Sunday, April 27, 2008

On God

VOR = Voice of Reason
GK = Gavin Kanowitz

VOR: Ok what do you see God as?
GK: God is multifaceted and this is a consequence of his omnipotence. He therefore can be perceived on many levels (Please note I use the male ‘his’ and ‘he’ to describe God not because I believe God is male – God does not have gender – but for the mere sake of convenience). I, myself, choose to view God at two levels. The Spirit God that is ‘everything ‘ and from which our souls originate and the personal God to whom I communicate with.

VOR: What is this ‘everything’ you associate with the Spirit God?
GK ‘Everything’ is what can and cannot be perceived by us. It is all of matter, energy and spirit. It is all the dimensions that exist in space-time and beyond. In short it is the absolute. Nothing exists beyond it.

VOR: So it is a singularity?
GK: In a conceptual sense yes but in its full truism its impossible to even attempt the reduction of something outside our comprehension.

VOR: Can the spirit God be understood at all?
GK: Not with respect to determining the reason for its action, only the consequences. Unfortunately western philosophy believes that both can be ascertained. It attempts to quantify and qualify this spirit essence. Consequently it falls short every time. We can build intellectual Towers of Babel but our many lines of erroneous logic will trip us up all the time, forcing the tower to collapse. We have however another way of understanding God and that is through personal communication. Which brings me to the concept of the personal God.

VOR: Ok so what is this personal God?
GK: The personal God is your spiritual side being. It is that component that links your matter-energy makeup (the physical you) to the Spirit God. You can choose to accept it or ignore it.
The choice is yours. Accepting it allows you to have a window directly to God.

VOR: And if you reject it?
GK: Then you will likely experience the loneliness associated with mental separation from a higher force. Existentialists try to justify this by saying that there is meaning only in one’s existence, thus ‘removing’ the need for the Personal and indeed the Spirit God. Although this may benefit some, the truth is that the spirit God is always around and it is a positive force. It doesn’t disappear because we deem it so, anymore than the sky changing to red because we would like it to be that way. Existentialists choose to negate what they don’t understand, I choose to understand and negate only when I find the reasoning behind the phenomenon to be fallacious. This is not the case with the Personal God.

VOR: But how do you know the Personal God exists?
GK: He exists because it is impossible to prove that any event is random. All that exists is connected. Systems organize and that ‘directing’ force is the spirit god. The Personal God is an abstraction of this spirit god, just as fractals in chaos science mirror the entire system as a whole.

By opening my eyes to the Personal God I have seen his action. The evidence is overwhelming. Look at events in your lives, even in your daily existence, and you will see purpose. ‘Things’ happen for a reason. There is method behind the apparent randomness. For example if I meet somebody and interact with them if I sit back and think about it, a purpose for our interaction will spring immediately to mind, the second one asks the questions: Why did we meet? What did I learn from this meeting?
There is always something positive that springs up. Something new that is uncovered. This is the action of the Personal God trying to enrich us.

VOR: But one can say by the same logic what about the negative thoughts?
GK: Negative thoughts are only negative if we choose them to be so, if we look at the thoughts as guiding lights then they become positive. This is what my interaction with the Personal God tells me.

VOR: So negativity is an illusion?
GK: Yes. The only real concern is the non-randomness of all events and the existence of non-random phenomena. This is what defines God in the strict logical sense.

VOR: Getting back to the Personal God. If we follow your reasoning it appears that he is always present?
GK: Definitely. We always have a direct conduit to God. Any religion that tells us that we need an intermediary is mistaken. It is as east to speak to God directly as it is to converse with yourself. That is the whole concept of the Personal God.

VOR: But are we not in believing in the Personal God recreating God in our own image? Does that not make us the same as those pagans that the bible takes great care to warn us about?

