Two big agencies operating under the umbrella of the United Nations will not make public how they spend their money. UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, is intended to benefit poor children around the world and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is intended to provide for global population control. The agencies had $3.2 billion in cash in 2009, and yet they refused to tell the consulting firm IDC hired to prepare a study for the Norwegian development agency called “NORAD” how that money was spent. The consultants also found that the UN High Commission on Refugees refused to provide some spending information, “particularly staff costs.” These were not the only United Nations agencies which appeared to have lots of cash lying around. UNDP, the United Nations Development Program, and WFP, the World Food Program, also had large amounts of unspent funds. Among other findings in this report, the UNFPA gave government and non-government organizations $200 million per year in ways which prevented IDC auditors from examining the accounts, and thus the auditors could have “have little knowledge regarding the ultimate destiny” of those funds. These amounted, according to the report, to 30 percent of UNFPA disbursed program money each year.
Nearing the end of nearly nine years of American military occupation of Iraq, President Barack Obama Monday warned other nations against interfering in Iraq's internal affairs. "Just as Iraq has pledged not to interfere in other nations, other nations must not interfere in Iraq," Obama said after meeting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at the White House. The statement is seen as a warning to Iran not to interfere in the affairs of its neighbor. Iran and Iraq warred against one another in the 1980s when Iraq was under the rule of Saddam Hussein, but forged new ties since Maliki's government has been in power in Baghdad. The United States, fearing Iran may develop nuclear weapons, is using sanctions and other means to pressure the Tehran government to abandon its nuclear program and is hoping neighboring Iraq will retain its close ties to the United States. The United States has the world's largest embassy in Iraq and will retain some 16,000 employees there. But the Baghdad government is expected to exercise its independence in relations with Iran as well as other countries in the region. "I think that obviously the US troop withdrawal will mean that there's less influence, less US influence," Ali al-Saffar, an Iraq analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit in London, told the French international news service Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The most prevalent theme in President Barack Obama's Dec. 6 Osawatomie, Kan., speech was the need for greater "fairness." In fact, though the president never defined the term fair(ness), he used it 15 times. Explaining his new hero, Teddy Roosevelt, Obama said: "But Roosevelt also knew that the free market has never been a free license to take whatever you can from whomever you can. He understood the free market only works when there are rules of the road that ensure competition is fair and open and honest." What's fair competition is somewhat subjective, but let me suggest a few examples of what's clearly unfair. Say a person wants to become a taxi owner. He has a driver's license, a car, and accident liability insurance. Is it fair that in New York City, he has to first purchase a taxi license (medallion) that as of October sold for $1 million? Taxi licenses in Chicago go for $56,000. In Boston, they are $285,000, and in Philadelphia, they run $75,000. Is that fair competition? In some cities, to own a taxi one must obtain a certificate of "public convenience and necessity." At a Public Utility Commission hearing, incumbent taxi owners show up with their attorneys to protest that another taxi company is not needed, and the application is denied. I'd like to have Obama — or anyone else — tell us whether that's fair competition.
Faculty and administrators at a Georgia university are attempting to derail the dream of one of its graduate students to become a school counselor. The reason: Her Christian beliefs on homosexuality don’t square with the politically correct doctrines embraced by the school. In 2010, reported the Baptist Press News, Augusta State University placed counseling student Jennifer Keeton on probation after it was discovered that she disagreed with the view that homosexuality was an acceptable lifestyle. According to school administrators, related BP News, “Keeton said it would be hard for her to counsel gay clients, a stance they said violated ethical standards for licensed counselors, as put forth by the American Counseling Association.” In addition, school officials said they were concerned with Keeton’s desire to use “conversion therapy” to help individuals leave the homosexual lifestyle, citing their fear that Keeton might harm students she would be working with during internships she would be required to serve as part of her degree plan. After placing her on probation, the school required Keeton to enter a remediation program, during which she was supposed to go through sensitivity training, attend “gay pride” events, and demonstrate that her attitude toward homosexuality was changing and that she could be trusted to toe the proper line on the issue.
