Sunday, April 30, 2006


Deseret Morning News, Sunday, April 16, 2006
USU quarterback arrested
Coed accuses him of rape in April 9 campus incident
By Linda Thomson and Jay HintonDeseret Morning News
Police have arrested a Utah State University football player accused of first-degree felony rape in connection with an April 9 incident involving a 20-year-old USU coed.
Jerod WalkerBack-up quarterback Jerod Walker, 19, turned himself in to police Thursday. He was arrested and booked into the Cache County Jail, according to USU Police Lt. Steve Milne. Walker bailed out on $10,000 bond.
It is unclear when Walker will make an initial appearance in court. No official charge from the county attorney's office had been documented in the statewide court computer system as of Saturday.
"The report came to us early Monday morning, April 10. The victim contacted us. We interviewed her and some of her friends that she had discussed this with, and she submitted to a rape examination," Milne said.
"We also interviewed Mr. Walker. He was cooperative, he came in and told us his side of the story stating that it was consensual sex," Milne said. "The county attorney's office said there was enough evidence to support a charge of rape."
The woman had gone to Walker's apartment on campus April 9 and, early the next morning, "She reported immediately to her roommate, and we were contacted from there," Milne said.
"We proceeded very carefully on this because we knew there would be a lot of media attention because it's an athlete, but we also owed it to the victim to proceed as quickly as possible," Milne said.
Conviction on a first-degree felony potentially carries a sentence of five-years-to-life in prison.
Utah State athletic director Randy Spetman and head football coach Brent Guy declined comment Saturday.
Walker has been suspended from the team and did not take part in a scrimmage on Friday.
Following the scrimmage, Guy told the Deseret Morning News, "He was suspended, and we won't know (more) until the legal action runs its course."
Walker was recruited from Jersey Village High School in Houston, where he was a star player. He was named first-team all-district as a senior after being named second-team all-district as a junior.
As a senior, he set a single-season school record for rushing by a quarterback with 1,000 yards while throwing for a school-record 1,800 yards. As a junior, Walker threw for 800 yards and rushed for 500.
Last season, his freshman year at USU, Walker started two games in place of injured starting quarterback Leon Jackson III. He played in a total of nine games last year.
Walker led the Aggies to a 24-21 victory over New Mexico State in the 2005 season finale. In the win, he completed 14 of 20 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 102 yards.
Walker tied with Jackson for second on the team in rushing with 328 yards. He threw for 653 yards and six touchdowns with just two interceptions.

Friday, April 28, 2006


April 28, 2006
Of Imperial Presidents and Congressional Cowards
by Patrick J. Buchanan

Now that Congress is back fromspring break and looking ahead to Memorial Day, July 4, the August recess and adjournment early in October for elections, perhaps it can take up this question.
Does President Bush have, or not have, the authority to take us to war with Iran? Because Bush and the War Party are surely behaving as though this were an executive decision alone.
No sooner had President Ahmadinejad declared that his country had enriched a speck of uranium than the war drums began again.
Bush has said of Iran that even "a process which would enable Iran to develop a nuclear weapon is unacceptable." John McCain has said too many times to count, "The military option is on the table." The 2006 National Security Strategy re-endorses preventive war and elevates Iran to the No. 1 threat to the United States.
This is not enough for The Weekly Standard, which equates our situation with that of France in 1936, when Paris sat immobile while Hitler marched three lightly armed battalions back into the German Rhineland, which had been demilitarized by the Versailles Treaty.
"To Bomb or Not to Bomb, That Is the Iran Question," is the title of an extended piece in the Standard, whose editorial calls for "urgent operational planning for bombing strikes." As that would likely ignite Shia and Revolutionary Guard terror attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, the Standard wants Bush to send more troops.
In an editorial "Iran, Now," National Review is already into target acquisition. It calls for plans for a massive bombing campaign "coupled with an aggressive and persistent efforts to topple the regime from within." Ideally, U.S. bombs "should hit not just the nuclear facilities, but also the symbols of state oppression: the intelligence ministry, the headquarters of the Revolutionary Guard, the guard towers of the notorious Evin Prison."
In The Washington Post, Mark Helprin, who is identified as having "served in the Israeli army and air force," says "the obvious option is an aerial campaign to divest Iran of its nuclear potential: i.e., clear the Persian Gulf of Iranian naval forces, scrub anti-ship missiles from the shore and lay open antiaircraft-free corridors to each target. … Were the targets effectively hidden or buried, Iran could be shut down, coerced and perhaps revolutionized by the simple and rapid destruction of its oil production and transport."
Since Muslims may not like what we are up to, Helprin cautions, we should prepare "for a land route from the Mediterranean across Israel and Jordan to the Tigris and Euphrates," and, presumably, from there the final push on to Tehran.
In all this hawk talk, something is missing. We are not told how many innocent Iranians we will have to kill as we go about smashing their nuclear program and defenses. Nor are we told how many more soldiers we will need for the neocons' new war, nor how long they will have to fight, nor how many more wings we should plan for at Walter Reed, nor when it will be over – if ever.
Moreover, where does Bush get the authority to launch a war on a nation that has not attacked us? As few believe Iran is close to a nuclear weapon, while four neighbors – Russia, India, Pakistan, and Israel, not to mention the United States – already have the bomb, what is America's justification for war?
If we sat by while Stalin got the bomb, and Mao got the bomb, and Kim Jong-Il got the bomb, why is an Iranian bomb a threat to the United States, which possesses thousands?
There is a reason the Founding Fathers separated the power to conduct war from the power to declare it. The reason is just such a ruler as George W. Bush, a man possessed of an ideology and sense of mission that are not necessarily coterminous with what is best for his country. Under our Constitution, it is Congress, not the president, who decides on war.
Many Democrats now concede they failed the nation when they took Bush at his word that Iraq was an intolerable threat that could be dealt with only by an invasion. Now, Bush and the War Party are telling us the same thing about Iran. And the Congress is conducting itself in the same contemptible and cowardly way.
It is time for Congress to tell President Bush directly that he has no authority to go to war on Iran and to launch such a war would be an impeachable offense. Or, if they so conclude, Congress should share full responsibility by granting him that authority after it has held hearings and told the people why we have no other choice than another Mideast war, with a nation three times as large as Iraq.
If Congress lacks the courage to do its constitutional duty, it should stop whining about imperial presidents. Because, like the Roman Senate of Caesar's time, it will have invited them and it will deserve them.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


The link is to the Simpson Report about tourism, and Mr. Simpson gives his analysis of the lack of accountability in tourism reporting. Here in Macon, we have a group of people that want to grow Macon to what it was before Brown and Williamson announced the plant was closing. The inflated numbers for tourism related to the Tour de Georgia go back to Governor Barnes when the race first began in Georgia, and I suppose the movers and shakers are taking the $36 million pie in the sky estimate for the bike race for Georgia and dividing that number by the number of host cities and then padding it a little to make the numbers look even better here in Macon. I suspect the numbers are way off for the Cherry Blossom Festival too, and there has been so many people enriching themselves from Cherry Blossom Festival proceeds in the past. When working for a CPA firm in town, I volunteered to count gate proceeds for the Cherry Blossom Festival street party one year. Trust me their was lots of cash, and I believe that too many people in town took care of their own interests instead of investing in the community. I have no definitive proof of where all of the money went, but there was enough cash coming in to remodel every building downtown in those early festival years based upon the bags of cash that came in during my volunteer time of a couple of hours.

Our officials at the Macon Visitors Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce are not the exception to the rule across the United States, as they are very much the rule. Just report large revenues from tourism, and the media obliges by reporting the inflated numbers and never questions them at all because it is an agenda to promote the town at all costs. We need revenue, and it is ok to beg, borrow and steal to get it. Afterall, there is no one paying attention to what is going on and tourism dollars reported just go in one ear and out the other. But there is one lurking problem, which is that investors are entitled to the truth. People that want to invest in a Macon downtown business absolutely deserve an accounting for tourist revenue, but there is no one there to enforce it. Inflating tourism dollars is what the City Council and the County Board of Commissioners should be questioning, but it is a grand conspiracy that is not really planned, but it goes on regardless and it goes unchecked. Anyone that invests in a restaurant or a store in any town absolutely should add to their risk assessment, the sad fact that those reporting tourist dollars are playing a shell game with no rules whatsoever. You have to watch out for your own interest because no one else will.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Cycle race has big impact, with or without Armstrong
By Tony Lombardo Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Cyclists don't breeze by for the Ford Tour de Georgia. They stop, eat, spend the night and spend money.

