Tuesday, August 11, 2009



Condemnations are rolling in concerning the illegal evictions of Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem. Consensus seems to be that these actions ‘were totally unacceptable’
Slowly but surely the world seems to be waking up to to the reality of the ugliness and danger of zionism. Israel has literally gotten away with worse crimes since its inception as a state, most recently in Gaza earlier this year. The silence from the world is still deafening regarding the war crimes committed there.
Hopefully, these condemnations will be followed up by actions and not just filed away in the ‘circular file’ as too often happens. It is time for the world to finally put a stop to the destruction of the Palestinian people. It won’t happen on its own.
Here are reports from various news agencies…. they are followed by a report on the actual situation….
From Maan News Agency… The EU’s Swedish Presidency condemned on Monday Israel’s expulsion of two Palestinian families from their East Jerusalem homes the previous day as “illegal” and “unacceptable.”The Presidency “recalls that house demolitions, evictions and settlement activities in East Jerusalem are illegal under international law.”
From HaAretzThe United States and the United Nations sharply condemned the eviction of two Palestinian families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and their replacement with Jewish families on Sunday.
From BBC News… “I deplore today’s totally unacceptable actions by Israel,” the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert H Serry said. “These actions are contrary to the provisions of the Geneva Conventions related to occupied territory.
Even Hillary Clinton, in what appeared to be a rare sober moment commented… U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday criticized Israel for the eviction two Palestinian families from an Arab neighborhood in east Jerusalem, calling the move “deeply regrettable”.
According to a CNN report … Israel moved to defend itself in the face of international criticism Monday over its eviction of dozens of Palestinian families from a neighborhood of Jerusalem they have lived in for generations.
Left-wing Israeli activists protest against the eviction of Palestinians from their homes in east Jerusalem.

Left-wing Israeli activists protest against the eviction of Palestinians from their homes in east Jerusalem.

“I think a lot of the criticism is simply not fair,” said Mark Regev, a government spokesman, who described the dispute as a legal one between two private parties over who had title to a property in East Jerusalem.

In the court action, a settler group sued claiming the Palestinians had violated an agreement under which they were allowed to live in the houses.

“As you know, the Israeli court system is independent and professional,” Regev said, referring to the Supreme Court’s decision that paved the way for the evictions. “Many times it goes on the Palestinian side if they think that’s where the justice is and, in this case, they ruled in favor of the Jewish side.”


Ibn Ezra posted the following….

Palestinians out, Jews in

They are now living on the streets, homeless. Just a week ago they were living inside their home and now there are Jewish settlers inside, exhibiting not the least bit of remorse for the homeless family just outside. The Hanoun family’s furniture was seized by Israeli forces and they are now responsible for paying the storage and mover fees. Meanwhile, the Jewish settlers are living with round-the-clock security, not allowing anyone near. At one house, the police actually had the nerve to tell us not to film too close, as we should respect the privacy of the new residents.

This is just one of several plans by various real estate groups such as Nahalat Shimon International and American businessmen such as Irving Moskowitz, to populate the areas surrounding the Old City with Jewish strongholds that sever Palestinian territorial contiguity in East Jerusalem. This prejudices any final resolution in which East Jerusalem would be the Palestinian capital. It is also in clear breach of Israel’s commitment under the Road Map. But these operations are backed by the Israel Lands Administration, the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israeli government, who are all working together to undermine any possibility for a two-state solution and are blatantly infringing on the basic human rights of the residents of what they deem to be the “united Jerusalem.”

Source: Dessert Peace

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The Fading American Dream: The Constitution Circumvented: There is no First Amendment in America: no right to free speech, no right to peaceably assemble

The Fading American Dream: The Constitution Circumvented: There is no First Amendment in America: no right to free speech, no right to peaceably assemble: "There is no First Amendment in America: no right to free speech, no right to peaceably assemble

Well, you want free speech? Go home, go into your closet, shut the door, and talk about whatever you want to! That is about the only place you will get away with it anymore.

WE DO NOT EVEN HAVE A RIGHT TO PEACEABLY ASSEMBLE AND SPEAK FREELY IN OUR NATION'S CAPITOL ANYMORE! Do you get it? How can we reign in our government when they gag us at their capital city limits?

This is outrageous! Why doesn't the American public wake up and realize they have lost their Constitution, their Bill of Rights, and the very country they THINK they live in?

Once again, let me inform you. YOU do NOT have free speech. YOU do NOT have the right to peaceably assemble. PERIOD.

Those rights have been rescinded, via some nonsense federal regulation that has somehow trumped the Constitution, just like every other piece of garbage, unAmerican and unConstitutional legislation that comes out of our government.

Brace for impact..."

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Sweden refuses assistance in priest's Holocaust denial inquiry

Regensburg,Germany - Sweden has refused to summon a journalist for questioning in a possible German prosecution of Richard Williamson, the fundamentalist Catholic clergyman who caused a furor by questioning the scale of the Holocaust. Prosecutors in the German city of Regensburg admitted Thursday the inquiry was effectively stalled. Williamson, a British leader of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), gave an interview last year to a Swedish TV journalist near the German city, where the SSPX, an advocate of old-style Catholicism, has a seminary. A re-broadcast of the interview this year, just after Pope Benedict XVI ended the excommunication of Williamson and three other SSPX leaders, triggered a storm worldwide. Regensburg prosecutors opened an inquiry to see if he could be charged with Holocaust denial, which is a crime under German law. They asked their Swedish counterparts to summon the journalist for questioning. But Sweden replied there was no legal basis to interrogate the journalist as requested. Prosecutor Guenther Ruckdaeschel said this was apparently because of journalistic privilege in Sweden, although he said, from a German point of view, the argument made no sense. "Legally, we can't see why. It wouldn't be any problem here to question a journalist," he said. "If we don't get anything from Sweden, we'll just have to see how we can get on without this testimony."Population studies show that 5 million to 6 million European Jews were killed by all causes,including death camps, starvation, disease and battle, during the Nazi period. In the interview, Williamson, 69, appeared to question that, contending there was no historical evidence of Nazi gas chambers and claiming "only 200,000 to 300,000 Jews" had been killed in concentration camps. Through his lawyer, he has told the German prosecutors he was assured his remarks were for broadcast in Sweden only, where there is no law against doubting the Holocaust.

Source: Earth Times

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Rabbi Described as `Thug’ Arrested as Human Organ Dealer

The Brooklyn man arrested for organ trafficking in connection with a massive federal corruption and money laundering sting is described a "thug" who reportedly pulled a gun on kidney "donors" who were getting cold feet, according to a Daily News report Friday.

Levy-Izhak Rosenbaum allegedly bought kidneys from impoverished people overseas for $10,000 and turned them around for $160,000 in the U.S., according to the newspaper. His operation was first brought to the attention of the FBI seven years ago by Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a University of California, Berkeley anthropologist who studied human organ trafficking.

She described Rosenbaum to the Daily News as "the main U.S. broker for an international trafficking network." One of her sources, a man who worked with Rosenbaum, said he would pull a pistol on nervous kidney sellers, telling them "You're here. A deal is a deal. Now, you'll give us a kidney or you'll never go home."

