In the news:
- At polls in Iran, voters hope for victory for Islam.
- Shiite Leaders' Fatwa Influenced Iraqi Elections.
The best parallel one can use to describe the Iranian power structure is the Mafia. The "Genovese," "Gambino," "Bonano," "Colombo" and "Lucchese" type families have their equivalent in the ayatollahs Rafsanjani, Jannati, and Khamenei, Messbaheh-Yazdi, Vaa’ezeh-Tabasi and man, many more, each one with a private militia at their disposal. Just like the Mafia families divvied territory and areas of influence, the Ayatollahs divvy interests and "monopolize" particular businesses. For example, Rafsanjani started his personal fortune by supervising all oil deals, while Tabassi "looks after" the major charity organization, the Shrine of Imam Reza, which is a huge source of liquid cash. Rafsanjani later diversified his business, and was the mullah who most profited when ex-President Clinton allowed the import of pistachios and carpets from Iran. (FrontPageMag.com, 01/27/05.)
Philip Johnson, the architect who died on Tuesday aged 98, created some of the most familiar buildings in the cities of America. ...
On returning to the United States, Johnson set up a short-lived political party based on Hitler's National Socialists. A year later Johnson switched his loyalties to the Union Party, an aggregation of populists and fascists, contributing $5,000 to the campaign of its presidential candidate in 1936. (Telegraph.co.uk, 01/28/05.)
Born 100 years ago in Holy Mother Russia and educated under the Soviets, Ayn Rand became the quintessential American writer and philosopher, upholding the supreme value of the individual’s life on earth. She herself led a "rags to riches" life, wrote best-selling novels that championed individualism, and developed a philosophy of reason that validates the American spirit of achievement and independence. (MensNewsDaily.com, 01/25/05.)
Putin must have been listening to his economic adviser, Andrei Illarionov. Here is a comment by Andrei Illarionov on the fact that "Russia's banks are running out of credit":
"Hiding our heads in the sand and saying there is no crisis would be totally incorrect," Interfax news agency reported him as saying. "The solution of a prob lem can only begin when the problem is identified correctly." (Carolynne Wheeler, The Guardian, 07/12/04.)
It looks like Mr. Illarionov has an aspiration to scrap much of the tax code, reduce the tax pressure, and start to compete, in an economical sense, with the rich United States of America. How successful has he been in the improvement of the economy? Here is an excerpt from article in BusinessWeek:
And Putin appears to be listening. Shortly after he appointed Illarionov--a fellow native of Saint Petersburg--in April, 2000, Putin decided to support the economist's proposal for a 13% flat income tax. That rate, introduced in January, 2001, represented a major cut from the previous sliding scale of 12% to 35%. Russia's income taxes are now Europe's lowest and the country's once-meager tax collection has vastly improved. Putin also backs Illarionov's ideas for slashing bureaucracy and creating competition for the monopolies. (BusinessWeek, 06/17/02.)
Here is another example, this time from Ivan Osorio's article, A Russian Revolution:
Reforms advocated by Illarionov and enacted by Putin's government have already yielded impressive results, giving Russia GDP growth of 9 percent in 2000, 5 percent in 2001, and 4 percent in 2002. Last month, the Russian government revised its GDP growth estimate for 2003 to 6.6 percent (Tech Central Station, 01/12/04.) (EGO, 07/25/04.)
Andrei Illarionov, longtime economic adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, appears to be on a mission. After strongly criticizing Kremlin economic and foreign polices in public, Illarionov has been removed from one key post of influence and, it would appear, joined the opposition. ...
There is probably a method to Illarionov's madness: It's called looking to the future.
Illarionov's influence over economics has waned recently, particularly since Putin's re-election last May. Since then, Putin has installed in own team. ...
Is Illarionov eyeing Russia's presidency, which should technically be up for grabs in 2008, or another high political position? These possibilities should not be discounted. He has government experience, is a liberal economist, and has shown himself willing and able to speak out on foreign policy issues. Illarionov may have the appeal that can help unite Russia's small liberal parties behind one candidate. He also knows how to speak to the West. (United Press International, 01/04/05.)
Illarionov has become a lone dissenter in the Kremlin, which is increasingly dominated by Putin's fellow KGB veterans. They are widely seen as a driving force behind the probe against the embattled Yukos oil giant, which has been all but crushed by a legal onslaught of back taxes and criminal charges against its owners.
Illarionov called last month's Kremlin-orchestrated auction of Yuganskneftegaz — Yukos' main production unit — the "swindle of the year" and said the government's actions "have inflicted a colossal damage to the country." (MosNews.com, 01/04/05.)