Ross Taylor/Staff
Nicholas Legan, a mechanic for Denmark's Team CSC, prepares a bike for the Ford Tour de Georgia, which This year, the bike race will raise an estimated $250,000 in visitor spending, said Tammy Stout, the executive director of the Greater Augusta Sports Council.
is expected to bring $250,000 in visitor spending to Augusta this year, much of it at hotels, such as the Augusta Marriott Hotel & Suites.
Click photo for options
The economic impact is based on travel expenses, dining and the 1,000 room nights logged at hotels by cyclists, fans and members of the media.
"Some folks have been here as early as Wednesday, and they'll be here through (today)," Ms. Stout said.
In 2005, the race generated $36.2 million in economic impact statewide, according to a Georgia Tech study. More than 8,000 people watched the tour in person.
Last year was strengthened by cycling legend Lance Armstrong, who announced his retirement at the 2005 Tour de Georgia.
It's unknown whether the absence of Mr. Armstrong will affect tourism dollars, Ms. Stout said.
At the Augusta Marriott Hotel & Suites, there seems to be less buzz surrounding the race than there was last year, said Matt Ricker, the hotel manager.
"With a star like that making that announcement, the buzz was hot last year," he said. "This year, as far as media presence, it's not as visible as it was."
The hotel is still reaping the benefits of the tournament, with or without Mr. Armstrong. The hotel was sold out Monday and is sold out tonight, Mr. Ricker said.
Easter, a typically "soft weekend," was busy, largely because of the race, he said.
Managers of the race believe the economic impact for the state will not diminish this year without the famed cyclist and cancer survivor.
"Cycling is alive and well," said Chris Aronhalt, the managing partner of Medalist Sports, the company coordinating the Tour de Georgia.
Andy Jordan, the owner of Andy Jordan's Bicycle Warehouse on 13th Street, expects to see plenty of "bike junkies" visiting Augusta for the race.
"When they come down they've got to kill time and come into the bike shops," he said. "We think of ourselves as a little bit of an ambassador for the city of Augusta."
In between talking shop and selling handlebar tape, Mr. Jordan recommends dining and recreation possibilities for the guests, he said.
"We try to promote the locally owned restaurants - unique places they are likely to remember," he said.
Jacksonville, Fla., resident Rae Simonds spent Sunday and Monday touring the sights of Augusta. She dined at Blue Sky Kitchen downtown and shopped at the nearby antiques stores and art galleries.
"The downtown is wonderful," said Ms. Simonds, an eight-year cyclist and volunteer at this year's race.
Not all downtown businesses see an increase in foot traffic, however.
Last year, 1102 Downtown Bar & Grill experienced no growth in customers.
"We were watching the race," said General Manager David Alcaraz. "We had a couple tables maybe."
Eric Kinlaw, the owner of The Bee's Knees, sees a major benefit of the race, whether it fills the restaurant or not.
"Anytime there's a positive event downtown, it's good for everybody," he said.
Reach Tony Lombardo at (706) 823-3227 or

I like the idea of Macon businsesses making money, but I do not like the idea of those that hype false numbers. It is the same people hyping numbers for these events that want to justify a convention hotel that we do not need, and it is the same people that make up numbers about the SPLOST and that 40% of the tax is paid by outsiders. It is unethical to hype numbers that others will make investment decisions upon. In today's Macon Telegraph Chip Cherry is quoted as saying the tour brought $1.5 to $2 million to Macon. Show me the green facts not hype! Take a look at Louisville, KY where I lived when the Galeria and downtown walkway was promoted, and ask taxpayers if the economic impact is as it was promised. I applaud Augusta, Georgia for analyzing the economic impact in an honest manner. I have been accused of holding my foot on the neck of Macon, and told to move. Treat residents like crap that criticize those that tell lies and tell them to move, but beg for tourists to come in at the same time. What a lousy motto for a town! Beebee

Monday, April 24, 2006


Farmer Ray Daniels in Boise, Idaho has one of the largest roosters I have ever seen. Ray is excited about his venture to Middle Georgia where he has been told that tourists really turn out for anything that is beyond the norm. This is going to be so good for our local economy!


Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Return of America First?
by Patrick J. Buchanan

April 18, 2006
Friday's lead story in America's largest newspaper must have made for sober reading at AEI and the Council on Foreign Relations, the twin dorms that house the Wilsonian wings of our national parties.
Americans, it appears, have had a bellyful of interventionism and globaloney. Reporters Susan Page and David Jackson merit quoting at length:
In a USA Today-Gallup Poll, nearly half of those surveyed said the United States 'should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along as best they can on their own.' ...
The leave-us-alone mood is apparent not only in the proportion of Americans, 64 percent, who want all or some of the U.S. troops in Iraq to come home now. It's also reflected in concern about illegal immigration – eight of 10 said it was "out of control" – and in the furious public reaction to reports last month that a Dubai-owned firm was poised to take over cargo operations at ports in six states.
Attitudes have soured toward trade, as well. Two-thirds said increased trade with other countries mostly hurts U.S. workers. By 50 percent-39 percent, respondents also said it mostly hurts American companies.
What do the polls mean? Bush and the Wall Street Journal may say America is trudging backward to the dark days of "isolationism and protectionism," of "Fordney-McCumber and Smoot-Hawley that gave us the Hoovervilles, Hitler and World War II."
But the truth is less dramatic.
What the polls are saying is that America, having tasted the fruits of Bush's foreign, immigration and trade policies, rejects them. Why? All three, of dubious conservative parentage, have failed.
Three in five Americans now believe the Iraq war – whether we invaded to oust Saddam, strip him of WMD, turn Iraq into Vermont or establish our "benevolent global hegemony" – was and is not worth the cost in blood and money.
They are saying that a NAFTA-GATT trade policy that results in $800 billion trade deficits and the loss of 3 million manufacturing jobs – one in every six in just five years – should be jettisoned.
When they read of China growing at 10 percent a year, as factories close in the United States and GM and Ford, once the two greatest companies on earth, are lingering outside bankruptcy court, they think we can do better. And, we can.
They are not saying they dislike foreigners. But they are saying a government that cannot stop an invasion across our Mexican border that has left 11 million to 20 million intruders in our country, stomping around under foreign flags and demanding the benefits of U.S. citizens, is a failed regime that needs to be replaced. After all, what does it profit us if we save Anbar province but lose Arizona?
What the polls are saying is that neoconservatism has failed and we wish to be rid of it, that Davos Republicanism has failed and we wish to be rid of it, that the open-borders immigration policy of the Wall Street Journal is idiotic and we wish to be rid of it.
This is not only understandable, there would be something wrong with Americans if they did not seek to regurgitate the fruit of such failed policies. Yet, when one looks at the large Republican field of presidential hopefuls shaping up, not one has broken with, and all seem to stand behind, George W. Bush. None so more than John McCain.
And what do the Democrats offers? Taxes, censure, amnesty, Cynthia McKinney and a four-year rerun of "The Clintons."
In 1964, Barry Goldwater and his 110-proof conservatism were repudiated in the largest landslide since FDR's stomping of Alf Landon, who carried only Maine and Vermont.
But by 1968, Great Society liberalism had been tried and had transparently failed. The no-win war in Vietnam and the urban riots bespoke a failed philosophy and policy. Today in 2006, it is neoconservatism and Wall Street Journal Republicanism that have failed as badly as had Great Society liberalism by 1968.
Where Bush has remained faithful to a Reaganite philosophy, on taxes and judges, the country has remained with him. But where he listened to the globalists and the Vulcans, who altered the liturgy and diluted the dogma, he lost the country.
Fred Barnes has written darkly of a "paleo moment" in America.
But paleoconservatism is simply the faith of our fathers before we built that shelter for the neocon homeless booted out of their own house by the McGovernites, who appear, in retrospect, to have been more savvy than we thought.
What does the old-time conservatism stand for? Limited government. Balanced budgets. A defense second to none. Secure borders. A trade policy that puts America and Americans first. And a foreign policy that keeps us out of wars that are not America's wars.
Unfortunately, when the USA Today-Gallup poll shows Americans are looking for precisely such authentic conservatism, neither party is offering it. The children were right. The system doesn't work.
Click here for a permanent link to this column.



Wednesday, April 12, 2006 - 12:00 AM
Permission to reprint or copy this article or photo, other than personal use, must be obtained from The Seattle Times. Call 206-464-3113 or e-mail with your request. Photo of Christopher H. Sheppard.


