Joe Torre Book

Former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre’s book ‘The Yankee Years‘ has given an insight into the working of MLB’s most popular team and it’s players, most notably Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. The book will be released on February 3rd.

“The book is not a first-person book by Joe Torre, it’s a third-person narrative based on 12 years of knowing the Yankees and it’s about the changes in the game in that period. Joe Torre does not rip anybody in the book. The book really needs to be read in context,” says co-author Tom Verducci.

Apparently, there were several news reports about how the book exposes the shimmering rivalry between baseball’s most talented players and their chemistry with owner George Steinbrenner. Torre also described his formative years and the people who supported him for the job which ended almost 11 years.

“Whether hitting 450-foot home runs or sunbathing shirtless in Central Park or squiring strippers, Rodriguez was like nothing ever seen before on the championship teams of the Torre Era: an ambitious superstar impressed and motivated by stature and status, particularly when those qualities pertained to himself,” the authors write.

Torre, who ranks 7th in All-Time managerial wins, left the Yankees over a contract related issue. He was also diagnosed to have prostate cancer.

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Rod Blagojevich Makes Case On Good Morning America

The Illinois State Senate wants to put their governor, the thick-haired Rod Blagojevich, on trial today in the hopes of removing him from office. But Blago's not having any of that, and instead is taking to the TV to launch a multi-channel charm offensive designed to show that he deserves the opportunity to be tried in the manner laid down by the Ancient Order of Cowboys, which stipulates that all cattle rustlers have the opportunity to call Rahm Emanuel as a witness. Or something. It's not clear what, if anything, Blago will accomplish by going on all these shows today -- other than the fact that Diane Sawyer will probably not be yelling at him in disbelief like Chicago's print reporters are. In addition to Good Morning America, Blago has plans to appear on Today (who broadcast the first part of their sit down with Blago yesterday), Larry King Live tonight, and ABC's The View. But first, Good Morning America.

Sawyer asks Blago to "address the charges," specifically the charge that Blago attempted to sell President Barack Obama's Senate seat "like a sports agent shopping for the highest bidder." Blago responds that he "absolutely did not" do anything of the kind, and that he'll have the chance in a criminal trial to bring witnesses to help obscure the truth sufficiently -- well ... those are my words, but anyway. The impeachment trial has different rules that Blago now doesn't like. Sawyer doesn't care about trial procedure, though. Instead she reads him back some of his profanity and his threat to take the Senate seat for himself. "Did you say these things?" Sawyer asks.

"I can't get into specifics of the case," Blago says, running his other play. There's "a process," and "discussions" and "a underlying idea" that he was going to try to "end up in a place where he could do the most for the people of Illinois." Because, you see, all the others elected official -- especially in the State Senate -- are howling lyconthropes that want to take away health care and stuff.

Sawyer points out that it seems to be more about something else. That something else? Well, let's just say that various English poets have referred to it as "dolla dolla bill, y'all." What about this whole thing about getting your wife placed in a cushy six-figure job, Sawyer asks. "They took snippets of conversation, out of context," Blago replies, adding that he just wanted to create jobs and health care. Sawyer, is all: "Really? Explain the context!" "Again," Blago says, "I can't go into the details of the case. I wish that I could bring the evidence to show exactly what those conversations were." And he's back to health care and reducing taxes.

Blago keeps it up. "Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence?" Waaah. Me needs to have my witnesses. Sawyer points out that he's already missed the deadline. Blago's starting to shift around in the seat. He can't get into specifics about the case ... but he keeps attempting to make the specific case that all the unseemly horse trading was just part of an effort to "leverage a result" so that he could "pass a public works program and hold the line on taxes."

"I'm here talking to Americans, to let them know what's happening in the land of Lincoln," Blago says. "If they can do this to a sitting governor ... I'd like to call Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett...they can do that to you!" And he's right! If any American, while serving as the Governor of Illinois, comes under suspicion and is impeached, they won't get granted the special dispensation to call Rahm Emanuel as a witness. ARE YOU FEELING THE CHILLING EFFECT, AMERICA.

"The fix is in!" Blago insists, repeating the desire to badger Rahm Emanuel.

