Obama’s Africa trip will cost taxpayers $100 mln

  Published time: June 24, 2013 18:53                                                                            

U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.(Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.(Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

President Barack Obama’s trip to Africa is estimated to cost American taxpayers $100 million – a hefty travel expense that has sparked criticism as the federal government is dealing with its sequester-related budget cuts.

The president is traveling to sub-Sahara Africa with his family  from June 26 to July 3. The Obamas will be  accompanied by hundreds of Secret Service agents and staff, which  stack up transportation and accommodation costs. Military cargo  planes will bring 56 vehicles including 14 limousines and three  trucks loaded with bulletproof glass to cover the windows of the  hotels where the Obamas will stay. Fighter jets will fly in the  air space above the first family to provide round the clock  protection.

“For the cost of this trip to Africa, you could have 1,350  weeks of White House tours,” Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.)  said on the House floor last week. “It is no secret that we  need to rein in government spending, and the Obama administration  has regularly and repeatedly shown a lack of judgment for when  and where to make cuts… The American people have had enough of  the frivolous and careless spending.”

Holding reminded lawmakers of the $16 trillion debt the US  carries on its shoulders, and scrutinized the administration work  spending an estimated $100 million on a weeklong visit. Holding  said that while it is important to have security for the first  family, the costs for this particular trip are “excessive”.

“The numbers don’t lie: either the administration is bad at  math, or they simply don’t see a problem with their excessive  spending,” he added.

And while $100 million is a hefty price for a week of travel, the  Obamas initially planned to spend even more: the first family had  plans to go on a safari tour that would have included the expense  of a sharp-shooting team to protect them against wild animals.  But the Obamas cancelled the Tanzania safari to avoid bringing  the counterassault teams.

Although many presidents come under scrutiny for their travel  expenses, Obama’s Africa trip has been heavily criticized because  he is incurring the costs at a time when the national debt is at  its highest, government budget cuts have led to nationwide  furloughs, and Americans continue to struggle in today’s economy.  The president has already been criticized for his lavish beach  vacations in Hawaii, which have racked up significant  transportation costs due to the island’s flying distance from  Washington.

President Bill Clinton was also criticized for the expenses of  his 1998 Africa trip, but the costs only racked up to $42.7  million at the time.

But the White House alleges that Obama’s trip is a good deal,  since he is providing invaluable attention to a region that is  too often ignored.

“Frankly, there will be a great bang for our buck for being in  Africa, because when you travel to regions like Africa that don’t  get a lot of presidential attention, you can have very  long-standing and long-running impact from the visit,” deputy  national security adviser Ben Rhodes told The Hill.

The president and his family will travel to South Africa, Senegal  and Tanzania, which will mark Obama’s first official trip in  which he solely visits Africa.

 

http://rt.com/usa/obama-africa-trip-cost-176/

John Brennan as Counterterror Czar Gave Bogus Intel to Bush White House

EEV: Reposted as per request from 01 OCT 2012

Obama’s Counterterror Czar Gave Bogus Intel to Bush White House

As head of the multi-agency Terrorist Threat Integration Center in 2003 and 2004, John Brennan, now counterterrorism adviser to President Obama, disseminated to the Bush White House a stream of CIA intelligence from a bogus source, former CIA officials say. Brennan is seen above in August.

As head of the multi-agency Terrorist Threat Integration Center in 2003 and 2004, John Brennan, now counterterrorism adviser to President Obama, disseminated to the Bush White House a stream of CIA intelligence from a bogus source, former CIA officials say. Brennan is seen above in August.   (Saul Loeb / AFP
Oct. 1, 2012 – 07:59AM   |

By ARAM ROSTON

President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, is the White House point man for the war on al-Qaida and its affiliates. He’s the key official coordinating the administration’s “targeted killing” of suspected terrorists with air strikes launched from drones flying over Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. But Brennan is carrying around some unpleasant baggage that has remained a secret.

As head of the multi-agency Terrorist Threat Integration Center in 2003 and 2004, Brennan disseminated to the Bush White House a stream of CIA intelligence from a bogus source, former CIA officials say. Ridiculed by some with the CIA, the bogus intelligence nevertheless led to disruption in the U.S. and abroad, including an orange terror alert and the cancellation of dozens of international flights.

An Obama administration official does not dispute that Brennan distributed the intelligence during the Bush era but said Brennan passed it along because that was his job.

Brennan’s role has never been previously disclosed, though it has previously been reported that the bogus CIA intelligence was generated by a computer software contractor based in Nevada. The contracting company claimed to intercept al-Qaida targeting information encrypted in the broadcasts of TV news network Al Jazeera. In reality, experts later said, the broadcasts contained no such information.

At the CIA, the information was controversial from the beginning, and many agency officials said at the time that it should not have been distributed. Jose Rodriguez, who was directing the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, said the CTC viewed the intelligence as “crazy.”

“We were very skeptical,” Rodriguez recalled.

Other former CIA officials said the information was confirmed as fake within months. It eventually became the intelligence community’s version of a scandal: unknown to outsiders, but an embarrassment at the CIA.

Yet the Bush administration used the intelligence to justify the December 2003 orange alert and the cancellation of dozens of international flights. Rodriguez and another former CIA official said that the reason the intelligence had impact was that Brennan pushed it all the way to the White House.

“It was briefed by John. He was the guy who was bringing it there,” said Rodriguez, who added that he believes Brennan was trying to build up his own profile. “My own view is he saw this, he took this, as a way to have relevance, to take something important to the White House.”

Rodriguez is a controversial figure in his own right. After he became the director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, he drew criticism for destroying tapes of a CIA interrogation site. This year, he published a book called “Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives,” which defends the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program and criticizes the Obama administration for killing but rarely capturing terrorists.

He did not mention Brennan or the bogus intelligence in that book. But he says the incident was a major problem.

“Brennan was a major factor in keeping it alive,” he says. “We thought it was ridiculous.”

Another former CIA official, who asked that his name not be revealed, agreed that without Brennan, the intelligence wouldn’t have had wide distribution.

“It was Brennan who decided to take this to the White House,” he said. “We heard that Brennan took it upon himself to bring it to the White House.”

Another former intelligence official also confirmed that Brennan pushed the information to the White House, even as intelligence officials back at the agency were convinced the information was a fraud.

Brennan declined a request for an interview for this story, but Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for Obama’s National Security Council, conceded that Brennan had passed on the information, since he was the head of the TTIC, but Vietor said Brennan was not central to the incident.

“Your story is completely wrong,” he said.

Vietor said Brennan didn’t believe the information himself but had simply passed on information that the CIA had developed.

“It is absolutely wrong to say Mr. Brennan believed in the veracity of the information,” he said.

A senior intelligence official who was involved in the issue pointed out that tensions were high in the wake of 9/11.

“It is really important to remember the context of this event,” the official said. “The trauma of 9/11 was very fresh, and the potential threat information surfaced during one of the busiest travel times of the year. Treating the information as potentially credible before determining otherwise was absolutely the only responsible approach.”

The Terrorist Threat Integration Center was renamed the National Counter Terrorism Center in 2004. Brennan left government in 2005 and led a contracting firm that specialized in threat analysis until he became a key counterterrorism adviser to Obama.

Brennan now is a powerful figure in Obama’s counterterrorism efforts and has received glowing reviews from his colleagues. One, quoted in the New York Times, said Brennan was like “a priest with extremely strong moral values who was suddenly charged with leading a war.”

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20121001/C4ISR01/310010001/Obama-8217-s-Counterterror-Czar-Gave-Bogus-Intel-Bush-White-House?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

US calls on UN to bar drunken diplomats from budget negotiations

05   Mar    2013
UNITED NATIONS (AFP)

The United States called for drunk diplomats to be barred from United Nations’ budget negotiations.

Annual talks on how much the global body spends have become increasingly tense as western nations call for spending cuts.

“We make the modest proposal that the negotiating rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone,” Joseph Torsella, deputy US ambassador for management and reform, told the UN General Assembly’s budget committee.

The assembly’s budget body, the Fifth Committee, holds marathon negotiations in December each year on spending and national contributions.

These often last all night for several days in a row so that a vote can be held before the end of year holidays.

The United States is not calling for a ban on alcohol just on drunks, US officials said.

Some envoys have turned up for talks “falling down drunk,” said one diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. “On one occasion the note-taker who was meant to be recording the talks was so intoxicated he had to be replaced,” said another. Both spoke on condition of anonymity.

But the comments have caused some controversy. “It is absolutely not the case that everyone at the talks is drunk. All the people doing the negotiating are sober,” said a third diplomat.

“While my government is truly grateful for the strategic opportunities presented by some recent past practices, let’s save the champagne for toasting the successful end of the session, and do some credit to the Fifth Committee’s reputation in the process,” Torsella told the meeting.

More long nights are expected at the current night of talks and many delegations are anxious to get them finished before the Easter holidays start.

Torsella soberly called on his colleagues for more discipline and an end to attempts to block accords by failing to turn up for negotiations.

He warned that if “negotiators do not arrive on time for meetings scheduled on nights and weekends, or simply refuse to meet on a specific item in order to run down the clock, we must conclude that they do not share a commitment to negotiating in good faith, and we will respond accordingly.”

http://www.afp.com/en/news/topstories/us-calls-un-bar-drunken-diplomats

 

U.S. Hangs Citizen Out to Dry in a Cuban Prison

By IULIA FILIP

WASHINGTON (CN) – The United States and its contractor left a U.S. citizen to rot in a Cuban prison, failing to warn him that his U.S.-sponsored mission to distribute Internet equipment in Cuba is illegal, Alan Gross and his wife claim in court.

Alan Gross and his wife Judith sued Development Alternatives Inc. and the United States, in Federal Court.

Gross, now 63, was arrested in 2009 on a trip to Cuba, while working as a subcontractor for Maryland-based Development Alternatives (DAI) on a government project.

Gross’s mission in Cuba was to increase access to the Internet and wireless technologies, particularly for Cuba’s small Jewish community, according to the complaint.

“Plaintiff Alan Gross, a United States citizen who was born and raised in this country, has been imprisoned in Cuba since Dec. 3, 2009,” the complaint states. “Mr. Gross is imprisoned in Cuba due to his work on a project that defendant United States negligently directed, organized, and oversaw, and that defendant DAI, the government contractor chosen for the project, conducted not only negligently, but also with gross negligence and a willful disregard for Mr. Gross’ rights and safety. The project, which was intended to increase the availability of Internet access in Cuba, required that Mr. Gross make several trips there, the fifth of which resulted in his wrongful arrest and detention. Unless Mr. Gross’ wife, plaintiff Judith Gross, succeeds in her efforts to secure his earlier release, Mr. Gross likely will remain imprisoned in Cuba for another 12 years, the remainder of the 15-year sentence that the Cuban government imposed on him.”

The couple claims that Gross’s arrest and imprisonment could have been avoided had Uncle Sam and the contractor properly trained him and taken steps to protect him.

“Worse, defendant DAI, with negligence, gross negligence and willful disregard for plaintiffs’ rights, failed to take these basic remedial steps because doing so would have delayed or prevented DAI’s complete performance under part of a lucrative contract with defendant United States, thereby depriving defendant DAI of significant revenue,” the complaint states. “Indeed, upon information and belief, defendant DAI’s business model depends upon obtaining and performing contracts with defendant United States.

“Defendant DAI engaged in this behavior – putting profits before safety – despite having, along with defendant United States, superior knowledge regarding the risks posed to Mr. Gross, and despite being the entity that primarily interacted with Mr. Gross on the project. Indeed, on several occasions during the project, Mr. Gross expressed concerns about the operation. DAI did nothing in response, choosing, instead, simply to forward those concerns to defendant United States, while DAI continued to make money. Rather than protecting Mr. Gross, DAI responded to Mr. Gross by pressuring him to finish the project or to find someone else who would.

“Moreover, in failing to fulfill its own duties to Mr. Gross, defendant United States, and specifically its U.S. Agency for International Development (‘USAID’), failed to follow mandatory, internal directives that governed the referenced project. These directives, among other things, govern both the planning of USAID projects and foreign travel in connection with such projects, particularly to hostile countries like Cuba. Upon information and belief, these directives include instructions about the warnings, education, training and protection that are to be provided to personnel, who travel to high-risk places like Cuba in connection with USAID projects. Yet, when USAID learned of Mr. Gross’ concerns from DAI as noted above, USAID also did nothing.

“Since Mr. Gross’ wrongful arrest and detention in Cuba, Mr. and Mrs. Gross have suffered immensely. Mr. Gross resides in a 10-by-12 foot room with two other inmates, he has lost over 100 pounds, and he is battling chronic arthritis pain and what appears to be a cancerous tumor beneath his shoulder blade. His business and career have been destroyed, and his family has been deprived of their primary wage earner. Mrs. Gross has lost her husband, and she consequently, along with her husband, has suffered a loss of consortium. While Mr. Gross remains confined in Cuba, his oldest daughter has been battling breast cancer and his mother has been suffering from terminal lung cancer. At this time, there are no indications that Mr. Gross will return to his family within the next decade. Plaintiffs’ suffering and loss continues unabated.”

In February 2009, Gross became DAI’s subcontractor on one of its projects with the U.S. Agency for International Development, which sought to help Cubans make the transition to a democratic society. The project was designed to provide humanitarian support to certain segments of the Cuban population and increase Internet access and availability of new media in Cuba, according to the complaint.

The couple claims Gross had previously worked on other projects with DAI, a private consulting firm and government contractor.

DAI specializes in international development and derives most of its revenue from government contracts, according to the complaint.

The couple says the Cuban project required Gross to travel to Cuba several times to train the Jewish community on how to use and maintain mobile phones, computers and wireless technologies.

They say the government and contractor did not provide Gross with information on the specific risks involved in such projects, most of which was confidential and not available to the public.

The Grosses claim the government and DAI also ignored Gross’s concerns about the project, which he expressed in four memoranda after he returned from his trips to Cuba.

One of the memoranda stated that a committee leader in Cuba had warned Gross that they were “playing with fire” by agreeing to participate in the project.

The complaint adds: “Mr. Gross returned from his third trip on June 18, 2009, and submitted a third memorandum to DAI, which once again outlined the risks that the project posed: ‘This is very risky business in no uncertain terms. Provincial authorities are apparently very strict when it comes to unauthorized use of radio frequencies … Detection usually means confiscation of equipment and arrest of users.'” (Ellipses in complaint).

But, the couple claims, the government ignored Gross’ warnings and chose to use him “as a pawn in its overall Cuban policy efforts,” while DAI continued to benefit financially from the project.

DAI, which risked losing millions of dollars from government projects, pressured Gross to return to Cuba and finish the project, according to the complaint.

“On Nov. 23, 2009, Mr. Gross departed for his fifth trip to Cuba,” the complaint states. “On the evening before he was to return to the United States, Dec. 3, 2009, Mr. Gross was arrested by Cuban authorities due entirely to the work he was performing for DAI and USAID.

“Mr. Gross was imprisoned, but he was not formally charged with a crime until February 2011, when he was charged with ‘Acts against the Independence of Territorial Integrity of the State.’

“Initially, Mr. Gross was held in one of Cuba’s most well-known prisons reserved for political prisoners. During that time, Mr. Gross was subject to extensive interrogation, sleep deprivation, and other psychological abuse.

“After a summary trial, on March 11, 2011, Mr. Gross was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. The Cuban court determined that Mr. Gross participated in ‘a subversive project of the U.S. government that aimed to destroy the Revolution through the use of communications systems out of the control of [Cuban] authorities.'”

The Cuban Supreme Court denied Gross’s appeal in August 2011, according to the complaint.

The Associated Press reported that diplomatic efforts to win Gross’s release have failed.

The couple claims that after Gross’ arrest, the United States implemented new measures to protect contractors involved in projects overseas.

They claim that the Gross family has suffered emotional distress, loss of income, and incurred medical expenses and legal fees, which continue to increase.

And they say the government improperly denied their administrative claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

The Grosses seek compensatory and punitive damages for negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and loss of consortium.

They are represented by Ivan Snyder with Gilbert LLP. 

http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/11/20/52419.htm

Petraeus and Allen ‘asked’ Jill Kelley to wade into diplomatic row over Hulk Hogan sex tape husband’s threat to deep fry a Koran

By James Nye

PUBLISHED:02:18 EST, 17  November 2012| UPDATED:09:13 EST, 17 November 2012

As far as degrees of separation go, it is  safe to assume that David Petraeus, the disgraced former director of the CIA  never in his life thought he would be connected with shock jock Bubba the Love  Sponge.

However, just like many other four-star  generals and national intelligence chiefs, Bubba had dealings with Tampa  socialite and some-time honorary consul for South Korea, Jill  Kelley.

Adding a tawdry new level to the Petraeus  scandal, it has emerged that 37-year-old Kelley and Bubba crossed paths when she  involved herself in a spat over the radio host’s claims that he was going to  deep fat fry a Koran earlier this year.

 

Jill Kelley tried to involve herself in a potentially serious situation that occurred when Bubba the Love Sponge (right) threatened to deep fat fry a KoranJill Kelley tried to involve herself in a potentially serious situation that occurred when Bubba the Love Sponge (right) threatened to deep fat fry a Koran

Jill Kelley tried to involve herself in a potentially  serious situation that occurred when Bubba the Love Sponge (right) threatened to  deep fat fry a Koran

Bubba, whose real name is Todd Alan Clem has  recently been in the news for settling a lawsuit with Hulk Hogan after he  allegedly filmed the legendary wrestler and his then wife Heather having sex and  released it online.

When the Florida shock jock threatened to  deep fat fry a Koran, General John Allen , the commander of the U.S. and NATO  troops in Afghanistan and CIA Director David Petraeus both spoke to social  climbing Kelley asking to help them with a potential threat to the safety of  serving American troops.

Emails released today sent between Tampa  Mayor Bob Buckhorn and 37-year-old Kelley reveal that she was indeed acting at  the behest of high-level U.S. government officials and implored the mayor to  act.

‘I have Petraeus & Allen both emailing me  about getting this dealt with,’ Kelley wrote to Buckhorn on March  7th.

Bubba the Love Spone and his then wife Heather who allegedly appears in recent a sex tape with Hulk Hogan appear at Homestead Miami Speedway on June 11, 2010 in Homestead, Florida

Bubba the Love Spone and his then wife Heather who  allegedly appears in recent a sex tape with Hulk Hogan appear at Homestead Miami  Speedway on June 11, 2010 in Homestead, Florida

The previous day, Kelley told Buckhorn of  similar requests she had received from General Allen and Vice Admiral Robert  Harward, deputy commander of the U.S. Central Command in Tampa.

‘I just got off the phone with Gen. Allen & Adm Harward,’ she wrote. ‘I’m going to need your assistance, vice versa  with the potential crises we’ll be dealing with.’

When Buckhorn responded to say it was being  dealt with, she said ‘they asked me to get involved, like I did when it happened  with the Pastor last year’.

The emails offer proof that Kelley may not  have been boasting of her contacts with high level military figures and indeed  show that she was in regular communication with General John Allen and David  Petraeus.

This episode with Bubba the Love Sponge came  right before she complained to a FBI agent about threatening emails she was  receiving from Paula Broadwell who began an inquiry that uncovered her affair  with the retired four-star general.

Sex Scandal: Terry Bollea aka Hulk Hogan attends a press conference to discuss legal action regarding a sex tape featuring him being brought on his behalf October 15, 2012 in Tampa, FloridaSex Scandal: Terry Bollea aka Hulk Hogan attends a press  conference to discuss legal action regarding a sex tape featuring him being  brought on his behalf October 15, 2012 in Tampa, Florida

In addition the resignation of the CIA  Director triggered a separate investigation that found ‘potentially  inappropriate’ email correspondence between General Allen and  Kelley.

At the time of Kelley’s emails about Bubba  military officials genuinely concerned that a Koran being deep fat fried would  have disastrous consequences for U.S. troops serving in Muslim  countries.

‘It was absolutely a concern,’ said Lt. Col.  T.G. Taylor, CentCom spokesman to NBC  News.

Revealing that he called Bubba himself,  Taylor said he told him, ‘Look Bubba, somebody’s going to get hurt if you do  this.’ He was ‘completely reasonable and said he understood,’ Taylor  added.

The disc jockey told the Tampa Bay Times that  he abandoned his plans to deep fat fry because a local law enforcement officer  told him of the dangers to U.S. troops.

A van, sponsored by shock-jock Bubba The Love Sponge, blares loud music while driving around the home of Jill Kelley, a friend of former CIA director David Petraeus' family, in Tampa, Florida todayA van, sponsored by shock-jock Bubba The Love Sponge,  blares loud music while driving around the home of Jill Kelley, a friend of  former CIA director David Petraeus’ family, in Tampa, Florida today
Jill Kelley sent pleading emails to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (right) asking for him to have the press who had gathered on her doorstep removedJill Kelley sent pleading emails to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (right) asking for him to have the press who had gathered on her doorstep removed

The potential intervention of Jill Kelley (left) to help  stop Bubba the Love Sponge from deep fat frying a Koran was uncovered when Tampa  Mayor Bob Buckhorn (right) released their email exchanges on  Friday

Social Climber: General David Petraeus, Jill Kelley and Holly Petraeus (l.- r.) attending event in which Petraeus was presented with community service award at the home of Jill and Scott Kelley during the summer of 2011Social Climber: General David Petraeus, Jill Kelley and  Holly Petraeus (l.- r.) attending event in which Petraeus was presented with  community service award at the home of Jill and Scott Kelley during the summer  of 2011

Reveling in his new found connection to the  highest echelons of U.S. military power, Bubba ordered one of his radio shows  trucks to circle Kelley’s Tampa home today playing a parody to the tun of  Falco’s Rock me Amadeus about Petraeus.