Christopher H. Sheppard
Snohomish County opinionComing home — disillusioned
By Christopher H. SheppardSpecial to The Times

Three years ago, I was a Marine Corps captain on the Iraqi/Kuwaiti border, participating in the invasion of Iraq. Awestruck, I heard our howitzers thunder and watched artillery rockets rise into the night sky and streak toward Iraq — their light bathing the desert moonscape like giant arc welders.
As I watched the Iraq war begin, I completely trusted the Bush administration. I thought we were going to prove all of the left-wing antiwar protesters and dissenters wrong. I thought we were going to make America safer. Regrettably, I acknowledge that it was I who was wrong.
I believed the Bush administration when it said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. I believed its assertion that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium from Africa and refine it into weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear bomb. I believed its claim Iraq had vast quantities of biological and chemical agents. After years of thorough inspections, all of these claims have been disproved.
I believed the administration when it claimed there was overwhelming evidence Iraq was in cahoots with al-Qaida. In January 2004, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted that there was no concrete evidence linking Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida.
I believed the administration when it grandly proclaimed we were going to bring a stable, Western-style liberal democracy to Iraq, complete with religious tolerance and the rule of law. We never had enough troops in Iraq to restore civil order and the rule of law. The Iraqi elections have produced a ruling majority of Shiite fundamentalists and marginalized the seething Sunni minority. Iraq dangerously teeters on the brink of civil war. We have emboldened Iran and destabilized the entire Middle East.
I believed the administration when it claimed the war could be done quickly and cheaply. It said the war would cost only between $50 billion and $60 billion. It said that Iraqi oil revenue would fund the country's reconstruction. I believed President Bush when he landed on the USS Lincoln and said "major combat operations have ended."
The war has cost the American taxpayers $250 billion and counting. The vast majority — 94 percent — of the more than 2,300 United States service members killed in Iraq have occurred since Bush's "Top Gun" proclamation. The cost in men and materiel has been far beyond what we were led to believe.
I volunteered to go back to Iraq for the fall and winter of 2004-2005. I went back out of frustration and guilt; frustration from watching Iraq unravel on the news and guilt that I wasn't there trying to stop it. Many fine Marines from my reserve battalion felt the same and volunteered to go back. I buried my mounting suspicions and mustered enough trust and faith in my civilian leadership to go back.
I returned disillusioned by what I saw. I participated in the second battle of Fallujah in November 2004. We crushed the insurgents in the city, but we only ended up scattering them throughout the province. The dumb ones stayed and died. The smart ones left town before the battle, to garner more recruits and fight another day. We were simply the little Dutch boy with our finger in the dike. In retrospect, we never had enough troops to firmly control the region; we had just enough to maintain a tenuous equilibrium.
I now know I wrongfully placed my faith and trust in a presidential administration hopelessly mired in incompetence, hubris and a lack of accountability. It planned a war based on false intelligence and unrealistic assumptions. It has strategically surrendered the condition of victory in Iraq to people who do not share our vision, values or interests. The Bush administration has proven successful at only one thing in Iraq — painting us into a corner with no feasible exit.
I will never trust any of them again.
Christopher H. Sheppard is a former Marine captain who served two tours of duty in Iraq as a combat engineer. He currently is finishing his master's degree in mass communication and lives in Marysville.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


Moved to a current post because the movie will soon be released.

Tue 27 Sep 2005
Audrey Tautou, right, and a member of the film crew struggle with the Scottish weather during a break in filming.Picture: David Moir
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email articleTown watches as Da Vinci Code film icons come to Rosslyn Chapel SHAN ROSS AND EDWARD BLACK
THE normally tranquil village of Roslin grabbed its first taste of Hollywood yesterday when Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks and his entourage swept into town to begin filming the finale to Dan Brown's international best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code.
While many locals attempted to ignore the clipboards, headsets and the specially erected polystyrene wall that confirmed the arrival of a big-budget movie, Monday morning still provided opportunities for the entrepreneurial.

In the village a group of pensioners - whose cottages in Manse Road have the best view of the Rosslyn Chapel - organised a "bidding war" selling prime-location spaces at bedroom windows to the world's paparazzi. All proceeds were being split between a kidney research unit at an Edinburgh hospital and St Claire's Old Folk's Lunch Club in the village.
The main organiser, a retired teacher who did not want to be named, began the day by charging £25. But after a steady stream of desperate inquires, his price for a day's pitch soon rose between £50 and £75.
Crews from Sky Television and GMTV were ushered into the organiser's cottage. "I'm pushing for charity, you know, and I don't like to think I may vastly undercharge by mistake," he warned them.
Elsewhere, Kirsty Smith, 21, a student nurse at Napier University in Edinburgh, braved the rain and blustery winds as she tried to gain access to the film set, but found herself relegated to the grass verge. "I know all the secret routes round the glen leading to the chapel," she said.
"I went down the back way and got down to a footpath near the chapel this morning, but all I could see were wooden fences that had been put up round the chapel.
"All I wanted was to see Tom Hanks. He is such a big, big star. Everyone in the world has heard of him and he's here. A security guard asked me what I wanted then told me to move." Alison Hughes, 60, and her husband Robert, 62, from Christchurch, New Zealand, both Da Vinci Code fans, were disappointed they couldn't visit the scene of one of the most dramatic passages in the book.
"We told the police we had come specially from New Zealand, but it didn't make any difference," said Mrs Hughes. "We will just have to live with it, but it's a pain."
Ron O'Neill, a lunchtime regular in The Original Rosslyn Hotel, founded in 1857, said: "The publicity will be good for us if folk are sensible enough to cash in on it and do something like open a cafe.
"But, despite all the fuss, there was far more buzz about the place when newspapers like the Washington Post sent reporters over when Dolly the Sheep died."
Muhammad Arif Iqbar, who owns the local grocers, added: "It's very good, we're a very lucky village to have a film shot here."
But some regulars also complained that money gleaned from the film would only benefit the chapel - and not the local villagers.
John Ritchie, a local writer, summed up the mood when he said: "Most people here have no problem with the amount of visitors that come to Rosslyn and the film crew, but the problem is the money goes in one direction only. Locals get nothing out of it and they have to put up with the disruption.
"When the chapel is being marketed for tourists they also need to improve the bus service as some visitors coming from Edinburgh can get stranded trying to get back."
Stuart Beattie, the director of Rosslyn Chapel, was keen to quash such mutterings and insisted they would be making nothing like the rumoured £175,000 from the four days of filming.
He said: "We are not making anything like the sums being bandied around from the filming which is only here for four days out of a ten-month schedule, after all."
Indeed, one local, Keith Campbell, was even due to lay on a special Da Vinci Code party in the Roslin Glen Hotel tomorrow night to which he has invited the film's cast and crew.
"It's just our way of saying thank-you to the film company and making them feel welcome," he said.
"It's a great scoop for Scotland to have them filming here and we want to clear the air with them. Hopefully it will be a good night as there'll be good food and a band."
Robin Crawford, a local farmer who runs Slateburns Caravan Park, opposite the chapel, loaned one of his fields to house catering workers and film crew.
He said: "My main concern is access. As long as the roads are kept clear then I don't have a problem, and the location managers I have spoken with for this week have been fine.
"Car parking at the chapel has been a problem in the past and it is a concern what will happen when the film comes out and even more tourists come along."
The Da Vinci Code has sold 25 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 44 languages. The film version will cost £53 million to make.
Hanks will play the lead role of Professor Robert Langdon, with Amélie star Audrey Tautou playing French investigator Sophie Neveu.
Oscar-winner Ron Howard, who starred in Happy Days as a youngster and who also made Apollo 13, will direct the movie.
The historic church has found new popularity because of its association with the book - visitor numbers have soared by 56 per cent to 70,000 since its publication. The book's plot suggests the 15th-century chapel was built to house the secret of the Holy Grail.
Trustees of the site, which is famed for its intricate carvings, have said location fees alone could generate £100,000.
The novel links a murder in Paris and clues in paintings by Renaissance master Leonardo Da Vinci to a secret society set up to protect the descendants of a purported marriage between Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene.
The film is due for release in May next year.


Please add Atwitsend from Houston County to your blog readings-see the link on the right hand side of this blog!

Copied and pasted from Atswitsend:
The Cost of Illegal Immigration
The cost of illegal immigration goes far beyond the costs of attempts to stem the flood of illegals crossing the border and the costs of court proceedings to send them back to their home country. The actual costs cannot be fully expressed as some of the potential problems have yet to express themselves. Currently, we can find evidence of those costs through the monetary and emotional losses that have resulted from the massive illegal immigration and are seen as monetary costs, safety costs, and the costs of the fragmenting of our social structure.
The cost of providing government assistance to illegals may be impossible to ever fully document. However, there are known costs that have caused numerous critical budgetary crises in border states and cities. In California, the cost of providing indigent medical care to illegal immigrants has exceeded $ 10 billion. A FOX news analyst places the cost to provide medical care to illegal immigrants at between $ 30 and $ 40 billion. In cities like El Paso, Texas the indigent medical care for illegal immigrants has often flooded the emergency rooms, delayed care for citizens and added millions of dollars of unpaid medical costs to their bottom line. Other border cities and states have been likewise affected. Citizens living along the U.S.-Mexican border have seen their property ruined as crops and animal stock have been lost. Each day they face the danger of having trespassers pass by their homes at all hours of the day. Yet, our government refuses to offer protection for them and their property. Government assistance to women who illegally cross our border and give births here costs American taxpayers millions in Women-Infant-Childcare payment. Other assistance programs are provided to those children and their families even if the family relocates to Mexico. Cheap, illegal labor has the affect of lowering wages for working Americans. There is the myth that the jobs illegal immigrants occupy are jobs that Americans don’t want. That is simply not the case. Fourteen percent of Americans are without a high school diploma. Those jobs in the food processing and meat packing industries are jobs Americans used to work. Those jobs provided a living wage and benefits. They are either gone or rapidly disappearing as a source of occupation for our unskilled workers.
Yet, our political elites are in essence saying that those citizens are either too lazy or too stupid to work those positions. Our aristocratic power brokers have even gone so far as to say that jobslike that are not the kind of jobs we want. That is the excuse they have used to promote “free” trade agreements that has left us without many industries that used to provide good jobs that enabled working families to purchase homes and send their children to higher education so their offspring might have a better life. Those industries include clothing, textile, footwear and many more including large components of automobile and electronic manufacturing. The loss of industries necessary for the maintenance of a society leaves us relying upon the good will of other nations. During the first gulf war, we were unable to manufacture combat boots and camouflage uniforms for our troops. We had to procure them from England. It must be noted that no nation has long existed without a manufacturing base. Yet, our political elite insist that we must evolve from a manfacturing to a service economy. Unfortunately, many services are being exported abroad even as they hype their grand vision for our future in the "new world order". Illegal immigration is a cornerstone of the fulfillment of their dreams. There are costs that have not yet been encountered but may well be on our doorstep. Serious diseases can be carried by those unknown people crossing our border. The question is, “Are we very far from a potential pandemic?” One cannot possibly imagine the cost arising from the loss of thousands or millions of lives. There is the cost of the failure of new immigrants to assimilate into American culture. Instead, they prefer to maintain their culture and its mores and languages. As an indicator of the cost this has brought to one state, California, the printing election ballots has been required in 117 different languages. Generations of illegal immigrants reside in this country and have never learned the English language. For them, there is no reason to learn the language of this nation. They live in enclaves where their native tongue is the "official" language. They can conduct all the business they need in their neighborhoods. All the support systems of family are there. If their community cannot provide a need, the American people through their government will provide that need. As each day passes, our nation is becoming more a bi-lingual society. Go to any store and see signs in English and Spanish. Local Spanish speaking broadcastsof radio and television programs has reached even the rural areas across our country.
The demise of the "Melting Pot" forebodes great danger for our nation in the future. No society can exist with two separate value systems. One will remain dominant or the other will rise to dominance. As has been noted, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
But the greatest immediate danger is the lack of faith that American citizens can be expected to have in their government. They see a government that refuses to enforce laws already enacted and ask why they should believe that the government will enforce any future law it passes to address the problem of illegal immigration. Our people wonder whether the government can provide their families with any good economic future as the onslaught of bargain-basement labor continues unabated. Our people worry about the future with good reason as they see this country and their elected representatives lacks the will to protect its borders. Our society understands that our elected officials are selling out the American people on the twin altars of the "Hope of future electoral support" and the "Cheap labor underwrites the corporate bottom-line".
Is there hope that the tide can be changed? Yes, but not easily. We'll look at that in our next installation.