What about the criminal proceedings? Blago says he knows the truth and that it's gotten lost. Actually, what's gotten lost is that Blago's problems run well past the accusations of Senate-seat pay-for-play.
Now Blago is quoting poetry again! "If" by Rudyard Kipling, which specifically addresses the way a conversation filled with profanity, caught on a wiretap, can be taken out of context.

"I'm fighting to the very end for something much larger than me," Blagojevich says.

Oh, also, Oprah: The governor said that Oprah's name came up as a potential successor to Obama in the Senate. "She seemed to be someone who had helped Barack Obama in a significant way to become president," Blagojevich said. Blagojevich added that "she had a much broader bully pulpit than a lot of senators."

His consideration of Oprah was tempered, he suggested, by that fact that "she probably wouldn't take it, and then if you offered it to her, how would you do it in a way it wasn't a gimmick to embarrass her." And you don't risk embarrassing Oprah when you still haven't booked her sho on your innocence tour.

Well, he's going to get his chance to keep making that fight, because Sawyer is going to pit Blago against Matt Murphy, one of those Illinois State Senators!

Murphy says Blago's criticisms are "self-serving statements" and the rules have been patterned on the Clinton impeachment. But Blago says that's not true, that Bill Clinton got to call witnesses like Vernon Jordan. Blago wants to call witnesses! Sixth Amendment! Chilling effect! Rahm Emanuel! Cowboys! "If they can do it in Illinois, they can do it here in New York!" Blaaaah! Watch out, America! The Illinois State Senate is coming to your state, to slightly adjust the procedural process for the impeachment of state officials!

Blago attempts to make his case that this impeachment is REALLY about all the awesome things he's done for the people of Illinois that the legislature didn't like. Murphy, however, looks Zen calm, listening to Blago prattle on and on and on. "Let's try to work through all of that red herring he just served us all for breakfast," he tells Sawyer, adding that there's a difference between taking away a person's liberty, and taking away a person's job. In terms of witnesses, Murphy says, the impeachment proceedings defer to the criminal investigation. Both sides of the impeachment trial are limited where witnesses are concerned.

More than that, Murphy notes that the State Senate has lowered the standards for the admission of evidence. If Blagoejvich wants to include statements from Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett, he can. He calls the Governor's accusations "self serving and ludicrous." Blago insists that "the fix is in," because they want a big tax increase.

Anyway, tune in later today, when Blago attempts to subpoena Joy Behar as a witness.

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Sky News Nixes Appeal, Cites Impartiality

BBC boss Mark Thompson's original statement defending his decision to not air an appeal for Gaza referred to aid not reaching its intended recipients, not just impartiality. Today, Thompson and now Sky News chief John Ryley only talk about the impartiality issue. Ryley said:

The absolute impartiality of our output is fundamental to Sky News and its journalism. That is why, after very careful consideration, we have concluded that broadcasting an appeal for Gaza at this time is incompatible with our role in providing balanced and objective reporting of this continuing situation to our audiences in the UK and around the world.

Israel's allowing aid in; its only concern is that the assistance not come into Hamas hands. So whether or not the Disaster Emergency Committee's appeal is aired doesn't concern Israel.

Unfortunately it's an open secret that Hamas hijacks aid trucks, sometimes selling the supplies. The Islamists have become so brazen that IribNews, via Soccer Dad, reports Hamas even set up its own board to oversee aid distribution:

The board is tasked to oversight the distribution of a sum of 45 million dollars in aid among the families of martyrs and those who have lost their residence to the destructive Israeli invasion.

Meanwhile, Times of London columnist Andrew Roberts blames the charities making up the DEC for the mess. For more, see yesterday's post: 4 Thoughts on the BBC Brouhaha.

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Pelosi says birth control will help the economy"

Monday, January 26, 2009
Breaking: "Pelosi says birth control will help the economy"
What a fine example of a Catholic witness in public office:
... not!

The sordid details:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi boldly defended a move to add birth control funding to the new economic "stimulus" package, claiming "contraception will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government."

Pelosi, the mother of 5 children and 6 grandchildren, who once said, "Nothing in my life will ever, ever compare to being a mom," seemed to imply babies are somehow a burden on the treasury.

The revelation came during an exchange Sunday morning on ABC's THIS WEEK.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus?

