Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pope Benedict: communism no longer working in Cuba

Pope, who is due to arrive in Cuba on Monday, says church is ready to help island move forward in a constructive way

John Hooper in Rome
Friday 23 March 2012

Pope Benedict XVI has called for freedom of conscience and religion in Cuba. Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI, flying to Cuba for a historic visit, has said that Marxism was out of place in the contemporary world and urged Cubans to find "new models".

His remarks on Friday were at least as forthright as any made by his predecessor, John Paul II, on a groundbreaking trip to the country 14 years ago. Answering a question about his visit to Cuba, which has remained a communist bastion for more than 50 years, the pope said: "Today it is evident that Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality."

He told reporters accompanying him on the papal plane: "In this way we can no longer respond and build a society. New models must be found with patience and in a constructive way."

Benedict also said that his church wanted "to help in the spirit of dialogue to avoid trauma and to help bring about a just and fraternal society". But his comments are likely to cause irritation in Havana.

The pope's use of the word "trauma" reflected fears in the Vatican of a disorderly transition after the death of Cuba's 85-year-old revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro. In 2008, the ailing Castro handed over power to his brother, Raul.

The pope himself will turn 85 next month, and Friday saw him with a walking stick for the first time in public. He used the cane to cover the 100 metres or so from his helicopter to the plane that would fly him to Mexico on the first leg of his journey.

Papal aides said he had been using the stick in private for about two months because it made him feel more secure, and not for medical reasons. Last year, he began using a wheeled platform during ceremonies in St Peter's.

Bizarro!! Teacher Fired After Not Noticing Third Graders Having Oral Sex Under Desk

March 23, 2012 2:32 PM

TALLULAH, La. (CBS Houston) – A teacher at Tallulah Elementary School lost her job after not noticing two third graders participating in oral sex under their desks.

The News-Star is reporting that the teacher was fired for not keeping a proper eye on her students, as the incident occurred under her watch.

“The principal felt that she was not monitoring the classroom adequately,” District Superintendent Lisa Wilmore said to the News-Star. “The principal made a decision, and I supported the principal.”

She added, “We have to make sure we have people in these classrooms who are monitoring our students.”

Both students reportedly received counseling after the incident, which happened last week.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc.)

OPINION: If the teacher did not see this, how was it discovered? Even more importantly, why is there not police investigation? It is obvious their actions were learned from someone.

Obama struggles to keep America's grip on World Bank

Traditional award of top job to a White House favourite looks increasingly difficult as developing world candidates emerge

Heather Stewart
Thursday 22 March 2012


A credible World Bank candidate: Nigeria's finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Photograph: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

Barack Obama is scrambling to find a heavyweight US candidate to stand for the job of president of the World Bank, with the deadline for nominations looming.

Two credible developing country candidates – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian finance minister, and José Antonio Ocampo, the Colombian former finance minister and development economist – have already joined the race, together with the American economist Jeffrey Sachs, who has the backing of several developing countries.

The calibre of the field means the US won't be able to stitch up the job, as is traditional, by handing it to a faceless White House bureaucrat or a favoured presidential lieutenant.

Instead, Obama has been casting around for a figure with the requisite gravitas to lead the international field. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has long been touted, but has denied that she wants the job, and is thought to want another shot at the presidency.

Larry Summers, the former treasury secretary and once an adviser to Bill Clinton, has the backing of his successor, Tim Geithner – but he is highly controversial with many in Europe and the developing world, because he is seen as an outspoken advocate of the deregulation that led to the financial crisis. Susan Rice, America's ambassador to the UN, has clashed with China and Russia over the crisis in Syria. Rumours of other wildcard candidates, including PepsiCo boss Indra Nooyi – whose Indian origins might give her an edge with the Bric countries – and even Bill Gates, have been swirling in Washington.

Ever since the Bretton Woods institutions were founded, in the aftermath of the second world war, the Bank has been run by an American, and the International Monetary Fund by a European, under a gentleman's agreement. But as the emerging economies, including China, India and Russia, have won greater influence at the Washington-based lender there has been a growing chorus calling for a candidate from outside the west.

When Dominique Strauss-Kahn stepped down ignominiously from the top job at the IMF last year the formidable Christine Lagarde had been swiftly nominated and backed by a series of European countries, including the UK, before any credible rival could get out of the blocks.

But with World Bank boss Robert Zoellick departing in a more conventional fashion this summer, after serving a notice period, there was no excuse for anything but the open nomination process the Bank has long promised. A Department for International Development spokesperson said: "Britain supports an open and transparent selection process. All candidates for the job must be considered on their merits."

The Bank is not expected to make a formal announcement about who has been nominated, but will publish a three-strong shortlist next week, and the candidates will then be interviewed by its board.

Most seasoned World Bank-watchers expect the ultimate outcome to be that an American gets the job: the US still has a dominant voice at the Washington-based institution, and Obama won't want to look weak by ceding a major source of international influence in an election year.

But in the wake of the global financial crisis, emerging world powers such as Brazil and China have become increasingly critical of the assumption of the US and Europe that they know best.

If Obama fields a weak or a controversial candidate against the seasoned operator and World Bank veteran Okonjo-Iweala, there is sure to be a noisy backlash. As Liz Stuart, senior policy adviser for Oxfam, says: "I think we can assume there are lots of talented people who work in development who aren't American."

Who's in the running?

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Nigerian finance minister for the second time, and the developing country candidate to beat. As a former World Bank managing director, she knows the institution inside out. She has also been on the front line of tackling poverty and corruption at home, and fought for debt relief from the West.

José Antonio Ocampo: a former Colombian finance minister who studied and is based at Columbia University, in the US. He is a heavyweight academic economist who has had first-hand experience in government in a developing country, and held a senior UN post. He has won Brazil's backing.

Hillary Clinton: still widely rumoured to be the most likely US candidate. But she has repeatedly said she doesn't want the job and her hardline attitude to human rights abuses in her current job as secretary of state is said to have made the Chinese sceptical about her candidacy.

Jeffrey Sachs: US economist and author, now at Columbia University, says he has the support of several developing countries, many of which he has advised over the years. He too is controversial because of questions over his role in Russia's "shock therapy" economic reforms in the 1980s. He's also seen as too liberal to win the backing of the White House.

Susan Rice: US ambassador to the United Nations. She is used to charming her way through international diplomatic circles – a key part of the job of a World Bank boss – but she may not be well-known enough to trump Iweala and allow America to hold onto its supremacy at the Bank.

Charlotte blogger resigns over Obama portrayal

By Tim Funk and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
Published Fri, Mar 23, 2012 05:49 AM
Modified Sat, Mar 24, 2012 12:32 AM


The image, a crude, digitally manipulated photo, purported to show President Barack Obama in drag, complete with chains and high heels. And between his legs: A bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

When conservative blogger Tara Servatius of Charlotte found this picture on Google Images, she said it seemed like the perfect illustration for her Monday “Meck Deck” blog on Obama’s decision to speak out against a proposed N.C. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

But by Thursday, the in-your-face Servatius – a one-time WBT talk show host and Creative Loafing columnist – had resigned amid a storm of controversy, including complaints about the image from the N.C. NAACP and her own bosses at the John Locke Foundation, a conservative N.C. think tank.

In an election year that seems to be raising the country’s temperature by the day, the episode was but the latest involving outrageous images and language – some of them targeting the country’s first African-American president, now seeking a second term.

“Don’t Re-Nig in 2012” read a bumper sticker that lit up Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere just last week.

“Race is an issue that Americans are unable to get over. It’s played a significant part in our history and it continues to be a sensitive topic,” said N.C. State University political scientist Andrew Taylor. “There will be incidents like this and people looking for incidents like this.”

But, added Taylor, the good news is that those putting out such words and images are increasingly “on the margins.”

Last week, Bivins Hollar quickly abandoned his campaign for N.C. Senate in Catawba County after it was discovered that he posted a video in which he casually talked about “shooting” and starving black Africans – and kidnapping the country’s president. Among those criticizing him was the N.C. Democratic Party, under whose banner Hollar had hoped to run.

On Thursday, Servatius told the Observer in a statement that she didn’t mean to offend with her portrayal of Obama, and that she considers fried chicken not a racial stereotype but a symbol of Southern cuisine.

