Friday, July 3, 2009

Another one bites the dust-Save Our Pubs and Clubs

Nick Irwin is landlord of the Waggon and Horses pub in Sudbury, Suffolk. This week he was one of 18 publicans who signed the Save Our Pubs and Clubs letter that was published in the Telegraph.

Last night he appeared on BBC TV's Look East. It's a very interesting interview. Click HERE.

Antony Worrall Thompson was also on the programme but doesn't appear in the clip above.

Source: Taking Liberties

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Why Can't I Own a Canadian?

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Source: Humanists Of Utah

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By My Hate Speech
We had a good laugh today when we read an article posted on Yahoo News, "Merkel likens Iran to repressive East Germany." Of course it was her attempt to deflect what really goes on Germany today by reminding her own nation's sheeple of how good things are, in comparison to the former East Germany, and the current situation that unfolded in Iran last week. If you are aware of people such as Ernst ZUndel, Germar Rudolf, and others you may allready understand. As far as we were concerned the articles title could have been changed to something like, "Whats the Difference between Germany and Iran." Well lets see where this goes.

See if you can guess which country commits the following actions against its people.

What is the country, is in close lead for the harshest censorship laws, after China and North Korea?

What country is it that is proud of conducting more than 10,000 criminal prosecutions against persons for having committed peaceful "thought crimes"?

What country is it where the authorities declare that half of their population deserves to be ostracized for harboring political views?

What country is it where the head of state asks for children to spy on their parents and parents to spy on their children to make sure they do not harbor unwanted political views?

What country is it where even the mainstream media admit that this country is in a state of hysteria while persecuting political dissidents?

What country is it where members of certain political opposition groups considered constitutional can nevertheless be deprived of some of their civil rights?

What country is it that has a huge spy agency designed to snoop on opposition groups?

What country is it that has institutions designed to conduct political trials?

What country is it that prosecutes defense lawyers if they try to introduce exonerating evidence on behalf of their clients?

What country is it where judges are threatened with prosecution because they did not punish political and historical dissenters harshly enough?

What country is it that hides from its citizens, which media are outlawed, so that one cannot possibly know whether or not one commits a crime when distributing such media?

What country is it where authors, editors, publishers, printers, wholesalers, retailers, importers and exporters, warehouses, and customers buying more than two copies of a certain medium can be prosecuted for producing, stocking, importing/exporting, distributing dissenting political and historical literature?

What country is it where well-founded, heavily footnoted books on political and historical topics, authored by academics with plenty of credentials, can be confiscated and burned by the authorities?

What country is it that sends a historical dissenter to prison for more than two years just because he published peaceful, scholarly historical material?

What country is it where a professor criticizing internationalism can be kicked out of his job, harassed, prosecuted and driven into suicide?

What country is it where a history teacher is sent to jail for uttering historical dissent in a private letter to a high-profile personality?

What country is it where a highly renowned historian writing a well-founded book of his country's history can be threatened with prosecution because what he found out is not liked by the authorities?

What country is it where a judge, writing a well-founded, but highly controversial book on historical topics, sees his book confiscated and burned, his pension cut, and his PhD title withdrawn as a result of this?

What country is it where a professor who writes his disbelief about certain historical events in a footnote, written in Latin, in a scholarly anthology can be prosecuted and threatened with jail?

What country is it where people can get fined for raising an arm to wave their hands at a person?

What country is it where somebody raising his country's flag would be harassed by his neighbors for being an extremist?

What country is it where a teacher suggesting that all students should sing the national anthem first thing every morning would lose his job for being an extremist?

Had enough? We have. We could go on but we just get angrier and angrier. If you guessed Iran you would be only partly right. If you guessed Germany, and we are not talking about former east Germany or Nazi Germany, but rather todays modern Germany, you would be 100% correct.

So what is the difference between Germany and Iran. Well Germany claims to be a Democracy, while Iran does not. Don't you just love democracies.

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Good Cop Bad Cop Provo-Cop

Source: Collateral17
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Lawful gun owners don't shoot up bars

The anti-gun crowd has their propaganda machine in full gear in Arizona and Tennessee. Tennessee recently overrode their governor's veto of a bill allowing concealed carry license holders to carry their defensive firearms into restaurants that serve alcohol (provided they do not drink themselves) and Arizona is currently considering similar legislation.

"When you're in a bar, you're supposed to be out having fun, so leave the gun at home," said Eileen Conners of Larry's Cocktails, expressing her opposition to the Arizona bill.

I'm going to guess her agenda is not only that she doesn't like guns, but also that since this bill prohibits drinking alcohol while armed that it would therefore cut into profits if they only had non-alcoholic beverages to drink. Of course, a customer killed by a robber will probably affect sales as well.

In Tennessee, where the new law is being challenged in court, they've taken to outright lying to the public while levying hideous insults against gun owners.

"We apparently are going to have 225,000 vigilantes shooting in bars," said David Smith, one of the attorneys for the opposition.

Calling gun owners vigilantes is a common tactic by anti-gun pundits. Attack the reputation of gun owners and try to turn the public against them. Defending your life isn't taking the law into your own hands regardless of whether you're at home in bed or out with friends. This statement is also supposing that all 225,000 permit holders in Tennessee regularly visit bars, though the reality is that this kind of legislation most commonly affects patrons at ordinary restaurants that happen to include alcoholic beverages on the menu.

The biggest lie of all, though, is that these ccw holders are going to be shooting up bars and restaurants. What the anti-gunners won't tell you is that 39 other states have some provision in their laws for citizens to be allowed to carry firearms into places that serve alcohol, and in not one of these states is it a problem. Lawfully armed citizens aren't the ones breaking the laws, it is the criminals who do so.

Some states even allow permit holders to consume alcohol while they're carrying and yet still there are no problems. Lawful gun owners are responsible, trustworthy, and law abiding. It is the armed robbers, muggers, rapists, gang members, and killers that are the problem. The very people that armed citizens are wanting to defend themselves against.

They can go on telling their lies, but they can't change the facts. Lawfully armed citizens, whether in their homes, businesses, parks, restaurants, or bars, are not now and never have been the problem. That is the uncomfortable truth the gun grabbers don't want you to hear.

Source: The Examiner

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Cops Raid the Wrong Houses

An Accokeek couple is demanding an apology after Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Deputies burst into their home and killed their dog - all because deputies went to the wrong address. Pam and Frank Myers were tucked away in their home Friday night watching a movie when the warrant squad pounced.”All of a sudden I hear, bang, bang, bang, ‘Open the door, police, open the door,’ “said Pam Myers.

For 45 minutes the Myers were kept prisoner in their own home.

“They wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom which is like seven feet down the hall,” said Frank Myers.

“It was terrifying. I can’t sit on my couch at night any more. I’m looking over my shoulder the whole time,” said Pam Myers.

The Myers say the deputies knew immediately they had raided the wrong home. They say it could have ended with an apology, until the couple heard two shots from the yard.

“And I said, ‘You just shot my dog,” said Pam Myers, through tears. “I just wanted to go out and hold her a bit. They wouldn’t even let me go out.” Source>>>

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - A father and son are furious after surviving a terrifying experience. They face criminal charges after police responded to their home by mistake. Murfreesboro officers responded to a 911 emergency call and somehow ended up at the wrong apartment. Roger and Justin Chilton woke to a pounding on their door at 3 a.m. Sunday. Justin - a decorated military policeman who had just returned from Iraq - answered the door holding his gun. The officers then arrested Justin and his father.

“They held us at gunpoint, slammed us to the ground, stomped my hands and butted me in the back of the head with a shotgun,” said Justin. The officers charged the Chilton’s with resisting arrest and aggravated assault for the incident. Police did not drop the charges even after learning they responded to the wrong house.

