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Weekly Update 9/7/2007

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Weekly Update

German Terror Plot Thwarted

German officials arrested three men on Wednesday in order to stop a bomb plot they called "imminent." The individuals, two German nationals who had converted to Islam and one Turkish man, had obtained 1,500 pounds of chemicals and were said to have been planning simultaneous bomb attacks on facilities frequented by Americans, including Ramstein U.S. Air Base and Frankfurt International Airport. One of the more disturbing pieces of this story is the fact that two of the men were born in Germany and had spent time training in terrorist camps in Pakistan. This represents a disturbing trend in the radicalization of western youth. This story came out a day after an announcement from authorities in Denmark who arrested eight young Muslims in order to avert a "major act of terrorism." These cases are evidence of our need for continued vigilance against radical Islamic groups that wish to bring harm against our very way of life in the West.

Petraeus Report

This coming Monday I will attend a joint committee meeting to hear directly from General David Petraeus on his assessment of the conditions on the ground in Iraq, including his review of the new military strategy that led President Bush to send additional troops as part of a "surge." The debate surrounding Iraq has been highly politically charged, and I look forward to hearing a frank assessment of the situation from the man who is best positioned give it. There is no doubt that peace and stability in Iraq must come through political reconciliation, and no matter how brave and competent our men and women on the ground are, this must be accomplished by the Iraqis themselves. I hope Iraq's political leaders can build on the momentum of their announcement last week regarding several of the most important issues necessary for political reconciliation.

Human Rights Should Take Precedent over Sport

I was disappointed this week to hear President Bush had accepted an invitation by Chinese President Hu to attend the Beijing Olympics next summer. The White House said President Bush will quietly address the issue of human rights in China, but that he accepted the invitation to attend the event as a sports fan, not because of politics. As I have said before, in a perfect world, the Olympics would be just that, a sports competition—unfortunately, in a world of oppressive regimes that brutalize their own people, the Olympic Games in China will be far more than that. By attending the Games without criticizing the Chinese on the repression of their own people and their support for the brutal regimes in Burma, North Korea, and Sudan, President Bush will be allowing the Chinese to use his presence as a public relations move.

Pinched by Taxes

Thousands of families that pay a tax once designed for the rich may soon qualify for a healthcare program designed for the poor. The Democrat majority recently passed a bill reauthorizing and greatly expanding the State Children's Health Care Insurance Program (SCHIP). Under the new plan, the state of New York plans to expand access to the SCHIP program to families with income up to four times the poverty level—$83,000 for a family of four. This misguided, socialized healthcare policy is even more obtuse because 15,000 families in New York who would qualify for the plan would simultaneously be paying increased taxes through the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The AMT was originally created to ensure the rich paid their fair share of taxes, but was not indexed to inflation, and now middle class families are increasingly falling under its requirements. Unfortunately, the Democrats are too busy handing out government subsidized healthcare to have the time to pass a legislative fix to the AMT problem.

Quote of the Week

"We must press the regime in Burma to stop arresting, harassing, and assaulting pro-democracy activists for organizing or participating in peaceful demonstrations."

- President Bush, in a speech to Asia-Pacific business executives in Sydney on the human rights abuses by the military junta ruling Burma.

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