“I was searching for a picture of the president in drag to illustrate his Southern political strategy of courting young voters, a majority of whom support gay marriage,” Servatius said. “Regrettably, I didn’t think about the racial implications of the picture when I posted it. I simply don’t think in those terms. Unfortunately some people do. To me, fried chicken is simply a Southern cuisine. So the picture seemed perfect to illustrate Obama’s Southern strategy.”

But others found her decision to use the image out-of-bounds – and cause for dismissal if she hadn’t taken the hint and resigned first.

John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation, which publishes “Meck Deck” on its Charlotte site, called the illustration “utterly inappropriate.” He also assured one Facebook friend that Servatius “is no longer a contributor to our site … I would have made that decision for her, but she beat me to the punch by ending her role.”

Also on Facebook, Hood explained what happened: “(The blog post) included an illustration that was offensive and utterly inappropriate for our blog or anyone else’s. A reader brought it to my attention (Wednesday), and I had it removed immediately, but the damage was done.”

N.C. NAACP President Rev. William Barber also protested the “disgusting picture of our president” that accompanied Servatius’ blog.

“What we have seen so far has both racist and homophobic overtones,” Barber said in a statement to WRAL-TV of Raleigh. “It is reckless and dangerous. And should not only be an affront to the black community, the civil rights community, the LBGT community, but every North Carolinian.”

As is the case with many blogs, no one apparently edited or reviewed Servatius’ writing.

“We typically do not review blog items prior to publication,” Rick Henderson, managing editor of the foundation’s Carolina Journal, said in an email. “We … have chosen not to dedicate the significant amount of staff time that would be needed to conduct that level of supervision at all the (five) sites.”

Servatius, who grew up in Charlotte and graduated from Charlotte Catholic High and UNC Chapel Hill School of Journalism, said the point of her blog was not offensive: that the decision by the GOP-controlled N.C. legislature to hold a vote this year on Amendment 1 “is a bad political move in North Carolina because it could distract voters from the economy, which should be the main issue.”

She also said that a cutline under the Obama “picture” explained that it was supposed to represent the president’s political strategy.

“But only the picture itself seems to be floating around the Internet because bloggers have been removing the cutline,” she said.

With WBT, Creative Loafing and now “Meck Deck” in her past, Servatius said she doesn’t know what she’ll do next.

“I have no idea,” Servatius, who recently had a baby, told the Observer. “The blog was something I did for fun.”

Editor's note: Reader comments have been disabled on this story because of numerous violations of our comment policy.

Report: Energy Department-backed company faces SEC probe

By Ben Geman - 03/23/12 01:49 PM ET

The Hill:

A California company that has received more than $126 million in Energy Department funding is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for insider trading, according to a CBS News report.

The company is disputing some elements of the CBS News story.

CBS News says it obtained a late 2011 subpoena to Ecotality, Inc., a company that specializes in electric-vehicle charging equipment and has received funding under the 2009 stimulus law.

The allegations could feed Republican attacks on Obama administration green-energy programs that have greatly intensified since the 2011 bankruptcy of Solyndra, the solar company that received a $535 million taxpayer-backed loan in 2009.

A spokesman for the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. The company has received Energy Department funds for installing charging equipment and advanced vehicle testing and evaluation.

Here’s more from the CBS story:

The subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission, issued in December of 2011, specifically asks the company for documentation surrounding the public announcement of the first Department of Energy grant to the company for $99.8 million on August 5, 2009.

The government also wants all communication regarding the federal grant from at least four Ecotality employees and two board members including the company's CEO Jonathan Read. The company was required to supply documents to the SEC by early January.

A company spokesperson told CBS News in an email, "We are cooperating fully with the SEC and have no further disclosures or updates that we are able to provide outside of our public filings."

Update: The company is disputing elements of the CBS story. Here's a response that Ecotality provided to E2 Friday afternoon:

The [CBS] piece misstates that the company was issued subpoenas in December of 2011, which is factually inaccurate. As has been disclosed in our financial filings since 2010, the only subpoena issued to the Company from the SEC was received in October 2010. ECOtality immediately cooperated with SEC in providing all requested documentation and promptly disclosed the inquiry in its financial statements for the 3rd Quarter of 2010 (filed November 15, 2010). The fact-finding inquiry dates back to trading activity in 2008/2009 timeframe and as advised by the SEC, it should not be construed as determination that violations of the law have occurred. We are cooperating fully with the SEC and have no further disclosures or updates that we are able to provide outside of our public filings.

Additionally, the CBS reporting of the total funds the federal government has paid Ecotality for the EV Project is inaccurate and misleading. ECOtality pays all of the EV Project costs up front and gets reimbursed by DOE for half of allowable costs after work has been performed and costs incurred. As such, the Company has been reimbursed approximately $33M to date as detailed on

This story was updated at 4:19 p.m.


Documents: White House was all-hands-on-deck as Solyndra collapse neared
By Ben Geman and Andrew Restuccia
03/23/12 07:06 PM ET

The Hill:

Several key White House offices were involved with the Obama administration’s messaging plans and other preparations as the collapse of the taxpayer-backed solar company Solyndra was imminent, newly released documents show.

The latest White House documents delivered to House Republicans on Friday again highlight the extent to which senior administration officials braced for the fallout as Solyndra – a company President Obama had personally visited – was about to go under.

A White House memo that noted the danger of “imminent bankruptcy” at the end of August 2011 says, “OMB, DPC and NEC have been working with press and OLA to be prepared for this news to break.”

Acronym translation: OMB is the Office of Management and Budget, DPC is the Domestic Policy Council, NEC is the National Economic Council and OLA is the Office of Legal Affairs.

The document, an update on Solyndra’s $535 million Energy Department (DOE) loan guarantee, notes that $527 million had been disbursed and that DOE believed no more funds should be alloted.

The White House document notes that the Treasury Department, OMB and other White House offices agreed that no more money should be provided because there was a “near-zero chance" that the company could survive.

The company collapsed at the end of August 2011 and filed for bankruptcy in early September. The Hill has reported previously on the administration decision not to attempt a last-ditch financial rescue.

White House internal communications during the company's final days include an email about a planned meeting to discuss Solyndra on August 29, 2011. Heather Zichal, a senior energy policy aide, and Deputy OMB Director Jeffrey Zients were slated to brief other officials.

The list of optional attendees included several high-level officials, such as then-Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes and Nancy-Ann DeParle, another senior adviser to the president.

Republicans have pounced on last year’s Solyndra bankruptcy, arguing that the administration missed a series of red flags that hinted at the company’s financial problems. They’ve also alleged that the administration approved the loan in 2009 to please Obama’s campaign donors.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s year-long investigation into the Solyndra loan guarantee has not uncovered evidence of political favoritism. But it has unearthed documents that are likely embarrassing and potentially politically damaging for the White House, including some that show officials questioning the wisdom of issuing the loan guarantee.

The White House sent another 432 pages of documents to Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Friday in response to a November subpoena for all Solyndra communications.

Over the last several months, the White House has provided the committee with more than 2,700 pages of documents. Federal agencies, in response to separate inquiries, have forked over more than 185,000 pages of documents.

Republicans have insisted that the White House provide more documents in response to previous document productions, arguing that the administration is not being forthcoming.

The White House’s top lawyers said again Friday that the approval of the decision to approve the loan guarantee was based on the merits, not politics.

“None of the documents support the Committee’s allegations about favoritism to campaign contributors or improper White House involvement in the decision-making process,” Kathryn Ruemmler, the president chief counsel, and Cynthia Hogan, the vice president’s counsel, wrote in a letter that accompanied the documents.

Committee Republicans will nonetheless continue probing the Solyndra loan next week. As part of a previous agreement with the White House, Zichal will meet with committee staff next week to discuss Solyndra.

MF’s Corzine Ordered Funds Moved to JP Morgan, Memo Says

By Phil Mattingly and Silla Brush - Mar 23, 2012


Jon S. Corzine, MF Global Holding Ltd. (MFGLQ)’s chief executive officer, gave “direct instructions” to transfer $200 million from a customer fund account to meet an overdraft in a brokerage account with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), according to a memo written by congressional investigators.

Edith O’Brien, a treasurer for the firm, said in an e-mail quoted in the memo that the transfer was “Per JC’s direct instructions,” according to a copy of the memo obtained by Bloomberg News. The e-mail, dated Oct. 28, was sent three days before the company collapsed, the memo says. The memo does not indicate whether that phrase was the full text of the e-mail or an excerpt.

