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Presumptions

July 29, 2009

This image has been posted with express written permission. Apologies in advance to those who will be disappointed, upset or even further obsessed.

This cartoon was originally published at Town Hall.

This image has been posted with express written permission. Apologies in advance to those who will be disappointed, upset or even further obsessed.

This cartoon was originally published at Town Hall.

Haaretz:

The United Nations headquarters in New York is usually not a place in which Israel receives compliments, yet the Israeli delegation there recently garnered rave reviews for the way it responded to the explosion of a Hezbollah weapons cache in southern Lebanon.

Though unable to say so publicly, Arab representatives at the UN were impressed with the Israelis’ efficient and successful diplomatic campaign following the incident.

Instead, Arab deputies and officials criticized the Lebanese government “whose representatives failed in a frightening fashion,” in the words of one Lebanese journalist.

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In the wake of the weapons cache explosion, diplomats in New York credit the Israeli delegation with exposing Hezbollah as “the neighborhood bully.” This is a significant achievement considering that some in the UN have refrained from labeling Hezbollah as a destabilizing factor in the region.

The Israeli contingent can take solace from an article written by the Lebanese correspondent to the UN, Nazar Abud, which appeared in the al-Akhbar newspaper.

Abud mocked “the slowness of [the Lebanese government's] response to Israel’s actions, its failure to deal with Israel’s claims, and its hopelessness in the face of Israel’s activity.”

The Lebanese journalist referred to last week’s Security Council session in which the secretary general’s liaison claimed that the weapons cache which exploded belonged to Hezbollah.

“The Security Council meeting looked like a Lebanese failure,” Abud wrote. “Israel acted in full force by launching a public relations campaign. The Israeli response was viewed as a success particularly in view of the failure of Lebanon’s counter-response.”

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, sent no less than three letters to the UN chief and to the head of the Security Council. The missives included details which prove Hezbollah’s complicity in the incidents in south Lebanon.

In parallel, a number of Israeli diplomats, including Amir Weissbrod, who is the delegation’s liaison to the Security Council, acted behind the scenes. They held discussions with ambassadors and senior UN officials, divulging information on Hezbollah’s activities in south Lebanon.

“The fact that Hezbollah gave many different versions of the incidents and claimed that Israel wants to change UNIFIL’s pattern of operation proved that Israel succeeded in presenting a narrative for what happened in southern Lebanon,” Weissbrod said.

Obama’s Humility

July 29, 2009

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Justice Jackhammer

July 29, 2009

This image has been posted with express written permission. Apologies in advance to those who will be disappointed, upset or even further obsessed.

This cartoon was originally published at Town Hall.

This image has been posted with express written permission. Apologies in advance to those who will be disappointed, upset or even further obsessed.

This cartoon was originally published at Town Hall.

The Social Afairs Unit:

Theodore Dalrymple argues that the police should use their instincts – in other words their prejudices – more, not less, if they are to be more effective in fighting crime.

…The other day I happened to see a fellow-passenger reading an article in a newspaper that I had missed, about the way in which police in Britain have now started searching white people against whom they have no suspicions whatever, simply to balance the racial proportions of people searched in their efforts to prevent terrorism.

I do not know whether the story is true, but as the Americans say, “it listens”: it is perfectly plausible or even likely, because of our obsession with targets and quotas. I admit that I am highly sceptical about how much of the activity carried out in the name of anti-terrorism is genuinely and necessarily connected with that end, but racial quotas can only weaken that connection further…

The pretence that one can approach the world without prejudice is dishonest and absurd. The sleep of prejudice brings forth bureaucratic monsters. It is to go into the world without the faintest idea about where one might find the things one is looking for…

The failure to make the most obvious judgments leads to vicious absurdity. I recall the case of one young man of Indian extraction who was set upon by three young louts with a long history of violence. The young man was thoroughly respectable, as well as being self-evidently mild-mannered; but the three louts accused him of having attacked them first, an accusation so prima facie absurd that one would have thought no one could entertain it for a moment. But, in the name of equity, the police treated it as seriously as the young man’s accusation against them, which was far from absurd. They charged him as well as the three louts; and offered to drop the charges only if he dropped the charges against the three louts.

That is justice in a society that claims to be without prejudice.

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Whaddya Have?

July 29, 2009

ViaTribLive

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Condo Vultures:

A South Florida private equity group purchased 51 new, oceanfront condo-hotel units in the luxury One Bal Harbour complex at $63 per square foot, a discount of 94 percent off of the $1,100 per square foot average recorded sales price, according to a new report from Condo Vultures® LLC.

Elcom Condominium LLC with Jorge E. Arevalo and Thomas D. Sullivan in South Miami paid $2.6 million for 41,047 square feet of saleable space in the 124-unit Regent Hotel tower located on the west side of the 26-story, trophy complex in exclusive Bal Harbour.

Bankrupt residential development company WCI Communities, Inc., based in Bonita Springs, Fla., was the seller of the condo-hotel with 106,051 saleable square feet. WCI’s chief restructuring officer Jonathan Pertchik signed the deed.

“Nearly 60 percent of the One Bal Harbour condo-hotel project closed at an average price of $1 million per unit before Elcom Condominium stole the remaining 40 percent of this high-end project for $51,000 per unit,” said Peter Zalewski, a principal with the Bal Harbour, Fla.-based real estate consultancy Condo Vultures®. “Condo-hotels are not for everyone but at $63 per square foot one has to think there are buyers for this quality of product at that price.”

