Over the past week, our planet has been hit by large earthquake after large earthquake, and accordingto Volcano Discovery there are 38 volcanoes around the world that are erupting right now. We have seen a dramatic spike in global seismic activity that is unlike anything that we have seen in ages, and that is why what is going on at Yellowstone is so incredibly alarming. Geologists tell us that a full-blown eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano would have up to 2,000 times the power of the Mount St. Helens volcanic eruption of 1980, and approximately two-thirds of the country would immediately become uninhabitable. As you will see below, there are signs that something big is getting ready to happen at Yellowstone, and if it does erupt all of our lives will be permanently changed forever.
I want to share with you some footage from Yellowstone that was recorded on Thursday night. In this video, it appears to be as bright as day even though it is the middle of the night, you can see a whole host of geysers steaming violently, and Old Faithful just keeps going off over and over…
There are places s(t)eaming I have never seen steam before….and also note that the bright ground is back. There are no shadows, so it is not from above! As you know the cameras were froze up last night, so we could not see what was going ….or so we thought LOL…I found a way. Somehow (don’t ask me how), the Geyser Observation Study site was able to capture the ENTIRE night with NO freeze ups and cutting in and out….how is THAT? Anyway, I got it and slowed it down so you can see better. Old Faithful had weird seismos last night, and was going off constantly.
But it wasn’t just that one night. The weird activity at Yellowstone has continued, and you can watch even more recent footage that Kat Martin has posted right here and right here.
So what does this mean?
I don’t know, but watching that footage definitely got my attention.
And it is interesting to note that just a few weeks ago the Shoshone River changed color and started boiling without any warning whatsoever…
The Shoshone River, near Yellowstone National Park, suddenly and without warning started boiling, changed color and began to emit a sulfuric odor on March 25. Nearby witnesses wondered if they were “all going to die.” The current consensus among geologists and other experts is that a portion of the Shoshone River began to boil, located near Cody, Wyoming, and a new Yellowstone vent has opened up.
As Mysterious Universe reports, the boiling river near Yellowstone runs just east of Yellowstone National Park. It is close enough to the park and super volcano to be a “canary in a coal mine” as it relates to unusual geothermic events. The event was initially recorded by Dewey Vanderhoff, a photographer who spotted the Shoshone River near Yellowstone boiling and noted other bizarre features in the river.
When a river located above a supervolcano that could wipe out most of the country starts boiling, you would think that would make headline news all over the nation.
But it didn’t.
It would be exceedingly difficult to overstate the potential danger that Yellowstone poses to the United States. Other than an extremely large asteroid or meteor, it is hard to imagine any natural disaster that would pose a greater threat. The following comes from an excellent article by Steve Elwart…
The Yellowstone Caldera, or cauldron, sits on top of North America’s largest volcanic field. Four hundred miles under the Earth’s surface is a magma ‘hotspot’ that reaches up to just 30 miles below ground level before spreading out over an area of 300 miles across three states.
Over all this sits the volcano.
While most scientists believe the probability of a major eruption is very small, there are signs that have some analysts worried, and most agree the volcano holds catastrophic potential. It could blast 240 cubic miles of ash, rocks and lava into the atmosphere, rendering about two-thirds of the nation immediately uninhabitable, according to some estimates, and plunge the world into a “nuclear winter.”
That certainly does not sound good.
And as I mentioned above, volcanic activity all over the planet is rising. 38 volcanoes are erupting at the moment, and it seems like we hear about another new eruption almost every day now.
But let us hope that Yellowstone does not erupt any time soon.
There are approximately 3,000 earthquakes in the area around Yellowstone every single year, so it is a very seismically active region. In the event of a full-scale eruption of Yellowstone, virtually the entire northwest United States will be completely destroyed. Basically everything within a 100 mile radius would be immediately killed, Salt Lake City would literally be toast, and almost everyone and everything in Denver would be dead in short order.
Further away, volcanic ash would rain down continually for weeks. Those foolish enough to step outside would quickly discover that the ash turns into a substance similar to cement in the lungs, and many would die from suffocation.
The amount of volcanic ash released by Yellowstone would be almost unimaginable. In fact, it has been estimated that a full-blown eruption would dump a layer of volcanic ash that is at least 10 feet deep up to 1,000 miles away.