Murfreesboro police chief Glenn Chrisman has opened an internal investigation. Source>>>

Eight Minneapolis officers received medals in City Hall Monday for their valor in a botched raid that the city apologized for last year. That isn’t sitting well with the family shot at multiple times by the officers.

“I’m shocked that they’re receiving awards for that night,” said Yee Moua. “My family is a mess right now. My [9-year-old] son, who saw the shooting, still has nightmares and has needed therapy. They’ve ruined a life, and I don’t understand why they would get rewarded for that.”

The awards stemmed from a high-risk search in December. The eight officers — who had SWAT training — entered the house expecting to find a violent gang member. Instead, they found Vang Khang, a 35-year-old homeowner who thought he was being robbed. Khang shot through his bedroom door at the officers until he understood who they were.

In the midst of the shootout were Moua, who is Khang’s wife, and their six children, who range in age from 3 to 15. Moua said her family has since abandoned the house and can no longer afford to keep it.

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Big brother is watching

The furore around the Chinese government’s Green Dam software has raised the issue of the way modern technology is used to monitor our daily lives. Here, we list seven of the technologies that can be used to keep track of your movements.


Closed-circuit television cameras were first used in Germany in 1942 to remotely monitor the launch of V2 rockets. Since then, CCTVs have become one of the most contentious pieces of technology in public use. The government and law enforcement agencies claim the use of video monitoring technology can help reduce crime and improve public safety; critics argue that the cameras serve only to displace crime to unmonitored areas, and do not act as a deterrent. With more than four million CCTV units in the UK, the network of cameras captures the average person around 25 times a day.

RFID tags

Radio frequency identification chips are already widely used in supermarkets and shops for the purpose of stock control, but some people fear their use could be widened to monitor the habits and behaviour of ordinary citizens. At the moment, these tags, which are little bigger than a grain of sand, are embedded into pints of milk and library books. When paired with an RFID reader, the tags can help to provide detailed information about items, such as their location, or how many there are. Although most people are happy for RFID tags to be used in stores to monitor stock levels, they’re less happy about the idea of the chips still sending out a signal once they leave the shop. On a benign level, such tracking capabilities would mean a store would know that people in Hertfordshire prefer blue cashmere jumpers, while those in Aberdeen favour the brown versions. But on a more sinister level, it could also enable them to glean an unprecedented insight into our personal lives, and target their brands to us accordingly. To those people who fear a “surveillance culture”, the ability to tag and track everything from our food to our clothes would be the next step on an already slippery slope.

Telecoms technology

The recent election protests in Iran have raised some interesting questions about the technology used by the country’s government to not only censor and control the spread of information, but monitor the ways in which citizens have been communicating and mobilising. It now appears that some of the technology the Iranian authorities have been using to listen in on phone calls made on fixed-line phones and mobile handsets was sold to the government by Nokia Siemens, a joint venture between the Finnish phone maker and the German technology giant. Nokia Siemens said it believed the product was being used by the government to monitor calls, but some experts have speculated that it could also be used for a practice known as “deep packet inspection” – a process that enables agencies to block communications, as well as monitor the nature of conversations and even covertly alter this for the purpose of propaganda and disinformation. Nokia Siemens, rocked by this association with a repressive regime, have pointed out that Iran is not the only country using its monitoring technology – many Western governments, including the UK and US, apparently use it for “lawful intercepts”…

Email monitoring software

Who is reading your emails? Chances are, if you work for a big company, your boss could be keeping an eye on how many messages you send in the course of a day. According to recent research by Forrester, 44 per cent of companies read outgoing mail, using a combination of digital scanning software and real people. The primary concern for businesses appears to be the dissemination of inappropriate or commercially sensitive information rather than time-wasting, but with more and more distractions available at our office computers, from Facebook and Twitter to online shopping, many more businesses may decide to start monitoring just how their employees spend their work time.

Information-gathering technology

Gunwharf Quays shopping centre in Portsmouth shot to fame last year when it was revealed that surveillance software was monitoring the signals given off by shoppers’ mobile phones to track their movements. The technology allowed researchers to tell when someone entered the shopping centre, what stores they visited, how long they spent in each one, and what time they left. It could even tell what route they took, and the country they were visiting from. Although all monitoring is anonymous – it does not identify the owner of the phone, rather than handset’s unique IMEI network number – it raised some concerns from privacy campaigners. While, at its most innocuous, this sort of information could help business and shopping centres pinpoint areas of high footfall or congestion, and redesign the space accordingly, or spot a surge in late shoppers that could prompt them to extend store opening hours, it also implies that this technology could be extended to minutely measure purchasing habits and retail behaviour. Perhaps that scene from Minority Report, in which Tom Cruise is bombarded by tailored, personalised advertising as he passes every hording, is not too far away.

Targeted advertising

One of the most contentious issues facing businesses and consumers at the moment is targeted advertising. With companies struggling to find a profitable business model in the digital age, a greater premium is being placed on targeting products, services and content directly to people on the basis of their specific likes, dislikes and needs. Phorm’s Webwise technology is a good example of this new way of thinking – it works by scanning users’ browsing history, and matching keywords found in these websites to targeted adverts, provided by other companies, which match the interests of web users. Phorm has stressed that the entire process is anonymised, so that interests cannot be directly traced to a named individual, but that has still lead some web users, as well as technology luminaries such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee, to be suspicious of the concept. Sir Tim likened commercial traffic monitoring by internet service providers as akin to “allowing them to put a television camera in your living room”.

GPS-enabled phones

Most modern mobile phones have a small GPS chip inside them, which means your location can be pinpointed to within a few hundred metres by the network of satellites floating in orbit. Of course, most people will use this technology in combination with the mapping software loaded on to their phone to make it easier to find their way around; some phones are now so sophisticated that they can provide real-time turn-by-turn directions, just like a satnav. The inclusion of GPS chips in handsets has also opened up a new world of location-based services – now that your phone “knows” where you are, it can feed that information in to, say, your phone’s search engine to provide data, links and recommendations for local amenities for whichever area you find yourself in. The flip side of that, of course, is that with the right kind of software installed on your phone, it’s possible to remotely monitor your location for less innocuous reasons. Services such as Google Latitude and Sniff are opt-in, consensual examples of this sort of technology, although some worry that in time, these kinds of monitoring software will be commonplace and non-negotiable, rather than a matter of personal choice.

Claudine Beaumont

Source: RINF News

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Christian Science Monitor: Why the Siege Must End

The Christian Science Monitor
A boat carrying foreign activists and three tons of medical supplies was rerouted Tuesday. Meanwhile, the fishing industry – a key source of jobs and protein – has been crippled.

By Mel Frykberg | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Ramallah, West Bank - Bringing fresh attention to its blockade of the Gaza Strip, Israel on Tuesday turned back a boat attempting to deliver three tons of medical supplies to Gazans.

After a radio message asking the small ferry to turn back was ignored, the Israeli Navy boarded the boat and redirected the vessel to the Israeli port of Ashdod. Reuters quoted a police source as saying that the activists aboard, members of the US-based Free Gaza movement, would “likely be deported.”

“Yesterday evening the Israeli Navy contacted the boat while at sea clarifying that it would not be permitted to enter Gaza coastal waters because of security risks in the area, and the existing naval blockade,” the Israeli military said in a statement, adding that humanitarian aid would be sent to Gaza “subject to authorization.”

The naval blockade – part of a wider Israeli effort to seal off the tiny coastal strip controlled by the Islamist militant group Hamas – not only prevents such shipments, it is also devastating a key Gazan industry and source of food: fishing.

Citing security concerns and fears of arms smuggling, Israel has progressively tightened the blockade over the past 15 years. Once a thriving enterprise, Gaza’s fishing industry is now on the verge of collapse. Fishermen are cut off from the heavily populated shoals, and have seen total revenue drop by half in less than a decade.

