Saturday, February 11, 2006

Air Force Eases Rules on Religion

WaPo reported
The Air Force, under pressure from evangelical Christian groups and members of Congress, softened its guidelines on religious expression yesterday to emphasize that superior officers may discuss their faith with subordinates and that chaplains will not be required to offer nonsectarian prayers.
This is good.
"This does affirm every airman's right, even the commanders' right, to free exercise of religion, and that means sharing your faith," said Maj. Gen. Charles C. Baldwin, the Air Force's chief of chaplains....
They should not be allowed to proselitize, especially from a position of power, but the previous regulations, especially those constraining what a Chaplin could say, were too restrictive.
The revised guidelines are considerably shorter than the original, filling one page instead of four. They place more emphasis on the Constitution's free exercise clause, which is mentioned four times, than on its prohibition on any government establishment of religion, which is mentioned twice.

The guidelines still warn superior officers to be "sensitive to the potential" that personal expressions of faith may appear to be official statements. But they say that, "subject to these sensitivities, superiors enjoy the same free exercise rights as all other airmen." They now add that there are no restrictions in situations "where it is reasonably clear that the discussions are personal, not official, and they can be reasonably free of the potential for, or appearance of, coercion."

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Dutch people united

Zacht Ei reported Dutch people united in their defense of freedom of speech

According to a survey by Dutch tv channel RTL a staggering number of 84 percent feels that Ayaan Hirsi Ali should film Submission part II. Yes, that's staggering. The same survey concluded that only 36 percent of the Dutch have positive feelings towards the film (43 percent neutral, 20 percent negative). 88 percent of those questioned think the film should be allowed under the principle of freedom of the press (so there's apparently at least 4 percent of the Dutch population that feels the film should not be made, but think it should be allowed anyway. Odd.).


Andrew Stuttaford blogged on The Corner at NRO That’s right: they don’t particularly like the idea of the film, but they think that it should be made. That’s called freedom, or, as a number of EU governments prefer to call it, “provocation”.

Or maybe it is just a matter of the Dutch thinking the Muslims have gone too far with their reaction to the 12 cartoons, and they now favor seeing a movie made that they have no intention of seeing, just because it will tick off the Muslims, and why they have decided to start serving pork in school lunches, despite what the Muslims think.

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Denmark

Denmark is a Christian country, and the official religion is the Evangelical Lutheran Church, established in their Constitution as the established Church of Denmark. 85.4% of the population in 1998 were members of that church. Alongside the established church various other Christian churches are represented in Denmark and have been accorded the status of officially recognised religious communities. These are (in order of size)

  • Roman Catholic Church with c. 35,000 members
  • Danish Baptist Church with c. 5500 adult members
  • Pentecostal churches with c. 5000 members
  • Jehovah's Witnesses with ca. 15,000 members
  • Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) with c. 4500 members....
During the last decades of the 20th century, the largest of the non-Christian communities has been dominated by Muslim immigrants; on the basis of the number of immigrants from Muslim countries now resident in Denmark, the number is estimated to be c. 119,000 (1998), made up of a number of mutually independent Islamic communities.

Despite being definitely a minority religion, NeanderNews revealed that Copenhagen kids only [used to] get Halal prepared meats in their school hot lunchs(!). The ‘Committee for Education and Youth’ (very scary) decided in 2001 to only use the halal meat for the hot lunch dishes.

Apparently now this will be changing. Below are excerpts from a translated Jyllands-Posten article dated February 7, 2006 (link in Danish):
Showdown about halal-meat in schoolchildren’s lunch

By LAURITS NANSEN and MARIA L√úTZEN (Jyllands-Posten Copenhagen)

Students in the Copenhagen council schools shall no longer be denied the choice of pork when they buy their daily hot lunch in the school’s canteen. Out of consideration to pupils with a moslem background there is presently only halal-butchered meat - and no pork at all - in the daily hot meals which are offered at a price of 15 kroner (appr. 2,35 US $) in the canteens of the 49 schools run by the council of Copenhagen.
I am shocked that they used to restrict meals for all children just to accomodate the desires of a small minority. This shows what cowards the Europeans are; they probably caved in to Muslim demands for fear of violence, but seeing the world wide violence because of a few cartoons, the Danish seem to be growing a backbone.
A political majority in the council’s committee for children and youngsters now demand that porkchops and meatballs be introduced on the menu.
How about a nice Danish Ham
“We need to see more freedom of choice in the canteens. It’s fine with me that the ethnic minorities can have halal-meat but those who want pork should find it available.
That is very reasonable. According to our State Department10% of Danish exports are in agricultural products (of which pork and pork products cover 48%)
When it comes to food there are many minorities and they should all be accomodated”, says Jan Andreasen, spokesman on educational issues for the [ruling] Social Democrats. He suggests that some days of the week there will be dishes of pork, vegetarian meals or fish. He makes it clear that he is not opposed to halal butchering which means that the throat of the animal is slit while it is still alive but unconscious.
I wonder what PETA would think about that.
Liberal and conservative politicians are in favor of pork and other non-halal dishes being on offer in the canteens every day. “We suggest two or three different meals to choose among in order that both Christians, Jews and Moslems are accomodated,” says Pia Allerslev, council member from Venstre, the liberal party of Denmark.
That only sounds reasonable.
Conservative council leader Majbritt Mamsen would rather that no halal-meat at all was served. “It just is not right that my own and other children should eat food which has been processed in accordance with the rituals of a foreign religion.
Good point.
As a minimum we ought to be able to offer pork or other sorts of non-halal meat to the children of non-moslem background”, Majbritt Mamsen says.
Absolutely
Judith Apter Klinghoffer reported Some of today's (2-9 2006) articles and debate in Jyllands Posten are about food served in all public schools in Copenhagen, by far the largest city in Denmark. And why would that be interesting ? Its interesting because its a fact, that all food served is "halal" (that is "food allowed" in Islam).

Why is that so ? Well, approximately 30% of all the children in the public schools of Copenhagen have a "foreign background", most of them Muslim.
That still means that a 70% majority is caving to the demands of a 30% minority.
So in a country that is one of the worlds leading producers and exporters of high quality pork-meat - we don't serve pork chops to any of the children, just out of good will towards the Muslim parents. . . .

