But first . . .
THE MINIMUM WAGE PLOY
Hezbollah nests its rockets in populated areas so the only way to shoot at them is to be seen as heartlessly shooting at civilians. The Republican Party plants its billionheir tax break in a bill to hike the minimum wage, so the only way for Democrats to oppose it is to be seen as heartlessly opposing the minimum wage hike:
The New York Times
July 31, 2006
“The two bills passed by the House last Friday and Saturday reflect a single Republican electoral strategy. Representatives want to appear to have accomplished something when they face voters during their five-week summer break, which starts today, and at the same time keep campaign donations flowing from special-interest constituents who are well aware that a great deal was left to do. One of the bills was a pension reform measure. The other was a grab bag that contains three main items: an extension of the expired tax credit for corporate research; a $2.10 an hour increase in the minimum wage, to be phased in over three years; and a multibillion-dollar estate-tax cut. That’s the deal House Republicans are really offering – a few more dollars for 6.6 million working Americans; billions more for some 8,000 of the wealthiest families. . . .
“…It is cynical in the extreme. Extending the research tax credit is noncontroversial, yet pressing. A minimum wage increase is compelling – morally, politically and financially – but Republicans generally oppose it. And the estate-tax cut has already failed to pass the Senate twice this summer. So House Republicans linked it to the research credit and the minimum wage, hoping to flip a handful of senators from both parties who have voted against estate-tax cuts in the past. Democrats who vote against the estate tax cut, Republicans think, can be painted as voting against a higher minimum wage. . . .
“…This is an attempt at extortion. There is no way to justify providing yet another enormous tax shelter to the nation’s wealthiest heirs in the face of huge budget deficits, growing income inequality and looming government obligations for Social Security and Medicare. . . .“
LEBANON – MORE PERSPECTIVES
Mary Blonski: ‘I am extremely saddened by your one-sided point of view. There are violent extremists, blinded by religion on both sides. There are good, kind, and peaceful people on both sides as well.’
☞ There are definitely good, kind, peaceful in both countries. But I don’t think you can equate the recent Israeli actions – pulling out of Gaza and Lebanon – with Hezbollah’s response. As for ‘violent extremists, blinded by religion,’ it sounds even-handed to say they’re on both sides – and who among us does not aspire to be even-handed? But I think equivalence here is a hard case to make. (Perhaps you are thinking of Israeli violinists.) The one thing we all can surely agree on is that it is a terrible tragedy for the Lebanese and Israelis.
Jim Leightheiser: ‘The four views [you presented yesterday] all shared a common opinion on whose side is wearing the white hats. If you really do want to see a couple of other perspectives, here and here are two among many.’
☞ They are worth reading – opposing views almost always are. But I note that the first, a CNN transcript, never mentioned the rockets being fired into Israel, only the two soldiers kidnapped to negotiate a prisoner exchange. And that the second, in making the point that by many definitions Israel and the U.S. have acted as terrorists, never mentioned these differences:
- Israel drops leaflets warning civilians to flee impending bombing; Hezbollah (and Hamas and Al-Qaeda) target civilians.
- When Israel kills civilians, they never post videos; they express profound – and I believe sincere – regret.
- Perhaps most poignant: If the Arabs put down their weapons today there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today there would be no more Israel (an insight, like these others, not original with me).
The Lebanese are understandably furious with Israel and the U.S. But in a rational world (it’s hard to be rational when your child has been killed), they would be angrier still at Hezbollah for positioning their forces and weaponry in civilian centers and then firing rockets into Israel.
Writes Charles Krauthammer in last Friday’s Washington Post:
What other country, when attacked in an unprovoked aggression across a recognized international frontier, is then put on a countdown clock by the world, given a limited time window in which to fight back, regardless of whether it has restored its own security?
What other country sustains 1,500 indiscriminate rocket attacks into its cities – every one designed to kill, maim and terrorize civilians – and is then vilified by the world when it tries to destroy the enemy’s infrastructure and strongholds with precision-guided munitions that sometimes have the unintended but unavoidable consequence of collateral civilian death and suffering?
To hear the world pass judgment on the Israel-Hezbollah war as it unfolds is to live in an Orwellian moral universe. With a few significant exceptions (the leadership of the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and a very few others), the world – governments, the media, U.N. bureaucrats – has completely lost its moral bearings.
The word that obviates all thinking and magically inverts victim into aggressor is “disproportionate,” as in the universally decried “disproportionate Israeli response.”
When the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor, it did not respond with a parallel “proportionate” attack on a Japanese naval base. It launched a four-year campaign that killed millions of Japanese, reduced Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to cinders, and turned the Japanese home islands into rubble and ruin.
Disproportionate? No. When one is wantonly attacked by an aggressor, one has every right — legal and moral — to carry the fight until the aggressor is disarmed and so disabled that it cannot threaten one’s security again. That’s what it took with Japan.
Britain was never invaded by Germany in World War II. Did it respond to the Blitz and V-1 and V-2 rockets with “proportionate” aerial bombardment of Germany? Of course not. Churchill orchestrated the greatest air campaign and land invasion in history, which flattened and utterly destroyed Germany, killing untold innocent German women and children in the process.
The perversity of today’s international outcry lies in the fact that there is indeed a disproportion in this war, a radical moral asymmetry between Hezbollah and Israel: Hezbollah is deliberately trying to create civilian casualties on both sides while Israel is deliberately trying to minimize civilian casualties, also on both sides.
In perhaps the most blatant terror campaign from the air since the London Blitz, Hezbollah is raining rockets on Israeli cities and villages. These rockets are packed with ball bearings that can penetrate automobiles and shred human flesh. They are meant to kill and maim. And they do.
