Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gore and Murdoch join forces in TV deal

by Emiko Terazono at Fin Times

Al Gore, the former US vice-president, is bringing his user-generated content television channel to the UK, courtesy of James Murdoch’s British Sky Broadcasting.
Mr Gore launched Current TV, the US channel made of clips created by viewers and producers, in August last year, and said that the channel was “democratising television.”
Mr Murdoch, who has claimed that BSkyB was the first media company in the world to go carbon neutral, and Mr Gore share their passion for the environment. Mr Murdoch invited Mr Gore to the gathering of News Corp’s executives at Pebble Beach, California, this summer.
At Pebble Beach Rupert Murdoch, News Corp chief executive, urged News Corp officials to follow his son James’ lead and to try and tackle climate change issues.
The pair have now come together to promote user generated content in the UK and Ireland. Current TV’s agreement for the channel to be carried on BSkyB’s satellite platform is its first international move outside the US.
Mr Gore said that the channel was one of the few on the cable network to break even in the first year and was looking to make profits in the second year. He rejected suggestions that viewer created clips was about gaining cheap content.
The deal with BSkyB brings Current TV to some 8m households. In the US, it is available in nearly 30m homes through cable and satellite television. With Current TV, viewers and producers upload their clips on to the channel’s website, where content which gets the most votes is broadcast on its television channel.
Mr Gore compared Current TV to the introduction of the printing press in the 15th century, which led to enlightenment. He said: “The television medium for 50 years has had the depressing effect on the conversation of democracy by excluding individuals. But the new affordable digital tools of both cameras and digital video cameras and laptop editing systems now make it completely feasible for individuals with accessible training to participate in the conversation.”
Mr Murdoch said that Mr Gore’s channel TV was “an elegant way” to marry user-generated content on the web to the broadcast medium. He said: “Current TV is bringing the web’s sense of empowerment to television for the first time.”