Food production in America would be almost totally wiped out, and the “volcanic winter” that would result from a Yellowstone eruption would dramatically cool the planet. Some have projected that global temperatures would decline by up to 20 degrees.
In the end, the death, famine and destruction that we would experience would be vastly greater than anything that we have ever seen in the history of western civilization.
So yes, there is reason to be concerned that weird stuff is going on at Yellowstone right now.
Let us just hope and pray that we do not see an eruption in 2016 or any time soon.
Pope to promote peace in talks with world religious leaders
Posted by AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
VATICAN CITY,– Pope Benedict XVI has invited 300 religious leaders to a meeting in Assisi in Italy to repudiate “violence in the name of God” amid growing tensions fuelled by fundamentalists across the world.
The day of interreligious council, which will be held on Thursday in St. Francis of Assisi’s birthplace, is intended to be a “journey of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world,” the Vatican said.
Over 50 Islamic representatives are expected to attend the talks from several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran.
They will be joined by Rabbis, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, a Zoroastrian, a Bahai and representatives of Taoism and Confucianism as well as of other traditional religions from Africa and America.
For the first time, four atheists will also attend the meeting, which is traditionally organised so as not to coincide with the Muslim day of prayer on Friday, the Jewish one on Saturday or the Christian one on Sunday.
However, the Imam from the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, a heavyweight authority on Sunnism, will not be coming, having fallen out with the pope after he urged Egypt to protect Christians from attacks by radical Islamists.
The meeting is being criticised by Catholic fundamentalists who are strongly against the idea of dialogue with other religions. French fundamentalist Regis de Cacqueray said 1,000 masses would be needed to be said in reparation.
The event marks the 25th anniversary of the first interreligious meeting in Assisi, organised by John Paul II in 1986 as a “day of prayer” inspired by the United Nation’s proclamation of an International Year of the Peace.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, chose not to attend because of concerns shared by traditionalists that it risked mixing religions into a vague common belief.
While guests attending this year’s encounter — the third in Assisi — will in principle follow a “common course”, those who wish to pray will do so separately, according to their beliefs, the Holy See has said.
Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who helped organise the first Assisi day in 1986, said John Paul II had been careful to avoid mixing beliefs, and Benedict XVI was no different.
“Interreligious dialogue has spread” over the last 25 years, and the pope sees it “as a common, irrevocable heritage of Christian sensibility,” he said.
The pope’s main aim is for participants to agree to “a common commitment to reject the instrumentalism of religion and the use of violence in the name of God,” said a Vatican insider.
Number two of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Pier Luigi Celata, said the problems that particularly concern religions are immigration, cultural diversity, religious liberty and the defence of the family.
“These issues oblige faithful people from different religions to look for common solutions,” he said.
At the end of the day of talks, the main participants will renew their commitment to peace in the square in front of St. Francis’ Basilica.
A burning torch will be symbolically presented to the delegations in the hope that they will take the message back with them to their communities.
Bill Clinton Supports Changing 22nd Amendment on Presidential Term Limits
by Billy Hallowell
Former President Bill Clinton says he supports a new “rule” in dealing with limits to presidential governance. After individuals serve two terms, he says they should be able to serve a third — with a few caveats.
First and foremost, this regulation, should it be adopted, shouldn’t apply to anyone who has already served. Also, the former president would want the individual seeking a third round in the White House to take some time off after his or her second term.
Clinton was speaking to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” where he was promoting his new book, “Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy.”
When co-host Joe Scarborough asked, “Shouldn’t a president be able to take two terms, take time off and run again? Shouldn’t Americans have that choice?,” Clinton answered affirmatively, saying:
“I’ve always thought that should be the rule. I think as a practical matter, you couldn’t apply this to anyone who has already served, but going forward, I personally believe that should be the rule.”
Mall giant sues Indiana to tax Amazon.com sales
APBy KEN KUSMER –
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Shopping mall giant Simon Property Group sued the Indiana Department of Revenue on Thursday to try to force it to collect taxes from Amazon.com Inc. for all sales made in the state.
The nation’s biggest mall operator, whose Indianapolis headquarters are across the street from the Statehouse, said it was not seeking monetary damages in the lawsuit filed in Marion County courts.
“This action is being filed to benefit all of Indiana’s taxpayers and the state’s bricks-and-mortar retailers,” Simon said in a statement.