The reason why so many of the children have a Muslim background, is that Denmark received many immigrants from the mid-80s till now. The Muslim immigrants concentrate in the large cities and they have a birth rate much higher than Danes. Before that, there weren't many Muslims in Denmark compared with today. So the presence of this new group in our society has raised some questions.

Some examples of the previous debate in Denmark:
  • In my town Muslims suggested to close the cafeteria of the local swimming-bath for men, at times when Muslim women were bathing - because the cafeteria has windows to the swimming-bath...
  • A Muslim woman took a company to court because she was fired for insisting on wearing a Muslim head scarf at work, which was not company policy.
  • Some teachers say they have problems with parents, that wont allow their children to draw, go to camp, participating in birthday-celebrations and so on.
  • Danish Imams have said things like: Women that are not "covered" - can blame themselves for being raped. Quite disturbing in the context, that there has been some cases of young Muslim men group raping young Danish women.
    I hope they were prosecuted by Danish law, and not Sharia law
  • Some public schools have made special bathing-facilities at the gym for Muslim children, since they "cant" take a bath together with the other children.
So the issue here in Denmark, from my point of view, is about setting limits for, how far a religious minority can set the agenda on everything it comes into contact with - in a country that is highly secular and where freedom of religion, speech, sex and other subjects is practically total.

The drawings were just part of the whole background and debate. Most Danes are not very religious (if at all) and I am sure that half the Danish population are wondering why anyone could get offended - at all.

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Moderate Muslim

The Jawa Report has a very funny piece entitled Moderate Muslim Speak Out Against Intolerance Across Globe which shows a huge number of photos of Muslims around the world protesting the Danish cartoons (and a few other things), with tongue in cheek captions saying they are moderate muslims. One example is this photo, with the caption Muslim tolerance crusadors in the moderate Muslim country of Malaysia where all religions are equally respected. These moderates are protesting the notion held by extremists that the Denmark should be boycotted for the government's failure to suppress speech.. But you must see all of them

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Patriot Act Compromise Clears Way for Senate Vote

WaPo Efforts to extend the USA Patriot Act cleared a major hurdle yesterday when the White House and key senators agreed to revisions that are virtually certain to secure Senate passage and likely to win House approval, congressional leaders said.
I think they gave too much, and hope the House agrees.
Several Democrats said the compromise announced yesterday lacks important civil liberties safeguards, and even the Republican negotiators said they had to yield to the administration on several points. But with virtually all 55 GOP senators now on board, and Democrats joining them, the plan appears to have enough support to overcome the Senate filibuster that has thwarted a four-year renewal of the statute for months. Senators said they think the White House will be able to coax the Republican-controlled House to agree as well, even though House leaders have complained that senators' demands had weakened the measure.
The Senate has too many weak kneed RINOs.
The proposal would restrict federal agents' access to library records, one of the Patriot Act's most contentious provisions. A form of secret subpoena known as a National Security Letter could no longer be used to obtain records from libraries that function "in their traditional capacity, including providing basic Internet access," Sununu and others said in a statement. But libraries that are "Internet service providers" would remain subject to the letters, Durbin said.
So terrorists wanting to use the library's internet connection to get their instructions need to be sure the library does not also sell Internet Access (what libraries do act as an ISP???)
The Senate proposal would no longer require National Security Letter recipients to tell the FBI the identity of their lawyers.
As long as they get the information the National Security Letter asks for, why do they need to know the identity of their lawyers.
The compromise bill also addresses "Section 215 subpoenas," which are granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court. Recipients of such subpoenas originally were forbidden to tell anyone about the action. The proposed Senate measure would allow them to challenge the "gag order" after one year, rather than the 90-day wait in earlier legislation.
That is no too bad, since in a year they hopefully will have the info necessary to arrest.
Sununu said the administration insisted on the longer waiting period. "You now have a process to challenge the gag order," he said, defending the concession. "That didn't exist before."
The main bad thing, IMHO, is on the library internet connection. Why should terrorists be able to use the library internet computers to get their instructions.

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Loose Lips Sink Spies

NYT reported At the Central Intelligence Agency, we are more than holding our own in the global war on terrorism, but we are at risk of losing a key battle: the battle to protect our classified information.

In earlier times the press would not print classified information leaked to it without clearing it first with the government. but papers like the NYT hate Bush so much they will print anything they can to hurt him, even if it hurts the country more.
Judge Laurence Silberman, a chairman of President Bush's commission on weapons of mass destruction, said he was "stunned" by the damage done to our critical intelligence assets by leaked information. The commission reported last March that in monetary terms, unauthorized disclosures have cost America hundreds of millions of dollars; in security terms, of course, the cost has been much higher. Part of the problem is that the term "whistleblower" has been misappropriated. The sharp distinction between a whistleblower and someone who breaks the law by willfully compromising classified information has been muddied.
The latter should be tried and executed as the traitor they are.
As a member of Congress in 1998, I sponsored the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act to ensure that current or former employees could petition Congress, after raising concerns within their respective agency, consistent with the need to protect classified information.
But it says nothing about leaking the information to a newspaper that hates the President.

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Loose Lips Sink Spies

NYT reported At the Central Intelligence Agency, we are more than holding our own in the global war on terrorism, but we are at risk of losing a key battle: the battle to protect our classified information.

In earlier times the press would not print classified information leaked to it without clearing it first with the government. but papers like the NYT hate Bush so much they will print anything they can to hurt him, even if it hurts the country more.
Judge Laurence Silberman, a chairman of President Bush's commission on weapons of mass destruction, said he was "stunned" by the damage done to our critical intelligence assets by leaked information. The commission reported last March that in monetary terms, unauthorized disclosures have cost America hundreds of millions of dollars; in security terms, of course, the cost has been much higher. Part of the problem is that the term "whistleblower" has been misappropriated. The sharp distinction between a whistleblower and someone who breaks the law by willfully compromising classified information has been muddied.
The latter should be tried and executed as the traitor they are.
As a member of Congress in 1998, I sponsored the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act to ensure that current or former employees could petition Congress, after raising concerns within their respective agency, consistent with the need to protect classified information.
But it says nothing about leaking the information to a newspaper that hates the President.