“We are witnessing a huge crisis where the livelihoods of thousands of fishermen, associated laborers, and their dependents have been decimated by Israel’s blockade and closure,” says Erminio Sacco of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Following the Oslo peace accords, signed in 1994 between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), Israel permitted the fishermen to go 20 nautical miles (NM) out to sea.

This was restricted to 12 NM in 2002, after the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000.

This area was further limited to the current 3 NM when the Islamic movement Hamas wrested control of Gaza after an intense fight with its rival Fatah led to a collapse of a unity government headed by Western-backed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Those fishermen who go further out risk being arrested, shot, and killed, or having their boats destroyed or confiscated. However, human rights organizations have reported that fishermen have been attacked even within the 3-NM zone.

Click here to read about fisherman Mohammed Hassuna, who says he and his crew were recently surrounded by Israeli Navy boats, shot at, forced to strip, and swim in frigid water to the Navy gunboat, where they were handcuffed, blindfolded, and their feet chained.

Catch dropped by two-thirds since 2007

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israel’s restrictions undermined the sardine season, which started in March and peaked in mid-April.

The bulk of sardines are located beyond six NM, with the UN estimating that a distance of 12-15 NM off Gaza is the minimum required to access the larger shoals of fish for maximum economic benefit. Shoals closer to shore have been depleted and unable to replenish themselves.

“During March 2007, 248 metric tons of fish were caught. In March 2008 this figure dropped to 121 tons and in March this year, the catch was only 89 tons,” says Mr. Sacco.

A total annual catch of 2,700 tons was caught in 2008, down from nearly 4,000 tons in 1999, according to Gaza’s General Syndicate of Marine Fishers.

OCHA states that at the end of the 1990s, Gaza’s fishing industry was worth about $10 million annually. This represented approximately 4 percent of the Palestinian economy.

Nezar Ayyash, from Gaza’s fishing syndicate, which has 3,500 registered fishermen, says this figure was halved between 2001 and 2006.

“It has become too expensive for many fishermen to take the bigger boats out to sea, so only some smaller boats venture out,” says Sacco.

The cost of one fishing trip can vary between $125 and $625, depending on the size of the vessel, nets, and crew; many fishermen cannot cover these costs.

Fishing employed 45,000 Gazans

About 45,000 Gazans once worked in fishing and its associated industries, including repairs, onshore support, or as merchants.

With Gazans having an average family size of seven, the fishing industry used to help support many times more of Gaza’s 1.4 million residents. It also supplemented a diet critically short of animal protein.

Gaza faces chronic unemployment, poverty, and malnutrition in part as a result of Israel’s blockade, which now allows only food and medicine – but not as much as aid workers say is necessary to sustain the population. Everything from pasta to catheters have been turned back, frustrating aid workers who have been unable to obtain a list of permitted items. A ban on steel and cement, which Israel says can be used to fortify tunnels along the Gaza border that are used for smuggling, has prevented many Gazans from rebuilding after the war, with some resorting to mud bricks for their homes.

Source: Norman Finkelstein.Com

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"Spread of Arab population must be stopped"

Reads the headline in Haaretz. A statement by the Minister of Housing of the State of Israel. Quite matter of factly.

Housing Minister Ariel Atias on Thursday warned against the spread of Arab population into various parts of Israel, saying that preventing this phenomenon was no less than a national responsibility.

Astonishing, yet he goes on. About population mixing.

Atias went on to address the issue of the Galilee, saying that "if we go on like we have until now, we will lose the Galilee. Populations that should not mix are spreading there. I don't think that it is appropriate [for them] to live together."

It isn't just Arabs who would benefit from segregation, even Jews have needs for segregated housing

Atias argued that lands should be marketed to each sector separately, in order to create segregation, not just between Jews and Arabs but also between other sectors, such as ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews. "There is a severe housing crisis among the young ultra-Orthodox couples, and in the general population. I, as an ultra-Orthodox Jew, don't think that religious Jews should have to live in the same neighborhood as secular couples, so as to avoid unnecessary friction. And since some 5,000 to 6,000 religious couples get married every year, a problem arises because they require a certain kind of community life that goes along with their lifestyle."

it is a lifestyle choice to be Arabrein. Unfortunately, many of the ultra devout citizens are have low household incomes and unable to find afford housing in the upper -end enclaves. Many have large families, often one earner households, and they sacrifice advanced education for theological study (the men) and homemaking (the women). But they need a place to live according to their cusstoms.

In fairness, Netanyahu had to give a ministerial job to the leaders of the minor parties that joined the coalition. Most of the comments in the article are highly critical of this point of view, some are not.

In other news:

The Chief of Chaplains of the Israeli Defense Forces has some strong views.

Angry MKs demand top IDF rabbi ousted for comments on women

Angry lawmakers demanded on Thursday that Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi dismiss the army's top rabbi over his stated belief that women should not perform military service.

"This is not the first outrageous comment by [IDF Chief] Rabbi [Avichai] Ronski," said Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz. "The chief rabbi crossed a red line in his statements and we mustn't allow this to pass. This is a chauvinistic and demeaning comment that encourages draft-dodging and I call on the chief of staff to remove the chief rabbi from his post. The IDF is deserving of a different chief rabbi."

Ronski told a conference two weeks ago that women ought not to serve in the IDF.

During the Assaault on Gaza, Ronski published guidance that might sound dissonant to our ears:

[There is] a biblical ban on surrendering a single millimeter of it [the Land of Israel] to gentiles, though all sorts of impure distortions and foolishness of autonomy, enclaves and other national weaknesses. We will not abandon it to the hands of another nation, not a finger, not a nail of it." This is an excerpt from a publication entitled "Daily Torah studies for the soldier and the commander in Operation Cast Lead," issued by the IDF rabbinate. The text is from "Books of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner," who heads the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in the Muslim quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem.

The following questions are posed in one publication: "Is it possible to compare today's Palestinians to the Philistines of the past? And if so, is it possible to apply lessons today from the military tactics of Samson and David?" Rabbi Aviner is again quoted as saying: "A comparison is possible because the Philistines of the past were not natives and had invaded from a foreign land ... They invaded the Land of Israel, a land that did not belong to them and claimed political ownership over our country ... Today the problem is the same. The Palestinians claim they deserve a state here, when in reality there was never a Palestinian or Arab state within the borders of our country. Moreover, most of them are new and came here close to the time of the War of Independence."

The IDF rabbinate, also quoting Rabbi Aviner, describes the appropriate code of conduct in the field: "When you show mercy to a cruel enemy, you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers. This is terribly immoral.

IDF rabbinate publication during Gaza war: We will show no mercy on the cruel
On Women's issues:

There are two conferences in Jerusalem on the role of women in Orthodox Faith and practice:

"The spiritual makeup of the woman is not built to learn Gemara with all its complicated, theoretical discussions, she said. "Women are too practical-minded for that.

"Besides, that is not the women's role."

2 Orthodox women's conferences present decidedly different takes on feminism

Israel and Hamas are on the same side of an issue, is this a hopeful sign? Both object to Amnesty's fair and balanced report

HHamas: Amnesty report accusing us of war crimes is 'unfair'

Hamas on Thursday criticized a report issued by global human rights group Amnesty International, which accuses both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes in Gaza. Hamas said in response that the report was "imbalanced and unfair"

Later Thursday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak's office also rejected the report, issuing a statement saying that "the information presented as fact in the report is not true, and has no correlation to reality."