Monday, April 17, 2006


The above post is from Denver and talks about bicycle tours that leave behind about $175,000 in each community from the race that generates about $1.5 million in total for the entire tour. I had to do my own research when I heard Janice Marshall when interviewed on Fox 24 say that the tour here in Macon would generate $1 to $1.5 million. That sounded a little like fuzzy math, so I did my own research. Ms. Marshall forgot to break down the amount that would be left behind in Macon. Fuzzy math again, which is much like what we have heard about the amount of tourism that warrants a Convention Hotel being built. If people want to watch the bicycles wizz by, that is great. But PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE QUIT DISTORTING THE FACTS!

For one thing, no one analyzes the opportunity cost of hosting such a race through Macon. Opportunity costs such as workers setting up and cleaning up for a race, when they could possibly be put to work cleaning up a blighted area of Macon or the opportunity costs of the government workers that leave their work areas to view the race or the opportunity costs of private sector workers that are not generating revenue while watching a bicycle race. Don't you just love the fairy tale spins of our Visitors and Conventions Bureau?


The Caliphate will Unite Sunni and Shia under an Islamic Rule uploaded 14 Mar 2006 After last months devastating attack on the Al-Askari mosque in Samarra and a number of further incidents, Western politicians and commentators now describe Iraq as on the verge of a Sunni-Shia civil war. An opinion poll published on 7th March by the Washington Post and ABC News showed 80% of Americans believed civil war in Iraq was likely, and more than a third that it was very likely. For those reading the daily news reports from Iraq as well as US and UK newspapers the fear of civil war remains high. However, these fears are nothing new. Its two years since 180 Muslims were killed in bomb attacks at Kerbala and Baghdad on the religious festival of Ashura to mark the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. Similar statements were raised then about a civil war yet they have failed to materialise. If the West is to be believed Sunni Shia tensions have been simmering for decades in Iraq, and have now boiled over after the Iraq war. Last week the US Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, said that the US-led invasion in 2003 had opened up tensions in Iraq. He said. “We have opened the Pandora's Box and the question is, what is the way forward?”If we look historically to relations between Sunni and Shia in Iraq we don’t see any ‘Pandora’s Box’ of tensions. Rather we see both sets of Muslims have always lived together side by side, worshipping in the same mosques and inter-marrying. Despite differences of opinion over some Islamic issues both Sunni and Shia both see themselves and each other as Muslims first. The Western media continually labels mosques and neighbourhoods in Iraq as being either Sunni or Shia. Yet this distinction is a misnomer. A mosque is a House of Allah, and cannot be described as a Sunni or Shia mosque. This is why the attack on Al-Askara mosque was just as upsetting to Sunni as it was to Shia. The Shia Imam Muqtada al-Sadr said after the attack, “My message to the Iraqi people is to stand united and bonded, and not to fall into the Western trap. The West is trying to divide the Iraqi people.” During the April 2004 assault on Fallujah, the besieged Sunni city was assisted by Shia and Sunni from across Iraq, who brought medical and food aid for their brothers. They chanted, “No no Sunni, No no Shia, Yes yes Islam”. In Baghdad, Sunni and Shia filled the Amm al-Qura mosque, while 200,000 gathered in Baghdad for a demonstration against the assault. The west likes to cite the Sunni Shia differences as evidence that only a secular solution is the way forward for Iraq. The Library Journal's review of Olivier Roy's mid-nineties book, 'The Failure of Political Islam' echoed the views of many in the West, “…the attempt to create a universal Islamist state is doomed to failure because of the conflicts between Sunni and Shia forms and other ethnic differences in the Islamic world…” However, both Sunni and Shia are Muslim and have more in common with each other than differences. Both agree on the fundamental tenets of the Islamic belief and that the Qur’an and Sunnah are the principle sources of Islamic law. The main Shia school of thought (madhab) is the Jafari one. This was founded by Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq the sixth Shia Imam, who was also the teacher of Imam Abu Hanifa the founder of the largest Sunni madhab. The political rule of a future Caliphate is neither Sunni nor Shia, rather it is Islamic. The head of state may adopt legislation from many different schools of thought, whether Sunni or Shia. The people will obey these laws as the law of the land. The Head of State however, will not adopt legislation covering personal worships and beliefs unless they have a societal impact such as Zakat. The Caliphate is not a police state that will intrude in to people’s homes investigating what beliefs they hold.The solution to sectarian violence in Iraq is to establish a Caliphate that will unify all Muslims, whether Sunni or Shia, Arab or Kurd. This was outlined by Hizb-ut-Tahrir in Iraq when it organised a unity conference in Baghdad on 4th November 2004, inviting prominent figures from both the Sunni and Shia groups. Mohammed Baqr al-Sadr, uncle of Muqtada al-Sadr declared while under house arrest because of his opposition to Ba’athism and non-Islamic rule in Iraq, “The only thing I have sought in my life is to make the establishment of an Islamic government on earth possible”. Before his execution at the hands of Saddam in 1980, he said “It is incumbent on every Muslim…to liberate themselves from this inhuman gang, and to establish a righteous, unique, and honourable rule based on Islam”. Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere should heed these words and work together to bring about the “honourable rule based on Islam”. Source: KCom Journal


