Friday, April 30, 2010

What's Going on in China?

I don't have the time nor the deeper interest in China to consider the following, but the following cases are not isolated, they are not random, and they are very much indicative of a much deeper issue in China, one I don't have a great deal of insight to figure (although I can see it when I see it and I see it pretty clearly now).

March 2, Mazhang, Guangdong province. A 40-year-old man believed to be mentally disabled attacked five children and a grandmother at a primary school. Two children died.  (He wasn't mentally disturbed - it was easier to claim he was than to admit a normal 40 year old just started killing people.)

March 23, Nanping, Fujian province. A 42-year-old man attacked 13 children and a teacher at the entrance to a primary school. Eight students died. The attacker was a former medical worker believed to have a history of mental illness. He was executed for the crime on April 28.  (Swift Justice!!)

April 12, Hepu, Guangxi province. A 42-year-old man stabbed a second-grader and an 81-year-old woman to death outside a primary school. His family was scheduled the next day to commit him to a hospital for psychiatric treatment.  (Yeah, I bet they were - right after it was suggested to them they say that or lose all their food)

April 28, Leizhou, Guangdong province. A teacher on sick leave for mental illness broke into a primary school and stabbed 18 students and one teacher. None of the wounds were fatal, though two of the victims are in critical condition.   (Another mental person - geesh, what is going on with these people.  Were they always or do Chinese suddenly become killers. )

April 29, Taixing, Jiangsu province. A 46-year-old unemployed man attacked 29 four-year-old students, two teachers and a volunteer security guard. Caijing magazine reported that four of the students died, but officials said there were no deaths. The suspect later called it his "revenge on society."

April 30, Weifang, Shandong province. A 45-year-old farmer used a motorcycle to break down the gate of a kindergarten before he attacked five students and a teacher with a hammer. He then burned himself to death while trying to hold on to two children, who were both injured. None of the injuries to the students or teacher were fatal.

And we shouldn't forget the 40 year old Chinese citizen who went to Canada in 2004 and in 2008, he killed and beheaded (and chomped on) the guy sitting next to him on a bus. 


Bad People = Go Back to Wherever

596 immigrants convicted of crimes nabbed in South

Apr 30 12:51 PM US/Eastern
Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA (AP) - Federal agents say they have arrested 596 immigrants with criminal records during a three-day immigration enforcement sweep across the Southeast.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Friday that the operation, dubbed Operation Cross Check, was the largest ever conducted by the agency targeting foreign nationals convicted of crimes. They said the immigrants have already served their sentences and authorities will now seek to deport them.

Atlanta ICE Field Director Felicia Skinner says that "communities around the Southeast are safer than they were before" as a result. She said three of the people arrested this week had been convicted of murder and 144 were convicted on assault charges.

How Obama REALLY Plans on Paying for his health program: VATs and CUTs

This could just as easily be entitled - HOW THE LEFT PLANS ON PAYING FOR OBAMA'S HEALTH PLAN.

How will the Obama administration pay for its new health care program?  Taxes and Cuts.

The newest idea that popped up was a VAT.  A VALUE ADDED TAX.  This VAT would replace the federal taxes on everything.  No more federal taxes when you purchase an item - but you would pay a VAT, say 10%.

This would be incredibly easy, very simple, and so much easier for us, the average American, to understand.  However - I have one concern, just one little concern.  Say an item is $1.00 today and no VAT exists.  Do we know what the 'true' or 'real' cost of that item is?  Do we know how much of the $1.00 is federal costs?  I believe I would accept this European concept IF we knew how much federal tax existed on every item and THAT tax was removed on say Monday, BEFORE the VAT was imposed on Tuesday.  I do not want to, and will not accept willingly or even begrudgingly a VAT when you never took off the tax we were paying before - double taxation, only one is a secret tax (the pre-vat Federal Tax, the government can use for whatever purpose), and the VAT would be the official tax that would rise regularly (of course, only after due deliberation - a tsunami in Indonesia and we need aid money, an earthquake in Tokyo and we need aid money, and an earthquake in Los Angeles and we have no money so need to raise the VAT, then a flood in New Orleans, a fire in Malibu, an earthquake in Haiti, and a volcano in Mexico - more aid is needed, and an increase in the VAT).

Unfortunately, a VAT does not curb the governments desire to tax.  A VAT doesn't provide much needed funds to pay off debts.  Please.  As fast as it comes in, the Congress is spending it, and don't believe for a moment that pay as you go means pay as you go - it means pay as you go when it works for you and hide the rest in long term debt.

Just look at the EUROS - they all have such a thing and it isn't lower, while it is fair, it never goes down, only up, and quite regularly as it is now a very convenient method of raising revenue.

If government spends a lot, which ours does, and would continue to do, economic growth would be impaired - we simply don't grow when the government is taking our money to spend on its interests (which may or may not benefit the whole of the nation and future growth).  This is not complicated science - it is common sense.  Some niches within our system would benefit - special interest groups would be helped, while the general welfare of the nation would see a net decline.  The evidence is in, the science is solid, there is no dispute only consensus on this point.

These special interest groups would benefit as Washington deliberates how much and who would be impacted.  a VAT could not be placed evenly on every item / service in the economy/society.  Massages, haircuts, car repairs, food, restaurants, doctors visits, lawn service ... who would and would not be impacted.  A great deal of power given to men in Washington, more even than they have now.

In this case, a VAT would not only be a tax for reveneue, but would be a political tool - used to bestow the graces of the ruling party upon you and your services, or to whack you and take your money through the imposition of a tax which would or could drive customers elsewhere.

If three companies do the same thing (sell or service or whatever you wiosh to call it) - 1) a larger company, not the greatest profit maker but it has capital to get through tough times.  2) a smaller company, fewer employees, but the larger of the 3 in terms of profit.  3) a small company with even fewer employees, and barely scratcghes the surface for profits.  The VAT is imposed and all 3 must incur the cost.  Company 1 lowers their cost for whatever by 5%, adds the VAT and waits.  #2 and 3 incur the VAT and raise their prices and ... suddenly 2 and 3 are uncompetitive and go out of business. 

The power to tax is the power to destroy and VAT could very well be the biggest whacking stick Washington has yet embraced (next to fines for non-using fees if one doesn't choose Obama's healthcare option).

Yet the VAT will be argued as fair, and as a means of raising the necessary monies to pay for your first-class health care plans (otherwise known as Die and Save Us the Money Plan).  Yet the VAt will not be enough, nor will taxing the very rich, who are already well taxed.  Nor will finding 100 million sitting around in a lonely account.  A good video to watch that makes this very easy to understand can be found if you click on this sentence.  

So how else can we find the funds needed to save the health of the country, care for the children, and our Seniors, the poor, the helpless, those in cancer units, and in wheelchairs waiting for medical attention? 


Imagine.  What was Lennon's vision?  Peace, a world making love not war ... not only was it a utopian fantasy for the children of the 60s, but this idea of peace and harmony, unity with all our brother's and sisters around the globe is a very Marxist idea.  In these areas, utopianism or fantasy and Marxism come together, and it is here that we see Barrack H.'s plan for healthcare. 

Obama has a vision for America - his vision is one where we provide everything the people need, where we dialog with other countries, and sit down and discuss differences, where we use a military to airlift  food to some far off land, not to invade and wage war.  Obama's vision is one where the community of nation's would join together when an enemy state rose up to threaten the peace and stability of the whole, and together we would put them down - through dialog, concessions, and straight-talk.  Further, Obama believes that every nation has a right to be powerful, it makes us feel equal and gives us a sense of fairness and equality - and we all seek equality and fairness, and he regards it as his job to provide the opportunity for equality for all.  To these ends we need to refashion the financial world - take from them and share with the world, for our wealth is what makes us so formidable, and if we share some of it with everyone else, we will all be better off - peace will break out and people will go back to reading and doing art, poetry, and peaceful endeavors. 