GK: God is all powerful. He can take our image just as easy as he can take on any other image that exists in space and time. I choose to see him in my image because it simplifies my relationship with him. It provides a dimension to God which I can understand. As far as this being Pagan in outlook I argue that it is quite the contrary, Pagan religions are no different to mainstream religions in that they do have an image of God that they want all to worship. Traditional religion opposes this as it represents an alternative mass-image threat. I feel that both sides are in fact wrong and indeed the same. One’s image of God should reflect what one finds easiest to relate to. Standardized versions of God that are espoused by Paganism and traditional religion are therefore nonsensical as they ignore individuality.

VOR: But wouldn’t an evil person create an evil version of God? Does this not in some way condone acts of evil through the instrument of moral relativism?

GK: As mentioned God is everything - Good, Bad and Ambivalent. A failure of many beliefs is that of separating evil as being a non-godlike quality whilst still championing God as being all-powerful. This is a blaring contradiction. Defining Good and Evil is extremely difficult. Partly because we do not have access to the full picture. We are like people looking through a keyhole and describing the world we see. Our senses for one are limited, our knowledge negligible, We cannot even begin to define in a universal sense what good and evil are. Having said that this does not mean that we can do what we like. Law governed by utilitarian (what is good for the majority thinking) prevents this, in order to negate chaos and preserve a workable structure. This is why legal systems exists.

VOR: For the greater good?
GK: That and to avoid chaos.

VOR: Isn’t that slightly Hobbesian?
GK: No Hobbes argued that man is evil/stupid and needs a strong system of law to keep him in check.
I don’t see this as the case. Man is not inherently evil or stupid but he is prone to error. However as a player in the scheme of the world, he is prone to chaos. The more people the greater the degree of chaos. Law limits this.

VOR: I see a conflict in your full argument though. On one level you argue that Gods existence can be justified by the non-randomness of the universe on another front you see law as a mechanism to avoid a natural flow toward chaos. If God introduces non-randomness why then does entropy exist? Why is there a drive in the direction of chaos?

GK: There is no conflict. Chaos exists side beside a state that exists. Chaos is God inspired as well. It is a phase that God uses to change one non-randomness dominant into another type. This process is dynamic. When I talk about mankind’s slide into chaos what is worrisome is not so much the chaos itself, but a slide into a non-randomness dominant that is less favorable to the species.

VOR: But can one not argue that this slide is part of God’s will?
GK: God provides us with many options. In a dynamic universe we face multiple possible non-randoms dominants our choice is to find the direction that takes us to the next most favorable one. Law prevents us slipping quickly into those non-randoms that go against our greater good. It is a breaking force.

VOR: Do you feel that true chaos (a complete absence of randomness) is impossible because God will always act to introduce non-randomness?
GK: No I reckon God can sit back and allow non-randomness to happen but for some reason or other, he hasn’t.

VOR: how can we separate the actions of God from those of physics? Is God constrained by the laws of physics?
GK: Of course not. God created the laws of physics in the first place. God uses physics as a mechanism to simplify his actions for our level of understanding. The laws of physics are the outline of a great book whose revelation is beyond us. In different universes it is conceivable that these laws might change.

VOR: Are you thus saying that the laws of Physics are in someway a simplifying illusion?
GK: No they are very real for us as beings as God has defined us around them. However for God they are insignificant.

VOR: So science cannot tell us all there is to know?
GK: Yes of course. Science is limited by the frame of reference that it exists in. Everything other than God is limited as well.

VOR: In a way then our relationship with the personal God is greater than our study of science. Is this a reasonable argument to make?
GK: The two are different. The personal God instructs us as individuals. We are still guided by science as to what we can and cannot do in the matter world.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The 60 Most Important ‘Advances’ in the History of Warfare

The 60 Most Important ‘Advances’ in the History of Warfare (not in order of importance)