April 15, 2006
The Generals' Revolt
by Patrick J. Buchanan

In just two weeks, six retired U.S. Marine and Army generals have denounced the Pentagon planning for the war in Iraq and called for the resignation or firing of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who travels often to Iraq and supports the war, says that the generals mirror the views of 75 percent of the officers in the field, and probably more.
This is not a Cindy Sheehan moment.
This is a vote of no confidence in the leadership of the U.S. armed forces by senior officers once responsible for carrying out the orders of that leadership. It is hard to recall a situation in history where retired U.S. Army and Marine Corps generals, almost all of whom had major commands in a war yet underway, denounced the civilian leadership and called on the president to fire his secretary for war.
As those generals must be aware, their revolt cannot but send a message to friend and enemy alike that the U.S. high command is deeply divided, that U.S. policy is floundering, that the loss of Iraq impends if the civilian leadership at the Pentagon is not changed.
The generals have sent an unmistakable message to Commander in Chief George W. Bush: Get rid of Rumsfeld, or you will lose the war.
Columnist Ignatius makes that precise point:
"Rumsfeld should resign because the administration is losing the war on the home front. As bad as things are in Baghdad, America won't be defeated there militarily. But it may be forced into a hasty and chaotic retreat by mounting domestic opposition to its policy. Much of the American public has simply stopped believing the administration's arguments about Iraq, and Rumsfeld is a symbol of that credibility gap. He is a spent force ..."
With the exception of Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former head of Central Command who opposed the Bush-Rumsfeld rush to war, the other generals did not publicly protest until secure in retirement. Nevertheless, they bring imposing credentials to their charges against the defense secretary.
Major Gen. Paul Eaton, first of the five rebels to speak out, was in charge of training Iraqi forces until 2004. He blames Rumsfeld for complicating the U.S. mission by alienating our NATO allies.
Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs up to the eve of war, charges Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith with a "casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions – or bury the results."
Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the Army's 1st Division in Iraq, charges that Rumsfeld does not seek nor does he accept the counsel of field commanders. Maj. Gen. John Riggs echoes Batiste. This directly contradicts what President Bush has told the nation.
Maj. Gen. Charles J. Swannack, former field commander of the 82nd Airborne, believes we can create a stable government in Iraq, but says Rumsfeld has mismanaged the war.
As of Good Friday, the Generals' Revolt has created a crisis for President Bush. If he stands by Rumsfeld, he will have taken his stand against generals whose credibility today is higher than his own.
But if he bows to the Generals' Revolt and dismisses Rumsfeld, the generals will have effected a Pentagon putsch. An alumni association of retired generals will have dethroned civilian leadership and forced the commander in chief to fire the architect of a war upon which not only Bush's place in history depends, but the U.S. position in the Middle East and the world. The commander in chief will have been emasculated by retired generals. The stakes could scarcely be higher.
Whatever one thinks of the Iraq war, dismissal of Rumsfeld in response to a clamor created by ex-generals would mark Bush as a weak if not fatally compromised president. He will have capitulated to a generals' coup. Will he then have to clear Rumsfeld's successor with them?
Bush will begin to look like Czar Nicholas in 1916.
And there is an unstated message of the Generals' Revolt. If Iraq collapses in chaos and sectarian war, and is perceived as another U.S. defeat, they are saying: We are not going to carry the can. The first volley in a "Who Lost Iraq?" war of recriminations has been fired.
In 1951, Gen. MacArthur, the U.S. commander in Korea, defied Harry Truman by responding to a request from GOP House leader Joe Martin to describe his situation. MacArthur said the White House had tied his hands in fighting the war.
Though MacArthur spoke the truth and the no-win war in Korea would kill Truman's presidency, the general was fired. But MacArthur was right to speak the truth about the war his soldiers were being forced to fight, a war against a far more numerous enemy who enjoyed a privileged sanctuary above the Yalu river, thanks to Harry Truman.
In the last analysis, the Generals' Revolt is not just against Rumsfeld, but is aimed at the man who appointed him and has stood by him for three years of a guerrilla war the Pentagon did not predict or expect.


This is a good blog to get some understanding of the big picture of what this Islamic War is all about. We are attempting to keep the Muslims from uniting in a caliphate form of unity. I have made this a current post from November, which is why much of it is prior news. Throughout history the Muslims have been divided by capitalism, communism, socialism and you name it. The reason that Jordan is a target (like the suicide bombings of November 9th) is that Jordan is so westernized. But it is very much Islamic, with 92% of the population being Sunni Muslims. The Muslims do not want to be under a secular national control, but their goal is to live by the Koran (I am not an expert on this by no means, but these bombings and the fact that lawyers keep getting killed and preventing a trial against Sadam have led me to research the bigger picture). The Al Qeada goal that has Osama as the main leader is to unite all Islamic nations, and this would mean the fall of Europe.

All of the fires in France, the bombings in Jordan and Sadam's lawyers getting killed are not a coincidence. And another thing that most do not know is that the revisionist trial is going on in Germany right now against Ernst Zundel. In Germany, it is a hate crime to question the Holocaust and Ernst Zundel has spent a lifetime studying the Holocaust. Ironically, his mentor is from France. Mr. Zundel resided in Tennessee with his wife Ingrid and was deported to a Canadian prison for his revisionist work. Then he was taken to a prison in Germany because Canada does not have the same restrictions against free speech as does Germany. Nearly 58% of Europeans believe that Israel is the number one threat to world peace., which contrasts with the United States where less than 10% of people believe that Israel is a threat to world peace. Because of political interventions with different sects of Muslims, outside forces such as Europe, Israel and the United States have kept the Muslims fighting amongst themselves, to keep them from being a united threat agaiinst Christianity and Judaism. France and the rest of the world are trying to down play this nonstop violence for the past two weeks, but there is little chance that all of these happenings are a coincidence.

We are in the middle of a World War, and we have Senators questioning oil executives about oil prices. It is absolutely mind boggling that our media is so inept about covering this war, and I truly believe that their derelict attitudes border on treason. Power for one of two parties should not matter when our lives are hanging in the balance.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006



The world outside
The world inside
Amid the CHAOS!
Through the CACOPHONY!
This IS my body broken for you
Do not forget
Do not forget
Do not forget
This IS my blood poured out for you
Do not forget
Do not forget
Do not forget
I came for you then
I am here for you now,
I AM!(he is here too, be careful)
Do not forget
Do not forget
Do not forget
This IS my body broken for you
This IS my body broken for you
Do NOT forget
This IS my blood poured out for you
This IS my blood poured out for you
Do NOT forget
Confess, YES!
Repent, YES!
This IS my body broken for you
This IS my blood poured out for you
Through the world
Beyond the world
My body an egg
A point of origin
PEACE for you
No greater love, for you
Words Copyright © 1996 J.L. Hunter

Monday, April 10, 2006


Casinos in Florida
An analysis of the Economic and Social Impacts
Prepared by:The Executive Office of the GovernorOffice of Planning and Budgeting
The CapitolTallahassee, FL 32399-0001

3. Recurring sales tax revenues would experience a net decrease of at least $84.7 million as Floridians diverted some of their existing taxable spending to casinos.
4. Crime and social costs attributable to casinos would total at least $2.16 billion annually.
According to psychiatrist Richard J. Rosenthal, most gambling addicts "are seeking 'action', an aroused, euphoric state comparable to a 'high' derived from cocaine and other drugs" (Worsnop, page 250).
Counselors Arnie and Sheila Wexler of New Jersey state "most dual-addicted cocaine addict/compulsive gamblers will tell you gamblling gives them a bigger high. Some drug addicts, who are also gambling addicts, will sell their drugs for gambling money." (Worsnop, page 250).
Several studies have been conducted in an attempt to quantify the costs of problem gambling behaviors.
In 1994, Rachel Volberg reported that the average individual pathological gambler cost the public $13,600 each year (in 1981 dollars). This includes income that would have been earned for those who lost their jobs, costs of prosecuting and incarcerating individuals for crimes caused by their gamblilng behavior, and bailout costs, such as family gifts. Other problems include lost job productivity, impaired judgment at work, lost productivity of spouses, divorces, unemployment compensation, depression, physical illness related to stress, and suicide.A Marylalnd Department of Health and Mental Hygiene task force determined that its 52,000 adult gambling addicts cost citizens $1.5 billion in lost work productivity, monies stolen and embezzled, bad checks and unpaid taxes (Worsnop, 1990, page 644). The cost per individual compulsive gambler exceeds $28,846 and significantly increases when related costs for social services, health care, bankruptcies, legal and correctional fees are considered.The American Insurance Institute estimates that 40 percent of all white collar crime has its roots in both legal and illegal gambling. Problem gamblers are responsible for an estimated $1.3 billion worth of insurance-related fraud per year. Insurance companies paid fraud victims an average of $65,000 (Lesieur, page 45).
The mean gambling debt of people in compulsive gambling therapy ranged from $53,000 to $92,000, not including debts paid.As many as 10 to 17 people may be innocent victims of each compulsvie gambler (Lesieur, 1984), including spouses, children, parents, other relatives, employers, co-workers and friends. Two out of three compulsive gamblers will commit illegal activities in order to pay gambling related debts and to continue gambling.One out of every four problem gamblers have been involved in an auto accident during the worst of their gambling. Almost half of those surveyed were speeding on their way to gamble or on the drive back (Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling).New Jersey residents also report that 28 percent know of someone who gambles too much (Gallup, page 4).
Poor and working people spend a disproportionate share of their incomes on gambling (Goodman, page 8). As a result, state gambling revenues come disproportionately from lower income residents, causing a regressive form of taxation. Problem gambling behaviors are highest among the poor and minorities (Goodman, page 17).YOUTHA 1985 random sample of 332 students at an Atlantic City high school found that 64 percent of the students had gambled illegally at local casinos. Over 40 percent had gambled in casinos before the age of 14.COST OF PROBLEM GAMBLING BEHAVIORS IN FLORIDA
1. As noted by Lesieur, two out of three problem gamblers will commit a crime in order to support illegal gambling activities. This means that 266,667 individuals in Florida will commit crimes such as burglary, larceny, theft, forgery or fraud. While not all of the individuals will be convicted, they will likely continue to commit crimes. Some will be convicted more than once.
2. The average sentence length of a person convicted of burglary in Florida is 5.7 years; theft, forgery and fraud 4.2 years; and robbery 8.8 years. First time offenders and non-violent offenders will likely serve probation or community control rather than prison time.
3. Of these categories, 41.3% will likely be convicted of burglary; 36.8% for theft, forgery or fraud; and 21.9% for robbery based on current incarceration rates.
Not counting costs of prosecution, restitution or other related costs, incarceration and supervision costs alone for problem gambler criminal incidents could cost Florida residents $6.08 billion.Florida's problem gamblers related to casinos would require $1.66 billion in prison construction costs.Deducting these positive social effects from the estimated social costs results in a high, medium and low estimate of $3.25 billion, $2.65 billion, and $2.16 billion in net social costs, respectively.
OTHER CRIMEWhile many believe that legalizing gambling activities will decrease illegal gambling, an examination of dollars gambled does not support this belief. Dr. Vicki Abt, a sociologist at Pennsylvania State University, says legalization "has not decreased the dollar amount of illegal gambling; what is has done is decrease (illegal gambling) relative to legal gambling.
Whereas 75 percent or so was wagered illegally before the 1960s, now about 75 percent is wagered legally. But the total amount went up in the meantime." (Worsnop, page 643).
In just three years following the opening of its first casino, Atlantic City went from 50th in the nation in per capita crime to first (Goodman, page 58). Crime spilled over into neighboring communities that received no measurable economic benefits from casinos. Atlantic City's crime rate rose 230 percent during the first three years of casino operations, over 25 times the growth rate of 9 percent for the rest of the state (FDLE, 1994, page 3). It should be noted that Atlantic City's population decreased by 20 percent during the same time period. Florida's crime rate rose by 30 percent during these same years.NEW ORLEANSNew Orleans estimates that crime-related costs will be just under $5 million for a single casino.
Widespread gambling could add an additional 10,000 new crimes at a cost to the city of an additional $14.1 million.
COLORADOCentral City, Colorado has increased its police force from two full-time and one part-time officer to 16 full-time officers in 1994 (Worsnop, page 256) to keep pace with its "skyrocketing incidents" of disorderly conduct, assaults and DUIs.CONCLUSION
Since state tax revenues (adjusted for pari-mutuel and Lottery revenue losses) are estimated to range between $155 million and $276 million while annual crime and social costs are estimated at a minimum of $2.16 million annually (and up to $3.8 billion), it appears that casino costs significantly outweigh the benefits of legalization.According to University of Nevada professor of Public Administration William Thompson, casinos generate significant new tax revenues "only if they can export their product. The local economy doesnÕt benefit if only local people are gambling."