At the end of October, former pro wrestler  Hulk Hogan settled a lawsuit with Bubba over a sex tape involving Hogan and the  DJ’s wife.

After the agreement between the former best  friends, Hogan’s publicist said the terms of the settlement were  confidential.

Hogan said in the lawsuit filed in October  that he had consensual sex with his best friend’s wife, Heather Clem, six years  ago in the Clems’ home, but he didn’t know he was being  videotaped.

The disc jockey, Bubba the Love Sponge,  apologised to Hogan and said that he’s convinced Hogan was unaware he was being  filmed.

A lawsuit is still pending against the gossip  website Gawker, which put excerpts of the video on its site.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2234324/Patraeus-scandal-How-Tampa-social-climber-Jill-Kelley-waded-diplomatic-row.html#ixzz2CVN8aVfq Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Professor defends Stalin, socialism at student-organized debate

2:18 AM  11/14/2012
Zachary Snider

At an on-campus debate hosted by the libertarian Young Americans for Liberty,  professor Grover Furr of Montclair State University (MSU) declared that he has  not found a single crime committed by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

One member of the audience questioned the legitimacy of Furr’s position in  light of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 apology for the mass  murders that took place under Stalin’s leadership.

“It’s bullshit,” said Furr, who authored Khrushchev Lied, in which he writes  that none of Khrushchev’s charges against Stalin were true. “I have spent  many years researching this and similar questions and I have yet to find one  crime… that Stalin committed.”

Furr’s emphatic statement was received with gasps from the crowd, which was  gathered to witness a debate between Furr, Dr. David Tubbs and Dr. Yuri Maltsev — a liberal, conservative and libertarian, respectively.

Todd Seavey, host of New York’s Dionysium variety and philosophy events,  moderated the debate. Seavey previewed the event with a link from his  Twitter feed, in which he disclosed that Furr had denounced one of Seavey’s own  college acquaintances, Tim Snyder, because the two have written on opposing  sides of the Stalin issue.

Furr specializes in medieval English literature at MSU, the second-largest  university in New Jersey, and has written extensively on Stalin’s regime and  what he says is the distorted view most of the world has about Stalin’s true  ambitions for his country.

Furr gave an interview on the subject in which he  alleged that a right-wing conspiracy against Stalin, organized by Nikolai  Yezhov, the leader of the Soviet Union’s secret police, led to the mass genocide  that was carried out during Stalin’s regime as a means to remove him from his  position. He also says that many Soviets have a favorable view of Stalin.

Furr, a graduate of McGill University in Montreal, told the audience that  while both American and Canadian history is falsified, Soviet history is  falsified the most.

“This is the big lie: that the Communists – that Stalin — killed millions of  people, and that socialism is no good,” Furr said.

Furr went on to say that the U.S. has the lowest standard of living of any of  the industrialized countries, and that it should have socialist healthcare — a  statement that was received with a medley of applause, laughter and booing.

Seavey asked Dr. Maltsev, an ex-Soviet, to weigh in on subject.

Maltsev quoted Stalin, who he sarcastically called a “great humanist.”

“Stalin used to say, ‘Death of one person is a tragedy; death of a million,  just statistic.’”

Young Americans for Liberty Executive Director Jeff Frazee issued a  statement on Furr’s remarks, saying, “The suggestion that Joseph Stalin, one of  the most brutal mass murderers in history, didn’t commit any crimes is  outrageous. This is what is being taught at a public university with taxpayer  money.”

Furr has yet to respond to requests for a statement about his comments or the  reaction to them.

A statement obtained by The Daily Caller from MSU defended the First  Amendment rights of the individual:

Montclair State University is an open university in what is  fortunately a free society. As a consequence, we would never seek to censor or  interfere with such an event, no matter how absurd anyone might find some of the  views expressed. Free speech is the cornerstone of our democracy, and it is  a principle that is easy to defend when we are in agreement with, or at least  not offended by, the views being expressed. We are only really tested in our  adherence to the principle when the views being expressed are abhorrent to  us.

Read more:  http://dailycaller.com/2012/11/14/professor-defends-stalin-socialism-at-student-organized-debate/#ixzz2CPVFrIBz

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ‘threatened to punch’ local reporter

By Eric W. Dolan Tuesday, November 13, 2012 18:53 EST

[Image via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District, Creative Commons licensed]

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar allegedly threatened to punch a reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette on Election Day, one witness said.

Reporter Dave Philipps had attempted to ask Salazar about wild horses purchased from the Bureau of Land Management amid a gathering of Obama supporters in Fountain, Colorado. A man in southern Colorado is currently under investigation for allegedly buying more than 1,700 wild horses from government holding facilities and sending them to Mexican slaughterhouses. Philipps reported on the story in September.

After Salazar commented on the safety of wild horses, he unexpectedly approached Phillips and told him, “If you set me up like this again, I’ll punch you out,” according to Ginger Kathrens of the the Cloud Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to protecting wild horses and issued a statement regarding the incident on Tuesday.

“These threats would have been inappropriate coming from anyone, but the fact that it came out of the mouth of the Secretary of the Interior is alarming,” Kathrens said. “I can’t believe that a top official in Obama’s cabinet could be so defensive.”

The Cloud Foundation has been critical of Salazar for rounding up wild horses instead of letting them roam free. Salazar said rounding up the wild horses was necessary to prevent them from overpopulating and harming the ecosystem.

An Interior spokesman told Politico that Salazar regrets the exchange.

[Image via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District, Creative Commons licensed]

Raw Story (http://s.tt/1tjOk)

Kosovo Prime Minister owns Harem with 52 slaves

*Engineering Evil: Wow, I would really like double confirmation on this.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A Ukraining woman who managed to escape from what she called “World’s hell hole” gave an interview with details about Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hasim Thaci and his harem in which 52 slaves ‘worked’ day and night serving the prime minister as well as other politicians and businessmen.

The location of the harem was on an intersection of streets Shaip Spahija and Bedri Shala, in the basement of a large building specially designed to server as a ‘harem’.

“None of the girls were from Kosovo, there were few from the Balkans, about ten from Russia, one from Cameroon, two Chinese women etc” stated the Ukrainian.

According to her, the building has several VIP areas where Thaci and his friends have orgys.

“Most of the people who arrive here are older, very few are younger. Many of them are foreign diplomats, including officers from EULEX and KFOR. The girls are not allowed to say “No”. One of the girls called Dolores from Colombia protested the conditions during our lunch time in the cafeteria. She was shot dead by Thaci’s bodyguards” says the Ukrainian witness, who went by her initials N.M.

N.M. stated she was ‘involved’ with Thaci only once when he came to the harem heavily intoxicated and drugged.

The Ukrainian gave an interview for multiple Balkan newspapers. She claimed it is virtually impossible to escape Thaci’s harem as there are always at least five armed bodyguards securing the area. Out of the five, there is always one from Chechnya. It was the man from Chechnya who eventually agreed to help her escape, after she bribed him with money as well as sexual favors.

http://macedoniaonline.eu/content/view/22202/50/

Chilling freedom of speech, one poppy picture arrest at a time

In the latest of a series of frankly bizarre and unwarranted arrests, Kent Police yesterday took a 19 year old into custody. His crime?

“This follows a posting on a social network site of a burning poppy,”said the police statement. At the time of writing the person was still being detained and has not yet been interviewed.

He was arrested under the Malicious Communications Act 1988. Section 1, “deals with the sending to another of any article which is indecent or grossly offensive, or which conveys a threat, or which is false, provided there is an intent to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient”.

Kent Police need to urgently release this man and drop an utterly ridiculous investigation into something that has harmed no-one.

It is not illegal – and nor should it ever be – to offend people and, however idiotic or insensitive the picture may have been.

The incident is certainly not worthy of arrest and highlights the urgent need to reform a law that poses a serious risk to freedom of speech after several ludicrous prosecutions in recent months.

http://www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/home/2012/11/chilling-freedom-of-speech-one-poppy-picture-arrest-at-a-time.html

Billionaire banned from Nobu after ‘threatening to kill manager because he was denied his favorite table’

  • Stewart  Rahr was upset because another group was seated at ‘his’  table
  • Sent an  angry email to the owner of the restaurant and cc’ed  celebrities
  • He admits  to the argument but denies having threatened the  manager

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:11:01 EST, 11  November 2012| UPDATED:11:34 EST, 11 November 2012

Upset: Stewart Rahr took issue with how he was treated at Nobu57 in Manhattan
Upset: Stewart Rahr took issue with how he was treated  at Nobu57 in Manhattan

One of the world’s richest men has allegedly  been banned from top New York restaurant Nobu after the staff said that he  threatened to kill the manager when he didn’t get his favorite table.

Stewart Rahr, a pharmaceutical billionaire  who boasts of his celebrity friends and his lavish lifestyle, reportedly sent a  email of complaint to Nobu owner Drew Nieporent.

He admits having a disagreement with a female  manager but he denies threatening to kill her after she ignored his phone call,  according to The New York  Post.

The paper reports that after the face-to-face  confrontation with the manager, he also sent a caps-locked tirade to Nieporent,  he cc’ed a group of his famous friends including Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo  DiCaprio, Alicia Keys Andre Agassi and Joaquin Phoenix.

Three additional recipients have some  political pull, including police commissioner Ray Kelly, Rahr’s ‘buddy’ Donald  Trump, and actor Robert DeNiro who co-owns the restaurant chain with Nieporent.

The dispute stems from an incident where the  66-year-old allegedly got into a verbal altercation with the restaurant’s  manager Sharon Hofstetter when Rahr tried to get his favorite table on the night  of his wife’s surprise birthday party.

He reportedly walked up to an occupied table  and asked the group who was dining there to move so that he could have ‘his’  table.

A bartender told the paper that the group  refused and he offered to pay their bill if they would agree.

Powerful pals: Rahr prides himself on his celebrity connections, seen here with Prince Harry at a polo matchPowerful pals: Rahr prides himself on his celebrity  connections, seen here with Prince Harry at a polo match

Close: Rahr (right) sent an email complaint to the owner of Nobu and cc'ed a number of celebrities including Mark Wahlberg (second right). Though in this picture, Cindy Crawford, her husband Rande Gerber, and Jeremy Piven didn't get the emailClose: Rahr (right) sent an email complaint to the owner  of Nobu and cc’ed a number of celebrities including Mark Wahlberg (second  right). Though in this picture, Cindy Crawford, her husband Rande Gerber, and  Jeremy Piven didn’t get the email

Rahr, who calls himself ‘Stewie Rah Rah- the  No. 1 King of Fun’, then left an irate message for Hofstetter, who was not at  the restaurant at the time of the interaction.

She did not call him back immediately so he  went to the restaurant on 57th Street to have it out with her in person.

‘He called me the c-word and said he would  kill me,’ Hofstetter told The Post.

Rahr tells a different version of the story.  He told The Post that Hofstetter was supposed to meet him at his office to plan  the party in question, so he went to the restaurant to give her a piece of his  mind.

‘I told her “I can’t stand you. You’re  despicable.” Did I curse at her or threaten to kill her? No true- please. I  would never say that,’ Rahr told the paper.

Feeling like his message may not be clear,  Rahr decided to send the email to Nieporent and copy his A-list pals.

‘I GUESS THAT U R MUCH TOO BUSY TO  CALL BACK  AN UPSET CUSTOMER. I HAD TOLD U THAT I HAD A MAJOR PROBLEM & A VERY  UNCOMFORTABLE EXPERIENCE CONCERNING A SURPRISE PARTY FOR A  VERY VERY CLOSE  FRIEND THIS PAST WEDS,’ he wrote in the email.

Rahr, who owned drug manufacturer Kinray  until he sold it for $1.3billion in  2010, went on to talk about his wealth in  the email, using it as an  unexpected way to rub his business savvy in  Nieporent’s face.

‘I HAD ONLY 3 employees & revenues of  only $40,000… WHEN I RECENTLY  SOLD MY company last year I EMPLOYED almost  2,000 employees n REVENUES  of $5,000,000,000 (thats what 5 BILLION (W AN ‘B’ AS  IN BOY NOT AN ‘M’  AS IN MAN…’ he wrote in the angry- and typo-laden- email.

Similar skin colors: Rahr, seen here with close friend Donald Trump, also sent the real estate mogul the email complaining about the service he received at NobuSimilar skin colors: Rahr, seen here with close friend  Donald Trump, also sent the real estate mogul the email complaining about the  service he received at Nobu

Banned: Now Rahr is no longer welcome at any of Nobu's 25 locations around the worldBanned: Now Rahr is no longer welcome at any of Nobu’s  25 locations around the world

Now, Rahr is no longer welcome at any of the  25 international Nobu locations. Given his propensity to go heavy on the self  tanner (having had a skin cancer scare several years ago) and trademark uniform  of purple t-shirts and yellow Ray Ban sunglasses, it would be easy to spot him  if he tried to sneak in.

This is far from the first time that Rahr has  used his connections to make a point, as he was described in a New  York Observer profile of showing off his hundreds of posed photos  with various celebrities.

And he has no problem expressing his distaste  for others: he openly bad-mouthed Tiger Woods, calling him ‘the most selfish guy  I know out of

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2231353/Stewart-Rahr-Billionaire-banned-Nobu-threatening-kill-manager-denied-favorite-table.html#ixzz2Bvv6YZMl Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Jimmy Savile abuse inquiry: third man arrested: “a former BBC producer, Wilfred De’Ath”

Jimmy Savile abuse inquiry: third man arrested

Man in his 70s from Cambridgeshire, reported to be former BBC producer, arrested on suspicion of sexual offences and bailed

Jimmy Savile

Jimmy Savile is at the centre of sexual abuse allegations. Photograph: Getty Images

A man arrested by police investigating sexual abuse claims against Jimmy Savile and others has been bailed.

The man is reported to be a former BBC producer, Wilfred De’Ath. The man, in his 70s, from Cambridgeshire, was detained at 7.15am on Sunday and released on police bail until December after several hours of questioning.

He is the third man to be detained under Operation Yewtree, the criminal inquiry being conducted by the Metropolitan police and the NSPCC.

The Met said the man “falls under the strand of the investigation we have termed ‘others'”.

He was arrested on suspicion of sexual offences and taken into police custody locally, Scotland Yard said.

The arrest came nine days after the arrest and bail of the comedian Freddie Starr, and two weeks after Gary Glitter  was questioned. Glitter, 68, whose real name is Paul Gadd, was arrested at home and questioned at a London police station before being released on bail until mid-December.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/nov/11/jimmy-savile-inquiry-man-arrested

China cancels out on tourism talks

Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012

Kyodo

An annual ministerial meeting on tourism between Japan, China and South Korea scheduled for late November has been postponed indefinitely amid the Senkaku territorial dispute, officials said.

 

Japan was to host this year’s version of the trilateral meeting in Fukushima Prefecture, but China sent a letter in late October saying that it could not take part because of the tourism minister’s tight schedule, the officials said Thursday.

The Japan Tourism Agency will try to reschedule the meeting.

The meeting had been scheduled for Nov. 26 and 27 in the city of Iwaki.

The meeting has been held every year since 2006

Florida Secretary of State: long lines show ‘people liked the voting hours’

By Samantha Kimmey Friday, November 9, 2012 19:55 EST

Florida voters brave long lines via AFP

Despite early voting lines reportedly up to six hours long, Florida’s Republican Secretary of State would not apologize for shortening the state’s early voting period from 14 to eight days, reported Think Progress.

CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield specifically asked Rick Detzner whether he regretted shortening the early voting period this year, since “all of those people who didn’t get to the polls early stuck themselves in line and wound up waiting so long that many people walked away and were disenfranchised.”

Detzner, arguing that Florida voters had the same number of hours to vote early, told CNN, “for the first time ever voters could vote during the day for 12 hours during the day, and I can tell you I heard feedback from voters going into election day that they liked the opportunity to vote either in the morning before work or after work. And frankly, I think the turnout is a good representation of the fact that people liked the voting hours and the flexibility that the supervisors had.”

Former GOP Gov. Charlie Christ said this past week that “the only thing that makes any sense as to why this is happening and being done is voter suppression.”

Watch the video, published on YouTube on Nov. 9, below.

[Image via AFP]

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/11/09/florida-secretary-of-state-long-lines-show-people-liked-the-voting-hours/

FEMA centers in New York closed due to… bad weather

Published: 09 November, 2012, 21:19

Instead of staying open to help displaced victims of the hurricane during the nor’easter that blanketed New York City in snow, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was “closed due to weather” as the storm approached.

FEMA, headed by Craig Fugate, exists to “prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards,” the agency states. Its team is employed to fly into disaster areas to provide relief to victims of both of manmade or natural disasters – like storms.

But this week FEMA seemingly added a special condition to its services: The agency will only help as long as it’s not raining, snowy or too windy. As the nor’easter brought snowflakes to an area where thousands are still without electricity or homes in freezing temperatures, FEMA shut down its operations “due to bad weather.”

“We were abandoned yesterday,” Staten Island resident MaryAnne Alessio told Neil Cavuto.

After being questioned on the reasons behind the closed doors, Fugate told reporters that services needed to be postponed during the storm and would resume when the weather improves. FEMA’s response angered some New Yorkers who relied on the relief service after the storm had demolished their homes.

“Really? You’re telling Staten Island people that sorry, we’re closed due to the weather?” said Alessio. “These are people walking the streets that don’t have no homes, no electricity, no life, no place to go. They’re put out of their houses. And then they go to the FEMA center and they’re closed due to the weather. I think it’s a disgrace.”

FEMA buses vanished on Wednesday, taking away some New Yorkers’ only source of warmth and electricity. Trucks were removed from Staten Island and tents were taken down throughout the city.

And while the emergency management agency could not cope with the weather, the Red Cross stepped in and opened warming centers to help displaced hurricane victims survive the snowy weather.

But the Red Cross did not have the resources to provide many shelters. With only one shelter, located on Staten Island, FEMA’s help was much-needed.

“It’s just annoying when many people here need help, and they just didn’t do what they’re supposed to do,” a Queens resident told DNAinfo.com. “It’s emergency, and they should be open by now.”

To make up for the loss in aid that FEMA should have been providing, volunteers across New York tried to provide crucial resources to hurricane victims – including water bottles, food, electricity and places to warm up.

“FEMA packed up and left. We don’t know where they are, so there’s nothing here but us,” said volunteer Louis Giraldi.

The agency reopened its mobile sites after the second storm passed.

 

http://rt.com/usa/news/fema-new-closed-weather-359/

British officials will continue to provide up to £30 million worth of expert advice to India every year, even after aid to the country is cut.

UK will still send £30m of ‘expertise’ to India after aid cuts

India aid - Indian children stand in a queue for relief food in Cuddalore some 185 kms south of Madras, 30 December 2004

Existing schemes that have already been agreed will continue until the last of them concludes in 2015, when all UK financial aid to India will cease Photo: AFP

<!– remove the whitespace added by escenic before end of tag –>

By , Political Correspondent

1:51PM GMT 09 Nov 2012

Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, told MPs that no new financial aid programmes would be agreed for India, with immediate effect.

Existing grants that have already been signed off will continue until the last expires in 2015, when all UK financial aid to the country will cease, she said.

However, officials confirmed that Britain will continue to provide an estimated £30 million of “technical assistance” to India after the financial aid dries. The government said this was a recognition of India’s “successful transition” to a major global economic power.

Miss Greening’s decision follows a visit to India for talks on future aid arrangements this week.

Officials said she was told that the Indian government valued Britain’s “technical assistance” far more than the grants that currently comprise the bulk of the UK’s £280 million annual aid programme to the country.

In February this year, Pranab Mukherjee, then India’s finance minister and now the country’s president, suggested Britain’s aid programme represented “a peanut in our total development expenditure”.

Miss Greening said it was time for Britain and India “to move to a relationship focussing on skills-sharing rather than aid”.

“Having visited India I have seen first hand the tremendous progress being made. India is successfully developing and our own bilateral relationship has to keep up.

“It is of course critical that we fulfil all the commitments we have already made and that we continue with those short-term projects already underway which are an important part of the UK and Government of India’s development programme.”

The UK’s overall financial contribution to India since the Coalition took office is expected to total more than £1 billion.

After 2015, the contribution of Britain’s technical expertise to development programmes in India will cost an estimated £30 million, about one tenth of the current aid budget to the country.

New programmes will focus on sharing British expertise in areas such as growth and trade, skills training and healthcare. Private sector projects will also be encouraged with British help, in an effort to benefit India’s poor and generate a profit at the same time.

As existing grants are phased out, the government expects to save around £200 million over the next three years.

In recent years, India has emerged as a major economic power and now has its own space programme as well as an international development scheme providing £328 million a year to other countries.