O’Brien’s internal e-mail was sent as the New York-based broker found intraday credit lines limited by JPMorgan, the firm’s clearing bank as well as one of its custodian banks for segregated customer funds, according to the memo, which was prepared for a March 28 House Financial Services subcommittee hearing on the firm’s collapse. O’Brien is scheduled to testify at the hearing after being subpoenaed this week.

“Over the course of that week, MF Global (MFGLQ)’s financial position deteriorated, but the firm represented to its regulators and self-regulatory organizations that its customers’ segregated funds were safe,” said the memo, written by Financial Services Committee staff and sent to lawmakers.

Steven Goldberg, a spokesman for Corzine, said in a statement that Corzine “never gave any instruction to misuse customer funds and never intended anyone at MF Global to misuse customer funds.”

JPMorgan Overdraft

Vinay Mahajan, global treasurer of MF Global Holdings, wrote an e-mail on Oct. 28 that said JPMorgan was “holding up vital business in the U.S. as a result” of the overdrawn account, which had to be “fully funded ASAP,” according to the memo.

Barry Zubrow, JPMorgan’s chief risk officer, called Corzine to seek assurances that the funds belonged to MF Global and not customers. JPMorgan drafted a letter to be signed by O’Brien to ensure that MF Global was complying with rules requiring customers’ collateral to be segregated. The letter was not returned to JPMorgan, the memo said.

The money transferred came from a segregated customer account, according to congressional investigators. Segregated accounts can include customer money and excess company funds.

Corzine Testimony

Corzine, 65, in testimony in front of the House panel in December, said he did not order any improper transfer of customer funds. Corzine also testified that he never intended a misuse of customer funds at MF Global, and that he doesn’t know where client funds went.

“I never gave any instruction to misuse customer funds, I never intended anyone at MF Global to misuse customer funds and I don’t believe that anything I said could reasonably have been interpreted as an instruction to misuse customer funds,” Corzine told lawmakers in December.

In his statement, Goldberg said Corzine did not specify which funds should be used to replenish the JPMorgan account.

“He never directed Ms. O’Brien or anyone else regarding which account should be used to cure the overdrafts, and he never directed that customer funds should be used for that purpose,” Goldberg said. “Nor was he informed that customer funds had been used for that purpose.”

$1.6-Billion Shortfall

The bankruptcy trustee overseeing the liquidation of the company’s brokerage subsidiary has estimated a $1.6-billion shortfall between customer claims and assets available.

Lawmakers and investigators from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice have been reviewing events leading up to MF Global’s bankruptcy filing. Executives including Corzine, a Democrat who served in the Senate before he was elected governor of New Jersey, gave testimony on the collapse at three congressional hearings last year.

“If client funds were transferred at his direction, it raises new questions,” Seth Berenzweig, managing partner at Berenzweig Leonard LLP, a law firm in McLean, Virginia, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “This is a new storm cloud that is now headed for Jon Corzine and it raises a lot of issues.”

Representative Randy Neugebauer, a Texas Republican and chairman of the Financial Services oversight and investigations subcommittee, is preparing a final report on his investigation into the firm’s failure.

‘What Went Wrong’

“One of the goals of our investigation is not only to find out where the money went but to identify what went wrong in order to prevent this from happening again,” Neugebauer said in a statement.

O’Brien is scheduled to appear before lawmakers with Christine Serwinski and Laurie Ferber, two other MF Global executives named by Corzine as being involved in the transaction, according to the memo. Henri Steenkamp , the firm’s chief financial officer, is also scheduled to testify, as is a representative from JPMorgan who has not yet been identified.

MF Global and its brokerage sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy after a $6.3 billion bet on the bonds of some of Europe’s most indebted nations prompted regulator concerns and a credit rating downgrade. Corzine quit MF Global Nov. 4.

During his testimony, O’Brien was identified by Corzine as someone with knowledge of a transfer of funds from customer accounts before the firm sought bankruptcy protection Oct. 31.

Reid H. Weingarten, O’Brien’s lawyer, did not immediately respond to a phone call and e-mail seeking comment.

The memo’s account of the e-mail exchanges aligns with what Terrence Duffy, the executive chairman at CME Group Inc. (CME), told lawmakers during a December congressional hearing. Auditors at CME, which had authority to oversee MF Global, learned from an employee of the brokerage that Corzine knew about the loans involving a European affiliate, Duffy told committee members.

City Council Plans to Enforce a Violation of Property Rights

Elk Grove Considers Banning Smoking In All Apartment Complexes

March 22, 2012 11:30 PM

ELK GROVE (CBS13) – You’ve heard the saying smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. But if you got ‘em and you live in an apartment complex in Elk Grove, the luxury of lighting up may soon go up in smoke.

“i think it’s a pretty good idea,” one apartment resident said.

He’s talking about the possibility of banning smoking in all apartment complexes in the city.

A Sacramento-based trade association that works with landlords is against the idea, however.

“We don’t think it’s necessary,” said Cory Koehler with the Rental Housing Association. We support an owner’s right to choose the policy that’s in the best interest of their particular property. But what we don’t support is a new law by local government forcing the owner to do that.”

That’s because hundreds of apartment complexes in Elk Grove are already smoke-free. Property owners – many argue – have made the move without government intervention.

But a father and apartment resident wants the ban to go into effect:

“I think it’s harmful to the human body and especially to younger kids who live here,” he said.

Others say no way and are left shaking their heads.

“I don’t think it’s right,” one resident said. “That’s kind of violating people’s rights.”

The right to light up vs. the power of a possible ordinance – this smokin’ hot debate over a cigarette showdown has only just begun.

The City Council will take up the issue at its meeting next week.

Video Of Fight Between Masked Man & Long Reach High School Student Goes Viral Online

March 22, 2012 11:59 PM

COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — A man wearing a ski mask storms onto a Howard County school campus and attacks a student, and the whole thing is caught on tape.

Meghan McCorkell has more on the video that’s gone viral.

That video has now been viewed by more than half a million people.

Steps from the school’s front door, a masked man attacked a student as staffers rushed to break up the fight.

The shocking fight happened in seconds. A man in blue wearing a ski mask swung at a Long Reach High School student. In one punch, the 16-year-old football player knocked him out.

Students tell WJZ the fight wasn’t a surprise.

“People were just saying he was going to get in a fight with some guy. But nobody said it was going to be a parent,” said a student.

Police say the intruder came there to fight the football player who was allegedly picking on his 15-year-old relative. That girl was seen attacking the victim after the fight.

“Bullying is a really serious problem,” Ann Taubenheim, who lives near Long Reach High, said. “When a parent comes up with the same kind of inappropriate behavior, that doesn’t solve the issue.”

“You got to think of how you would feel is somebody came up to your kid and did that kind of thing,” Eric Bell, parent of a Long Reach High student, said.

Even school officials are in shock.

“Nobody is expecting to have a masked person show up on your campus and attack a student,” Patti Caplan, spokeswoman for Howard County Schools, said.

Students are surprised a masked man got on campus.

“If you came up like that to a kid, I’m pretty sure you might have gotten shot or tased,” student Tom Bell said.

As a precaution, police placed additional officers outside the school for Thursday’s dismissal.

“We just want to remind people that we want to do everything we can to make people there at the school feel safe, but we do feel this was an isolated incident,” Sherry Llewellyn, spokeswoman for the Howard County Police Department, said.

An isolated incident that is now spreading like wildfire on the web.

Police plan to file charges against the masked man. They’ve also filed assault charges against that 15-year-old girl for attacking the male student.

The 16-year-old football player is not expected to face disciplinary action since school officials believe he was just defending himself.

Defense in rape case: Sexsomnia

Sleeping man rapes sleeping woman
Published: 23 Mar 12 09:55 CET

A 27-year-old man from northern Sweden charged with raping a sleeping woman has defended himself by claiming he too was asleep at the time.

The incident took place in June last summer in the village of Vilhelmina after the woman had passed out in a cabin following a night of heavy drinking.

The 27-year-old then began having sexual intercourse with the sleeping woman, according to the indictment, which was filed on Thursday in the Lycksele District Court.

