, and Man’s relationship with Him, shapes all other aspects of his thinking.
All theological systems address the issue of salvation and life after death. Inherent to Islam is salvation by works. After death a person's deeds are weighed in a balance: Those whose evil deeds outweigh the good deeds they performed in their lives are thrown into hell. If the good deeds outweigh the evil deeds, the person will be accepted into paradise. But it is impossible to know whether one's deeds are sufficient for salvation. How does one know when he’s done enough?
But those who wage jihad, holy war, against non-Muslims can be assured of an eternity in paradise. In fact, dying as a "martyr" while killing the enemies of Allah is about the only way a person can be assured of paradise.
In the June 19, 2004 issue of World magazine, cultural editor, Gene Edward Veith exposed an aspect of Islamic thinking that has consequences in this present world. He writes:
"Investigators of the 3/11 terrorist attack on Spain have found that the leader of the radical Islamic cell was a drug dealer who traded a load of hashish for the explosives that killed 191 people. Spanish authorities are finding that the al-Qaeda related terrorists are also tangled up in organized crime, the underworld of robbery, counterfeiting, fraud, drug dealing, and murder.
How can that be? A Muslim who steals is to have his hand cut off. Islam forbids the use of drugs. How can there be an alliance between fundamentalist Islam and organized crime?"
The answer to this apparent contradiction in the Islamic worldview is found in a particular Muslim sect that allows one to "have their cake and eat it too." Sebastian Rotella of the Los Angeles Times reports the existence of a particular Islamic sect: the Takfirs.
Nearly all of today's radical Islamic groups trace their lineage to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in the 1960s. One significant offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood was an order called the Takfir wal Hijra. The name means "Excommunication and Exile." Outwardly, members appear to be excommunicated from Islam, conforming to Western ways and even engaging in Western vices. But inwardly, they are devout Muslims in exile in a strange land. This split between their outward behavior and their inward religious piety is justified, according to Takfir theology, as a tactic of jihad.
"Takfiris accept drinking and vice and encourage short hair, fashionable dress, and an outwardly Western lifestyle as a holy warrior's disguise against detection," explains Mr. Rotella. "In the Takfir creed of outward conformity and internal exile, crime is a means of waging war against the West.
Mr. Rotella quotes De Bousquet de Florian, the French intelligence chief: "Crime that was once practiced with no trace of an Islamic reference, once they have converted, rather naturally acquires an objective, a justification, a religious legitimization. Because the base of Takfir doctrine explains that crime can be committed for the good of the cause."
Veith points out that the terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks here in the U.S. fit this profile:
"They were clean-cut, wore Western clothing, and spent the days before their ‘martyrdom’ drinking in strip clubs and receiving lap dances."
Not surprisingly, the major center for recruitment, or Takfiri evangelism, is prison. It is out of the criminal underworld in North Africa and Europe that many of the Takfir sect emerge to wreck havoc on the so called "infidels." According to reports a Mafia leader in Naples has recently converted to Islam and has set up an operation trading arms for drugs. (A Hollywood script-writer ought to pick up on this and create a "Godfather IV.") What the Roman Catholic Church cannot do - Islam can – make crime redemptive. Instead of criminal activity separating you from God, it brings you to God, in this theological system.
Gene Edward Veith concludes his article with this observation:
"Takfir shows how a legalistic religion can be twisted to justify sin. It is reminiscent of the thugee, the Hindu sect that committed murder as a sacrifice to the god Kali, from which we get the word thug. Takfir may have a direct relationship to the hashishiyyin, the Muslim sect that would consume hashish as a prelude to the murder of enemy leaders, from which we get the word assassin.
Postmodernists, relativists, and ecumenical types who believe that all the world's religions are essentially the same and all equally beneficial should consider the Takfirs. Before the Takfirs get hold of them."
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ABOUT THE EDITOR
David M. Bradshaw is Editor of Real Money Perspectives, publisher of Rediscovering Gold in the 21st Century: The Complete Guide to the Next Gold Rush (7/01) and has been an economic commentator since 1987, when he produced the World Economic Perspectives radio show. In 1997, he produced a one-hour TV documentary, "Preparing Wisely for the Next Millennium," which was distributed free of charge at Blockbuster Video nationally. In 1999, he produced a one-hour radio special, "The Big Picture: The Shape of Things to Come" discussing geopolitical, economic and spiritual trends in the 21st Century. ...MORE NOTE: Youngest daughter Braida Zoe (5 months) is learning the importance of wearing a crash helmet -- a valuable habit for us all to remember... just in case!
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