Miss Greening’s announcement is likely to be seen as a sign that Britain intends to cut aid to wealthier nations, including those that are preparing to enter the EU, and focus instead on the poorest countries.

She told the Conservative conference last month: “We should recognise that as countries get richer, we need to be responsible about how we transition in our relationship with them from aid to trade.”

Some Tories want David Cameron to abandon the promise to spent 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas aid, an amount that will reach £12.6 billion by 2014.

This commitment will not be affected by the announcement on India and officials said money saved was likely to be spent on aid to poorer parts of the world.

Gerald Howarth, the Conservative MP for Aldershot and a former defence minister, welcomed the cuts and said he would like the overall development budget to be reduced. “I welcome this as a first step in hopefully ultimately reducing the overseas aid budget,” he said.

Robert Oxley, Campaign Manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, told BBC News that ministers should stop aid to India sooner.

“The Government has been roundly criticised for continuing to send money to India. It’s been £280m and let’s not kid ourselves, that budget isn’t stopping now. It will continue on till 2015,” he said.

“This is also only a bit of spin. Ministers have been saying they were going to undo this programme for quite a while.”

He suggsted India did not need of British aid. “It’s got space programmes, it’s got quite a significant defence force and it is the largest democracy in the world and so this isn’t about Britain abandoning its commitments but saying there is a limited pot of money, where’s it going to go?”

However, charities criticised the decision. Oxfam’s director of campaigns and policy, Phil Bloomer, said: “We’re concerned that completely withdrawing British aid to India by 2015 is too hasty. It’s crucial that we don’t cut off money which gives a lifeline to poor families, and a third of the world’s poorest people live in India.

“The scale of the challenge remains huge, as 250 million Indian citizens go to bed hungry tonight.”

Doll’s hair at Japan shrine keeps growing

 

Awashima Shrine in Japan is known as the shrine of “memorial dolls”.

 

It is a place where dolls are given as offerings.

 

The shrine is filled with countless dolls and figures of all types.

 

According to reports, there is a doll whose hair grows. However, that particular doll is currently not available for viewing.

 

Many say the shrine has a mysterious energy to it. Some say that the place might even be haunted due to superstition that dolls carry spirits.

 

However, if visited on a bright, cheery day, the place gives off a colourful energy and is a fun place to be for all doll lovers. People get to be memerised by intricately designed dolls inspired by different stories and legends.

 

http://www.asiaone.com/static/multimedia/gallery/121102_dolls/

 

 

Kiwi TV host in Tory paedophile storm

Last updated 08:19 09/11/2012

A former New Zealand television host has come under fire after ambushing British Prime Minister David Cameron on live TV with a list of Tory party members he suspected of being paedophiles after a quick internet search.

Presenter of UK breakfast show This Morning Phillip Schofield has issued an apology for a “misjudged camera angle”, the Daily Mail reported.

Schofield was born in Oldham, Greater Manchester, but moved to New Zealand with his family when he was 19. He made his TV debut here as the host of children’s music show Shazam in 1982, and also had a stint working for Radio Hauraki.

Live on the ITV1 show yesterday (NZ time), Schofield handed a list of Tory Party names to the Prime Minister he suspected of being paedophiles after a “three minute cursory glance” at the internet.

For a brief moment, as the Prime Minister handed the card back, Schofield flashed it toward the camera and at least two of the names were feared to be visible.

This Morning has a viewership of millions.

Cameron condemned the stunt, saying it could quickly turn into a witch hunt if not careful.

“Particularly against people who are gay,” he said.

Later, Downing Street stepped up their criticism saying instead of trying to embarrass the Prime Minister, any evidence should be handed to the police.

The Mail reported a spokesman for Cameron told a media briefing: “We shouldn’t have people just throwing names and allegations around and trial by Twitter. The right way to deal with these matters is to go to the police.”

Schofield apologised for allowing the names on the card to be visible.

“If any viewer was able to identify anyone listed, I would like to apologise and stress that was never my intention.”

Meanwhile, a Tory MP has written a public letter the Office of Communications asking whether they will investigate.

Britain has been rocked by revelations that once-beloved BBC presenter Jimmy Savile sexually abused hundreds of children throughout his decades-long career.

Savile died last year aged 82, but while it has emerged many knew of his crimes nothing was investigated until this year.

It follows recent claims by Newsnight host Steve Messham that he was abused by a former top Tory at the Bryn Estyn home in North Wales during the Thatcher era.

Those claims are now at the centre of a government inquiry.

Labour MP Tom Watson also claimed in the Commons last month that a former No. 10 aide had links to a paedophile ring in the early 1990s. Several names have been circulating online ever since.

Cameron was appearing on This Morning to discuss a new drive to tackle dementia when he was ambushed by Schofield.

Schofield alleged “there could have been a cover-up, a paedophile ring amongst the elite of great Britain that led all the way to Downing Street”.

– © Fairfax NZ News

http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/7927690/Kiwi-TV-host-in-Tory-paedophile-storm

Benghazi documents available to senators only today and tomorrow, when most senators are not in Washington

Benghazi documents available to senators only when they are out of town

   Posted By Josh RoginThursday, November 8, 2012 – 12:16 PM Share

Under pressure from senators, the State Department is allowing some lawmakers to look at cables and other documents related to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, but only today and tomorrow, when most senators are not in Washington.

Congress is gearing up for a full week of Benghazi-related hearings next week, including a Nov. 13 hearing behind closed doors of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led by Chairman John Kerry (D-MA). Kerry has written two letters to the State Department requesting congressional access to information and documents related to the circumstances leading up to and during the attack that killed AmbassadorChris Stevens. Several sensitive documents have already been leaked to congressional offices and the media, so the State Department has decided to let some senators view Benghazi documents but not take them home.

“We are currently in the process of gathering and reviewing record responsive to Congressional requests. Our efforts have already identified a large volume of potentially responsive records that address the security situation leading up to the attack,” State Department Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs David Adams wrote to Kerry on Nov. 2 in a letter obtained by The Cable.

“To facilitate your committee’s work, we want to offer you and other members of the committee the opportunity to review these cables and memoranda. This set of material contains classified and other sensitive information… Mindful of these concerns, the Department is prepared to make copies of these documents available for the committee’s in camera review.”

One senior GOP Senate staffer told The Cable that State is only making the documents available for senators and committee staff to view today and tomorrow, which won’t actually allow the members to prepare for the hearing. Staffers for committee members are also not allowed to see the material.

“Funny since no member is in town,” the aide said. “The timing and limited access clearly demonstrates the administration cares more about playing politics with the tragedy than accepting responsibility.”

Committee members Bob Corker (R-TN) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) sent Clinton a letter Nov. 2 asking that the documents be sent to the committee, not just made available for viewing on a limited basis.

“Over the past several weeks, cables, emails and other communications regarding the security situation in Benghazi prior to and since the attack on our consulate have been leaked to some Congressional offices and media outlets, resulting in conflicting reports in the press. We have also called for the official transmittal of these documents and are still awaiting your response,” Corker and Isakson wrote. “On September 25, 2012 and again on October 3, 2012, we sent you letters requesting that all communications between the diplomatic mission in Libya and the State Department related to the security situation be transmitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee without delay. We respectfully ask for an update on the status of our requests for these documents.”

UPDATE: Thursday afternoon, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) annouced the witness list for the Nov. 15 Benhgazi closed hearing at the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The witnesses will be Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director David Petraeus, FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce,Under Secretary of State for Management Pat Kennedy,andNational Counterterrorism Center DirectorMatthew Olsen.

UPDATE #2: A spokesperson for Corker told The Cable that after Corker spoke directly with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the State Department agreed to allow staffers for Sens. James Risch (R-ID) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) view the documents while their bosses are out of town. Corker will be in Washington Friday and will view them himself as well, the spokesperson said.

 

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/11/08/benghazi_documents_available_to_senators_only_when_they_are_out_of_town

Top Republican lawmaker: ‘Obamacare is law of the land’ ???

Fri, 9 Nov 2012 02:49 GMT

Reuters

WASHINGTON, Nov 8 (Reuters) – Top Republican lawmaker John Boehner said on Thursday he would not make it his mission to repeal the Obama administration’s healthcare reform law following the re-election of President Barack Obama.

“The election changes that,” Boehner, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer when asked if repealing the law was “still your mission.”

“It’s pretty clear that the president was re-elected ,” B oehner added. “Obamacare is the law of the land.”

Under Boehner’s leadership, the House tried repeatedly to repeal the healthcare law, the signature domestic measure of Obama’s first term. While a few provisions were eliminated or changed, Senate Democrats blocked outright termination of the law.

Boehner added that parts of the law were going to be difficult to implement and that everything had to be on the table as lawmakers try to create a path to a balanced budget.

A spokesman for Boehner said later the speaker and House Republicans “remain committed to repealing the law, and he said in the interview it would be on the table.”

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the biggest overhaul of the $2.8 trillion U.S. healthcare system since the 1960s, aims to extend health coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans beginning in January 2014.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the reforms in a landmark June ruling.

Defeated Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had vowed to repeal the law if he were elected.

In Tuesday’s election, Republicans kept their majority in the House and Democrats maintained control of the Senate.

In the ABC interview, Boehner also said a comprehensive approach to immigration reform was needed and he was confident that Republicans could find common ground with Obama on the issue.

 

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/top-republican-lawmaker-obamacare-is-law-of-the-land/

Judge Caught Whipping Teen Returns to Bench

 

By DAVID LEE

 

AUSTIN (CN) – The Texas Supreme Court lifted its suspension of a state judge who was videotaped whipping his disabled teenage daughter with a belt.

On Tuesday, the court approved an agreed motion filed by Aransas County Court at Law Judge William Adams and the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

The court suspended Adams in November 2011, weeks after his daughter Hillary Adams, 24, posted the video on YouTube.

She says she was 16 at the time and that the judge whipped her for illegally downloading music on her computer. The video has gone viral, with at least 7.2 million views, according to YouTube. A summary posted with the video states that Hillary suffers from ataxic cerebral palsy.

In September, the commission issued a public warning against Adams and said that the video “cast reasonable doubt on his capacity to act impartially as a judge and interfered with the proper performance of his judicial duties, in willful and/or persistent violation of Canons 4A(l) and 4A(2) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct.”

During the commission’s investigation, 10 witnesses, many of whom were attorneys who regularly practiced before Adams, testified that Adams exhibited a pattern of being angry, undignified and demeaning, as well as unable to display proper judicial demeanor toward certain attorneys.

“Judge Adams’ treatment of certain attorneys in his courtroom, particularly the now-former Aransas County Attorney, Jim Anderson, fell far below the minimum standards of patient, courteous and dignified courtroom demeanor expected of judicial officials, and constituted a willful and/or persistent violation of Canon 3B(4) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct,” the commission found.

Adams asked the court to lift his suspension since the commission’s investigation has concluded. He said he should be allowed to return to the bench “without delay,” the order states.

Under an agreement with the commission, Adams waived his right to appeal his public warning.

 

UK PM warns of witch-hunt against gays in pedophile scandal

British Prime Minister David Cameron warned on Thursday that speculation about the identity of an unidentified member of his ruling Conservative party accused of sexually abusing children could turn into a witch-hunt against gay people.

Cameron, who leads a troubled two-party coalition, ordered an investigation this week after a victim of child sexual abuse in Wales said a prominent Conservative political figure had abused him during the 1970s.

The claims, which follow the unmasking of late BBC star presenter Jimmy Savile as one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders, have stoked concern that a powerful pedophile ring may have operated in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s.

“I have heard all sorts of names bandied around and what then tends to happen is of course that everyone then sits around and speculates about people, some of whom are alive, some of whom are dead,” Cameron said during an ITV television interview.

“It is very important that anyone who has got any information about any pedophile no matter how high up in the country go to the police,” he said.

Britain’s interior minister warned lawmakers this week that if they named suspected child abusers in parliament they risked jeopardizing future trials.

MPs benefit from “parliamentary privilege” – meaning they can speak inside parliament freely without fear of legal action on a host of legally sensitive issues that might otherwise attract lawsuits.

Reports of child abuse have provoked fevered speculation on the Internet about the identity of the Conservative figure from the era of Margaret Thatcher, prime minister from 1979 to 1990.

When the ITV interviewer passed Cameron a piece of paper with the names of people identified on the Internet as being alleged child abusers, Cameron said:

“There is a danger if we are not careful that this could turn into a sort of witch-hunt particularly against people who are gay.”

“I am worried about the sort of thing you are doing right now – giving me a list of names you have taken off the Internet,” Cameron said.

The BBC aired a program last week in which Steven Messham, one of hundreds of victims of sexual abuse at children’s care homes in Wales over two decades, said he had been sexually abused by a prominent Conservative political figure.

However, the BBC reporter said he could not name the figure because there was “simply not enough evidence to name names”.

(Reuters)

 

http://updatednews.ca/2012/11/08/uk-pm-warns-of-witch-hunt-against-gays-in-pedophile-scandal/

Dead candidates win elections in Florida, Alabama

Reuters1 hr ago             By Barbara Liston and Verna Gates  
.      
The two apparently died of natural causes, which did not sway voters.
.
Florida Democrat Earl K. Wood and Alabama Republican Charles Beasley won their respective elections but they will not take office.Both men died weeks before the Nov. 6 election yet managed to beat their very much alive opponents by comfortable margins.Wood died on Oct. 15 from natural causes at age 96, during his campaign for a 12th term as Orange County Tax Collector in Orlando, Fla.

Criticized for rarely coming into the office while collecting a $150,000 salary and $90,000 pension, Wood initially announced he would step down, only to change his mind when a longtime political foe made plans to seek the seat.

Wood’s wide name recognition after almost half a century in office scared off several serious contenders. His name remained on the ballot and he took 56 percent of the votes to 44 percent for a Republican who promised to eliminate the office altogether if elected.

Beasley, 77, died on Oct. 12, possibly due to an aneurysm, while trying to reclaim his old seat on the Bibb County Commission in central Alabama.

Beasley’s name also remained on the ballot and he won about 52 percent of the vote. His Democratic opponent, incumbent Commissioner Walter Sansing, took the loss especially hard.

“It is a touchy situation. When you are running against a dead man, you are limited as to what you can say,” Sansing told Reuters.

He blamed people voting straight Republican tickets for his loss.

In Orlando, Scott Randolph, an outgoing Democratic state legislator and state party activist, was selected by his party to receive votes cast for Wood and he will assume the office. In Alabama, the governor will appoint a new commissioner with input from local Republicans.

http://news.msn.com/politics/dead-candidates-win-elections-in-florida-alabama-3

Allegations of abuse by a paedophile ring involving politicians. Now has claims of “mysterious early deaths”, suspicious fires and other forms of threats and intimidation as part of a possible cover-up.

David Cameron announces inquiry into ‘dreadful’ Tory child abuse claims

David Cameron has announced an investigation into “truly dreadful” child abuse claims involving a senior Tory at a Welsh children’s home.

Twitter claims identify politician in North Wales child abuse case

Steve Messham told Newsnight that he was abused by a leading Conservative politician while he was a child in care Photo: BBC/Newsnight

3:52PM GMT 05 Nov 2012

The Prime Minister said the historic allegations of abuse by a paedophile ring at children’s homes in Wrexham, North Wales, could not be left “hanging in the air”.

He said a senior independent figure would investigate whether a previous inquiry “properly did its job”.

Mr Cameron said: “Child abuse is an absolutely hateful and abhorrent crime and these allegations are truly dreadful and they mustn’t be left hanging in the air, so I’m taking action today.

“I’m going to be asking a senior independent figure to lead an urgent investigation into whether the original inquiry was properly constituted and properly did its job and to report urgently to the government.”

Steve Messham, the sexual abuse victim who made the claims, will meet David Jones, the Welsh Secretary, tomorrow.

He said a senior Tory politician had abused him in a hotel room with eight other paedophiles. However, he says that when he went to the police in the 1970s he was accused of being a “liar” and his claims were not properly investigated.

He was a witness at an inquiry led by the judge Sir Ronald Waterhouse into allegations spanning 40 homes between 1974 and 1990. The inquiry, which reported in 2000, dismissed the allegations as “embarking on the realm of fantasy”.

However, Mr Cameron has decided to investigate the inquiry after the allegations formed the centrepiece of an investigation featured on BBC’s Newsnight on Friday.

A legally binding order issued by Sir Ronald at the time of the inquiry banned the media from naming the politician and the man also made clear to the BBC last week he would sue if he was named.

But yesterday his name was widely circulating on the internet including through hundreds of messages on the social networking site Twitter. However several other politicians not suspected of any involvement were also included in the messages.

One current public figure was among those posting messages mentioning him and another identifying the man was reposted by other users more than 100 times.

Lawyers involved with the inquiry warned that those behind the Tweets could find themselves facing legal action.

They likened the breaches to a string of cases involving public figures who took out so-called super-injunctions but who were then named on the internet.

As happened on several of those cases, there were predictions last that the man could eventually be named in Parliament using special privilege protecting members from being sued for libel for comments in the Commons or Lords.

The speculation grew as the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Mr Towler, called for a new inquiry into the allegations amid claims that the full scale of the abuse was covered up.

His comments followed a raft of claims that politicians from a previous Government were involved in or had links to those involved in sexual offences involving children.

Tom Watson, the campaigning Labour MP who helped expose the phone hacking scandal, said he had received scores of emails, calls and letters from the public containing potential leads after he raised the matter in the Commons 10 days ago.

He said that the allegations, involving “household names”, could potentially lead to bigger scandal than phone hacking.

In a posting on his blog Mr Watson said he had been reduced to tears by some of the allegations including claims abused children were marked with knives to show “ownership” or driven to golf course car parks to be exploited by paedophiles after they had finished a round of golf.

He said there had even been claims of “mysterious early deaths”, suspicious fires and other forms of threats and intimidation as part of a possible cover-up.

But he also disclosed that since raising the issue he had received warnings about his “personal safety”.

Richard Scorer, who represented Mr Messham said: “My view of this is that nothing would surprise me honestly.”

But he insisted: “The evidenced has to be properly investigated … I don’t say it’s true, I think it is quite possible that public figures could be involved in child abuse as almost certainly Jimmy Savile was.

“My view is that we’ve got to get a decent investigation going and look at it all.”

Mark Stephens, who represented around 15 of the children at the Waterhouse Inquiry, said: “I am convinced parliamentary privilege will be used to ask a question as to why this high-ranking politician who was named by a victim in the north Wales child abuse inquiry has been afforded protection.”

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph last week, the politician strenuously denied ever going to the home concerned. He was unavailable to comment on the internet claims last night.

David Cameron faces new embarrassment over text messages

David Cameron faces further embarrassment over his friendship with the former newspaper editor Rebekah Brooks with the disclosure of more text messages between the pair.

David Cameron has been friends with Mrs Brooks’ husband Charlie since the pair studied at Eton College. They also own houses near one another in Oxfordshire.

David Cameron has been friends with Mrs Brooks’ husband Charlie since the pair studied at Eton College. They also own houses near one another in Oxfordshire. Photo: REX

 

Robert Watts

By , Deputy Political Editor

11:05PM GMT 03 Nov 2012

In one text the Prime Minister thanked the former ex-News International chief effusively for letting him ride one of her family’s horses. Mr Cameron’s message wrote that the outing was “fast, unpredictable and hard to control but fun.”

The message, along with a second text from Mrs Brooks, was obtained by The Mail on Sunday newspaper.

The message from Mrs Brooks praised the Conservative leader’s conference speech. “I cried twice,” she wrote. “Will love working together.”

Downing Street said the texts were submitted to Lord Leveson’s inquiry into phone hacking, but only a small number of messages have been made public by the peer so far.

These two texts were sent in October 2009, shortly after Mrs Brooks was promoted from editor of The Sun to chief executive of News International. It is thought they were supplied to the inquiry by Mrs Brooks.

Lord Leveson asked Mr Cameron, Mrs Brooks and Andy Coulson, his former communications chief who previously edited the News of the World, to send a large amount of e-mails and text messages to his inquiry. So far only a small proportion of this correspondence has been made public.

David Cameron has been friends with Mrs Brooks’ husband Charlie since the pair studied at Eton College. They also own houses near one another in Oxfordshire.

Labour MP Chris Bryant has repeatedly made great play of the text messages between the Tory leader and Mrs Brooks during Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons.

Mr Bryant attacked the Prime Minister for failing to make all the text message between the pair public because they were “too salacious and embarrassing for you”.

“When the truth comes out, you won’t be smiling,” the Labour MP chided the Prime Minister last month.

The Labour MP, who was a victim of phone hacking, has claimed he has a “mole” from Downing Street who told Mr Bryant that some of the messages between the pair were “salacious”.

These are not the first text messages between the former newspaper executive and Mr Cameron to be made public. Mrs Brooks sent one message to the Tory leader shortly before a party conference speech that read: “Speech of your life? Yes he Cam.”

In another she wrote: “I am so rooting for you tomorrow and not just as a friend but because professionally we’re definitely in this together.”

Mr Cameron admitted earlier in the year that he had ridden a retired Metropolitan Police horse called Raisa while it was being lent to Mrs Brooks. The horse referred to in the newly-disclosed message appears to be a different horse, as Raisa was 22-years-old when the former newspaper editor borrowed her.