As the woman was judged to be in a helpless state at the time of the incident, prosecutors have charged the man with rape.

But the man told investigators he was innocent as he too was asleep at the time of the alleged rape.

"I was awakened by her pushing me away and asking, 'Are you awake?'," the man said under questioning, according to the Aftonbladet newspaper.

The 27-year-old explained that he suffers from somnambulism and sexsomnia, an affliction whereby sufferers perform sexual acts while still asleep.

According to the man, the incident wasn't the first time he had woken up to find he'd had sex without knowing it.

He said that it happened on occasion that his former girlfriend would tell him when he woke up in the morning that he had had intercourse with her in his sleep.

While sexsomnia is rare, it is an accepted medical condition.

"This is very well-accepted as a diagnosis within the field of sleep medicine," neurologist Cramer Bornemann of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis told medical advice website WebbMD.

"It's different than having a sexual dream. It's full-fledged sexual behavior while asleep."

According to Aftonbladet, an expert on sleep disorders is scheduled to testify at the 27-year-old's trial.

In 2007, the sex-while-sleeping defence led to the acquittal of a 38-year-old man accused of molesting an 8-year-old girl.

And in 2011, a man was acquitted on appeal after initially being convicted of raping a sleeping while in his sleep.


Video Shows Violent Attack on Teenage Girl

Video Shows Violent Attack on Teenage Girl:

[Caution: graphic video]

Updated: Friday, 23 Mar 2012, 5:39 PM MST
Published : Friday, 23 Mar 2012, 5:38 PM MST

BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. - Video of a violent attack taken in the halls of a Bullhead City High School has gone viral. Now the 14-year-old victim's father is speaking out.

Julian Perez says his daughter was attacked twice at Mohave High School in just the past couple of months.

He says school officials didn't do enough to prevent a second brutal attack on his daughter.

In this video, Mohave High School students encourage, even take video of an attack on their 14-year-old classmate.

As the victim screams, students laugh and yell until a school official steps in.

Julian Perez says his daughter was attacked because she broke off a friendship with the bullies.

“My daughter just tried to distance herself because they were friends and it was kind of like she just didn’t want to be in that element anymore,” says Perez.

The initial fight took place in January. That attacker was suspended for 10 days while the Perez family pressed charges. Then, the first attacker's best friend targeted the same victim on March 7 when the video was taken.

“The little girl that assaulted her the second time had told her, don’t unfriend us, we unfriend you,” says Perez.

Perez's daughter came home with blood around her pupil and cuts on her face. She had two large bumps on her head from being slammed to the floor as her classmates cheered.

“That’s the sad part about it, is that there was all these kids and all they wanted to see was more and more.”

Perez removed his daughter from the school and started spreading the word about bullying.

“Don’t ever stop. These are our kids and they need us to be a voice for them as much as we need them to grow up and be the next generation of us,” he says.

Perez tells us that he tried to discuss the problem with school staff but that they never made time for him.

The school's principal Phil Garland told the Mohave Daily News they're treating this not just as a fight but as an assault and criminal attack.

That 15-year-old attacker has been arrested and she could be expelled.

Climate Fund Seeks UN-Style Diplomatic Immunity

Thursday, 22 Mar 2012, 4:42 PM MST

(FOX News) - The Green Climate Fund, which is supposed to help mobilize as much as $100 billion a year to lower global greenhouse gases, is seeking a broad blanket of UN-style immunity that would shield its operations from any kind of legal process, including civil and criminal prosecution, in the countries where it operates.

There is just one problem: it is not part of the United Nations.

Whether the fund, which was formally created at a UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa last December, will get all the money it wants to spend is open to question in an era of economic slowdown and fiscal austerity.

Its spending goal comes atop some $30 billion in "fast start-up" money that has been pledged by UN member states to such climate change activities.

A 24-nation interim board of trustees for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) is slated to hold its first meeting next month in Switzerland to organize the fund's secretariat and to get it running by November, as well as find a permanent home for the GCF's operations.

The board expects to spend about $6.7 million between now and June of next year.

But before it is fully operational, the GCF's creators -- 194 countries that belong to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) -- want it to be immune from legal challenges and lawsuits, not to mention outside inspections, much like the United Nations itself cannot be affected by decisions rendered by a sovereign nation's government or judicial system.

Despite its name, the UNFCCC was informed in 2006 by the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs that it was not considered a UN "organ," and therefore could not claim immunity for its subordinate bodies or personnel under the General Convention that has authorized UN immunity since the end of World War II.

A UNFCCC resolution granting similar immunities would need to be "accepted, approved or ratified" by each individual member of the Kyoto Protocol before it took effect, the UN legal office advised.

Even if UNFCCC members decided to ask the UN General Assembly to grant them similar immunity it would require each UN member state to make changes in domestic legislation, the opinion declared.

According to an official of the US Treasury, which strongly supports the existence of the GCF, the full extent of the immunities still remains to be worked out by the fund board, although the wording of various UNFCCC resolutions indicate that immunities like those held by the UN are clearly envisaged.

Read more: FOX News

Biden Introduced as 'President Biden'

1:22 PM, Mar 23, 2012

The Weekly Standard:

As Joe Pounder notes, "Biden 2016 getting started early."


Danish TV Host Mocks Obama for His Rhetoric
"Maybe the copy key got stuck on the presidential speechwriter's keyboard."

4:23 PM, Mar 23, 2012

Thomas Buch-Andersen, host of the Danish TV show Detektor, mocked President Obama's political rhetoric in a recent episode. "Obama used a metaphor from boxing to explain Denmark's role in the world," says Buch-Andersen, introducing the segment.

He then roles the tape. "That's fairly typical of the way that Danes have punched above their weight in international affairs," President Obama says at a press availability in the Oval Office with Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark.

"It's nice to be praised," Buch-Andersen remarks. "We punch harder than our weight class would suggest. But how much should we read into his words? According to Obama, are we doing any better than, say, the Norwegians?"

The TV host again turns to the tape, this time showing President Obama in the Oval Office with Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg. "I've said this before, but I want to repeat: Norway punches above its weight," Obama says.

Back to Buch-Andersen. "Hmm. So Norway packs a punch too. But what about the Netherlands? Here, their head of government, Mark Rutte, visits Obama."

The tape roles yet again. "We have no stronger ally than the Netherlands," says Obama. "They consistently punch above their weight."

The TV host continues, pointing to the similar rhetoric Obama used when Ireland's head of state came to town, and then the Philippines.

Buch-Andersen wonders aloud, "Maybe the copy key got stuck on the presidential speechwriter's keyboard."

Watch the whole segment:


Obama plan would leave 1,179-mile gap between oil source, pipeline

By Jeff Mason
Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:50pm EDT
CUSHING, Oklahoma

(Reuters) - Standing in front of a row of pipes, President Barack Obama pledged on Thursday to accelerate approval of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, seeking to deflect criticism that his rejection of the full project helped drive up gasoline prices.

The campaign-style stop was immediately dismissed as a stunt by Republicans, saying that Obama doesn't have the authority to really jump start the project. Analysts say it won't likely be finished until 2014 at the earliest.

Rising fuel costs are threatening to derail Obama's hopes of winning re-election in November, and Republicans have honed in on his decision to block TransCanada Corp's Canada-to-Texas pipeline as a sign that his energy priorities were hurting America.

U.S. gasoline prices have jumped nearly 30 cents in the past month, pushing the national average to $3.87 a gallon, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Obama's trip to Cushing, Oklahoma, the starting site of the southern leg of the controversial project, was designed to show his "all of the above" energy strategy included room for oil and gas development in addition to support for renewable fuels.

"Today I'm directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority," Obama said, standing without a tie at a podium that was surrounded by rows of green- and copper-colored piping segments.

The White House relished the setting and clearly wanted the photo-op. Bad weather nearly forced Obama to deliver his remarks in an Oklahoma City hotel instead.

It is unclear whether Obama's call would actually speed up the approval process. The Army Corps of Engineers, one of the agencies that is likely to be involved, said on Wednesday it could not estimate how long approval would take since it had not yet seen an application from the company.

"Even with President Obama speeding up the process, we only expect Keystone XL to be operational in 2014 at the earliest," investment house Barclays said in a research note Thursday.

TransCanada, however, said it was waiting to hear from federal agencies, predominantly the Army Corps, to see if any more paperwork would be required to win the necessary approvals for construction.

