Friday, February 29, 2008
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke yesterday said for the first time that he expects some bank failures as a result of the spreading financial crisis, while consumers as well as banks will bear the brunt of what could be a protracted economic downturn.
Bush: U.S. Is Not Headed Into Recession
President Bush said Thursday that the country is not headed into a recession and, despite expressing concern about slowing economic growth, rejected for now any additional stimulus efforts. "We've acted robustly," he said.
"We'll see the effects of this pro-growth package," Bush told reporters at a White House news conference. "I know there's a lot of, here in Washington people are trying to - stimulus package two - and all that stuff. Why don't we let stimulus package one, which seemed like a good idea at the time, have a chance to kick in?"
Bush's view of the economy was decidely rosier than that of many economists, who say the country is nearing recession territory or may already be there.
... have ya noticed how grocery prices have rocketed? Maybe we're in inflation !?!
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Our revered founder, William F. Buckley Jr., died in his study this morning.
If ever an institution were the lengthened shadow of one man, this publication is his. So we hope it will not be thought immodest for us to say that Buckley has had more of an impact on the political life of this country — and a better one — than some of our presidents. He created modern conservatism as an intellectual and then a political movement. He kept it from drifting into the fever swamps. And he gave it a wit, style, and intelligence that earned the respect and friendship even of his adversaries. (To know Buckley was to be reminded that certain people have a talent for friendship.)
He inspired and incited three generations of conservatives, and counting. He retained his intellectual and literary vitality to the end; even in his final years he was capable of the arresting formulation, the unpredictable insight. He presided over NR even in his “retirement,” which was more active than most people’s careers. It has been said that great men are rarely good men. Even more rarely are they sweet and merry, as Buckley was.
... keep reading
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
"If you cut me, I"d probably bleed Army green, but this is definitely my last deployment" said the 54-year-old veteran, who is better known to his fellow soldiers as "Grumpy."
Sgt. Spears said he did not expect to end up in a war zone dodging bullets and rockets, and that such business should be the work of younger warriors.
Retired in 1995 after 24 years in the Army, Sgt. Spears felt the call of duty after watching the World Trade Center's Twin Towers crumble in 2001 and picked up the phone just to let the Army know he was there if he was ever needed.
"I guess they put my name on a list somewhere, but, for the life of me, I didn't really expect them to call me back to service," he said. But in 2005, the Defense Department rang his home number in Daleville, Ala.
"A Pentagon colonel told me that I could come back now or, if I did not act then, she wouldn't give me a choice as to where I was deployed." With mixed feelings, Sgt. Spears called her back an hour later.
Now, while he often longs for the golf course, Sgt. Spears finds himself in a mentoring role to some 80 soldiers, struggling to keep them working together smoothly.
As the "human resources manager" for NATO and the Army"s 173rd Airborne Brigade"s Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kunar Province, Sgt. Spears keeps the soldiers in line with stentorian growls across the mess hall and quiet, reassuring chats in his quarters.
Just knowing there is a veteran of the Vietnam War, a far bloodier conflict than those being fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, is reassuring to some of the young soldiers who seek his advice.
But Sgt. Spears said he worries as would a father about the strains caused by the lengthy military deployments in both theaters.
"In general, we have excellent morale, but the Army is definitely overstretched and undermanned here in Afghanistan," he said. "I'm really afraid that some guys and girls will snap. I've seen it already — people with severe combat-related stress."
Sgt. Spears has two sons who joined the Army and one who served two tours as a helicopter crew chief in Iraq. He said his wife of 32 years, Sherry, had only one piece of advice for him when he deployed last year: "Keep your head down, Grumpy."
A soldier's life hasn't changed much since Vietnam, but there aren't any easy comparisons between the two wars, Sgt. Spears said.
"I'm not sure this is an ideologically driven war in the respect that Vietnam was pretty much communism against capitalism," he said. "But even there, you had an enemy that would show their face and occasionally fight in real uniforms."
Sgt. Spears pointed toward a ridgeline and noted that Kunar province sits across only a couple of mountain ridges from Pakistan, where the September 11, 2001, mastermind, Osama bin Laden, is thought to be hiding.
"I can't tell you why they haven't caught him with all their gee-whiz toys," he said. "But I don't believe in conspiracies either, like we have him in a box somewhere."
Thursday, February 21, 2008
By: Stuart Koehl
THOUGH IT GARNERS RELATIVELY little attention, military bureaucracy poses a very serious threat to the long-term security of the United States, and its pernicious effect extends well down into the chain of command. I have a friend whose son, now back from his fourth deployment to Afghanistan with the 75th Rangers, describes precisely the kind of burdensome bureaucratic regulation that Paul Fussell (in his book Wartime) so appropriately labeled as "chickenshit":
After Vietnam and the transition to a professional, all-volunteer force, some of these problems were mitigated, while others persist to this day. Rapid turnover, or "turbulence," as it is called, was recognized as having a pernicious effect on readiness, so tours for combatant commanders were extended, as were some staff positions--though talk of establishing a professional "general staff" career path was rejected. On the other hand, with the Army greatly reduced in size (a problem exacerbated by post-Cold War reductions in force in the 1990s), the number of command slots relative to the number of officers got worse. This was especially true at the higher end of the chain of command, for battalion commanders and above, which in turn led to adoption of a "zero defects" mentality within the Army: any mistake, no matter how minor, at any point in one's career, could prevent promotion beyond the rank of major. This, naturally enough, encouraged a very conservative, by-the-book, risk-averse approach
in which "thinking outside the box" was actively discouraged. And that in turn caused many intelligent, innovative, and aggressive officers either to resign in disgust or be forced into retirement because of some minor blot on their service records (one wonders how many of the great commanders of World War II would have been benched under today's standards).
Nowhere is the problem more acute than in the special operations forces. In the first place, special operations officers (and enlisted men) tend to be extremely intelligent, independent, and highly motivated. Mission focused and used to shouldering responsibilities normally assigned to officers two or three grades higher in rank, they have a keen eye for what is essential and what is superfluous. They are deeply resented within the "regular" Army because they tend to operate outside the normal "rules" and have their own chain of command that often places them outside the control of regular line officers. This resentment is further exacerbated by the fact that special operations forces are the cutting edge in both counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency, and thus are getting a "leg-up" over officers in the traditional combat arms.