1. The invention of the tank
2. The birth of air warfare and the development of the aircraft carrier
3. First use of biological weapons
4. Harnessing the powers of fire and water.
5. The A-Bomb
6. The H-Bomb and the Neutron Bomb.
7. Chemical weaponry
8. Gunpowder
9. The stirrup
10. Domestication of the Horse/Camel/Elephant.
11. The development of Bronze weaponry
12. The creation of the standing army
13. Invention of the flintlock musket
14. Development of the first canons. Birth of artillery warfare.
15. The longbow
16. Surveillance satellites
17. Invention of the rifle
18. Laser weaponry
19. Military organization
20. The invention of the wheel
21. The Invention of the shield
22. Invention of barb wire
23. Invention of the machine gun.
24. Invention of the hand held pistol
25. The development of the suit of armor.
26. The development of siege warfare and such devices as the catapult.
27. Diplomacy /Deception.
28. Dynamite
29. The invention of the Molotov cocktail.
30. The invention of the mortar
31. Invention of the radio.
32. Walled cities and moats.
33. Development of the computer/microprocessor.
34. Invention of the helicopter
35. Invention of the hand grenade.
36. Invention of the smart bomb.
37. The development of propaganda techniques
38. The invention of the submarine
39. The invention of radar.
40. The development of land mines.
41. The invention of the parachute.
42. The sophistication of espionage techniques - eg. code breaking.
43. The invention of the assembly line for production.
44. Development of anti-aircraft weaponry.
45. The arrival of the Dreadnoughts (Turn-of-the century Metal Battleships)
46. The invention of the torpedo.
47. Compulsory military conscription.
48. Invention of the bayonet.
49. Blitzkrieg warfare.
50. Terrorism/ Suicide soldiers.
51. Khaki battle uniforms.
52. Sniper fighting.
53. Trench warfare.
54. Cluster bombs.
55. The convoy system.
56. The removal of barriers of class and race distinction in the army.
57. Women in the military.
58. Scorched earth warfare.
59. The invention of the armored car and the Jeep.
60. The invention of the depth charge. To be used in anti-submarine warfare.

The Mousetrap Propulsion Car

This is a common High School Physics Project. Below is a list of expectations - in addition to the actual Mousetrap car - that I expect my Grade 11 Physics students to deliver on.

Grade 11 SPH3U Final Report

A Cover Page. Must include Title. Name. Course.
Report must be type-written
A sketch with clean lines. Sketch should contain labels of key items
A Free Body Sketch of the Mousetrap showing all forces
A Data Table with time trials for at least five runs
- Items to be included should be: starting velocity, average velocity, final velocity, displacement, time
- Calculate Net Force for each run
Estimation of Friction force acting on the object - will need to look up rolling friction coefficients
Calculation of Applied Force for each run. You will have to think about this.
Paragraph or two rationalizing why you made chose to implement certain features (at least three) eg. Why did you choose big wheels as opposed to small wheels or vice versa? Why were gears necessary? etc
A paragraph detailing important energy conversion that occur in the mousetrap process? Estimate the efficiency of the system.
A paragraph detailing possible improvements to the system.
A paragraph outlining what you believe that you have learnt from this project. At least three items.
Relevant Bibliography of at least four sources that you looked at when carrying out your design. A maximum of two of these sources can be internet related.

The Report need not be longer than five-six pages double spaced.

English Premiership draws to a close

Blackburn tied Man U at Erwood Park which leaves Chelsea three points behind the leaders, but United still dominant on goal difference. For me its anyone but the Mancs but realistically speaking its United's title to lose and I can't see them doing that.

Liverpool have all but secured 4th spot in the League (which means CL next season). Fulham were left wanting today as the Reds B team won 2-0 with goals from Pennant and Crouch (a useful combination that offers Benitez some options in the Champions League).

All the focus now though is on the Anfield encounter with Chelsea in the CL semi-finals this tuesday .The 'smart money' is backing Chelsea but then that was the case as well in 2005 and 2007 with Liverpool emerging victorious on both occasions.
As a Liverpool supporter I would prefer the first leg to be at Stamford Bridge but I have faith that the Reds can prevail regardless of the scheduling.

My predictions for relegation are: Derby (done deal), Fulham and Reading.