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White House Knew of Levee's Failure on Night of Storm

NYT In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bush administration officials said they had been caught by surprise when they were told on Tuesday, Aug. 30, that a levee had broken, allowing floodwaters to engulf New Orleans. But Congressional investigators have now learned that an eyewitness account of the flooding from a federal emergency official reached the Homeland Security Department's headquarters starting at 9:27 p.m. the day before, and the White House itself at midnight. The Federal Emergency Management Agency official, Marty Bahamonde, first heard of a major levee breach Monday morning. By late Monday afternoon, Mr. Bahamonde had hitched a ride on a Coast Guard helicopter over the breach at the 17th Street Canal to confirm the extensive flooding.

And Brown said during the hearings that Marty frequently exagerated things.
He then telephoned his report to FEMA headquarters in Washington, which notified the Homeland Security Department. "FYI from FEMA," said an e-mail message from the agency's public affairs staff describing the helicopter flight, sent Monday night at 9:27 to the chief of staff of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and recently unearthed by investigators. Conditions, the message said, "are far more serious than media reports are currently reflecting. Finding extensive flooding and more stranded people than they had thought — also a number of fires." Michael D. Brown, who was the director of FEMA until he resigned under pressure on Sept. 12, said in a telephone interview Thursday that he personally notified the White House of this news that night, though he declined to identify the official he spoke to. White House officials have confirmed to Congressional investigators that the report of the levee break arrived there at midnight, and Trent Duffy, the White House spokesman, acknowledged as much in an interview this week, though he said it was surrounded with conflicting reports. But the alert did not seem to register. Even the next morning, President Bush was feeling relieved that New Orleans had "dodged the bullet," he later recalled. Mr. Chertoff, similarly confident, flew Tuesday to Atlanta for a briefing on avian flu. With power out from the high winds and movement limited, even news reporters in New Orleans remained unaware of the full extent of the levee breaches until Tuesday. The federal government let out a sigh of relief when in fact it should have been sounding an "all hands on deck" alarm, the investigators have found.
They got one "FYI" email from someone known to exagerate, and they had a lot of conflicting reports, including news reports from reporters in New Orleans. Why should that be a signal to sound an "all hands on deck" alarm. Besides that, the Feds are not First Responders. That job falls to locals, and the state government should be their backup. Did they follow either the New Orleans Disaster Plan or the State of Louisiana Disaster Plan?

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Pondering a second act for Kerry

Boston Globe reported Is John Kerry's future behind him? Put another way, is the 2008 presidential campaign that Kerry hopes to wage merely a political pipe dream given his 2004 loss, or could he actually be a serious candidate?
I wonder what he is smoking in that political pipe.
Kerry obviously thinks he's viable.
Run Kerry Run!!!
Queried recently on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" about a Gentlemen's Quarterly story portraying him as a skunk at a Democratic garden party, the senator all but dropped the pretense that the prospect of a second presidential campaign lies too far off to contemplate, and instead made it clear that the derision of Democratic insiders wouldn't affect his decision.

When Stephanopoulos noted that the Democrats haven't nominated a previous loser since Adlai Stevenson in 1956, Kerry cited the second-time-around victories for Richard Nixon and, after a fashion, Ronald Reagan. "Maybe the Republicans know something we don't," he said.
Republicans know a LOT of things Democrats don't. In fact they are too numerous to list.
Still, if one is to believe GQ, the party's Washington establishment wishes the 2004 nominee would simply wander off into that lonely wilderness where Democratic losers usually go.
If you need directions, ask Al Gore.

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One sorry mess of a party


LA Times prints And for another week, the Democrats managed to hold themselves hostage to, well, themselves.

Item 1: Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the wunderkind of the Democratic Party who, we've been told, not only transcends race, partisanship and personal ambition but actually sails above such concerns like the Winged Victory of Samothrace, received his first shellacking this week by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). McCain says Obama promised to join in a bipartisan lobbying reform effort but reneged in favor of backing the Democrats' more partisan effort. So McCain — the dashboard saint of bipartisan reform efforts — turned Obama into epistolary roadkill. In an archly sarcastic letter, McCain apologized for not realizing that Obama was more interested in "self-interested partisan posturing," adding that "I'm embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics, I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical gloss."

In other words, just what is to be expected from Democrats.
Item 2: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) returned a campaign contribution from Wal-Mart while gladly pocketing cash from Paul Newman, Reese Witherspoon and other Hollywood liberals. She even took a wad of dough from Jerry Springer, who made his fortune proving that nothing is too vile to broadcast. Clinton served on Wal-Mart's board from 1986 until 1992, and in that time the company was hardly any more "worker-friendly" — to borrow a liberal term — than it is today.
it certainly spent a lot less on employee benefits then than it does now.
It's just a bigger company now, with the same policies she oversaw. When asked if she ever fought for "progressive" policies when she was a director of the company, she replied, "Well, you know, I, that was a long time ago, I have to remember…. "
Her memory keeps failing, just as it did many times when she was in the White House. And she thinks we will elect someone President with such a poor memory.
Item 3: The New York Times ran a state-of-the-art Democratic self-recrimination story,
covered here
highlighting the party's inability to make political hay from such supposedly obvious Republican vulnerabilities as Hurricane Katrina and the National Security Agency wiretapping. The article was festooned like a Christmas tree with baubles of self-doubt and ornaments of denial hanging from every branch: the Democrats are "frustrated" by the party's "tangled" problems and their inability to exploit this "pivotal moment," etc. Some Democrats are furious that their party doesn't have its own ideas. Other say they do have ideas, they're just keeping them secret for now.
Or maybe no one knows what they are.
That sounds a lot like the high school geek who insists that his girlfriend is really hot but lives in an undisclosed location in Canada. Others say agendas aren't that useful anyway. "People said, 'You can't beat something with nothing,' " House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) told the Times, even though Democrats did exactly that on Social Security. "I feel very confident about where we are," she assured the paper. And all this happened by Wednesday — and leaves out Jimmy Carter's shabby and even mildly ghoulish exploitation of Coretta Scott King's funeral.