Sunday, April 09, 2006


California panel backs teaching 'sexual diversity'
By Joyce Howard Price

April 7, 2006
The California State Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill this week that would require public schools to teach students in all grades about the contributions homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals have made to society. SB 1437, which passed Tuesday by all three Democrats on the Senate panel, would also mandate that California schools buy textbooks that "accurately" portray "the sexual diversity of our society." The bill initially prohibited the state school board or any governing board from adopting any "textbook or instructional materials ... that reflect adversely" on any sexual behavior. But it was later specifically amended to require positive portrayals of homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals in all curricula. Given the measure requires only a majority vote in both the Senate and the Assembly, it is expected to pass both chambers. Then it would go to the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who does not take a position on a bill before it passes the Legislature, an aide said yesterday. "If Arnold Schwarzenegger wants conservative voters to support his re-election bid, he can't afford to sign these radical sexual indoctrination bills targeting schoolchildren. ... The governor should prepare his veto pen," Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families (CCF), a Sacramento-based group that opposes SB 1437, said in a statement. CCF also opposes another measure, AB 606, which already passed the state Assembly, and is awaiting a hearing in the Senate. That bill would prevent discrimination in California schools on the basis of "gender identification (actual or perceived) and sexual orientation." But AB 606 would also allow the state school superintendent to withhold "all or part" of state funding of school districts that do not establish and publicize "antidiscrimination and antiharassment" policies to protect those sexual groups and make certain teachers are trained to deal with their concerns. "That's just ridiculous. We already have laws to deal with discrimination; these people want to push everything to the Nth degree," Sen. Dick Ackerman, the Senate Republican leader, said yesterday in a telephone interview. Mr. Ackerman was the only member of the Judiciary Committee who opposed SB 1437. He said he was not previously aware of AB 606 but was shocked to learn of its contents. "We're trying to get people [in schools] to be able to read, write and add," he said. "We should be concentrating on the basics."


Ok, I concede that I also want our military out of Iraq, but this is nothing but politics on Kerry's behalf. I listened to him on "Meet the Press" this morning, and like Clinton used to talk on and on and leave me scratching my head and asking myself "what did he just say?", Kerry gives me that same feeling. Bring back the flip-flops from the Republican Convention! Post by Linda - What follows is a writing by Pat Buchanan:

April 7, 2006
Kerry, the Antiwar Candidate?
by Patrick J. Buchanan
With the Gallup Poll showing 51 percent of Americans want all U.S. troops out of Iraq by year's end, John Kerry has made his move.
The 2004 Democratic nominee is calling for complete withdrawal of U.S. forces, if Iraqis do not agree on a unity government by May 15. Even if the Iraqis pull a government together, Kerry wants all U.S. forces removed by Dec. 31.
The ice is cracking. With half the nation backing "Bring-the-Boys-Home-by-Christmas," Democratic support for getting out must be in the 60 percent range. Kerry is moving to the base of his party, not away from it. He is kissing the Joe Lieberman wing goodbye.
His decision reveals a political calculation that the only way to take the nomination from Hillary is to move left, ride the antiwar horse, and rally the Hollyleft and True Believers.
In this huge sector of the Democratic Party there has been a vacuum, filled only by Rep. John Murtha and Sen. Russ Feingold. Now, every Democrat who sees himself as the alternative to Hillary is going to have to ask himself: What is the benefit of hanging back and standing with the Bush-Rumsfeld-Rice-Cheney stay-the-course policy?
Mrs. Clinton has been here before – in 1968. The Democratic Party is now there again, and she is in the role of Hubert Humphrey, tied to an unpopular war, while Kerry, like Robert F. Kennedy, has just decided the antiwar camp is where the action and passions are.
Bill and Hillary may believe supporting the war is the right position in April 2006, but they have to ask how that stand, already hurting Hillary in the party, will be viewed two years from now, when Iowa Democrats caucus and New Hampshire Democrats vote.
Kerry's move could set off a stampede of centrist Democrats to back a timetable for withdrawal that will force Hillary to reconsider and force the GOP to stand by Bush, making "Iraq – Stay or Go?" the issue of 2006.
While President Bush, who believes in this war and the cause of democratizing the Middle East, may be unfazed by Kerry's defection, his party – especially senators from Blue States, like Rick Santorum, and House members from swing districts – cannot be sanguine about having Iraq become the issue this fall.
But if Democrats are approaching a moment of truth, the GOP must come to terms, soon, with the failure of the Wilsonian policies Bush embraced on the counsel of his neoconservatives – or ride those policies into political irrelevance.
Post-9/11, the president took down the Taliban and decimated al-Qaeda, but Osama bin Laden is at large and Afghanistan is again bedeviled by narco-warlords and the Taliban. What price democracy in Kabul?
The takedown of Saddam led to a diplomatic success when Libya surrendered its weapons of mass destruction in return for being let out of the terrorist-state box, where Khadafi belonged after Lockerbie. But who believes the pro-Iranian regime certain to come to power in Baghdad is worth three years of war, 2,300 dead, 17,000 wounded, and $300 billion to $400 billion?
The Bush bellicosity toward Tehran gave us Ahmadinejad. The principal beneficiary of the crusade for democracy is a Hamas government we are trying to choke to death by cutting off aid. How putting 50,000 Palestinian police on the streets of the West Bank and Gaza with no means of supporting their families will advance peace escapes a number of us.
During the Bush years, the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and assorted "peace" institutes and think tanks have been intervening with tax dollars to support "democratic revolutions" in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America – what the CIA used to do clandestinely in the Cold War.
But meddling in the internal affairs of ex-Soviet republics has enraged Moscow, pushed Russia closer to China, and converted Vladimir Putin from a friend of the United States into a bitter adversary.
As Andrew Bacevich writes in The American Conservative, the just-released Bush National Security Strategy "comes chockfull of declarations, exhortations, and gaseous generalities … [but] never bothers to consider how we got into our current mess … or how we're going to pay for the 'Long War' that the president has contrived as the best way to get us out."
As for our goal of "ending tyranny on the face of the earth," Bacevich writes, we had best address the matter of ends and means:
"In 2005, the U.S. Army experienced its worst recruiting year in a quarter-century. Out of a population of some 290 million, the Army had a goal of persuading 80,000 to serve. Despite plenty of bucks for advertising, the offer of generous bonuses, and the lessening of enlistment standards, recruiters still came up nearly 7,000 volunteers short."
You can't run an empire without soldiers. Bacevich quotes Lord Rutherford in the 1930s, "We're out of money; it's time to think."
Have Republicans any thoughts – other than embracing Bush and, of course, warning us always to beware the big, bad wolf of "isolationism"?

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Illegal immigration
I am so disgusted with politicians who say we are all immigrants to the United States because revisionists of our nation's history have left out the important fact that many of us can trace our ancestors back to the earliest settlers. My ancestors are listed in the registry of soldiers who fought in the American Revolution, and thus they were not immigrants to the United States.

There was not a United States at that time to immigrate to. I consider myself a daughter of the American Revolution, and sadly, many today are not learning the important history of their heritage. Instead, children are taught to blend in and be a part of the great melting pot with no sense of where they came from.