Rosenbaum became part of the federal corruption probe, which netted more than 40 people, including rabbis and elected officeholders from New Jersey and New York, after an FBI informant crossed paths with him and learned of his organ trafficking operation.

The informant introduced Rosenbaum to an undercover agent whose uncle supposedly needed a kidney transplant. According to the report, Rosenbaum described himself as a "matchmaker" who pulled off "quite a lot" of transactions.

The scope of the probe extends well beyond Rosenbaum's trafficking operation, though. Tens of millions of dollars were allegedly laundered through religious charities and bribes were allegedly passed to New Jersey politicians, including three mayors, for shady development deals.

Local officials decried the 44 arrests Thursday as a remarkable number even for New Jersey, where more than 130 public officials have pleaded guilty or have been convicted of corruption since 2001.

"New Jersey's corruption problem is one of the worst, if not the worst, in the nation," said Ed Kahrer, who heads the FBI's white-collar and public corruption division. "Corruption is a cancer that is destroying the core values of this state."

Gov. Jon Corzine said: "The scale of corruption we're seeing as this unfolds is simply outrageous and cannot be tolerated."

The arrests were headline news in Israel on Friday morning, with the front pages of all three of the country's mass-circulation dailies featuring pictures of bearded ultra-Orthodox Jews being led away by law enforcement officials.

Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for Israel's national police force, said Friday that Israeli police were not involved in the investigation. He would not comment further.

Federal prosecutors in the U.S. said the investigation focused on a money laundering network that operated between Brooklyn, N.Y.; Deal, N.J.; and Israel. The network is alleged to have laundered tens of millions of dollars through Jewish charities controlled by rabbis in New York and New Jersey.

Prosecutors then used the informant in that investigation to help them go after corrupt politicians. The informant - a real estate developer charged with bank fraud three years ago - posed as a crooked businessman and paid a string of public officials tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to get approvals for buildings and other projects in New Jersey, authorities said.

Among the 44 people arrested were the mayors of Hoboken, Ridgefield and Secaucus, Jersey City's deputy mayor, and two state assemblymen. A member of the governor's cabinet resigned after agents searched his home, though he was not arrested. All but one of the officeholders are Democrats.

Also, five rabbis from New York and New Jersey - two of whom lead congregations in Deal - were accused of laundering millions of dollars, some of it from the sale of counterfeit Gucci handbags and bankruptcy fraud, authorities said.

Others arrested included building and fire inspectors, city planning officials and utilities officials, all of them accused of using their positions to further the corruption.

The politicians arrested were not accused of any involvement in the money laundering or the trafficking in human organs and counterfeit handbags.

Hours after FBI agents seized documents from his home and office, New Jersey Community Affairs Commissioner Joseph Doria resigned. Federal officials would not say whether he would be charged. Doria did not return calls for comment.

Authorities did not identify the informant, described in court papers as a person "charged in a federal criminal complaint with bank fraud in or about May 2006." But the date matches up with an investigation that led to charges against Solomon Dwek, the son of a Deal rabbi.

The younger Dwek was charged at the time in connection with a bounced $25 million check he deposited in a bank's drive-through window. He has denied the charges. Dwek's lawyer did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday.

Most of the defendants facing corruption charges were released on bail. The money laundering defendants faced bail between $300,000 and $3 million, and most were ordered to submit to electronic monitoring.

Among those ensnared by the informant was Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano III, prosecutors said. The 32-year-old Cammarano, who won a runoff election last month, was accused of accepting money from the developer at a Hoboken diner.

"There's the people who were with us, and that's you guys," the complaint quotes Cammarano saying. "There's the people who climbed on board in the runoff. They can get in line. ... And then there are the people who were against us the whole way. ... They get ground into powder."

Cammarano was accused of accepting $25,000 in cash bribes. His attorney Joseph Hayden said his client is "innocent of these charges. He intends to fight them with all his strength until he proves his innocence."
Source: CBS News
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Obama, Netanyahu and the Settlements


First, an honest disclosure: I loved the Shepherd hotel very much.

In the first years after the Six-Day War, I was a frequent guest there. My work in the Knesset demanded that I stay in Jerusalem at least two nights every week, and after the war I switched from the hotels of West Jerusalem to those in the Eastern part of the city. My favorite was the Shepherd. I felt at home there.

The charm of the place lay in its special atmosphere. It is located in the middle of that ancient Arab town which itself aroused my intense curiosity. Its rooms have high ceilings and old furniture, and it was run by remarkable people - two elderly Arab ladies who were educated in Beirut and steeped in Palestinian-Lebanese culture.

The area surrounding the hotel is the neighborhood of the al-Husseini clan. The holdings of this vast extended family, with more than 5000 members, comprise the greater part of the Sheikh Jarrah quarter, which also includes the legendary Orient House.

The al-Husseini family is one of the handful of aristocratic Jerusalemite families, and perhaps the most respected one (its members certainly think so). For centuries the family has filled at least one of the three most important positions in the town: those of Grand Mufti, mayor and the notable in charge of the Islamic shrines. Shepherd was built by Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti who led the Arab Rebellion in the 1930s and became the Arab the Hebrew community most loved to hate.

I spent hours in conversation with the two ladies, learnt a lot from them and grew very attached to the place. It was a sad day for me when it was closed.

I don’t know how this property fell into the hands of the American millionaire, the Bingo king whose declared intention is to set up Jewish settlements all over the Arab town. Now he wants to build a housing project in the grounds of the Shepherd.

But that’s enough of him. My business is with Binyamin Netanyahu.

* * *

NETANYAHU’S AIM is to Judaize Jerusalem. This week he boasted that in his last term in office, ten years ago, he had set up the fortified Jewish neighborhood of Har Homa.

To Har Homa – whose real name is Jebel Abu Ghneim, Mountain of the Father of Sheep – I also have a sentimental attachment. I spent many days and nights in the struggle to prevent the creation of the monstrous housing project that looms there now.

The leader in this struggle was another Husseini – the unforgettable Feisal. I held him in high esteem. I don’t hesitate to say that I loved him. He was a nobleman in the real sense of the word: a scion of nobility but modest in his manners, generous and approachable, a man of peace but fearless in his confrontations with the occupation troops, a real Palestinian patriot, moderate in his opinions, wise and courageous. He was the son of Abd-al-Kader al-Husseini, the leader of the Arab fighters in the Jerusalem district in the 1948 war, who was killed in the battle for the “Castel” near the city. I had no part in that battle, but I passed by a few hours later in a relief convoy for the besieged Jewish part of Jerusalem. Like most of my comrades, I respected him as an honorable enemy.

The site of Har Homa, for those who have already forgotten, used to be a unique place of beauty between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, a rounded hill covered with a dense wood. The destroyers of Jerusalem – that brutal coalition of real estate sharks, fanatical Zionists, American millionaires and religious mystics – had decided to eliminate that last spot of beauty in order to build a dense, fortified and particularly ugly Jewish settlement. Under the leadership of Feisal and Ta’amri, the former husband of a Jordanian princess, a tent camp was set up. When the bulldozers started to cut down the trees and level the top of the hill, we held dozens of demonstrations and vigils. In one of them I suffered a hemorrhage and would have ended my life there and then, if a Palestinian ambulance had not succeeded in reaching me in that road-less stone desert and got me to the hospital in time. So I have a sentimental attachment to the place.