Very utopian and Marxist, and when we cannot tax any more, whether a VAT or any other form of tax, cuts will have to be made, and every area of the budget will be looked at, none will be off the table.  That is fair, that is equal.  If we are to suffer in the social security department, then the military should likewise suffer, and his argument will be so persuasive the majority will follow.  When he starts cutting, he will use phrases like - we are cutting waste, we are cutting redundancy, we are saving you the American people billions, billions that can be put into makin g your health care plans even better, healthier, more hopeful and user-friendly.  The Left will cheer because they hate the military and the lesser there is the happier they are.  The moderates will be fine because they will hear - redundancy and waste and consider Obama a fiscal conservative, and that is all Obama will care about, 50.1%.

All that will work well the first year, even the fifth year, but what happens when the health plan begins to look exactly like what many warned it would become - bloated, restrictive, endless bureaucracy, never-ending lines ... back to the taxes.  Time to raise VAT, to save your health.  Now that we have come this far, we cannot turn back and sacrifice everything we have given, all the blood and treasure.  So, VAT or taxes will rise, and that will stem the flow, push the due date further down the road.  Five years later, the VATs will be high, and the need to go back to the military and do some fine tuning - cut out a battalion here, an aircraft carrier there, a few battleships, a tank division ... save hundreds of millions so easily, painlessly, that why not cut even more.  A few billion more won't hurt, after all, we don't ever need to invade Iraq again, there will never be a D-Day again - we will simply work with our allies, in conjunction with the United Nations.  So ... snip, snip, snip, cut, cut, cut ... and ta da, billions for health, not a cent for the military.  The Left will be orgasmic, the Moderates will be silent, and no one will care what the rest think.

And then China becomes world superpower, and Russia, to rival China, must compete, and rises above the US militarily for their spending will be on fast-foward while we are building our healthplan so we all feel good.

Want to bet this is the ultimate plan?  I am willing.  Slight hyperbole - absolutely, reduce the hyperbole, and what remains is the need to cut, and from where - you can't cut from social services because that is what Obama is spending so much time building up ... what remains is the military, and given his loathing for it, it makes perfect sense.  Understanding Marxism, it would be the military you cut. 

I have no doubt.  The only question is, how, when, and what excuse will they create to push through these cuts.  In fact, I am willing to also make a bet - the brilliance of their manipulation will make it appear as if the military wants to cut their budget. 

Amazing how coincidences will be so well timed.  Serendipity really, for someone.


Obama and Bush: Two Peas in a Pod?

Surprise, surprise.  Isn't it amazing.  A year on the campaign trail, the attacks and viscerally hateful comments made by Obama and his minions in attacking Bush as violating civil liberties and trampling on your rights ... as if he would do better.  Once again, he has failed.  Of course, defenders will say - but Bush did it first.  True, but we have finished with Bush haven't we and Bush never said he would ignore violations to National Security, never said it was a matter of a reporter's civil liberties ... he just marched forward doing what he believed best.  Obama came along and said nothing Bush did was for the best, it was all wrong, all bad, all messed up, and he was going to fix it.  Obama has doubled up on scouring our civil liberties, and maintained the same programs, enhanced others - all the while extolling the virtues of his enlightened policies, and how he is not Bush.  Yet, he seems to be, only worse.  I preferred the guy who actually believed what he was doing and did so with conviction, to benefit the country's long-term welfare, not for short-term political gain. 

Not by a long-shot.  Bush cared about America and our future as a world leader.  Obama cares about our future as an associate power.  BIG difference.

After reporter's subpoena, critics call Obama's leak-plugging efforts Bush-like

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 30, 2010; C01

The Justice Department's decision to subpoena a New York Times reporter this week has convinced some press advocates that President Obama's team is pursuing leaks with the same fervor as the Bush administration.

James Risen, who shared a Pulitzer Prize for disclosing President George W. Bush's domestic surveillance program, has refused to testify about the confidential sources he used for his 2006 book "State of War: The Secret History of the C.I.A. and the Bush Administration."

"The message they are sending to everyone is, 'You leak to the media, we will get you,' " said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. In the wake of the Bush administration's aggressive stance toward the press, she said, "as far as I can tell there is absolutely no difference, and the Obama administration seems to be paying more attention to it. This is going to get nasty."

Kurt Wimmer, a Washington lawyer who helped win White House approval for a proposed federal shield law, called the move against Risen "disappointing" after "we had positive discussions with the Obama administration" on the need to give journalists a legal foundation for protecting their sources in most cases.

In the Risen case, Attorney General Eric Holder had to approve the subpoena under Justice Department procedures. The subpoena, disclosed Thursday by the Times, comes two weeks after the administration obtained an indictment of a former top National Security Agency official, Thomas Drake, for allegedly providing classified information to a Baltimore Sun reporter.

Law enforcement officials, who declined to be identified discussing pending investigations, said the close timing of the two cases was coincidental and that the administration is not mounting an intensified effort to crack down on leakers. "As a general matter, we have consistently said that leaks of classified information are something we take extremely seriously,'' said Matthew Miller, chief Justice spokesman, who declined further comment.

Joel Kurtzberg, Risen's lawyer, said the subpoena focuses on his reporting on covert CIA attempts to combat alleged nuclear weapons research by Iran. In one book chapter, Risen wrote that the CIA sent a Russian defector to Vienna in 2000 to provide an Iranian official with plans for a nuclear-bomb-triggering device -- one with a deliberate technical flaw -- along with a solicitation for payment. Risen depicted the operation as giving Iran valuable information.

"We will be fighting to quash the subpoena," Kurtzman said. "Jim is the highest caliber of reporter and adhered to the highest standards of his profession in writing Chapter 9 of his book. And he intends to honor the promise of confidentiality he made to the source or sources."

The Times said in a statement that Risen and his publisher, Simon and Schuster, are handling the matter because the subpoena does not involve material published by the paper. "Our view, however, is that confidential sources are vital in getting information to the public, and a subpoena issued more than four years after the book was published hardly seems to be important enough to outweigh the protection an author needs to have," the newspaper said.

Dalglish described the subpoena as "troublesome" and said defense attorneys have told her that several similar cases against alleged leakers are in the pipeline. The subpoena was first brought under Bush's last attorney general, Michael Mukasey, but the grand jury in the case expired without resolving the matter, prompting Holder's department to empanel a new grand jury. The Bush administration also launched a leak probe involving the Times story but no charges were brought.

If Risen is unable to quash the subpoena, he could face a contempt citation similar to the one that landed then-Times reporter Judith Miller in jail for 85 days during the prosecution of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.

The White House last fall reached a compromise with key senators on drafting a shield law, a version of which has passed the House, but the measure would have limited application in national security cases. Even if the bill were law, Dalglish said, the Risen case "is a tough one for a journalist to get quashed."


Of Burquas and Euros: Belgium Bans the Burqua

Belgian lawmakers vote to ban full-face veils in public

By Edward Cody
Friday, April 30, 2010; A08
Washington Post

PARIS -- Belgian lawmakers on Thursday passed a nationwide ban prohibiting women from wearing full-face Islamic veils in public places, the first move of its kind in Western Europe.

The unanimous vote in the lower house of Parliament came in response to growing irritation in Belgium and other West European countries over the increasing numbers and visibility of Muslims whose customs and attitudes often present a challenge to the continent's largely Christian heritage.

The French government, after months of rancorous debate, has pledged to pass a similar nationwide ban by September, a promise denounced by Muslims as "stigmatization" of their religion. President Nicolas Sarkozy decided last week to introduce the bill despite a warning from the country's constitutional court that a blanket prohibition would probably be unconstitutional.

"The burqa has no place in France," he said.

Similar bills have been introduced in the parliaments of Italy and the Netherlands, where local jurisdictions have already imposed more-limited anti-veil measures. Two dozen communities in Belgium also have decreed local bans, including Brussels, the capital.