Thousands of white-robed pilgrims threw pebbles at pillars Thursday, symbolically stoning the devil in an act of purification.
The stoning, which lasts several days, is one of the main rituals in the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Across the Muslim world, the faithful marked the first day of the Feast of Sacrifice, or Eid al-Adha, the most important holiday in the Islamic calendar.
Many Arabs marked the feast — a commemoration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son for God — with family lunches and visits to relatives' graves. (HoustonChronicle.com, 01/20/05.)
In a recent statement to the 8th Congress on Martyred Students, Iran's Leader Ali Khamenei praised the culture of shahada (committing martyrdom operations), and called upon students to follow the path of martyrs.
Speaking at a memorial service at the University of Qom, a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards general, Shabani, called for the training and education of students as martyrs. In his address, which dealt with means of resisting the enemy, Shabani also said that Iran is the third largest power in the region in ballistic missile production. (Memri.org, 01/20/05.)
Today Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reaffirmed the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Speaking to Muslim pilgrims making hajj, Khamenei described Rushdie as as a "mahdour al-damm mortad," meaning that he is an apostate whose blood may be shed with impunity. (The Counterterrorism Blog, 01/19/05.)
Maybe you are wondering why the fatwa against Salman Rushdie is on the list. Mohammad Ali Samadi of the "Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign" gives the answer: Salman Rushdie is the only non-military target for us, because we believe his attack against Islam was much worse that a military assault. (Parinoosh Arami, Reuters, 06/05/04.) (EGO, 06/07/04.)
I do not think that America is in a position to resort to the madness of attacking Iran," President Khatami said in an interview with Iranian radio during a visit to Uganda. "We believe that the probability of America's attack on Iran is very negligible. America faces major problems in Iraq and elsewhere." (BBC, US attack 'madness', says Khatami, 01/20/05.)
Police in Sweden launched a nationwide search yesterday for a prominent business executive and heir to a £170 million fortune who is believed to have been kidnapped. Fabian Bengtsson, 32, managing director of Siba, an electrical retailer, was last seen on Monday as he left home for work at 7.45am. He failed to arrive at work, just a ten-minute drive away, and his car, a grey BMW, was found abandoned in the centre of Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city. (TimesOnline.co.uk, 01/20/05.)
The Bush Administration's war in Iraq embraces compassion instead of the rational goal of victory. Such an immoral approach to war wantonly sacrifices the lives of soldiers and emboldens our enemies throughout the Middle East to mount further attacks against us. (EnterStageRight.com, 01/17/05.)
Yaron Brook is scheduled to appear on Dayside with Linda Vester this Friday, January 21st at 1PM ET (10AM PT), on the Fox News Channel (FNC). (CyberNet, 01/20/05.)
Welcome to the Reason Roundup. Apparently living like a caveman is chic. Someone is watching closely over theocracy risks. Plus spyware, James Bond, and beautiful women. Wow. (www.CharlotteCapitalist.com, 01/16/05.)
In his Mediachannel.org story, Rory O'Connor also wrote that employees had complained that Metro was sexist, with a male-dominated culture. One woman said an advertisement was turned down by Philadelphia Metro because the paper wanted its readers to appear young and upwardly mobile and "did not want it to look like its readers needed food stamps." (BostonHerald.com, 01/11/05.)
The immediate goals of the attacks would be to destroy, or at least temporarily derail, Iran’s ability to go nuclear. But there are other, equally purposeful, motives at work. The government consultant told me that the hawks in the Pentagon, in private discussions, have been urging a limited attack on Iran because they believe it could lead to a toppling of the religious leadership. “Within the soul of Iran there is a struggle between secular nationalists and reformers, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the fundamentalist Islamic movement,” the consultant told me. “The minute the aura of invincibility which the mullahs enjoy is shattered, and with it the ability to hoodwink the West, the Iranian regime will collapse”—like the former Communist regimes in Romania, East Germany, and the Soviet Union. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz share that belief, he said. (The New Yorker, 01/17/05.)
If an uprising is not in the cards, we will be left with only one alternative to preemptive military action: standing by (while kidding ourselves with empty motions of diplomacy) and watching the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism acquire nuclear weapons that it could then pass on to its terrorist protégés for use against the "Great Satan." (www.CommentaryMagazine.com, February 2005.)
Martin unabashedly admires the United States as a place of freedom -- economic, political and personal. His views are a refreshing counterpoint to news reports of European anti-Americanism, such as the anti-Americanism exhibited during the recent Olympic games. He worked in the United States for a time and he tells me his goal is to return someday. (Small Business Trends, 08/29/04.)