There are very strong institutional forces militating against this idea, but it is increasingly apparent that the Army is top-heavy with officers, and too sclerotic in its thinking and action to cope with the rapidly changing nature of war in the 21st century. Something has to give, at some point.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
In his fiscal 2009 budget, President Bush has proposed eliminating the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, which reimburses states for incarcerating illegal aliens who commit crimes. As America hardens its stance against illegal aliens, the program is yet another tool against sanctuary cities, and it promotes tighter border security.
The program offers states roughly 15 cents for every dollar spent on holding illegal residents who are found committing non-federal crimes. States receive payments for holding only those criminals who meet a narrow set of criteria; payments overwhelmingly go to states like California, New York, Texas and Florida, which are battling a troubling crush of illegal aliens.
White House budget officials say the program is not directly reducing crime and thus is "not demonstrating results." The Office of Management and Budget also states the program is failing because it lacks clear goals. It is true that the program could benefit from reform, such as increased accountability measures to ensure proper disbursement of federal money and coordination with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to deport these criminals. However, as Jessica Vaughan, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Washington Times, the purpose of the program is clear: to help state and local government officials who are apprehending criminals who shouldn't be here in the first place but remain in the United States due to failed federal policies.
The law creating this program was part of the 1994 Crime Act signed by President Clinton and has since received considerable support from Republicans. Rather than implementing useful and tangible changes to the law, the Bush White House and Congress continue their shell game: The president slashes funding and Congress restores it. President Bush has called for the termination of this program each year since fiscal 2003. And every year, members of Congress understand the crucial needs for this money, $410 million in fiscal 2008 and roughly that for the last several years.
"States and local governments have had to pick up the slack and are shouldered with these tremendous costs" said Scott Gerber, a spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, who has spearheaded congressional efforts to ensure that state assistance funds are protected. "Controlling legal immigration is a federal responsibility."
Indeed, the immigration policy debacle this summer showed the federal government's failure to craft meaningful changes to reduce the flow of illegal aliens. While we agree this program in some ways presents an approach to illegal aliens that is defensive rather than proactive, it provides at least some compensation for states on the front lines of the battle against those who choose to flout our immigration laws and place a strain on our economy. Congress must continue to keep this reimbursement program in place to assist in their fight until tougher reforms are in place.
Monday, February 18, 2008
By Gleaves Whitney
People ask why a few of us presidential junkies would like to see Presidents’ Day changed back to Washington’s Birthday. The technical explanation has to do with a misguided law called HR 15951 that was passed in 1968 to make federal holidays less complicated.
The real answer is simply this: George Washington is our greatest president, and too few American children know why.
George Washington earned the respect even of his former enemy, King George III, by doing something exceedingly rare in history: When he had the chance to increase personal power, he decreased it — not once, not twice, but repeatedly.
During the American Revolution, Washington put service before self. His personal example was his greatest gift to the nation. It has often been said that the “Father of our country” was less eloquent than Jefferson; less educated than Madison; less experienced than Franklin; less talented than Hamilton. Yet all these leaders looked to Washington to lead them because they trusted him with power. He didn’t need power.
Washington knew that the bold American experiment in self government under the rule of law could survive only if leaders exercised self-restraint and accepted institutional limits on executive power.
He believed that leading virtuously was more important than anything he could write or say. This is why Washington has been compared to two great republicans of Ancient Rome — Cincinnatus, who traded his sword for a plow, and Cato the Younger, who died defending the republic against the tyranny of Julius Caesar.Consider all the times that Washington put service before self.
In 1775, when he accepted command of the Continental Army, he promised Congress that he would resign his commission when the war was over. Once the British withdrew, he was true to his word, and surrendered command of an army fiercely loyal to him. In a moving scene before Congress on December 23, 1783 (then assembled in Annapolis, Maryland), Washington pledged loyalty to the civilian government he had served. He thereby established the principle that our nation’s military would always be under civilian rule.Earlier in the 1780s, Washington had been approached twice by army officers who promised their support if he decided to seize civilian power. In one famous incident in 1782, Col. Lewis Nicola wrote a letter urging Washington to overthrow Congress and become America’s king. The commanding general scolded Nicola the very same day.
In 1783, Washington caught wind of officers wanting to stage a coup d’état against Congress. The so-called Newburgh Conspirators were frustrated that Congress was not paying them what had been promised when the nation desperately needed their sacrifice. Washington would not be moved — that die would not be cast. On the Ides of March, he called the men together and sternly reprimanded them for losing faith in the idea of America. The new nation had a chance to succeed only if its leaders and military adhered to the rule of law.
When King George III heard that Washington would resign his commission to a powerless Congress, he told the painter Benjamin West: “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”
Washington returned home to Mount Vernon in December 1783. Like Cincinnatus, he put down his sword and took up his plow, making him the most trusted man in America. Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 selected him to be their president, knowing he would not abuse his position to aggrandize himself. And a grateful nation unanimously elected him president of the United States in 1789 and again in 1792, because they knew he would devote all his energies to serving the new nation.
Washington, when convinced that he had done all he could to help the country, retired after two terms as president. True to principle, he relinquished the power that was his for the taking. It was an example of selfless leadership that inspires Americans and the world to this day. Why don’t more American children know that?
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
By Lt. Col. Ollie North:
When the Washington, D.C. City Council enacted the toughest gun-control law in the nation in 1976, the city fathers -- according to what they said at the time -- believed they were making our nation’s capital a safer place. The measure failed miserably. Since passage, the murder rate in the District has skyrocketed by more than 200 percent. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has a chance to both make our capital safer -- and ensure that the Second Amendment to our Constitution is enshrined as an individual right for every law-abiding American.