Why the Mexican Border Fence will not be built


Republican officials are trying to turn back concerns that a plan to build a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempt to gain control of one area of illegal immigration still will fail.
The denial came from the Republican National Committee, which said in a statement that the president is planning to sign the Secure Fence Act, which was approved by the House and Senate earlier.
"There has been some speculation in the blogosphere today that President Bush would not sign the Secure Fence Act, after signing a bill for funding border fencing last week," the RNC's Patrick Ruffini said. But that is incorrect, he said, and the president's intent remains the same.
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Just a few days ago, a Homeland Security budget including $1.2 billion to begin construction of fences and other barriers was approved by both the House and the Senate and signed by Bush. However, the actual allocation of money for the work would come in the Secure Fence Act, which remains filed under pending, officials said.
The concerns were raised in a number of venues.
A writer, Vincent Gioia, on the New Media said that the Homeland Security package was approved and "with great fanfare, the president signed the bill."
However, he said Congress and the president, "now, having mollified conservative critics with 'border protection first,'" probably feel free to deal with immigration as they want.
"Unfortunately, the claim of border protection beginning with the appropriation of over one billion dollars allegedly for that purpose is just a big hoax," he wrote. "Quickly following congressional funding authorization to construct 700 miles of Mexican border fence, and just before recessing, Congress enacted additional legislation to enable the president to thwart the will of most Americans who want to protect our Mexican border against illegal immigration."
He said the additional legislation would allow the president to allocate the $1.2 billion ostensibly for the fence to other projects, such as "tactical infrastructure."
He said Congress also promised that governors, local leaders and Native American tribes would be involved in the placement of any fence, and Congress also withheld $950 million pending a breakdown of how the money will be spent.
In other words, the fence plan is for the headlines, but the fine print is where the projects are made or broken.
In a significant indication that the fence is not the highest priority, just a day after signing the Homeland Security provision, Bush said granting citizenship to current illegal aliens still will be a needed part of any plan.
"You can't kick 12 million people out of your country," Bush said. "We must figure out a way to say to those that if you're lawful and if you've contributed to the United States of America, there is a way for you to eventually earn citizenship."
Meanwhile, Mexico officials have been pursuing an intense lobbying campaign to try to kill the fence plan. They had asked Bush to veto it, and even have threatened to go to the United Nations with their opposition.
Mexico Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said the fence plan is an "offense" and indicated the dispute could be brought before the U.N. Press Secretary Ruben Aguilar for President Vincente Fox, however, said in a report that wouldn't happen, but the fence wouldn't be built either.
Derbez said there will be a storm of international community criticism against the U.S. fence plan, and that will stop it.
Mexican officials have said they are recruiting various church and business groups in the U.S. to oppose fencing plans, and the government is broadcasting radio ads encouraging workers who have had a labor "accident" to pursue their rights in the U.S.
Mexican activists are comparing the plan to the Berlin Wall.
Republicans and immigration experts told the Washington Post that the House and Senate provided Bush enough leeway in the distribution of the money so that it may be spend on roads and technology too.
When Homeland Security department spokesman Russ Knocke was asked about the construction of 700 miles of fencing, he was non-committal, instead noting that a $67 million "virtual fence" project will be tested.
While another assurance came from Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who wrote the fence provisions that passed last year and said the bill provides the fence "shall" be built, the president wasn't so definitive.
In his message when he signed the bill, he said the nearly $34 billion authorization for Homeland Security will "give us better tools to enforce our immigration laws and to secure our southern border."
"The bill I sign today includes nearly $1.2 billion in additional funding for strengthening the border, for new infrastructure and technology that will help us do our job. It provides funding for more border fencing, vehicle barriers, and lighting, for cutting-edge technology, including ground base radar, infrared cameras, and advance sensors that will help prevent illegal crossings along our southern border. That's what the people of this country want. They want to know that we're modernizing the border so we can better secure the border," Bush said.
Mexico-U.S. border
"Yet, we must also recognize that enforcement alone is not going to work," he said. "We'll continue to work with Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that secures this border, upholds the laws, and honors our nation's proud heritage as a land of immigrants."
U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, told the Houston Chronicle that the project has to be viewed in terms of the war on terror.
"The day will come when they attack us in Houston. I don't know why the terrorists haven't hit us, but it will come," he said.
Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo said the Secure Fence Act is an emergency measure to provide for those 700 miles of two-layered reinforced fencing.
"There were many skeptics when I first started discussing the potential dangers associated with illegal immigration, and called for our government to secure the borders," he said. "Tonight, we take another momentous step toward ensuring our security."
But even he said the plan mandates a "virtual fence," not necessarily a physical one, that would involve remote cameras, ground sensors, aerial vehicles and surveillance technology.
On one of the those blogs where questions were being raised, Mickey Kaus said that Bush's promise during an interview on CNN that the bill would be signed wasn't reassuring.
The interviewer asked Bush if he would sign the plan.
"It's part of strengthening the border," he said. "And we're in the process now of spending the money that they appropriated last session to modernize the border."
"So, will you sign it into law?" the interviewer asked.
"One thing that has changed is catch and release. Prior to the expenditure of the money … we would catch somebody trying to sneak in and just release them back into society. That's been ended," Bush said.
Another commentator noted that House Speaker Dennis Hastert said Congress' effort along the border "culminated" in the appropriations plan Bush already signed.
"It would be crazy not to be paranoid," the commentator wrote.
The same scenario developed early in 2006. The Senate had approved the installation of 370 miles of fencing and about 500 miles of vehicle barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border, but then voted against allowing any money to do the work.
Then just weeks later, senators reversed their July 13 position, approving a spending authorization on a 94-3 vote, with 66 senators switching from "no" to "yes," according to the The Washington Times.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said back then that people heard from their constituents after voting for the project, but against money to do it.