According to Human Rights Watch, the U.S.-based advocacy group, political figures in Switzerland and Austria have suggested that legislation such as Belgium's would be a good idea in their countries as well. Farther north, Denmark's government issued a statement in January saying the full-face veil was out of sync with Danish values, but decided against legislation because few women wear such garments.

Swiss voters, in a referendum in December, barred Muslims from building minarets, or towers, to call the faithful to prayer. Their vote, widely decried as anti-Islamic by Muslim and human rights groups, generated favorable comment from conservative French politicians along with suggestions that France should impose a similar minaret ban.

But nothing has aroused more resentment than the sight of women on the streets of European cities covered from head to toe in dark robes with only a slit or a screen at eye level. Despite the consternation, women wearing the veils are seen infrequently, even in suburbs with large Muslim populations.

The French Interior Ministry reported that fewer than 2,000 women wear full-face veils in France, out of a Muslim population estimated by the ministry at more than 5 million. In neighboring Belgium, which has a Muslim population of 400,000, no estimates have been published on the number of women who wear veils. But police in Brussels last year stopped 29 women who were seen on the street with their faces covered, in violation of the municipal ban.

The full veil has been condemned by European politicians of the right and left as an affront to the dignity of women and, because it hides a woman's face, as a security risk in schools, banks and government offices. André Gerin, a member of Parliament who led a nine-month inquiry into the full-face veil in France, also qualified it as the tip of an iceberg behind which lurk radical Islamic preachers seeking to impose a fundamentalist and politicized vision of their religion on French Muslims.

The vote in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives marked a rare moment of accord among the country's political parties. They have been so bitterly split in a feud between Flemish speakers and French speakers that Prime Minister Yves Leterme's government collapsed last week.

In principle, Leterme's cabinet is only handling current affairs pending probable new elections. But the anti-veil measure was put on the agenda Thursday because it was voted out of the Home Affairs Committee unanimously last month and was considered high-priority.

The bill forbids anyone to appear in public with his or her face hidden in a way that makes identification impossible. Violators would face fines of $18 to $28 and prison terms of one to seven days.

The measure must now be voted on by the Senate. With elections on the horizon and only a caretaker government in place, it could be some time before it is promulgated and goes into effect.

The center-right Reform Movement party, which introduced the legislation, invoked security needs and women's dignity, echoing arguments made in France. But it also called the measure a message to Islamic activists that Belgium will not tolerate challenges to its national values.

Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch, criticized the legislation as a "lose-lose situation."

"Treating pious Muslim women like criminals won't help integrate them," she said in a statement.

The veil debate in France has more recently been caught up in a political dispute over a veil-wearing woman who was given a traffic ticket in the western city of Nantes for driving with impaired vision. She has denounced her ticket as discrimination, saying she could see just as well with her veil as motorcyclists wearing helmets.

In reaction, Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux, a Sarkozy ally, accused the woman's Algerian-born husband of polygamy and suggested he should be stripped of his French nationality. Hortefeux's gesture was criticized as crude politicking; the newspaper Le Monde published an editorial asking whether it would be more appropriate to strip Hortefeux of his ministerial post.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wealth - Bad. Taxes - Good.


"Now, what we’re doing, I want to be clear, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that's fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you've made enough money."

CNN, April 28, 2010, Mr. Obama.

When is enough?  How much?  Who determines? 


Separation of Church and State

God is not religious.

Do these people troll through every obscure insignia, label, motto, name, door marker in every state, every military base looking for such things?

Group: Army symbol is religious, should be changed

By DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer
April 29, 2010

.DENVER – A religious watchdog group says a cross and motto on the emblem of an Army hospital in Colorado violate the constitutional requirement for separation of church and state and should be removed.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation asked the Army this week to change the emblem of Evans Army Community Hospital at Fort Carson, outside Colorado Springs.

The emblem says "Pro deo et humanitate" or "For God and humanity."

Fort Carson commanders will review the complaint, Lt. Col. Steve Wollman said.

He said the emblem had been approved by the Army Institute of Heraldry and has been in use since 1969.

Wollman said references to doctors serving God and humanity date to the time of Hippocrates, a pre-Christianity Greek physician.

Wollman said the cross, which has a pointed base, is both an emblem of mercy and a symbol dating to the Middle Ages, when pilgrims carried a cross with a spiked base to mark the site of a camp.

Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said that's a reference to the Crusades and could embolden U.S. enemies who want to portray the war on terror as a Christian war on Islam.

"This continues to add more fodder to the argument that we are Crusaders," Weinstein said. "It's exactly what fundamentalist Muslims want."

Weinstein's foundation, based in Albuquerque, N.M., last week persuaded the Army to withdraw an invitation to evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at the Pentagon on May 6, the National Day of Prayer.

Weinstein cited comments Graham made in 2001 describing Islam as evil. The Army said it withdrew the invitation because Graham's remarks were "not appropriate."

Graham is the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham.

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., asked the House Armed Services Committee this week to hold hearings on what he called "a growing movement in the military to censor certain biblical teachings."

Weinstein said he lodged the complaint about the cross on behalf of 43 people at Fort Carson. He said 29 of them are Protestants or Catholics. One is a civilian and the others are enlisted personnel or junior officers.

He said they took their concerns to him for fear of reprisals if they complained to military commanders. Weinstein said none wanted to be identified.


Ban, UN, and Iran or (How we came to love the bomb and called it a hug instead).

UN's Ban shows bias on nuclear issue

Thu, 29 Apr 2010 10:18:44 GMT

UN Secretary General urges Tehran to convince "international community" on its nuclear drive, while ignoring US declared nuclear threat against Iran.

Ban Ki-moon accused Tehran of not satisfying international concerns over the peaceful nature of its nuclear program, as he welcomed the planned participation of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the upcoming UN meeting to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) next Monday in New York, according to a Wednesday report in the major US daily The New York Times.

While expressing optimism for President Ahmadinejad to offer constructive proposals in resolving Iran's nuclear issue at the meeting, Ban commended recent US-Russia agreement to reduce a small part of their vast nuclear arsenals describing it as a model for the rest of the world.

[Mr. Ban is a naive fool.  A moral idiot.  How can Iran demonstrate it's peaceful desires?  One way I can think of - change governments, expel Amindinejad and the mullahs.  Short of that, every other statement made by a government official in Iran is about bombing someone, blowing Israel up or wiping it out.  Hard to think peace when they are so ... not peaceful.  You are a bloody fool Mr. Ban, and the UN fits you very well.]

The Obama administration recently crafted the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), under which the US commits to not using nuclear weapons against any NPT member states that do not possess nuclear warheads, with the exception of Iran and North Korea.

The NPR was met with instant condemnation in Iran, which has been a signatory of the NPT since 1968 and has repeatedly insisted on the need for global elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, the US nuclear threat against two UN members, on the backdrop of using the mass-destructive weapon against two Japanese cities, did not grab the attention of the UN Secretary General.

Non-nuclear states believe nuclear capable world powers use the treaty to keep their club exclusive, while the peaceful use of nuclear technology is the right of all nations.

Iran says its nuclear program is totally peaceful and subjected to unlimited extraordinary inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has found no deviation in Iran's civilian nuclear program.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New York: Racists? They ask questions.

State Sen. Kevin Parker erupts again with raced-based rant, and even allies are concerned

BY Celeste Katz and Kenneth Lovett
Wednesday, April 28th 2010, 2:11 PM

Berman for NewsState Sen. Kevin Parker Related NewsALBANY - Hothead state Sen. Kevin Parker erupted again Tuesday, this time with a race-based rant that rattled even his supporters.

"He needs help," said Sen. Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx), an ally who witnessed the latest angry outbursts. "He lost control of himself."

Parker exploded in anger at fellow Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse Republican, who was questioning a nominee to the New York Power Authority.