No matter how well intentioned, the D.C. firearms statute has been unfathomable from the start. On its face, the law bans handguns and requires rifles and shotguns to be registered, stored unloaded and either locked or disassembled. While it allows business owners to use a firearm to protect their cash registers at their stores, they cannot use that same firearm to protect themselves and their families in their homes. Individuals who protect federal officials and property in the District with firearms are not permitted to provide similar protection for themselves and their families in their own domiciles.
In fact, the case that the Supreme Court will hear, District of Columbia v. Heller, was brought by Mr. Dick Heller, a security guard. In carrying out his duties, Mr. Heller carries a handgun on Federal property. However, when he sought to register the same weapon to safeguard his home, he was denied. Mr. Heller says the D.C. law has it backwards. “I can protect [federal workers], but at the end of the day they say, ‘turn in your gun, you can't protect your home.’” Mr. Heller maintains that disassembled rifles and shotguns are no substitute for handguns, “any more than the government could prohibit books because it permits newspapers and considers them an ‘adequate substitute.’”
Last March, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, 2-1, that the District’s prohibition was not only unreasonable, it was clearly unconstitutional. Attorneys for the District of Columbia promptly appealed the decision. That is why on March 18, for the first time since 1939, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on whether such a gun ban for law-abiding citizens is constitutional. Their verdict, expected later this year, will have profound implications for all Americans.
The case has generated a flurry of unprecedented action in both the Executive and Legislative branches of government. On January 11, the Department of Justice (DOJ), filed an egregiously weak amicus -- friend of the court -- brief in the case. The argument, submitted by U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, essentially urges the Supremes to waffle on the issue and send the case back to the lower courts.
The DOJ softball didn’t sit well with U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.). On February 8, she filed an amicus brief on behalf of Mr. Heller and the exercise of his individual rights under the Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
In her lucid and detailed exposition, Senator Hutchison accurately points out that the Framers never intended that the word “militia,” meant that the right to keep and bear arms was some kind of “collective” right that applied only to a particular group. If that had been their purpose, they would have been satisfied with Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution that gives Congress the power “to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.”
To ensure that that firearms possession was recognized by posterity as an “individual right,” the Framers included it as part of the Bill of Rights -- an enumeration of every citizen’s personal entitlements: free speech, freedom of religion and a fair trial. The precise location of those famous words -- “the right to keep and bear arms” -- provides strong evidence for the Founders’ vision.
To foreclose any doubt where Congress comes down on the issue, Senator Hutchison has introduced a bill to repeal the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns; repeal registration requirements; and restore the ability of law-abiding citizens to keep a loaded, operable firearm in their homes. Doing less denies the meaning of the words “shall not be abridged.”
Her argument was so persuasive that 54 additional Senators and 250 Members of the House of Representatives -- including 68 Democrats -- signed on. Vice President Dick Cheney -- apparently at odds with the administration’s Department of Justice did so as well. Hopefully the Supreme Court will agree with these enlightened members of Congress -- and Abraham Lincoln who said, “Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.”
Thursday, February 14, 2008
The most anti-conservative rhetoric against conservative talk radio these days is coming from supposedly free-market conservatives. It’s disgusting.
Author Mark Helprin’s grenade in the Wall Street Journal stands out. Yesterday, he launched an attack on conservative radio hosts who oppose presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain. Helprin sneered that their “major talent is that, like hairdressers, they can talk all day long to one client after another as they snip.”
It’s one thing to hear such petty snark coming from the left. Outraged that conservative talk radio has succeeded in the marketplace while liberals have bombed, and unnerved that new media outlets have upended mainstream journalism’s monopoly apple cart, liberals have long crusaded against the medium. Bill Clinton blamed the Oklahoma City bombing on the “many loud and angry voices” in conservative talk radio that “spread hate.” Democrats continue to deride “Republican noise machines” and are working in Congress to marginalize, regulate, and stifle influential talkers — most recently by threatening to reinstitute the Orwellian Fairness Doctrine.
But now, we have establishment Republicans parroting liberal ad hominem rhetoric: Talk-radio hosts are talentless blabbermouths. Their listeners are mind-numbed robots. Or, as supposed free-market conservative and McCain supporter Phil Gramm told the Washington Post last week in his broadside against talk radio: “They say they have principles, but some of it is their ego and power, too. They’re well-known, and they’re used to having power.”
... Michelle; this is normal in the Republican Party (and Dem). Ask John McAmnesty McCain - the "Maverick" who can never agree with the Party establishment. Don't toe the Party line and you become a pariah. It's also normal human behavior. I've chided Rush and Sean for years for not speaking out against the Republican Party enough at appropriate times (when the Party heads in the wrong direction). When they finally begin to speak out, naturally the Party Wogs are going to react. - Tiger
Funny. These trash-talking GOP politicians and pundits had no problem when conservative talk-radio hosts used their “ego and power” to help kill Hillary Clinton’s massive government health-care takeover in 1994. They had no problem when conservative talk-radio hosts used their “ego and power” to galvanize support for the Republican revolution, two Bush presidential campaigns, and the war in Iraq.
In major metropolitan U.S. cities, conservative talk radio offers rare relief from liberal orthodoxy — and local talk show hosts have spearheaded effective activism. KSFO in San Francisco led the Gray Davis recall brigade. KVI in Seattle was instrumental in launching the successful fight against Hillarycare and in support of an initiative abolishing government racial preferences.
Were they nothing more than empty-talking hairdressers then?
... the term is "useful idiots", Michelle. - Tiger
The Republican talk-radio bashers did start having problems when many national hosts harnessed popular grassroots opposition to help kill last year’s Bush/McCain/Kennedy illegal alien amnesty bill. GOP Rep. Lindsey Graham dismissed them as “loud folks.” In other words: They were making a difference. Then-senator Trent Lott lamented that right-wing talk-radio hosts were a “problem.” In other words: They were effective. McCain’s defenders have made common cause with the likes of ethnocentric, open-borders groups like La Raza in redefining all conservative talk-radio opposition as unacceptable “hate” beyond the bounds of reasonable discourse.
In other words: They must be shut up. Bill Clinton approves.