Jesus is not a socialist

by Tom Snyder

What these misguided religious zealots conveniently fail to note is that nowhere in the New Testament or the other books of the Bible do Jesus Christ, His apostles, God the Father, the Holy Spirit, Moses or the Hebrew prophets command the government to take money from its citizens and transfer it to poor people. In fact, the Bible says just the opposite.
God presents us with three general ways in the Bible to take care of the poor and needy: 1) through the family; 2) through the church; and 3) through individual charity. The applicable passages for these three ways are Deuteronomy 14:28, 29, Numbers 18:24, Matthew 6:1-4 and 1 Timothy 5:3-16.
Now, the first two ways are pretty clear. People's first obligation is to the needy, poor, widowed and orphaned in their own families. Only after they do this do they have any obligation to help the needy, poor, widowed and orphaned through their local church organization. God established the pattern for this kind of church giving in Numbers 18:24 and Deuteronomy 14:28, 29. As David Chilton points out in his great book "Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators," the bulk of Christian giving to the local church should be geared toward financing professional theologians, experts in biblical law and church discipline, teachers of God's word and leaders skilled in worship. It was only every third year that all the giving was set aside to help the needy, poor, widowed and orphaned. Even then, the money was not given just to anyone who showed up. Those able to work but don't do not qualify for help. Also, those who have families to take care of them don't qualify, nor do widows under age 60 qualify, according to the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 5:3-16.
Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, talks about the third way in Matthew 6. He tells His listeners that they should give individual charity. He also says they should give such charity secretly: "Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing."
In other words, Jesus is not a socialist. Nor is he a liberal. In fact, in none of the Bible passages just cited, nor in any others I know of, does Jesus, God or even Moses cite the government as the means by which the poor, needy, widowed and orphaned are housed, clothed and fed.
Thus, a simple, straightforward reading of the Bible, God's Word, including the "Red Letter" words of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, clearly shows that the American welfare state is anti-Christian and unbiblical. Any Christian who advocates such a government welfare system (including clergymen or women) should be harshly rebuked. Furthermore, any members of any political party, including Republicans, Democrats, Reform Party members, Libertarians or whatever, who advocate such a socialist system yet claim to be Christian should be reprimanded by their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and by all church leaders.
If any such party members refuse to repent and change their ways, then their names should be posted at their church and throughout the whole land so that all Christians in the United States can know not to vote for these people or place them in positions of authority and leadership. Of course, all Christians should encourage families to take care of their own. And they should also encourage their churches to give at least one-third of their gross income to help the poor, needy, widowed and orphaned.
On that note, it is interesting to recall that the 10th Commandment in Exodus 20:17 actually protects private property by commanding people not to covet their neighbor's house or belongings. That commands applies to the average citizen as well as the elected official, the judge and all other government officials.
Furthermore, the Bible condemns laziness and praises hard work. Proverbs 10:4 says, "Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth." Proverbs 14:23 says, "All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty."
Finally, it is interesting to note that, in Mark 7:20-23, not only does Jesus Christ declare that all sex outside of heterosexual marriage, including homosexuality, pre-marital sex and adultery, is evil, he also declares that both greed and envy are evil. Thus, Jesus Christ condemns both the greed of the rich man as well as the greed of the poor man, and the envy of the poor man as well as the envy of the rich man.
Thus, God condemns the politics of envy of the left, and he extols the virtues of hard work and capitalism, not just the value of charity!
Liberals and socialists like the "Red Letter Christians," Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Ted Kennedy and former Vice President Al Gore are violating the commands of Jesus Christ, who is God in the Flesh. They are also violating the commands that God gives all of us in the Hebrew Scriptures as well. If they truly want to follow the words of Jesus in the New Testament, they should stop their opposition to the real Christian movement in America and join it. One of the first things they should do immediately is help cut government programs for the poor.
Christians must stop the ungodly, immoral rape of American citizens with the totalitarian, socialist welfare state! They must establish a proper and godly system of family, church and private charity. Not just Christians, but all true Americans should follow God's clear guidance in this matter. God will reward us mightily for our obedience in these matters.

Russia to Fuel Iran Nuclear Plant


Russia will ship fuel to a controversial atomic power plant it is building in Iran by March under a deal signed Tuesday, news agencies reported, as Tehran's nuclear chief met with a Russian security officer at the Kremlin.
The agreement signed by Sergei Shmatko, head of the state-run company Atomstroiexport, and Mahmoud Hanatian, vice president of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, should allay Iran's complaints that Moscow is dragging its feet on supplying fuel for the Bushehr plant.
It will also renew concerns by the West, which accuses Tehran of seeking to enrich uranium in order to build nuclear weapons.
ITAR-Tass reported that Shmatko met Hanatian to sign an additional protocol setting out a time frame for starting up the Bushehr plant.
"The document provides for supplying Russian fuel for the atomic energy plant in March, physical startup in September 2007 and electric generation by November 2007," Hanatian was quoted as saying by ITAR-Tass.

Shmatko said about 80 tons of fuel would be supplied, according to Interfax and ITAR-Tass.
Meanwhile, Russian Security Council chief Igor Ivanov insisted again on seeking a diplomatic solution to international concerns over Tehran's nuclear program at a meeting with Iranian Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh.
"We are firmly convinced of the need to resolve the question of the Iranian nuclear program through the negotiation process," Ivanov said.
"We consider it necessary that Iran should be guaranteed the right to peacefully develop nuclear energy ... and also to remove the concerns of the international community regarding obligations under the nonproliferation regime," he told Aghazadeh.
"We will strictly fulfill our obligations," Ivanov said.
Aghazadeh, who is head of Iran's nuclear organization, responded that Tehran was satisfied with the agreements signed.
"We achieved a good agreement ... on completing construction of the atomic energy plant at Bushehr, including agreement on a concrete date for directing atomic fuel to Iran," he said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, meanwhile, told The Associated Press that talks between top Iranian and European negotiators were "on track" and could pave the way for a negotiated solution to the standoff.
In an interview at the United Nations, Mottaki said Iran still believed there should be no conditions on the resumption of talks, implicitly rejecting demands that Tehran first suspend uranium enrichment.
Iran says it needs enrichment to produce fuel for nuclear reactors that would generate electricity, and insists its program is peaceful. Enrichment can also create weapons-grade material, however, and the United States and other nations have accused Tehran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
Western nations fear that Tehran could try to divert nuclear fuel used at the Bushehr plant and seek to enrich it further for potential use in a bomb.
Trying to ease Western concerns, Moscow has agreed with Tehran that the spent fuel will be shipped back to Russia. However, Iran has resisted Russia's proposal to conduct all enrichment on Russian soil.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, are scheduled to hold another round of talks soon over a package of incentives put forward by six key nations - Britain, France, Germany, the United States, China and Russia - if Tehran agrees to suspend its enrichment program and return to full-scale negotiations.