Republicans dismissed Obama's move as a publicity stunt that made little difference to the timeline of the southern project or the problem of U.S. energy security. "He's taking credit for going forward on the only portion of the pipeline that he doesn't need to approve," said Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota at a press conference. "This is literally straddling both sides of the issue."

Obama rejected the full Keystone XL pipeline earlier this year, blaming Republicans in Congress for forcing his hand with a mandatory deadline that did not give the State Department enough time to study its environmental and safety implications. Hoeven has led the charge in the Senate to pass legislation that would bypass the administration and approve the full pipeline.


"Despite numerous attempts by Republicans to compel the president to approve the Keystone permit, Americans are still left with a 1,179-mile (1,897-km) gap between the oil resources and this southern portion of the pipeline," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, referring to the full Keystone XL project.

A new Gallup poll conducted earlier in March showed 57 percent of Americans thought the U.S. government should approve the building of the entire Keystone XL pipeline. Among Democrats, 44 percent supported the pipeline, with 38 percent opposed.

The southern portion of the pipeline would drain a glut of crude in Cushing, the storage hub for U.S. crude oil traded on the futures market, easing deliveries to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich have made criticism of the decision a key part of their respective platforms to win their party's nomination and the right to take on Obama in the November 6 election.

Though Obama's original decision to block the pipeline cheered environmentalists, who make up an important part of his political base, those same supporters expressed dismay at his statement on Thursday.

"President Obama has taken a dangerous wrong turn on energy," said Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation.

"Rushing pipelines and drill rigs for rich oil executives will only delay the investments we need in renewable energy and create long-lasting damage to our waters and lands."

Obama concluded his two-day energy-themed trip at a university in Columbus, Ohio, touring a facility where students were designing high-tech, fuel efficient vehicles.

Ohio is an important battleground state in the presidential election, and Obama used the venue to accuse Republicans of not supporting higher automotive fuel efficiency standards.

(Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner and Ayesha Rascoe in Washington; Editing by Russell Blinch and Cynthia Osterman)

New East River Bridges Toll Proposal Goes After Everyone, Including Bicyclists

50 Cents For Bikes, More Surcharges On Cabs Part Of 'Gridlock Sam' Plan
March 23, 2012 8:14 PM

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The city’s former traffic commissioner has a new plan to put tolls on East River bridges. But this proposal has some novel “selling points,” including a first-ever toll for cyclists.

Plan to toll the bridges have come and gone over the past few years, but the latest one by Sam Schwartz is starting to pick up steam, maybe because it goes after everyone.

“I’m trying to be equal opportunity pain throughout the region,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz, known as “Gridlock Sam” to many, wasn’t kidding Friday when he told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer that his new plan to raise $1.2 billion a year tolling the East River bridges will hit a lot of people. He wants to make everyone pay, even some who think they should be exempt.

“I’m asking the bike riders to pay 50 cents each way to use the bridges coming into our Central Business District,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz also wants to put a new surcharge on yellow and livery cabs, a surcharge on so-called “black cars” and a surcharge on parking in Midtown. New tolls would be put on the Ed Koch Queensboro, the Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.

Driver would pay $5 with E-ZPass; $7 without.

But in exchange for keeping cars out of the Central Business District below 60th Street, Schwartz wants to reduce – that’s right, reduce — tolls on uptown spans, the Triboro, Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges.

The round-trip tab would drop from $13 to $8.

With Mayor Michael Bloomberg in Asia, Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said that while the mayor isn’t supporting a congestion pricing plan at this time, it is necessary to find some way to fund mass transit.

“It is definitely vital that we figure out how we’re going to fund transit for the long term. It’s the only way New York City is going to stay competitive,” Holloway said.

Drivers are definitely not on board.

“It may help with traffic, but I mean I think we pay for enough as far as tolls coming into the city and gas prices the way it is. I don’t think we need more tolls,” Brooklyn resident Lance Smith said.

“I think it would just slow traffic more. I’m not really for it,” added Rhonda Rosenfeld of New Hyde Park.

“That would be a disaster,” another person said.

Just for the record, before 1911 there were tolls on the Ed Koch bridge — 10 cents for cars, 5 cents for push carts and 3 cents for horses.


By Rene Lynch
March 23, 2012
Los Angeles Times:

Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said Friday that he's grateful the rest of the country has sat up and taken notice of the tragic slaying of Trayvon Martin. But he can't help but wonder: Why has it taken so long for everyone else to recognize the chronic injustices that African Americans face?

"We're surprised that everyone else is surprised," Jackson told the Los Angeles Times. African Americans have tried for decades to get the rest of America to understand their plight, he said, particularly their beliefs that justice is still elusive in many parts of America, especially the Deep South.

Then along comes the Trayvon Martin case, and facts that are not in contention: Volunteer neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman pursued and then gunned down the unarmed 17-year-old last month, and never faced arrest because police said there was no evidence to contradict his claim that he fired in self-defense.

"I hope that this will be a transformative moment," Jackson said.

Jackson was speaking Friday morning from the Chicago offices of his Rainbow PUSH Coalition. He had just returned from duties in Belgium and Switzerland. He was in Geneva on Wednesday as part of a delegation of religious leaders trying to find a way to end the violence in Syria. Jackson was preparing to get back on a plane for a flight south so he can add his voice to the growing protests in and around Sanford, Fla., where Martin's shooting took place.

Jackson said the Martin case is getting plenty of media attention overseas, attention that is both embarrassing to white America and humiliating to black America.

Moreover, he said, the failure to make an arrest in the case takes away the nation's "moral authority" to address injustices in other countries when it fails to do the same within its own borders.

Jackson predicted that the protests will continue to multiply in number and that the ranks of protestors will swell until Zimmerman is arrested.

"As long as he is outside of the court system, the protests will intensify and spill over into other dimensions," Jackson said. "His lack of appearance in the court system is a source of embarrassment and humiliation. He needs to face the court."

Jackson said that there is a mistaken assumption in some corners of America that all racial problems went away with the election of President Obama. "There was this feeling that we were kind of beyond racism," he said. "That's not true. His victory has triggered tremendous backlash."

He added: "Blacks are under attack." African American families are facing record home foreclosures and unemployment. Their children are burdened with student loan debt. States, particularly conservative ones, are passing voter laws that leaders know will disenfranchise blacks and other minorities. Meanwhile, the nation's prisons are brimming with black faces, he said, and their numbers that suggest that the legal system is quicker to send blacks to prison than whites.

Jackson said gunfire in America continues to be a problem for all Americans -- not just blacks. Why, he asked, isn't America outraged, that far more people die of gun violence in one year in America than the number of soldiers killed in the wars waged in Iraq and Afghanistan?

"Our disparities are great," he said. "Targeting, arresting, convicting blacks and ultimately killing us is big business."

Jackson said he also wants to see the Martin protests accomplish something else beyond justice for the slain teen's family. He said he wants the repeal of Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law, which gives legal protection to people who fight back in self-defense. Some believe that the Florida police were nodding to that law when they declined to arrest Zimmerman after the Feb. 26 shooting.

Many other states have similar statutes, Jackson said, and he wants them all repealed, starting with Florida's.

"No justice, no peace," he said. "The indifference to this kind of pain is just going to intensify the protests."

'Dead or Alive' Poster Issued by New Black Panther Party

Sanford : FL : USA
Mar 23, 2012 at 3:11 PM PDT
By Harold Michael Harvey


This poster was circulated at the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense press conference in Sanford, Florida March 22, 2012

Yesterday afternoon at a press conference, the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense circulated a “wanted dead or alive” poster for George Zimmerman for shooting to death a Florida teenager four weeks ago.

Zimmerman, a self-proclaimed neighborhood watch captain said he accosted what he alleges was a suspicious looking black male walking through his neighborhood. He further contends the man punched him, and bloodied his nose, so Zimmerman fired a gun shot striking the man in the chest. The “man” was 17 year old Trayvon Martin, who would lie in the county morgue three days before police alerted his parents of their child’s death.