... Ahhh! Now you're getting somewhere finally, Michelle! Repubs - Dems; no difference! - Tiger
Those who most stridently criticize talk radio know the least about it. It is not one monolithic bloc. Disagreements among top conservative hosts are legendary. They have different interests, varying styles, and divergent strengths and weaknesses. Do they do what they do primarily for money, ego, and power? It’s an embarrassingly class-warfare-tinged cheap shot.
In any case, if you’re a true free-market conservative, it’s not supposed to be a crime to make a profit. There’s no shame in making a living by sharing information and opinions — or in meeting unmet demands in the marketplace of ideas.
I’ve done it for 16 years in the newspaper, TV, and blogging businesses. And I can tell you this: Talk radio has been instrumental and invaluable in the dissemination of conservative principles. Ask any author who hasn’t been able to get a fair hearing in the national press, but who has watched his Amazon.com ratings soar after a mention by a talk-radio host. Ask any local columnist grateful for a chance to see his or her reporting receive wider attention.
Helprin accuses conservative talkers who oppose McCain of rooting for a liberal presidency because their “influence and coffers swell on discontent” and they are “nostalgic” for the Clinton years. Translation: They’re all just greedy self-promoters who care more about themselves than the good of the country. Gramm leveled the same attack: “They’re people who put their dogma in front of the interests of the country.”
Cocooned conservative establishment snobs denigrate talk-radio hosts for preaching to the choir. But these same critics have no problem using the medium to market their own work. Ask their publicists. The message of the anti-conservative conservatives dissing talk radio: Self-interest for me, but not for thee.
No need to wait for a Clinton to take the White House. Clintonism is alive and well among conservative talk-radio haters on both sides of the aisle.
... it's good to see young a lady grow up! - Tiger
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Bigamy is outlawed in Britain, but authorities have never prosecuted Muslim men who had legally married more than one woman abroad and continued to live with them after immigrating. Shariah permits men to have up to four wives at one time.
Now, after a review that began in November 2006, a panel of four government departments has decided that all the wives of a Muslim man may collect state benefits, provided that the marriages took place in a country where multiple spouses are legal.
Neither the review nor the decision was announced publicly, and their discovery by newspapers late last month triggered an uproar in the largely Christian nation — a fury exacerbated by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' remark last week that some aspects of Islamic law could be embraced within Britain's legal system.
Archbishop Williams, the spiritual head of the world's 77 million Anglicans, refused to back down from the idea yesterday, but admitted at a meeting of the church's General Synod, or parliament, that the remark had been "clumsy."
The furor contributed to a sense of unease about Islam after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States and the suicide bombings by Muslims on London's bus and rail system that killed 52 commuters three years ago.
The proposed use of taxpayer money to support multiple wives of Muslim men — a figure that one estimate puts at up to $20 million a year — has provoked widespread anger, particularly since bigamy is a crime in Britain, punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Although exact figures are unavailable, government ministers have estimated that up to 1,000 polygamous marriages exist in Britain.
He also warned that Republicans face a “catastrophic” election this year unless the GOP changes course.
Gingrich pointed out that on Super Tuesday, 14.6 million voters took part in the Democratic races, compared to 8.3 million Republicans.
“There were 14.6 million Democrats who thought the presidential nomination was worth voting for, and there were 8.3 million Republicans on Super Tuesday,” Gingrich said.
“That is a warning of a catastrophic election. I was in Idaho this last week, and Barack Obama on last Saturday had 16,000 people in Boise. The idea [of] the most liberal Democratic Senator getting 16,000 people in Boise was inconceivable.
“And every person who cares about the conservative movement and every person who cares about the Republican Party had better stop and say to themselves, ‘There is something big happening in this country. We don’t understand it. We’re not responding to it. And we’re currently not competitive. And if we want to get to be competitive, we had better change and we had better change now.”
Gingrich stressed that he was not commenting on any of the current candidates for president.
Rather, he said, “this is a comment about the conservative movement, and it's a comment about the Republican Party, and all the candidates currently running fit within those two phrases. But it is about all of us. It is about our Congressman, our Senator, our governors, our county commissioners, our school board members.
“And let me make this very clear, I believe we have to change or expect defeat.
“And I believe that this is a time for the conservative movement to issue a declaration of independence…
“First of all, I think we need to get independent from a Washington fixation. There are 513,000 elected officials in the United States and the conservative movement should believe in a decentralized United States, where every elected official has real responsibility, and we should be developing a conservative action plan, at every level of this country, and not simply focused over and over again on arguments about the White House…
“I also think that we need to declare our independence from trying to protect and defend failed bureaucracies that magically become ours as soon as we are in charge of them. We appoint solid conservatives to a department and within three weeks they are defending and protecting the very department that they would have been attacking before they got appointed.”
Gingrich drew considerable applause when he continued with his “independence” theme:
“There is one other declaration of independence we need and this will startle some of you. And remember I say this from a background of having been active in the Georgia Republican Party since 1960. In a fundamental way, the conservative movement has to declare itself independent from the Republican Party.
“Let me make very clear what I'm saying here. I am not saying there should be a third party – I think a third party is a dumb idea, will not get anywhere, and in the end will achieve nothing.
(not at this point in time, Newt - but a third party is a neccessity in future. The Conservatives MUST split from the Republicans or dissappear forever! - Tiger)
“I actually believe that any reasonable conservative will, in the end, find that they have an absolute requirement to support the Republican nominee for president this fall…
“As a citizen, I would rather have a President McCain that we fight with 20 percent of the time, than a President Clinton or a President Obama that we fight with 90 percent of the time.”
But he warned: “If we run a traditional consultant-dominated tactical Republican campaign, like we’ve seen in the last eight years, we will be defeated this fall, and we will be having a CPAC meeting next year talking about how we rebuild for the future with either President Obama or President Clinton in charge.”
Monday, February 11, 2008
News flash folks! The Bible has never taught that one's "soul" goes to heaven upon death! Any good Protestant would know that! - Tiger
... "In 1520, Martin Luther blasted Catholic ideas "that the soul is immortal; and all these endless monstrosities in the Roman dunghill of decretals." ...
A bishop described as "one of the most formidable figures in the world of Christian thought" is now challenging the widely held belief that Christians go to heaven when they die.