These newly-published messages are almost certain to put the Prime Minister under further pressure to publish all correspondence between himself and Mrs Brooks.

A spokesman for Downing Street said that the Prime Minister has been “happy” to comply with whatever Lord Leveson has asked of him.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9653819/David-Cameron-faces-new-embarrassment-over-text-messages.html

Is THIS why Chris Christie was so loving toward Obama? New Jersey Governor was Romney’s FIRST choice as VP and was bitter when Mitt suddenly changed his mind

  • He was miffed by the decision to dump him  from the Republican ticket
  • ‘I say what I feel and what I believe… I’m  just doing the same thing with the President’

By Hayley Peterson

PUBLISHED:12:02 EST, 3  November 2012| UPDATED:12:02 EST, 3 November 2012

First choice: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie believed he was going to be Mitt Romney's running mate
First choice: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie believed he  was going to be Mitt Romney’s running mate

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was Mitt  Romney’s first choice as a running mate before Romney had a sudden change of  heart and dumped him for Paul Ryan.

Christie was miffed by Romney’s decision,  particularly because he was led to believe in the weeks leading up to Ryan’s  introduction that he would be joining Romney on the Republican presidential  ticket, Politicoreported, citing conversations with ‘campaign  insiders.’

Now Republican party bosses suspect  Christie’s momentary embrace of Barack Obama during the President’s tour of  devastated New Jersey this week was a deliberate snub to Romney.

Christie was vetted so hard by the Romney  campaign in July that even some of Romney’s top advisers believed the New Jersey  governor was the final choice as the Republican vice presidential  candidate.

But Romney changed his mind over  the course  of two weeks this summer, advisers told Politico, and instead offered the job to  Ryan, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin.

Romney was attracted to Christie for his  unfiltered style that has helped turn him into rising star – albeit a  controversial one — within the  Republican Party.

The  explosive New Jersey native has a  propensity toward swearing, making him a bit of a liability for Romney, but he  also has a knack for appealing  to middle class voters, with whom Romney has had  a hard time connecting.

At a campaign event for Romney in Iowa last  December, Christie bullied ‘Occupy’ protestors out of a rally,  leading Romney  supporters to start chanting Christie’s name as they  cheered with  approval.

‘You  know what, we’re used to dealing with  jokers like this in New Jersey all the time,’ Christie shouted at the protesters  as they were led out of  the rally by Romney staffers. ‘So you guys go all out  and chant and do  what it is that you want to do.

‘You are so angry, aren’t ya?’ Christie   badgered. ‘It’s so terrible… Oh  work it out. Work it all out for yourselves.  Work it all out for  yourselves.’

Quiet retaliation: Christie embraced President Obama this week during a tour of the wreckage in New Jersey from Hurricane Sandy, leading some to believe he was retaliating against RomneyQuiet retaliation: Christie embraced President Obama  this week during a tour of the wreckage in New Jersey from Hurricane Sandy,  leading some to believe he was retaliating against Romney

Bipartisan courtship: 'We're both doing what we wanted to do, which is to get things done,' Christie said of Obama this weekBipartisan courtship: ‘We’re both doing what we wanted  to do, which is to get things done,’ Christie said of Obama this week

In the end, it wasn’t Christie’s bombast that  drove Romney away: It was his disregard for Romney as the man at the top of  ticket.

Christie would consistently arrive late at  campaign events that he was attending on behalf of Romney and he would spend the  majority of his speaking time on himself, not the Republican presidential  candidate.

Romney advisers began to think that Christie  wouldn’t know how to be a ‘number two’ and they suddenly stopped vetting him  without explanation just before Romney’s trip to Europe over the  summer.

When Romney returned, he offered the job to  Ryan and waited another week to let Christie know, just shortly before  announcing his pick publicly.

Christie has since been quietly retaliating  against the Romney campaign for his sudden fall from favor, political analysts  say.

Christie made news for his scarce mentions of  Romney during his speech at the Republican National Convention.

Campaigning: Chris Christie and Mitt Romney talking to voters in New Hampshire. Romney changed his mind about putting the New Jersey Governor on the Republican ticketCampaigning: Chris Christie and Mitt Romney talking to  voters in New Hampshire. Romney changed his mind about putting the New Jersey  Governor on the Republican ticket

‘His view was, “They saw the speech before I  gave it. They vetted it. They said it was fine,”’ a Romney adviser told  Politico. ‘And the campaign’s view was, “We told him that we thought there were  more opportunities for him to put in stuff about Mitt, and he didn’t take the  hint.”

There was a lot of agitation that led to a  lot of sarcasm and the kind of comments that people don’t mean, but they kind of  do.’

Christie heaped praise on Obama after he was  invited onto Air Force One to tour the wreckage left behind by the  storm.

‘This was as comfortable and relaxed an  interaction as I’ve had with the president since I’ve known him,’ Christie said. ‘And I think it’s ’cause we’re both doing what we wanted to do, which is to get  things done.’

Christie said he expected to be criticized  for complimenting the president.

‘But you know what, I speak the truth,’ he  said. ‘That’s what I always do. Sometimes you guys like it, sometimes you don’t.  Sometimes politicians like it, sometimes they don’t. But I say what I feel and  what I believe.

‘And I’m just doing the same thing with the  president of the United States. So, I do pinch myself every day. You know, like  when I got on Marine One? I’m pinching myself, believe me.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2227341/Is-THIS-Chris-Christie-loving-Obama-New-Jersey-Governor-Romneys-FIRST-choice-VP-bitter-Mitt-suddenly-changed-mind.html#ixzz2BBQhWeE7 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Local Reporter Tells TheBlaze: ‘I’m 100 Percent Positive’ Crowds Were Chanting ‘Hail Obama!’ at First Lady Rally

Engineering Evil: If anyone finds a link to the audio of the alleged event…Please post in comments…THX 😉

Posted on November 1, 2012 at 9:25pm by Jason Howerton

 

UPDATE (10:25 p.m. ET): In an exclusive interview with TheBlaze, WOFL Fox 35 reporter Mike Synan said he is “100 percent positive” that the crowds were chanting “Hail Obama!” at the event. Further, he said there were at least three or four other local TV stations at the event that heard it as well.

 

“We all started talking about it after my tweet started getting attention,” he told TheBlaze. Everyone was “in agreement” about what was being chanted and many agreed it was “tacky.”

 

People have questioned Synan’s claim, some because they are Obama supporters and others because there is no video that proves inconclusively that “Hail Obama!” was being shouted at the rally.

 

Synan said the chant began before Michelle Obama took the stage and before the TV stations were plugged into the audio and the TV stations were unable to capture video.

 

Responding to his critics, the 15-year veteran reporter said he would have reported it the same way if the crowds were chanting “Hail Romney.”

 

“I am just a reporter,” Synan told TheBlaze. “I just report on what happens.”

 

However, in 15 years he said he was never heard a crowd say “hail” before anyone’s name, much less a politician. He said some of his colleagues at other local news outlets didn’t think it was as newsworthy as he did.

 

“I don’t think anybody else thought it was a big deal like I did,” he said. “They generally say the same things at these rallies, so my ears are always up for something that’s different.”

 

 

TheBlaze is currently reaching out to other reporters who Synan says can corroborate his claim.

 

Here is Synan’s report for WOFL Fox 35:

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOX 35 News Orlando

 

 

Read TheBlaze’s original story below:

 

Crowds of President Barack Obama’s loyal supporters chanted “Hail Obama!” during a campaign rally featuring First Lady Michelle Obama in Daytona, Fla. on Thursday, according to a local reporter who was at the event.

 

Mike Synan, a local reporter for WOFL in Orlando, says he is positive that “hundreds” of people in the crowd at the rally chanted “Hail Obama,” not something that sounded similar. He also said he would not risk his 15-year reputation as a journalist to make something up.

 

 

 

 

Mike Synan@msynan

 

 

Crowd for #FLOTUS event in Daytona now chanting “Hail Obama”. Wow, just wow #fox35

 

1 Nov 12 Reply

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Synan spent hours defending his claim as Obama supporters attacked him for making up “a load of crap” and others questioned if he heard correctly. The local reporter did not walk back his claim:

 

 

 

 

Mike Synan@msynan

 

 

True. Would not lie. Chanting “Hail Obama” RT @jeffreybillman: @msynan For real, or are you just Drudge-baiting?

 

1 Nov 12 Reply

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Mike Synan@msynan

 

 

100% RT:”@shoutingboy: @msynan Are you sure they weren’t chanting “MICHELLE Obama”?”

 

1 Nov 12 Reply

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Mike Synan@msynan

 

 

@Pizentu I did not mishear. Was not the full crowd. Someone would yell “hail Obama” and hundreds that could hear that person would repeat

 

1 Nov 12 Reply

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Mike Synan@msynan

 

 

100% sure it was “Hail Obama” RT @Macrotots: @Romniac @msynan Are you sure it’s not “Hell”??? Or (worse) “Heil”?

 

1 Nov 12 Reply

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Mike Synan@msynan

 

 

Not that we have. Much too far before the event and not entire crowd, so would be muddled RT:@vulgarUG: @DrewMTips @msynan Is there video?”

 

1 Nov 12 Reply

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Mike Synan@msynan

 

 

I am the reporter, and not the only one who heard it. Would never ruin 15 years of cred RT:”@Sanosuke1981: @msynan it’s a load of crap.”

 

1 Nov 12 Reply

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Mike Synan@msynan

 

 

I am the reporter, and not the only one who heard it. Would never ruin 15 years of cred RT:”@Sanosuke1981: @msynan it’s a load of crap.”

 

1 Nov 12 Reply

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While WOFL was not able to get video of the chant, TheBlaze is currently on the lookout for video captured by participants or bystanders. Check back for updates.

 

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/local-reporter-defends-claim-that-he-heard-crowd-at-first-lady-rally-chanting-hail-obama/

 

Couple arrested after reporting drugs found in rental home

REX, Ga. —

A man and his wife were arrested after telling police about drugs they found in a rental property they own.

Michael Keeley told Channel 2’s Eric Philips that authorities arrested three men living in his rental property in Rex in October. Keeley said investigators found meth inside the car that two of the men were in.

Investigators then combed Keeley’s rental house for evidence before handing the property back over to him, he said.

Keeley said his wife and 9-year-old accompanied him to the home on Sunday to clean it up and get it ready for new tenants. Inside the home, Keeley said he found eight bags of narcotics hidden behind the walls.

Keeley said he immediately called the authorities, but he was shocked by their reaction. Officers interrogated him and his wife before arresting them on charges of tampering with evidence, he said.

Keeley said officers threatened to send their 9-year-old to the Department of Family and Children Services, but a neighbor stepped up to watch him.

The couple spent two days in the Clayton County Jail before each posted a $5,000 bond.

“Now, I will be forever reluctant to pick up the phone and dial the police again,” Keeley said.

Keeley and his wife still have to go to court to face the charges.

 

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/couple-arrested-after-reporting-drugs-found-rental/nSs8Q/

 

Chinese man sues wife for being ugly, wins $120,000

 

Posted on: 8:23 am, October 26, 2012, by

Both of these photos show Jian Feng's Chinese wife. The shot on the left shows her before she underwent $100,000 of plastic surgery, and the shot on the right shows her after those extensive procedures. 

Both of these photos show Jian Feng’s Chinese wife. The shot on the left shows her before she underwent $100,000 of plastic surgery, and the shot on the right shows her after those extensive procedures.

 

<!–See more photos in the gallery–>

A man from northern China divorced and sued his wife earlier this year for being ugly. That’s not a joke.

Neither is this: That man recently won the lawsuit.

That man is Jian Feng and he said his issues with his wife’s looks only began after the couple’s daughter was born. Feng was appalled by the child’s appearance, calling her “incredibly ugly” and saying she resembled neither one of her parents.

With that being the case, Feng initially accused his wife of cheating. It was at that point that his wife, who has not been named, came forward, saying she had spent $100,000 on intense plastic surgeries to drastically change her appearance before she met Feng.

She never told Feng about those surgeries.

When Feng found out about the procedures, he filed the lawsuit. He said the woman convinced him to marry her under false pretenses.

A judge agreed, awarding Feng $120,000.

http://kdvr.com/2012/10/26/chinese-man-sues-wife-for-being-ugly-wins-120000/

 

Pigeons set China Congress security plans aflutter, as authorities in China ban the words “death”, “die” or “down” from songs on television.

Pigeons set China Congress security plans aflutter

By Sui-Lee Wee and Michael Martina

BEIJING |Thu Nov 1, 2012 11:27pm EDT

(Reuters) – Potentially sinister threats to China’s ruling Communist Party sit unnoticed in cages perched on a rooftop above a small alleyway in southwestern Beijing. Not dissidents. Pigeons.

A week before the party’s all-important congress opens, China’s stability-obsessed rulers are taking no chances and have combed through a list all possible threats, avian or otherwise.

It isn’t just the usual suspects like activists who have ruffled the party’s feathers.

Their list includes handles for rear windows in taxis — to stop subversive leaflets being scattered on the streets — balloons and remote control model planes.

The goal is to ensure an image of harmony as President Hu Jintao prepares to transfer power as party leader to anointed successor Vice President Xi Jinping at the congress, which starts on Thursday.

Li Zhonghe, 65, a retired construction worker, told Reuters he would have to keep his 40 to 50 pigeons in their coops when the congress starts.

“There are currently some extra restrictions, so we are not supposed to let the pigeons out to fly,” Li said, adding he did not know the reason why. “It’s this way every time there is a congress. I’m accustomed to it by now.”

Unlikely as it seems, pigeons, often raised as a hobby in China, have been used as a tool of subversion before. In the late 1990s, dissidents released pigeons carrying slogans written on ribbons tied to the birds’ feet in southern China.

The Beijing Carrier Pigeon Association said in an online notice two annual autumn races, originally scheduled during the congress, would be postponed until December. It did not say why.

Beijing police did not respond to a faxed Reuters inquiry.

Stability is the watchword this month, as it is before every important meeting, and some of the preparations for the congress resemble past precautions.

But Hu Jia, a dissident who was made to leave Beijing ahead of the congress, said the measures taken this time were the most excessive he had seen.

“Don’t you think this is absurd?” Hu told Reuters by telephone from his father’s hometown in central Anhui province. “They’ve reached a new level of psychosis.”

“DEATH”, MODEL PLANES BANNED

Taxi drivers were instructed recently by their companies to remove handles from rear windows. A driver surnamed Xu said a text message from his company also advised him to keep the windows closed when his taxi passes by Tiananmen Square.

“We were asked not to take petitioners to government buildings, but we should take them straight to the police office instead,” said another driver, surnamed Han, adding he was told to avoid taking passengers with bags for safety reasons.

The five-yearly Congress is a magnet for thousands of petitioners from provinces across the nation who see the meeting as a rare chance for them to seek redress for their grievances.

More than 1.4 million people have fanned out across Beijing to boost security, the Beijing News newspaper reported.

Residents have complained of snail-paced Internet speeds as censors comb though sites to remove subversive content. Beijing police have also banned residents from flying remote control model aircraft. Windows of buses heading toward “political centers” must be closed to prevent the “throwing of leaflets and other issues”, according to the influential Caixin magazine.

Authorities have also banned the words “death”, “die” or “down” from songs on television. Music composer Gao Xiaosong wrote on his microblog the words were deemed “unlucky”.

At least 130 people have been detained or placed under restrictions since September, according to U.K.-based rights group Amnesty International, a tactic often used ahead of important political events.

Beijing-based rights activist Liu Shasha said she was forced back to her hometown in the central Henan province on October 22.

“At first they were very nice but then as soon as I got in a car with them they put a black hood over my head,” she said by telephone. “When I tried lifting it up to breathe better they kept forcing it back down, until they eventually tied my hands behind my back. I’m really angry.”

Another dissident forced to leave Beijing is Woeser, a prominent Tibetan writer who was told to leave in August.

“They said I can come back once the congress is over, so I suppose at the end of the month,” she said by telephone from her home town of Lhasa, the tightly controlled Tibetan capital.

So overwhelming are the security measures that Chinese Internet users have gone on microblogs to pour out their feelings about the smothering security. One compared it to “1984”, the George Orwell novel that described life under a government that put its people under pervasive surveillance.

“In the face of these absurdities, we are powerless,” a microblogger wrote. “It’s a reminder that no matter how ridiculous and comical, this is an era that we can’t laugh in.”

(Additional reporting by Sabrina Mao, Ben Blanchard, Hui Li and Huang Yan; Editing by Paul Tait)

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/02/us-china-congress-security-idUSBRE8A105720121102

Albright lashes out in Prague: “Disgusting Serbs”

Friday, 02 November 2012
Clinton-era Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, confronted by pro-Serbian protesters who called her a war criminal during a recent book signing in her native Prague, pushed them aside as “disgusting Serbs” in a confrontation going viral on the internet.

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Displaying her trademark feistiness, Albright is seen in the video as sternly shouting “get out, get out,” to the protesters who arrived with a film crew. As they closed in on her, she stood up and said, “That’s it! Get out,” and soon walked away with an aide after saying, “they are disgusting Serbs.”

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Albright, on a book tour to tout her new and well-received memoir, “Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948,” was in her birthplace for the book signing on October 23.

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According to the YouTube account, activists with “Friends of Serbs in Kosovo” led by film director Vaclav Dvorak, presented her with Dvorak’s documentary “Stolen Kosovo” and posters suggesting that Albright’s push for bombings of Serbs in Kosovo was inhumane and illegal.

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“This is your work as well, madam” they charged, asking her to sign their posters, which she brushed away.

.
As Clinton’s top diplomat, Albright headed the U.S. participation in the Yugoslav wars in Bosnia and Kosovo and is credited for pushing NATO into the humanitarian crisis. Time Magazine called it “Madeleine’s War.”

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Aide Erin Cochran, who was with her at the Prague book signing, told Secrets, “Everything was calm until this group arrived, apparently intent on causing a disruption.”

.

Albright made it to the Kosovo papers just few days ago as she was pointed as a mastermind of taking over Kosovo’s Telecom and other companies considered to be a monopoly in the small province.

.

http://macedoniaonline.eu/content/view/22128/46/

 

Email spam filter could cost Oakland police chief his job

Abuse messages were news to him after he blocked all comments about Occupy unrest

Guy Adams

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The chief of Oakland’s police, who faces legal action that could imminently remove him from office, says that he failed to read crucial messages about the upcoming court case because he uses a spam filter to automatically delete critical emails from the public.

Howard Jordan has confessed that, for almost a year, any message containing such phrases as “police brutality” or “occupy Oakland” went straight into the trash bin of his official email account. As a result, he never saw several messages relating to a spiralling police abuse scandal.

In December, a judge in San Francisco will hold hearings to decide whether Mr Jordan’s department should be placed in the hands of a federal receiver. They are accused of repeated use of excessive force, accusations stretching back to last year’s Occupy protests.

In recent months, the police chief was sent several official messages about the case, but never responded. An investigation by the City has established that they disappeared because Mr Jordan had instructed his IT staff to prevent him having to read unsolicited emails from the public.

He appears to have adopted the policy after finding himself at the centre of international condemnation last October, when Oakland police used tear gas and flash grenades to disperse unarmed Occupy protestors. During the operation, an Iraq War veteran, Scott Olsen, suffered a fractured skull, after being shot in the head with a tear-gas canister at close range.

A video uploaded to YouTube appeared to show one of Mr Jordan’s officers throwing a “flash bang” explosive device into a crowd of people who had gathered around Mr Olsen to treat his injuries.

Soon afterwards, Oakland’s Mayor issued a formal apology and ordered an investigation by an independent police review body. Several lawsuits are outstanding, and it has emerged that Oakland Police tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade Google to remove footage of alleged police brutality from YouTube.

Among important messages that Mr Jordan missed was one from Robert Warsaw, a court-appointed monitor of the police department, titled: “Disciplinary actions – Occupy Oakland.” In a statement reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the police chief did not apologise for using the email filter, but said he regretted that the important email had gone astray. “It was never my intention to ignore the monitor,” he claimed.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/email-spam-filter-could-cost-oakland-police-chief-his-job-8269977.html#

Monsanto and others conspired with an Army experiment to secretly poison people with toxic chemicals in the 1950s, a class action claims

Army Poisoned People in ’50s, Class Claims

By JOE HARRIS

ST. LOUIS (CN) – Monsanto and others conspired with an Army experiment to secretly poison people with toxic chemicals in a giant segregated housing complex in the 1950s, a class action claims in City Court.

Lead plaintiff Benjamin Phillips Sr. claims defendants Monsanto, Parsons Government Services and SRI International participated in a study beginning in 1953 that lasted into the 1960s.

Phillips claims the study, the “Involuntary Chemical Study on PI Residents” or “ICS”, was conducted around the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in St. Louis.

“This study consisted generally of the following: defendants, along with other known conspirators such as the United States Army) and unknown conspirators caused to be sprayed upon the residents and structures of PI chemicals, such as cadmium, including potentially radioactive cadmium, with the knowledge or consent of those resident, the administrators of PI or city or other government officials. The purpose of this study is unknown,” the complaint states. (Open parentheses in complaint.)