Source: Daily Kos

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Italian journalists speak out against wiretapping law

On 13 June, a draft law limiting journalists’ ability to provide the public with vital information was passed in the lower house of the Italian parliament and now awaits the senate’s approval. Unions representing lawyers, journalists and editors have all expressed their firm opposition, organising a series of events, including a conference last week and another planned for tomorrow in Rome, and promoting a petition to stop the law, which has 260,000 signatories –– and counting.

In recent years, the Italian press has published transcripts of private conversations obtained through wiretapping. Some of these transcripts were relevant to ongoing trials; others were not. Both exposed left and right-wing politicians alike to public anger and sometimes embarrassment. To gain popular support, the government is arguing that the exceptionally high number of tapped phone lines (estimated to be around 300,000) justifies their plan to fast-track the law through parliament. Two years ago, the Prodi government unsuccessfully tried to pass a similar law.

Among the restrictions outlined in the draft is a provision making it illegal for journalists and editors to publish information about a trial (on wiretaps or anything else) until the preliminary investigations are over, even if these documents are already in the public domain. Punishment can be up to 30 days in jail, plus a €10, 000 fine for journalists and €465,000 fine for editors. “This implies censorship of news that could be very relevant to most citizens. For example, under the new law, the press would not have been able to report on the Parmalat scandal for many years,” said Franco Siddi, general secretary of the Italian Press Federation (FNSI). Similar concerns were expressed by both the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI).

In addition, the new law will make it illegal to publish extracts from wiretaps not relevant to trials. For journalists, this could lead to the maximum sentence of three years in prison.

Under the new law, prosecutors will only be allowed to wiretap individuals for a maximum of 30 days. They can do so only if they have strong criminal evidence, and only when the maximum punishment for the alleged crime exceeds five years in prison. These evidence requirements are less strict when the alleged crime involves organised crime or terrorism. “Theoretically we can still perform investigations on criminal organisations such as the Mafia, but the five-year limit implies that we will not be allowed to wire-tap for typical Mafia crimes such as extortion,” said Giuseppe Cascini, secretary of the supreme court.

“It is a serious blow to everybody’s security and a great help for a lot of criminals,” said Giancarlo Caselli, head prosecutor in Turin. “If this law was already effective the arrests made [of activists allegedly trying to rebuild the Red Brigades] would not have been carried out,” said Olga D’antona, MP and widow of Massimo d’Antona, killed in the 1990s by the new Red Brigades.

Source: Index On Censorship

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Declare YOUR Independence

"It [the Declaration of Independence] is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God, it shall be my dying sentiment. Independence now, and independence forever." - Daniel Webster, in an August 2, 1826 eulogy to Thomas Jefferson and John Adams; both had died on July 4th.

Subject: Does the government have your consent on this July 4th?

Every Election Day tens of millions of Americans consent to be governed, at least in theory. The politicians constantly point back to the election as justification for the things they do. But is this really valid? What about all the people who now feel betrayed by the office-holder? What about all the people who...

* voted for the lesser evil or
* voted for candidates that lost or
* would have voted for "none of the above" if the option had been available or
* didn't vote at all because they didn't want to endorse or encourage any of the candidates?

Do elections really confer consent? We don't think so.

What does confer consent? Silence.

If we don't inform our elected representatives that we object to their policies, then we shouldn't be surprised if they assume their election to high office implies consent to their actions.

Those who mostly favor what our government is doing can celebrate July 4th content in the knowledge that they're getting what they want. But what about the rest of us?

A case can be made that the transgressions of our government today are vastly greater than those against which the Founders rebelled on July 4, 1776. If we applaud what they did then, we should be willing to emulate at least to a certain, peaceful extent.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence...

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Jefferson and the other Founders withdrew their consent and listed their reasons for doing so. Shouldn't we do the same on this July 4th, and on every July 4th for as long as our government violates our inalienable rights?

You can peacefully state your discontent using a special, temporary campaign on's Educate the Powerful System. That campaign is titled, "Does the government have your consent on this July 4th?"

Please use your personal comments to tell your Representatives in Congress that you don't approve of the job they're doing. Let them know that you're tired of them expanding the government's size, power, and expense far, far beyond what the Constitution provides.

Then, please encourage others to join you in making their Declaration. We'll be pulling this campaign down in a few days, and getting back to the grind of fighting legislation.

And if you're moved by this campaign, please Digg it on our blog.

If you've never used Digg before, registration is easy and free. Each Digg helps spread the word about That means a bigger army. And a bigger army means YOUR voice is better heard. You can join Digg here.

Thank you for being a part of the rapidly growing Downsize DC Army,

Jim Babka, President, Inc.

P.S. It took just 59 days to grow our subscriber base, our army, from 25,000 to 26,000. Can we expand by the next 1,000 subscribers in 58 days or less? Well, we're already 17% of the way there with 26,177 subscribers, and it's only been three days.

John Adams said that July 4th, 1776 "...will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore."

We heartily agree with Adams, and wish you an enjoyable holiday. But the battle for liberty and smaller, Constitutional government remains un-won. So please use opportunities that may arise with family and friends, to tell them about I'm going to be doing that at two Tea Parties.

Source: DownsizeDC.Org

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Israel 'Spy Scandal' Figure Larry Franklin Breaks Silence

He insists he did it for his country, to head off a disastrous U.S. invasion of Iraq.

But instead, Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin found himself charged with giving classified information to suspected agents of Israel. In 2006 he was sentenced to almost 13 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, later reduced to probation and 10 months house arrest for cooperating with the feds.

Today, the former Iran specialist is mopping floors at a Roy Rogers near his home in West Virginia and serving a 100 hour community service sentence at a halfway house for abused children

Now, breaking silence for the first time since he became entangled in the Israel-spy-ring-that wasn't, Franklin says he gave sensitive information to a pro-Israel lobbyist in hopes that it would be passed on to the White House.

He also admitted telling an Israeli official "that the Iranians were planning to kill Americans in Iraq."

The information was a "mosaic" of Iran's secret preparations for combating U.S. troops in Iraq, Franklin said, including the names and locations of Iran's secret agents and safe houses in Iraq.

He didn't think it was classified, he says. Now he realizes at least some of it was. He pled guilty in 2006.

But back in 2003, with the invasion of Iraq only weeks away, he was desperate to persuade the White House to put on the brakes.

So when Steven J. Rosen, an official with the American-Israel Public affairs Committee (AIPAC), told Franklin that he was friendly with Elliott Abrams, head of the Middle East desk in the White House National Security Council, Franklin said he "jumped at the chance" to get the information to him.

As it turned out, however, the FBI had an open investigation of Israeli espionage in Washington, going back to the 1990s.

Franklin, Rosen and Keith Weissman, another AIPAC official with whom he had been meeting, had just walked into it.

On May 2005, all three were charged with violations of the 1917 Espionage Act.

Only later, Franklin said, did he find out that "two tics" (items) on his list were considered classified.

Critics complained loudly that a conviction would criminalize the routine exchange of information among officials, journalists and think tanks.

Exactly four years later the charges were dropped. The government said the judge set too high a bar for the government to prove that the defendants had conspired to harm the national security of the United States.

Last week, Franklin, 62, said he was ready to talk.

"I have been silent for five years ..." he said by e-mail. "The release will be therapeutic."

We met at the Dupont Circle office of his attorney, famed criminal defense lawyer Plato Cacheris.

Looking tired and disheveled, Franklin sounded like he could use some therapy.

Once a top Iran expert at the Pentagon, holder of a PhD in Asian Studies, Franklin has found only odd jobs since being confronted by the FBI in 2004: ditch digger, church janitor, cleaning sewers, parking lot attendant at Charles Town Race Track, and so on. His wife is wheelchair-bound with a spinal disease. A teenage son was traumatized by the FBI investigation, he says.

Over an hour-long interview with Cacheris at his side, however, Franklin was more than happy to discuss a range of topic that had fascinated national security journalists since the case broke in 2004.