DeFrancisco, who is white, asked Mark O'Luck, who is black, about the nominee's prior claim that without programs for minorities, whites and the affluent "would have access to nearly 100%" of government funding.

As DeFrancisco told O'Luck he can't fault everyone who's prospered, Parker began screaming that the GOPer was "out of order."

"How dare you!" Parker shouted, at one point referring to "you racist people in here."

"I've never seen a white appointee be treated like this, in such rude fashion!" the Brooklyn Democrat yelled.

In a scene straight out of the Al Pacino movie "And Justice for All," Parker was repeatedly ruled out order.

"You're out of order!" he screamed back. "This committee's out of order!"

Amid the nearly two-minute tirade, committee chairman Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) told Parker he would be removed from the hearing room if he didn't settle down.

"Then get somebody to remove me," he said. "Bring people, though."

DeFrancisco later had little to say about the incident. "It speaks for itself," he said.

Parker dismissed the incident as a "heated debate" - but maintained DeFrancisco's line of questioning was beneath the "decorum" of the Senate.

He shrugged off his warning to Krueger to "bring people," saying, "We're all prone to hyperbole."

Parker, who had been ordered to anger management after being accused of punching a traffic agent, is currently under felony indictment on a charge he assaulted a news photographer.

Earlier this year, the imposing Parker screamed at fellow Democratic Sen. Diane Savino of Staten Island and charged toward her during an emotional closed-door Democratic conference.

New York
The Mexican government is in a tizzy over the new laws in Arizona.

As I stated in a previous post, Mexico has more problems than an accountant could accurately count.  

Yet, their Foreign Ministry thought it urgent enough to comment on.

Mexico Issues Travel Warning for Arizona Over Law (Update2)

By Jonathan J. Levin and Catherine Dodge

April 27 (Bloomberg) -- Mexicans in Arizona should carry documentation and “act carefully” after the state passed a law requiring local police to determine the immigration status of anyone suspected of being in the country illegally, Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry said the warning is directed toward Mexicans living, studying or planning to travel to the southwestern U.S. state, which shares a border with northern Mexico, according to the e-mailed statement sent today. It comes as members of U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration said they have concerns about the new law and may seek to overturn it in court.

“There is an adverse political environment for migrant communities and all Mexican visitors,” Mexico’s ministry said. “It’s important to act carefully and respect the local laws.”

The Arizona law makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. without proper documentation. The state has an estimated 460,000 residents living there illegally, the seventh highest total in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Opponents say it will lead to discrimination and racial profiling by law enforcement authorities.  [Let's see - racial profiling, 99% of illegal aliens in Arizona come from ... and so, if I ask only Hispanic people for their state ID, why is that racial profiling, it is in fact, preventing abuse because it delimits the search to the groups under question, not to random sorts who happen to be driving through Arizona, on a trip from Bulgaria.]

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who is running for re- election, signed the bill into law on April 23, saying it would address problems of violence along the border with Mexico and crime due to illegal immigration while protecting individual rights.

‘Murderous Greed’

“We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of drug cartels,” Brewer said. “We cannot delay while the destruction happening south of our international border creeps its way north.”

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said during congressional testimony in Washington today that her agency has “deep concerns” about the law and that it will “detract from and siphon resources that we need to focus on those in the country illegally who are committing serious crimes.” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said today that the Justice Department may go to court to challenge the statue.

The law, which goes into effect 90 days after the Arizona legislative session ends, states that police must investigate if they have “reasonable suspicion” that someone is undocumented, according to Gabriel Chin, a professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Police officers may face lawsuits if they fail to do so, he added.

‘Angered and Saddened’

“It’s very hard for me to see how this law can be enforced without discrimination,” Chin said in a telephone interview today from Tucson. “It seems to be inevitable.”

Mexican President Felipe Calderon said April 26 that his country’s citizens are “angered and saddened” by the Arizona law, which he said “doesn’t adequately guarantee respect for people’s fundamental rights.”

About a quarter of Arizona’s 6.6 million residents are of Hispanic descent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

U.S. Democratic Party leaders said last week that an overhaul of immigration law could advance through Congress this year if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can pick up enough support to muscle it through the Senate first, according to April 22 remarks by Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi told reporters that she will find the votes for the measure in the House -- where Democrats have 254 of 435 seats -- if the Senate can clear it.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who has been working with Democrats on an immigration overhaul, said rushing legislation this year would be a mistake because it doesn’t have the votes yet to pass.

“The worst thing we could do is bring up immigration reform and have it crash and burn politically,” he told Napolitano. “If immigration comes up this year, it’s absolutely devastating to the future of this issue.”

You want a story - how about those Guatemalans who sneak into Mexico to find work, illegally.  They are lucky if they live.  There are many cases where the Guatemalans are killed, by gangs or the police.  They are rounded up, beaten, killed, or deported.  There is widespread discrimination in Mexico against citizens from countries South of their border ... and we all know about these widespread abuses.   Mexico forbids ownership of property by any non-Mexican citizen, specifically they must be born in Mexico to be eligible to own property - otherwise, they are simply renting for a period of time.  And Arizona is the problem - where an illegal could be asked for papers and not beaten or bribed, where an illegal would be given a free ride home, returning to their home alive, and well.


Spain in the Whirly Pool with Greece, which one gets sucked under first

Spain downgraded, Europe debt crisis widens

Juergen Baetz, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday April 28, 2010, 12:39 pm EDT

BERLIN (AP) -- Europe's debt crisis mushroomed Wednesday as Spain saw its credit rating lowered, just as Germany sought to reassure nervous investors that Greece would not be allowed to go under, saying Berlin's share of a key aid package could be approved in the next few days.

Stock and bond markets had begun to regain their composure after stinging downgrades of Greece and Portugal the day before, when Standard & Poors delivered more bad news by cutting Spain's rating to AA from AA+ amid concerns about the country's growth prospects following the collapse of a construction bubble.

"We now believe that the Spanish economy's shift away from credit-fuelled economic growth is likely to result in a more protracted period of sluggish activity than we previously assumed," Standard & Poor's credit analyst Marko Mrsnik said.

Spain is considered the key to whether Europe's debt crisis can be resolved -- its economy is much larger than that of Greece and Portugal and -- many in the markets postulate -- may be just too big to bail out if it gets into serious trouble.

Though its overall debt burden is fairly modest at around 53 percent of national income, the country is running a high budget deficit and has done less than others to get a handle on its public finances.

"Given its lack of competitiveness and the grim outlook for domestic demand the government will need to announce further fiscal measures if it is to make serious inroads into the deficit," said Ben May, European economist at Capital Economics. "Today's announcement may increase the pressure on it to do this sooner rather than later."

The announcement came after a day of market drops and turmoil following the downgrades of Greece -- to junk status -- and Portugal. Markets had been looking for a clear word from Germany that it would contribute its part of a Greek bailout package.

The clock is ticking -- Greece has to pay off some euro8.5 billion worth of debts by May 19, but cannot raise the money in the markets given current sky-high borrowing costs.

That means it needs its 15 partners in the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund to cough up the money promised earlier this month but Germany has been playing hardball about releasing its euro8.4 billion share of the euro45 billion package largely because of domestic opposition.

Germany's finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Wednesday that Europe's biggest economy could have its contribution approved by parliament by the end of next week -- that's the first solid timeline from Berlin aimed at easing the uncertainty that Greece might not get the money in time.

Schaeuble said that if talks with Greece and the IMF are concluded by this weekend, Germany's support measures could be brought to lawmakers Monday and fast-tracked to be approved by May 7, next Friday.

"The stability of the euro is at stake. And we're determined to defend this stability as a whole," Schaeuble said following talks with IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet.

Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that Germany was still insisting Greece commit to cutbacks. German assistance for Greece is unpopular with the German public and Merkel faces key regional elections May 9.

"Germany will make its contribution but Greece has to make its contribution," she said.