"A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, but then fail all the more completely because he drinks," George Orwell once observed. This seems to capture nicely the dynamic of the Democrats' shame spiral. Success in politics is measured by winning elections. On this score, Democrats have been failures for a while now. In response, they're getting drunk on a brew of partisanship and Bush-hating.
Their only idea is if the Republicans propose it, oppose it.
It is amazing how obvious — OK, even trite — is the Democratic plight. Democrats need the money and energy of their "progressive," blog-addicted base, but in order to get it, they turn off mainstream voters. In other words, they can't get escape velocity.... In the Senate, Minority Leader Harry Reid has infuriated Republican moderates such as Arlen Specter more than GOP conservatives by obstructing legislation and hurling partisan insults. This is exactly the opposite strategy required for clawing out of the hole the Democrats are in. But anti-Republicanism trumps everything. And that's a roadmap for the Democrats to go ever deeper into the wilderness.
That is good. They need to dig themselves in a little deeper to make sure the Democratic party will never arise again, at which time the Republican party can split into two parties, one that will go back to the policy of smaller government.

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Reid Aided Ambramoff Clients

Breitbart reports Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid wrote at least four letters helpful to Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff, and the senator's staff regularly had contact with the disgraced lobbyist's team about legislation affecting other clients.
The Senate Minority Leader even refuses to give back (or donate to chairity) the money he was paid to lobby in their behalf. It shows the double standard: if Republicans do it, it is wrong, but if Democrats do the same thing, there is nothing wrong with it.
The activities _ detailed in billing records and correspondence obtained by The Associated Press _ are far more extensive than previously disclosed. They occurred over three years as Reid collected nearly $68,000 in donations from Abramoff's firm, lobbying partners and clients.

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Muslims call for changes in law

BBC reports Muslim scholars who gathered for an emergency meeting have called for changes to the law to stop images of the Prophet Muhammad being published. Members of the Muslim Action Committee (MAC) who met in Birmingham called for changes to the Race Relations Act and the Press Complaints Commission code.
Do they somehow think that a British law is going to prevent publication in Denmark?
They are to stage a protest march in London on 18 February, expected to attract 20,000 to 50,000 people. The MAC was responding to the cartoons which satirise Muhammad. Shaikh Faiz Saddiqi, who chaired the meeting, said Wednesday's gathering of about 300 Islamic religious leaders was the largest meeting of its kind he knew of in his 25 years of living in the UK. 'Deeply offensive' He said the MAC was meeting to bring cohesion to the debate among Muslims about how to respond to the publication of the cartoons in a Danish newspaper and their subsequent repetition in other countries. The discussions among the religious leaders, who had travelled to an Islamic centre in Small Heath from across the UK, lasted for two hours. What kicks can you get out of seeing this caricature, except to insult the Prophet of Islam?
What kicks to all of the Arab press get from the daily cartoons they run about the Jews.
Shaikh Faiz Saddiqi Mr Saddiqi said they had concluded they wanted the Race Relations Act modified to give Muslims the same protection as Sikhs or Jews.
What do Jews care about images of Muhammad? And does the law stop publication of the cartoons in the Arab press?
He also said the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct should be tightened to prevent publication of any images of Muhammad, but added the clerics accepted criticism and discussion of Islam should be allowed.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Missed Opportunities

NYT reported Democrats are heading into this year's elections in a position weaker than they had hoped for, party leaders say, stirring concern that they are letting pass an opportunity to exploit what they see as widespread Republican vulnerabilities. In interviews, senior Democrats said they were optimistic about significant gains in Congressional elections this fall, calling this the best political environment they have faced since President Bush took office.

Republicans need not worry. The Dems will screw it up, just like they do every time.
But Democrats described a growing sense that they had failed to take full advantage of the troubles that have plagued Mr. Bush and his party since the middle of last year, driving down the president's approval ratings, opening divisions among Republicans in Congress over policy and potentially putting control of the House and Senate into play in November.

Asked to describe the health of the Democratic Party, Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said: "A lot worse than it should be. This has not been a very good two months." "We seem to be losing our voice when it comes to the basic things people worry about," Mr. Dodd said. Democrats said they had not yet figured out how to counter the White House's long assault on their national security credentials.
Don't tell the Dems, but as long as they keep complaining about the NSA listening in when Al Qaeda talk to their cells in the US, and keep recommending an immediate pullout from Iraq, turning the company over to Islamofascists would find it much easier to travel from there than they did from their camps in Afganistan, they are not likely to fool people into thinking they know how to protect the American people.
And they said their opportunities to break through to voters with a coherent message on domestic and foreign policy — should they settle on one — were restricted by the lack of an established, nationally known leader to carry their message this fall.
And they will not be able to focus on one leader, since everyone wants to preserve their ability to run for President in 2008.
As a result, some Democrats said, their party could lose its chance to do to Republicans this year what the Republicans did to them in 1994: make the midterm election, normally dominated by regional and local concerns, a national referendum on the party in power. "I think that two-thirds of the American people think the country is going in the wrong direction,"
Your math is off
said Senator Barack Obama, the first-term Illinois Democrat who is widely viewed as one of the party's promising stars. "They're not sure yet whether Democrats can move it in the right direction."
No, they know they are not.
Mr. Obama said the Democratic Party had not seized the moment, adding: "We have been in a reactive posture for too long. I think we have been very good at saying no, but not good enough at saying yes."
Actually Dems only are capable of showing hate.
.... "We're selling our party short; you've got to stand for a lot more than just blasting the other side," said Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee. "The country is wide open to hear some alternatives, but I don't think it's wide open to all these criticisms. I am sitting here and getting all my e-mail about the things we are supposed to say about the president's speech, but it's extremely light on ideas. It's like, 'We're for jobs and we're for America.' "
Especially since the Republicans are for both of them as well, and they have delivered jobs (a very good economy) and Republicans support the military that is protecting America.
.... Since Mr. Bush's re-election, Democrats have been divided over whether to take on the Republicans in a more confrontational manner, ideologically and politically, or to move more forcefully to stake out the center on social and national security issues. They are being pushed, from the left wing of the party, to stand for what they say are the party's historical liberal values.
And if they dare reach for the center, the left side of their party will destroy them.
But among more establishment Democrats, there is concern that many of the party's most visible leaders — among them, Howard Dean, the Democratic chairman; Senator John Kerry, the party's 2004 presidential candidate; Mr. Kennedy; Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader; and Al Gore, who has assumed a higher profile as the party heads toward the 2008 presidential primaries — may be flawed messengers.
They certainly are flawed leaders, but who told the Dems.
.... Some Democrats argued that the party had time to put up its ideas, and that it would be smarter to wait until later, when voters would be paying attention.
Any when they might be able to come up with some ideas.