* * *

THE SHEPHERD provocation is a part of the tireless effort to “Judaize” Jerusalem. In simple words: to carry out ethnic cleansing. This campaign has been going on for 42 years already, from the first day of the occupation of East Jerusalem, but the timing of this particular operation results from tactical considerations.

Netanyahu is facing heavy American pressure to freeze the settlements in the West Bank. He is quite unable to do so, as long as he remains at the head of the coalition he himself chose, which consists of Rightists, religious zealots, settlers and outright fascists. He has offered several “compromises”, all based on various fraudulent ploys, but the Americans have learnt the lessons of the past and did not fall into any of his traps.

His Siamese twin, Ehud Barak, is busy leaking to the media “news” about a grandiose operation: at any moment, with one stroke, like Alexander and the Gordian knot, the dozens of settlement “outposts” that have been set up since 2001 with secret government support will be uprooted. But except for the media people themselves, hardly anyone believes that this will really happen. Certainly not the settlers, judging by their knowing smiles.

So what to do in order to avoid having to dismantle the outposts? Netanyahu, the King of Spin, has a solution: a new provocation to draw attention away from the last one. The Shepherd hotel is now diverting the world’s attention away from the hills of “Judea and Samaria”. When you have a toothache, you forget about your bellyache.

What, he says, the Goyim want to stop us building in Jerusalem, our Holy City?! Our eternal capital, which has been reunited for all eternity?! What Chutzpah! Will they prohibit Jews from building in New York?! Will they forbid Englishmen to build in London?!

Netanyahu really hit his stride when he declared that any Arab can live in West Jerusalem, so why should a Jew not build a home in East Jerusalem?

Clear and to the point – and absolutely false. When Netanyahu says things like that, it is hard to know whether he is spreading lies consciously (though they can easily be exposed), or if he believes his falsehoods himself. Thus, for example, he claimed to remember the British soldiers in front of his home when he was a child – when the last British soldier left the country a year before he was born.

The truth is that with extremely rare exceptions, no Arab can acquire an apartment in West Jerusalem, not to mention building a house there – though large sections of the Western part of the city consist of former Arab neighborhoods, whose inhabitants fled or were driven out during the 1948 war. The former owners of the houses in these quarters (including Talbiya, Katamon, Dir Yassin), who found refuge in East Jerusalem, were not allowed to return to their homes when Jerusalem was “united” in 1967, neither were they paid compensation (as I proposed in the Knesset).

But Netanyahu does not care so much whether people believe him or not. This week, like every other week since he returned to power, he was fully occupied with survival. In order to survive, the coalition must remain intact. To achieve this, he must show that he does not “fold” under American pressure. No better place to prove this than Jerusalem.

About Jerusalem, as official spokesmen never tire of telling us, about Jerusalem there is a national consensus. From wall to wall. From left to extreme right.

However, this myth is long dead. No such consensus exists. Right now, most Israelis are ready to return the Arab quarters of East Jerusalem to Palestinian rule in return for real peace. I know of no Jewish mother who is ready to sacrifice her son in a war for the Shepherd hotel.

* * *

I BEG to contradict yet another myth that is being propagated relentlessly by our media: that a national consensus against President Obama is forming.

As we say in classical Hebrew: No bears and no forest. Or more colloquially: No birds and no shoes.

Many Israelis, very many, hope that Barack Obama will do for them what seems impossible without him: bring them peace. They have despaired of our political system, of both the coalition and the opposition, of both Right and Left. They are convinced that only an outside force can realize this hope.

If indeed Obama does clash with Netanyahu over his refusal to freeze the settlements in the West Bank and his insistence on continuing to build in East Jerusalem, it is for Obama’s victory that many Israelis will be praying. They know that in this battle, it is not Netanyahu but Obama who represents the true interests of Israel.

The question is whether Obama has the power to follow through, as no preceding president since Dwight Eisenhower has done.

Netanyahu does not believe so. His American partners – the defeated Republicans, the Neocons who are now in hiding, the almost-silent Evangelical preachers – this defeated camp is hoping to recover its fortunes by encouraging the Jewish lobby and the Israeli government to provoke Obama. Netanyahu, who has mobilized Congress against the White House in the past, believes that he can do it once again.

Our newspapers are gleefully reporting, with charts and graphs to bear them out, that Obama’s standing in America is sinking. It is not hard to divine that most of this information emanates from Avigdor Lieberman’s Foreign Office, the same source that is feeding the American media with reports of the growing opposition of the Israeli public against Obama. Soon the American media will show Israeli protesters waving posters with Obama in SS uniform, as happened with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin before him.

* * *

The battle is not about 20 outposts, nor about 20 apartments in the grounds of the Shepherd hotel. Every house in every West Bank settlement serves one supreme purpose: to destroy any possibility for peace. Every Israeli house in East Jerusalem serves the same sublime aim. The opponents of peace know that no Arab leader will ever sign a peace agreement that does not designate East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, and no Arab leader will ever sign a peace agreement that does not assign all of the West Bank to the State of Palestine.

A historic responsibility rests on the shoulders of Barack Obama: not to fold, not to give in, not to “compromise”. To insist on the total freeze of the settlements, as a first and necessary step towards peace. For his sake, and for ours too.

As an Israeli, I feel like calling out to him: Yes, You Can!

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch's book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

Source: Counterpunch

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Israeli settlers 'are wrecking peace process'

Britain has accused Israel of allowing extremist Jewish settlers to disrupt attempts at relaunching the peace process after police evicted more than 50 Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem.

As Jewish settlers moved into the Palestinian homes, the British consulate said it was appalled by the evictions, which took place a few hundred yards from the diplomatic mission, after an Israeli court decided in favour of the settlers.

“Israel’s claim that the imposition of extremist Jewish settlers into this ancient Arab neighbourhood is a matter for the courts or the municipality is entirely unacceptable,” the consulate said in a statement. “Their actions are incompatible with Israel’s desire for peace. We urge Israel not to allow extremists to set the agenda.”

The evictions came at a sensitive time, with the US Administration pushing a reluctant right-wing Israeli government towards a freeze on new settlements in Palestinian areas, in the hope of reviving peace talks.

Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said that the decision to push out Palestinian families, who have lived in the houses for more than half a century, in favour of religious Jewish settlers who claim the whole of the Palestinian territories as their own God-given land, showed that Israel was not serious about renewing peace talks.

“While Israeli authorities have promised the American administration that home demolitions, home evictions and other provocations against Palestinian Jerusalemites would be stopped, what we’ve seen on the ground is completely the opposite,” he said.

Tensions have flared between Israel and Britain recently, with Israel demanding clarification of alleged statements by a diplomat who was quoted in the Arabic media as saying that Britain was financing Palestinian property projects in east Jerusalem to block Jewish settlement expansion.

“We are financing projects aimed at stopping settlement activity,” Martin Day, an Abu Dhabi-based British diplomat, told the Al Arabiya television network last month, according to a transcript supplied by the Israeli authorities.

“One of these projects aims at building a new Palestinian neighbourhood in east Jerusalem and at protecting Palestinian homes from being demolished,” he reportedly said, adding that Britain provided “funds to organisations who monitor settlement activity.”.

