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Tags: Obama | Land | Grab | Bad | Idea

Obama's Land Grab Is a 'Bad Idea'

By    |   Sunday, 29 August 2010 03:57 PM EDT

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. James Cameron Ducks Climate Change Debate
2. Rangel Hits Back at Obama
3. School Exam Lauds Islam, Trashes Christianity
4. Pakistan Is ‘Ripe’ for Another Military Coup
5. Obama’s Land Grab Is a ‘Bad Idea’
6. We Heard: Major Garrett, Tim Pawlenty

1. James Cameron Ducks Climate Change Debate

“Avatar” and “Titanic” director James Cameron challenged three noted global warming skeptics to a debate at an energy conference — then backed out of the debate at the last minute.

In March, climate change crusader Cameron said he was eager to debate the issue and show skeptics they are wrong.

“I want to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out with those boneheads,” he said in an interview.

A few weeks ago his representatives contacted three well-known skeptics — Marc Morano, executive director of the Climate Depot website; Ann McElhinney, who co-wrote and directed “Not Evil Just Wrong,” a documentary critical of global warming crusaders; and conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.

A debate was arranged to take place in Aspen, Colo., during the Aug. 19-22 American Renewable Energy Day (AREDAY) summit. The website for the gathering described the exchange as “AREDAY Climate Change Debate: Reality or Fiction?”

The plan was for Cameron and two scientists to confront the three skeptics in a 90-minute debate that would be streamed live on the Internet and perhaps attract media coverage, Climate Depot reported.

“We are delighted to have Fox News, Newsmax, The Washington Times and anyone else you’d like. The more the better,” one Cameron organizer said in an e-mail.

According to an article written by McElhinney, which appeared on the Climate Depot site, Cameron’s side wanted to change their team. Then they wanted to change the format to more of a “round table” than a debate. The skeptics agreed to both requests.

“Then they wanted to ban our cameras from the debate. We could have access to their footage,” McElhinney writes. “We agreed.

“Then finally, James Cameron decided to ban the media from the shootout. No media would be allowed and there would be no streaming on the Internet. No one would be allowed to record it in any way. We agreed to all that.

“Then, just one day before the debate, his representative sent an e-mail that Mr. ‘Shoot It Out’ Cameron no longer wanted to take part. The debate was cancelled.”

Cameron’s Aug. 21 cancellation came so late that Morano — former spokesman for Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma — was already on a plane flying from Washington, D.C., to Aspen to attend, Climate Depot disclosed.

McElhinney wrote: “I was looking forward to debating with the filmmaker. I was looking forward to finding out where we agreed and disagreed and finding a way forward.

“But that is not going to happen because somewhere along the way James Cameron, a great filmmaker, has moved from King of the World to being King of the Hypocrites.”

Chip Comins, founder and executive producer of the Aspen event, claimed that the details of the debate had never been confirmed, according to Environment & Energy News.

Comins also said: “Morano is not at James Cameron’s level to debate, and that’s why that didn’t happen. Cameron should be debating someone who is similar to his stature in our society.”

But Morano said Cameron “let his friends in the environmental community spook him out of this debate. When he was warned that he was probably going to lose and lose badly, he ran like a scared mouse.”

Footnote: On the day the debate was supposed to take place, Cameron told an audience this about global warming skeptics: “I think they’re swine.”

Editor's Note:

2. Rangel Hits Back at Obama

Rep. Charles Rangel has fired back at President Obama for saying the embattled New York City Democrat should “end his career with dignity,” declaring: “Frankly, he has not been around long enough to determine what my dignity is.”

Speaking at a candidates’ forum in Harlem on Monday night, the 20-term Democrat also said: “For the next two years, I will be more likely to protect his dignity.”

On July 29, a House ethics panel leveled 13 charges against Rangel, including hoarding below-market apartments and improper fundraising.

Obama said in an interview the next day: “He's somebody who’s at the end of his career. I'm sure that what he wants is to be able to end his career with dignity. And my hope is that it happens.”

But on Aug. 10, a defiant Rangel said on the House floor: “I am not going away. I am here . . .

“If I can’t get my dignity back here, then fire your best shot in getting rid of me through expulsion.”

And at the candidates’ forum on Monday, he told the crowd: “If it’s OK with my doctor, I am going to serve the next two years.”

Then in an interview after the forum, Rangel again referred to Obama’s comment, saying: “My dignity is 80 years old. How can somebody so much younger tell me how to leave with dignity?”

Editor's Note:

3. School Exam Lauds Islam, Trashes Christianity

New York State education officials devised a high school exam containing passages extolling positive accomplishments of Islam while casting a negative light on aspects of Christian history.

The reading selections from the state-wide Regents exam on Global History and Geography contained a passage that said wherever Muslims went in the centuries following the birth of Islam, they “brought with them their love of art, beauty and learning. From about the eighth to the eleventh century, their culture was superior in many ways to that of western Christendom.”

Another passage observed that public lamps lighted roads in Muslim-occupied Cordoba, Spain, seven centuries before there was a single public lamp in London, the New York Post reported.