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Coretta Scott King Funeral

Several speakers at the Coretta Scott King funeral, including former President Jimmy Carter, took the opportunity to turn it into an opportunity to take cheap shots at President Bush. I thought one of the most moving speaches came from President Bush himself.

To the King Family, distinguished guests and fellow citizens. We gather in God's house, in God's presence, to honor God's servant, Coretta Scott King. Her journey was long, and only briefly with a hand to hold. But now she leans on everlasting arms. I've come today to offer the sympathy of our entire nation at the passing of a woman who worked to make our nation whole.

With all of the Democratic hate that the MSM is helping to spread, one might wonder why George Bush is doing as well as he is. The answer is in the lead to this first paragraph, as well as numerous references in this speach, and in as emphasized in the last paragraph. George Bush really places his trust in God.
Americans knew her husband only as a young man. We knew Mrs. King in all the seasons of her life -- and there was grace and beauty in every season. As a great movement of history took shape, her dignity was a daily rebuke to the pettiness and cruelty of segregation. When she wore a veil at 40 years old, her dignity revealed the deepest trust in God and His purposes. In decades of prominence, her dignity drew others to the unfinished work of justice. In all her years, Coretta Scott King showed that a person of conviction and strength could also be a beautiful soul. This kind and gentle woman became one of the most admired Americans of our time. She is rightly mourned, and she is deeply missed.
The Dumbocrats used their time to blast Bush. Bush uses time to praise Coretta Scott King.
Some here today knew her as a girl, and saw something very special long before a young preacher proposed. She once said, "Before I was a King, I was a Scott." And the Scotts were strong, and righteous, and brave in the face of wrong. Coretta eventually took on the duties of a pastor's wife, and a calling that reached far beyond the doors of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

In that calling, Dr. King's family was subjected to vicious words, threatening calls in the night, and a bombing at their house. Coretta had every right to count the cost, and step back from the struggle. But she decided that her children needed more than a safe home -- they needed an America that upheld their equality, and wrote their rights into law. (Applause.) And because this young mother and father were not intimidated, millions of children they would never meet are now living in a better, more welcoming country. (Applause.)

In the critical hours of the civil rights movement, there were always men and women of conscience at the heart of the drama. They knew that old hatreds ran deep. They knew that nonviolence might be answered with violence. They knew that much established authority was against them. Yet they also knew that sheriffs and mayors and governors were not ultimately in control of events; that a greater authority was interested, and very much in charge. (Applause.)

The God of Moses was not neutral about their captivity. The God of Isaiah and the prophets was still impatient with injustice. And they knew that the Son of God would never leave them or forsake them.
If one places his faith in government, one will be disappointed. But if one places his faith in the Son of God, He will never disappoint or forsake you.
But some had to leave before their time -- and Dr. King left behind a grieving widow and little children. Rarely has so much been asked of a pastor's wife, and rarely has so much been taken away. Years later, Mrs. King recalled, "I would wake up in the morning, have my cry, then go in to them. The children saw me going forward." Martin Luther King, Jr. had preached that unmerited suffering could have redemptive power.

Little did he know that this great truth would be proven in the life of the person he loved the most. Others could cause her sorrow, but no one could make her bitter. By going forward with a strong and forgiving heart, Coretta Scott King not only secured her husband's legacy, she built her own. (Applause.) Having loved a leader, she became a leader. And when she spoke, America listened closely, because her voice carried the wisdom and goodness of a life well lived.

In that life, Coretta Scott King knew danger. She knew injustice. She knew sudden and terrible grief. She also knew that her Redeemer lives. She trusted in the name above every name. And today we trust that our sister Coretta is on the other shore -- at peace, at rest, at home. (Applause.) May God bless you, and may God bless our country. (Applause.)
As indicated above, he begins his speach with "We gather in God's house, in God's presence, to honor God's servant, Coretta Scott King." and ends it with "today we trust that our sister Coretta is on the other shore -- at peace, at rest, at home.".
Amen

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The Jewish Street Explodes

In a satirical look at the Muslim reaction to the Danish cartoons, Jonah Goldberg wrote on The Corner April 1, 2006.

Note the date. April 1 is April Fools Day
New York -- In response to a series of offensive cartoons published in an Iranian newspaper and subsequently printed in every newspaper around the globe, including many which had refused to publish the now-forgotten "anti-Muslim" cartoons last winter, the "Jewish street" erupted. At Brandeis University, a course on Lesbian motifs in Yiddish literature was briefly interrupted as students asked their professor what he thought about the controversy. In Washington D.C. a flurry of letters to the editor and press releases poured out of Jewish organizations. In New York, Commentary magazine -- a leading organ of the "neoconservative" Jewish Right -- announced it would run three articles on Iran in its next issue as well as an extensive letters section.
Oh, what an extreme response <grin>
"This is outrageous but expected," thundered a furious Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League on a longer-than-normal appearance on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews."

Elsewhere Jewish tempers weren't running so hot. At Artie's Delicatessen on the Upper West Side of New York, Josh Greenberg ate a pastrami sandwich with a friend, Abe Kolman, hoping to avoid all the furor in the Jewish street. "Zabar's is a mad house today," Greenberg observed. When asked about the Iranian newspaper controversy, Greenberg said "What are you going to do?" Kolman, an orthodontist, added "I'd stop eating Iranian pistachios, I guess." The White House continued to plead with Jews across America to stay calm.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Lobbyists in the gym

The Hill reported Former Rep. Tom Bliley (R-Va.), a powerful gavel-swinger at the Commerce Committee in the late 1990s, is no fan of new House rules that prevent lobbyists who were lawmakers from stalking the floor during votes or using the chamber’s gym.