Phillips, who lived at Pruitt-Igoe at the time, claims the chemicals caused emotional psychological trauma and harm as well as personal injury.

He seeks actual and punitive damages for public nuisance, liability, intentional infliction of emotional distress and battery. He is represented by Elkin Kistner, with Bick & Kistner.

The 33, 11-story buildings in the Pruitt-Igoe complex were torn down in the 1970s after the place became famous for its poverty, crime and segregation.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/10/30/51794.htm

The hidden real truth about Benghazi

 

– Doug Hagmann (Bio and Archives) Sunday, October 28, 2012

 

Most people know that we’ve been lied to about the attacks in Benghazi, but few realize the extent of those lies or the hidden secrets they cover. After all, the lie is different at every level. Thanks to a well placed source with extensive knowledge about the attack, the disturbing truth is slowly beginning to emerge and is lining up with information contained in my previous articles published here weeks ago (Here, Here and Here). The truth reveals the most serious situation in the world today as it involves the interests and destinies of us all.

 

A mosaic of lies

 

According to the U.S. government, Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed during a spontaneous protest at the consulate office in Benghazi by a frenzied crowd of Muslims outraged over an obscure internet video. Recently released “sensitive but not classified e-mails” from Stevens to the U.S. Department of State painted a picture of poor security for U.S. personnel and the embassy, which was obviously true but had little to do with the events of September 11, 2012. The failure to dispatch an extraction team or otherwise rescue the men during a firefight that lasted upwards of nine grueling and tortuous hours was not the result of any intelligence failure, but caused by our unwillingness to widen the conflict and expose the nature and scale of our true mission in Benghazi.

 

Based on information provided by my source and corroborated elsewhere, the official account by administration officials is a mosaic of lies that were necessary to cover the unpalatable truth of covert actions taking place in Libya, Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. The primary objective of our covert actions was to secretly arm anti-Assad “rebels” in Syria by funneling arms from Libya to Syria via Turkey, with other destinations that included Jordan and Lebanon. Regarding the threat to Stevens and the other murdered Americans, the truth will reformat the persistent question posed to government officials, from UN Ambassador Susan Rice to White House Spokesman Jay Carney and others from “how could you not have known” to “how could you have done these things?”

 

First, it is important to understand that Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Dougherty and Tyrone Woods were not killed at a consulate office in Benghazi—as there is not such office there. They died at one of the largest CIA operations centers in the Middle East, which was located in Benghazi and served as the logistics headquarters for arms and weapons being shipped out of the post-Qaddafi Libya.

 

Although the U.S. government insisted that Stevens was involved in securing and destroying the numerous caches of arms and weapons once under the control of Qaddafi, the operation was more complex than that. The visual accounts of weapons being destroyed were indeed real, but those weapons were not operational. The working weapons were actually separated and transported to holding facilities for their eventual use in Syria. Russia was fully aware of this operation and warned the U.S. not to engage in the destabilization of Syria, as doing so would endanger their national security interests. Deposing Assad, as despotic as he might be, and replacing him with a Muslim Brotherhood-led regime would likely lead to unrestrained Islamic chaos across the region.

 

The Turkish warning

 

According to my source, Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 to meet with his Turkish counterpart, who reportedly warned Stevens that the operation was compromised. They met in person so that Stevens could be shown overhead satellite images, taken by the Russians, of nefarious activities taking place in Turkey. But just what were these nefarious activities?

 

It is reasonable to suspect that these activities were more dire than just your average “gun running” operation. Since the overthrow of Qaddafi, it is estimated that upwards of 40 million tons of weapons and arms were shipped out of Libya to Syria. But it was also known inside intelligence circles that Qaddafi possessed chemical weapons in addition to numerous surface-to-air missiles. Could it be that Russia obtained unmistakable surveillance footage of the anti-Assad “rebels” being shown how to load chemical payloads onto missiles inside Turkey near the border of Syria? Weapons, of course, that were shipped from Libya by the CIA in conjunction with various Muslim Brotherhood rebel groups. If so, such weapons could be used as a “false flag” type of operation—one that would be implemented to “set-up” Assad by making it appear that he was using these weapons on forces dedicated to his overthrow.

 

The blowback by the international community would be swift and punishing, and the entirety of the civilized world would be demanding his overthrow. NATO would then be used to expedite his ouster, and Russia’s moral position within the international community would be weakened. Was the meeting held to show Stevens that the operation was compromised and that they had to stop?

 

A Nation/State sponsored attack?

 

While the administration asserts that the attack in Benghazi was conducted by a group of rebels acting alone, the facts seem to indicate otherwise. The level of coordination was such that we did not deploy military assets, located just an hour or two away by air, to rescue Stevens and the others at the CIA operations center in their time of need. If, as the administration contends, that the attack was perpetuated by a group of frenzied rebels, our military could have easily handled them in short order. So why was there no rescue operation?

 

Perhaps the statements made yesterday by Leon Panetta, U.S. Secretary of Defense provides some insight if one analyzes the essence of those statements. Among other things, Panetta said that “…the basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on…” Well, it has been confirmed we did know what was taking place on the ground in Benghazi, so exactly what did Panetta mean by this statement?

 

Against the backdrop of the official story, it makes little sense. If, however, one considers the alternative, that the attack was coordinated and was a nation/state sponsored attack, then it becomes clearer. Panetta and the highest levels of this administration likely knew exactly what we were doing, and knew that the operation was compromised. They knew, or had reason to believe, that the attack was being conducted at a nation/state level in response to our covert operation in Libya and arming the anti-Assad Syrian opposition.

 

Although Russia figures prominently here, Iran now comes into focus as Russia is not likely to directly engage U.S. forces. They must, however, protect their interests. Much like we were using anti-Assad forces to advance our objectives in Syria, Russia was using Iranian-backed forces to protect theirs. It appears that the attacks were conducted or facilitated by Iranian assets—perhaps as many as three teams of assets in Benghazi.

 

As the White House and other agencies monitored intelligence in real-time, they faced a dilemma. They knew that the nation/state sponsored attack teams were lying in wait for U.S. rescue forces to arrive, which is the reason the fight did not conclusively end sooner. They did not know exactly where all of the attack teams were, but knew they were present based on signal communication intercepts. Could they risk such exposure by deploying a rescue team to Benghazi, only to end up with another Black Hawk down type scenario? In addition to that scenario, the entire operation now becomes exposed for what it is. Take another look at Panetta’s statement in that context. Does it now make more sense? Bad PR in an election year, no?

 

As daylight approached with no response from the U.S. and no aid to the Americans under fire, the attack teams had to disperse into the cover of the remaining darkness, but not before their mission was accomplished. And sadly, it was.

 

Fallout

 

From the day of attack in Benghazi, Iran has been engaged in a full spectrum attack on the U.S. and NATO across the board involving embassies, bombing and even cyber attacks. All of this is the fallout from the arms and weapons smuggling operation, which was far greater than understood by the Western media.

 

Russia has now moved their contingent of S-400 missiles into much of Syria in anticipation of NATO establishing an “air cap” over Syria. A ten-mile “buffer zone” along Syria’s border has been created for Syrian refugees, but it also acts as a catalyst for the encroachment into Syrian territory. It sets the stage for further advancement and erosion of Syrian land, incrementally, of course.

 

It is also of critical importance to note that last weekend, Russia completed large-scale exercises of their Strategic Nuclear Forces under the watchful command of President Vladimir Putin. These were the first such nuclear exercises conducted since the fall of the Soviet Union.

 

To those with discernment, it is obvious that we are at the precipice of World War III. Putin himself stated as much, noting that WW III will not start in Iran but Syria, his own “red line in the sand.”

 

Copyright © Douglas Hagmann

Douglas J. Hagmann and his son, Joe Hagmann host The Hagmann & Hagmann Report, a live Internet radio program broadcast each weeknight from 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET.

Douglas Hagmann, founder & director of the Northeast Intelligence Network, and a multi-state licensed private investigative agency. Doug began using his investigative skills and training to fight terrorism and increase public awareness through his website.

Doug can be reached at: director@homelandsecurityus.com

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http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/50586

 

Medical Examiner keeps thousands of brains for ‘tests’ families call needless

  • By SUSAN EDELMAN
  • Last Updated:  12:56 PM, October 28, 2012
  • Posted: 10:30 PM, October 27, 2012

EXCLUSIVE

It’s the great brain robbery.

The city Medical Examiner’s Office has kept the brains of more than 9,200 deceased New Yorkers — from the elderly to newborns — in the past eight years, records obtained by The Post show.

The stunning revelation comes as three families publicly question whether the city is yanking brains so rookie pathologists can “practice,” for scientists’ experiments, or for no good reason at all.

“Vasean’s organs were removed for ‘testing’ without any investigative or medical necessity,” charges a suit by the family of Vasean Alleyne, an 11-year-old Queens boy killed by a drunken driver. Months after his burial, his mom was shocked to read in the autopsy report that her son’s brain and spinal cord had been taken.

Brooklyn mom Cindy Bradshaw was stunned to learn she had buried her stillborn son, Gianni, without his brain. The ME kept it — though an autopsy found his death was caused by an abnormality in her umbilical cord and placenta.

“Do they really want to know what happened to the person, or are they just experimenting?” Bradshaw asked.

“The death had nothing to do with the brain,” said her lawyer, Daniel Flanzig. “It’s unconscionable — and unlawful — for the Medical Examiner not to return it to the family for a complete burial.”

Others suspect organs are used as a training tool.

“I think they collect brains to allow a new neuropathologist to practice on various body parts,” said Anthony Galante, a lawyer for the family of Jesse Shipley, 17, who was killed in a car crash in 2005. Friends gawked at his brain in a labeled jar on a class trip to the Staten Island morgue — two months after his funeral.

“When it comes to investigating deaths, the law gives the Medical Examiner’s Office broad authority, including the retention of tissue at autopsy for further testing,” said a city Law Department spokeswoman, declining further comment. The ME also declined to comment.

In November 2010, a judge ruled the city must notify families of seized organs. The ME began giving kin a form with three options: wait to claim the body pending “further testing” of organs; collect the organs later; or just let the city dispose of the organs.

The disposal method is not mentioned. But an internal ME document spells it out: “Medical waste is incinerated. Please do not tell NOK (next-of-kin) that unclaimed organs are ‘cremated. . .’ ”

Under The Post’s Freedom of Information Law request, the ME gave a list of 9,200 brains and 45 spinal cords removed between Nov. 1, 2004, and July 1, 2012. Some 7,700 brains were taken before the notifications began.

The ages of the decedents range from 99 to fetuses.

Brains harden in formaldehyde several weeks before they can be “cut” by scientists.

In Staten Island, ME staff delayed tests for “months” until a half-dozen brains were ready — to make a pathologist’s trip from Manhattan “worth his while,” according to testimony in the Shipley case.

But Jesse’s death was no mystery: “He was killed in an auto accident. His skull had multiple fractures,” lawyer Galante said.

Two days after Bradshaw’s son was stillborn, April 28, an ME pathologist told her, “The autopsy was complete and I could pick him up any time,” she said. The cause of death was a pregnancy complication, the autopsy confirmed. “He was a healthy baby.”

But the ME called back hours after the May 4 funeral.

“I forgot to tell you, the brain is still here,” the pathologist said.

The only explanation given Bradshaw, she said: “It’s routine.”

susan.edelman@nypost.com

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/city_sitting_on_brains_cTMsOuGmPkRRDxBQm0IvNJ

EU rules are driving maternity and casualty closures

European rules limiting doctors’ working hours have played a part in the closure of hospital departments across Britain, a Sunday Telegraph investigation has found.

EU rules are driving maternity and casualty closures

The maximum 48-hour-week for doctors was introduced in August 2009. Since then, plans to close or downgrade 40 Accident and Emergency (A&E) and maternity units have been drawn up or executed. Photo: ALAMY

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Laura Donnelly

By , and Charlotte Santry

9:00PM BST 27 Oct 2012

In at least 21 cases where casualty or maternity units have closed or closures been planned since 2009, NHS officials have cited the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) as a factor in the decision.

Managers say that the directive, which sets a maximum 48-hour-week for doctors, has left hospitals with too few staff to keep the departments open.

Critics say the findings show how the Strasbourg diktat is jeopardising patient safety and needs to be reformed.

It comes as the NHS is facing £20 billion worth of efficiency savings by 2015, meaning there is no slack in the system to pay for extra staff. Although the Department of Health has been spared the austerity cuts imposed on other parts of the public sector, it is having to find money from within its own budget to meet the rising costs of an ageing population.

The maximum 48-hour-week for doctors – including time on call – was introduced in August 2009.

Since then, plans to close or downgrade 40 Accident and Emergency (A&E) and maternity units have been drawn up or executed.

An analysis of NHS reports into the closures found that in 26 of the cases, officials cited the directive as a key factor in plans to close or scale back the unit.

This included 14 A&E units – most of which are being replaced by more rudimentary “urgent care centres” which treat walk-in patients, with most ambulances diverted elsewhere.

Five of these have already closed, while a further nine are due to do so.

The directive was also cited in the closure of four maternity units and the proposed closure of three more. In addition to the 21 closures, it is also behind the “downgrading” of five further maternity wards into “midwifery-led” centres, without consultants, which can only take “low-risk” cases.

Health service documents identify the EWTD as a key factor in plans to close casualty departments at Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Ealing and Chase Farm hospitals in London, King George Hospital in Essex, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals in Yorkshire, and Trafford Infirmary, in Greater Manchester.

It is also cited in plans which led to closures of casualty units at Bishop Auckland Hospital, Co Durham; Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Welwyn Garden City; Rochdale Infirmary, Greater Manchester; Queen Mary’s, South London; Belfast City Hospital and Mid Ulster Hospital, in Londonderry.

In proposals to close A&E departments at Dewsbury Hospital and Pontefract General Hospital in West Yorkshire, and turn the maternity unit in Dewsbury into a midwife-led centre, NHS Kirklees say: “European legislation is reducing the number of hours that doctors are allowed to work each week…Given the additional doctors needed by every organisation to maintain safe levels of service provision, hospitals are in competition with each other to attract staff.”

NHS plans to turn the maternity unit at Friarage hospital, Northallerton, into a midwife-led unit, and run paediatric services on a part-time basis state: “The Royal College of Paediatric and Child health have warned that it will be impossible to staff all the inpatient rotas that currently exist in a safe and sustainable way and comply with European Working Time regulations.”

In the case of each closure or downgrading, other factors were also cited in the reports, such as trusts’ financial problems, improved clinical outcomes at larger hospitals and the increasing specialisation of doctors.

However, the revelation that the EU directive is driving closures comes at a time of mounting concern at the impact of the European rules.

It is thought the impact on closures could be even greater, because in other cases, although the EU legislation was not named, staff shortages and the difficulties of training doctors were listed as reasons for change.

Since the rules came in, NHS hospitals have struggled to recruit enough medics to fill their rotas, vastly inflating rates for agency doctors.

As a result, Britain has become a magnet for foreign doctors seeking work. New figures show that since the directive came in, the number who trained elsewhere in Europe but are registered to work in the UK has risen by 13 per cent.

Last year more than 2,700 medics came here from other EU countries, the highest number – 449 – coming from Romania, while 386 came from Italy and 365 from Greece.

Although the directive is supposed to cover all EU member states, many other countries ignore the rules. As a result, health trusts in this country are struggling to meet the costs of plugging staff shortages.

Earlier this year, The Sunday Telegraph identified hospitals which have paid as much as £20,000 a week for one doctor to provide cover, in order to meet the directive.

Because of the way the rules work, doctors were rewarded not just for the hours they worked, but for time they were on call – including when they were sleeping.

Surgeons say safety is being compromised by shortages of medics, frequent handovers between shifts, increasing risks to patients and less time to train junior doctors.

Prof Norman Williams, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons, which campaigned against the directive, said the system was jeopardising patient safety, and damaging training for current and future generations of doctors.

“There is little doubt that the EU restrictions are having an impact on patient care,” he said. “Instead of seeing familiar faces at their bedside, the patient gets a conveyer belt of doctors on different shift patterns.”

The college said the sums being spent on agency doctrors to plug rota gaps showed how “ill-conceived” the directive was.

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of The Patients Association, said: “Services must be designed around patients, and what is absolutely clear is that the EU Directive is having an impact on the quality of care that they receive.”

She said the combination of the directive with the demand for £20bn in efficiency savings was causing staff shortages and ward closures in too many hospitals.

The directive is the result of the EU Social Chapter, agreed in 1991, which set out plans which were supposed to improve the health and safety of workers, by capping their hours.

Under the last Conservative government, Britain secured an opt-out from the provisions. This was reversed in 1997 under Labour, although a delay enforcing the rules for doctors was agreed. Surgeons have been lobbying for the rules to be relaxed, so they can work up to 65 hours a week, which would include time spent on call.

Currently, all individuals are allowed to opt out of the rules, and work up to 56 hours, but doing so can disrupt medical team rotas and departments are not allowed to opt out wholesale.

Spread evenly, a 48-hour-week works out as five days of nine and a half hours, but surgeons say the need for them to be on call for their patients, and train junior staff, means they need more flexibility about their hours.

Soon after taking power, the Coalition pledged to tackle the issue, but talks between European social partners (the trade union and employer organisations of EU member states) have made little progress, and a deadline has been extended until December.

Ian Eardley, a member of the Royal College’s council said: “The longer these talks go on, the less optimistic that we are. It is not looking hopeful.”

Surgeons say the changes mean that junior doctors on average undergo 6,000 hours of supervised surgery before they become consultants, compared with 21,000 under the old system.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “The EU Working Time Directive can have an effect on both continuity of care for patients and medical training for junior doctors. This is why the Coalition Government wants to limit its application in the UK so our NHS has more flexibility to support doctors in training and to provide services seven days a week.”

The spokesman said that changes to services should only happen if they showed clear benefits for patients, and had the agreement of doctors, nurses and other health professionals after extensive consultation with patients and the public.

The plans driven by the European Working Time Directive

A&Es closures:

Bishop Auckland, County Durham, October 2009

Mid Ulster, Londonderry, N Ireland, May 2010

Queen Mary’s, South London “Temporary” closure since September 2010 – trust now in administration

Rochdale Infirmary, Greater Manchester, April 2011

Belfast City, Belfast, Closed since November 2011 – permanent closure proposed

Queen Elizabeth II, Welwyn Garden City, proposed

Chase Farm, North London, proposed

King George Ilford, Essex, proposed

Trafford General, Greater Manchester, proposed

Ealing, West London, proposed

Hammersmith, West London, proposed

Charing Cross, West London, proposed

Pontefract, Yorkshire, proposed

Dewsbury, Yorkshire, proposed

In majority of cases, units to be replaced by “urgent care centres” treating walk-in patients, with most ambulances diverted elsewhere.

Maternity units being closed or downgraded:

Trafford, General Greater Manchester, January 2010

Rochdale Infirmary, Greater Manchester, June 2011

Fairfield General, Greater Manchester, June 2011

Queen Elizabeth II, Welwyn Garden City, October 2011

Maidstone, Kent, September 2011

Salford Royal, Greater Manchester, November 2011

Chase Farm, North London, proposed

King George Ilford, Essex, proposed

Alexandra Hospital Redditch, Worcestershire, proposed

Dewsbury, Yorkshire, proposed

Royal Shrewsbury, Shropshire, proposed

Friarage, Northallerton, proposed

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9637842/EU-rules-are-driving-maternity-and-casualty-closures.html

Street lights turned off in their thousands to meet carbon emission targets

Huge swathes of Britain are being plunged into darkness as more and more streetlights are switched off by councils and roads authorities.

Motorway lights to be turned off to cut carbon

9:00PM BST 27 Oct 2012

Lights are being turned off on motorways and major roads, in town centres and residential streets, and on footpaths and cycle ways, as councils try to save money on energy bills and meet carbon emission targets. The switch-off begins as early as 9pm.

They are making the move despite concerns from safety campaigners and the police that it would lead to an increase in road accidents and crime.

The full extent of the blackout can be disclosed following an investigation by The Sunday Telegraph – which comes on the day that clocks moved back an hour, making it dark earlier in the evening – and found that:

  • 3,080 miles of motorways and trunk roads in England are now completely unlit;
  • a further 47 miles of motorway now have no lights between midnight and 5am, including one of Britain’s busiest stretches of the M1, between Luton and Milton Keynes;
  • out of 134 councils which responded to a survey, 73% said they had switched off or dimmed some lights or were planning to;
  • all of England’s 27 county councils have turned off or dimmed street lamps in their areas.

The vast majority of councils have chosen to turn lights off at night, at times when they say there is less need for them, while others have installed lamps which can be dimmed.

Local authorities say the moves helps reduce energy bills, at a time when energy prices are continuing to rise. Several of the big energy companies have unveiled price hikes in recent weeks, including British Gas, npower and EDF Energy – which this week said it was increasing its standard variable prices for gas and electricity customers by 10%.

Some councils expect to save hundreds of thousands of pounds by turning off lights at night or converting them to dimmer switches.

However some councils admit they may not see savings for another four or five years because of the cost of installing new lights, dimmer switches and complex control systems.