Above all, respect that there is no one right approach, and that what works for you may not work well for someone else. Seek out venues where you will meet the kind of people who can support you -- and who you can support -- in achieving your professional goals, determine the strength of relationships you want with them, and gradually grow the number of people in your network at a pace that allows you to maintain the relationships you've already created.(FastCompany.com)
OracleSoft, LinkedIn and your next job (The National Business Review, NZ). Matchmaker Jobster seeks a better way (Seattle Post-Intelligencer).
Vinatieri's favorite book is "Atlas Shrugged" by the late novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand, whose epic belief in man as a heroic being obviously does not preclude 45 yards in a blizzard against the Raiders in the playoffs.
"The book's about commitment," Vinatieri told NFL.com's Vic Carucci last season. "Whatever you do and whatever you're going to put your name on, whatever you're going to sign as your work, do it to be proud of what you're doing. Do it the best you can and you'll never be disappointed. You'll never have to say, 'What if I had tried a little harder?'"
His teammates see Vinatieri putting this philosophy to practice every day and it provides them with a sense of comfort; just one less worry at this time of the season when kicking field goals seems to become a wild adventure for everyone but Vinatieri. (LowellSun.com, 01/12/05.)
Mr. Moore and Mel Gibson, whose "Passion of the Christ" won for motion picture drama, are fans of each other's work. Asked if he had seen Mr. Gibson's film, Mr. Moore lighted up. (The New York Times, 01/11/05.)
I warmly recommend Robert Mayhew's hot-off-the-presses book Ayn Rand and Song of Russia: Communism and Anti-Communism in 1940s Hollywood. The book's subject is Ayn Rand's 1947 testimony, before the House Un-American Activities Committee, on MGM's 1944 movie Song of Russia.
Ayn Rand called this movie pro-Soviet propaganda, a deliberate whitewash of the terrible reality of life under communism. Mayhew discusses every point of her testimony in relation to the historical record of the Soviet Union, proving Ayn Rand right in every respect. His book is also an important work of original historical research. Dr. Mayhew interviewed the surviving co-writer of Song of Russia, ex-Communist Richard Collins, and dug deep in the historical archives. The result is a revealing picture of Communist influence in Hollywood--and Washington. One of many fascinating revelations is that the Roosevelt administration's Office of War Information--which claimed the right to "comment" on film scripts--had the Song-of-Russia script vetted by the Soviet Embassy!
Being a philosopher, Dr. Mayhew goes beyond the presentation of historical facts. He discusses the political and ethical implications of the HUAC investigations for such issues as free speech, blacklists, "naming names," honesty in relation to wartime propaganda, etc. In so doing, he gives us both Ayn Rand's views, drawing in part on previously unpublished material, and his own illuminating analysis.
In the tour-de-force chapter "Russian Smiles," Dr. Mayhew reveals the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the Communists in Hollywood and of their leftist successors, refuting their smears of Ayn Rand's testimony, which continue to this day. Thus--in addition to being a fresh, first-hand investigation of a still controversial period of American history, and of Ayn Rand's part in it--Robert Mayhew's book is a sorely needed act of justice.
Thoroughly researched, richly textured with telling detail, clearly written and strongly argued, this new book should be of great interest to all HBL'ers. (HBL mailing list, 01/04/05.)
John Bolton, one of the most powerful hawks in the Bush administration and a robust opponent of Britain's "softly-softly" approach to Iran over its nuclear programme, has lost his job at the State Department. ...
Mr Bolton believed that Teheran should be isolated by United Nations sanctions and, if it would not back down, confronted with the threat of military action. He was also uncompromising about North Korea, describing life in the Stalinist dictatorship as a "hellish nightmare". Pyongyang responded by calling him "human scum". It was apparently Mr Bolton's abrasive approach as much as his unflinching politics that prompted Dr Rice to choose Robert Zoellick, the US trade representative, as her deputy instead. (Rice drops hardliner who scorned Britain's stance on Iran, Telegraph.co.uk, 01/09/05.)
ANOTHER IRANIAN CRACKDOWN ON THE INTERNET: I'm really starting to dislike the mullahs. (InstaPundit.com, 01/08/05.)
Appeasement is not the way to contain or change this evil regime. Nor is it the path to avoid another war. A nuclear-armed fundamentalist regime will not spare the EU, either. Iran's missiles already can reach southern Europe. The mullahs are now rushing to develop a third-generation missile system able to reach Paris, London and Brussels. (Risks of appeasing Iran's mullahs, Washtimes.com, 01/05/05.)