Minister Mikhail Muhummud led the press conference, calling for the firing of Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, the arrest of George Zimmerman and some involvement from President Obama. Muhummud stated he is the southern regional director for the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense located in Jacksonville, Florida. While Minister Muhummud fired off a list of demands and expressed outrage over the handling of the shooting and subsequent investigation; a member of the group passed flyers to about 100 people who showed up for the press conference. Muhummud told the group he was not concerned with rumors of death threats to George Zimmerman, “He should be afraid for his life…” (SEE

Muhummud said “I’m here today to appeal to the country, particularly President Obama to do the right thing while you have the power.” He said that “Trayvon Martin “symbolizes my son.”

President Obama had not addressed the issue, but had advised the Justice Department to open an investigation into the case. This morning following Muhummud’s press conference, President Obama spoke about the case for the first time publicly. He echoed the sentiments of Muhummud saying “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon...” (SEE

When the group started chanting “Black Power,” Ms. Adele Azarucquoi, a white long time resident of Sanford shouted, “What about White people.”

Muhummud quickly said “We don’t hate any group. We hate injustice. We appreciate the whites who have come forth to help us.”

There were less than a dozen whites, not counting media, among the mostly African American crowd. “I hope there are more people who look like me at the next rally for Trayvon’s family,” Ms. Azarucquoi said.

After the news conference Ms. Azarucquoi told a journalist, “This heart of mine is sick when a kid gets killed because his skin is different from the skin of the guy who shoots him.”

She then requested that a journalist walk across the street with her to speak with Police Chief Bill Lee. Upon arrival at his office the receptionist said he wasn’t in the office then said “he hasn’t been in the office in several days.”

Later in the day Chief Lee announced he was temporarily stepping down.

Present at the news conference was Ms. Mildred Duprey de Robles, Conciliation Specialist for the United States Justice Department’s Office of Community Relations. Ms. Duprey de Robles declined to speak with the press other than to say she was there as an observer.

The Justice Department’s office of Community Relations is mandated to help negotiate peaceful resolutions to community problems. She appeared to have gotten an ear full and left quickly when the press insisted on more communication from her.

Members of the public who came in support of the New Black Panther Party’s press conference were vocal in their outrage over the shooting and investigation. They called for the dismantling of “the good ole boy network.”

Pastor Paul Wright, whose 1000 member church, Calvary Temple Praises, is several blocks from the police department, dropped by the press conference. When asked about the “wanted dead or alive” poster Pastor Wright said, “I don’t agree with that. We don’t need to set a precedent that this is the way to resolve problems.”

Harold Michael Harvey is based in Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.

Obama's war on women: No health care for you!

Posted 03/22/2012 06:53 PM ET


Leadership: The administration denies funding for a Texas program that serves low-income women because of a law saying the program can't fund Planned Parenthood. Is this how the president protects women's health?

Physician, to coin a phrase, heal thyself. The administration, faithful to the Alinsky technique of demonizing one's opponents and distracting people from real issues, managed to divert attention from ObamaCare's shredding of the Constitution by forcing religious institutions to provide contraceptives in violation of their religious freedom.

Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student whose lifestyle allegedly tottered on insolvency unless free contraception was provided, was trotted forth to explain why not forcing others to buy her a product that was freely available for $9 a month somehow constituted a war on women and women's health.

But in what constitutes a real war on women's health, President Obama's Department of Health and Human Services has withdrawn $30 million worth of funding from a Texas Medicaid program that provides health care services for low-income women.

It did so because Texas recently passed a law that said its Women's Health Program could not disperse funds to abortion and contraception providers such as Planned Parenthood.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius personally traveled to Houston to make the announcement that the Obama administration would cut funding of the program and would no longer continue the waiver that Texas had previously been given to continue funding of the program temporarily.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has issued an opinion declaring that federal law allows states to exclude abortion providers and their affiliated organizations from Medicaid. In a letter to Obama, Texas Gov. Perry accused the administration of trying to violate states' rights "by mandating which health providers the state of Texas must use."

WHP provides health services to 130,000 low-income women. Of the more than 1,000 certified WHP providers across the state, the Texas law excludes fewer than 100 Planned Parenthood providers. Yet the Obama administration is willing to cut off all the other providers and all the women who receive health care through them in pursuit of its ideological agenda.

Texas considers Planned Parenthood, which performs 300,000 abortions a year, a poor allocation of public funds intended to promote women's health, noting they cannot treat breast cancer and do not have a single mammogram machine in the entire state of Texas. But if you want an abortion or contraceptives, Planned Parenthood provides one-stop shopping for that.

Nor does Planned Parenthood need public funds. As we've noted, when the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation announced it was planning to stop giving money to Planned Parenthood, within hours some 6,000 donors pledged a total of $400,000. A family in Dallas offered $250,000, and New York's Mayor Bloomberg promised to match that.

There is enough private money to keep any number of Sandra Flukes from bankruptcy without shredding the First and 10th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution by forcing a contraceptive mandate on religious institutions and sovereign states.

Health and Human Services accepted a recommendation by the Institute of Medicine that contraceptives and abortafacient drugs be included in the section of drugs and services that insurance plans must cover under "preventative care." This inclusion only makes sense if the Obama administration considers pregnancy itself to be an illness or disease. Do they?

We would argue that ObamaCare in its entirety is a war on women's health and that of everybody else because it rations care through cost controls, inhibits medical innovation and will determine not only what care will be available but who is valuable enough to get it.

It is regrettable that in order to satisfy Planned Parenthood's agenda, the Obama administration would cut funding of needed health care services by other providers and let these women fend for themselves. Sandra Fluke, call your office.

U.S. OKs Egypt aid despite congressional concerns

The Associated Press
Posted Mar 22, 2012


The Obama administration told Congress on Thursday it will waive democracy requirements to release up to $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt despite concerns that the country is backsliding on commitments it made to democratic governance and rule of law.

U.5 officials and lawmakers said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has determined that it was in the U.S. national interest to allow $1.3 billion in military assistance to flow. She also certified that Egypt is meeting its obligations to the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, which frees up an additional $200 million in economic aid, they said.

A senior State Department official said the decisions "reflect our overarching goal: to maintain our strategic partnership with an Egypt made stronger and more stable by a successful transition to democracy."

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because congressional notifications are not complete. Clinton will sign the waiver on Friday, the official said.

U.S. officials had said last week that Clinton was poised to grant the waiver because she could not certify that Egypt was in full compliance with the democracy requirements of law.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, who wrote the legislation imposing conditions on the aid, said he was "disspointed" by the decision.

"I know Secretary Clinton wants the democratic transition in Egypt to succeed, but by waiving the conditions we send a contradictory message. The Egyptian military should be defending fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, not harassing and arresting those who are working for democracy," the Vermont Democrat said in a statement.

While disappointed, Leahy urged Clinton to release the money in stages and make payments based on improvements in the situation in Egypt. Leahy is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees foreign aid and operations.

All of the $1.3 billion in foreign military financing is obligated to pay U.S. defense and security companies for contracts they have to supply equipment and support for the Egyptian military. Unless Clinton had issued a certification or waiver, those contracts could have been abrogated. The State Department official said there would be significant fees and penalties due to canceled contracts.

Egypt, once a stalwart U.S. ally in the volatile Middle East, has been in the throes of transition since the overthrow of longtime authoritarian president and one-time U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak was ousted a year ago. Worried by the potential rise of a new authoritarian leadership, U.S. lawmakers moved to condition American aid on the government's democracy and human rights records.

In December, Congress made military assistance to Egypt contingent on a determination that the government "is supporting the transition to civilian government, including holding free and fair elections; implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association and religion and due process of law."

Egypt did have successful parliamentary elections but concerns remained.

Fears grew in January when the government cracked down on numerous democracy advocates and groups, including three U.S.-funded nongovernmental organizations, some of whose members were charged with crimes and barred from leaving the country until earlier this month. That issue, which led the U.S. to warn that the aid was threatened, remains unresolved.

Many lawmakers, including Leahy, and rights groups had urged Clinton to demand full compliance with conditions and not to grant a waiver for the aid.

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, also expressed her disappointment.

"The State Department needs to make the case that waiving the conditions is in the national security interest of the United States. I expect the secretary to follow the law and consult the Appropriations Committee before any funds are transferred," Granger said.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International both wrote to Clinton asking her to hold Egypt to account.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who met with Egypt's military rulers last month in Cairo, said he supported Clinton's decision, though the United States must continue to insist on progress on democratic reforms and protection of religious minorities.