I am also goiung out on a bit of a limb here and backing Torres to reach 25 league goals by seasons end (assuming no injuries) - what a prize he has turned out to be. Our best striker since Rush?.......Perhaps....sorry Robbie Fowler fans.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Some thoughts

In my writing I have tried to resurrect the Idom a word that I have coined to represent the single idea. Pure in its presentation, yet open to the reader’s interpretation not bothered by prose that flowers the main theme.

Poetry seems to be the best form for the self expression of one’s feelings even though in some way it is too particular to be of use to anyone else.

In reality everything is a blur. We suffer because we attempt to create clarity out of non-quantifiable mist. Drawing lines on platforms that are themselves imaginary.

I am a prisoner to my own need to write. No single idea can pass through my head without me wanting to put it on paper.

Is Knowledge Finite?

G: Simply put. I would like to know if knowledge is finite ?
P: Isn’t that the type of question that only a higher power can answer ?
G: Maybe in truth. But its worth speculating about. To begin with we have to ask what is knowledge ?

Is it the sum of everything knowable ? ie. Everything that can be understood. Or does it include the unknowable ? ie. Those ‘facts’ if indeed ‘fact’ is the right word that we are incapable of understanding.

For convenience and because to not do so would open up a giant can of worms. I have chosen knowledge to be that which is knowable. So the question we need answer then is whether body of knowledge we define as knowable is static or dynamic. Since nothing in the universe is truly static (it is only static within the narrow dimensions in which we define or limit it a such), it is safe to assume that knowledge is not static either ie. It fluctuates over time. Since it is always in a state of flux knowledge can never truly be measured. It therefore takes on the form of being infinite and unreachable. However what happens if we reduce the delta in time between single units of knowledge to as close to zero as possible (without of course reaching zero), could we reduce knowledge change to zero itself. In other words is it possible to hypothetically flash freeze the knowledge available at a time to create a snapshot of what total knowledge looks like, in a moment of no change ? Another one for the higher power I guess. But since all mass and energy can be reduced ultimately to quanta ie. they break down into discrete units, then knowledge change which is some function of both mass and energy (certainly the knowable portion) cannot be reduced to a size below that of the knowledge quanta. Ie. zero knowledge change is impossible. Therefore knowledge is always, even at the most infinitesimally small time scale always changing, Hence it cannot be measured and is by definition infinite.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Nine Irritating Personality Types

After Years of Observation.

1. The Repeater – Someone who tells you the same story over and over again without realizing at all that they have told it to you before. Strong repeaters not only retell the same stories but are prone to reiterating old cliches. The Repeater is the Ultimate bore and what is worse is that they have no idea whatsoever that they are boring. Somehow they are surrounded by an imaginary force field.

2. Computer Retentive - Never happy with the output of a document. The retentive is always adjusting such factors as the FONT or margin spacing to fit his or her obsessive need for ludicrious perfection. After a while adjustments will become ridiculous, such as flashing lines in word documents. Nevertheless CRs will insist that their document presentation is the best even if it means missing the deadline for the document’s draft.

3. Fashion Critic per excellence– Walks around making remarks about the dress sense of others. Is astute in noticing what is wrong with one’s dress clothes. Often does not hesitate to point this out to you. Of course their dress sense is by definition perfect.

4. Ultimate Process Player – Won’t do anything unless its in the process. Forget about spontaneity its not documented. This character is without doubt one of the worst drudges in any work environment.

5. One- Over-U – What ever you achieve or can do? This personality type can do better. At least that’s what they claim. Sees everything in black and white, where its you against them. Lives by one up-manship. A trait that they probably developed during toliet training.

6. See-No-Evil – The world is all good. People are not bad just misunderstood. Is so caught up in seeing the good of others, that they cannot realize when they themselves are being used against good for the sake of ill-intended purposes.

7. My-luv-life-is crap – Bores you to death with descriptions of their love life. Generally self centered. Offers no advice to another party but insists that you should be the sounding board for the description of their pathetic life.