That is too bad. The rule changes are certainly not enough, they need to eliminate earmarks. bit tje ri;es ,ale semse/
The new rule looks more favorably on former members who are convicted felons, such as Jim Traficant (D-Ohio), than former members who are registered lobbyists, Bliley complained in a hallway outside the House chamber last week. Bliley, who often visits the House floor, said he used to use the gym frequently and attends events of the Chowder and Marching Club — the House Republican “secret society” — near the Speaker’s suite of offices. “To show you how stupid it is, when he gets out of prison Traficant ... will be able to use the gym as a former member because he’s not a lobbyist,” Bliley said.
There is a good solution to that. Ban former members with criminal records. Or why not just bad all former members.
Indeed, said one House source familiar with the situation, Traficant’s privileges remain intact, as do those of former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.), who just resigned amid a graft scandal. “I don’t believe it was really raised as an issue,” given the lengthy prison terms both men face, said the source.

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Soldier had to pay for armor

The Charleston Gazette reported The last time 1st Lt. William “Eddie” Rebrook IV saw his body armor, he was lying on a stretcher in Iraq, his arm shattered and covered in blood. A field medic tied a tourniquet around Rebrook’s right arm to stanch the bleeding from shrapnel wounds. Soldiers yanked off his blood-soaked body armor. He never saw it again. But last week, Rebrook was forced to pay $700 for that body armor, blown up by a roadside bomb more than a year ago. He was leaving the Army for good because of his injuries. He turned in his gear at his base in Fort Hood, Texas. He was informed there was no record that the body armor had been stripped from him in battle. He was told to pay nearly $700 or face not being discharged for weeks, perhaps months.

This is just not right!!!!!
Rebrook, 25, scrounged up the cash from his Army buddies and returned home to Charleston last Friday. “I last saw the [body armor] when it was pulled off my bleeding body while I was being evacuated in a helicopter,” Rebrook said. “They took it off me and burned it.” But no one documented that he lost his Kevlar body armor during battle, he said. No one wrote down that armor had apparently been incinerated as a biohazard.

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Obama and McCain Dueling Memos

Barack Obama and John McCain exchange dueling memos

Obama
Senator Harry Reid and others in the Democratic Caucus have taken an important step by introducing S. 2180, the Honest Leadership Act, which imposes many of the same disclosure requirements for lobbyists that you have proposed,

But as Democrats we feel that since we are in the minority, you should join us on our proposal, rather than pushing your alternative proposal S.1495, which would prohibit Federal agencies from obligating funds for appropriations earmarks included only in congressional reports.
while also strengthening enforcement, eliminating "pay to play" schemes, and imposing more restrictive rules on meals, gifts, and travel that Members and their staff can receive from special interests that advocate before Congress.... I know you have expressed an interest in creating a task force to further study and discuss these matters, but I and others in the Democratic Caucus believe the more effective and timely course is to allow the committees of jurisdiction to roll up their sleeves and get to work on writing ethics and lobbying reform legislation that a majority of the Senate can support....

McCain
Thank you for disabusing me of such notions with your letter to me dated February 2, 2006, which explained your decision to withdraw from our bipartisan discussions.... As you know, the Majority Leader has asked Chairman Collins to hold hearings and mark up a bill for floor consideration in early March. I fully support such timely action and I am confident that, together with Senator Lieberman, the Committee on Governmental Affairs will report out a meaningful, bipartisan bill. You commented in your letter about my "interest in creating a task force to further study" this issue, as if to suggest I support delaying the consideration of much-needed reforms rather than allowing the committees of jurisdiction to hold hearings on the matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. The timely findings of a bipartisan working group could be very helpful to the committee in formulating legislation that will be reported to the full Senate.... The bill Senators Joe Lieberman and Bill Nelson and I have introduced is evidence of that commitment as is my insistence that members of both parties be included in meetings
In other words, we are in the majority, and have some Democrats that are willing to join us, and I thought you were as well, but you insist on pushing the Democratic solution S.2179
to develop the legislation that will ultimately be considered on the Senate floor.

Obama
As you will recall, I told everyone present at the meeting that my caucus insisted that the consideration of any ethics reform proposal go through the regular committee process. You didn't indicate any opposition to this position at the time, and I wrote the letter to reiterate this point, as well as the fact that I thought S. 2180 should be the basis
You just don't understand Democrats. We want everything to be done our way, even though we are in the minority.
for a bipartisan solution.

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Introducing the Troll cap

Signal vs. Noise blogged We’ve been experimenting with various ways to keep abusive comments in check. We’ve tried simply deleting those comments, banning those commenters from SvN, and even turning off comments all together for a limited time. We’ve learned a few things from each experiment. Here’s another one we’re going to try: The Troll Cap. troll capWe’ve all seen the dunce cap. Now it’s time for some people to put on the Troll cap. Comments posted on SvN that are off-topic, blatantly inflammatory, or otherwise inappropriate or vapid may either be removed or be slapped with the Troll cap. This icon is free for anyone to use on their own blog.

I am not sure how to implement it, but this sounds like an interesting idea.

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BMW given Google 'death penalty'

BBC reported Search giant Google has "blacklisted" German car manufacturer BMW for breaching its guidelines. Investigations by Google found that BMW's German website influenced search results to ensure top ranking when users searched for "used car."
It's not nice to fool Mother Nature.