However, a British official told The Times the quotes were not translated accurately, and that the projects were urban renewal projects already approved by Jerusalem city council.

The official said that the latest spat reflected Israeli anger at Britain’s funding of anti-occupation groups such as Breaking the Silence, which is run by former Israeli soldiers who gather testimony of alleged Israeli military abuses in the Palestinian territories.

Source: The Times Online

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America's unjust sex laws

An ever harsher approach is doing more harm than good, but it is being copied around the world

IT IS an oft-told story, but it does not get any less horrific on repetition. Fifteen years ago, a paedophile enticed seven-year-old Megan Kanka into his home in New Jersey by offering to show her a puppy. He then raped her, killed her and dumped her body in a nearby park. The murderer, who had recently moved into the house across the street from his victim, had twice before been convicted of sexually assaulting a child. Yet Megan’s parents had no idea of this. Had they known he was a sex offender, they would have told their daughter to stay away from him.

In their grief, the parents started a petition, demanding that families should be told if a sexual predator moves nearby. Hundreds of thousands signed it. In no time at all, lawmakers in New Jersey granted their wish. And before long, “Megan’s laws” had spread to every American state.

America’s sex-offender laws are the strictest of any rich democracy. Convicted rapists and child-molesters are given long prison sentences. When released, they are put on sex-offender registries. In most states this means that their names, photographs and addresses are published online, so that fearful parents can check whether a child-molester lives nearby. Under the Adam Walsh Act of 2006, another law named after a murdered child, all states will soon be obliged to make their sex-offender registries public. Such rules are extremely popular. Most parents will support any law that promises to keep their children safe. Other countries are following America’s example, either importing Megan’s laws or increasing penalties: after two little girls were murdered by a school caretaker, Britain has imposed multiple conditions on who can visit schools.

Which makes it all the more important to ask whether America’s approach is the right one. In fact its sex-offender laws have grown self-defeatingly harsh (see article). They have been driven by a ratchet effect. Individual American politicians have great latitude to propose new laws. Stricter curbs on paedophiles win votes. And to sound severe, such curbs must be stronger than the laws in place, which in turn were proposed by politicians who wished to appear tough themselves. Few politicians dare to vote against such laws, because if they do, the attack ads practically write themselves.

A whole Wyoming of offenders

In all, 674,000 Americans are on sex-offender registries—more than the population of Vermont, North Dakota or Wyoming. The number keeps growing partly because in several states registration is for life and partly because registries are not confined to the sort of murderer who ensnared Megan Kanka. According to Human Rights Watch, at least five states require registration for people who visit prostitutes, 29 require it for consensual sex between young teenagers and 32 require it for indecent exposure. Some prosecutors are now stretching the definition of “distributing child pornography” to include teens who text half-naked photos of themselves to their friends.

How dangerous are the people on the registries? A state review of one sample in Georgia found that two-thirds of them posed little risk. For example, Janet Allison was found guilty of being “party to the crime of child molestation” because she let her 15-year-old daughter have sex with a boyfriend. The young couple later married. But Ms Allison will spend the rest of her life publicly branded as a sex offender.

Several other countries have sex-offender registries, but these are typically held by the police and are hard to view. In America it takes only seconds to find out about a sex offender: some states have a “click to print” icon on their websites so that concerned citizens can put up posters with the offender’s mugshot on trees near his home. Small wonder most sex offenders report being harassed. A few have been murdered. Many are fired because someone at work has Googled them.

Registration is often just the start. Sometimes sex offenders are barred from living near places where children congregate. In Georgia no sex offender may live or work within 1,000 feet (300 metres) of a school, church, park, skating rink or swimming pool. In Miami an exclusion zone of 2,500 feet has helped create a camp of homeless offenders under a bridge.

Make the punishment fit the crime

There are three main arguments for reform. First, it is unfair to impose harsh penalties for small offences. Perhaps a third of American teenagers have sex before they are legally allowed to, and a staggering number have shared revealing photographs with each other. This is unwise, but hardly a reason for the law to ruin their lives. Second, America’s sex laws often punish not only the offender, but also his family. If a man who once slept with his 15-year-old girlfriend is barred for ever from taking his own children to a playground, those children suffer.

Third, harsh laws often do little to protect the innocent. The police complain that having so many petty sex offenders on registries makes it hard to keep track of the truly dangerous ones. Cash that might be spent on treating sex offenders—which sometimes works—is spent on huge indiscriminate registries. Public registers drive serious offenders underground, which makes them harder to track and more likely to reoffend. And registers give parents a false sense of security: most sex offenders are never even reported, let alone convicted.

It would not be hard to redesign America’s sex laws. Instead of lumping all sex offenders together on the same list for life, states should assess each person individually and include only real threats. Instead of posting everything on the internet, names could be held by the police, who would share them only with those, such as a school, who need to know. Laws that bar sex offenders from living in so many places should be repealed, because there is no evidence that they protect anyone: a predator can always travel. The money that a repeal saves could help pay for monitoring compulsive molesters more intrusively—through ankle bracelets and the like.

In America it may take years to unpick this. However practical and just the case for reform, it must overcome political cowardice, the tabloid media and parents’ understandable fears. Other countries, though, have no excuse for committing the same error. Sensible sex laws are better than vengeful ones.

Source: The Economist

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UNBELIEVABLE but true. Israel’s own version of Ripley’s ‘Believe it or not’….. families forcibly removed from their homes that they lived in for generations, so illegal settlers can move in.
OH!!!!! I left out some important facts….. the evicted families are Palestinians and the settlers are Jewish. And all of the above by decision of the Supreme Court of Israel. BUT….. if you speak out against these injustices you get hauled off to jail….. while the illegal, criminal settlers get the full protection of the law.
Unbelievable? But True!
The following was prepared by Joseph Dana of Ibn Ezra….
Sheikh Jarrah – In Memoriam
Last night in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah there was a vigil, a memorial to the families’ homes from which they were evicted. First they were refugees and now they are homeless. After weeks of legal battles, sit-ins and press conferences, several hundreds gathered to acknowledge a critical defeat in the battle over the future of this land and the two peoples who want to live here in peace.

Yes, the Supreme Court ruled, yes, the Palestinians were evicted in accordance with the law and yes, the Jews who moved in there did so legally. But this is a matter of the future viability of a Palestinian state, and the true test, or more correctly, disclosure of Israel’s true intentions and integrity. Assuming the Jews who moved into these houses (and now pray on the rooftops looking down on the newly homeless families in the street), did in fact live there at some point, this only strengthens the argument that all Palestinian refugees are entitled to reclaim their lost homes all over Israel. Israel’s legal system has set this precedent. It has given legal credibility to the 7 million Palestinians who once lived somewhere in Israel and cannot return.

Israel could not be making it any clearer that its policy is to allow, encourage and facilitate Jewish settlement anywhere and everywhere it wishes, right in the middle of Palestinian communities, with the ultimate aim of clearing them out.

How can Israel, in its claim to represent the Jewish people, who have experienced the worst forms of discrimination, violence, ghettoization and homelessness, now inflict it on another people? And what exactly is it trying to achieve? Have we heard any Israeli politician actually articulate what the objective is here, other than showing off the country’s ability to kick people out and take over whatever place they want? What does Israel think it will gain from these reprehensible actions?