N.T. "Tom" Wright, the fourth most senior cleric in the Church of England who has been praised for his staunch defense of the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ, has published a new book in which he says people do not ascend to God's dwelling place. Instead, deceased believers are in a sleep-like state until God comes back to Earth.
"Never at any point do the Gospels or Paul say Jesus has been raised, therefore we are we are all going to heaven," Wright told Time Magazine. "I've often heard people say, 'I'm going to heaven soon, and I won't need this stupid body there, thank goodness.' That's a very damaging distortion, all the more so for being unintentional."
When asked to explain why he rejects that typical sentiment, he said, "There are several important respects in which it's unsupported by the New Testament. First, the timing. In the Bible we are told that you die, and enter an intermediate state. [The Apostle] Paul is very clear that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead already, but that nobody else has yet. Secondly, our physical state. The New Testament says that when Christ does return, the dead will experience a whole new life: not just our soul, but our bodies. And finally, the location. At no point do the resurrection narratives in the four Gospels say, 'Jesus has been raised, therefore we are all going to heaven.' It says that Christ is coming here, to join together the heavens and the Earth in an act of new creation."
In the Gospel of John, Jesus himself is quoted as saying, "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." (John 3:13)
In "Surprised by Hope," published by HarperOne, Wright quotes a children's book by California first lady Maria Shriver titled 'What's Heaven,' which describes it as "a beautiful place where you can sit on soft clouds and talk ... . If you're good throughout your life, then you get to go [there]... When your life is finished here on Earth, God sends angels down to take you heaven to be with him."
Wright calls that a good example of "what not to say," explaining the biblical truth "is very, very different."
When asked by Time about the period between death and the resurrection of the dead, Wright said: "We know that we will be with God and with Christ, resting and being refreshed. Paul writes that it will be conscious, but compared with being bodily alive, it will be like being asleep. The Wisdom of Solomon, a Jewish text from about the same time as Jesus, says 'the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,' and that seems like a poetic way to put the Christian understanding, as well."
He continued: "Our culture is very interested in life after death, but the New Testament is much more interested in what I've called the life after life after death – in the ultimate resurrection into the new heavens and the new Earth.
Jesus' resurrection marks the beginning of a restoration that he will complete upon his return. Part of this will be the resurrection of all the dead, who will 'awake,' be embodied and participate in the renewal. John Polkinghorne, a physicist and a priest, has put it this way: 'God will download our software onto his hardware until the time he gives us new hardware to run the software again for ourselves.' That gets to two things nicely: that the period after death is a period when we are in God's presence but not active in our own bodies, and also that the more important transformation will be when we are again embodied and administering Christ's kingdom."
Wright, whose 2003 book, "The Resurrection of the Son of God," received widespread acclaim in the Christian community, says many people have been confused about what happens at death by Jesus' statement to a thief who was being executed next to him.
He explained: "There is Luke 23, where Jesus says to the good thief on the cross, 'Today you will be with me in paradise.' But in Luke, we know first of all that Christ himself will not be resurrected for three days, so 'paradise' cannot be a resurrection. It has to be an intermediate state. And chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation, where there is a vision of worship in heaven that people imagine describes our worship at the end of time. In fact it's describing the worship that's going on right now. If you read the book through, you see that at the end we don't have a description of heaven, but, as I said, of the new heavens and the new Earth joined together." Wright says much of "traditional Christianity" has been influenced by pagan philosophies.
"Two obvious ones are Dante's great poetry, which sets up a heaven, purgatory and hell immediately after death, and Michelangelo's 'Last Judgment' in the Sistine chapel, which portrays heaven and hell as equal and opposite last destinations. Both had enormous influence on Western culture, so much so that many Christians think that is Christianity," he said.
While Wright's view may seem stunning to many of today's Christians, similar views were held by some famous names in the Protestant Reformation.
In 1520, Martin Luther blasted Catholic ideas "that the soul is immortal; and all these endless monstrosities in the Roman dunghill of decretals."
A decade later, English Bible translator and martyr William Tyndale echoed the idea Christians are completely dead until Jesus returns, as he voiced opposition to "heathen" ideas of people having immortal souls at birth:
The true faith putteth [setteth forth] the resurrection, which we be warned to look for every hour. The heathen philosophers, denying that, did put [set forth] that the souls did ever live. And the pope joineth the spiritual doctrine of Christ and the fleshly doctrine of philosophers together; things so contrary that they cannot agree, no more than the Spirit and the flesh do in a Christian man. And because the fleshly-minded pope consenteth unto heathen doctrine, therefore he corrupteth the Scripture to stablish it.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
The Daily Mail reported that teen members of the Somali community in Woolwich were arrested on charges of stabbing another youth, but the victim’s family told police the case would be settled out of court and the suspects were released on bail.
At the hearing, the assailants were ordered to pay the victim.
"All their uncles and their fathers were there," said Aydarus Yusuf, who helped set up the hearing. "So they all put something towards that and apologized for the wrongdoing."
In Leyton, another Islamic council also said it had been handling cases -- more than 7,000 divorces -- while sharia courts in the capital were said to have settled hundreds of disputes regarding money.
Meanwhile Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams faced widespread condemnation after calling for an “accommodation” with parts of the Islamic legal code and calls to quit. Culture Secretary Andy Burnham described his action as a "recipe for chaos."
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Republicans are so shell-shocked and demoralized by the success of the Bush Derangement Syndrome, they think they can fool the voters by nominating an open-borders, anti-tax cut, anti-free speech, global-warming hysteric, pro-human experimentation "Republican." Which is to say, a Democrat.
As the expression goes, given a choice between a Democrat and a Democrat, voters will always choose the Democrat. The only question remaining is: Hillary or Obama?
On the litmus test issues of our time, only partially excluding Iraq, McCain is a liberal.
-- He excoriated Samuel Alito as too "conservative."
-- He promoted amnesty for 20 million illegal immigrants.
-- He abridged citizens' free speech (in favor of the media) with McCain-Feingold.
-- He hysterically opposes waterboarding terrorists and wants to shut down Guantanamo.
Can I take a breath now?