How ironic, I replied to my friend, that the top four of the world's freest economies consists of an enclave within the last communist empire, a semi-authoritarian Asian city-state, a bank masquerading as a state one third the size of my home city, and a former Soviet republic. There are other ironies on that list: New Zealand, even after a few years of "Red" Helen Clark's rule is still doing slightly better than Australia, a legacy of the far-reaching reforms in the 1980s; and Chile is ahead of the United States, another achievement that no one will thank General Pinochet for. (chrenkoff.blogspot.com, 01/06/05.)
I do not believe in God because I do not believe in Mother Goose. (www.wisdomquotes.com)
Yet it is precisely a religious philosophy that Chambers is trying to prop up by knocking down Ayn Rand. His deepest complaint: "Randian Man, like Marxian Man, is made the center of a godless world." Chambers, like today's religious conservatives, presumably preferred a "God-centered" society, which some of NRO's authors are all too glad to enforce at the point of a gun.
This is a reminder that when it comes to a conflict between religion and the greatest philosophical (and literary) defender of liberty in the past century, the conservatives have chosen--and are continuing to choose--religion. It is reminder that conservative intellectuals like Whittaker Chambers--and those at today's NRO who agree with him--are ultimately the enemies of liberty. (tiadaily.blogspot.com, 01/05/05.)
If there's an emerging lesson in the aftermath of the tsunami, it is this: Beware of aid efforts that must be trumpeted in press releases and hyped at news conferences. The bulk of world relief to tsunami victims, soaring to hundreds of millions of dollars, had been registered by private agencies collecting donations from individuals who sought no public recognition, issued no media release and made no effort to get their names into the papers. It was only after it became obvious thousands, if not millions, of individuals wanted to help that the world's governments -- in Ottawa and Washington and elsewhere -- suddenly saw an opportunity. Absurdly, Ottawa announced it would "match" the private donations of individual Canadians -- as if Ottawa got the money from some magic fountain behind Parliament Hill rather that from taxes on the same individuals who had already volunteered. (www.Canada.com, 01/04/05.)
As global logistics advances from dock to boardroom, says Jennifer Monroe, it's becoming a key piece in the corporate strategy game.
We used to know what we meant by logistics. It was moving goods from one place to another wasn't it? But globalization has changed that. Definitions of global logistics (or global supply chain management-see what I mean?) nowadays are as unique as the businesses using it. The physical movement of goods in a global context may still be at the heart of it, but there's a lot more involved. (www.themanufacturer.com, 12/31/04.)
Health care isn't the only benefit that companies have to watch out for. Employers will increasingly find themselves reworking benefits packages to cater to what demographers have dubbed the "sandwich" generation -- people who are responsible for both a child and an aging parent. These employees will demand a slew of new benefits such as flextime and child and elder care programs. (www.Inc.com, December 2004 issue.)
My answer is that the government should exit the area of health care. I could give you plenty of examples from Sweden on why it is not working with a having a huge public sector and socialized medicine. Sweden would need an ad hoc organization like Americans for Free Choice in Medicine, but I don't hold my breath that this will happen in the near future... (EGO, 07/06/04.)
Books That Made a Difference in Readers' Lives
Respondents to the Survey of Lifetime Reading Habits, conducted [fall 1991] for the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Library of Congress' Center for the Book, cited the following when asked to name a book that had made a difference in their lives:
1 - The Bible**
2 - Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
3 - The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck
4 - To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5 - The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
6 - Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
7 - How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
8 - The Book of Mormon
Hello. You have a link to James Sedgwick's Certainty Site at:
I was sad to hear that James Sedgwick passed away this past year, and with his passing his account at GTE.net was terminated. The old URL - http://home1.gte.net/cpq1szzy - no longer resolves.
I have never met or spoken to Mr. Sedgwick, and know him only through his mailing list postings and The Certainty Site. However, it is clear to me that his ideas and writing should outlive him, so I've set up a replacement which will remain a mirror of his old site. Nothing has been added or changed from his old site. Please feel free to link to the new location:
Also, if you have or know of anyone with a saved copy of his online book, "Freedom in Mind," I would appreciate knowing. This is the one part of his site I have not been able to recover from Archive.org, Google caches, or browser caches.
Newspapers, etc., claim to be comprehensive and objective, and are not. Bloggers do not claim to be comprehensive or objective, and are not. Who's being hypocritical here, again? (www.InstaPundit.com, 12/31/04.)