But an excerpt discussing Christianity’s introduction in Latin America stated that “idols, temples, and other material evidences of paganism [were] destroyed,” and “Christian buildings [were] often constructed on sites of destroyed native temples.”

It also said that “Indians supplied construction labor without receiving payment.”

Mark MacWilliams, a religious studies professor at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., told the Post: “Why does the exam seem to have only documents that portray Islam as a religion of peace, civilization, and refinement, while it includes documents about Christianity that show it was anything but peaceful in the Spanish conquest of the Americas?”

A Brooklyn teacher who administered the exam said, “There should have been a little balance in there.” Referring to the ongoing controversy over the planned construction of a mosque near ground zero in Manhattan, he added: “To me, this was offensive because it’s just too inappropriate and the timing of it was poor.”

Editor's Note:

4. Pakistan Is ‘Ripe’ for Another Military Coup

Pakistan is fighting a bitter counter-insurgency campaign against the Taliban and its allies at the same time it deals with the ravages of recent flooding — convincing some in the nuclear-armed nation that only a military coup can restore order.

“If ever a country were ripe for a coup, it is Pakistan,” Con Coughlin writes in Britain’s Telegraph.

“The besieged government of President Asif Ali Zardari is assailed on all fronts by man-made conflict and natural disaster and there is a palpable sense in Islamabad that the return of the generals to the presidential palace would come as something of a relief.”

Before the recent floods triggered by monsoon rains, Zardari was under pressure from the United States and its allies to do more to fight the militant Islamic groups in the country’s tribal areas that pose a threat to Pakistan and other countries.

Now, following the devastating flooding that’s left millions of Pakistanis homeless, Zardari is facing severe criticism at home as opponents point to the government’s inept response to the disaster.

The insufficient response has led to instances of riots and looting of aid convoys by hunger-stricken people. Zardari was also criticized for going ahead with visits to meet leaders in Britain and France at a time when his nation was facing catastrophe.

“The misery being experienced by millions of dispossessed and impoverished citizens is inevitably going to stoke the fires of dissent,” Coughlin writes.

Altaf Hussain, exiled leader of an opposition group, has issued a call to “patriotic generals” to fulfill their duty by establishing martial law.

Since gaining independence in 1947, Pakistan has experienced more years of military dictatorship than civilian rule, most recently during Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s nine-year rule.

“However, what is different about this crisis is that, for once, the generals don’t appear at all interested in taking responsibility for a country that is teetering on the verge of collapse,” according to Coughlin.

He concludes: “Extreme measures will be required to rebuild large swathes of the country once the waters have receded — but building the effective and inclusive government that Pakistan deserves will be an ever greater challenge.”

Editor's Note:

5. Obama’s Land Grab Is a ‘Bad Idea’

The Obama administration plans to have the federal government acquire millions of acres of private land even though it can’t afford to maintain the land it already owns.

H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), points out that the federal government already owns about one-third of the land in the United States, and in some states it owns more than half. But millions of acres of government-owned land are lost to wildfires largely due to federal mismanagement.

The country’s national parks suffer from a $9 billion-plus backlog for repairs, maintenance and improvements, Burnett notes. “Our country was never meant to be a crown colony or federal estate, and in this economy, it hardly seems right to increase funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which will be used to purchase private lands,” Burnett says.

Acquiring more land is a “bad idea,” and instead federal lands could be sold to the states, nonprofit groups or private companies, which could use them to generate revenue and help reduce the deficit, the NCPA suggests.

And rather than have the Land and Water Conservation Fund spend money to buy new lands, the federal government could use the funds to improve and maintain the lands it already owns.

Said Burnett: “This would be a win-win for the public, the environment, and the federal Treasury.”

Editor's Note:

6. We Heard …

THAT Fox News correspondent Major Garrett will forgo an opportunity to take a front-row seat in the White House briefing room and instead is leaving Fox to join National Journal as a congressional correspondent.

The main reason for the move is the frenetic pace of cable news, the Washington Post reported. Garrett said, “I want to talk less and I want to think more. I always considered myself an accidental TV reporter.”

Fox White House correspondents Mike Emanuel and Wendell Goler will share the front-row briefing room seat the network was recently awarded. It was vacated by Helen Thomas, who resigned under fire for her comments about Israel.

THAT Minnesota’s Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty will go on a national tour to promote his book “Courage to Stand,” to be published on Jan. 11 — a week after he leaves the governor’s mansion.

The book “will focus on his life, his experience as a conservative governor in a liberal state, and his vision for America,” said an aide, Alex Conant.

Pawlenty has frequently been mentioned as a Republican presidential candidate in 2012.

Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Insider ReportHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. James Cameron Ducks Climate Change Debate 2. Rangel Hits Back at Obama 3. School Exam Lauds Islam, Trashes Christianity 4. Pakistan Is Ripe for Another Military Coup 5. Obama s Land Grab Is a Bad Idea 6....
Sunday, 29 August 2010 03:57 PM
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