Bush backs Rice's praise of Palestine

President Bush "stands absolutely behind" the statements made by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice when she lauded as a great "legacy" the possibility of the United States helping bring into existence a Palestinian state.
In a response to a question from Les Kinsolving, WND's correspondent at the White House, Bush spokesman Tony Snow said the president stands behind Rice's recent comments to the American Task Force on Palestine.
The question to Snow was: "In Secretary Condoleezza Rice's speech last week to the American Task Force on Palestine, she said, 'I believe that there could be no greater legacy for America than to help bring into being a Palestinian state for a people who have been (humiliated too long).' My question, since the Palestinian Authority's President, Mahmoud Abbas, spoke out in Fatah with Arafat and funded the Munich massacre of the Israeli Olympic team, and wrote his Ph.D. thesis denying the existence of the Holocaust, how can the president agree with Secretary Rice that it would be a great legacy to have a Palestinian state run by Abbas and Hamas?"
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Snow said there wasn't a reference to a Palestinian state being run by Abbas and Hamas. "But on the other hand, Prime Minister Abbas has also demonstrated a willingness to pursue democracy and work directly with Israel."
WND had asked whether the president believes that the American Revolution should be compared to Hamas, which has Article 15 calling for the destruction of Israel, and Article 7, calling for the killing of Jews?
"No," Snow said.
The issue arose when Rice gave a keynote speech at the Task Force on Palestine a week ago. Her remarks were condemned by the Zionist Organization of America as the "most pro-Palestinian Arab, anti-Israel speech in memory by a major U.S. Administration official."
During that speech she compared the Palestinian movement to the American Revolution and implied the comparison of Palestinian Arab leaders to America's Founding Fathers.
"I know that sometimes a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel must seem like a very distant dream. But I know too, as a student of international history, that there are so many things that once seemed impossible that, after they happened, simply seemed inevitable," she said. "I've read over the last summer the biographies of America's Founding Fathers. By all rights, America, the United States of America, should never have come into being."
"By saying this, Secretary Rice is implying a comparison of Yasser Arafat and Hamas leaders to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson," said the Zionist Organization of America's statement.
"We are deeply distressed by Secretary Rice's deeply troubling speech pandering to Arab Americans and other Arabs by making a series of false declarations," said ZOA National President Morton A. Klein. "This speech is surely at odds with an Administration that claims it is 'the best friend Israel ever had.' If President Bush does not support the themes expressed in this speech, we urge him to make that publicly clear by distancing himself from it."
The Zionist organization said Rice praised the Palestinians as being committed to a better future but ignored the "major cause of the problem being the (Palestinian Authority) regime's promotion of hatred and violence against Jews in their media, textbooks and speeches."
"By suggesting that the Palestinians simply seek a state of their own, not the destruction of another people's state which also happens to be a close American ally, Secretary Rice falsely dignifies the Palestinian extremist agenda and suggests its fulfillment would be a sublime event worthy of the American Revolution," the group said.
Rice also referred to the "humiliation of occupation," but ZOA noted that the land in question is not occupied, but disputed territory at a minimum.
"Secretary Rice did not acknowledge that Israel ceded half of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza, the land on which the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established," ZOA said.
Further, ZOA said, in earlier periods of temporary calm before September 2000, there were no Israeli checkpoints, road-blocks, barriers, curfews and other restrictions of which Palestinians now complain. Those measures exist "solely and as a direct consequence of the Palestinian terrorist campaign since September 2000 that has resulted in the murder of 1,500 Israeli men, women and children and the maiming and injuring of thousands more."
"When asked by President Bush at the Aqaba summit last year to state publicly that he accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, Abbas refused to do so," ZOA noted.
The group also noted that Rice discussed the recent U.S. increase in "direct assistance to the Palestinians to $438 million a year."
"It is simply inappropriate for the Bush Administration to provide financial assistance to them courtesy of the American taxpayer. U.S. funding for Palestinians sends only one message – that the Palestinians need not change, that their goals and terrorist conduct is not a problem. By doing this, the U.S. takes out of the equation the one piece of leverage that it holds over the PA," ZOA said.
"The Zionist Organization of America was founded in 1897 and is the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States.