8. Darkside – Only see the worst moments of a situation, no matter how rosy it really is. Will insist on pointing out the negatives of winning the lottery or having sex with Pamela Anderson. Positive breaks are minimized whilst bad happenings are exaggerated to take on catastrophic portions. Any advice that you give such a person will be deconstructed and then ripped apart in front of the advice giver.

9. Obvious Sayer – An unimaginative git, who can always be relied to point out the obvious to everyone. Generally a trend follower the obvious sayer specializes in dumbing down what would otherwise be an intelligent conversation by stating the limits of his comprehension early on

Top 100 Greatest South Africans

As a South African living in Canada - this list was worth noting

I have posted the Top 50 - For the rest go to

Notable absentees from the list include:
Philip Tobias - Anthroplogist
Max Theiler - Nobel Prize Winner (Medicine 1951 - Area of Research - Yellow Fever)
JBM Herzog - Influential Afrikaner Politician
Louis Botha - First South African Prime Minister
DF Malan - Prime Minister

1. Nelson Mandela, first president of democratic South Africa and joint Nobel Peace Prize winner (1918 - )
2. Christiaan Barnard, pioneering heart transplant surgeon (1922 - 2001)
3. F. W. de Klerk, former president and joint Nobel Peace Prize winner (1936 - )
4. Mahatma Gandhi, political activist (1869 - 1948)
5. Nkosi Johnson, child who died of AIDS (1989 - 2001)
6. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, politician and 2nd wife of Nelson Mandela (1936 - )
7. Thabo Mbeki, current president (1942 - )
8. Gary Player, golfer (1936 - )
9. Jan Smuts, statesman (1870 - 1950)
10. Desmond Tutu, cleric and Nobel Peace Prize winner (1931 - )
11. Hansie Cronje, cricketer (1969 - 2002)
12. Charlize Theron, actress and Academy Award winner (1975 - )
13. Steve Biko, nonviolent political activist (1946 - 1977)
14. Shaka, founder of the Zulu nation (1787 - 1828)
15. Mangosuthu Buthelezi, politician and a Zulu prince (1928 - )
16. Tony Leon, politician (1956 - )
17. Brenda Fassie, singer (1964 - 2004)
18. Mark Shuttleworth, Web entrepreneur, founder of Thawte, distributor of Ubuntu Linux and second fee paying space tourist (1973 - )
19. Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, former prime minister and primary architect of Apartheid (1901 - 1966)2
0. Chris Hani, political activist who was Secretary General of the SACP when he was assassinated (1942 - 1993)
21. Bonginkosi Dlamini, also known as "Zola", poet, actor and musician
22. Patricia de Lille, politician (1951 - )
23. Johnny Clegg, also known as "The White Zulu", musician (1953 - )
24. Helen Suzman, stateswoman (1917 - )
25. Eugène Terre'Blanche, white supremacist and founder of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (1941 - )
26. Pieter Dirk Uys political satirist and entertainer (1945 - )
27. Paul Kruger, four times president of South African Republic (1825 - 1904)
28. Anton Rupert, businessman and environmentalist (1916 - 2006)
29. Jonty Rhodes, cricketer (1969 - )
30. Leon Schuster, filmmaker, comedian, actor and prankster (entertainer)
31. Oliver Tambo, political activist who spent 30 years in exile (1917 - 1993)
32. Steve Hofmeyr, musician and actor
33. Walter Sisulu, political activist (1912 - 2003
)34. Cyril Ramaphosa, politician and businessman
35. J. R. R. Tolkien, author (1892 - 1973)
36. Beyers Naude, cleric and anti-apartheid activist (1915 - 2004)
37. Ernie Els, golfer (1969 - )
38. Miriam Makeba, musician (1932 - )
39. Patrice Motsepe, businessman
40. Trevor Manuel, civil engineer, minister of finance and politician
41. Albert Luthuli, cleric, politician and 1960 Nobel Peace Prize winner († 1967)
42. Robert Sobukwe, former political activist and founder of the PAC (1924 - 1978)
43. Tokyo Sexwale, politician and businessman
44. Danny Jordaan, politician and soccer administrator
45. Fatima Meer, scientist and political activist
46. Ahmed Kathrada, political activist
47. Joe Slovo, communist politician (1926 - 1995)
48. Natalie du Toit, disabled olympic swimmer
49. Jomo Sono, soccer coach
50. Francois Pienaar, captain of the Springboks, the winning team in the 1995 Rugby World