Strauss-Kahn would not confirm reports that he had told German lawmakers Greece may need between euro100 and euro120 billion over the next three years, saying he would not comment on any figures as long as negotiations in Athens are still under way.

Speaking during a cabinet meeting Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said that every EU member must "prevent the fire that intensified through the international crisis from spreading to the entire European and global economy."

Papandreou insisted Greece was determined to bring its economy into order.

"We will show that we do not run away. In difficult times we can perform -- and we are performing -- miracles," he said, adding that "our government is determined to correct a course that has been followed for decades in a very short time."

In the meantime, stocks sagged and markets sold off Greek bonds with a vengeance. Investors appeared to anticipate Athens would eventually have to default or restructure its debt payments at some point even if the bailout gets it past May 19, when it has debt coming due.

A key indicator of risk -- the interest rate gap, or spread between Greek 10-year bonds and the benchmark German equivalent -- narrowed Wednesday afternoon to 5.9 percentage points after hitting an astonishing 9.63 percentage points, a massive jump from around 6.4 percentage points on Tuesday. The bigger the spread, the greater the fear Greece will default.

Authorities in Athens halted short-selling of stocks for two months, helping the exchange finally climb after a five-day losing streak. The ban will remain in force until June 28.

It closed up 0.63 percent at 1,707.35.

In Lisbon, Portugal's Prime Minister Jose Socrates and the leader of the main opposition party agreed on measures to help steer the country out of a financial crisis that threatens to engulf the euro zone's poorest member. The pair held emergency talks Wednesday as the Lisbon stock market recorded steep losses for a second straight day.

Socrates said, after the meeting, that the government and opposition would work together.

"We are ready to do whatever it takes to meet our budget targets," he said.

Still, the specter of the contagion spreading was prevalent.

"There is a very serious risk of contagion, it's something like post-Lehman period. Everybody is panicking and there is a lot of fear in the market," Nicholas Skourias, chief investment officer at Pegasus Securities in Athens told AP Television News. He was referring to the 2008 collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers, which sped up the world financial crisis.

"I think that today we will have a lot of pressure as well because there is this fear of contagion."


EU or Eww: Of Euro's and Greeks

So bye bye Ms Euro Pean, I drove my chevy to the bank but the euro was dry, and them good old boys in Greece and Spain were drinkin whiskey and rye, singin, "this'll be the day that the Euro will die. this'll be the day the Euroe will die."

And to think, I heard from several people in the last decade how the world was so over the dollar, and how great the Euro was, and how the world would turn to the Euro ... like Greece and now Spain, like Italy, and Portugal ... yes, indeed, I see the EU as a very stable economic place.  I'd bank on it - not.  Am I wrong - well, the way things are going in Greece - the whole system could fall down around the poor Greeks, Spaniards, Portuguese, English ...

World markets tumble as euro debt crisis escalates

Apr 28, 6:01 AM (ET)

LONDON (AP) - World markets tumbled Wednesday amid acute fears that Greece's debt crisis would spread like wildfire through Europe after a leading credit ratings agency downgraded the country's debt to junk status and cut Portugal's rating as well.

The downgrades by Standard & Poor's reinforced investor fears that Europe leaders were failing to get a handle on the government debt crisis afflicting Greece and that there is now a big chance of contagion with higher borrowing costs hitting other euro-using countries with weak finances.

"Contagion is the 'buzz' word and investors alike seem to be using it as a reason to take cash off the table," said Andrew Sykes, a trader at Spreadex.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 52.98 points, or 1 percent, at 5,550.54 while Germany's DAX fell 107.20 points, or 1.7 percent, to 6,052.31. The CAC-40 in France was 81.11 points, or 2.1 percent, to 3,763.49. These falls come on top of Tuesday's biggest declines in months following S&P's downgrades.

Earlier, Asian stocks tanked, with Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average leading the region-wide retreat with a 2.6 percent fall to 10,924.79. Wall Street was poised for further declines following Tuesday's hammering - Dow futures were down 27 points, or 0.3 percent, at 10,928 while the Standard & Poor's 500 futures fell 2 points, or 0.2 percent, at 1,179.

The most dramatic decline Wednesday was registered in Portugal, where the main PSI 20 index in Lisbon slid 5.8 percent to 6,736.26.

Athens' composite ASE index fared modestly better after the regulator banned short-selling of banking stocks for two months - following five days of dramatic declines, the index was down only 0.9 percent at 1,682.24.

For many in the markets, the euro area is now facing a real existential threat because the rules set up to support the euro have not prevented governments from spending their way into a crisis.

"The message is clear that the euro only works if all countries give up financial sovereignty and pool resources for common taxes, budgets and social security," said David Buik, markets analyst at BGC Partners.

"If these boxes are not all ticked the whole philosophy and ethos of a united Europe crumbles in to dust," he said.

Investors will be keeping a close watch on Berlin, where both Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the European Central Bank, are expected to press German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the eurozone's largest country has to release its share of the euro45 billion bailout fund for Greece swiftly if this crisis is not going to lead to wide-scale government defaults, another banking crisis and a swift return to recession across the whole single currency bloc.

Germany, where the bailout is unpopular with voters, has been slow in authorizing the release of the funds - its failure to do so stoked the panic in the markets, which has seen market rates on Greece's two-year bonds skyrocket to 21 percent.

"Jittery investors are concerned that the instability in the markets could snowball into something much bigger, and are hoping that real progress today may help to melt the ice," said Anthony Grech, market strategist at IG Index.

There's even talk now in the markets that the European Central Bank may have to play a more active role in resolving this crisis, especially as the policymakers in the European Union and the institutions have failed to provide a lead.

Many analysts are now postulating the idea that the European Central Bank may invoke emergency powers to buy Greek bonds, using the argument that the turmoil in Greece was threatening the stability of the euro area.

Even then, the consensus in the markets is that Greece will have to restructure its debts, by either cutting the amount it pays debtholders - Standard & Poor's warned on Tuesday they might get only 30-50 percent of their principal investment back - or by extending the terms of repayment.

The euro managed to find some respite after slumping to a one-year low of $1.3146 in the wake of the S&P downgrades - by late morning London time, the euro was up 0.1 percent at $1.3172.

Some distraction will likely emerge later when the U.S. Federal Reserve unveils its latest policy statement following the conclusion of its interest rate meeting.

Though no change in the Fed funds rate is expected from the current 0-0.25 percent, investors will be focusing in on the minutiae of the accompanying statement, particularly on whether there is an ongoing commitment to keep borrowing costs low for "an extended period."

"Wider contagion and the negative impact on global equity markets, if maintained, might stay the Fed's hand," said Neil Mackinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital. "International market developments will not be ignored."

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 1.5 percent to 20,949.40 and South Korea's Kospi was off 0.9 percent to 1,733.91. Markets in Australia and India retreated between 1 percent and 2 percent. Shanghai closed down 0.3 percent.

The euro stabilized after a steep drop the day before to a near 1-year low before slipping again, trading down at $1.3153 from $1.3155. The dollar rose to 93.42 yen from 93.07 yen.

Oil prices dropped for a second straight day, with benchmark crude for May delivery down 96 cents at $81.46 a barrel.

Don't Cry for me Argentina, I am just a lowly president who only wishes you the best ...

Argentine media-government conflict turns ugly

10:52am EDT
By Fiona Ortiz

BUENOS AIRES, April 28 (Reuters) - A ferocious two-year battle between Argentina's president and the country's leading media empire has gone beyond tax raids and soccer broadcast squabbles to dredging up mud from the country's dark past.

Government officials say the owner of Grupo Clarin may have adopted two babies stolen from murdered political prisoners during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, and President Cristina Fernandez has urged courts to investigate.

The adopted children of Clarin owner Ernestina Herrera de Noble, one of the country's richest women, accuse Fernandez of using them as pawns in her conflict with their mother's company.