Among them: his leaks to AIPAC officials; details of a secret meeting he attended in Rome in December 2001 with the legendary Iranian conspirator, Manucher Ghorbanifar; and reports that someone had encouraged him to fake his suicide to avoid testifying against the AIPAC defendants.

Franklin also had bitter complaints about the FBI, which tapped his phone and forced him to wear a wire during a meeting in which he offered Rosen a phony classified document that the bureau had prepared.

All through that 10-week period, he and Cacheris said, the FBI never advised him he could be arrested himself and should get a lawyer.


Franklin says he was desperate in early 2003 to get his information about Iranian preparations to kill Americans in Iraq into the hands of a White House policy-maker.

The problem was, he didn't know anyone close to White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

Even though he worked for two of the most powerful officials in the Pentagon, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and the undersecretary for policy, Douglas Feith, "I was just a little guy," he insisted.

He says he was worried that the Bush administration had "no policy on Iran," much less a plan for dealing with Iranian subversion when U.S. troops entered Iraq.

"By that time I was underwhelmed by the Bush-Rice team," he said.

Even Wolfowitz and Feith, leading neoconservative hawks, Franklin said, "thought Iran could be part of the solution in Iraq and not part of the problem, that they would see a common interest with us in getting rid of Saddam, and that by shock-and-awe we would scare them into ground-level neutrality."

("That's not at all an accurate rendering of my thinking," Feith responded by e-mail.)

Franklin said he was "entirely convinced" that the invading Americans would be "coming home in body bags in bunches," as a result of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, about which the administration knew nothing.

"They were preparing an entrapment for us, to get us in and never let us out," Franklin maintained, and the Bush administration had "no policy" to deal with it.

"Larry was frustrated because U.S. policy was contradictory," Hillary Mann Leverett, a national security council official who dealt with Franklin, recalled in a telephone interview.

On the one hand, Pentagon neoconservatives were pressing for "regime change," said Leverett, who was the NSC's director of Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs in 2002-2003.

On the other, White House and State Department officials were arguing for continuing discreet talks with Iran over Afghanistan and Al Qaeda,

The gridlock prevented the administration from producing a concensus National Security Policy Directive, on Iran.

"My impression was that we didn't have a policy," said another Bush White House official who worked on Middle East issues, "the principals were way too polarized. In that sense, it's correct to say we didn't have a policy."

So when AIPAC official Rosen intimated that he had good White House contacts, Franklin "jumped at the chance" to get his report into the right hands, he said.

"Rosen boasted of his contacts in the NSC and the State Department - he was dropping all these names that I recognized -- he dropped the name of Elliott Abrams, head of Middle East policy for the national security staff," Franklin said.

"When Rosen dropped his name, among others, I seized upon that ... If I could get [Abrams] to slow things down, maybe I could get Rice - Condoleezza Rice, to pause and say, 'Hey, maybe we really do need a foreign policy on Iran before we invade the country next door.'"

Rosen assured him he would get his Iran information to Abrams, Franklin said.

"But he didn't do that. He went to The Washington Post and the political officer at the Israeli embassy." (Rosen's indictment spelled out those acts.)

"He was duped -- he was duped real, real good," said a senior law enforcement official involved in the case. Another said, "My feeling was that they took advantage of him."

Franklin shook his head.

"No...this was my initiative. I was not directed by him," he said.

Why, I asked didn't he just call Abrams or somebody else at the NSC himself? Surely they would know who he was - or he could quickly inform them.

Franklin turned up a palm.

"Again, I was just - even though I had access to Wolfowitz and could go up to his office, I was just a little guy."

"I should have done a lot of things," he added. "I mean, I made some stupid decisions. Yeah, that would've been the better thing to do."

What's next? A book, of course.

Source: CQ Politics

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Ignoring Propethic Predictors by Ralph Nader

I’ve wondered often why people who go to “town meetings” held by campaigning politicians rarely ask fundamental questions.

Here is one that should have been asked of presidential candidate Barack Obama: “If you get to the White House, will you appoint to top positions Americans who have a track record of making the right decisions in their respective fields?”

“Of course, I will,” Obama would have undoubtedly replied.

Of course, he did not when it came to the collapse of the corrupt Wall Street casinos and the bailout of these gamblers by the American people. Obama chose the very Wall Streeters and Wall Street servants who were involved in, condoned, or profited from the speculative binges that led to the biggest government bailout scheme in world history. The President’s explanation is that he wants experienced people who know how Wall Street works. Yeah, right! In reality, he wanted political cover.

Something very important is missing when even people who are part of the ruling establishment are ignored, marginalized, or ridiculed even though their detailed, public warnings prove to be all too accurate.

Consider billionaire, Ross Perot. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Ross, as everyone calls him, was right on General Motors, right on NAFTA trade, and right on the federal deficits.

In 1984, he joined the Board of Directors of GM after selling his successful company, EDS, to the auto giant. He could scarcely believe how stodgy, bureaucratic, and insensitive GM executives were in running the company. He tried to shake up the boys at the top to meet the fast-growing competition from Asia and Europe.

The GM brass couldn’t stand Ross “at large” probing up and down the company, so in 1986 they bought out his shares in return for him leaving the Board.

Two years later, reflecting on his experience at GM with a reporter from Fortune, Perot called the “General Motors system a blanket of fog that keeps people from doing what they know needs to be done.”

Warming up, Perot continued: “One day I made a speech to some senior executives. I said, ‘Okay, guys, I’m going to give you the whole code on what’s wrong. You don’t like your customers. You don’t like your dealers. You don’t like the people who make your cars. You don’t like your stockholders. And, to a large extent, you don’t like one another. For this company to win, we’re going to have to love our customers. We’re going to have to stop fretting about dealers who make too much money and hope they make $1 billion a year though us. The guys on the factory floor are the salt of the earth—not mad-dog, rabid, burn-the-plant-down radicals. And all this sniping at one another—the financial guys vs. the cars guys—is terribly destructive.’”

GM didn’t listen to Ross. Now, after a long, relentless slide, GM is bankrupt, abandoning their workers, two thousand of their dealers, and their customers’ grievances. Moreover, GM is into the U.S. taxpayer for over $70 billion.

Perot devoted much of his 1993 published book Save Your Job, Save Our Country to NAFTA and trade. Looking back, he was right most of the time. NAFTA cost more U.S. jobs than it created, generated a huge U.S. trade deficit with Mexico, and mainly benefited the “36 businessmen who own Mexico’s 39 largest conglomerates or over half of Mexico’s Gross National Product.”

The border-located maquiladora factories have high worker turnover and squeeze the laborers in often unsafe conditions for little pay.

Here is how Perot described the scene behind the boasting of Washington, DC, and corporations about the large increase in trade after NAFTA:

“Most of the goods produced in the maquiladoras are shipped into the U.S. market. Consequently, most of the so-called trade between the U.S. and Mexico is not trade as trade is commonly understood. Rather, it is primarily U.S. companies shipping their own machinery, components, and raw materials across the border into their Mexican factories and then shipping their finished or semi-finished goods back over the border into the U.S.”

A good deal of the U.S. auto industry went south after NAFTA, leaving workers and communities stranded in Michigan and other states. Bankrupt Chrysler is planning to move a modern, award-winning engine plant in Wisconsin to Mexico after receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts.

On Perot’s nationally-televised deficit warnings (with charts), what more need be said? Even he did not envision what would pile up after his clarion calls. The burden on the next generation and the tax dollars diverted from our country’s needs to pay the interest on these trillions of dollars of debt were pointed out again and again nearly twenty years ago by the Texas entrepreneur. He even has a website ( updating the red ink.

In Bush’s and Obama’s Washington, there is no room for Perot to gain visibility and recognition.