It's not wise to try to fool Google.
Google has now reduced BMW's page rank to zero, ensuring the company no longer appears at the top. BMW admitted using so-called "doorway pages" to boost search rankings, but denied any attempt to mislead users.
They just wanted to screw other car manufacturers.
BMW's activities were revealed in a blog by Google software engineer Matt Cutts. If Google says all doorway pages are illegal we have to take this into consideration BMW spokesman BMW's German website, which is heavily reliant on javascript code unsearchable by Google, used text-heavy pages liberally sprinkled with key words to attract the attention of Google's indexing system. However, once a user clicked on the link displayed in Google's results window, they were redirected to a regular BMW Germany page, which contained far fewer of the key words.
Google has a special program where BMW can buy a top rating. It is called a "Sponsored Link"

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End to Google's 'Free Lunch'

WaPo reports A Verizon Communications Inc. executive yesterday accused Google Inc. of freeloading for gaining access to people's homes using a network of lines and cables the phone company spent billions of dollars to build.
Google does not access people's homes. People who live in those homes use lines and cables they pay their local phone company or their local cable company for, to access Google's servers and other servers on the internet. Google pays backbone ISP's for lines to connect's servers to the internet.
The comments by John Thorne, a Verizon senior vice president and deputy general counsel, came as lawmakers prepared to debate legislation that could let phone and cable companies charge Internet firms additional fees for using their high-speed lines. "The network builders are spending a fortune constructing and maintaining the networks that Google intends to ride on with nothing but cheap servers," Thorne told a conference marking the 10th anniversary of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. "It is enjoying a free lunch that should, by any rational account, be the lunch of the facilities providers."
If Verizon provides service to Google, go ahead and increase your charges, and let's see if they can find a less expensive provider to provide it's servers with internet connectivity.
Verizon is spending billions of dollars to construct a fiber-optic network around the country for delivering high-speed Internet and cable TV services.
I presume they are doing that because they feel it is a good business decision.
Executives at other telecom companies, such as AT Inc. chief executive Edward E. Whitacre Jr., have suggested that Google, Yahoo Inc. and other such Internet services should have to pay fees for preferred access to consumers over such lines.

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Iran to publish Holocaust cartoons

News.com.au reports Iran's largest selling newspaper announced today it was holding a contest on cartoons of the Holocaust in response to the publishing in European papers of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed. "It will be an international cartoon contest about the Holocaust," said Farid Mortazavi, the graphics editor for Hamshahri newspaper - which is published by Teheran's conservative municipality.
At least it is not violence, and if they think that Jews or Europeans will react violently, and burn embassies, they will be disappointed.
He said the plan was to turn the tables on the assertion that newspapers can print offensive material in the name of freedom of expression.
There are already plenty of anti-Jewish cartoons printed in arab newspapers daily.
"The Western papers printed these sacrilegious cartoons on the pretext of freedom of expression, so let's see if they mean what they say and also print these Holocaust cartoons," he said.
Don't hold your breath. No, I retract that. Go ahead and hold your breath. I would like to see what you look like in blue.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Democrats 'Recalibrating' Message Strategy

Rollcall reports National Democratic leaders remain engaged in strategic talks over how and when to unveil their 2006 campaign platform, with recent discussions focused on laying out the party agenda in installments rather than all at once.

That seems like a very good idea. If you don't have any ideas, it is best not to put all of that on the table at once. There is always the remote chance that they will come up with an idea sometime.

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Amazon-Sense?

SitePoint blogged Amazon is apparently looking into the feasibility of starting their own ad network like Adsense.... When I first heard about this I thought it’d be Amazon product listings displayed in an Adsense-like way and I figured it’d analyze your content for for products to serve, but they’d be Amazon products. Turns out I was wrong, they want their own contextual advertising network.....
This is interesting. I can't check it out, because I am a member of the Pajamas Media blogs, and cannot host any ads other than theirs, but other blogs that are not a part of Pajamas Media might want to check it out.
The fact is that while Amazon has a high gross revenue, they have really thin profit margins, whereas Google and even eBay have much better profit margins. So I think there is probably a little bit of business jealousy at work here, and rightly so. Amazon realizes that if they want to compete as a major Internet destination, not just an ecommerce site, they need to capture a larger chunk of the online advertising revenue. It’s kinda funny, 5 years ago people were speaking about the death of online advertising, and now its huge.

So anyways, if they go through with this, then once MSN’s AdCenter program is launched, and Yahoo’s Publisher Network goes out of beta, that’ll give us publishers 4 choices in this area and choice is never a bad thing.

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Muslims tell Yard to charge protesters

Times Online Britain’s leading Islamic body yesterday called on Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, to press charges against the extremists behind last week’s inflammatory protests in London over the “blasphemous” cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.

This is the first intelligent thing I have heard the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) say

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Self-harmers to be given clean blades

Times Online reported Nurses want patients who are intent on harming themselves to be provided with clean blades so that they can cut themselves more safely.
This is insane.
They say people determined to harm themselves should be helped to minimise the risk of infection from dirty blades, in the same way as drug addicts are issued with clean needles.
A good example of the "slippery slope" argument.
This could include giving the “self-harm” patients sterile blades and clean packets of bandages or ensuring that they keep their own blades clean. Nurses would also give patients advice about which parts of the body it is safer to cut.
What makes you think that a patient with a desire to harm himself wants to know a safe way to do it?
The proposal for “safe” self-harm — which is to be debated at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Congress in April — is likely to provoke controversy.
Really?????
At present nurses are expected to stop anyone doing physical harm to themselves and to confiscate any sharp objects ranging from razor blades to broken glass and tin cans.
A reasonable policy.
However, Ian Hulatt, mental health adviser for the RCN, said: “There is a clear comparison with giving clean needles to reduce HIV. We will be debating introducing a similar harm-reduction approach. This may well include the provision of clean dressing packs and it may mean providing clean ‘sharps’.
If a patient wants to shoot himself, will they provide the gun, and make recommendations of where to shoot?
“Nurses who encounter individuals who self-harm on a regular basis face a dilemma. Do they go for prohibition? Or do we allow this to occur in a way that minimises harm?” Hulatt admitted there would be significant opposition: “Some nurses will not support this because our code of practice says we should not do patients any harm.

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Dutch Islamists post cartoons

Haaretz reported
Dutch Islamists post cartoons depicting Anne Frank, Hitler in bed. A Belgian-Dutch Islamic political organization posted anti-Jewish cartoons on its Web site in response to the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that appeared in Danish papers last year and offended many Muslims. The cartoons were posted on the Arab European League's site on Saturday. It was not working Sunday morning because of exceeded bandwidth. The Islamic site carried a disclaimer saying the images were being shown as part of an exercise in free speech rather than to endorse their content - just as European newspapers have reprinted the Danish cartoons.