"We feel scared, anguished, insecure, persecuted," Felipe Noble Herrera and his sister Marcela, both 34, said in a televised statement last week.

The conflict, in which Clarin claims it is being harassed and the government accuses the media group of conspiring against it, has soured Argentina's wobbly reputation with investors. It could also weaken a bid by Fernandez's husband, ex-President Nestor Kirchner, to return to power next year.

The Noble Herrera siblings said they don't believe they are children of disappeared political prisoners, but they have resisted turning over DNA samples without limits on their use, saying they could be politically manipulated.

They say the story of their adoption is being used to try to discredit Clarin, one of Latin America's biggest media groups, by associating their mother with the military governments that killed as many as 30,000 dissidents.

Clarin, a $900 million company with newspapers, broadcast and cable television, radio and Internet holdings, generally gave favorable coverage to Kirchner, Fernandez's husband and predecessor as president.

But in 2008 its flagship newspaper and cable news channel turned against Fernandez during a bitter tax revolt by farmers that evolved into a major political crisis from which the president's approval ratings have never recovered.

Since 2008, the government has sent dozens of tax investigators to Clarin headquarters, tried to take over its newsprint plant, reformed a media law to force the conglomerate to sell assets and nationalized the lucrative soccer broadcasting contract.

Posters attacking Clarin journalists have appeared on buildings all over the capital. The Kirchners, who have always been press shy, deny they are behind the campaign but often hit out at their media critics.

"Some of your colleagues should get rabies shots," the president told reporters on Wednesday. Later in the day her husband shouted "They lie, they lie," in an anti-Clarin speech to union leaders.


Conflicts between presidents and the media are common in Latin America, but the extremes of the Clarin-Kirchner battle highlight tensions in Argentina, where investors have wearied of government criticism and intervention in the markets.

"It doesn't inspire much confidence, it adds to Argentina's huge credibility crisis," said Jorge Asis, an author and former diplomat critical of both sides and who says a prolonged battle will hurt Kirchner's aim to run again for president.

The Kirchners have nationalized private pensions, the country's biggest airline and other sectors, and stepped up intervention in grain and financial markets.

Both sides have been harmed in the war between Clarin and the Kirchners.

Clarin's share price has plunged to 12 pesos per share from 24 pesos in early 2008, underperforming Argentina's benchmark stock index, MerVal <.MERV>, which hit record highs this year.

Clarin editors and executives say they feel abused by constant government investigations into the company. "It's a level of authoritarianism where they want to snuff out criticism," said Chief Financial Officer Alejandro Urricelqui.

The Kirchners, who were both briefly arrested during the dictatorship, paint the battle as a continuation of the ideological divide of the 1970s, with Clarin as the capitalist enemy linked to human rights violations.

"It all goes back to the same origin... Clarin's strategy all around is to keep laws from being applied and the truth from coming out," said Gabriel Mariotto, director of the state broadcast regulator and the man behind the new media law.

Clarin benefited from business deals under the dictatorship, he told Reuters.

Critics point out the Kirchners never made these accusations when Clarin's coverage was favorable, and say the couple is cynically using human rights issues against Clarin.

"The persecuted have become persecutors. They haven't learned anything from the past," said opposition lawmaker Patricia Bullrich, of the Civic Coalition party.

Herrera de Noble adopted Felipe and Marcela in 1976, at the beginning of the dictatorship. In the late 1970s, hundreds of children of Argentine political prisoners were illegally adopted by families with ties to the military.

Herrera de Noble, now 84, was briefly detained in 2002 on accusations of falsifying adoption papers but formal charges were never brought and her children's biological parentage remains unknown.

Human rights groups have spent decades trying to match up stolen children with their families. Fernandez allies the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo have filed suit to force Marcela and Felipe to provide DNA samples for potential matching with families of dictatorship victims.

"For the Grandmothers this is not a fight between the government and a media group... It's not about politics. It's about human rights," Estela de Carlotto, head of the Grandmothers, told state-owned Channel 7 television last week. (Editing by Kieran Murray)


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mandatory Health Insurance

The bill amends the Internal Revenue Code, the nation’s tax law, adding a section entitled, “Requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage,” section 5000A.

“Subtitle D of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by adding at the end the following new chapter: ‘‘CHAPTER 48—MAINTENANCE OF MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE ‘‘Sec. 5000A. Requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage.”

“REQUIREMENT TO MAINTAIN MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE.—An applicable individual shall for each month beginning after 2013 ensure that the individual, and any dependent of the individual who is an applicable individual, is covered under minimum essential coverage for such month,” the law reads.

Individuals who fail to compy with this "requirement" are assessed a “shared responsibility payment”--a fine collected by the IRS.

“SHARED RESPONSIBILITY PAYMENT.— ‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—If an applicable individual fails to meet the requirement of subsection (a) for 1 or more months during any calendar year beginning after 2013…there is hereby imposed a penalty with respect to the individual in the amount determined under subsection (c).”

That penalty will be no more than ... up to a maximum of $2,250 per household or two percent of household income, whichever is greater.

And there you have it.  Required to have medical insurance or else.  Everyone of you.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Goodbye MANkind, you proved useful once, but now, an inconvenience at best.  All the wars, anguish, suffering you put the world through - all the machismo, hitting, whacking, kicking, fighting, and otherwise unnecessary physical activity ... your time has come.  The rest of Earth will be just fine without you.  Science has seen to that. 

Out for the count: Why levels of sperm in men are falling

Levels of 'viable' sperm in human males are falling – and scientists believe they now understand the cause. Infertility can begin in the womb, says Steve Connor

Monday, 26 April 2010
The Independent

If scientists from Mars were to study the human male's reproductive system they would probably conclude that he is destined for rapid extinction. Compared to other mammals, humans produce relatively low numbers of viable sperm – sperm capable of making that long competitive swim to penetrate an unfertilised egg.

As many as one in five healthy young men between the ages of 18 and 25 produce abnormal sperm counts. Even the sperm they do produce is often of poor quality. In fact only between 5 and 15 per cent of their sperm is, on average, good enough to be classed as "normal" under strict World Health Organisation rules – and these are young, healthy men. By contrast, more than 90 per cent of the sperm of a domestic bull or ram, or even laboratory rat, are normal.

Human males also suffer a disproportionately high incidence of reproductive problems, from congenital defects and undescended testes to cancer and impotency. As these also affect fertility, it's a minor miracle men are able to sire any children at all. In fact, an increasing number of men are finding themselves childless. Among the one in seven couples now classed as infertile, the "male factor" has been found to be the most commonly identified cause.

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the WHO conference where a Danish scientist first alerted the world to the fact that Western men are suffering an infertility crisis. Professor Niels Skakkebaek of the University of Copenhagen presented data indicating sperm counts had fallen by about a half over the past 50 years. Sperm counts in the 1940s were typically well above 100m sperm cells per millilitre, but Professor Skakkebaek found they have dropped to an average of about 60m per ml. Other studies found that between 15 and 20 per cent of young men now find themselves with sperm counts of less than 20m per ml, which is technically defined as abnormal. In contrast, a dairy bull has a viable sperm count in the billions.

Experts in human reproductive biology were astonished by the Danish study. The declining trend seemed to indicate that men were on a path to becoming completely infertile within a few generations (although recent studies suggest the fall in sperm counts may have bottomed out). Professor Skakkebaek could offer no explanation for the trend other than to suggest that the fall may have something to do with the equally alarming rise in other reproductive disorders, such as cancer of the testes and cryptorchidism, the incomplete descent of the testes into the scrotum.

Experts began to talk of a new phenomenon affecting the human male, a collection of disorders known as testicular dysgenesis syndrome. They wanted to know what was causing it, because the changes were occurring too quickly to be a result of genetics. It must have something to with changing lifestyles or the environment of men, and almost everything was suggested, from exposure to chemical pollutants to the modern fashion for tight underpants. There is now an emerging consensus among some experts that whatever it is that is exacerbating the problems of male infertility, it probably starts in the womb. It is not the lifestyle of men that is problem, but that of their mothers.