Simon, which operates 27 Indiana shopping centers, said it requested the Revenue Department begin collecting sales taxes on sales made by Amazon.com within the state’s borders as required by state law.
Amazon operates three distribution warehouses in Indiana and announced in July it plans to open a fourth in the state.
“Amazon.com is required by Indiana law to collect and remit sales and use taxes to the state, for sales made over the Internet, but has consistently refused to do so even though it is required by current Indiana laws …” Simon said. “Main Street retailers are being harmed by this unequal playing field in Indiana and their existence is being jeopardized and threatens the employment of hundreds of thousands of retail employees in our state.”
The state levies a 7 percent sales tax on most goods, giving online retailers a sizable advantage.
Revenue Department spokesman Bob Dittmer said the agency had not seen the lawsuit and had no immediate comment.
An influential lawmaker, state Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said last month he would approach other members of the General Assembly on the need to apply the state sales tax to online retailers. He estimated taxing online sales could net the state up to $400 million annually and would put online retailers on the same playing field as traditional merchants.
A 1992 Supreme Court ruling effectively bars states from collecting taxes from most online operations. Kenley is president of the national group lobbying Congress to change the law.
A message seeking comment was left Thursday on a media telephone line at Seattle-based Amazon.com. Amazon spokeswoman Mary Osako said last month the company believed “the sales tax issue needs to be solved at the federal level.”
What Have We Gotten For The Trillion Dollars We Have Spent On Wars In Afghanistan, Iraq And Libya?
Over a trillion U.S. taxpayer dollars have been spent on the \"War on Terror\" and the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Whether you are for the wars or against the wars, it is important for all of us to step back and evaluate what we have really gotten for all of that money. In Libya, we have actually helped al-Qaeda forces that were shooting at U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan take over the country. Now they have announced that they will be imposing strict Sharia law on all of Libya. After 10 years of having our boys shot up in Afghanistan, the Afghan government is so “grateful” that they are publicly saying that they will side with Pakistan in any future war against the United States. In Iraq, Islamic radicals are beheading and murdering dozens and dozens of Christians and the new Iraqi government seemingly can’t wait to push the remaining U.S. soldiers out of the country. We ran up well over a trillion dollars of new debt to “liberate” these countries, but are they really in better shape than they were before these wars? Are we really in better shape than we were before these wars?
Today, the United States military has at least one base in more than half of all the nations on the planet.
The U.S. spends more than 7 times as much on the military as any other country on earth does. In fact, some say US military outspends the next 19 nations-combined!
Without a doubt, the United States will always need a strong military. But with the national debt soaring to unprecedented heights, is it really wise for us to try to be the police of the entire globe?
We have poured well over a trillion dollars into Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and we have very little to show for it.
Are Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya safer places than before we went to war with them?
Are Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya producing fewer “terrorists” than before we went to war with them?
Are we safer than before we started all these wars?
Our government has spent well over a trillion dollars and the blood of thousands upon thousands of U.S. soldiers has been spilled and in the final analysis very little has actually been accomplished.
Let’s take a closer look at these conflicts and see exactly what we have gotten for all of the money that we have spent….
In Libya, we have actually helped al-Qaeda take power.
In Afghanistan and Iraq we were supposedly fighting to do just the opposite. There is even evidence the assault on Libya was planned months or even years ahead.
So just what in the world is going on here?
The price tag for the first week of airstrikes on Libya alone was 600 million dollars.
Yes, Gaddafi was a tyrant, but have we invested a lot of time and effort only to watch as an even worse government takes power?
According to The Telegraph, the leader of the Libyan rebels was openly admitting that his “troops” included jihadists that were firing bullets at U.S. forces in Iraq….
Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, has said jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
A recent article by Kurt Nimmo for Infowars.com discussed some of the other ways that al-Qaeda has been active in Libya during the fight against Gaddafi….
Despite Aujali’s assurance, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, the former head of LIFG, was appointed to run a military council in September. He fought with al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
In February, it was reported that al-Qaeda had set-up an Islamic emirate in Derna, in eastern Libya, headed by a former prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, Abdelkarim al-Hasadi.
Now that they have won, the “rebels” have announced that they will be imposing strict Sharia law all over Libya.
According to a new article posted on The Telegraph, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of NATO’s National Transitional Council, has even announced plans to repeal polygamy laws because they are not compliant with Sharia law….