Source: Dessert Peace

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Hail the Austrians! (Do the Math)

“It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” ~ Mark Twain The current economic collapse and financial system breakdown were forecast and explained by only one “school” of economic theory: the Austrian. The irony is that the other two “major schools” – the Keynesian and Chicago (Supply Side/Monetarist) – are fixated on empirical data yet incapable of recognizing that history refutes their theories. The two mainstream schools are really very similar with only a difference of opinion on the size of government and the amount of monetary inflation. But the continual failure of the ever elusive predictive mathematical models they both seek just doesn’t provide the intellectual spark needed to look outside their statist boxes. The abandonment of logic for faith in fantastical assumptions has induced an ivory tower-delusion on a grand scale. Luckily for us the Austrian Economic Theory has survived the Dark Ages of Economics and we have the intellectual tools to be able to rebuild a healthy, productive and prosperous society. Austrian Economic Theory is based on understanding that the human ability to act combined with the natural desire to survive leads to purposeful action. Humans act with purpose. Interfering with people acting towards those purposes perverts both the actions and the people. Third parties butting in between other people who have agreed to cooperate for their mutual benefit are superfluous at best and deal killers at worse. There may be compromises as individuals adapt to the force of those interventions allowing for diminished satisfaction, but the end results are inevitably spoiled. The Keynesian Cultists see humans as guinea pigs to be experimented on while the Chicago Schoolboys counsel some limits to those experiments. We have common sense being assaulted by arrogant madness and it’s time to say stop. Economic theory is just like any other type of theoretical study in that the discipline must be dominated by academics. Academia is not real life; it can’t be, shouldn’t be and never will be. It can foster clear thinking, it should promote realizing intellectual potential and it will go on in spite of any resistance to learning. Do not allow the mysticism associated with “halls of higher learning” going back to pointy hats with stars on them to put a spell on you or repulse you. The good news is that most Austrian School academics understand more clearly than their counterparts that the real world is what counts, not the fantasyland of ivory towers. A defining difference between the statist economic theorists and free-market economic theorists is the use of mathematical models. The free-market Austrians rely on logical arguments stemming from human action. This point of view recognizes that the study of economics is more of a philosophical discipline than a scientific one. The statist economists believe the exact opposite. This line of thinking seeks to put the study of economics in the realm of physical scientific disciplines. This fallacy damns the statist economists to an eternity in purgatory because economics is about human relationships, not numerical relationships. Real science requires the use of the scientific method and reproducible results. I was fortunate to have been blindsided by this insight when still in college before ever even hearing of the Austrians. Calculus was a “weeder course” at the university I went to that is required to enter certain colleges. At the time those students wanting to enter the business college like me had to take classes with those students wanting to be mechanical engineers, chemists and physicists. Further, these classes were graded on a curve where a certain percentage of the class was going to fail which led to a very competitive atmosphere. After it became evident that most of the business student wannabes were getting their asses kicked by the more serious students, the rumbling began. The discussion one day in class was eye-opening. A bold business student better suited for sales than calculating complained that the trouble was that all of the problems in the book we were asked to do as homework and also on the tests pertained to the physical sciences and not economics or business. Therefore, he said, we were at a disadvantage when interpreting a problem in order to solve it. The teacher pointed out that the subject of the problems did not affect the correct formulation and calculation of answers. Basically two plus two is always four whether or not it’s apples or oranges. As one of the few business students that passed the course that semester, I agreed that this made sense and kept my mouth shut. The mutineers pressed on, “But there are practice problems in the book that are based on economics problems like what we’ll be doing and you never assign them.” The teacher smiled and several A-students laughed. One said, “Yea well the rest of us don’t want to waste our time jerking off.” This raised the emotional level of the conversation and the hair went up on the backs of several business students. “What’s that supposed to mean?” the ringleader responded indignantly. “It means that economics is mathematical masturbation. If you’re going to make up the inputs and pull the relationships out of your ass, then you might as well just make up the answers.” “What?” “We can measure the temperature that water will boil and the speed of objects falling, because we can reproduce these experiments proving quantifiable results.” “So?” “In physics, we can test our facts. Economics is bullshit in, bullshit out. It’s a waste of time.” The professor made a comment about language and indicated that he would throw in an economics problem once in while if some students thought that it might help them understand the subject better. I didn’t think calculus was all that hard, but also figured I’d never use it again out in the real business world. I got my B- and was right. I do still use algebra and geometry all the time, but passing calculus was just my ticket of admission to the next level of miseducation. In spite of this slap in the face, when I took my first micro-economics course, I thought wow, now this is something that will be useful. Looking at prices, costs, profits, and other seemingly real stuff on graphs with curves was cool. If this or that happens then the curve shifts this way or that way according to apparently sensible mathematical formulas and assumptions. I thought, well maybe there is something useful to this economics thing. Then I took macro-economics and was introduced to the prevailing theory that depended on aggregates of totally unrelated items and a slew of assumptions of things like “perfect markets.” This class led me to realize that it was all a scam and time to move on, get my degree as soon as possible, stop wasting time and start making money. You see, I was not from a wealthy family and paid my own way through college, so practical concerns dominated my thinking. So if you ever thought that Paul Krugman, Ben Bernanke and the whole gaggle of Ivy League economists were jerk-offs spewing out unadulterated bullshit, you were right. Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard and a whole bunch of underappreciated Austrian economists said as much and were marginalized by ignorant media whores. So what is the basic difference? The biggest thing is recognizing the folly of central planning. The bigger is better, everybody line up, and one-size fits all, conformist type of thinking does not enhance the survival of individuals, much less promote prosperity in a society. Individual planning, however, typically leads to cooperation that requires collective planning on at least some small scale. The “I can do it,” “let me help,” and “let’s all do what we can do” type attitude is what gets things done. Not regulations, by-laws, bureaucrats, politics or queen bees. This principle also applies to money and banking, by the way. Von Mises identified what he called the “calculation problem.” That means that socialist/central planning has no metric, like profit and loss in the free market, to determine a price for goods and thus a rational allocation of resources. It is therefore impossible for the brainiest group of planners with the most powerful computers in the world to make the infinite number of decisions necessary to make an economy run smoothly. Their decisions will always cause shortages, lead to lower quality products and services, and eventually shut down any economy. It’s just a matter of time. Ludwig von Mises predicted that the Soviet Union would collapse back in 1927, yet was scorned and then ignored by the “economics profession” because of it. The Keynesian Pre-School adherents preach the gospel of central planning, which is why central planners/politicians subsidize their “work.” Their argument stems from the fact that the free market does not always result in maximum satisfaction of needs and desires. Duh! That “welcome to the real world” insight is easily dealt with by most working individuals coping with survival on a daily basis, but for some reason, the calculus of this condition cries out for correction by self-styled supernatural beings with obviously too much time on their hands. If only all of us working saps would just follow the plans put forth by our masters then we would all be happy cogs in a well-oiled machine humming along at maximum efficiency! Of course, it doesn’t take very long until the standard of perfect harmony that the free market was held up to is abandoned when judging the results of central planners. The Chicago Boys believe the market is great, except for the most important thing, which is money and banking. What tools. Talk about hacking at branches while missing the root of the problem. They realize that the leg irons are holding back productivity, but the handcuffs must stay on. Only the Austrians assert that like liberty, free markets mean no chains at all. Of course, that doesn’t mean that fraud, theft, and violent coercion are allowed. That’s just a stupid red herring you hear a lot. The elite fascination with central planning is stuck in an eternal feedback loop. The plan is forever changing, but the monopoly on planning must never be questioned. There can be arguments over how much central planning is optimal, like between the Keynesians (communists) and the Chicago Boys (fascists), but the efficacy of central planning is never allowed to be discussed. Ludwig von Mises gave us the insight that free market interventions by central planners inevitably leads to additional interventions meant to fix problems caused by previous interventions. This results in more and more interventions until the central planners exhaust the energy in the system chasing their tails. Somehow the obvious alternative to stop going in circles is shunned as too radical. The fascist political operating system that burdens our society makes its number one priority survival. This is why court economists will tout absurd, discredited ideas long after they have been consumed in the burning flames of their crashed theories. This article is not a scholarly expose of economic theories right and wrong; it is a tip of the hat to those with the common sense to see what works and the courage to stand up to institutional bias. But the usual suspects deserve to be scolded for their silly posturing and counterproductive influence. People like Peter Schiff, Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell, Jim Rogers and others who saw this economic catastrophe coming have been marginalized by self-serving ignoramuses because they were right. The Wall Street, media, Ivy League and Washington, D.C. morons that didn’t see what was coming, then denied the reality of the situation long after it was here and now are still clueless as to what really happened, are now the ones “in charge” of “fixing the economy.” God help us. As a real estate market analyst and lover of liberty interested in economics, I discovered long after college and my Libertarian infatuation with Milton Friedman the works of Leonard Reed and Murray Rothbard. This led down a path to Henry Hazlitt, Ludwig von Mises and a whole bunch of other people who are still living and writing stuff that makes sense about economics. While many of my colleagues stuck with their empirical data models that always miss turns in the market, I was inspired to use logic and consider other sources of knowledge. After being called a “gloom and doomer” among other more vulgar terms for killing multi-million dollar deals as economically unfeasible at the peak of the boom, I now have clients and friends calling me “Nostradamus” for saving them from making some pretty big mistakes. I tell them that my insight isn’t due to superior intellect or crystal balls, but to my study of Austrian economics. For a more skillful orientation and comprehensive explanation of economic theories, I suggest starting at the Ludwig von Mises Institute website at www.mises.org. Any person interested in understanding why we are in the current mess would be well served to study Austrian economics; but beware, it is like taking the red pill in The Matrix.