But it is a dual campaign. Israeli innocents must die in order for Israel to be terrorized. But Lebanese innocents must also die in order for Israel to be demonized, which is why Hezbollah hides its fighters, its rockets, its launchers, its entire infrastructure among civilians. Creating human shields is a war crime. It is also a Hezbollah specialty.
On Wednesday CNN cameras showed destruction in Tyre. What does Israel have against Tyre and its inhabitants? Nothing. But the long-range Hezbollah rockets that have been raining terror on Haifa are based in Tyre. What is Israel to do? Leave untouched the launch sites that are deliberately placed in built-up areas?
Had Israel wanted to destroy Lebanese civilian infrastructure, it would have turned out the lights in Beirut in the first hour of the war, destroying the billion-dollar power grid and setting back Lebanon 20 years. It did not do that. Instead it attacked dual-use infrastructure — bridges, roads, airport runways — and blockaded Lebanon’s ports to prevent the reinforcement and resupply of Hezbollah. Ten thousand Katyusha rockets are enough. Israel was not going to allow Hezbollah 10,000 more.
Israel’s response to Hezbollah has been to use the most precise weaponry and targeting it can. It has no interest, no desire to kill Lebanese civilians. Does anyone imagine that it could not have leveled south Lebanon, to say nothing of Beirut? Instead, in the bitter fight against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, it has repeatedly dropped leaflets, issued warnings, sent messages by radio and even phone text to Lebanese villagers to evacuate so that they would not be harmed.
Israel knows that these leaflets and warnings give the Hezbollah fighters time to escape and regroup. The advance notification as to where the next attack is coming has allowed Hezbollah to set up elaborate ambushes. The result? Unexpectedly high Israeli infantry casualties. Moral scrupulousness paid in blood. Israeli soldiers die so that Lebanese civilians will not, and who does the international community condemn for disregarding civilian life?
. . . Terrorists and their supporters have lost the right to complain about civilian casualties, since all they have done this entire war is target civilians. Every single one of the more than 2,500 rockets launched into Israel is launched into populated towns filled with women and children. Just today, another suicide belt meant to kill civilians in Israel was detonated harmlessly by our forces in Nablus.
So, don’t cry to me about civilian casualties. Cry to those using your babies and wives and mothers; cry to those who store weapons in mosques, ambulances, hospitals and private homes. Cry to those launching deadly rockets from the backyards of your kindergartens and schools. Cry to the heartless men who love death, and who, however many of their troops or civilians die, consider themselves victorious as long as they can keep on firing rockets at our women and children.
Save your sympathy for the mothers and sisters and girlfriends of our young soldiers who would rather be sitting in study halls learning Torah, but have no choice but to risk their precious lives – full of hope, goodness and endless potential – to wipe out the cancerous terrorist cells that threaten their people and all mankind. Make your choice, and save your tears.
That terrorists have been unsuccessful in killing more of our women and children is due to our army, God and our prayers, not to any lack of motivation or intention on their part. If you hide behind your baby to shoot at my baby, you are responsible for getting children killed. You, and you alone.
And now . . .
DON’T SELL YOUR BOREALIS
Ah, the irony. No pun intended. It seems that this one-time Canadian mining stock (which I don’t think actually ever mined anything, but how many Canadian mining stocks ever do?) – which we had hoped by now might have turned the world on its ear with its claimed amazing technological breakthroughs (the plane moved!) – may first actually make its mark as . . . a Canadian mining company.
Or so one might conclude from yesterday’s press release, in which it is disclosed that an aeromagnetic survey was flown over the Borealis property (owned by its Roche Bay subsidiary). It now appears as if the company’s monster iron ore deposit (conveniently located near the surface and just three miles from a potential deep water port) may be six times larger than previously thought – enough to deliver 30 million tons of ore annually for 40 years.
According to the company, this June, 2006, survey was flown at a height of 80 meters, compared with the last one that was done, in the 1970’s, from a height of 200 meters; and the ‘grid’ this survey mapped – presumably with more accurate instrumentation than three decades ago – was ten times as detailed.
Chief Operating Officer, Danie Botes, says, “Now our priority is to commence drilling to establish what it is we are actually sitting on in terms of size, grade and level of impurities. At present we only have the results of very limited drilling that took place in the 1980’s, consisting of 16 drill holes sunk into the Eastern orebodies, with only one hole testing depth down to 315 metres into the C orebody, and still in ore. Metallurgical testwork showed that the ore could be easily upgraded to a 67.3% Fe product (ground to -325 mesh) or to a 71.2% Fe product (ground to -400 mesh), using crushing and magnetic separation only, without the requirement for flotation. But it is essential we confirm this historical data with further drilling and metallurgical testwork to reduce the current level of uncertainty.’
It will be at least four or five years before actual ships are filling up with actual iron ore and providing the company with actual money (though as previously reported, an institutional investor has provided $2.75 million to fund continued development). And who knows whether there will be any market for iron ore by then – we may have bombed each other back to the Stone Age (buy flint!) – or what obstacles the Canadian government might have erected to preserve the eagles or plovers or snails that may nest there. But there is a chance that owning one of the world’s largest, most accessible iron ore deposits is worth something. And as Borealis shareholders, each of our 5 million shares – bought only with money we can truly afford to lose, because we really may! – owns the equivalent of a little more than one RCHBF share. Tuesday, the asking price for RCHBF shares was $10, and for BOREF, $9 – so in effect, buying BOREF, you got $10 of RCHBF for $9, and all the other Borealis subsidiaries ‘free.’)
I read the foregoing to Charles, who responded: ‘People are going to start thinking you’re crazy.’
Well, there is that risk.
Tomorrow: More Good Green News
Quote of the Day
What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet.~Woody Allen
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