PELOSI: Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no apologies for that?

PELOSI: No apologies. No. we have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy. (Drudge)

Pelosi has said so many stupid things before that I didn't think she could shock me still. Well, I was wrong.

What especially gets me about this statement is her obstinance ("No aplogies. No."). She makes no excuses for her radical contraceptive solution and doesn't even have the good taste to qualify her commitments for such bald-faced legislation. Instead, she's dead-set on this solution. An evil solution.

Once again, I can't help but note that she's long overdue for her promised sit-down with her bishop.

143 days, 5 hours, 02 minutes, 33 seconds....

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Obama to Tighten Auto Fuel Efficiency Standards

In another break from the failed Bush policies, today President Obama is expected to direct federal regulators to allow an application by California and 13 other states to set strict automobile emission and fuel efficiency standards.

Known as the “Californian waiver” under the Clean Air Act, it would allow Californian and 13 others to set their own emission and fuel efficiency standards.

Together these 14 states account for about half of the American market for cars and light trucks. The move had been vehemently opposed by the auto industry who argued they would have to make one set of more fuel efficient vehicles for California and another set for everyone else.

Charles Territo, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, criticised Obama’s plans saying. “Applying California standards to several different states would create a complex, confusing and very difficult situation for manufacturers”.

The industry obviously couldn’t be intelligent enough to think that – hey – they could just make one lot of more fuel efficient vehicles and stay with the curve of increasing environmental consciousness and the credit crunch. But no it is an industry with its head firmly in the sand.

As the New York Times reports today “Granting California and the other states the right to regulate tailpipe emissions would be one of the most emphatic actions Mr. Obama could take to quickly put his stamp on environmental policy.”

Although Obama will not order the policy reversal, EPA regulators are widely expected to go through with them. Once this is so, car manufacturers would have begin producing and selling cars and trucks that get higher mileage than the national standard, coupled with a faster phase in.

Beyond acting on the California emissions law, officials said, Mr. Obama will also direct the Transportation Department to quickly finalize interim nationwide regulations requiring the automobile industry to increase fuel efficiency standards to comply with a 2007 law. Again these were rules that the Bush Administration decided not to issue.

Some are tripping over themelseves to laud the new President. Daniel J. Weiss, director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress in Washington argues: “This is a complete reversal of President Bush’s policy of censoring or ignoring global warming science. With the fuel economy measures and clean energy investments in the recovery package, President Obama has done more in one week to reduce oil dependence and global warming than George Bush did in eight years.”

But let’s not get too carried away. Yes it is a good first start and shows clear political intent. But the result would be an increase in fuel efficiency in the American car and light truck fleet to roughly 35 miles per gallon from the current average of 27, and to do so four years ahead of schedule from recent legislation. It would require automakers to cut emissions by nearly a third by 2016, four years ahead of the federal timetable.

But Obama himself has argued that fuel efficiency standards should rise to 40 mpg. But even that is nothing revolutionary. Europe is trying to achieve 47 mpg by 2012. Even that is harldy cutting edge. I remember 15 years ago the man from Volvo saying his LCP 2000 prototype could do 100 mpg.

Obama calling for 100 mpg by 2020, now that really would be the audacity of hope.


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The 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

For anybody hoping to make money betting on the Oscars (who does that??) the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards may be your source for where to place your bets. Pretty much every SAG nod is mirrored by the corresponding OscarNomination. Meaning if you follow the winners and losers tonight, you’re almost guaranteed some sort of pay off. Last year the SAGs were the show with the most celebs due to the writers strike. Hopefully the attendance won’t drop now that that’s over. The SAG awards are playing live right now on TNT and TBS.