Conservative economist Robert Higgs' warnings about the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Dependence on Government were already outdated when they were published on Thursday. The updated statistics from Heritage for 2011, published the next day, showed the situation in the United States to be even worse than Higgs warned. Higgs noted that the so-called “ruling class” (taken from Angelo Codevilla’s book of the same name) is a tiny percentage of the total population in the country, and has in the past only been able to maintain its legitimacy through vote-buying and mainstream media credibility. The fear of the ruling class has always been that dissatisfaction and distrust would result in their expulsion from the seats of power. But Higgs notes that now there are so many Americans dependent upon the government for their very subsistence that resistance to the tyranny of the ruling class is being increasingly neutralized. The more dependent the citizens become on their government, the less influence they are likely to have in any substantial downsizing of that government:
It was billed as a "Lincoln-Douglas -style" debate on foreign policy, though there was, alas, no Lincoln, no Douglas and, apparently, not much debating when Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and John Huntsman met at the Dana Center at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, Monday afternoon. Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Huntsman, the former governor of Utah and later ambassador to China, spent 90 minutes in a bloodless exchange of views that bore some resemblance to a college seminar.
For a number of Americans, the Christmas season is a time for joy and love, but for others, it’s an opportunity to stage a war against Christianity. The latest battle entails a blasphemous nativity scene from a group of atheists, which they have defended as a response to counteract the Christian “War on the Constitution.” Wisconsin is once again at the center of a major dispute, this time because Governor Scott Walker made the mistake of referring to the “holiday” spruce as a “Christmas tree.” That prompted the Freedom from Religion Foundation to call Walker “a Teabagger governor wearing religion on his sleeves.”
When Kyle Bass defended his decision on BBC Radio Hard Talk on November 17th to purchase 20 million nickels, he was just putting Gresham’s Law into operation. Bass, the founder and principal of the hedge fund Hayman Advisors, did the math and discovered that he could purchase 6.8 cents worth of copper in each nickel for just 5 cents. Nickels are 75 percent copper while pennies (minted between 1909 and 1982) are 95 percent copper and the recent spike in copper’s price simply made it too good a deal for Bass to pass up. This is Gresham’s Law in action. The standard definition is that “bad money drives out good.” Simply put, when coins of lesser value are forced to be accepted alongside coins of greater value, the more highly valued coins will be hoarded. In other words, Gresham’s Law reflects the price-fixing disruption always inherent in legal tender laws. A better definition of Gresham’s Law might be “When a government compulsorily overvalues one type of money and undervalues another, the undervalued money will leave the country or disappear from circulation into hoards, while the overvalued money will flood into circulation.” Prior to 1965 dimes and quarters were made of 90 percent silver and 10 percent nickel but with the Coinage Act of 1965 the silver content was removed and replaced with 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel. Almost immediately the high intrinsic value dimes and quarters began to be hoarded as Gresham’s Law kicked in. Today a pre-1965 silver dime is worth about $2.40 in inflated Federal Reserve Notes.
We’re told that Barack Obama chose the obscure locale of Osawatomie, Kansas, for his recent domestic policy speech because it was the site of a seminal Teddy Roosevelt speech 101 years ago. This may very well be true. Through the distinctively named city of 4,500, Obama could make a symbolic connection with the man who once offered Americans a Hamiltonian conception of state power dubbed the “New Nationalism.” Yet, unbeknownst to virtually everyone, Obama is connected to “Osawatomie” through another man.
We're being lied to about the purported Iranian nuclear threat, and the war party knows it. In ways eerily reminiscent of the 2002 buildup to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the American people are being fed a steady diet of war propaganda about Iran and its alleged quest for a nuclear weapon. As with Iraq's president, Saddam Hussein, comparisons to Hitler circa 1938 abound. Max Boot, the neoconservative columnist, is just one of many propagandists working to agitate Americans into supporting a military attack on Iran. He wrote recently, "After the failure to stop Hitler and Bin Laden, among others, Westerners were said to have suffered a 'failure of imagination.' We are suffering that same failure today as we fail to face up to the growing threat from the Islamic Republic." The message is unmistakable: Time is running out. Get Iran now before it's too late. But despite what Boot and his ilk would have us think, there is no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. The U.S. government's dozen and a half intelligence agencies have twice said so. The latest International Atomic Energy Agency report recycled some old, discredited claims and fabricated "evidence" while nevertheless certifying that Iran has diverted none of its uranium to weapons production.