Friday, April 11, 2008

20 Greatest Non-Medical Mechanical Inventions

1. The Plough
2. The Spear
3. Wheel
4. Levers
5. Working sewage system
6. The Clock
7. Writing
8. Printing Press
9. Radio
10. Telephone
11. Computers
12. Modern Irrigation
13. Automobiles
14. Sailing Ships
15. Airplanes
16. The Compass
17. Conveyor Belts
18. Television
19. Nuclear Reactors
20. The Drill

The Illusion of Atheist Superiority

Some of the most religious people I have ever met are atheists. Sounds ridiculous.....doesn’t it? But the preceding statement is a truism. The word ‘religion’ comes from the Latin root (religo) which means ‘to bind’ or ‘to obligate’. When viewed in such a context the enthusiasm which many an atheist shows in denying God creates such ‘an obligation’ to a philosophy....... that to call it anything else seems completely ludicrous. Now it is not that I am critical of the atheist's belief, for like any other free thinking being they too have the right to a choice...... but to describe oneself as existing on a higher level of being free from religion, simply because one has rejected the supernatural makes no sense whatsoever. All that has happened is that one belief system has been substituted for another, and the ‘escape from dogma’ that so many atheists rejoice in trumping, is nothing more than a falsity that has blinded the perspective of its holder.

On Buddhism

There is an essence to Buddhism that at first glance appears to be extremely soothing. As a philosophy it puts on a kinder face that to so many appears to be more welcoming than the harshness of the Judeo-Christian belief system. One such mechanism that has engendered one to think of Buddhism in a more enlightened framework was the replacement of the all-powerful judging God viewing each and every one of our actions with the belief in karma, that argues that every action has a consequence to it. In reality both the God and the karmic system function to guide our action toward doing what is the ‘good’. Bad acts in the Buddhist world invite bad karma which leads to suffering. In Western theology these acts are punished by the wrath of God, which too leads to suffering. So what we have here are alternative explanations for the same outcome. But are they really alternatives or is the one, karma, perhaps merely a description as to how God meets out justice? My problem with the karma view on its own is that it augers in too conveniently with the laws of classical physics. It provides for a predictability of outcome that for convenience is oversimplified. The complexity of human nature fits neatly into an equation of fortune that ‘makes it all too easy’ Subconsciously it is this ‘ease of knowing what an outcome is’ that perhaps draws many people to Buddhism. Western Religions are murkier on the outcome of an action because the ultimate decider of our fate is God, whose logic is beyond that of human reason (we for example cannot explain why infants die at such a young age but God must clearly know the reason). So we err on the side of simplicity and go with the easier explanation, not because it is necessary correct but because convenience and our loathing of uncertainty deems it so.

People once believed that the rules of mathematics and classical mechanics could be used to predict with complete certainty the future history of the universe. Modern Physics, the Uncertainty Principle and Quantum Mechanics through this ‘certainty’ on its head. Now it appears that the universe is more intricate and unpredictable than we could ever imagine. Is this indeed the case or have we been denying something for too long a time that the workings of the universe, just the logic of justice cannot be described by a simplicity (such as karma) as its source derives from a God power, whose reasoning is beyond our understanding.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Condi Checkpoint

This is an excellent article illustrating the short-sightedness of current American Policy with respect to the Israel/Palestinian saga.
Lifted from:
I have posted about 2/3 of the article for the rest click on the link above.