-- He denounced the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
-- He opposes ANWR and supports the global warming cult, even posturing with fellow mountebank Arnold Schwarzenegger in front of solar panels.
The only site that would have been more appropriate for Schwarzenegger in endorsing McCain would have been in front of an abortion clinic.
Although McCain has the minimum pro-life record demanded by the voters of Arizona, in 2006, McCain voted in favor of using taxpayer funds to harvest stem cells from human embryos. He opposes a constitutional amendment to protect human life. And he frets that if Roe v. Wade were overruled, women's lives would be "endangered." This is the same John McCain who chides Mitt Romney today for "flip-flopping" on abortion. At least Romney flips and stays there.
Of course the most important issue for pro-lifers is the Supreme Court. As long as Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, it doesn't matter how many hearts and minds we've changed. So it's not insignificant that McCain has called Justice Samuel Alito too conservative.
We ended up with David Hackett Souter when a Republican president was actually looking for an Alito. Imagine how bad it will be when the "Republican" president isn't even trying.
McCain uses the boilerplate language of all Republicans in saying he will appoint "strict constructionists." This is supposed to end all discussion of the courts. But if he's picking strict constructionists, he will have to appoint judges who will commit to overturning McCain-Feingold.
That could be our litmus test: Will you hold President McCain's signature legislation restricting speech unconstitutional?
In 2004, McCain criticized the federal marriage amendment, saying, it was "antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans." Really? Preventing the redefinition of a 10,000-year-old institution -- marriage, that is, not John McCain -- is part of the core philosophy of being a Republican? I had no idea.
I'm not a lawyer -- oh wait, yes, I am -- but Republicans were proposing to amend the Constitution, a process the Constitution specifically describes.
It's like saying it's antithetical to the core philosophy of Republicans to require presidents to be at least 35 years old. It's in the Constitution! And Republicans -- other than the ones who voted for McCain-Feingold -- support the Constitution. You might say it's part of our core philosophy.
Of course, back in 2004, McCain was considering running on a presidential ticket with John Kerry. Realizing that this would not help his chances to run as a Republican in 2008, when he would be a mere 120 years old, McCain quickly withdrew his interest in being on Kerry's ticket.
But he defended Kerry from the Bush campaign's suggestion that Kerry was not tip-top on national security, saying on the "Today" show: "No, I do not believe that he is, quote, weak on defense." So that was helpful.
McCain also explained to an admiring press corps why he wouldn't want to be anyone's vice president, not even a national defense champion like Kerry, citing the meager constitutional duties of the vice president as: (1) to assume the presidency if the president is incapacitated and (2) "to break a tie vote in the Senate." (At which point several members of the fawning horde were heard to remark, "What is this 'Constitution' you speak of, Senator?")
But McCain conveniently forgot the second of these constitutional duties just a year later when Vice President Cheney was required "to break a tie vote in the Senate" on a matter of utmost importance to liberals: federal judges.
Just one year after McCain had correctly identified one of two jobs of the vice president, he was indignant that a Republican vice president might actually exercise one of them. Better to let a gaggle of 14 Senate malcontents pick the president's judges for him.
As part of the "Gang of 14," McCain hysterically opposed allowing the vice president to break a tie on judicial nominations. Following the Constitution with regard to the role of the vice president, McCain said, "would be a terrible precedent." Yes, if members of Congress actually read the Constitution, they might realize McCain-Feingold is unconstitutional.
If Hillary is elected president, we'll have a four-year disaster, with Republicans ferociously opposing her, followed by Republicans zooming back into power, as we did in 1980 and 1994, and 2000. (I also predict more Oval Office incidents with female interns.)
If McCain is elected president, we'll have a four-year disaster, with the Republicans in Congress co-opted by "our" president, followed by 30 years of Democratic rule.
There's your choice, America.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Monday, February 04, 2008
In the early 8th Century, radical Islamists had been waging war for decades, imposing their faith on Christians throughout Europe. They had conquered Spain and parts of modern-day France and Germany. But, in 732, a one-day battle changed the course of history.
In the Battle of Tours, Charles Martel led a Christian army of Franks and Burgundians to a bloody and decisive victory against the invading jihadists -- a victory that stemmed the tide of Islamic expansionism in Europe.
Martel prevailed at Tours because he recognized exactly what was at stake. He understood that his army could determine whether Christian civilization would continue or Islamic theocracy prevail throughout Europe. Thus Martel took decisive action, which, in the words of historian Edward Gibbon, “rescued our ancestors of Britain, and our neighbors of Gaul [France], from the civil and religious yoke of the Koran."
Western civilization again faces a defining moment in the struggle to defend itself against an enemy that seeks its demise. Sadly, however, many in the West today, including many Christians, fail to understand what’s at stake: the continuation of our way of life and even our very lives. This is not merely an “election” between two political parties with a common interest in the peace and prosperity of the world. This is an existential conflict in which one side says, “convert or die.”
Recently, over 300 evangelical, mainline Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders sponsored a letter seeking “reconciliation” and “common ground” with Islam. The letter, “Loving God and Neighbor Together,” was issued as a response to a similar letter written to Christians by 138 Muslim leaders last fall. The Christian letter expressed regrets for the Crusades and for excesses of the “war on terror,” acknowledged Allah as the God of the Bible and insisted that, “without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world.”
But while inter-faith dialogue can be useful, the letter failed to appreciate that a real conversation can take place only when both sides negotiate in good faith, in a spirit of mutual respect and with a willingness to address the truth of the disagreements at hand. One truth Christians must come to terms with is that Muslims are not looking to be one of many respected faiths active in the world. To the jihadists and their sympathizers, Islam’s place in the world is a zero-sum affair -- they will impose Islam on the world or die trying -- and pretending otherwise does no good in achieving understanding.
Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, explained why he signed “Loving God and Neighbor Together,” by stating that “not signing could be damaging to these Christian brothers and sisters who live among Muslims.” Which is precisely the problem. If by not signing a letter that acknowledges, and asks forgiveness for, Christian crimes but that remains silent on those of Muslims Anderson feels he may provoke a backlash against Christians in Muslim nations, then clearly reconciliation is illusory.