To create a dramatic arrivals area, impressive set and intimate dinner settings are prepared for the world’s leading actors who are gathering on Sunday, Jan. 25, at the Shrine Exposition Center, for the 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

You’ll be amazed at what it takes to pull such an event off..
The decor:

* Lay 16,476.145 square feet of red carpet in the arrivals area, edged by 444.1 lineal feet of 3′-tall hedge and 337.11 lineal feet of 8′-tall trees.
* Lay 11,800 square feet of black carpet in the interior Shrine entrance and the showroom.
* Drape the interior Shrine entrance with 5,500 feet of gold fabric punctuated by eight silver-accented white columns that will be echoed onstage and utilize 15,000 square feet of black drape to cover the showroom walls and block sunlight.
* Post five 10’ Actor® statues along the red carpet and onstage.
* On the stage, install 700 feet of steel tubing to support 120 running feet of 22’-high set walls punctuated by eight gold and ivory fluted columns and a central radiating sunburst. Two stepped deco arches will be accented by 30 feet of translucent etched fins. Crowning the stage will be 400 feet of gold-leafed deco molding, illuminated by 400 feet of warm white neon tubing.
* Float a 20’-wide “silver screen” framed by a platinum screen-surround illuminated by 80 feet of embedded LED lights at center stage in front of 200 running feet of 30’-high fiber-optic star cloth.
* Line the stage floor with 150 4’x8’ sheets of black Formica.
* Above the stage hang three antique chrome and glass art deco chandeliers that will be echoed by the five chandeliers hung from the Expo Hall’s ornate ceiling.
* Place 3,600 pieces Regency crystal stemware, 2,400 pieces Scalini silver plated flatware and 1,200 Coupe black china chargers on 86 rectangular dinner tables and over 2,000 glasses at two 16’ beverage bars and two wine tasting bars.
* Create custom table coverings from 800 yards of black silk, accented by runners made from 800 yards of gunmetal crushed silk, complemented by 1,200 black and gunmetal Dior-style pinstriped 22-inch square napkins made from 200 yards of black-lined textured fabric.
* Soften black Chiavari guest chairs with 1,200 black padded seat cushions.
* To create a visual statement for each of the tables, florals will include over 100 exotic phaeleanopsis orchids highlighted by over 1,500 white miniature calla lilies, supplemented with over 3000 imported white orchids, enhanced with over 2500 white Ecuadorian roses and accented with over 500 stems of chartreuse hydrangea, arranged in more than 100 rectangular containers in wood and glass. Elements of dramatic foliage and succulents create movement, depth, and texture, completing the European contemporary look.
Guests will dine on an antipasto plate conceived by chef Alan Jackson, deliciously prepared and artfully arranged by Jackson Catering, consisting of:

* Dungeness Crab and Grapefruit Salad with Sriracha citrus emulsion
* Sugar Cane Lacquered Chicken with crispy corn grits cake, Seckle pear and ginger
* Short Rib and Sweet Corn Flan with wild mushroom ragout
* Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad, Basil oil, balsamic and parmesan
* Hand-made freshly baked breadsticks
To prepare this menu, Jackson Catering’s purveyor order for the SAG Awards includes:

* 225 pounds Crab
* 16 cups Sriracha Sauce
* 3 gallons Orange Juice
* 5 pounds Chop Chive
* 5 pounds Chop Shallot
* 6 gallons Grape seed Oil
* 600 Pink Grapefruits
* 300 Whole Endive
* 4 gallon Cider Vinegar
* 300 bunches of Frizee
* 5 pounds Fresh Dill
* 700 Poussin Chicken
* 40 gallon Pomegranate Juice
* 50 pounds white Polenta
* 20 gallon Vegetable Stock
* 400 Seckle pears
* 8 gallon Roasted Chicken Stock
* 20 pounds Dried Apricot
* 20 pounds Dried Fig
* 20 bunches Cilantro
* 10 pounds Fresh Ginger
* 225 Short Ribs Braised & Pulled
* 3 gallons Sweet Corn
* 10 gallons Cream
* 75 pounds Wild Mushroom Ragout
* 20 gallons Red Wine
* 30 bunch Parsley
* 40 gallons Assorted Baby Tomatoes
* 75 pounds Bocaccinni Mozarella
* 6 gallons Olive Oil
* 20 pounds Basil
* 6 gallons Balsamic
* 40 pounds Shaved parmesan
* 4 pounds Fleur De Sel
* 20 pounds Dried Black Olives
Beverages for guests include:

* For the tables: 204 bottles of Dry Creek Vineyard’s 2004 Endeavor Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 204 bottles of Dry Creek Vineyard’s 2006 Russian River Valley Chardonnay
* Dry Creek Vineyard’s wine-tasting bars will offer a selection that includes their 2006 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, the 2006 Dry Creek Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel, the 2007 Sonoma County Fumé Blanc and the 2004 Endeavor Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. A total of 192 bottles will be available for tasting.
* 234 magnums of Champagne Taittinger Brut La Française served in the showroom
* 144 magnums of Champagne Taittinger Brut La Française served in at the post-Awards gala
* 1548 glass decanters of Voss sparkling and still water served in the showroom
* Another 6,720 unbreakable half-liters of Voss still water for our more than 700 media and 300 fans in the bleachers


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Joe Torre: Torre’s new book “The Yankee Years”

Joe Torre wrote a tell-all book called “The Yankee Years” which will be out on Feb 3.Torre wrote about Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter and their rivalry. The Yankee Years by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci hits the shelves on Feb 3.

Joe Torre left New York Yankee after 2007’s season because they offered a 1 year contract at a pay cut of $ 2 million, down from $7 million. Torre blamed Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman for not supporting him (Torre) during meetings with George Steinbrenner and his sons.

In 1999, Torre had prostrate cancer. Team doctors informed George Steinbrenner that his Yankee manager had cancer even before they told Torre himself. That seemed to be a violation of patient confidentiality.

Joe Torre’s new book with 2 more links for details.

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BBC refuses to broadcast charity appeal for Gaza aid

LONDON, England (CNN) — The BBC is refusing to broadcast a plea from leading British charities for aid to Gaza, saying the ad would compromise the public broadcaster’s appearance of impartiality.

The Disasters Emergency Committee, which includes the British Red Cross, Oxfam, Save the Children and 10 other charities, plans to launch its appeal Monday.

British broadcasters, led by the BBC, originally declined to air the advert — but in the face of criticism from government ministers and others, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 changed their minds. CNN was not approached to broadcast the ad, a DEC spokesman said.

About 5,000 people demonstrated in front of the BBC’s Broadcasting House in central London on Saturday over the broadcaster’s stance. Seven people were arrested. Video Watch protest against BBC decision »

The BBC is standing by its decision, director general Mark Thompson wrote in a blog post on the corporation’s Web site.

“We concluded that we could not broadcast a free-standing appeal, no matter how carefully constructed, without running the risk of reducing public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality in its wider coverage of the story,” he wrote Saturday.

“Inevitably an appeal would use pictures which are the same or similar to those we would be using in our news programs but would do so with the objective of encouraging public donations. The danger for the BBC is that this could be interpreted as taking a political stance on an ongoing story,” Thompson said.

“Gaza remains a major ongoing news story, in which humanitarian issues — the suffering and distress of civilians and combatants on both sides of the conflict, the debate about who is responsible for causing it and what should be done about it — are both at the heart of the story and contentious,” he added.

The BBC, which is funded by an obligatory license fee paid by every British household with a television, is required by its charter to be impartial. It does not carry commercial advertising but does broadcast charity appeals.

The DEC is “disappointed that the BBC declined to support the Gaza appeal,” the spokesman told CNN. “It might limit the reach of our key message to the general public.”

The spokesman, who asked not to be named, said the BBC had to make its own decision about impartiality.

“That is a decision they must make. We have no view on that subject,” he said.

Many readers of Thompson’s blog post did have a view, however. The statement got hundreds of comments, most of them critical of the BBC.

A commenter who signed in as “bully–baiter” said the BBC was taking a side, no matter what it did.

“Sorry Mr. Thompson but you cannot have it both ways. If deciding to accede to the DEC request would be seen as political then deciding not to accede to it is also political. Don’t insult me with your disingenuous attempts to suggest it is otherwise,” the commenter wrote.

Other commenters simply rejected Thompson’s position out of hand.

“I think the reasons for blocking help for a grave humanitarian disaster are simply astounding,” “brit–proud” wrote. “How can simply bringing food, medicines and homes to hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians be seen as political impartiality? How stupid do the BBC think the British public are?”

But the corporation had its defenders as well.

“The last thing I want to do, is fund the BBC to broadcast propaganda,” “SternG” wrote: “There’s no way I will pay the BBC to air the DEC’s politically-motivated ‘appeal’ for Gaza. Gaza is run by a government which is internationally recognized as a terrorist group, including by the EU. There is no doubt that some aid/fund will be ‘procured’ by Hamas…. Good decision BBC.”