This is the eighth bulk deal – and second in Bal Harbour – of new or significantly improved residential product to close since July 2008, according to the Condo Vultures® Bulk Deals Database. Four deals have closed in Greater Downtown Miami and an additional two transactions have closed in West Palm Beach.

In a separate transaction, Elcom Hotel & Spa LLC with Arevalo and Sullivan purchased the 67,031 square feet of hotel common areas and land for $12 million, or $179 per square foot, according to Miami-Dade County records.

The combined square footage of both transactions is 108,078 at an acquisition price of $14.6 million, or about $135 per square foot.

Industry watchers estimate the cost to construct a new tower in South Florida is about $250 per square foot plus land costs.

WCI purchased the five-acre waterfront property on which the One Bal Harbour stands for $50.4 million, $231 per square foot, in January 2004.

After demolishing the old rental tower that stood on the trophy site, WCI obtained a $174 million construction loan from the former Wachovia Bank to build a 185-unit condo and 124-unit condo-hotel complex overlooking the inlet connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway.

The last bulk deal to occur in Bal Harbour closed on Dec. 31, 2008, when a South Florida private equity fund paid $277 per square foot for 101 units in the neighboring Harbour House oceanfront condominium conversion completed by the Related Group.

A Florida entity called HH Condominium Investments LLC with Thomas F. Daly as president paid $27 million for an average of $268,000 per unit in the 16-story tower, according to a CondoVultures.com article.

Another Moment

July 28, 2009

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This cartoon was originally published at Town Hall.

This image has been posted with express written permission. Apologies in advance to those who will be disappointed, upset or even further obsessed.

This cartoon was originally published at Town Hall.

Forbes/Oxford Analytica:

Although most recognize tobacco as a health risk, many underestimate the extent to which alcohol also threatens public health. Alcohol plays a large role in mortality and the global burden of disease; a new academic study finds that nearly 4% of all deaths and 5% of the global burden of disease and injury in 2004 were attributable to alcohol. Moreover, these effects are regressive, as the alcohol burden is greater for poorer individuals and countries than their wealthier counterparts–although this is tempered somewhat by higher abstention rates in low-income countries and among Muslim populations.

Russian woes. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Russia ranked in the top 20 countries in terms of per capita alcohol consumption in 200–and had the third-highest per capita consumption of spirits, after Moldova and Reunion. If unrecorded alcohol–that produced for home consumption or illegal trade on the black market–is included, Russia comes second.

The problems associated with alcohol consumption are particularly conspicuous in Russia, where it is estimated that the percentage of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost due to alcohol is 28% for men and 11% for women–much higher than in other large countries such as the United States, Brazil, Germany or China.

Read it all.

City Journal:

“A teachable moment.” Have you noticed how the phrase, so redolent of reasonable and sober reflection, gets hauled out by the mainstream media every time liberals get into a serious fix involving race? So it’s no surprise that the Henry Louis Gates affair, like last year’s revelation that Barack Obama’s spiritual mentor spouts the vilest kind of hateful tripe, has been cast as “a teachable moment.” What are we meant to be taught? Well, what else? That for all of the progress we seem to have made on race, black people understand, in ways whites can never fathom, that racism is alive and well in America.

With each such incident, however, fewer and fewer of us are playing along. This time, more than ever, we’re learning other lessons. One of them: for all the talk from his starry-eyed acolytes, in the media and elsewhere, about Obama’s being “post-racial,” the president clings to the discredited and deeply damaging view of America as fundamentally racist, seeing his fellow blacks as perpetual victims justifiably suspicious of cops and other establishment authority figures. So when it comes to race, it’s facts be damned. Indeed, while Obama is so famously cautious and deliberative it took him months to decide on the family dog, his now-infamous off-the-cuff comment on the stupidity of the Cambridge police made it clear that on this issue, the former community organizer wholeheartedly embraces the black victim/racist cop trope.

We’re also learning that race hustlers come in all kinds of packages. Henry Louis Gates, notwithstanding his success and prestige, is every bit as ready as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to wield the race card, and even less apt to take responsibility for his own mistakes and shortcomings. Lest we forget, the supposed Bull Connor he reflexively pegged as a racist operates in the politically correct wonderland of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Gates and his fans would tell you that the incident just proves that racism can rear its ugly head anywhere. By contrast, any rational soul would tell you that instantly jumping to such a conclusion is prima facie evidence of a distorted worldview.

Read it all.

Time To Unload

July 28, 2009

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The Pickpocket

July 28, 2009

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The Daily Beast:

“I might have thought about Mengele for 10 minutes,” said Meir Amit, the celebrated chief of Israel’s Mossad from 1963 to 1968.

Amit, who died in Israel a week ago at 88, had made the admission to me in a 1985 telephone conversation, when I was researching a biography on the Angel of Death, Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele.

That a former Mossad chief was so blunt in having little interest in capturing a war criminal charged with personally selecting 400,000 victims to go to their deaths in Auschwitz’s gas chambers, and for brutal medical experiments he did on twins there, was initially startling. But the more we talked, the easier it was to understand why Amit did not mind being known as the Israeli spy chief who let Mengele get away.

The Mossad’s greatest success in hunting Nazis was the May 11, 1960 capture of Adolf Eichmann, the emotionless bureaucrat responsible for deporting millions of Jews to the concentration camps.

The daring raid in Buenos Aires, conducted by a small team of Mossad agents in an unfriendly, then pro-Nazi country, sent shock waves through the surviving cabal of Nazi fugitives. Mengele, remarkably living under his real name in Argentina, fled to Paraguay and then a year later to the Brazilian outlands.

Read it all.

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