The process of sperm production, called spermatogenesis, starts in adolescence, but the groundwork is laid down in the few months before and immediately after birth. An increasing number of studies point to a crucial "window" of testicular development that begins in the growing foetus and ends in the first six months of life. Interfere with this critical developmental period, and a baby boy will suffer the lifetime consequences of being a suboptimally fertile man.

So are we anywhere nearer to finding an explanation for why are so many more men today are suffering from reproductive problems?

"It's most likely a reflection of the fact that many environmental and lifestyle changes over the past 50 years are inherently detrimental to sperm production," says Professor Richard Sharpe, fertility research expert at the Medical Research Council. "It may be that different factors come together to have a combined effect." A number of studies point to a connection between early development in the womb and male reproductive problems in later life, especially low sperm counts. For example, men whose pregnant mothers were exposed to high levels of toxic dioxins as a result of the 1976 industrial accident in Seveso, Italy have been found to have lower-than-average sperm counts. But men exposed to dioxins in adulthood showed no such effect. Another study found women who ate large amounts of beef during pregnancy, a diet rich in potentially damaging chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), had sons with relatively low sperm counts. But eating beef as an adult man shows no similar impact.

Meanwhile, studies of migrants between Sweden and Finland, showed that a man's lifetime risk of testicular cancer tends to follow the country he was born in rather than the country where he was brought up. It was his mother's environment when she was pregnant with him, rather than his own as a boy or as an adolescent, that seems to have largely determined a man's risk of testicular cancer.

One of the strongest pieces of evidence in support of this idea comes from studies of people who smoke. A man who smokes typically reduces his sperm count by a modest 15 per cent or so, which is probably reversible if he quits. However, a man whose mother smoked during pregnancy has a fairly dramatic decrease in sperm counts of up to 40 per cent – which also tends to be irreversible.

Professor Sharpe said such findings can be explained by understanding how the first cells of the testes form. Sertoli cells, which in the adult act as guardians for the development of sperm cells, are the very first cells to form from a "genital ridge" of the human male foetus. The number of sperm that can be produced in an adult man is critically dependent on the number of Sertoli cells that develop in his foetus, so anything that interferes with the formation of Sertoli cells in a mother's womb will affect sperm production many years later. "Maternal-lifestyle factors in pregnancy can have quite substantial effects on sperm counts in sons in adulthood, and the most logical mechanism by which this could occur is via reducing the number of Sertoli cells," Professor Sharpe says.

But the key question now is to identify the relevant lifestyle and environmental factors.

This is proving tricky. Obesity, for instance, is a growing problem and it has been linked with reproductive problems in both men and women. One study has also indicated that overweight pregnant women tend to produce sons with poor semen quality. But is it being fat that is the cause, or the environmental chemicals stored in fat?

There has been a lot of interest in chemicals in the environment, especially those that can either mimic female sex hormones – oestrogenic chemicals – or block male sex hormones, specifically testosterone which plays a critical role in stimulating the development of Sertoli cells in the womb. So far, the Seveso study provides the clearest link between human foetal development, low sperm counts and prenatal exposure to an environmental chemical. But the dioxin concentrations from this industrial accident were exceptionally high.

It is more difficult trying to establish a similar, significant link between male reproductive problems and exposure to low concentrations of the many other environmental chemicals that may have weak oestrogenic or androgen-blocking properties, including substances as wide-ranging as pesticides, traffic fumes, plastics and even soya beans. Professor Sharpe says that much of the evidence to date is weak or non-existent.

"Public concern about the adverse effects of environmental chemicals on spermatogenesis in adult men are, in general, not supported by the available data for humans. Where adverse effects of environmental chemicals have been shown, they are usually in an occupational setting rather than applying to the general population," he says.

So although scientists are closing in on the critical window of foetal development in the womb that determines a man's fertility status in later life, they are still not sure about what it is that could be affecting this change in his reproductive status. But one thing is clear, it is his mother who almost certainly holds the key.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Britain and the Pope: Bless us for being so rude.

We best not offend Muhammad, no cartoons, no caricatures, and certainly no long list of actions that may be questionable morally, nor his extolling certain behaviors top his followers Western Civilization may find offensive.  But, the Pope, head of the largest Church in the world - permissible to ridicule and mock him.  Everything religious is bad - pro-life, Catholic, anti-abortion, opposed to gay marriages - bad bad, and worse, unenlightened. 

It is very disturbing to watch this attack and tear down of a man who did not do anything to hurt anyone - unlike many in the secular world who go through their lives tearing down one person after another while claiming they never intended to hurt anyone, yet they leave bodies strewn about like plane wreckage as they go.  To watch these people attacking the Church, yet petrified to even think about the idea of criticizing ... say, Mohammad ... shows who and what they really are.

If I were them, I would think very very carefully about their actions, because the end result may well be soemthing incomprehensible to them at this time, but anyone who can look beyond five minute intervals may find an unimaginable nightmare awaiting us, and them, if they are so lucky as to hurt the Church.  Just saying.

Ministers apologise for insult to Pope

The Government has apologised to the Pope over official documents that mocked his forthcoming visit to Britain by suggesting he should bless a gay marriage and even launch Papal-branded condoms.

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent
24 Apr 2010
The Telegraph

Pope Benedict XVI Photo: AP The astonishing proposals, leaked to The Sunday Telegraph, were contained in secret papers drawn up earlier this month by civil servants following a 'brainstorm’.

The ideas, included in a memo headed 'The ideal visit would see ...’, ridiculed the Catholic Church’s teachings including its opposition to abortion, homosexual behaviour and contraception. Many appeared to be deliberately provocative rather than a serious attempt to plan an itinerary for the September visit.

Head of Roman Catholic church in England urges faithful to remain brave The proposals, which were then circulated among key officials in Downing Street and Whitehall, also include the Pope opening an abortion ward; spending the night in a council flat in Bradford; doing forward rolls with children to promote healthy living; and even performing a duet with the Queen.

In reference to the hugely sensitive issue of child abuse engulfing the Catholic Church, the Government document suggests that the Pope should take a “harder line on child abuse – announce sacking of dodgy bishops” and “launch helpline for abused children”.

The document was sent out by a junior Foreign Office civil servant with a covering note admitting that some of the plans were “far-fetched”.

Recipients of the memo were furious at its content and an investigation was launched. One senior official was found responsible and has been transferred to other duties.

Yesterday the Foreign Office issued a public apology after being approached by The Sunday Telegraph, while Francis Campbell, the UK ambassador to the Vatican, met senior officials of the Holy See to express the Government’s regret.

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, was “appalled” to hear of the proposals, according to a source close to him, and blamed “a colossal failure of judgement” by officials involved.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “This is clearly a foolish document that does not in any way reflect UK Government or Foreign Office policy or views. Many of the ideas in the document are clearly ill-judged, naive and disrespectful.

“The text was not cleared or shown to Ministers or senior officials before circulation. As soon as senior officials became aware of the document, it was withdrawn from circulation.

“The individual responsible has been transferred to other duties. He has been told orally and in writing that this was a serious error of judgement and has accepted this view.

“The Foreign Office very much regrets this incident and is deeply sorry for the offence which it has caused.

The Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Nottingham, was astonished and angered by the proposals.

He said: “This is appalling. You don’t invite someone to your country and then disrespect them in this way.

“It’s outlandish and outrageous to assume that any of the ideas are in any way suitable for the Pope.”

The Papal Visit Team reports to Dame Helen Ghosh, the permanent secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and ultimately to Jim Murphy, the Scotland Secretary, who is responsible for the trip.

The "ideal visit" list was circulated within Whitehall by a junior Foreign Office official, an Oxbridge graduate in his 20s.