Source: Strike at the Root

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Not in Liberty Born

Liberty was in the thoughts of many American colonials, probably often combined with an assumption that liberty was somehow compatible with the presence of a political government. But there were also many who wanted real liberty, with no national government to compromise it. Things did not turn out that way. Certainly by the standards of classical liberals, the actions that led to the formation of the American governments were done without the consent of the governed. Liberty was an ideal with many people, but with few among those who gained office. Liberty was not their objective. They were creating a government that would encompass the colonies as a national government. Their discussions typically revolved about the extent of that government's authority, not its existence. But they had in fact not been given a mandate by all of the colonials, not even by all of the land-owning white males of the colonies. The First Continental Congress convened in September 1774. Its members came from often informal appointments made without ratification or colony-wide voting. Some representatives were appointed by colonial state legislatures, while others were by informal groups that came together on their own cognizance without legal authority, selected representatives from their group, and sent them off to the congress. This amounts to usurpation of office and political power. This congress did little in the way of action, but just its existence set a precedent that was to have a major effect on the development of America . The shots heard around the world were fired in Lexington and Concord in April 1775 by British soldiers and American militia men, in a modest beginning to the war that followed. The Second Continental Congress first convened in May 1775 with deputies from 12 colonies, still a quite period in the nascent war with Britain . This congress was made up mostly of the same individuals who were in the First Continental Congress, so there was not a major change of philosophy between the two congresses. This congress assumed the functions of a national government without explicit legal authority to do so — and without the consent of the people who were subjected to it. If consent had been sought, we can be sure that only land-owning white males would have been consulted. But even that was not the case. The assembly began drafting the Articles of Confederation and the Declaration of Independence in June 1776. The Declaration of Independence was approved by this congress in July, and signed in August. It contains the phrase "deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed." This is a wonderful-sounding, highly principled but false phrase since neither the congress nor the declaration were consented to by the governed. Throughout the whole process of forming the federal government, nearly everything that happened was between state assemblymen and their representatives sent to the congress. Except for some of the land-owning, white male adults, the governed (males, females, children, whites, blacks, natives, land owners, non-land owners, etc.) were not allowed to select congressional representatives and were allowed no opportunity to consent to either the congress or the declaration. Since the governed did not consent, there were no just powers handed to the delegates. George Washington was appointed head of the army by this congress, which also took upon itself the right to issue currency and debt instruments, among other authorities. This congress continued meeting throughout the war and afterward. The Second Continental Congress, to strengthen itself, prepared the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union in 1777 and sent it to the state (colonial) governments for ratification, which was completed in 1781. The assembly was then renamed the Congress of the Confederation. This congress had no authority to impose taxes, a deliberate limitation from the colonial states. An influential faction called the Federalists, including Washington , pushed for a strong federal government able to impose taxes instead of a confederation. The war ended in 1783 and, with that, the British claims over the colonies. The interregnum: Five years of freedom? Or just time in which to get organized? For the five years of the interregnum, those Americans enjoyed more freedom than any other Americans have. Many, especially those on the western frontier, experienced no government involvement in their lives. But government officials were not sitting still. States' representatives met in Philadelphia in 1787 (the Philadelphia Convention) to discuss ways to improve the Articles of Confederation. They were only authorized to amend the Articles, but the representatives held secret, closed door sessions and wrote a new constitution that created a strong federal government essentially identical in form with the British State . Once again, they took actions for which they had no legal authority, nor consent from those to be governed. Washington presided over the drafting of the Constitution. The Constitution was sent to the state assemblies for their ratification. Adoption of the Constitution was not subject to approval by the governed, the people themselves. The Anti-Federalists, including Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, and George Mason, opposed adoption of the Constitution because of its broad powers for the federal government, foreseeing an inevitable massive growth of the government and loss of individual liberty. In the end, the only real concession to the Anti-Federalists was the adoption of the Bill of Rights. The Constitution of the United States was placed in effect in June 1788 with the ninth ratification, ending the interregnum. Congress had made itself legal by its own actions with the approval of state assemblies, and now had authority to impose taxes. The usurpation was complete. The governed, of course, were never asked to consent to the Constitution. The first three presidents had been leaders in the movement for sovereignty, as were many of the people appointed to other federal offices. Washington became president in 1789. Alexander Hamilton, with Washington 's approval, induced Congress to enact the alcohol and carriages tax of 1791 to strengthen the federal government, which led to the Whisky Rebellion of 1794. Washington commanded the army assembled to end the rebellion, which was nearly the size of the army he led against the British, but now he led it against Americans. This was the first use of an American army against American citizens under the Constitution. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, signed into law by Washington , made assisting an escaped slave a federal crime, overruled all state and local laws giving escaped slaves sanctuary, and allowed slavecatchers into every US state and territory. The act denied constitutional rights to both slaves and freemen who were formerly slaves. Washington held over 300 slaves at Mount Vernon . John Adams enacted a set of sedition laws that were beyond his authority, outside the Constitution, and in blatant conflict with the First Amendment. Criticism arose on the grounds that he exceeded his authority and violated the Constitution. The laws expired upon his leaving office at the end of his term, but his actions might have encouraged some later presidents to enact their sedition laws, notably those of Woodrow Wilson. Thomas Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase , which others argued, and he himself acknowledged, was outside his Constitutional authority. Technically, the purchase was of sovereignty over the land and its peoples. An issue of the purchase that receives little attention is that of the forced citizenship. The French people in Louisiana were French in both culture and citizenship. Many of them did not want to be American citizens, but that was forced upon them. At the completion of the purchase, American warships were promptly sent to New Orleans , which left no doubt in the minds of the locals about their new citizenship. Those French people had been purchased along with the land as though they were serfs. A similar situation existed for Native Americans. Consent of the governed failed once again. Jefferson established a blockade in 1807 under which American vessels were prohibited from landing in any foreign port unless specifically authorized by the president. As a result, New England suffered an economic depression with high unemployment. Government agents acted against citizens in enforcing the embargo. Businesses were destroyed and many people suffered loss of income, and even outright poverty as a result. Those affected by the blockade, and the citizens in general, did not consent to this action. Consent of the governed failed yet again. At one time, Adams wanted the presidency to be hereditary. Hamilton wanted senators to be appointed for life. Under their preferences, even the few Americans allowed to vote would not be allowed to vote in these cases. Whatever grandiloquent words these three presidents issued on the subject of liberty, their actions show beyond doubt that their interests were with a strong, sovereign federal government, and that the lives of citizens should be compromised in support of the interests of that government. The State existed, and was furthered by all three of these men. Two of the three went outside of the Constitution in their zeal, and, in doing so, they set a precedent for subsequent ambitious presidents. Not only does the Constitution enable a strong national government, but right at the beginning ambitious presidents showed that they could override what limits there are in the Constitution. Thomas Paine held true to his principles. He wrote a series of eight letters, Letters to the Citizens of the United States and Particularly to the Leaders of the Federal Faction, in1802 and 1803. In the letters, he showed how people in the federal government were compromising the ideals held by Americans who supported the war thinking they were thereby supporting freedom. He wrote, “...the principles of the Revolution were expiring on the soil that produced them. ... The plan of the leaders of the [federal] faction was to overthrow the liberties of the New World , and place government on the corrupt system of the Old.” The assertion that Americans gained their freedom through the War for Independence (War for Sovereignty) is a myth, one that is highly useful to the federal State. The assertion that Americans have remained free is one of the bigger frauds in history. A pick-and-choose historical survey is not good history, but the intent here is to puncture some myths and to illuminate some inconvenient truths. The phrase consent of the governed exists only on paper, and has not been honored in practice. Usurpation of political power has been the guiding principle of the governing.Source: Strike at the RootBookmark and Share