Christians living in Muslim countries often face discrimination, and those who practice openly can be thrown in jail and even killed. Last July, 23 Christian Koreans were taken hostage, and a number were killed, by the Taliban in Afghanistan. But these Christian missionaries weren’t even trying to spread their faith, only providing aid and medical care to poor Afghans.
Have the signers of “Loving God and Neighbor Together” forgotten what happened the last time a Christian leader tried to start a frank inter-faith discussion between Muslims and Christians?
When Pope Benedict XVI attempted to engage Muslims in thoughtful dialogue, his remarks provoked a ridiculous and irrational response that led to violent public demonstrations, the calling for the pope’s head and the murder of a Catholic nun in Africa.
Christians need to come to grips with the deep culture of violence that pervades many Muslim societies. A 2005 study found that Muslim nations are two-and-a-half times more likely than non-Muslim nations to be considered “at the greatest risk of neglecting or mismanaging emerging societal crises such that these conflicts escalate to serious violence and/or government instability.”
What’s more, while it’s fashionable to refer to Islam as the “religion of peace,” the truth is that Islamic terrorists invariably cite faith as the motivation behind their deplorable acts. And when some Muslim leaders insist non-Muslims must “convert or die,” it’s clear that Muslims are not ready to negotiate in good faith. Even dedicated Muslim leaders like Benazir Bhutto pay with their lives when they are willing to talk candidly with Westerners about reaching a peaceful co-existence.
I caution against the false hope of letters like “Loving God and Neighbor Together.” At the end of the day, an enemy committed to the total destruction of western civilization must be defeated.
It is essential that Christians recognize that any attempts at finding “common ground” or “mutual understanding” with Muslims will be fruitless unless and until Muslims stand up to confront their co-religionists’ use of faith to justify violence and the annihilation of the west.
The New York senator has criticized presidential rival Barack Obama for pushing a health plan that would not require universal coverage. Clinton has not always specified the enforcement measures she would embrace, but when pressed on ABC's "This Week," she said: "I think there are a number of mechanisms" that are possible, including "going after people's wages, automatic enrollment."
Clinton said such measures would apply only to workers who can afford health coverage but refuse to buy it, which puts undue pressure on hospitals and emergency rooms. With her proposals for subsidies, she said, "it will be affordable for everyone."
... if she doesn't frighten you, nothing will! - Tiger
That is the fixed view of leading analysts, who conclude that through ignorance of the enemy it faces, ignorance of its nature, its goals, its strengths and its weaknesses, the United States is condemned to failure.
"The attention of the US military and intelligence community is directed almost uniformly towards hunting down militant leaders or protecting US forces, (and) not towards understanding the enemy we now face," said Bruce Hoffman, a professor at Georgetown University, Washington DC.
"This is a monumental failing not only because decapitation strategies have rarely worked in countering mass-mobilisation terrorist or insurgent campaigns, but also because Al-Qaeda's ability to continue this struggle is based absolutely on its capacity to attract new recruits and replenish its resources.
"Without knowing our enemy, we cannot fulfill the most basic requirements of an effective counter-terrorist strategy: pre-empting and preventing terrorist operations and deterring their attacks," Hoffman added.
Officials said Friday that Abu Laith al-Libi - believed to have been killed when a missile fired by an unmanned US aircraft hit his Pakistani hideout - was a top Al-Qaeda commander who led Osama bin Laden's terror network in Afghanistan.
He was in fifth position on a classified US Central Intelligence Agency wanted list seen by AFP, with a five-million-dollar (3.5 million euros) bounty on his head.
But in using the "Al-Qaeda" label when talking about suspects arrested or armed fighters killed - indiscriminately and sometimes wrongly, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere - American or Western forces create and feed a confusion which ultimately makes victims of themselves, experts say.
"(Using) body-counts as a criterion to measure effectiveness is a bit like Guantanamo: you produce a tally, you mix up Al-Qaeda members or just hired hands with people who have only the vaguest of connections, people who have none at all and finally even pure civilians," added French academic Jean-Pierre Filiu, author of "Les Frontieres du Jihad" ('The Limits of Jihad').
"When you reach that point, air-strikes and the elimination of 'wanted' individuals not only prove fruitless, but actually become counter-productive.
"These actions only intensify (Al-Qaeda) recruitment, instead of weakening the organisation.
"The problem is this innate tendency within all administrations or bodies to stack up figures, pull out statistics, use them to show how they are winning, how they are liquidating their enemies, etc," Filiu added.
The 'body-count' syndrome is actually a "trap" laid by Al-Qaeda into which the Americans have "fallen" blindly, added Lebanese-American researcher Fawaz Gerges, an international relations specialist at Sarah Lawrence College, New York.
"You cannot win this war on the battlefield, because there is none," said Gerges. "You're facing an unconventional war. The more you rely on military might, the more you lose the war of ideas against Al-Qaeda and the militants.
( None can argue with the success fo the "Surge", however, the point here is that relying on a purely military solution means you're not taking seriously the other dimensions of the "WAR" - Tiger )
"In Iraq, we fell into their trap, we gave them more ideological ammunition.
"So many Muslims all over the world are now convinced, and this feeling is so entrenched, that the war in Iraq is not against Al-Qaeda, but against Islam."
( I disagree with the author on this point. ISLAM is one of the dimensions of this WAR, an important one. The very nature of ISLAM is anti-peace, anti-civilization, anti-Christ, etc. . . - Tiger )
Gerges detects a growing appreciation of this phenomenon "even at the heart of the American administration," expressing his belief that a "new understanding" exists which casts the outgoing George W. Bush's war against Al-Qaeda as "counter-productive".
The echoes of Sun Tzu's writings, produced at least 2,500 years ago, are everywhere, viz:
"If you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperilled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperilled in every single battle".
To put all this in perspective and give what this author is saying concrete meaning, take a hard look at this blog over the last 2 years or so. America has:
-Placed Radical Islamists in high ranking government jobs, giving them high security clearances within the State Dept. and the Pentagon.
-Continued Energy Policies which require alligences to Radical Islamic powers.