Mr Abdul-Jalil went further, specifically lifting immediately, by decree, one law from Col. Gaddafi’s era that he said was in conflict with Sharia – that banning polygamy.
Should we be cheering this?
Why would the U.S. government want to spend a single penny helping al-Qaeda take over Libya and set up Sharia law there?
There should not be a single American (conservative or liberal) that supports what has gone down in Libya.
The U.S. military has now been in Afghanistan for 10 years. World War II lasted less than 6 years. The U.S. government has spent over 467 billion dollars on the war in Afghanistan, and thousands upon thousands of our troops have been killed or wounded there.
Even after all this time, a single day of the war in Afghanistan costs more money than it took to build the entire Pentagon.
So are the Afghans grateful that we have sacrificed so much to bring “democracy” to that nation?
Of course not.
Just check out what Afghan President Hamid Karzai said during one recent interview….
“God forbid, If ever there is a war between Pakistan and America, Afghanistan will side with Pakistan”
Did you catch that?
Karzai says that in a future war between Pakistan and the United States, Afghanistan is going to be fighting against us.
But didn’t we bring them freedom?
No, we did not.
Instead, one radical Islamic government replaced another.
Today, there are officially zero Christian churches left in Afghanistan.
The new constitution of Afghanistan says that that Islam is the “religion of the state”.
The new constitution of Afghanistan also states that “no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam”.
Earlier this year, I wrote about one Afghan man that was actually sentenced to death for converting to Christianity….
In Afghanistan right now, a one-legged Afghan Red Cross worker named Said Musa is sitting in a prison cell awaiting his execution. Musa, a father of six children, was arrested by the Afghan government as he attempted to seek asylum at the German embassy last year. He was sentenced to death by an Afghan court that was established by the new Afghan government that the United States worked so hard to set up. He has been tortured and sexually abused for months. An Afghan judge has told him that he will be hung within a matter of days. So what was his crime? He was a Muslim that has become a Christian. Under Sharia law, that is punishable by death. Is this is the “freedom” that we have sacrificed so many American lives to bring to Afghanistan?
Thankfully he was later released from prison and was able to get out of the country.
However, this just shows that the people of Afghanistan are currently experiencing a level of freedom that is quite comparable to what they experienced under the Taliban.
After all that the United States has done over there, very little positive change has taken place.
Up to now, it is estimated that the U.S. government has spent over 800 billion dollars on the war in Iraq.
Thousands upon thousands of U.S. soldiers lost arms and legs in Iraq.
Thousands of U.S. soldiers will never be coming home at all.
But after all of our efforts, Iraq is still a far less safe place than it was before we invaded.
Christians and other religious minorities once were able to worship in peace, but now they are racing to get out of Iraq as fast as they can.
Well, because Christians and other religious minorities are being brutally targeted by Islamic radicals.
For example, about a year ago more than 80 Iraqi Christians were beheaded on a single day. All that the Christians were trying to do was attend a church service. One four-month-old baby was actually beheaded right in front of her parents.
Iraq is a complete and total disaster zone at this point.
The Iraqi government says that it is willing for U.S. military trainers to stay in the country, but they also say that there will be no more immunity for U.S. soldiers.
We have left the country in far worse shape than we found it, and Iraq is now a bigger breeding ground for terrorists than it ever was before.
You see, the truth is that the populations of these countries will continue to hold a grudge once we leave. They are simply not going to forgive and forget. There are millions of Islamic radicals in these countries that will never, ever, ever forgive the United States. The hatred that they feel for us could be passed down for generations.
We have not brought freedom to the people of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Instead, we have just replaced the tyranny that they were suffering under with new forms of tyranny.
Meanwhile, we continue to spend ourselves into oblivion.
Yes, the U.S. will always need a strong military.
Yes, there are areas where we actually need to spend more on the military. For example, now that Barack Obama has completely gutted our strategic nuclear arsenal, that is one area that we desperately need to attend to.
However, we simply cannot continue to recklessly spend money like we are today. We are in debt up to our eyeballs, and trying to be “the police of the world” is very expensive….
*Before the start of the “War on Terror”, the U.S. national debt was under 6 trillion dollars. Today, it is getting very close to 15 trillion dollars.
*Right now, the U.S. military is in nearly 130 different nations and it has a total of approximately 700 military bases around the world. It takes about 100 billion dollars a year to maintain these bases.