And you will NOT see Jews rioting in the streets, and no embassies from Islamic countries will be burned. Will the Muslims see the difference?
One of the AEL cartoons displayed an image of Dutch Holocaust victim Anne Frank in bed with Adolf Hitler, and another questioned whether the Holocaust actually occurred.

Michelle Malkin blogged Um, hello? Arab newspapers run this kind of sick propaganda all the time. And nobody riots. Nobody burns down Arab nations' embassies. Nobody threatens to behead and massacre and annihilate the Muslim cartoonists.

Thanks for making the point.

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Muslim Excesses

A Danish newspaper printed 12 cartoons that upset Muslims


They certainly are not complimentary to the Muslim faith, but Denmark is not a Muslim country, and in my opinion they are not as insulting to the Muslim faith as the cartoons Muslim newspapers run daily about the Jewish faith, nor are they as insulting as it is for newspapers in the US (an 80 to 90% Christian country) to print praise of artwork with Christ in urine, and the Virgin Mary covered in dung, mocking images of Jesus Christ, or Bin Laden as Christ, Rolling Stones prints a cover with Kanye West-as-Christ, and we have a network that plans to feature Britney Spears as the host of a fictional cooking segment called "Cruci-fixin's" in an upcoming "Will & Grace" epsiode, and a network plans an epsiode that makes a mockery out of the sacrament of the Eucharist, and many others too numerous to name, yet while it makes Christians sad, and even angry, we are not rioting in the streets.

As Gateway Pundit reported This whole Danish cartoon controversy was made up by the "Islamic Society of Denmark" who spread three fake cartoons, that never were printed in the Danish newspapers


These additional three were certainly more insulting: showing Muhammed with a pig snout (a pig is considered unclean in the Muslim faith), showing Muhammad as a pedophile demon, and showing a praying Muslim being raped by a dog, but they were never printed by the Danish or any other newspaper.

Michelle Malkin points out that the international newspapers and television stations are doing their best to downplay the global conflagration over the Cartoon Jihad by calling it a "Cartoon row" for the Danish embassy in several countries to be burned, while other European papers are reprinting the cartoons to show they have the power to do so. As Michelle indicated, this is not a "row".

Michelle Malkin put together a very cute movie (click here to view the wmv file)

Tim Blair quoted a Sydney news report which said

As more European newspapers reprinted the cartoons, what started off as a row between Denmark’s press and its Muslim population has grown into a full-blown “clash of civilisations”.
and he responded
No; that would require two civilisations.
There is absolutely no excuse for all of this violence.

As La Shawn Barber said Liberal editors are a lot smarter than they look. If Rolling Stone had put Kanye West posing as Muhammad on the cover, they’d be in hiding, too. Instead, they chose the safer route: West, a rapper and contributor to the cultural toilet, posing with a crown of thorns on his head.

Christ is fair game, isn’t he? Unbelievers, liberals, and other secularists make fun of him, mock him, scorn him, and curse him, yet they steer clear of doing the same with Muslims’ god. They know offended Muslims, unlike offended Christians, issue death threats.

Crash and burn, Islamofascists! It’s in your nature. Killing is all you know how to do. You are gutless and psychotic. A religion of peace, indeed.

Ed Driscoll nails it:
Remember all the riots, looting and torching when Dogma and The Last Temptation of Christ played at your local multiplex?

Me neither.
Well, The Da Vinci Code movie will premiere in May. Let’s storm the embassies and multiplexes (multiplexi?), brothers and sisters!


Clearly she is being sarcastic, because Christians know that that Christ would not approve of violence. But I would not mind seeing a boycott.

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Email Tax

Boing Boing blogged AOL/Yahoo say: our email tax will make the net as good as the post office!

That bad? Email has already killed Western Union Telegrams, and is making a good shot at eliminating the Post Office (I get more junk mail than I do mail I want each day).
AOL/Yahoo: our email tax will make the net as good as the post office! AOL and Yahoo have proposed a system to charge senders a quarter of a cent for guaranteed delivery on each email sent to their customers. They justify this as an anti-spam measure, but of course it could make them billions, is unlikely to eliminate spam, and will undermine the ability of activist groups like MoveOn and others to correspond with their supporters.
Well if it is going to hurt MoveOn.org maybe there is some good to it.
The justification AOL offers for this is that it could make email just as good as postal mail.
Or perhaps as bad.

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Postage Is Due for Companies Sending E-Mail

NYT reported
Companies will soon have to buy the electronic equivalent of a postage stamp if they want to be certain that their e-mail will be delivered to many of their customers. America Online and Yahoo, two of the world's largest providers of e-mail accounts, are about to start using a system that gives preferential treatment to messages from companies that pay from 1/4 of a cent to a penny each to have them delivered.

Hopefully this will encourage users to avoid using AoL and Yahoo as email providers.
The senders must promise to contact only people who have agreed to receive their messages, or risk being blocked entirely. The Internet companies say that this will help them identify legitimate mail and cut down on junk e-mail, identity-theft scams and other scourges that plague users of their services.
Actually it will increase the junk email to AoL and Yahoo customers since the sender will know that by paying a small fee it will be guaranteed to be delivered.
They also stand to earn millions of dollars a year from the system if it is widely adopted.
Which is the main reason they are doing it. It has nothing to do with helping their customers.
AOL and Yahoo will still accept e-mail from senders who have not paid, but the paid messages will be given special treatment. On AOL, for example, they will go straight to users' main mailboxes, and will not have to pass the gantlet of spam filters that could divert them to a junk-mail folder or strip them of images and Web links. As is the case now, mail arriving from addresses that users have added to their AOL address books will not be treated as spam.
So they can send all of the spam they want, they just have to pay a small fee to do it.
Yahoo and AOL say the new system is a way to restore some order to e-mail, which, because of spam and worries about online scams, has become an increasingly unreliable way for companies to reach their customers, even as online transactions are becoming a crucial part of their businesses.

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