Why So Serious?

Sabina Guzzanti

Sabina Guzzanti
"In a Democracy there is no right not to be offended. Anyone ought to be free to say whatever they like. If someone says things that are offensive, gratuitous and stupid, one has to assume there will be others able to demonstrate that what someone said was offensive, gratuitous and stupid."

Recently, Washington Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli canceled the web-series “Mouthpiece Theater” after its hosts made a joke about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Bowing to pressure from an obscure organization called Action in the Media, the Washington Post reinforced the notion that any potentially offensive humor must result in a swift apology, perhaps even in resignation or firing. But since when is it criminal behavior to tell a joke, let alone offend someone? In a country that cherishes freedom of speech, when did it become a requirement to prescreen jokes to meet the approval of every available demographic? The notion that the only appropriate jokes are those pre-approved by special interest groups would be laughable if it wasn’t taken so seriously. In this most recent case, Dana Milbank, a columnist, and Chris Cillizza, a White House correspondent and blogger, lost their show after a woman’s group, Action and the Media, complained that one of their jokes was “sexist” and “tasteless.” What did Action and the Media think was so terribly offensive? On the latest webisode of “Mouthpiece Theater,” Milbank and Cillizza visually implied that President Obama would serve “Mad Bitch Beer” to Hillary Clinton during a discussion about Obama’s recent “beer summit.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the purpose of the joke was to be offensive. Most viewers probably groaned—chuckled—and then moved on. Not the ladies at Action and the Media. They took action immediately, making sure that Milbank and Cillizza would be properly punished for daring to associate the secretary of state with a vulgar term for female dogs. They are perfectly within their rights to be as outraged as they want to be, of course, but the Washington Post commentators did nothing to warrant the cancellation of their show and the removal of the particular webisode in question. They should not have apologized. By apologizing, as so many others have done in similar situations, Milbank and Cillizza strengthened the armies of the humorless and marched us one step into the icy grasp of the thought police. The politically correct attack on humor wouldn’t be so bothersome if not for two factors: its effectiveness and its history of double standards. I am often surprised at the swiftness of the capitulation of individuals targeted for their inappropriate sense of humor. I can understand why someone wouldn’t want his or her name dragged through the mud, but each apology makes it so much easier the next time. Each firing and self effacement make the self-righteous even more convinced of their power. If the jokesters looked as lightly on themselves as the people they set out to offend, perhaps they would not wilt so easily under criticism. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the fire—it would make it that much easier for the rest of us. Most tellingly, groups like Action and the Media are very selective in regards to the people they attack. I wonder why the writers of “Saturday Night Live” got a pass when they featured Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin in a mocking, feminist appeal to stop pointing out Hillary’s “cankles.” Could it be there is something political lurking behind this selective outrage? Surely you jest. Selective outrage of the kind exhibited by groups like Action and the Media has become a tool to remove anyone who disagrees with those groups from public life. Milbank and Cillizza are simply the latest casualties in a war on dissent. Not just political dissent, but dissent against the entire idea that everything you think, do, and say must meet the approval of social activists. Organizations like Action and the Media know that media outlets will bow to even the slightest pressure, and because it works, have found a weapon against free speech. An old saying goes, “Beware of gods who do not laugh.” We should be wary of the humorless, especially if they have a naked political or social agenda. Organizations like Action and the Media, who claims to represent all women everywhere, do not have any basis for demanding apologies for satire not aimed directly at them. Media outlets should not bow to their pressure, especially when it comes to something as inane as a bad joke. Perhaps “Mouthpiece Theater” was offensive, ignorant, and boorish. In that case, the only person who warrants an apology is the person who was the target of the joke, and I have yet to hear Mrs. Clinton ask for one.Source: Strike at The Root

Source: Strike at The Root

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Woman affirmed right to smoke in own garden

A feud in Åkarp in southern Sweden between a cigarette-puffing woman and her smoke-sensitive neighbour has finally been put to rest by Swedish courts.

On Friday, the the Environmental High Court made a final ruling that the woman may light up as much as she wants to in her own garden.

In its decision, the court said that the neighbour had been been unable to prove that the woman's smoke “poses such a significant threat to human health” that the environmental code would prescribe prohibiting the woman to smoke in the garden.