Another thing that disgusts me is that our politicians say that illegal immigrants are doing jobs that Americans will not do. That is a big lie. I have done many jobs in my life, including waiting tables, working as a maid in a hotel, cleaning houses, baby sitting and any other job that I could get when I was young. These jobs helped make me into the person I am today.

There is no reason whatsoever that our youth should be taught to turn their noses up at entry-level jobs, and we could fill all of those jobs that the government says Americans will not do. I sincerely hope that voters turn out in the next election and vote for the candidates most likely to crack down on illegal immigration.
Linda J. Poole Macon

Thursday, April 06, 2006


The Bush malaise
by Patrick J. BuchananApril 04 , 2006

Again the line of "Hamlet" comes to mind: "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions."
Three months after elections for a parliament that was to give Iraq a democratic government of national unity, the Shia cannot get their act together. Pressure from the U.S. ambassador to get off the dime produced denunciations of U.S. interference. That brought British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Condi Rice to Baghdad to instruct the Iraqis that Allied patience is wearing thin.
But what can the Americans and British do if the Iraqis dither and squabble? To threaten a pullout of troops hardly seems credible. That would risk a collapse of politics and the escalation of sectarian savagery into civil war, turning strategic blunder into a geostrategic debacle.
Bush and the neocons hit the tar baby when they took the Cakewalk Road. The neocons are now doing their Houdini thing. The invasion we supported was a triumph, they say, but we bear no responsibility for the foul-ups that followed. Rumsfeld did that. Now the neocons are moving on to their new class project, U.S. airstrikes on Iran.
While U.S. casualties have fallen, sectarian atrocities continue. No one seems to have an idea how we can extricate ourselves without risking a worse disaster. As for "winning," not even John McCain is still calling for more troops.
What is bleeding the Bush administration is the realization we are stuck on this bloody ground and cannot get off without risk of a calamity. Frustrated at its impotence, the nation is blaming Bush, though the nation went along enthusiastically with Bush's war – as did many Democrats and Big Media, who are now happily piling on.
As for Bush's democracy campaign, the big losers of last year's Orange Revolution in Ukraine came roaring back in March's elections. And the Bushites are now busy trying to torpedo a Hamas regime that came out of the elections the Bushites insisted the Israelis and Palestinians hold.
It is hard to see sunlight ahead. Before the year is over, the president could lose both of his most loyal allies, Silvio Berlusconi and Tony Blair. Caught in a scandal over peddling peerages to fat cats, Blair does not look like a survivor. His recent speeches about "a war for civilization" have about them the ring of farewell addresses.
In Latin America, anti-American populists could take over in Peru, Nicaragua and Mexico, joining Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales. As for Bush's Free Trade Association of the Americas, it is dead, and the Doha Round of global trade negotiations is limping toward failure.
Meanwhile, Bush's party is ripping itself apart over immigration, a direct result of his own failure to secure the border against an invasion – pushed by a succession of Mexican regimes that have eased their social crisis by dumping their poor onto the stupid Yankees. In America, the Mexican poor cease to be a liability and become an asset, sending back $16 billion a year in remittances to keep the gang afloat and the game going in Mexico City.
Historians will one day marvel that, as their Southwest was slipping away from the United States – demographically, linguistically and culturally – Americans were fighting to keep Iraq together. Remarkable. Foreigners are invading and occupying Arizona, while Americans are fighting for Anbar province.
The U.S. economy – 4 percent growth, unemployment under 5 percent, the Dow above 11,000, NASDAQ at five-year highs – appears strong. But with gold pushing $600 an ounce and silver closing in on $12, the markets seem to be saying: Nobody's money is as good as gold.
But the economy is not helping the president. For, while the nation blames him for Iraq, it does not credit him for the economy. Why? While the top 20 percent of wage-earners are enjoying days like the 1980s and 1990s, America's working class is not.
Not only are their factories and jobs being exported to China and outsourced to India, they face ferocious competition from mass Third World immigration and constant corporate hiring of foreign high-tech workers.
Our savings rate is less than zero, as the Smiths borrow to keep up with the Joneses, not realizing the Joneses are up to their eyeballs in debt. Should GM collapse under its shrinking U.S. market share, the rising cost of debt service on its near-junk bonds and the weight of legacy costs – pensions and health care for retirees – the free-trade vision of the Bush Republicans could receive final repudiation.
While the president has blundered – on Katrina, Harriet Miers and the Dubai ports deal – his larger problem is that his policies do not seem, at least to his countrymen, to be working. A shuffle and new deal that changes the face cards in the White House and Cabinet deck can't alter that.
The country needs a new vision. And what do the Democrats offer? Censure, followed by impeachment of Bush.
Say, haven't we done that before?
© 2005 Creators Syndicate, Inc.