British broadcasters have refused to air some previous DEC appeals, the umbrella organization’s spokesman said.

A planned 2006 appeal for aid to victims of the war in Lebanon was scrapped because “there were genuine concerns, shared by the aid agencies, about the deliverability of aid.”

Thompson cited doubts about whether DEC members could get aid to Gaza as a secondary reason for declining to take the ad.

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Gaza-Israel Crisis in Context

Gaza currently has 1.5 million people running out of food, fuel, and water suitable for drinking. The region has been set ablaze with Israeli attacks, leaving hospitals unable treat the myriad of people in desperate need of care. As a recent editorial in The Nation pointed out, 75 percent Gaza is without electricity and their sewage systems are bordering ruin. Furthermore, the loss of a dozen Israeli deaths and just over a dozen injured, Gaza has been lost over 600, a quarter of them being civilian. To say that this is a mere crisis would be as grave an injustice as the conflict itself.

All of this has created a dividing line in the mainstream media punditocracy. Neo-conservatives, the Israel Lobby, Christian Zionists, J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Peace Now have engaged in some of the most vitriolic debate many have had the misfortune of seeing in a long while.

The worst has been directed towards those seeking a just peace, questioning the actions of Israel and proposing actions, ranging from conventional to the extreme, in hope of bringing this age-old crisis. Neoconservative writer Andrew Sullivan has compared The Nation’s Eric Alterman to the authors of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He writes, “Boston Globe columnist Cathy Young has accused me of blaming Hitler’s victims for Palestinian misery.” Statements just as striking can be found (predictably) in publications such as Commentary and The Weekly Standard.

All of this couldn’t come at a worse time. America is in shambles, and our credibility in the Middle East has been squandered on account of eight years of belligerent foreign policy, unjust wars, wrongful imprisonment, torture, and the perception that the US works only in the best interest of Israel. Attempting to play a vital role as the “middle man” will be take an extraordinary amount of finesse, not to mention the need to send a strong and clear message to the world that we wish only for justice and peace in the region.

This is easier said than done. The US has a long history of failure in the area of Middle East diplomacy, and this is particularly true in regard to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. More often than not, it is that the US and the international community lacks the resolve to implement and enforce agreements, while giving a wink and a pass to breaches of the agreements.

How, then, are we to overcome these obstacles?

We must first begin with a change in perception. An example of such change would be US citizens overcoming the notion that Israel has for years been sacrificing land for peace. While it is true that land has been transferred, these plots are by no means sacrificial. The regions are settlements, having gone beyond it’s pre-1967 borders. In short, they are returning land that they confiscated and settled upon, forcing an outrageous number of Palestinians from their homes.

Doing this will force the US and the international community to hold both sides accountable for their former agreements. All sides endorsed UN Resolutions 424 and 338, the Oslo Accords of 1993, Bush’s “Road Map for Peace” in 2003, as well as those agreed upon at Annapolis. The only thing at play here is forcing both sides to be implement what was already agreed upon.

Secondly, the US must consistently apply their calls for democracy with the results of the democratic process of elections. The crusade for global democracy has resounded from Washington for some time, but leaders have been very selective when recognizing those democratically elected. If the goal is to have “the people” vote, and “the people” vote for a group that the US doesn’t particularly like (i.e. Hamas), the US must, if wishing to be consistent in their crusade for global democracy, recognize the decision of the people. To do otherwise is to be horribly inconsistent, fueling the Arab world’s impression that it isn’t so much democracy that we want, but rather to put leaders in power that have US interests and secular values at the forefront of their mind.

It would do us well recognize the fact that without a resolve which favors a two-state solution and a complete (or almost complete) withdraw from illegal settlements, there will be further tension in other areas of the Middle East. Iran, al Qaeda, and Hezbollah have much to gain from a failed peace process. Recruitment will increase, policies will be justified, and alliances will be solidified.

The US must identify and condemn various actions committed by both sides. The difficulty in doing so rests, at least in part, with the fact that we are dealing with two radically different groups.