-Sold Arms and Equipment to these Radical Islamist Powers and Entities.
-Given Money every year to Radical Islamic nations, as we do most nations.
-Failed to closely examine Radical Islamist Institutions within our own borders and shut them down and deport their leaders AND followers.
-Failed to control immigration to the point where Radical Islamist can use their VISA priviledge to easily come here and establish themselves.
-Failed to control borders.
-Failed to stop and censure Shari'a Law communities within our borders.
-Failed to press our "friends" in Europe to supress Radical Islamist immigration and establishment of Shar'a Law within their borders.
-Made continuous financial arrangements with anti-American Radical Islamist powers and entities to the point that one day, in future, the enemy may actually have control over our economy.
-Dramatically increased "illegals" on "legals" crime.
-Dramatically increased the financial burden on our infrastructure due to illegal influx.
-Harmed the "rule of law" by ignoring law itself and illustrating he (the President) and others are "above the law".
-Grabbed Power for the Presidency with Executive Orders giving the President totalitarian control in an emergency.
This list can go on and on, folks. What does it take? A guy like me points these things out and wonders why George Bush and others aren't in PRISON! And people say we haven't been attacked!
Sunday, February 03, 2008
This comes at a time when the United States and the United Nations are actively working to discourage the international community from conducting commercial transactions with Iran and its energy sector, in particular.
The World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) provides financial guarantees to secure foreign investments in developing countries, and the U.S. government is one of the agency's largest contributors. U.S. contributions since 2000 have totaled nearly $24 million.
Documents and public filings obtained by FOX News show the MIGA has issued $122.2 million in guarantee coverage for three companies from Thailand and Japan, that have in turn invested a total of $42.8 million in a state-owned Iranian petrochemical company.
The MIGA guarantees insure the three investors — Cementhai Chemicals Company and National Petrochemical Public Company Ltd., both of Thailand, and Itocho Corporation, of Japan — against the risk of "war and civil disturbance," and any potential breach of contract by the government of Iran.
In addition, Itocho is providing the Iranian company, Mehr Petrochemical, with a $96 million shareholder loan, which also is underwritten by MIGA.
Iran's National Petrochemical Co. chairman Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh serves on the board of Mehr Petrochemical, according to Middle East financial industry-watch site, www.Zawya.com. The National Petrochemical is a subsidiary of the Iranian Petroleum Ministry.
First-Time Aid to Iran :
The project marks the first time MIGA has provided such coverage for foreign investment in Iran. The infusion of cash by foreign investors, according to MIGA documents, will enable the Islamic republic to mine the South Pars gas field, a giant offshore gas reserve in the Persian Gulf, and to construct and operate a nearby high-density polyethylene plant, where the gas will be processed for industrial uses.
These projects, a MIGA summary states, will help Iran "diversify the country's exports away from oil" and "contribute to government revenues."
The South Pars project is not MIGA's only thrust into Iran, however. The agency's paperwork for a separate project shows a $5 million equity and loan guarantee provided to a Turkish company whose plants in Iran produce and export polypropylene containers. The documents say Iran's economy is "over-reliant on oil," and boast the Turkish venture will "help diversify Iran's economy ... while introducing state-of-the-art, lean manufacturing techniques that can be replicated for use in other industrial facilities."
At Odds With U.S. Policy?
American and allied officials at the U.N. have been working for years to discourage foreign investment in just such kinds of projects in Iran, fearing they will directly or indirectly aid the Islamic republic's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as well as the regime's support for terrorist groups across the Middle East.
Last October, the Bush administration designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its elite Quds Force as terror organizations — the IRGC for weapons proliferation, and the Quds Force for support of terrorism. At the time, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice standing by his side, told reporters "it is increasingly likely that if you are doing business with Iran, you are doing business with the IRGC."
Paulson also called on "reputable institutions" not to serve as "bankers to this dangerous regime" and concluded "many banks around the world have decided as a matter of prudence and integrity that Iran's business is simply not worth the risk."
Assistant Secretary of State Sean McCormack disclosed last June that the State Department had been contacting multinational firms and state-owned companies around the world, counseling them against financial transactions with the Iranian regime and its subsidiaries.
"We've talked to Shell Oil," McCormack told reporters June 12. "We've talked to the Chinese national oil company. There have been several others as well ... giving them informational briefings and talking to them about whether or not, really, this is the right time to be making those sorts of big bets on the Iranian energy sector when you have a country that is already under [U.N. Security Council] Chapter 7 resolution," referring to a U.N charter section that deals with international threats.
McCormack continued: "And it raises the question of, well, is this the kind of investment climate that you want to enter into? These are big bets of billions of dollars that people are calculating they're going to get returns over a significant number of years. And if you have that level of uncertainty, I think the business end will make their own calculations about whether or not that's the place where they want to invest their money."
The World Bank has apparently decided otherwise, according to U.S. Reps. Steve Rothman, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill. — a former Bank staffer. They say the global lending institution has "transferred at least $50 million in U.S. and allied taxpayer funding to Iran" over the last six months.
In a letter to Rice and Paulson dated Jan. 30 and obtained by FOX News, Rothman and Kirk argued the World Bank is "undermining the Iran policies of the U.N. Security Council, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the United States by giving technical assistance, loans and investment guarantees directly to the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."
The letter urges the Bush administration to "align the World Bank board to the policy" of the U.N. Security Council, by suspending all World Bank loans to Iran and all guarantees on foreign investment in the country.
Contacted by FOX News, a World Bank spokesman noted that MIGA's $127 million in guarantees was approved by the agency back in 2005, and that such guarantees do not involve disbursement of funds unless a claim is made by a foreign investor.
"The World Bank Group complies with UN sanctions on Iran," the Bank's website states, adding: "Arrangements have been put in place to ensure disbursements under project agreements are utilizing banking channels that are not subject to sanctions lists."
A World Bank spokesman later said, "There are no plans to approve any new loans to Iran. These loans ... were designed to help Iran's poorest people and meet basic humanitarian needs."
McCormack told Fox News the State Department only just received the Rothman-Kirk letter, and will be replying to it shortly.