And some councils – as well as the Highways Agency, responsible for motorways and major A roads – say that the lights are being turned off to meet “green” targets to cut carbon emissions, by reducing electricity use.

Critics say that spending money to meet the targets is a poor use of public funds in a time of recession.

The increasing black-out was criticised last night by safety and motoring organisations, who said the economic and environmental benefits were being over-stated and warned that less street lighting would lead to more accidents and more crime.

A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said: “The presence of lighting not only reduces the risk of traffic accidents but also their severity. Surveys have show that the public are in favour of street lighting as a way of improving road safety and that, if anything, it needs to be improved in some areas.

“There are economic and environmental reasons why some organisations may wish to reduce the amount of lighting. However there are safety reasons why lighting needs to be available.”

Paul McClenaghan, commercial director at Halfords, said: “Poor lighting or none at all can make it very difficult for motorists to see hazards or objects clearly at night. Added to this Government figures show that road accidents increase in the week after the clocks change, so it is clear that extra vigilance is needed at this time of the year, from motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.”

Paul Watters, head of roads policy at the AA, said: “We do know that most accidents happen in the dark, its also comforting for people, especially if they arrive back from somewhere in the night, when they have got a late train. There are also suggestions that it increases crime. So it may save money in terms of energy but then you have to look at the cost in terms of security, safety and accidents, it may actually be more. We have even heard that some milkmen are having more trips and falls, so it has had some implications you might not think about.

“Motorway drivers don’t like changing situations, from light to dark and dark to light, but I don’t think we would argue for no lighting at all. It is extremely comforting for drivers, especially in bad weather.”

The switch-off of motorway lights means that 70 per cent of the network is now unlit at night. Sections of the M1, M2, M27, M4, M48, M5, M54, M58, M6, M65 and M66 are now unlit from midnight.

One of the sections of the M1 is a 15-mile stretch from just north of Luton to the outskirts of Milton Keyns, one of the heaviest-used sections of any british road.

The Highways Agency said the full-switch off had saved it £400,000 last year, while reducing carbon emissions, and said it planned further blackouts.

Meanwhile 98 councils said they have switched off or dimmed lights, or planned to in the future.

In Shropshire, 12,500 – 70 per cent of the area’s lights – are now switched off between midnight and 5.30am, while Derbyshire County Council plans to turn off 40,000 lights at night. In Lincolnshire, some are turned off from as early as 9pm.

Leicestershire County Council expects to save £800,000 a year in energy bills by adapting one third of the country’s 68,000 street lights so that they can be dimmed or turned off at night.

Caerphilly in Wales no longer lights industrial estates overnight and Bradford dims 1,800 of its 58,000 street lights between 9.30pm and 5.30am.

However Worcestershire County Council postponed plans to switch off and dim lights after it found it would cost more money to implement the scheme than it would save. The authority currently pays £2 million a year to run 52,000 street lights but it found that to reduce that bill by £600,000 a year it would need to invest £3.4 million first. It is now running a trial to dim some lights before a final decision is made.

In many areas councils have received complaints from residents.

Caroline Cooney, an actress who complained to Hertfordshire County Council when the lights near her home in Bishop’s Stortford were switched off after midnight, said she faced a “black hole” when she returned home from working in the West End of London.

“My street is completely canopied by large tress and I could not see my hand in front of my face,” she said.

Mrs Cooney, who appeared in Gregory’s Girl and who has also appeared in Casualty, said it was putting people in danger and the council was effectively imposing a “midnight curfew on residents who do not want to take the risk of walking home blind”.

“When I came out of the train station it was just like a black hole,” she said.

“I simply cannot risk walking home in what is effectively pitch blackness.”

However the council told her it could not “provide tailored street lighting for each individual’s particular needs”.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9637929/Street-lights-turned-off-in-their-thousands-to-meet-carbon-emission-targets.html

Fears of a witch hunt as BBC sex abuse scandal spreads

Dead TV presenter’s crimes cast shadow over incoming New York Times CEO.

 October 27, 2012 07:00

Entwhistle 10 26 2012
The BBC under fire: Director general George Entwistle. (Andrew Cowie/AFP/Getty Images)

LONDON, UK — It started as a simple scandal involving a few sordid claims about a dead television presenter. Now revelations about Jimmy Savile have become a “tsunami of filth” that threatens to tear apart the BBC, destroy public careers and even stain the New York Times.

As fresh allegations of abuse, rape, pedophilia and even necrophilia against Savile emerge daily, the British public is fast becoming inured to the horrors he was allowed to perpetrate during a five-decade sex rampage at the BBC, as well as schools, hospitals and other institutions he visited for charity work.

Police are now believed to be following up almost 400 complaints against the presenter. Most have emerged since a rival to the BBC aired a television documentary in September — almost a year after Savile’s death — that carried interviews with alleged victims.

Although public revulsion at Savile’s acts may have reached terminal velocity, the spread of blame continues to accelerate. Questions are being asked about how Savile got away with it for so long, who helped him and, crucially, whether anyone at the BBC is guilty of a cover-up.

A frenzy of finger pointing has targeted BBC figures past and present but has also extended to health officials, police and — following claims in some quarters that aspects of Savile’s sexual preferences were more acceptable in bygone decades — British society as a whole.

Now some believe the campaign threatens to become a witch hunt, amid suggestions some British media are deliberately whipping up opinion against the BBC as payback for the scrutiny they faced during the recent phone-hacking scandal.

Three inquiries have emerged from the Savile affair. The director of public prosecutions will examine why police failed to act on earlier reports against Savile and look into sex-abuse claims against others linked to him. The BBC has launched two more probes.

The broadcaster is under pressure to examine suggestions that senior staff knew Savile was exploiting his celebrity to prey on young people taking part in his television shows. There are also questions about a possible pedophile ring within the BBC.

The broadcaster has also been called on to explain a decision last December to shelve an investigation into Savile by journalists for Newsnight, a BBC current-affairs show. The report would have coincided with another program honoring Savile.

A panel of lawmakers this week grilled the BBC’s new director general. George Entwistle has issued an apology to Savile’s victims, but has drawn criticism for appearing to hang Newsnight editor Peter Rippon out to dry.

Asked whether BBC bosses had leaned on the program to drop the Savile report, Entwistle said: “I have no evidence whatsoever that any kind of managerial pressure was applied. The decision was made by Peter Rippon.”

However, his insistence he was unaware of the Newsnight investigation at the time drew dismay. Panel chairman John Whittingdale said the director general had displayed an “extraordinary lack of curiosity.”

Similar concerns prompted Culture Minister Maria Miller to write to the BBC Trust, the broadcaster’s governing body, this week to express her concerns about upholding the expectations of ordinary householders who fund the television service through a mandatory license fee.

“In all our conversations we have talked about the paramount importance of full public trust in the BBC’s inquiries and agreed that it is essential that license fee payers can be assured that they are being conducted thoroughly and with the full cooperation of the BBC,” she wrote.

BBC Trust Chairman Chris Patten later defended Entwistle, saying he had coped well with the scandal despite his relative inexperience. “It was a very, very difficult baptism of fire for a new director general,” he told the BBC, “this great tsunami of filth broke over him 11 days into the job.”

“Our main concern has to be for the victims of abuse and worse who have been marooned for years, trying to tell their stories and not being believed,” he added, “including, it seems, by the BBC, and to deal with the terrible damage to the BBC.”

Entwistle’s decision to pin the Newsnight blame on Rippon, who has already stepped aside over the controversy, appears to have sparked an internecine squabble at the BBC. The Daily Telegraph newspaper characterized it as a “war.”

The backlash came from Victoria Derbyshire, a well-known BBC radio presenter, who this week tweeted: “If BBC journos/Eds make a poor editorial call, (& most of us hve at some point), will they be treated by mgemnt like Peter Rippon has been?”

Attention has also fallen on Entwistle’s predecessor, Mark Thompson, who was in charge at the time of the Newsnight report. He’s denied quashing it, but has offered conflicting accounts about what he knew of its contents.

Thompson is due to take over as chief executive officer at The New York Times in November, but the Savile affair has raised concerns from Times staff. The paper’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, even questioned whether Thompson still has a future at the paper.

“How likely is it that the Times Company will continue with its plan to bring Mr. Thompson on as chief executive?” she asked. “His integrity and decision-making are bound to affect The Times and its journalism — profoundly. It’s worth considering now whether he is the right person for the job, given this turn of events.”

 

The relentless focus on the BBC has prompted an outcry from those who feel that the broadcaster, its editors and executives are being unjustly pursued while the plight of those who suffered from Savile’s attacks is being sidelined.

“It seems some people are still fundamentally missing the point,” newspaper columnist Suzanne Moore said. “This is a story about an environment of abuse, how it flourished in plain sight, how supposedly ‘good guys’ did nothing to stop it, and how girls are never really to be trusted. Or never actually a priority.”

Mark Damazar, a former BBC news director who is now the master of St. Peter’s College at Oxford University, said the broadcaster is guilty of nothing more than professional miscalculation.

“The BBC lives by noble ideals, of course often imperfectly executed, and is trying to get to the bottom of it,” he said. “I know that many license-payers will feel let down. But the BBC has recovered before from editorial dramas — and we ought not to enjoy its misfortunes.”

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/united-kingdom/121026/savile-scandal-bbc-britain-cameron

Putin says female punk band Pussy Riot ‘could be at home now doing the housework if they had not broken the law’

  • Putin said the bands three members deserved  their fate because  they threatened the moral foundations of Russia
  • Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda  Tolokonnikova, 22, have been sentenced to  two years in jail after bursting  into a  cathedral to protest against Putin
  • A third convicted band member, Yekaterina  Samutsevich, was released on  appeal
  • Putin also described Pussy Riot’s protest as  ‘an act of group sex aimed at hurting religious feelings’

By Anthony Bond

PUBLISHED:03:46 EST, 26  October 2012| UPDATED:09:48 EST, 26 October 2012

 

 

Controversial: Russia's President Vladimir Putin has rejected criticism of the imprisonment of the female punk band Pussy Riot 

Controversial: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has  rejected criticism of the imprisonment of the female punk band Pussy Riot by  claiming ‘they would be at home doing housework’ if they had not ‘broken the  law’

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has  rejected criticism of the imprisonment of the female punk band Pussy Riot by  claiming ‘they would be at home doing  housework if they had not broken the law’.

Speaking to a group of foreign Russian  experts, Putin said the bands three members deserved their fate because they  threatened the moral foundations of Russia.

During the two-hour dinner, the president,  now in his 13th  year running Russia, became animated only when asked about the  band.

According to The Independent, Putin said:  ‘Whether the sentence was too much or too  little is not for me to  judge,’ he said. ‘That is a matter for the court.’

He added: ‘If they had not broken the law,  they would now be at home, doing the housework, or back at their  jobs.’

Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda  Tolokonnikova, 22, were convicted of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’ in August, after they burst  into a cathedral to protest against Vladmir  Putin.

They were sentenced to two years in jail for  the stunt, a punishment that many in the West said was too harsh.

A third convicted band member, Yekaterina  Samutsevich, was released on  appeal when a court suspended her sentence after  her lawyer argued that  she had been pulled away from the cathedral’s altar  before the protest  song began.

At yesterday’s dinner Putin asked why  Westerners who criticized Russia for sending  two of the young women to labor  camps far from Moscow had not come out  in support of a jailed American who made  an anti-Muslim hate film.

‘Do you want to support people with such  views? If you do, then why do you  not support the guy who is sitting in prison  for the film about the  Muslims?’ the president shot back.

This was an apparent reference to ‘The  Innocence of Muslims’, a hate  video that triggered violent protests across the  Islamic world when it  was aired on the Internet.

Jailed: Members of Pussy Riot sit in a glass-walled cage during a court hearing in Moscow earlier this year. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, right, Maria Alyokhina, centre, and Yekaterina Samutsevich left, are pictured 

Jailed: Members of Pussy Riot sit in a glass-walled cage  during a court hearing in Moscow earlier this year. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova,  right, Maria Alyokhina, centre, and Yekaterina Samutsevich left, are  pictured

 

An actress in the film has identified an  Egyptian-born Californian, Mark  Basseley Youssef, as its author. Youssef is  currently detained on  suspicion of violating his probation terms for a bank  fraud conviction.

‘We have red lines beyond which starts the  destruction of the moral  foundations of our society,’ Putin went on. ‘If people  cross this line  they should be made responsible in line with the  law.’

He described Pussy Riot’s protest as ‘an act  of group sex aimed at hurting religious feelings’.

Putin’s comments came amid a wider clampdown  on dissent in Russia, which has  included arrests of opposition leaders on  criminal charges and tighter  controls on media.

This has led to fears that the political  system, which is highly centralized under the Kremlin, is becoming increasingly  ossified and intolerant.

Sent away: Alekhina and Tolokonnikova were transferred from a Moscow prison, pictured, to remote camps over the weekend 

Sent away: Alekhina and Tolokonnikova were transferred  from a Moscow prison, pictured, to remote camps over the weekend

Putin’s comments were made during a  seven-course meal with the Valdai Club of foreign journalists and academics at  his Stalin-era residence in a wooded compound outside  Moscow.

The Valdai  members were kept waiting in a  separate room for an hour and a half for  the meeting, while Putin met a group  of factory workers and teachers  from the Volga region to discuss religious  cults.

Putin spent most of his time carefully  explaining how his country was trying to improve the business climate and  diversify the economy away from its heavy dependence on oil and gas by promoting  high-tech industries.

The Kremlin chief said he had ‘mixed  feelings’ about a $55 billion state-sponsored takeover of the country’s number  three private oil producer TNK-BP last week because it increased  state-controlled Rosneft’s domination of the energy sector.

But Putin said he acted to help BP and put an  end to ‘fistfights’ between the British oil major and its four Soviet-born  oligarch partners.

‘We tried not to get involved, but when BP  managers came to me and the government and said we want to cooperate with  Rosneft, we could not say no,’ said Putin. Rosneft is run by a longtime close  Putin ally, Igor Sechin, and the deal will give BP a stake of nearly 20 per  cent.

Outrage: Pussy Riot members clad in balaclavas stage their protest inside Christ The Saviour Cathedral in Moscow in February 

Outrage: Pussy Riot members clad in balaclavas stage  their protest inside Christ The Saviour Cathedral in Moscow in February

Putin said he was implementing new laws and  reforming the courts to reach a target of moving Russia up from its 112th place  in the annual World Bank rankings for ease of doing business – below Pakistan –  to a top 20 place by 2018.

Putin deflected a question about the possible  stagnation of the system by saying Russia was re-introducing direct elections  for state governors, making it easier for political parties to register and  allowing citizens to petition the state Duma (parliament) directly with  proposals.

Many of the same faces who worked with Putin  when he was deputy mayor of St Petersburg in the early 1990s are still in senior  positions in Moscow in the government and in state companies.

But Putin said around two-thirds of the  members of the government had been changed when he returned to the Kremlin  earlier this year, swapping places with his protégé Dmitry Medvedev, who is now  prime minister.

‘I prefer to choose qualified, experienced  people who have proved they can do well,’ the president explained. He rejected  suggestions that there were any disputes inside the government in the wake of  the departure just over a year ago of long-time Finance Minister Alexei  Kudrin.

Putin insisted that Russia would continue to  give a high priority to growing its trade with its top business partner China,  aiming to boost bilateral business to $100 billion a year from current levels of  $83.5 billion.

Beijing and Moscow were also keen to do as  much trade as possible in their national currencies, he said, noting that the  rouble was fully convertible and that it was a ‘matter of time’ until the yuan  was, too.

By contrast, he berated the European Union  for its ‘ridiculous’ slowness in agreeing a visa-free regime for Russia and  attacked Brussels for not taking him up on an offer of cooperation on a new  satellite navigation system between the European Galileo system and Russia’s  GLONASS project.

‘The EU has a visa-free regime with certain  Latin American countries, and I don’t think their crime levels are any less than  ours,’ he said. ‘I don’t understand this approach.’

Locked up: Band member Maria Alyokhina smiles to her supporters as she is delivered to Khamovnichesky district court in Moscow, Russia 

Locked up: Band member Maria Alyokhina smiles to her  supporters as she is delivered to Khamovnichesky district court in Moscow,  Russia

Putin also had a ready answer for a  questioner who enquired how he would stop an exodus of talented, qualified young  people to the West. It was entirely normal, he said, for young people to study  and work in other countries where there was more money or a good education on  offer.

And what would the president want historians  to highlight as the greatest achievement of his third term in the  Kremlin?

‘You know, I am never guided by a possible  assessment of my work,’ Putin said, before highlighting how the economy had  doubled in size under his stewardship, average incomes had soared, gold reserves  were the world’s fourth biggest, the birth rate had increased – all what he  termed ‘modest, positive changes … but not enough’.

‘We need to create a democratic, effective  system of governance so that people feel they are participating,’ he said. ‘We  need to create an effective economy which is looking forward and to guarantee  the country’s security. I am sure we are capable of solving all these  problems.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2223429/Putin-Pussy-Riot-They-home-doing-housework-broken-law.html#ixzz2ASLCohq0 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Ted Turner says it’s ‘good’ U.S. soldiers are committing suicide in large numbers because it proves humans aren’t programmed to kill

  • A total of 247 U.S. army personnel are  suspected to have taken their own lives between January and September
  • This compares to 222 combat deaths in  Afghanistan to October 22
  • CNN founder claims it’s  time to put war and conflict behind us and ‘start acting like civilized,  educated human beings’

By Helen Pow

PUBLISHED:15:48 EST, 25  October 2012| UPDATED:16:00 EST, 25 October 2012

CNN founder Ted Turner says he thinks it’s  ‘good’ that U.S. soldiers are committing suicide in large numbers because it  highlights how humans are ‘born to love and help each other, not to  kill.’

The 73-year-old media mogul made the  controversial remarks during an appearance on the TV station’s ‘Piers Morgan  Tonight’ last Friday, shortly after the army’s latest figures on troop suicides  were released.

The data shows that more army personnel have  taken their own lives this year than have died in combat in  Afghanistan.

SCROLL DOWN  FOR VIDEO

Army suicides: CNN founder Ted Turner, pictured, has claimed that military suicides are positive because they highlights how humans are 'born to love and help each other, not to kill'

Army suicides: CNN founder Ted Turner, pictured, has  claimed that military suicides are positive because they highlights how humans  are ‘born to love and help each other, not to kill’

Referring to the startling figures, Morgan  says to Turner: ‘That’s shocking isn’t it?’

But Turner doesn’t agree, and almost goes as  far as to say army suicides are ‘terrific.’

‘Well, what — no, I think it’s — I think  it’s good, because it’s so clear that we’re programmed and we’re born to love  and help each other, not to kill each other, to destroy each other,’ he says.  ‘That’s an aberration. That’s left over from hundreds of years ago. It’s time  for to us start acting enlightened.’

Earlier in the interview, Morgan asks  Turner’s view on foreign policy, and whether he believes America should continue  to be the world’s policeman.

‘I don’t think we should need one,’  Turner  replies. ‘I think we should use courts the way we do in civilian  life. It’s  time to put war and conflict behind us and move on, and start acting like  civilized, educated human beings.’

Controversial: The 73-year-old media mogul, pictured right, made the controversial remarks during an appearance on 'Piers Morgan Tonight' last Friday

 

Controversial: The 73-year-old media mogul, pictured  right, made the controversial remarks during an appearance on ‘Piers Morgan  Tonight’ last Friday

Even before not-yet-released data  from  October, the number of suicides among active and reserve army  personnel this  year has surpassed the number of combined military combat deaths from January to  October 22, according to CNS  News.

A total of 247 U.S. army personnel are  believed to have taken their own lives between January and September this year,  army data shows. This compares to 222  deaths from ‘hostile causes’ in Afghanistan.

The figures, collated by the Brookings  Institution, show an extra 40 troops were killed by ‘non-hostile causes’ while  on deployments in the country.

This means their deaths were not caused by  the Taliban, insurgency forces or Afghan forces.

The latest army statistics, released  last  Friday, show 15 active duty soldiers are suspected of killing  themselves last  month alone. The same number of potential suicides was  recorded in  August.

‘Every suicide in our ranks is a tragic loss  for the Army family, adversely  affecting the readiness of our Army,’ Lt. Gen.  Howard B. Bromberg,  deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel, said in a  Department  of Defense release.

Suicides: A total of 247 U.S. soldiers are suspected to have taken their own lives between January and September this year, army data shows. This compares to 222 deaths from 'hostile causes' in Afghanistan

 

Suicides: A total of 247 U.S. soldiers are suspected to  have taken their own lives between January and September this year, army data  shows

Combat killings: The high number of suicides compares to 222 deaths from 'hostile causes' in Afghanistan between January and October 22

 

Combat killings: The high number of suicides compares to  222 deaths from ‘hostile causes’ in Afghanistan between January and October  22

‘I am asking soldiers, family members,  Department of the Army civilians,  neighbors, and friends to look out for each  other and reach out and  embrace those who may be struggling,’ he  said.

‘Recognize the warning signs such as  substance abuse, relationship problems, and withdrawal from friends and  activities and use available resources to help yourself or others. Our actions  can save lives.’

For the year up to September, 146 potential  suicides were recorded among active-duty army personnel and an additional 101  possible suicides were recorded for troops not on active duty.