It is one thing for the Washington politicians to ignore prescient progressive commentators, like William Grieder, who have been prophetically right on. It is quite another escape from reality to turn their backs on leaders within the business establishment itself.

There are many like Perot who must be watching the day’s news and saying “we told you so, but you didn’t listen then and you are not listening now.”

Thanks To
Ignoring Propethic Predictors by Ralph Nader « Dandelion Salad

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Florida officer forced to resign after slashing suspect’s bike tires

By Carlos Miller
You have to wonder about the IQ of some officers. Or at least the maturity level.

Here you have an officer who is 52 years old; a 20 year veteran with the New York Police Department who moves down to Florida and gets a job with the Tarpon Springs Police Department.

Jeffrey Robinson is also black, so he has probably been on the receiving end of racial slurs before. Especially from those he has arrested. So you would think he would learn to ignore it.

Think again.

On January 28, Robinson arrested a homeless man on trespassing charges. John Bilawsky used racial slurs against him during the ride to jail.

On February 8, Robinson is apparently still bothered by these slurs so he enters the storage room of the Pinellas County Jail and removes Bilawsky’s bicycle, slashes it tires and places it back into the storage room.

You would think that after 11 days of plotting revenge, he would have noticed that there is a video camera in the storage room.

He didn’t.

The video showed him removing the bike, then replacing it with wobbly wheels. After an internal investigation, he resigned to avoid being fired.

Source: Phoyography is Not a crime

Another Example of U.S. Censorship of Mainstream Media By Timothy V. Gatto « Dandelion Salad

Cynthia McKinney and 20 other humanitarians on the ship “Spirit of Humanity” were stopped in International waters Monday by the Israeli Navy. This is a pretty big deal. An aid ship captured by the armed forces of another country in International waters is an act of piracy…I think. At least it was when Somali pirates captured an American ship recently.

It appears that the U.S. Mainstream media is going to ignore this story even though Cynthia McKinney was once a Congresswoman from Georgia and a Presidential candidate. How odd. What does this say about the news we receive daily from the mainstream media. The New York Times Boasts “All the News that’s fit to Print”. Apparently this act of piracy and cowardly behavior isn’t fit to print. I condemn the New York Times for failing to print this news that they are fully aware of.

It isn’t just the NY Times that has chosen this path, almost all of the mainstream media has refused to broadcast this latest malfeasance of the government in Israel. It seems like anyone that gets their news from this censored mainstream media will never know about the heavy-handed way Israel treats those that try to stop the suffering in Gaza. Rep. Bob Inglis told me that he didn’t even know about this on Monday evening town hall meeting. That’s how successful our censored media is. If I were Congressman Inglis, I would start reading my news from the internet. I say shame on him and shame on our government for not bringing the plight of the ship “Spirit of Humanity” to the attention of the American public. It’s about time U.S. citizens got to see the ruthlessness of the Israeli government.

This isn’t the only example of American censorship. The Russo-Georgian War wasn’t reported as it really was. Georgia started the war and the media knew it. Why then did all the presidential candidates condemn “Russia’s Aggression”?

How long will American citizen’s allow the mainstream media to broadcast only what they want us to hear. If you don’t believe that American media is censored, try to find out why Cynthia McKinney is being held in an Israeli prison on the TV News or from a newspaper.

I don’t make this stuff up.

Thanks To: Another Example of U.S. Censorship of Mainstream Media By Timothy V. Gatto « Dandelion Salad

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kenny's sideshow: Energy Problems...Government Solutions

Eliminating government is the most obvious first step towards energy independence. Let's start with the Department of Defense.
Sam needs his steroids taken away before he kills us all.

The fraud of foreign wars and the 'war on terror' contribute heavily to U.S. energy consumption. Bringing our troops home from the 761 military bases scattered all over the world would go a long way toward energy independence. Using a downsized military at home for defensive purposes only, eliminating the corruption of the military/industrial complex and getting rid of Israel's stranglehold over military policies would be a good start.

The Department of Defense is the world’s largest buyer of oil and the nation’s largest single user of energy. In 2006, DoD purchased 110 million barrels of petroleum, costing $13.6 billion. {source}

The Department of Defense uses 4.6 billion gallons of fuel annually, or an average of 12.6 million gallons of fuel per day. A large Army division may use about 6,000 gallons per day. According to the 2005 CIA World Factbook, the DoD would rank 34th in the world in average daily oil use, coming in just behind Iraq and just ahead of Sweden.

In FY 2006, the DoD used almost 30,000 gigawatt hours (GWH) of electricity, at a cost of almost $2.2 billion. The DoD's electricity use would supply enough electricity to power more than 2.6 million average American homes. In electricity consumption, the DOD would rank 58th in the world, using slightly less than Denmark and slightly more than Syria (CIA World Factbook, 2006).

The DoD uses 93 percent of all US government fuel consumption (Air Force: 52%; Navy: 33%; Army: 7%. Other DoD: 1%) {source}
Since these numbers come from government sources, you can bet they are underestimated.

War and military policy for the profit and power of a few psychopaths is not energy efficient.
A large number of poor people also die in vain.

How about FEMA, The Department of Education, EPA, the IRS? And that's just a few of the big ones. No need to stop there. Shutter their doors. No carbon footprint and hot air from these frauds and the world is closer to being 'saved.' This is not to say that there is no need for the rule of law. We have laws already to take down the various criminals in all of their endeavors. They're just not being used.

The billions not spent on these government entities, if they were made obsolete and dismantled and the money not stolen from taxpayers, would certainly stimulate the economy in the long run.

Without war as the first step, we can then move on to all of the other problems we have because of corruption; the federal reserve, bankers, Wall Street, health care, sustainable agriculture, "the war on drugs," U.S. manufacturing, globalism, the welfare state, etc. etc.

Or maybe I have it a little out of order. Perhaps we should start with the global bankers and the Federal Reserve. After all, historically they have the most to gain from war.

I can visualize a 'green' world in our future but only without the thieves that deceive us.

Oh well, just another one of those "I had a dream" moments. We all know that any move pushing too far in the direction of smaller honest government would result in the deaths of many Americans on our own soil, again, blamed on 'foreigners' that want to destroy us and getting that old 'kill 'em all and let God sort it out' American patriotism back in line. Would the majority be fooled again?

Dreams without action don't come true. How do we stop this madness?

Thanks To Kenny's Sideshow Where We Found This Post
kenny's sideshow: Energy Problems...Government Solutions

The UK DNA database needs proper scrutiny

Last December the European Court of Human Rights decided in S and Marper v The United Kingdom that the retention by the State of DNA profiles is a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. That is because information about people arrested for, or charged with, an offence but not subsequently convicted, is kept on the national DNA database for an unlimited period of time. The Government has accepted the judgment of the European court and announced that it will change the law to ensure compliance. But its proposed method of doing so is unsatisfactory and needs reconsideration.

The Government published a consultation paper on May 7 suggesting that the DNA profiles of people charged but not convicted should in future be kept for six or twelve years, depending on the seriousness of the alleged offence. The consultation period runs until August 7. The Government has rightly emphasised that this is a context, like so many others under the convention, where it is necessary to strike a balance between the rights of the individual and the protection of the public. The right to privacy may make it more difficult to detect dangerous criminals. There will inevitably be disagreements about where the balance lies, having regard to the point made by the House of Lords Constitution Committee that DNA profiles provide the State with large amounts of personal information about citizens that could, in the future, be used for malign purposes.

The immediate problem is that Clause 96 of the Policing and Crime Bill contains a provision that would confer power on the secretary of state to make regulations governing the retention, use and destruction of DNA and other material, such as fingerprints. If ministers are given a power to regulate these matters by secondary legislation, there would be a much reduced opportunity for parliamentary debate and scrutiny. There would be a short debate, after which the regulations could either be approved or rejected. It would not be possible for members of Parliament to table amendments for discussion and for such amendments to be put to a vote.