*U.S. military spending is greater than the military spending of China, Russia, Japan, India, and the rest of NATO combined.
*The United States accounts for 46.5% of all military spending on the planet. China is in second place with only 6.6%.
Meanwhile, our national security just continues to deteriorate. Millions of people have illegally poured across our border with Mexico and the federal government is actually suing border states such as Arizona to keep them from trying to stop this.
Our national security priorities are way, way out of whack. We continue to waste money in some of the most bizarre ways imaginable and yet we continue to become less secure with each passing year.
Yes, the United States needs a very, very strong military.
Yes, national security needs to be a very, very high priority.
But what we have been doing over the past decade has not worked. In fact, the Bush/Obama foreign policy has been an abject failure. We have poured hundreds of billions of dollars down the drain and we are less secure today than at any point since World War II.
It is time to admit that Barack Obama and George W. Bush have been fundamentally wrong about these wars. Because of their foolishness, we are less safe today and our allies are less safe today.
Afghanistan is not our friend now. Neither is Iraq. Libya looks like it is going to become an al-Qaeda paradise thanks to us.
There is very little “freedom” in those 3 nations today. Instead, “Islamic law” is being shoved down the throats of the people living in those countries.
So, in the final analysis, what have we really accomplished?
We KNOW the elite monied powers of the World wish to create a “NEW WORLD ORDER” in which they rule over all. In fact, many believe the Biblical prophecy of the Ten Horn Beast to be fulfilled by the NWO alignment. We have every indication that our sovereignty is being threatened and our enemy is domestic. Our once free people are falling into the trap of dicatorship. The trap of exchanging freedom for temporary security. Many of our so-called “leaders” are taking part of the dismantling of the United States including our Dictator-in-Chief. Our Congress warn of endless wars designed only to broaden an empire rather than provide legitimate defense. Even today, Nato is said to be in final preparations for a new war. A war against Syria….Iran….or anyone else who gets in our way. Regardless of the next “enemy” we choose to target the other boys on the street are losing patience. Russia and China have warned America of the consequences of attacking Iran. Will we heed those warnings? Or will we continue to apply regional pressure until they go on the offensive? World events are taking final shape. Albert Pikes predicted Three World Wars are progressing as planned. Regardless, Americans are waking up and beginning to prepare at unprecedented levels. Patriots are learning the skills and stocking up on the supplies required to Survive and Thrive regardless of what crisis occurs. And rest assured, there will be a crisis. Will you be ready?
Obama Taps Taxpayers For Student Stimulus
By Chris Stirewalt
Obama Looks to Wring Stimulus From Saturated Student Loan Market
— Estimated amount of student loan debt owed by Americans.
In keeping with his new campaign theme of “we can’t wait,” President Obama today will roll out a plan to put more money in the pockets of some of the nation’s 36 million student loan recipients.
Obama has broad latitude in this area – certainly broader than the first two parts of his western campaign trip, underwater mortgages and subsidies for hiring veterans – because one of his early legislative initiatives was to have the federal government take over the student lending business in America.
Obama argued for the measure in 2009 as a cost-savings initiative, saying that the old system of privately issued, government secured loans reduced the amount of available money for needy students and also prevented the feds from making the system more efficient.
But Obama is now seeking to use that new power to obtain a taxpayer-financed stimulus that Congress won’t approve. The idea is to cap student loan repayment rates at 10 percent of a debtor’s income that goes above the poverty line, and then limiting the life of a loan to 20 years.
Take this example: If Suzy Creamcheese gets into George Washington University and borrows from the government the requisite $212,000 to obtain an undergraduate degree, her repayment schedule will be based on what she earns. If Suzy opts to heed the president’s call for public service, and takes a job as a city social worker earning $25,000, her payments would be limited to $1,411 a year after the $10,890 of poverty-level income is subtracted from her total exposure.
Twenty years at that rate would have taxpayers recoup only $28,220 of their $212,000 loan to Suzy.
The president will also allow student debtors to refinance and consolidate loans on more favorable terms, further decreasing the payoff for taxpayers.
Obama’s move comes at a moment when many economists are warning of a college debt bubble that is distorting college tuition rates and threatening to further damage credit markets. The president’s move is intended to make college more affordable for more people, which will, in turn allow universities to jack up their rates.