Marine Corps commandment James Amos  said the  problem wasn’t confined to the army and that all armed services were  experiencing a ‘tough year’ when it came to suicides, according to CNS.news.

‘Even with the attention of the leadership, I  think all the services this year are feeling it,’ Amos said.

‘I guess what I would tell everybody here is  there is, through no shortage of great effort and leadership on the part of all  the services to try  to abate this, but this year, I think, is going to be a  tough year for  all the services.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2223260/Ted-Turner-CNN-founder-says-good-U-S-soldiers-committing-suicide-large-numbers-proves-humans-arent-programmed-kill.html#ixzz2AMlGIMuq Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Officer Held in Plot to Cook Women and Eat Them

 

By

The police officer referred to the woman as Victim-1, recording details like her date of birth, height, weight and bra size. He made note of certain materials, like chloroform and rope.

And then the officer, Gilberto Valle, a six-year veteran of the New York Police Department, saved the document on his computer, titling the file “Abducting and Cooking (Victim-1): A Blueprint.”

In one of the most disturbing and unusual arrests involving a police officer, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation took Officer Valle into custody on Wednesday after they uncovered several plots to kidnap, rape, cook and eat women.

“I was thinking of tying her body onto some kind of apparatus,” he wrote to a co-conspirator in one electronic communication intercepted by law enforcement authorities. “Cook her over a low heat, keep her alive as long as possible.”

When the co-conspirator asked how big the officer’s oven was, Officer Valle replied, “Big enough to fit one of these girls if I folded their legs.”

Two law enforcement officials familiar with the inquiry said the officer’s estranged wife recently contacted the F.B.I. to report that Officer Valle, 28, viewed and kept disturbing items on his computer. The couple has a daughter, age 1.

The criminal complaint suggests that Officer Valle, who worked in the 26th Precinct in Manhattan and lives in Forest Hills, Queens, never followed through on any of the acts he is accused of discussing.

His lawyer, Julia L. Gatto, said the officer committed no crime. “At worst, this is someone who has sexual fantasies,” Ms. Gatto said at a hearing on Thursday in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

“There is no actual crossing the line from fantasy to reality,” she added.

But a federal prosecutor, Hadassa Waxman, said Mr. Valle had communicated with three co-conspirators about his plans to commit a crime, and at one point used a police car while dressed in uniform to conduct surveillance of a woman, approaching her in “an intimidating fashion.”

Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman ordered Officer Valle to be held without bail on charges of federal kidnapping conspiracy.

The evidence consists largely of e-mails and instant messages in which Officer Valle was “discussing plans to kidnap, rape, torture, kill, cook and eat body parts of a number of women,” according to the complaint, which describes two episodes in which Officer Valle discussed abducting women. In each case, it appears that the women knew the officer vaguely. And in at least one case, the officer used the National Crime Information Center to get information about a third woman.

In a search of the officer’s computer, federal investigators discovered “files pertaining to at least 100 women,” according to the complaint. Some of them were his classmates from high school, a law enforcement official said.

“The F.B.I. has identified and interviewed 10 of these women, each of whom has confirmed to the F.B.I. that Valle is known to her,” the complaint said.

A law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said investigators feared that Officer Valle might soon carry out one of his plots.

In February, Officer Valle offered to kidnap a woman on an unnamed person’s behalf for a price: “$5,000 and she is all yours,” the officer wrote to that person, according to the complaint.

Officer Valle appeared to be under the impression that the person he was communicating with intended to rape the woman, according to the complaint.

“She will be alive,” he wrote. “I think I would rather not get involved in the rape. You paid for her. She is all yours, and I don’t want to be tempted the next time I abduct a girl.”

While the complaint does not identify the woman in question, F.B.I. agents later learned that cellphone tracking devices indicated that Officer Valle had made or received calls on the block in Manhattan where the woman lived.

On July 19, Officer Valle sent an instant message to the co-conspirator, indicating that he was meeting with Victim-1 three days later, according to the complaint. The victim, who was interviewed in October by the F.B.I., said she had met the officer that day “at a restaurant for lunch,” according to the complaint. What happened during or after the lunch was not disclosed.

A dating profile, which a law enforcement official confirmed belonged to Officer Valle, suggested an engaging and gregarious young man. He wrote that he had attended Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens and the University of Maryland, College Park. (At the court hearing on Thursday, the officer wore a red T-shirt affiliated with the university.)

“I can find the humor in any situation,” he had written, adding that he had “an endless supply of hilarious short stories from work that can’t be made up.”

 

Colin Moynihan, Sarah Maslin Nir and Wendy Ruderman contributed reporting

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/26/nyregion/gilberto-valle-accused-in-plot-to-kidnap-women-and-cook-them.html?_r=1&

Pennsylvania may force workers to pay taxes to their employers

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 11:56 EDT

A wealthy man looking very dandy. Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.

A bill that landed on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s (R) desk this week would give companies that hire more than 250 new workers a gobsmacking tax incentive: 95 percent of those workers’ state income taxes would be paid to the employer, and not the state.

It’s a bizarre strategy meant to attract companies from other states, specifically designed to lure California-based software maker Oracle into Pennsylvania. It’s also, as Philadelphia City Paper put it, “lavish corporate welfare” writ large across state government.

The bill, HB 2626, passed on October 17 with bipartisan support. Just 80 members of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives, most of the Democrats, voted in opposition.

 

Employers that hope to take advantage of the incentive program must hire 250 or more new full time employees and provide health insurance for them, in addition to paying a wage that’s above the county average wherever they’re located. Once those conditions are met, the proposed law would allow companies to absorb as much as $5 million of their employees’ income taxes every year.

As state struggle with one another in an effort to lure companies with special tax rates and incentives, millions are given away every year to thousands of companies that otherwise earn more than enough to continue being profitable.

Worker advocacy group Good Jobs First said earlier this year that 16 other states have tax incentive programs that allow bosses to keep some, or in a few cases, all of their workers’ state income taxes, including one in New Jersey called the “Business Employment Incentive Program,” which the Pennsylvania bill was modeled after.

The group added that more than $700 million is given away by states every year in the continual hunt to “blackmail” other states out of highly-coveted jobs.

Gov. Corbett’s office did not respond to Raw Story‘s request for comment. A spokesperson reportedly told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the bill was “still under review.”
——

Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.
Raw Story (http://s.tt/1qTyo)

White House told of militant claim two hours after Libya attack: emails “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” and the notation “SBU”, meaning “Sensitive But Unclassified.”

Photo
9:11pm EDT

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show.

The emails, obtained by Reuters from government sources not connected with U.S. spy agencies or the State Department and who requested anonymity, specifically mention that the Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia had asserted responsibility for the attacks.

The brief emails also show how U.S. diplomats described the attack, even as it was still under way, to Washington.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the Benghazi assault, which President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials ultimately acknowledged was a “terrorist” attack carried out by militants with suspected links to al Qaeda affiliates or sympathizers.

Administration spokesmen, including White House spokesman Jay Carney, citing an unclassified assessment prepared by the CIA, maintained for days that the attacks likely were a spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim film.

While officials did mention the possible involvement of “extremists,” they did not lay blame on any specific militant groups or possible links to al Qaeda or its affiliates until intelligence officials publicly alleged that on September 28.

There were indications that extremists with possible al Qaeda connections were involved, but also evidence that the attacks could have erupted spontaneously, they said, adding that government experts wanted to be cautious about pointing fingers prematurely.

U.S. intelligence officials have emphasized since shortly after the attack that early intelligence reporting about the attack was mixed.

Spokesmen for the White House and State Department had no immediate response to requests for comments on the emails.

MISSIVES FROM LIBYA

The records obtained by Reuters consist of three emails dispatched by the State Department’s Operations Center to multiple government offices, including addresses at the White House, Pentagon, intelligence community and FBI, on the afternoon of September 11.

The first email, timed at 4:05 p.m. Washington time – or 10:05 p.m. Benghazi time, 20-30 minutes after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission allegedly began – carried the subject line “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” and the notation “SBU”, meaning “Sensitive But Unclassified.”

The text said the State Department’s regional security office had reported that the diplomatic mission in Benghazi was “under attack. Embassy in Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well.”

The message continued: “Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four … personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support.”

A second email, headed “Update 1: U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi” and timed 4:54 p.m. Washington time, said that the Embassy in Tripoli had reported that “the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi had stopped and the compound had been cleared.” It said a “response team” was at the site attempting to locate missing personnel.

A third email, also marked SBU and sent at 6:07 p.m. Washington time, carried the subject line: “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack.”

The message reported: “Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli.”

While some information identifying recipients of this message was redacted from copies of the messages obtained by Reuters, a government source said that one of the addresses to which the message was sent was the White House Situation Room, the president’s secure command post.

Other addressees included intelligence and military units as well as one used by the FBI command center, the source said.

It was not known what other messages were received by agencies in Washington from Libya that day about who might have been behind the attacks.

Intelligence experts caution that initial reports from the scene of any attack or disaster are often inaccurate.

By the morning of September 12, the day after the Benghazi attack, Reuters reported that there were indications that members of both Ansar al-Sharia, a militia based in the Benghazi area, and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African affiliate of al Qaeda’s faltering central command, may have been involved in organizing the attacks.

One U.S. intelligence official said that during the first classified briefing about Benghazi given to members of Congress, officials “carefully laid out the full range of sparsely available information, relying on the best analysis available at the time.”

The official added, however, that the initial analysis of the attack that was presented to legislators was mixed.

“Briefers said extremists were involved in attacks that appeared spontaneous, there may have been a variety of motivating factors, and possible links to groups such as (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Ansar al-Sharia) were being looked at closely,” the official said.

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Mary Milliken and Jim Loney)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/24/us-usa-benghazi-emails-idUSBRE89N02C20121024

British secret service put me in jail, claims Prince Harry’s party model

A former model jailed hours after claiming she enjoyed a “drunken fumble” with a naked Prince Harry in a Las Vegas hotel room has blamed the British secret service for her month-long stay in prison.

British secret service put me in jail, claims Prince Harry’s party model

Carrie Reichert, right, claims that she had spent 20 minutes alone with Prince Harry after being hand-picked to attend the party Photo: BAUER-GRIFFIN/EROTEME.CO.UK

10:46PM BST 23 Oct 2012

Carrie Reichert, who claims she is 32 but according to police records is 40, said in August that she had spent 20 minutes alone with Prince Harry after being hand-picked to attend the hotel party.

Within hours of going public, she was arrested for allegedly bouncing £13,000 worth of cheques and spent almost a month in one of the toughest prisons in the US.

Yesterday, Miss Reichert said she had not been treated fairly and blamed her incarceration on the intervention of British security services. She said: “I believe the British secret service or whoever protects the royals have something to do with my situation.”

In August, Prince Harry was photographed playing strip billiards with a girl in a £5,100 eight-room suite at the Encore Wynn resort.

Miss Reichert, a beautician, claimed she was one of 10 “really pretty girls” who were hand-picked to attend the party and described Prince Harry as a “gentleman”. She said that they shared a kiss that was “fun” and “not romantic”.

She said the pair then had a conversation about her childhood in Britain before enjoying a “drunken fumble”. She told the People newspaper: “I’m not going to pass an opportunity to party with Prince Harry. Harry was already undressed [when I arrived]. It was just crazy, he looked actually delirious.

“There was a pool table and he was playing air guitar with pool sticks. We kissed for 15 to 20 minutes. I am sure someone stumbled in as there were people going in and out of rooms all the time. We kissed again and he said ‘that was great’.”

Her claims are strongly denied by royal aides, who said they were “completely untrue” and that she was not even present on the night of the party.

Miss Reichert told the newspaper that she was 32, but the warrant issued for her arrest in the US disclosed her true age.

She was arrested at San Diego airport shortly after the interview was published on Aug 24 for allegedly writing four “rubber” cheques worth a total of £13,000.

She denies the charges, which date back to 2003, claiming that the cheques related to a failed business venture. She spent almost a month in Harrison County jail in Mississippi, which is known as one of the toughest prisons in the country.

Donald Rafferty, her lawyer, said her treatment appeared excessive. He said: “She became very high-profile very quickly because of an interview she gave that had an impact.

“I am not convinced that Mississippi authorities were the ones necessarily stirring [things], but something was. She is disappointed and very upset over the way this is going down. She has several legitimate defences.”

In the US, writing cheques which do not clear can be a criminal offence. Officials at the circuit court of Harrison County confirmed that Miss Reichert had been arrested on a “felony bad cheque” charge.

According to Mr Rafferty, US authorities did not need to jail Miss Reichert but could have released her on bail. The Mississippi attorney general, however, treats “bad cheque” charges seriously and Miss Reichert could spend up to five years in prison if found guilty.

The attorney general in Mississippi said: “It is an open case and it would be inappropriate for us to comment.”

Prince Harry’s trip raised concerns about his royal security officers, who accompanied him but failed to intervene and stop photographs being taken.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/prince-harry/9628950/British-secret-service-put-me-in-jail-claims-Prince-Harrys-party-model.html

 

UNC scientist ‘who smuggled cocaine in honey trap sting’ writes to college from Argentine jail asking for DOUBLE his salary

  • Paul Frampton, 68, has been in a Buenos  Aires prison for ten months
  • A maths colleague at North Carolina defended  him, saying: ‘He has a good case’
  • The physicist has had a paper published  since being in prison

By Louise Boyle

PUBLISHED:16:48 EST, 23  October 2012| UPDATED:16:50 EST, 23 October 2012

Popular: Professor Paul Frampton has asked that his salary at UNC be doubled while he awaits drug smuggling charges in Argentina 

Popular: Professor Paul Frampton has asked that his  salary at UNC be doubled while he awaits drug smuggling charges in  Argentina

A physics professor, who has spent almost a  year in an Argentinian jail awaiting his drug smuggling trial, has written to  his employer asking to be paid double his salary.

Paul Frampton, 68, has sent a letter to the  provost of the University of North Carolina saying he should have his $107,000  salary reinstated – and then be paid twice as much.

The British professor is being held in a  Buenos Aires prison after being caught with a case containing more than 4lb of  cocaine.

The scientist – who faces 16 years in  prison – claims he was tricked into believing he was carrying it for a  bikini model  Denise Milani through a ‘honey trap scheme’.

Mark Williams, a UNC math professor, told ABC: ‘Most  people would think its crazy for a man in prison to ask for a raise, but if you  look closely, he has a good case.’

Mr Williams said that his friend of 25 years  is known to be excessively naive.

Mr Frampton wrote to Provost Bruce Carney to  make the point that he ranks  18th on the pay scale of the 28 professors in his  department despite the fact he is cited the most.

 

He has not been paid since March 1 when he  was put on leave after the scandal broke.

UNC declined to comment on Mr Frampton’s  request but said that he remained a valued member of staff.

Since he has been in jail, Mr Frampton has  written at least three physics’ articles one of which has been published.

 

Fake: Bikini model Denise Milani had her identity used by a drug smuggling gang who allegedly lured the physics professor into smuggling a suitcase of cocaine 

Fake: Bikini model Denise Milani had her identity used  by a drug smuggling gang who allegedly lured the physics professor into  smuggling a suitcase of cocaine

Prof Frampton, who is professor of physics  and astronomy, said he had been communicating online with someone claiming to be  Denise Milani for 11 weeks before his arrest earlier this year.

But when no one turned up after ten days, he  claims he was persuaded to travel to Argentina to catch up with her there  instead.

He says he was met instead by a Bolivian man,  who gave him a suitcase to take to Buenos Aires for Miss Milani, who had  apparently flown there for a modelling trip.

Place of work: Dr Frampton is one of 28 physics professors at the University of North Carolina - but is 18th on the pay scale 

Place of work: Dr Frampton is one of 28 physics  professors at the University of North Carolina – but is 18th on the pay  scale

When she did not turn up, he tried to  board  a plane home, but was arrested after the cocaine was found in a  false lining of  the case.

Argentinian authorities insist there is no  evidence the brunette was aware her identity was being used.

The professor, who was born in Kidderminster,  Worcestershire, is being held at Villa Devoto Prison in Buenos Aires.

Leading academics including 1979 Nobel prizewinner Sheldon Glashow, who has worked on more than a dozen  scientific  papers with Professor Frampton, have written to the judge in  his case to plead  his innocence.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2222127/UNC-scientist-Paul-Frampton-arrested-cocaine-smuggling-honey-trap-sting-asks-salary-DOUBLED.html#ixzz2AAu7wcdz Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Afghan ‘Woman of Courage’ hailed by Michelle Obama for defending women’s rights has actually JAILED 100 wives for ‘adultery’

More than 50% of women jailed for adultery  in Afghanistan come from province prosecuted by Ms Bashir –  which holds just 20% of the population

By Eddie Wrenn

 

Last year she was hailed as one of the most  influential people in the world – a defender of women’s rights as Afghanistan’s  only female head prosecutor.

Ms Bashir has been lauded by both  Michelle  Obama and Hilary Clinton – and she was one of ten women to receive a ‘Women of  Courage’ Award in Washington last year.

But Maria Bashir’s reputation is now in doubt  after the Times revealed that Ms Bashir is also the most prolific prosecutor of  women for Afghanistan’s so-called ‘moral’ crimes, such as adultery.

While Ms Bashir campaigns against abuse  husbands, more than half of the 172 women jailed in Afghanistan for sex outside  of marriage (known as ‘zina’) have come from her province.

Defender or jailer? Maria Bashir, pictured with with First Lady Michelle Obama U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has jailed more than 100 women for adultery in Afghanistan 

Defender or jailer? Maria Bashir, pictured with with  First Lady Michelle Obama U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has jailed  more than 100 women for adultery in Afghanistan

The Herat province’s population stands at an  estimated 1.7million, and Afghanistan as a whole has a population of  35million.

Last week Ms Bashir, who became lead  prosecutor in 2006, and has prosecuted nearly a thord of the 78 women jailed for  murder in Afghanistan, was promoted to become Herat’s  attorney-general.

The Times said diplomats are ‘shocked’ by the  extraordinary tally of women imprisoned for adultery.

It further says that 101 out of 136 women  serving in Herat’s women jail are there for adultery, one of the moral crimes  which campaigners for women’s rights are trying to remove from  Afghanistan.

Two sides: Maria Bashir, attorney general of Herat comforting Arefa, a victim of domestic violence, in Herat, Afghanistan, last year 

Two sides: Maria Bashir, attorney general of Herat  comforting Arefa, a victim of domestic violence, in Herat, Afghanistan, last  year

When she received her award, the two  presidential wives said: ‘Ms Bashir has waged a determined campaign against  crime and corruption.

‘She stands out as a champion of judicial  transparency and women’s rights, and exemplifies the resilience of Afghan  women.’

When the Times contacted Ms Bashir, she said  she was unaware that her prosecution rate was so much higer than other  provinces, but blamed it on her province’s closeness to the border with  Iran.

She said: ‘If it is higher it’s because we  are bordered with Iran, which culturally influences Afghans.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2221316/Woman-Courage-hailed-Michelle-Obama-defending-womens-rights-jailed-100-wives-adultery-Afghanistan.html#ixzz2A4XMAF37 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Drones were circling above U.S. consulate during Libya attack but officials decided NOT to mount a rescue mission

  • U.S.  Ambassador Christopher Stevens repeatedly pleaded with the State Department for  additional security personnel
  • Republicans  say the Obama administration denied the request for political reasons
  • The White  House says it had no role in procuring security detail for Stevens

By Hayley Peterson and Jill Reilly

PUBLISHED:10:01 EST, 19  October 2012| UPDATED:12:49 EST, 20 October 2012

American drones were in the skies above the  U.S. consulate in Benghazi as the deadly attack that killed ambassador  Christopher Stevens unfolded, it has been revealed.

Defense department officials considered  sending troops in to rescue the ambassador and staff, according to CBS News, but  ultimately decided not to .

They would haven been able to watch the  attack on-screen as it unfolded.

The revalations came a day after it emerged  that U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens repeatedly pleaded with the State  Department to ramp up his security team in Libya — requests that the Pentagon  ultimately denied — in the weeks, days and hours leading up to the terrorist  attack that killed him and three other Americans, newly released cables have  revealed.

Stevens, who was killed in the 11 September  attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, warned the State Department of a  ‘security vacuum’ in Libya ‘that is being exploited by independent actors’ in  one cable that described rapidly deteriorating security  conditions.

‘Islamic extremists are able to attack the  Red Cross with impunity,’ he wrote. ‘What we have seen are not random crimes of  opportunity but rather targeted discriminate attacks.’

Revelations: Washington was told within 24 hours of last month's deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate that there was evidence it was carried out by militants, not a spontaneous mob upset about ridiculing Islam's Prophet MuhammadRevelations: Washington was told within 24 hours of last  month’s deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate that there was evidence it was  carried out by militants, not a spontaneous mob upset about ridiculing Islam’s  Prophet Muhammad
Knowledge: It is unclear who, if anyone, saw the cable outside the CIA at that point and how high up in the agency the information wentKnowledge: It is unclear who, if anyone, saw the cable  outside the CIA at that point and how high up in the agency the information  went

Stevens said the attackers would not be  deterred ‘until authorities are at least as capable.’