"While recent developments in Egypt are unnerving, to say the least, I do believe it is in our national security interests to provide assistance to the Egyptian military," Graham said in a statement. "The United States military has a close working relationship with their Egyptian counterparts. These relationships proved to be invaluable and have been a stabilizing influence during these troubling and uncertain times in Egypt."

Copyright 2012 Some rights reserved

Federal Judge Okays Flag Desecration

By Todd Starnes
Fox News Radio:

A federal judge has declared Missouri’s flag desecration law is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.

U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson issued a permanent injunction in the case of Frank Snider, who was arrested in 2009 for cutting up an American flag and throwing it into the street.

“The sense of patriotism that runs through Missouri is strong,” Attorney General Chris Koster told Fox News in a written statement. “Although we understood that defending the statute was an uphill battle, most Missourians have a strong reaction against flag desecration. Our defense of the statute was our attempt to give voice to that patriotic sentiment.”

The Attorney General’s office told Fox News they are still reviewing the judge’s ruling and haven’t made any decisions on next steps. Missouri is among at least 20 states with laws banning flag desecration.

Missouri’s flag desecration law states: “Any person who purposefully and publicly mutilates, defaces, defiles, tramples upon or otherwise desecrates the national flag of the United States or the state flag of the state of Missouri is guilty of the crime of flag desecration.”

The law considered flag desecration a misdemeanor penalty.

However, the judge ruled that the entire statute was invalid because it prohibits a substantial amount of protected speech.

The American Civil Liberties Union hailed the judge’s ruling, calling it “satisfying” but “not surprising.”

“It’s a long delayed victory in Missouri,” said ACLU attorney Tony Rothert in an interview with the Associated Press. “The Supreme Court has been pretty clear that these statues are unconstitutional.”

The Missouri chapter of the American Legion denounced the ruling and said it was a sad day for the state.

“Anger,” is how Kenneth Goth, the American Legion Dept. Commander described his reaction to Fox News. “There’s a lot of people who fight for our country and that flag. You never see a veteran do that because they know what the honor is.”

Goth said he is passionate about the American flag. To him, the flag “means my country.” He said people who desecrate the American flag do so to “show their stupidity.”

“People can take their freedom of speech a little too far and doing that to the American flag does,” he said.

With reporting from the Associated Press

French teacher urged minute of silence for killer


A French teacher was suspended Friday for allegedly urging her class to observe a minute's silence for serial killer Mohamed Merah, the day after he was shot dead by police.

Education Minister Luc Chatel had called for the teacher to be suspended after her class reported she called Merah a "victim" and said his links to Al-Qaeda were invented by the media and "Sarko", referring to President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"An immediate suspension has been decided along with a ban on entering the school," the local education authority's Florence Robine told journalists, adding that the suspension did not imply any guilt.

Student representatives in the final year class in the northern city of Rouen wrote to the principal to voice "shock" at being urged in an English lesson to pay respect to a self-declared Al-Qaeda militant who killed seven people.

Most of the class walked out, though some remained "to try to understand what she was talking about," their letter said.

She "clearly said that Mohamed Merah was a victim, that the link with Al-Qaeda had been invented by the media and 'Sarko'," said the letter, a copy of which was published by the Paris Normandie newspaper.

"This is not the political act of an extremist but the act of a colleague who has health concerns, who is fragile and who is receiving psychological treatment," the local head of the SGEN-CFDT union, Pascal Bossuyt, told AFP.

"She said something unfortunate in a particular context and she immediately regretted what she said," he added.

Police shot Merah dead on Thursday at his flat in southwest France where he was holed up after going on a jihadist-inspired killing spree. His victims included three young Jewish children and three paratroopers.

Following the attack on the Jewish children, schools around France held a minute's silence in their memory.

The teacher was not immediately available to comment.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Infiltration, Crisis, Liquidation: Beck Maps Out 3 Phases of ‘Political System X’

Posted on March 22, 2012 at 3:15pm by Tiffany Gabbay

Scroll down for the video.

On Tuesday’s episode of The Glenn Beck Program, Beck explained in detail how the Progressive movement has fulfilled its mission and has now reached its intended second phase: Communism. Following up on this hard-hitting revelation, Beck spent Wednesday evening discussing all three of the phases that lead to — in the words of Stuart Chase — “Political System X.”


Beck mentioned that Phase I started in earnest with Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive Bull-Moose Party in 1912. With a gestation period that has taken some 100 years to complete, Beck laid out the key strategies the left enacted and completed:

Organize Groups for Control: Groups only care about the collective, not the individual, thus they have been a perfect way for the left to move its agenda forward en masse. The Tides Foundation is a good example of a group in action.
Infiltrate: Government, labor, education, media, military, courts, and so on must all be infiltrated. This was discussed extensively in Beck’s Tuesday broadcast, covered here at The Blaze.

Weaken: Faith, youth, heritage, traditions and community must be torn from asunder. Beck recalled that, growing up, people who sat on opposite sides of the political fence rarely if ever fought the way they do now. “Now, [the mindset is] you can’t even do business together unless you voted for my guy!,” he exclaimed. When Easter becomes nothing more than a chocolate egg and nativities are forbidden from being displayed at Christmas, people’s faiths and traditions are washed away from view.

Confuse the Concept of Right vs Wrong: We see this daily in the myriad instances of double standards and moral equivalency.

Bring Everything to a State of Near-Crisis

Phase II:

Beck said that we are now in Phase II of this transformation and while Phase I took 100 years to complete, Phase II can achieve its mission at lightening speed. Below are the steps:

Allow Chaos: According to Beck, this is the point the country is currently experiencing. The government now allows and encourages people to rise up. Leftist lawmakers’ treatment and encouragement of the Occupy movement is one example of how chaos is being fostered here at home. An instance when this has occurred abroad was when the U.S government encouraged Egyptians to rise up and overthrow Hosni Mubarak.

Enforce Negative Stereotypes: Beck explained that enforcing stereotypes is why the Tea Party is regularly attacked but the Occupy movement is not. Another stereotype frequently reinforced is that “white people are hate mongers” and racists, or faith-seekers are “backwards” and closed-minded.

Isolate, Destroy, and Discourage “Truth”: This is perhaps why many who speak out against progressivism are targeted for either condemnation or outright “red-flagging” (which will be discussed in greater detail during Phase III).

Encourage Reckless Habits: The government doesn’t want Americans to be self-reliant, thus it encourages people to engage in self-destructive behaviors. When enough reckless habits are perpetuated on a regular basis by the general population, the general population will find itself in need of help. Where will they turn for help? The government. Beck asked why he is dubbed “crazy” for telling people to prepare and become independent. He reminded that, like most parents take steps to prevent becoming a burden on their children, so, too, should Americans of all age-groups. “How is it suddenly insane to do what our parents have showed us to be noble?” Beck asked rhetorically.

Remain in Shadows

Phase III: Political System X

Grab Control to “Protect”: Citizens will eventually need protection from the very chaos and crisis they themselves were encouraged to perpetuate. This is when government will protect us from ourselves.

“Liquidate” Those who Oppose or Have Served Their Purpose: Beck posited that if the left has not been able to silence or corrupt you by Phase II, Phase III will be the time in which they silence you for good. At its core, Beck said that “red-flagging” is when, in a case of great crisis, the government can “shoot, detain, discredit, or do whatever [it must]” to make disappear, anyone able to rally others in opposition. This scenario has happened in many countries, notably Russia and Germany. Beck admitted that he himself has likely been red-flagged, just as outspoken religious leaders and other vocal opponents of this system likely are.

Activate Shadow System: This is when the current state has become unbearable and Americans begin to beg for the government’s help. One can look back to the “Night of the Long Knives,” to see when Germany fully transformed. Night of the Long Knives was the systematized execution of not only many of Hitler’s opponents, but more importantly, his own allies– the brown-shirted storm troopers of the Sturmabteilung (SA), who raided the streets of Germany ravaging all those who did not comply with the ways of the new Reich. The SA were loyal servants of the Führer, but once Hitler deemed them a threat to his own power, and they had outlived their usefulness, he ordered members of the SA be destroyed. This has been the scene, Beck reminded, in nearly every bank-robber film. At the end of the movie, members of the robbers’ “inner-circle” are turned on by their leader. This, too, will happen in Political System X. Think: “Occupy Wall Street” once it’s served its purpose.