The committee stage of the Policing and Crime Bill began in the House of Lords last week. When peers debate whether the DNA database is a matter that ministers should be able to regulate by secondary legislation, they will wish to bear in mind that there are three particular aspects of the Government’s substantive proposals as set out in the consultation paper that will need the most careful debate.

The first is that the Government now suggests that the State should retain for up to six years the DNA profiles of adults who were arrested for, but not convicted of, an offence that was not serious or violent or terrorist-related. In Scotland there is no power to retain DNA material when a person is arrested but not convicted unless the offence is a serious one. The consultation paper does not refer to any evidence that this has caused any detriment to the fight against serious crime in Scotland.

The second matter of concern is that the Government proposes a 12-year period for retention of the DNA profiles of those arrested but not convicted in relation to serious, violent, or terrorist offences. That is much longer than the three-year period (and a possible two-year extension if a sheriff consents) that is authorised in Scotland. The evidence presented in the consultation paper to justify a period as long as 12 years is weak. Again, Parliament will need to debate this.

The third point is that the consultation paper proposes that in exceptional circumstances the DNA profile could be destroyed before the expiry of the six or twelve years period, on application to a chief constable, for example in cases of mistaken identity. Parliament should have the opportunity to debate whether there should be a right of appeal to an independent judicial body for deletion of the DNA profile.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights understandably concluded in a report published in April that it was “alarmed” that the substance of the Government’s proposals would not be contained in primary legislation and so subject to full parliamentary scrutiny. The joint committee “strongly urged” the Government to reconsider. The House of Lords Constitution Committee has also reached the similar conclusion that Clause 96 is unacceptable because unamendable delegated legislation will not provide a sufficient opportunity for parliamentary oversight and control. The Government should think again.

The author is a practising barrister at Blackstone Chambers in the Temple, a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and a crossbench peer in the House of Lords

When is a ban not a ban?

Greece, we are informed, is the latest European country to adopt a ban on smoking in public places. According to Reuters, for example, "Greeks were banned from smoking at work and inside bars and restaurants on Wednesday".

Er, not quite. According to the same report:

"A last-minute amendment allows offices where more than 50 people work to have designated smoking areas. Restaurant and bar owners of properties of up to 70 square metres can decide whether their business is smoking or non smoking. Others can set up ventilated smoking areas."

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be unhappy with a "ban" like that. Once again, the comprehensive ban in Britain and Ireland is shown to be draconian, unnecessary and out of step with most of the rest of Europe.

Full report HERE.

UN expert says Israeli seizure of aid ship a crime

A U.N. human rights investigator on Thursday called Israel's seizure of a ship carrying relief aid for the Gaza Strip "unlawful" and said its blockade of the territory constituted a "continuing crime against humanity". Israeli authorities on Tuesday intercepted the vessel, which was also carrying 21 pro-Palestinian activists, and said it would not be permitted to enter Gaza coastal waters because of security risks in the area and its existing naval blockade.

Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said the move was part of Israel's "cruel blockade of the entire Palestinian population of Gaza" in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting any form of collective punishment against "an occupied people". Falk, an American expert on international law, said Israel's two-year blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza restricted vital supplies such as food, medicine and fuel to "bare subsistence levels".

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a report this week that Israel was also halting entry to Gaza of building materials and spare parts needed to repair damage from its 22-day invasion late last December. "Such a pattern of continuing blockade under these conditions amounts to such a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions as to constitute a continuing crime against humanity," Falk said in a statement released in Geneva.

Prior to leaving Cyprus, the ship was inspected by Cypriot authorities in response to Israeli demands to determine whether it carried any weapons, according to the U.N. investigator. "None were found and Israeli authorities were so informed." "Nonetheless, the 21 peace activists on the boat were arrested, held in captivity and have been charged with 'illegal entry' to Israel even though they had no intention of going to Israel," Falk added.


Israel's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Aharon Leshno-Yaar, rejected the remarks by Falk whom he said was "known for his bias against Israel and anti-Israel statements". Israel is allowing relief aid to reach Gaza in coordination with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, Leshno-Yaar said. "Clearly the purpose of that ship was to create a buzz and serve as a propaganda vehicle against Israel," he told Reuters.

Activists from the U.S.-based Free Gaza movement said that Irish Nobel peace prize laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. congresswoman Cynthia McKinney were among those aboard.

Falk, who is Jewish, has had his own difficulties with Israeli authorities in trying to fulfil his independent mandate for the U.N. Human Rights Council. Last December, he was detained and turned back from Israel, forcing him to abort a planned mission to Gaza -- a deportation denounced by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

In a report last March, Falk said Israel's year-end military assault on the densely population coastal strip of 1.5 million appeared to constitute a grave war crime. Amnesty International said in a report on Thursday that Israel inflicted "wanton destruction" in the Gaza Strip in attacks that often targeted Palestinian civilians [IDnL2307109].

A U.N. inquiry into alleged war crimes by both Israel and Hamas militants in the recent conflict held public hearings in Gaza this week and will also hear testimony in Geneva next week. It is led by former U.N. war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone, a South African jurist.

Source: The Truth Will Set You Free

Part 2: Smoking, drinking and obesity: a recent history of attacks

Of course, your humble Devil has been tracking the progress of the denormalisation of drinking for a good long while now; many of the major stories were sumarised in this post in which I... er... commented on the proposed cigarette packet-style warning labels to appear on booze.
But it is because these fuckers always need to find something to ban in order to justify their own existence. So, fox-hunting and fags are nearly conquored, so it's time to move strongly against alcohol. We can hardly pretend to be surprised; the attacks have come fast and furious over the last few years: we had surgeon John Smith trying to limit people to three drinks a night, the EU Commission report on "passive drinking", health "experts" setting ludicrous "binge-drinking" definitions, the Preston police trying to ban "vertical drinking", the bloody EU (again) trying to curb alcohol advertising, the move to ensure that all drinks in pubs are served in plastic recepticles, and Patsy cocking Hewitt begging the Chancellor for some of that hot Polly-style lovin' much higher alcohol taxes.

This last was one of my more vitriolic posts and this one paragraph basically sums up my attitude towards all of these attempts to infringe on my freedom to get absolutely stoshus.
Go fuck youself, you stinking apology for a cunt of a human being; did I say human being? I meant hideous chicken-brained whore of a monkey's arse dipped in aubergine surprise—the surprise being that it is made of aubergines and shit, shit, shitty-shit-shit-shit—and mashed up with the pus-filled discharge of a diseased, eighty-year-old whore's raddled, smelly and very badly-packed kebab. Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, you cunting cunt cuntitty cunt cunt. Tit.

So there.

Where do we find these bloody parasitic busybodies, eh? We are crying out for more scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors, doctors, nurses, anyone competent and all we seem to end up with is these fucking killjoy scum.

Needless to say, the war on drinkers has escalated over the last few years: my colleague, The Filthy Smoker, covered some of the egregious lies and distortions being pushed by the government and its satellite fake charities only a few days ago. One of the things that he covered was the obviously faked "deaths from alcohol" figures...
According to the ONS, there were 509,090 deaths in England and Wales in 2008 and there were 6,541 deaths related to alcohol in England. That last figure doesn't include Wales so let's be generous and add a further 500 deaths for the sheep-worriers.

Which gives us a total number of about 7,000, or 1.38% of all deaths.

Of course, that doesn't give us the percentage for the whole of Europe, but seeing as we're supposedly some of the worst drinkers in Europe (another fucking lie), that should be considered a conservative estimate. Still nowhere near 10% though, is it? It's not even close to the 1 in 25—or 4%—claimed for the whole world, and for that global total you need to factor in a billion muslims who don't drink at all, plus God knows how many people who haven't got a pot to piss in, let alone a pub to get pissed in.