Just hours before his death, he sent  the  Pentagon a cable describing ‘expanding Islamist influence in Dema,’ a town east  of Benghazi, and said he was seeing a ‘troubling increase in  violence and  Islamist influence.’

Stevens recapped a meeting in which  the  commander of Benghazi’s Supreme Security Council told him there is  ‘growing  frustration with police and security forces.’

The cables were released by  Republican Rep.  Darrell Issa of California, the chairman of the U.S.  House Oversight and  Government Reform Committee, which is investigating  the security matters  surrounding Stevens’ death and questioning whether  the State Department could  have prevented the deadly attack.

Less than three weeks ahead of the  presidential election, Republicans are using the cables to attack  President  Obama on his foreign policy, despite the State Department’s  claim that it was  solely responsible for the decisions to deny Stevens’  requests for more  security in Libya.

‘These critical foreign policy decisions are  not made by low or  mid-level career officials — they are typically made  through a  structured and well-reasoned process that includes the National  Security Council and the White House,’ Issa wrote in a letter to Obama on  Friday.

The letter claims that Obama had a  political  motivation in rejecting Stevens’ security requests, since the  president was  eager to show improving conditions in Libya after the  U.S.-led international  operation that toppled Libya dictator Moamar  Gadhafi.

On Aug. 2, six weeks before Stevens  was  killed, he requested ‘protective detail bodyguard’ positions,  calling the  security situation in Libya ‘unpredictable, volatile and  violent.’

A month earlier, he requested that  the State  Department extend his tour of duty personnel, which is a  16-man temporary  security team trained in combating terrorism. The  request was denied and the  security team left 8 August.

Stevens had asked for the security team to  stay through mid-September.

Colonel Andrew Wood, the leader of  the  security team that left Libya in the weeks before the terror attack, told CBS  News that Stevens fought hard against losing the team.

‘It was quite a degree of frustration on  their part,’ he said. ‘They were — I guess you could say —  clenched-fist over  the whole issue.

At loggerheads: The Obama administration's handling of the aftermath of the Benghazi attack came to the fore during Tuesday's second presidential campaign debateQuestions: In their debate on Tuesday, President Barack  Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney argued over when Obama first said it  was a terror attack

The White House maintained publicly for a  week that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was a spontaneous mob upset about an anti-Islam video, even though it has now been  revealed that they were informed within 24 hours of the attack  that it was  planned and carried out by militants.

‘Your administration has not been  straightforward with the American people in the aftermath of the  attack,’ Issa  wrote in his letter to Obama.

In his Rose Garden address the morning after  the killings, Obama said, ‘No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this  great nation, alter  that character or eclipse the light of the values that we  stand for.’

But Republicans say he was speaking generally  and didn’t specifically call  the Benghazi attack a terror attack until weeks  later, with the  president and other key members of his administration referring  at first to the anti-Muslim movie circulating on the Internet as a precipitating event.

Last week, the State Department said  that it  never believed the 11 September attack on the U.S. consulate was the result of a  protest over an anti-Islam movie, contradicting  previous statements.

Inferno: Armed attackers dumped cans of diesel fuel and set ablaze the consulate's exteriorInferno: Armed attackers dumped cans of diesel fuel and  set ablaze the consulate’s exterior
Siege: The compound came under heavy mortar and gunfire during the attack, which lasted several hours Siege: The compound came under heavy mortar and gunfire  during the attack, which lasted several hours

The White House now says the attack  probably  was carried out by an al Qaida-linked group, with no public  demonstration  beforehand. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton  blamed the ‘fog of war’  for the early conflicting accounts.

Issa’s committee questioned State  Department  officials for hours about what Republican lawmakers said was  lax security at  the consulate, given the growth of extremist Islamic  militants in North  Africa.

Congressional aides are hoping to use Stevens’ cables and information from State Department testimonies to  build a  timeline of what the intelligence community knew, compared to what the White  House was telling the public about the attack. That could give Romney  ammunition to use in his foreign policy debate with Obama on Monday  night.

Reports have revealed that the CIA station  chief in Libya compiled an intelligence briefing from eyewitnesses within 24 hours of the assault on the consulate that indicated militants launched the  violence.

The briefing from the station chief was written late Wednesday, 12 September and reached intelligence agencies in  Washington the next day, intelligence officials said.

Yet on Saturday of that week, briefing points  sent by the CIA to Congress  said ‘demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously  inspired by the  protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct  assault.’

The briefing  points, obtained by the AP,  added: ‘There are indications that  extremists participated in the violent  demonstrations’ but did not  mention eyewitness accounts that blamed militants  alone.

Such raw intelligence reports by the CIA on  the ground would normally be  sent first to analysts at the headquarters in  Langley, Virginia, for  vetting and comparing against other intelligence derived  from  eavesdropping drones and satellite images.

Only then would such intelligence  generally  be shared with the White House and later, Congress, a process  that can take  hours, or days if the intelligence is coming only from one or two sources who  may or may not be trusted.

U.S. intelligence officials say in this case  the delay was due in part to  the time it took to analyze various conflicting  accounts.

One official, speaking on condition  of  anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the incident  publicly,  explained that ‘it was clear a group of people gathered that  evening’ in  Benghazi, but that the early question was ‘whether extremists took over a crowd  or they were the crowd.’

But that explanation has been met with  concern in Congress.

Flames, grenades and gunfire: A burnt-out car in front of the U.S. consulateFlames, grenades and gunfire: A burnt-out car in front  of the U.S. consulate

‘The early sense from the intelligence  community differs from what we are hearing now,’ Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff  said. ‘It ended up being pretty far afield, so we want to figure out why …  though we don’t want to deter the intelligence community from sharing their best  first impressions’ after such events in the future.

‘The intelligence briefings we got a week to  10 days after were consistent with what the administration was saying,’said Rep.  William Thornberry, a member of the House Intelligence and Armed Services  committees.

Thornberry would not confirm the existence  of the early CIA report but voiced skepticism over how sure intelligence  officials, including CIA Director David Petraeus, seemed of their original  account when they briefed lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

‘How could they be so certain immediately  after such events, I just don’t know,’he said. ‘That raises suspicions that  there was political motivation.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2220153/Christopher-Stevens-Ambassador-pleaded-extra-security-Libya-hours-killed.html#ixzz29uy5q3px Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Another German minister caught in plagiarism scandal : The Education Minister

Angela Merkel could lose one more ally after education minister’s university leaks a report.

BERLIN, Germany — A close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s is under fierce pressure over claims she plagiarized her doctoral thesis more than 30 years ago.

Annette Schavan’s role as education minister, in which she oversees the country’s universities, makes the accusations especially damaging.

Opposition politicians have called on her to resign, saying her reputation is in tatters after the leaking of a report from the University of Duesseldorf appeared to back up the allegations.

“If the accusations prove correct, I have a hard time imagining how the minister in charge of science and research can credibly carry out her duties,” Green Party leader Claudia Roth said earlier this week.

Der Spiegel magazine reported that the university’s examination of Schavan’s thesis recommended stripping her of her PhD. But the university hasn’t made clear when it would make a decision, putting her in a difficult position for the foreseeable future.

The 57 year-old member of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Party insists she never attempted to deceive when working on her dissertation, and has vowed to fight the accusations.

“I owe it to myself and I owe it to academia,” she said.

Hers is the second plagiarism scandal to challenge Merkel in as many years. The chancellor’s former heir-apparent, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, resigned as defense minister in March 2011 after it emerged he had copied parts of his doctoral thesis.

The young Bavarian aristocrat was caught out by internet activists who used crowd-sourcing to expose him. Dubbed “Baron von Cut and Paste,” Guttenberg left politics after he was stripped of his doctorate. He now lives in the United States with his family.

It’s ironic that Schavan was among the first to condemn Guttenberg for his academic failings, calling them “shameful.”

Other politicians have also come under the scrutiny of the plagiarism activists, who operate a website called VroniPlag. The targets include Jorgo Chatzimarkakis and Silvana Koch-Mehrin, both members of the European Parliament from the free-market Free Democratic Party. Koch-Mehrin stepped down as the parliament’s vice-president after Heidelberg University rescinded her doctorate because of massive plagiarism.

Although VroniPlag raised doubts about Schavan’s work, its members were reluctant to accuse her of outright plagiarism. However, one of the group published his accusations on his own in May.

Schavan’s alma mater later tasked one of its professors to examine her thesis.

A copy of his report leaked to the press earlier this week concluded that “a pattern recurring throughout the work” as well as “specific features found in a significant plurality of sections” indicated “a clear intention to deceive.”

Other scholars leapt to her defense. Schavan’s former advisor called her dissertation, which deals with the development of conscience, a “formidable accomplishment.”

The University of Düsseldorf has also come in for criticism for leaking the report before Schavan was aware of its content.

 

Helmut Schwarz, president of the state Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which promotes scholarly cooperation, lashed out at the university for its handling of the matter and called for a second expert to examine the thesis. Other academics have said any fault on Schavan’s part appeared to be more a case of negligence than deliberate plagiarism.Merkel on Monday said the minister had her “full confidence.”

Nevertheless, opposition members say Schavan’s position is becoming untenable.

Thomas Oppermann, speaker for the Social Democratic Party in parliament, called her “already irreparably damaged.”

It remains to be seen whether Schavan will be able to tough it out. If she goes, Merkel would be forced to reshuffle her cabinet once again less than a year before elections that could unseat her.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/germany/121019/german-minister-plagiarism-scandal-schavan

 

CIA knew deadly assault on US consulate was a terror attack just 24 hours later (so why did White House officials maintain it was a violent protest for a week?)

Saturday, Oct 20 2012

  • The revelation is surprising as the Obama administration maintained publicly for a week that the attack was a result of the mobs
  • It is unclear who, if anyone, saw the cable outside the CIA at that point and how high up in the agency the information went

By Jill Reilly

PUBLISHED:10:01 EST, 19 October 2012| UPDATED:10:01 EST, 19 October 2012

The U.S government was told within 24 hours of the deadly  attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that there was evidence it was carried out  by militants, not a spontaneous mob upset about an anti-Islam video.

The assault, on the anniversary of September 11 last month, left U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American officials dead.

The revelation could be damaging as the Obama administration maintained  publicly for a week that the attack on the diplomatic mission was a result of the mobs.

Revelations: Washington was told within 24 hours of last month’s deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate that there was evidence it was carried out by militants, not a spontaneous mob upset about ridiculing Islam’s Prophet Muhammad

Knowledge: It is unclear who, if anyone, saw the cable outside the CIA at that point and how high up in the agency the information went

It is unclear who, if anyone, saw the cable outside the CIA at that point and how high up in the agency the information went.

Those statements have become highly charged political fodder as the presidential election approaches.

A Republican-led House committee questioned State Department officials for hours about what Republican lawmakers said was lax security at the consulate, given the growth of extremist Islamic militants in North Africa.

And in their debate on Tuesday, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney argued over when Obama first said it was a terror attack.

In his Rose Garden address the morning after the killings, Obama said, ‘No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.’

But Republicans say he was speaking generally and didn’t specifically call the Benghazi attack a terror attack until weeks later, with the president and other key members of his administration referring at first to the anti-Muslim movie circulating on the Internet as a precipitating event.

Now congressional intelligence committees are demanding documents to show what the spy agencies knew and when, before, during and after the attacks.

Last week, the State Department said  that it never believed the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate was the result of a protest over an anti-Islam movie, contradicting  previous statements.

The White House now says the attack  probably was carried out by an al Qaida-linked group, with no public  demonstration beforehand. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton  blamed the ‘fog of war’for the early conflicting accounts.

The officials who told the AP about  the CIA cable spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to  release such information publicly.

Congressional aides say they expect  to get the documents by the end of this week to build a timeline of what the intelligence community knew and compare that with what the White  House was telling the public about the attack. That could give Romney  ammunition to use in his foreign policy debate with Obama on Monday  night.

The two U.S. officials said the CIA station chief in Libya compiled intelligence reports from eyewitnesses within 24 hours of the assault on the consulate that indicated militants launched the violence, using the pretext of demonstrations against U.S. facilities in Egypt against the film to cover their intent.

The report from the station chief was written late Wednesday, Sept. 12, and reached intelligence agencies in Washington the next day, intelligence officials said.

Yet, on Saturday of that week, briefing points sent by the CIA to Congress said ‘demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault.’

The briefing points, obtained by the AP, added: ‘There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations’but did not mention eyewitness accounts that blamed militants alone.

Such raw intelligence reports by the CIA on the ground would normally be sent first to analysts at the headquarters in Langley, Virginaia, for vetting and comparing against other intelligence derived from eavesdropping drones and satellite images.

Only then would such intelligence  generally be shared with the White House and later, Congress, a process  that can take hours, or days if the intelligence is coming only from one or two sources who may or may not be trusted.

U.S. intelligence officials say in this case the delay was due in part to  the time it took to analyze various conflicting accounts.

One official, speaking on condition  of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the incident  publicly, explained that ‘it was clear a group of people gathered that  evening’in Benghazi, but that the early question was ‘whether extremists took over a crowd or they were the crowd.’

But that explanation has been met with concern in Congress.

‘The early sense from the intelligence community differs from what we are hearing now,’Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said. ‘It ended up being pretty far afield, so we want to figure out why … though we don’t want to deter the intelligence community from sharing their best first impressions’after such events in the future.

‘The intelligence briefings we got a week to 10 days after were consistent with what the administration was saying,’said Rep. William Thornberry, a member of the House Intelligence and Armed Services committees.

Thornberry would not confirm the existence of the early CIA report but voiced skepticism over how sure intelligence officials, including CIA Director David Petraeus, seemed of their original account when they briefed lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

‘How could they be so certain immediately after such events, I just don’t know,’he said. ‘That raises suspicions that there was political motivation.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2220153/Obama-told-24-hours-attack-U-S-consulate-massacre-Benghazi-militants-mob-upset-video-ridiculing-Islam.html

Rwanda wins Security Council seat as new report blasts support for Congo mutineers

   Posted By Colum Lynch Thursday, October 18, 2012 – 12:42 PM

Rwandan authorities have harassed a number of local employees assisting a U.N. Security Council panel that has accused the Rwandan government of sponsoring and directing a military insurgency in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, in violation of U.N. sanctions, according to confidential documents obtained by Turtle Bay.

Steve Hege, the coordinator of the U.N. Security Council Group of Experts, informed the Security Council in a confidential October 12 letter that it harbored “very serious security concerns for the physical safety of its drivers and interpreters who have already been the victims of harassment by Rwandan officials.” The letter, which was obtained by Turtle Bay, expressed concern that the U.N. “group’s wide network of collaborators and sources remain extremely vulnerable to targeted retaliatory attacks.”

The warning to the council comes as the Group of Experts concluded a second hard-hitting report documenting Rwanda’s role in organizing a group of Congolese military mutineers — known as M23 — that has been fighting government forces in eastern Congo.

The report, which has not been published but has been read by Turtle Bay, claims that Rwandan Defense Minister James Kabarebe exercises effective command over the mutineers, and that the Rwandan government continues to direct M23’s military operations in eastern Congo. The report, which was first reported Tuesday by Reuters, also accuses Uganda of providing military, financial, and political support to the movement.

Rwanda’s foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, issued a statement today accusing the panel’s coordinator of engaging in a “political campaign” aimed at smearing the country’s reputation, and said that “Rwanda will not allow itself to be dragged any deeper into this farce by responding to the Group’s far-fetched but fact-free assertions.”

“Every UN member-state should find cause for concern that these expert panels feel entitled to treat sovereign states in such an appalling fashion,” she said. “Who are these unelected, unaccountable individuals to abuse the authority granted to them by the UN to pursue political vendettas and deny even basic procedural fairness to a country like Rwanda, a member of the United Nations for half a century?”

A diplomat at the Rwandan mission, Olivier Nduhungirehe, denied that Rwanda is targeting individuals supporting the U.N. probe.

The revelations are coming to light just as a U.N. General Assembly vote today endorsed Rwandan’s nomination to serve a two-year term (from 2013-2014) as one of the Security Council’s five newly elected temporary members. Security Council diplomats have said that it is unlikely that the 15-nation council would impose penalties in response to the report’s findings.

The Group of Experts first accused Rwanda of aiding the M23 mutineers back in June, prompting the United States, Britain, and other European government to freeze military assistance and other aid.

But the latest report says that Rwanda has ignored appeals from the United States and other outside powers to cease its support for the mutineers.

For instance, the report charges that Rwandan and Ugandan forces participated in an M23 military offensive in July, extending the group’s territorial gains in the region of Rutushuru. “Rwanda’s support to M23 and other armed groups has continued in all categories of arms embargo violations previously documented by the Group. Rwandan officials exercise overall command and strategic planning for M23,” the report charged.

The expert group called on Rwanda and Uganda to “cease” its violation of the U.N. arms embargo on all foreign forces and rebels groups in eastern Congoand to submit regular reports to the Security Council on the steps it is taking to halt the M23’s activities. It also calls on governments to reconsider future military assistance to Rwanda and Uganda if they continue to back the mutineers.

France, meanwhile, introduced a draft statement calling on Rwanda and Uganda to halt their support for M23. The draft, which is still being negotiated, condemns the M23 and governments providing it with “external support” — a veiled reference to Rwanda and Uganda. It also calls on all states, including Rwanda and Uganda, to step up cooperation with the Group of Experts, and demands that they “ensure the safety of its members, and unhindered and immediate access, in particular, to persons, documents and sites.”

The expert panel has accused the Rwandan military leadership of carrying out a “wide ranging” campaign to convince Congolese business leaders, politicians, and former rebels to join the M23 mutiny with the aim of prosecuting “a new war to obtain a secession of both Kivus,” the eastern Congolese provinces that share a border and ethnic and historical ties to Rwanda.

The M23 movementwas founded by a former Congolese mutineer,Laurent Nkunda, but the current mutiny was led by Bosco Ntaganda, a former Congolese rebel and accused war criminal who was appointed a general in the Congolese army, known as the FARDC, in 2005 as part of a peace deal, and Col. Sultani Makenga, another former rebel who defected from the army. But, according to the expert panel, they took their orders from the Rwandan military chief.

“The government of Rwanda (GoR) continues to violate the arms embargo through direct military support to M23 rebels, facilitation of recruitment, encouragement and facilitation of FARDC desertions, as well as the provision of arms and ammunition, intelligence, and political advise,” the report states. “M23s de facto chain of command includes General Bosco Ntaganda and culminates with the Rwandan Minister of Defense General James Kabarebe.”

“Senior government of Uganda (GoU) officials have also provided support to M23 in the form of direct troop reinforcements in DRC territory, munitions deliveries, technical assistance, joint planning, political advice, and facilitation of external relations. Units of the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) and the Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) jointly supported M23 in a series of attacks in July, 2012, to take over the major towns of Rutuhuru territory.”

Efforts to reach the Ugandan mission to the United Nations were unsuccessful. But the Ugandan government characterized the report as “rubbish, rubbish, rubbish,” according to Reuters.

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http://turtlebay.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/10/18/rwanda_wins_security_council_seat_as_new_report_blasts_support_for_congo_mutineers

Chinese workers urged to puff up economy by smoking

2009 article posted for filing

CLIFFORD COONAN  in Beijing

CHINESE STATE employees are being asked to do their patriotic duty to support the local economy – by lighting up a cigarette. And no butts.

In Gongan county in Hubei province, the order has come down from above that employees of all local government departments, organisations, service centres and corporations must consume at least 23,000 cartons of cigarettes this year.

This translates into 400 cartons for most departments and state companies, and 140 cartons for each school.

In a law which gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “the state picks up the tab”, cadres are required to smoke local brands, and anyone smoking other brands can be fined. The smoking allowance aims to boost the regional economy by encouraging more consumption of local cigarettes.

Each work unit in the local government has to produce a monthly work plan, which outlines rates of consumption by employees.

This plan will be closely monitored, and if the bureaucrats and civil servants fail to smoke the required amount, their department risks losing out on its full share of the full smoking allowance of four million yuan (€440,000).

During one school inspection at Zhangtiansi Middle School in April, officials going through waste paper baskets in the staff room found three butts from cigarettes made in other provinces, and the school was strongly criticised.

A fine of 1,000 yuan (€110) can be imposed, although in this particular instance the transgression is being used as a test case to show the way to observe the new ruling.

The local government hopes to retrieve losses from cigarette income tax with the decree, said Chen Nianzu, a member of Gongan’s cigarette leadership group.

“We’re guiding people to help contribute to the local economy,” said Mr Chen, according to the Hubei Daily newspaper.

This patriotic smoking drive follows pressure earlier this year on cadres in Hefei province and other citizens to buy apartments as part of their national duty to keep the real estate market afloat.

China has more smokers than any other country, with 350 million puffing away regularly. A million die of smoking-related diseases every year.

The government has introduced more anti-smoking measures recently to try and encourage people to stop, such as introducing no-smoking areas and trying to educate children not to smoke.

Internet commentators were outraged at the move. “Why should we use public money to pay for government officials to smoke?

“If they want a fag, they should buy their own, and put the money into social welfare, healthcare and stopping people from smoking,” wrote one blogger.

© 2009 The Irish Times