Remain in Crisis Mode: Then you will always be reliant on the government.

Beck reminded viewers that Phase II is happening this summer and while it could take years to live out, its course could conversely be completed in the blink of an eye. He warned that resistance must be run against the completion of this crucial phase, but that he “can’t do it alone,” nor can Americans rely on the media to expose this creeping system. ”You have to do it,” he stressed. “Offer solutions” and carry out your plans “with love.”

“If you do, we win.”

Watch the Three Phases below:

US Minnesota Man Thrown in Jail for…Failing to Put Up Siding on His Home

Posted on March 21, 2012 at 9:00pm by Madeleine Morgenstern

The Blaze:

A Minnesota man was arrested and thrown in jail after failing to complete the siding on his home. (Image source: KSTP-TV)

A Minnesota man was arrested and thrown in jail — all because city officials said he had not properly put up siding on his house.

Officials in Burnsville, Minn. cited Mitch Faber with “having an unfinished exterior” when, nearly four years after he started it, his home’s stucco project was not complete, Fox News reported.

Faber told Minneapolis ABC affiliate KSTP-TV he always intended to finish the project, but that he ran into financial trouble when the economy took a turn.

His first encounter with the city happened in 2007 when he got a letter saying the siding needed to be finished.

“We were in the process of finishing,” Faber told the station. “This wasn’t something that we were trying to avoid doing.”

There were two more letters in 2009 and another in 2010, which required Faber to appear in court. That’s when, he told KSTP, he was instructed in no uncertain terms: Finish the siding or go to jail.

In order to comply, Faber and his wife spent $12,000 to put a stucco facade over their house’s plywood exterior. It wasn’t enough: Last November, Faber was arrested after city inspectors concluded the work wasn’t up to code.

According to a statement on the city’s Facebook page — posted after the story made local headlines — a judge issued a bench warrant for Faber’s arrest after the inspectors determined the work was not complete. He was arrested during a routine traffic stop.

“I’m walking around in a green and white jump suit, I had to shower in front of a sheriff, I was shackled, my wrists were handcuffed to my waist — for siding,” Faber told KSTP.

After two days, a judge released Faber but still required him to submit to electronic home monitoring.

In a statement to KSTP, Burnsville communications coordinator Marty Doll said the city provided Faber “ample opportunity (nearly four years) to remedy the situation before issuing a citation…the city’s practice is to only issue citations for property maintenance issues (such as this one) as a last resort.”

Still, he defended the city’s actions, albeit admitting the situation is “unfortunate.”

“Code enforcement is an important part of making sure all neighbors can take pride in their neighborhoods,” he said in a statement to Fox News. “The city agrees it unfortunate that this situation was not able to be resolved in typical fashion.”

‘Real News From The Blaze’: Armed Forces Tea Party Patriots

Posted on March 22, 2012 at 8:00pm by Scott Baker

The Blaze:

‘Economic Recovery?‘ Check Out This Graph on American ’Sweatshops’

Posted on March 22, 2012 at 1:22pm by Becket Adams

The Blaze:

Okay, so you’ve heard all about those “better than expected” jobs numbers and you’re starting to wonder whether President Obama’s economic policies have actually been “successful.”

So here’s something to consider, via Zero Hedge:

…as discussed previously, the rising jobs are purely a quantity over quality trade off, as every month more and more temp jobs take the place of permanent ones, especially those of former professionals from the FIRE sector.

In fact, in January temp jobs soared by the most on record, and the total number of temp workers was just shy of all time highs.

While this happened, online retail companies saw the stock prices soar. You know why?

“One of the primary drivers for this has been the increased ‘efficiency’ at these companies’ hubs – their warehouses,” the Hedge explains, “Which just happen to be staffed with temp workers.”

And although Zero Hedge’s description of the info graphic below may be a tad overdramatic (“sweatshop,” really?), it does make an interesting point about all those “great jobs” that have been added to the economy.

“[T]his is the ‘quality’ of job that is rising rapidly in the current economy (at the expense of traditional permanent jobs) to give the impression of an economic recovery,” the Hedge notes.

“There is no point in making an ethical judgment – work conditions are as they are,” Zero Hedge writes.

“Just as workers at FoxConn likely have far better conditions than their peers, at least in their view, so do these temp workers view their life as better than the alternative, which is unemployment. It is, as they say, what it is.”

Who Is Wall Street Supporting in 2012?

Posted on March 22, 2012 at 10:00pm by Becket Adams

The Blaze:

Were earlier reports that Wall Street donors were abandoning President Obama false alarms?

Yes and no.

It doesn’t look like the president will match the amount of cash he raised from the financial industry in 2008 — but it’s starting to pick up.

President Barack Obama has raised twice as much in campaign funds as Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, and despite what some critics call “crippling regulations” established under his administration, Wall Street continues to be a top donor.

Obama has already brought in $161 million for his re-election bid, Federal Election Commission records show, and employees of Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs are big contributors.

“Their support indicates that Wall Street, which gave Obama $16 million for his successful 2008 White House run, is opening its checkbook again for the president,” Bloomberg reports.

So far, Romney has raised $75.6 million. However, seeing as how the former Massachusetts governor has not yet won the Republican nomination (if he does), the amount he has managed to raise is still a pretty good.

Indeed, all things considered, Wall Street’s generosity towards Romney is impressive. Sixty percent of Romney’s donations have been made by securities and investment industry employees and their families — Romney had received a total of $6.6 million from them through January 31, compared to $2.3 million for Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Wells Fargo employees gave $16,290 in donations to Obama’s campaign in February, JPMorgan executives gave $14,903, and Goldman employees gave $14,610. Microsoft employees have donated $91,881 to Obama, making the company the president’s largest known source of contributions. Obama also did well among small donors, with 54 percent of the money donated to his campaign coming in amounts of $200 or less.

“This cartoon caricature that political pundits have of Wall Street sitting around a table and deciding who’s in and who’s out has no relevance in political reality,” Robert Zimmerman, a Democratic National Committee member and Obama fundraiser, told Washington Post.

“Individuals on Wall Street give like other donors do, with their own agenda and their own goals and aspirations.”

[Editor’s note: portions of the above are from a cross post that originally appeared on Wall St. Cheat Sheet.]

Report: Billions of Stimulus Dollars Were Used to Implement ‘Green Energy’ Initiatives for Fed Agencies

Posted on March 22, 2012 at 5:00pm by Becket Adams

The Blaze:

The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (i.e. the stimulus) funneled billions of taxpayer dollars into “green energy” initiatives for federal agencies, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

157 of nearly 700 renewable “green energy” initiatives in 2010 were either “created by the stimulus law, received expanded funding or were modified under it,” according to Christopher Goins of CNS News.

“Agencies’ renewable energy efforts increased in recent years as a result of the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and other factors,” the GAO reports

A full 20 programs were created under the Recovery Act, while an additional 106 initiatives that existed before the stimulus received additional funding for “green” energy. Moreover, 26 programs were expanded under the stimulus law.

“An overwhelming number of renewable energy initiatives supported bioenergy, solar, and wind energy — with 398 bioenergy initiatives, 345 solar initiatives, and 296 wind initiatives being supported government-wide,” Goins reports.

Here are some other initiatives created by the Recovery Act:

The Recovery Act Wood to Energy Biomass Activity initiative, a Department of Agriculture project

The Green Retrofit Program for Multifamily Housing, a Department of Housing and Urban Development project

The Solar Energy Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, a Department of the Interior Intitiative

Green Capacity Building grants, a Department of Labor initiative
And the Qualifying Advanced Energy Project Credit, a U.S. Treasury Department initiative.

The GAO report does not include the cost-per-program.

“The government’s top energy research body, the Energy Information Administration [EIA], estimated that for fiscal year 2010, federal subsidies for renewable energy sources totaled approximately $14.7 billion, including $8.2 billion in tax expenditures,” Goins writes.

“The GAO report says that amount is a substantial increase from EIA’s estimate from fiscal year 2007, which was $5.1 billion, adding that much of the increase was due to the stimulus law,” he adds.

The Recovery Act provided an estimated $6.2 billion of the $14.7 billion in subsidies in 2010, according to the GAO. The GAO also cites an estimate from the EIA that claims total federal subsidies for “renewable sources” from 2002-2008 was $29 billion.

Read the full GAO report here.