The thing is, as Costigan Quist pointed out (a tip of the horns to Dick Puddlecote and his rather good post around this subject), the British are not drinking significantly more than we used to.
Are we drinking more now than a decade ago?
No. You can look at all the data and see that pretty much everyone, men and women, all age groups, are drinking about the same as we were in 1992 and in 1996.

The only significant change I can see is that drinking amongst young people rose from 1994 to 2000, but has been falling since and is now back to where it started. Indeed, Conservatives might like to bear in mind that by far the biggest increase in young people drinking was from 1994-1997, in the second half of the Major administration.

The figures are confused because of the new alcohol units measurement. Remember that the number of units in drinks was recently revised upwards (there was a big advertising campaign, with the new unit value in foam on the beer glass and things like that). Some of the so-called increase seems to be down to this revision - the rises disappear in the like-for-like figures.

As an example, suppose you drink a glass of wine a day, which used to be one unit. The reality is that your alcohol consumption hasn't changed. If we jump onto the new figures, it looks like you're suddenly drinking more units (last year you drank 1 unit a day, this year you drink 1.5 units a day).

The Rowntree report shows both. Unless I've totally misunderstood the figures, it makes sense to compare like with like for trends. On the like-for-like figures, we're all drinking about the same - some a tiny bit more, some a bit less.

Has binge drinking for women doubled?
The shock headline is that twice as many women are binge drinking, but that appears to be utter rubbish.

It relies on this new units system. Funnily enough, if you count a glass of wine as 1.5 units instead of 1, the number of women drinking more that six units in any day suddenly rises. What a shock!

When you compare like with like, the proportion of men and women binge drinking is lower in 2006 (the latest year given in the study) than for any year in the last decade.

But, of course, we bloggers point all of this out in vain. For, as a few email correspondents pointed out to me, only a couple of days later some similar lies were wheeled out, by the state's mouthpiece, regarding alcohol mortality in the Scots.
Alcohol may have caused the death of twice as many Scots as previously thought, an NHS study has found.

Researchers used a new method of calculating alcohol-related deaths which is said to more accurately reflect the damage done by drinking.

By "more accurately", what they actually mean is that the study used a new method of lying—by chucking in all of the diseases, such as stomach cancer, that might possibly be caused by drinking (but for which there is little to no evidence, and which might be caused by many other things as well)—in order to provide some shock figures.

But why? Well, we'll come onto that.

The parallels with the attacks on smoking are alarming; indeed, the strategy is spelt out very clearly by the author of the Lancet study cited by the Filthy Smoker, above.
"The big message is treat alcohol like tobacco..."

The sequence is fairly simple really. The first thing that you do is to regulate the substance, e.g. through licensing, age restrictions, etc.; you need to concentrate on the health risks associated with the substance; you need to exaggerate the figures, by lying if necessary; then you need to appeal to those who don't like said substance and try to imply that they are suffering even if they do not indulge (e.g. second-hand smoke, third-hand smoke, passive drinking) to get them on board (after all, get a big enough minority and they'll be able to force their prejudice on others through the ballot box). All of these get the denormalisation ball rolling, and now you have enough support to start the legislative bans, and more subtle bans.

I have complained before about those signs in shops that insist that say things like...
If you look under 21, we will need ID of proof of age when purchasing alcohol.

My local Sainsbury's has changed it to 23 recently. Why? The drinking age is 18: why 21, or 23, or 25? And why would a shop try to restrict people from purchasing items? Because the state has insisted on it, through subtle or overt pressure. The state is denormalising the buying of alcohol.

And the bans? Well, they have started already.
More than 700 “controlled drinking zones” have been set up across England, giving police sweeping powers to confiscate beer and wine from anyone enjoying a quiet outdoor tipple.

Local authorities are introducing the zones at a rate of 100 a year, The Times has learnt. Some cover whole cities, a radical departure from what the law intended.

Yup, that's right: the law never intended that, eh? Don't fucking make me laugh: this is precisely what the law intended.

The signs all around the shops—much like the ones pertaining to tobacco, and the moves to push cigarettes under the counter—are to denormalise the buying of these substances.

These public bans are about denormalising the drinking of alcohol—in precisely the way in which they are attempting to stamp out smoking in films (or even to edit or erase cartoons that show it).
"He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future."—1984, George Orwell.

The thinking is that if people are not seen to be drinking or smoking, then these activities do not exist—or, rather, they are not normal.

Yes, at present people can smoke and drink in their homes and private cars but, as has been spelt out by the director of ASH Scotland, the state is moving to stop this too. Indeed, they have made a start, as far as alcohol is concerned, by advocating higher and higher age limits—with more dire and unrealistic warnings—for any kind of exposure to alcohol.
Once a control zone is in place, police can seize alcohol from anyone who is not on licensed premises, even if the bottles or cans are unopened. Although drinking is not banned in the zones, police can ask anyone to stop drinking and it is an offence to refuse, punishable by a maximum £500 fine. No explanation or suspicion that the person could be a public nuisance is required. The highest fine will soon rise to £2,500.

Laws giving local authorities the power to set up the zones, or “designated public place orders”, were introduced in 2001 at the height of government concern over public drunkenness.

Note that they were introduced because of "government concern"—with the stress firmly on the word "government". Generally, the people were not—and are not—screaming for bans on drinking in public.
The law made clear that the zones should cover only streets or city centre areas with a record of alcohol-related disorder or nuisance.

There are now 712 zones, some covering vast areas where there is no record of disorder. There are city-wide bans in Coventry and Brighton, which cover even the quietest suburban streets. Birmingham tried to introduce a city-wide ban but had to back down in the face of public opposition.

And has Birmingham respected the wishes of the public?
Instead it is introducing the drinking zones gradually across the city.

No. It is sneaking the ban through piecemeal, deliberately ignoring the wishes of the people of the city.
Camden in North London has a borough-wide ban, apart from Hampstead Heath, Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill. The Times has learnt that Lambeth in South London is planning to make the whole borough a controlled zone, with no exemptions, even in Brockwell Park, a local beauty spot that is popular with picnickers.

What? Fuck. Fucking Lambeth bastards...
Research on the zones has been conducted by The Manifesto Club, a campaign group that challenges what it sees as excessive regulation.

Note the careful use of the passive tense there—the media are on the government's side, make no mistake. An excellent example of this fawning can be seen on the BBC website where—despite a poll showing that the percentage of teenagers drinking weekly has dropped from 50% to 38%—the headline screams "Youngsters 'drinking dangerously'". OMG! Teh horrors!
It found that police are routinely ignoring Home Office guidelines and confiscating bottles of wine and beer from peaceful picnickers and other adults having a quiet drink outdoors. In some cases, drinks have allegedly been seized by police from adults who have just bought them from an off licence and are on their way home.

So, what have we got here?

Well, we have the police making up the laws as they go along, and with no comeback at all; the police are now a law unto themselves. We are, quite literally, living in a police state.

Most terrifyingly of all, to my mind, we have state agencies, like Birmingham, that have given up any kind of pretense of governing in the name of the people that they are supposed to serve.

The political classes are now so sure that the British people are too cowed to resist any of these hideous restrictions in their traditional freedoms that they feel able to do precisely what they want to do: and it is the sheer, terrifying confidence in the security of their tenure that really scares me.

We do not live in a democracy, or anything approaching one: we live in an elected dictatorship in which we live our lives by permission of—and only as far as—the oligarchy wish us to.

And they are about to deprive us of yet more of our rights and freedoms, as well as the services that we have paid for...

Source: The Devils Kitchen