The conflict between the neighbours has been an ongoing legal saga since 2006. The smoke-sensitive neighbour, a lawyer, was so disturbed by the smoking that he wore a breathing mask whenever he was in his garden at the same time the woman was smoking.

In 2007, the Environmental Court in Växjö initially banned the woman from smoking in her own garden, ruling that she was banned from smoking within a nine metre radius of her neightbour's house.

The 49-year-old woman then appealed the decision to the Environmental High Court, which in turn found no reasonable grounds for an interim ban before a final decision was reached.

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March of the state spies: One in 78 adults came under state-sanctioned surveillance last year

Britain's extraordinary march towards a surveillance state is revealed today by shock new figures.

They show that one request is made every minute for officials to spy on someone's phone records or email accounts.

The number of Big Brother snooping missions by police, town halls and other public bodies has soared by 44 per cent in two years.

Spying on the public: One adult in 78 has come under some type of surveillance - from storing petrol without a licence to not quarantining a dog

Spying on the public: One adult in 78 has come under some type of surveillance - from storing petrol without a licence to not quarantining a dog

Last year there were 504,073 new cases - an average of 1,381 a day. It is the equivalent of one adult in 78 coming under state-sanctioned surveillance.

The snoopers are using a law originally aimed at terror suspects. But their targets include people suspected of storing petrol without a licence and bringing a dog into the country without quarantining it.

Liberal Democrat spokesman Chris Huhne said last night: 'It cannot be a justified response to the problems we face in this country that the state is spying on half a million people a year.

'The Government forgets that George Orwell's 1984 was a warning, not a blueprint. We are still a long way from living under the Stasi - but it beggars belief that it is necessary to spy on one in every 78 adults.'

The requests to intercept email and telephone records were made under the hugely controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

A total of 653 state bodies, including 474 local councils, are allowed to use its surveillance powers.

CCTV nation: The laws were originally brought in as an anti-terror measure, but are instead becoming a way of life

CCTV nation: The laws were originally brought in as an anti-terror measure, but are instead becoming a way of life

The Daily Mail has discovered that Sandwell Borough Council checked phone records to locate a bogus faith healer, while Lewisham Council used the anti-terror power to pursue a rogue removal firm and a rogue pharmacist.

Kent County Council carried out 23 phone checks as part of probes into storing petrol illegally and breaking the law over importing a dog.

Other bodies authorised to carry out surveillance include the Financial Services Authority, the Ambulance Service, fire authorities and prison governors.

Chris Huhne: 'The state is spying on half a million people'

Chris Huhne: 'The state is spying on half a million people'

They are not allowed to find out the content of phone calls and emails, but can access details of when and to whom they were made or sent.

People who are found to have done no wrong have no right to know they were snooped on.

The figure for access requests in 2008 emerged in a report by the Interception of Communications Commissioner, Sir Paul Kennedy.

In a previous report, based on nine months in 2006, the Commissioner said there had been 253,557 requests, the equivalent of 338,000 over a full year.

The Lib Dems said this shows a 44 per cent increase between 2006 and 2008. The vast majority are understood to have been approved, though no figures are available.

Mr Huhne said it made a mockery of a supposed crackdown on the use of RIPA by the Home Office.

He added: 'We have sleepwalked into a surveillance state but without adequate safeguards. Having the Home Secretary in charge of authorisation is like asking the fox to guard the henhouse.'

Alarmingly, in 2008 there were 595 'errors' by public authorities and the private firms who supply them with phone and e-mail information.

One of the most common mistakes was typing in the wrong phone number when making a request - leading to details being disclosed about the wrong person.

Sir Paul said: 'Errors may result in catastrophic consequences for members of the public'.

He cited a police investigation into a paedophile ring in which an address for a suspect was obtained from internet records. It led to the arrest of an entirely innocent man.

Despite the huge number of requests, the Home Office says there is a need to go further than giving public bodies access to phone and internet records.

Under plans unveiled earlier this year, the police and security services would gain access to the public's every internet click and phone call.

This would include, for the first time, monitoring the use of social networking sites such as Facebook. Every internet and phone company would have to allocate an ID to each customer.

They would then have to store details of calls, text messages and internet sites for a minimum of 12 months. The actual content of calls and emails would not be kept.

As well as phone and email checks, councils and other public bodies have been using actual covert surveillance, though undecoveragents or hidden cameras.

Last year, councils and government departments such as benefits officials were given 9,894 authorisations for this, up from 9,535 a year earlier.

The police and the security services were given 16,118 direct surveillance authorisations, giving a total of more than 26,000, or 71 every day.

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Insider Trading Is OK If you’re a member of Congress.

A loophole "still exists which allows members of Congress and high-powered executive branch appointees to exploit 'insider' knowledge of the financial industry in order to turn personal profit."

Little-known fact: Members of Congress are exempt from rules that prevent insider trading.

Or so says the left-leaning advocacy group Public Citizen in a July 10, 2009, e-mail sent to supporters.

"The federal government has finally got the message that it’s time for stronger oversight of Wall Street and the financial services sector. It’s also time to put an end to secret spending and insider trading," the e-mail reads. "A dangerous legal loophole still exists which allows members of Congress and high-powered executive branch appointees to exploit 'insider' knowledge of the financial industry in order to turn personal profit."

It goes on to describe an army of lobbyists and traders who "haunt the halls of Congress seeking insider tips from staff — known as 'political intelligence consultants'" who may also use the confidential information.

The e-mail asks supporters to write their representatives to support the Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, a bill sponsored by Reps. Louise Slaughter of New York and Brian Baird of Washington, that would ban insider trading by lawmakers, members of the executive branch and staff, and require that they publicly disclose stock trades of more than $1,000 within 90 days. It would also require the "political intelligence consultants" to register as lobbyists in both chambers of Congress.

We hadn't heard the allegation that members of Congress had a leg up for insider trading and wondered if it's true.

Thomas Newkirk, a partner with the law firm Jenner and Block, told us that indeed there's some uncertainty about how insider trading rules impact members of Congress and their staff.

For example, in 2001, a financial consultant meeting with the Treasury Department learned that the department planned to kill off the 30-year bond. In turn, the consultant tipped off traders at Goldman Sachs who proceeded to use that information to make the firm lots of money. It was considered insider trading because the consultant knew he was not supposed to release the information, Newkirk said. Federal regulators settled with Goldman Sachs and the consultant for about $10.3 million in September 2003.

But with members of Congress, it's different. Unless lawmakers have some express confidentiality agreement — whether it's in writing or in word — they can do whatever they want with the information they obtain on Capitol Hill, Newkirk said.

Bruce Carton, a former Senior Counsel with the SEC's enforcement division and current editor of Securities Docket, agreed there is uncertainty about the rules. "Insider trading depends on some kind of duty. You can steal information, but unless you have some sort of duty of confidentiality to it, you're not going to be held liable," Carton said.

Right now, there is no duty of confidentiality for Congress, their staff or executive branch employees, he said.

"It may be unethical, and it may be unseemly, but it's not illegal," Carton said.

So yes, it seems there is a way for members of Congress to engage in insider trading. Whether they are actually doing it is another story. So far, there are no specific examples of lawmakers engaging in "secret spending and insider trading," as the e-mail indicates. But for its factual claim, we give Public Citizen a True.

Source: Politifact

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