In an emailed memo dated March 5, headed "Policy planning ahead of the Pope’s visit", he invited senior colleagues to attend an "inter-faith meeting" the following week to discuss themes for the visit.

Attached to the memo were three "background documents", including the "ideal visit" list, which he said would form the basis of discussions. He added in the memo: "Please protect; these should not be shared externally. The ‘ideal visit’ paper in particular was the product of a brainstorm which took into account even the most far-fetched of ideas."

Recipients included Nicola Ware, a senior Foreign Office official, as well as officials at 10 Downing Street, the Department for International Development, and the Northern Ireland Office.

The exercise appears to have been intended to ensure a high impact for the papal visit and to identify areas such as development and climate change on which the Government and the Vatican could co-operate, but the list of ideas has caused offence.

Bishop McMahon said Catholics would be concerned that the document reflects the existence within Whitehall of officials prejudiced against people of faith, and predicted that it would cause embarrassment for the Government. The Prime Minister said in last week’s party leaders’ debate that he was looking forward to the papal visit, but ministers have clashed repeatedly with the Catholic Church over legislation.

There is understood to be increasing unease at the Vatican over the level of hostility that the Pope is likely to face in Britain, with protests and even threats of arrest from secularists. The disclosure of the secret proposals is bound to deepen concerns and cause dismay among the country’s four million Catholics.

Further suggestions on the "ideal visit" list are that the Pope should reverse the Church’s "policy on women bishops/ordain woman" and that the Vatican should "sponsor a network of Aids clinics".

Another of the three background documents, titled "Papal Visit Stakeholders", lists figures and groups that the officials consider significant to the tour, and ranks them in order of how "influential" and "positive" each one is perceived to be.

The Queen, David Cameron, and Tony Blair are all ranked as highly influential and positive. It rates Susan Boyle, the singer, as more influential than Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster.

Wayne Rooney, the footballer, who was married in a Catholic Church, is considered to be a negative influence, as are Madonna, the singer, and Richard Dawkins, the prominent atheist professor. "Pro-choice groups", homosexual pressure groups and the National Secular Society are all viewed as negative.


Free Speech / Cartoons versus Offensive and Dangerous

Cartoonist overwhelmed by response to "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day"

Apr 25, 2010 - 2:11 pm
 After a Seattle artist's cartoon went viral, she says she's not going with it.

Molly Norris drew up a sketch declaring May 20th "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" after Comedy Central cut a portion of a South Park episode following a death threat from a radical Muslim group.

Norris explained her motivation on an appearance on KIRO Radio's Dave Ross show. "As a cartoonist I just felt so much passion about what had happened I wanted to kind of counter Comedy Central's message they sent about feeling afraid."

Producers of South Park had announced Thursday that Comedy Central removed a speech about intimidation and fear from their show after a radical Muslim group warned that they could be killed for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

The group said it wasn't threatening South Park producers Trey Parker and Matt Stone, but it included a gruesome picture of Theo Van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker killed by a Muslim extremist in 2004, and said the producers could meet the same fate. The website posted the addresses of Comedy Central's New York office and the California production studio where South Park is made.

The momentum drawn from Norris' cartoon was more than the artist had anticipated and by Sunday Norris had posted the following message on her website:

"I am NOT involved in "Everybody Draw Mohammd Day!" I made a cartoon that went viral and I am not going with it. Many other folks have used my cartoon to start sites, etc. Please go to them as I am a private person who draws stuff"

On her website Norris originally explained the campaign was not meant to disrespect any religion, but rather meant to protect people's right to express themselves.

In her present post Norris directs those interested in submitting drawings to the other sites who've taken up the campaign.


Sometimes Life is Good, and We get to See the Evil Punished.

Sometimes good things happen and bad people are sent to hell to become the play thing of Satan for all eternity.  Sometimes life is good and we can smile knowing that two creatures have been sent home.

Al-Qaida in Iraq confirms deaths of top 2 figures

Sinan Salaheddin, Associated Press Writer
April 25, 2010

.BAGHDAD – An al-Qaida front group in Iraq on Sunday confirmed the killing of its two top leaders but vowed to keep up the fight despite claims by U.S. and Iraqi officials that the deaths could be a devastating blow to the terror network.

The defiance came in a statement released a week after the group's leaders — Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri — were killed in a raid by Iraqi and U.S. security forces on their safe house near Tikrit, north of Baghdad.

"After a long journey filled with sacrifices and fighting falsehood and its representatives, two knights have dismounted to join the group of martyrs," the statement said. "We announce that the Muslim nation has lost two of the leaders of jihad, and two of its men, who are only known as heroes on the path of jihad."

The four-page statement by the Islamic State of Iraq was posted on a militant website early Sunday.

It concluded: "The war is still ongoing, and the favorable outcome will be for the pious."

The Islamic State of Iraq is an offshoot of al-Qaida in Iraq. Al-Baghdadi was its self-described leader and was so elusive that at times U.S. officials questioned whether he was a real person or merely a composite of a terrorist to give an Iraqi face to an organization led primarily by foreigners.

Al-Masri, a weapons expert who was trained in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan in the late 1990s, was the shadowy national leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Their deaths were triumphantly announced last Monday by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called the killings a "potentially devastating blow" to al-Qaida in Iraq.

But four days later, officials believe al-Qaida struck back, bombing mosques, shops and the office of an influential Shiite cleric, killing 72 people in Iraq's bloodiest day of the year so far. Homes of police also were bombed. Al-Maliki said the insurgents were fighting back after the deaths of their two leaders.

The new statement did not mention Friday's bombings, and no group has claimed responsibility for them yet. But the statement signals that al-Qaida will remain a threat to Iraq even without its top two leaders, and urges its members and supporters to stay the course.

"Commit to what those two leaders stood for," the statement says. "Transform the blood of those two leaders into light and fire — a light which will illuminate the path before you and facilitate your ability of speech, and a fire against the enemies of the creed and the religion."

Al-Qaida in Iraq has proven resilient in the past, showing a remarkable ability to change tactics and adapt — most notably after its brutal founder, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed nearly four years ago in a U.S. airstrike. Still, it is widely believed the group was far stronger then and would likely have a harder time now replenishing its leadership and sticking to a timetable of attacks.

Al-Maliki has seized on the militants' killings to show he can restore stability to Iraq after years of bloodshed. Following his political coalition's second-place finish in the March 7 parliamentary elections, al-Maliki is locked in a tight contest with secular challenger Ayad Allawi to see who will form the next government.

Al-Maliki's coalition trails Allawi's bloc by two seats in the 325-seat parliament, and neither has yet been able to secure enough support from other parties to muster a majority.

Meanwhile, the police chief in Hawija, 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Baghdad, said troops raided the nearby town of al-Safra and arrested Burhan Mahmoud Mohammed, a local leader of the Islamic State of Iraq.

Col. Fatah al-Khafaji told The Associated Press that troops acted on intelligence but did not indicate exactly where the information came from. Iraqi officials have said the investigation into al-Baghdadi and al-Masri, especially the arrest in March of a senior al-Qaida official, has also led them to a number of other leaders associated with the insurgency.

In Baghdad, a so-called sticky bomb attached to the underside of a civilian's car exploded, killing the driver and wounding six passers-by, according to a police officer and a medic at the nearby al-Yarmouk hospital, where the victims were taken. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Also Sunday, an explosion at an iron factory in the northern city of Irbil killed five workers, including two Indians, two Arabs, a Kurd, and wounded 15. Workers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other Asian nations have flocked to the Kurdish region in recent years as the economy there has grown.

Police Chief Abdul-Khaliq Talaat said the cause of the explosion was not immediately known.

Irbil is located in Iraq's Kurdish-controlled north about 217 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

An Irbil hospital worker confirmed the deaths.

al qaida

Make Mine Freedom - 1948

American Form of Government

Who's on First? Certainly isn't the Euro.