Wednesday, April 05, 2006


A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm
Following is a report prepared by The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies’ "Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000."
The main substantive ideas in this paper emerge from a discussion in which prominent opinion makers, including Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser participated. The report, entitled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," is the framework for a series of follow-up reports on strategy.
Israel has a large problem. Labor Zionism, which for 70 years has dominated the Zionist movement, has generated a stalled and shackled economy. Efforts to salvage Israel’s socialist institutions—which include pursuing supranational over national sovereignty and pursuing a peace process that embraces the slogan, "New Middle East"—undermine the legitimacy of the nation and lead Israel into strategic paralysis and the previous government’s "peace process." That peace process obscured the evidence of eroding national critical mass— including a palpable sense of national exhaustion—and forfeited strategic initiative. The loss of national critical mass was illustrated best by Israel’s efforts to draw in the United States to sell unpopular policies domestically, to agree to negotiate sovereignty over its capital, and to respond with resignation to a spate of terror so intense and tragic that it deterred Israelis from engaging in normal daily functions, such as commuting to work in buses.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s government comes in with a new set of ideas. While there are those who will counsel continuity, Israel has the opportunity to make a clean break; it can forge a peace process and strategy based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism, the starting point of which must be economic reform. To secure the nation’s streets and borders in the immediate future, Israel can:
Work closely with Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilize, and roll-back some of its most dangerous threats. This implies clean break from the slogan, "comprehensive peace" to a traditional concept of strategy based on balance of power.
Change the nature of its relations with the Palestinians, including upholding the right of hot pursuit for self defense into all Palestinian areas and nurturing alternatives to Arafat’s exclusive grip on Palestinian society.
Forge a new basis for relations with the United States—stressing self-reliance, maturity, strategic cooperation on areas of mutual concern, and furthering values inherent to the West. This can only be done if Israel takes serious steps to terminate aid, which prevents economic reform.
This report is written with key passages of a possible speech marked TEXT, that highlight the clean break which the new government has an opportunity to make. The body of the report is the commentary explaining the purpose and laying out the strategic context of the passages.
A New Approach to Peace
Early adoption of a bold, new perspective on peace and security is imperative for the new prime minister. While the previous government, and many abroad, may emphasize "land for peace"— which placed Israel in the position of cultural, economic, political, diplomatic, and military retreat — the new government can promote Western values and traditions. Such an approach, which will be well received in the United States, includes "peace for peace," "peace through strength" and self reliance: the balance of power.
A new strategy to seize the initiative can be introduced:
We have for four years pursued peace based on a New Middle East. We in Israel cannot play innocents abroad in a world that is not innocent. Peace depends on the character and behavior of our foes. We live in a dangerous neighborhood, with fragile states and bitter rivalries. Displaying moral ambivalence between the effort to build a Jewish state and the desire to annihilate it by trading "land for peace" will not secure "peace now." Our claim to the land —to which we have clung for hope for 2000 years--is legitimate and noble. It is not within our own power, no matter how much we concede, to make peace unilaterally. Only the unconditional acceptance by Arabs of our rights, especially in their territorial dimension, "peace for peace," is a solid basis for the future.
Israel’s quest for peace emerges from, and does not replace, the pursuit of its ideals. The Jewish people’s hunger for human rights — burned into their identity by a 2000-year old dream to live free in their own land — informs the concept of peace and reflects continuity of values with Western and Jewish tradition. Israel can now embrace negotiations, but as means, not ends, to pursue those ideals and demonstrate national steadfastness. It can challenge police states; enforce compliance of agreements; and insist on minimal standards of accountability.
Securing the Northern Border
Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and one with which American can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon, including by:
striking Syria’s drug-money and counterfeiting infrastructure in Lebanon, all of which focuses on Razi Qanan.
paralleling Syria’s behavior by establishing the precedent that Syrian territory is not immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces.
striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon, and should that prove insufficient, striking at select targets in Syria proper.
Israel also can take this opportunity to remind the world of the nature of the Syrian regime. Syria repeatedly breaks its word. It violated numerous agreements with the Turks, and has betrayed the United States by continuing to occupy Lebanon in violation of the Taef agreement in 1989. Instead, Syria staged a sham election, installed a quisling regime, and forced Lebanon to sign a "Brotherhood Agreement" in 1991, that terminated Lebanese sovereignty. And Syria has begun colonizing Lebanon with hundreds of thousands of Syrians, while killing tens of thousands of its own citizens at a time, as it did in only three days in 1983 in Hama.
Under Syrian tutelage, the Lebanese drug trade, for which local Syrian military officers receive protection payments, flourishes. Syria’s regime supports the terrorist groups operationally and financially in Lebanon and on its soil. Indeed, the Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley in Lebanon has become for terror what the Silicon Valley has become for computers. The Bekaa Valley has become one of the main distribution sources, if not production points, of the "supernote" — counterfeit US currency so well done that it is impossible to detect.
Negotiations with repressive regimes like Syria’s require cautious realism. One cannot sensibly assume the other side’s good faith. It is dangerous for Israel to deal naively with a regime murderous of its own people, openly aggressive toward its neighbors, criminally involved with international drug traffickers and counterfeiters, and supportive of the most deadly terrorist organizations.
Given the nature of the regime in Damascus, it is both natural and moral that Israel abandon the slogan "comprehensive peace" and move to contain Syria, drawing attention to its weapons of mass destruction program, and rejecting "land for peace" deals on the Golan Heights.
Moving to a Traditional Balance of Power Strategy
We must distinguish soberly and clearly friend from foe. We must make sure that our friends across the Middle East never doubt the solidity or value of our friendship.
Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions. Jordan has challenged Syria's regional ambitions recently by suggesting the restoration of the Hashemites in Iraq. This has triggered a Jordanian-Syrian rivalry to which Asad has responded by stepping up efforts to destabilize the Hashemite Kingdom, including using infiltrations. Syria recently signaled that it and Iran might prefer a weak, but barely surviving Saddam, if only to undermine and humiliate Jordan in its efforts to remove Saddam.
But Syria enters this conflict with potential weaknesses: Damascus is too preoccupied with dealing with the threatened new regional equation to permit distractions of the Lebanese flank. And Damascus fears that the 'natural axis' with Israel on one side, central Iraq and Turkey on the other, and Jordan, in the center would squeeze and detach Syria from the Saudi Peninsula. For Syria, this could be the prelude to a redrawing of the map of the Middle East which would threaten Syria's territorial integrity.
Since Iraq's future could affect the strategic balance in the Middle East profoundly, it would be understandable that Israel has an interest in supporting the Hashemites in their efforts to redefine Iraq, including such measures as: visiting Jordan as the first official state visit, even before a visit to the United States, of the new Netanyahu government; supporting King Hussein by providing him with some tangible security measures to protect his regime against Syrian subversion; encouraging — through influence in the U.S. business community — investment in Jordan to structurally shift Jordan’s economy away from dependence on Iraq; and diverting Syria’s attention by using Lebanese opposition elements to destabilize Syrian control of Lebanon.
Most important, it is understandable that Israel has an interest supporting diplomatically, militarily and operationally Turkey’s and Jordan’s actions against Syria, such as securing tribal alliances with Arab tribes that cross into Syrian territory and are hostile to the Syrian ruling elite.
King Hussein may have ideas for Israel in bringing its Lebanon problem under control. The predominantly Shia population of southern Lebanon has been tied for centuries to the Shia leadership in Najf, Iraq rather than Iran. Were the Hashemites to control Iraq, they could use their influence over Najf to help Israel wean the south Lebanese Shia away from Hizballah, Iran, and Syria. Shia retain strong ties to the Hashemites: the Shia venerate foremost the Prophet’s family, the direct descendants of which — and in whose veins the blood of the Prophet flows — is King Hussein.
Changing the Nature of Relations with the Palestinians
Israel has a chance to forge a new relationship between itself and the Palestinians. First and foremost, Israel’s efforts to secure its streets may require hot pursuit into Palestinian-controlled areas, a justifiable practice with which Americans can sympathize.
A key element of peace is compliance with agreements already signed. Therefore, Israel has the right to insist on compliance, including closing Orient House and disbanding Jibril Rujoub’s operatives in Jerusalem. Moreover, Israel and the United States can establish a Joint Compliance Monitoring Committee to study periodically whether the PLO meets minimum standards of compliance, authority and responsibility, human rights, and judicial and fiduciary accountability.
We believe that the Palestinian Authority must be held to the same minimal standards of accountability as other recipients of U.S. foreign aid. A firm peace cannot tolerate repression and injustice. A regime that cannot fulfill the most rudimentary obligations to its own people cannot be counted upon to fulfill its obligations to its neighbors.
Israel has no obligations under the Oslo agreements if the PLO does not fulfill its obligations. If the PLO cannot comply with these minimal standards, then it can be neither a hope for the future nor a proper interlocutor for present. To prepare for this, Israel may want to cultivate alternatives to Arafat’s base of power. Jordan has ideas on this.
To emphasize the point that Israel regards the actions of the PLO problematic, but not the Arab people, Israel might want to consider making a special effort to reward friends and advance human rights among Arabs. Many Arabs are willing to work with Israel; identifying and helping them are important. Israel may also find that many of her neighbors, such as Jordan, have problems with Arafat and may want to cooperate. Israel may also want to better integrate its own Arabs.
Forging A New U.S.-Israeli Relationship
In recent years, Israel invited active U.S. intervention in Israel’s domestic and foreign policy for two reasons: to overcome domestic opposition to "land for peace" concessions the Israeli public could not digest, and to lure Arabs — through money, forgiveness of past sins, and access to U.S. weapons — to negotiate. This strategy, which required funneling American money to repressive and aggressive regimes, was risky, expensive, and very costly for both the U.S. and Israel, and placed the United States in roles is should neither have nor want.
Israel can make a clean break from the past and establish a new vision for the U.S.-Israeli partnership based on self-reliance, maturity and mutuality — not one focused narrowly on territorial disputes. Israel’s new strategy — based on a shared philosophy of peace through strength — reflects continuity with Western values by stressing that Israel is self-reliant, does not need U.S. troops in any capacity to defend it, including on the Golan Heights, and can manage its own affairs. Such self-reliance will grant Israel greater freedom of action and remove a significant lever of pressure used against it in the past.
To reinforce this point, the Prime Minister can use his forthcoming visit to announce that Israel is now mature enough to cut itself free immediately from at least U.S. economic aid and loan guarantees at least, which prevent economic reform. [Military aid is separated for the moment until adequate arrangements can be made to ensure that Israel will not encounter supply problems in the means to defend itself]. As outlined in another Institute report, Israel can become self-reliant only by, in a bold stroke rather than in increments, liberalizing its economy, cutting taxes, relegislating a free-processing zone, and selling-off public lands and enterprises — moves which will electrify and find support from a broad bipartisan spectrum of key pro-Israeli Congressional leaders, including Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.
Israel can under these conditions better cooperate with the U.S. to counter real threats to the region and the West’s security. Mr. Netanyahu can highlight his desire to cooperate more closely with the United States on anti-missile defense in order to remove the threat of blackmail which even a weak and distant army can pose to either state. Not only would such cooperation on missile defense counter a tangible physical threat to Israel’s survival, but it would broaden Israel’s base of support among many in the United States Congress who may know little about Israel, but care very much about missile defense. Such broad support could be helpful in the effort to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
To anticipate U.S. reactions and plan ways to manage and constrain those reactions, Prime Minister Netanyahu can formulate the policies and stress themes he favors in language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the Cold War which apply well to Israel. If Israel wants to test certain propositions that require a benign American reaction, then the best time to do so is before November, 1996.
Conclusions: Transcending the Arab-Israeli Conflict
TEXT: Israel will not only contain its foes; it will transcend them.
Notable Arab intellectuals have written extensively on their perception of Israel’s floundering and loss of national identity. This perception has invited attack, blocked Israel from achieving true peace, and offered hope for those who would destroy Israel. The previous strategy, therefore, was leading the Middle East toward another Arab-Israeli war. Israel’s new agenda can signal a clean break by abandoning a policy which assumed exhaustion and allowed strategic retreat by reestablishing the principle of preemption, rather than retaliation alone and by ceasing to absorb blows to the nation without response.
Israel’s new strategic agenda can shape the regional environment in ways that grant Israel the room to refocus its energies back to where they are most needed: to rejuvenate its national idea, which can only come through replacing Israel’s socialist foundations with a more sound footing; and to overcome its "exhaustion," which threatens the survival of the nation.
Ultimately, Israel can do more than simply manage the Arab-Israeli conflict though war. No amount of weapons or victories will grant Israel the peace its seeks. When Israel is on a sound economic footing, and is free, powerful, and healthy internally, it will no longer simply manage the Arab-Israeli conflict; it will transcend it. As a senior Iraqi opposition leader said recently: "Israel must rejuvenate and revitalize its moral and intellectual leadership. It is an important — if not the most important--element in the history of the Middle East." Israel — proud, wealthy, solid, and strong — would be the basis of a truly new and peaceful Middle East.
Participants in the Study Group on "A New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000:"
Richard Perle, American Enterprise Institute, Study Group Leader
James Colbert, Jewish Institute for National Security AffairsCharles Fairbanks, Jr., Johns Hopkins University/SAISDouglas Feith, Feith and Zell AssociatesRobert Loewenberg, President, Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political StudiesJonathan Torop, The Washington Institute for Near East PolicyDavid Wurmser, Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political StudiesMeyrav Wurmser, Johns Hopkins University