A new Hamas TV production for Palestinian children shows a puppet stabbing President Bush to death after telling him the White House has been turned into a mosque. The Palestinians elected Hamas as their leadership by a wide margin in January 2006, and in a poll two weeks ago a majority of Palestinians said they would vote for current Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh for president if there were new Palestinian elections.
After the massacre at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem on March 6, Bush called Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and said “This barbaric and vicious attack on innocent civilians deserves the condemnation of every nation.” But the same poll of Palestinians found 84% of them approving the attack. And the official newspaper of the Palestinian Authority featured a front-page photo of the dead terrorist over a caption calling him a shahid (martyr).
To say that Bush and his secretary of state don’t appear impressed by these problematic proclivities of the Palestinians is a great understatement. Condi Rice was here yet again this week in what has become a grimly obsessive quest to award the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians—in their current condition of moral development—with a sovereign state by the end of 2008.
Rice’s visit was seen as aimed at ensuring “progress” by the time Bush visits Israel in May to mark its 60th anniversary. Any remaining doubts as to whether Bush and Rice are serious—or just intended the “Annapolis process” as a spectacle to appease broader Arab opinion—can be laid to rest by the fact that Bush has also invited PA president Mahmoud Abbas to the White House in early May.
So Rice came to Israel with an agenda of “easing conditions” for the Palestinians—meaning mainly the removal of roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank that the entire Israeli defense establishment regards as a key element in Israel’s mostly successful containment of West Bank terror over the past couple of years.
Rice’s main foil was reportedly Defense Minister Ehud Barak. A former military hero, a left-of-center, Labor politician who himself—as prime minister—made draconian offers to Yasser Arafat in 2000 and 2001, Barak is said to be concerned about jeopardizing the recent security achievements and, concurrently, his own ambitions to be prime minister again.
Nonetheless, Rice didn’t find Barak too tough a customer this time and, along with her U.S. delegation, was reportedly “amazed” at the gestures Barak offered in a three-way meeting with her and PA prime minister Salam Fayyad. These include, among other things, removing a major checkpoint near Ramallah and 50 dirt roadblocks, allowing 700 PA policemen (trained in Jordan under U.S. supervision) to enter the West Bank terror-town of Jenin, building a city or several neighborhoods near Ramallah, increasing the number of Palestinians allowed to work in Israel, and easing security checks on Palestinian public figures passing through crossings.
Part of why Barak folded so easily has to do with the pressure on him: as Jerusalem Post analyst Calev Ben-David noted,
it can’t be easy for Rice to sit opposite the most decorated soldier in Israeli military history, and counter his arguments that the concessions she is demanding risk endangering the security of his nation’s citizens. Perhaps that helps explain why she has enlisted some heavy brass to help her in that mission, a trio of top US military officials: Gen. James Jones, Lt.-Gen. William Fraser and Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton.
As Ben-David details, Jones—who is no less than former Supreme Allied Commander of Europe—is said to help Rice with putting the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” in a larger context and is the one who already “leaned on Barak to make security concessions ahead of the secretary’s visit.”
As for Fraser, he’s a former top-level air force commander and currently assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as Rice’s top military adviser, and he’s also entrusted with monitoring Israel and the PA’s compliance with the “process.”
Dayton , also no lightweight, was director of the Iraq Survey Group and a senior member of the Joint Chiefs, and helps oversee the training of the Palestinian security forces that Bush and Rice still hallucinate to be a pro-Western contingent that will resist and, if necessary, defeat Hamas. Ben-David speaks of “rumored tensions between Dayton and Barak, the latter reportedly bristling at [ Dayton ’s] criticism of [his] unwillingness to approve giving the PA security forces more operational latitude and higher-level military equipment.”
If that sounds like a lot of pressure on the defense minister of a democratic ally, it is. If it sounds like the idea that Israel is supposed to be a sovereign country in its own right is getting lost in the shuffle here, it is.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Al Sharpton - Off the Deep End Once Again

He has made a career and a fortune out of exploiting racial issues - Could this lack of moral judgement finally torpedo Big Al? Methinks not the blinkers have been set to tight on the heads of the chattering class.