Israel is a nation with a capitol, huge military and economic subsidies from the US, as well as a military force that rules the region like a colony, punishing a people collectively. As UN human rights representative of the territories has recently been quoted as saying, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is a “crime against humanity.” Women, children, and the elderly have been victims of attacks from Israeli air strikes. Palestinians are required to carry color-coded IDs and travel permits. Civilians have had their homes demolished. One must also include the barricades, checkpoints, and settler-only roads.

On the other hand, the Palestinians left with little more than guerrilla warriors and the unconventional tactics often accompanying them. As Hamas leader Khaled Meshal said to Alya Rea of CounterPunch, “Unfortunately the insistence on violent repression by or assailants leads to innocent blood on the streets. Since 1996, 12 years ago, we have proposed to exclude civilian targets from the conflict on both sides. Israel did not respond to that. When Israel insists on killing our kids, our elders and senior citizens and women, and bombarding houses with the gunships, F-16s and Apaches, when Israel continues these attacks, what is left for the Palestinians to do? They are defending themselves with whatever they have.”

None of this is to say that targeting civilians is ethically permissible. All that is meant here is to put the situation into context. One country with a capitol, subsidized military and economy, the ownership of nuclear weaponry and a state of the art military over against a colonized people with little more than Qassam missiles, outdated artillery, and individuals willing to be human bombs in order to settle a score.

President Obama has a tough road ahead, both on the home-front and internationally. But he must have the courage and wisdom to confront this age-old controversy in a way and with a resolve that former presidents have not. Unless he begins seeing the bigger picture, with all its complexities (i.e. religious, ethnic, economic, and militaristic), he will follow the same path as those who went before him. A path covered as much with the inhumane and unjust as much as it is with the blood and tears of the innocent.

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Paterson: 'No signal from me' for Kennedy to quit Senate effort

NEW YORK (CNN) — New York Governor David Paterson said Sunday that Caroline Kennedy "had gotten no signal from me that she had to withdraw" before Kennedy ended her effort last week to fill Hillary Clinton's vacant U.S. Senate.

Appearing at a news conference with the person he picked to fill that seat — Democratic Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand of Hudson in upstate New York — Paterson briefly answered reporters' questions about the Kennedy withdrawal, saying the decision was entirely hers.

"Caroline Kennedy called me on Wednesday to inform me that for personal reasons she had to withdraw," Paterson said.

Paterson was not asked what might have happened if Kennedy had stayed in contention but said, "There was nothing that would have prohibited her from
serving. She took her name out of consideration."

When he announced Gillibrand's selection Friday, Paterson declared, "I believe that I have found the best candidate to be the next United States senator from New York."

In her turn at the microphone Sunday, Gillibrand made no reference to Kennedy, trying instead to fend off criticism of her selection as a little-known congresswoman from a mostly rural district in upstate New York.

Much of that criticism has come from her consistent support of gun-owner rights.

"I grew up in a family of hunters," Gillibrand said. "I very much believe in protecting hunters' rights — it is a core value for our region and our state."

But she said as a senator she would listen to various groups.

"There's a lot of concerns in many of our city communities about gun violence, about keeping our children safe, about making sure guns stay out of the hands of criminals," she said. "Those are all concerns I share, and I will fight very hard to protect our communities."

Paterson and Gillibrand spoke to reporters after lunch with Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, and Clinton, who was confirmed last week as secretary of

Neither Clinton nor Schumer attended the press conference.

Paterson and Gillibrand took the opportunity to praise Clinton, with Paterson saying Gillibrand had to "fill the shoes of a great leader who has gone on to be secretary of state."

Gillibrand added, "We could not have a better person as secretary of state right now."

Paterson's pick of Gillibrand concluded an apparently chaotic selection process that drew criticism from across the political spectrum.

The selection also put a definitive end to weeks of speculation that the seat might go to Kennedy, who cited personal reasons for publicly withdrawing
her name from contention.

Political observers are speculating that Paterson may have chosen Gillibrand in part because Democrats will have to defend the Senate seat in 2010 special election. Gillibrand — a 42-year-old Albany-born Catholic congresswoman and mother of two — has a proven ability to win over conservative voters in upstate New York, a region traditionally hostile to Democratic candidates.

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