As in the housing bubble, cheap credit on easy terms increases the amount of money chasing the product (in this case a diploma) allowing schools to increase prices. This inflation makes it harder for middle-class families to afford paying their own tuitions, driving them into the government financing program, which, you guessed it, drives up costs further still.
Obama’s goals, aside from continuing to encourage young people to spurn the private sector in favor of service jobs, is to try to juice the economy. Those who participate in the program could see their monthly incomes rise by hundreds of dollars, thereby increasing the money they have to buy stuff and try to juice the economy.
A more modest program already in place has been a bit of a bust with only 1.25 percent of debtors signing up, likely because of the unpleasant notion of additional paperwork and government reporting hassles. But by sweetening the deal and putting a big PR push behind it, Obama is betting that he can get people spending in time to help shore up his re-election chances.
The best part for Obama is that he can obligate the Treasury without Congressional approval thanks to the passage of what he described as a cost-saving measure in 2009.
Risk-Averse Romney Frustrates Hill GOPers
“I am not speaking about the particular ballot issues. Those are up to the people of Ohio. But I certainly support the efforts of the governor to reign in the scale of government. I am not terribly familiar with the two ballot initiatives. But I am certainly supportive of the Republican Party’s efforts here.”
— Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney walking back his prior support of a new Ohio law that restricts the collective bargaining power of state worker unions.
While former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has done a better job of wooing Capitol Hill Republicans than his fellow GOP 2012 contenders, there’s still a resistance to the man who has been the party’s frontrunner for most of the past three years.
Romney heads to the Hill today to try to corral supporters from two groups – more moderate members who are natural fits for Romney and a few conservatives to vouch for a nominee they can accept as the inevitable choice.
It’s been a hard sell.
“If he’s inevitable, I don’t know why he needs my help,” one swing-state Republican House member told Power Play. “I’ll endorse the nominee, whoever that is.”
Members and staffers agree that while Romney looks increasingly unbeatable since the party’s conservative base remains divided, there’s little to be gained from jumping on board early.
“If you endorse [Romney], you upset the base at home and don’t really get anything in return,” a former senior Senate staffer who now works as a GOP campaign consultant told Power Play. “This is not one where you want to be seen as ahead of the curve.”
A closet Romney backer in Congress who said she is soon to announce her support publicly told Power Play that the frontrunner would continue to roll out a series of high-profile endorsements in the days and weeks to come.
“We respect results and we respect experience,” he said. “We also know that it will take practical solutions to do the job.”
Romney made his task more complicated on Tuesday when he flinched when questioned about a pair of state ballot initiatives while visiting a Republican campaign office where they were working hard to pull out wins on the referenda.
Romney issued a statement this summer in support of the law pushed by Gov. John Kasich to roll back the collective bargaining powers of state worker unions, but when asked in person about the union-led effort to repeal the law through a plebiscite, Romney was agnostic on the subject deferring to the will of the voters.
Many have attributed this to Romney’s unwillingness to be attached to the losing side of the issue since polls show lopsided support for the union-backed repeal measure. Others have speculated that Romney was looking to avoid connection to the anti-government union movement inside the GOP, an association that could be damaging to a candidate whom Democrats are already painting as a plutocrat uninterested in the plight of blue-collar workers.
More likely, though, it was the other issue on the ballot: A constitutional amendment that would shield Ohioans from the key provision of President Obama’s health law that requires all Americans to either purchase private insurance or be enrolled in a government program.
Romney, who pioneered the concept of mandatory insurance in Massachusetts, can hardly speak in favor of the Ohio amendment, which looks likely to pass. He has held that states should be allowed to compel citizens to buy insurance, but not the federal government and that each state should do as it wishes on the subject.
If Romney expressed an opinion on the union rule, he would be hard pressed to then express agnosticism on the mandatory insurance provision. By ducking the question, Romney protected himself from having to talk about his health law and, perhaps, avoided an even bigger embarrassment than what followed.
Romney’s answer was therefore technically the politically correct one since it traded a small embarrassment for a larger gaffe, but it is exactly that kind of calculation that continues to leave GOP activists cold. Romney avoids the gaffes that have plagued Herman Cain, Rick Perry and even occasionally Newt Gingrich.
By giving such careful answers, Romney has been able to maintain his quarter of the GOP electorate, but hasn’t been able to rebut the central critique of his candidacy: ideological inconstancy.
Read more: SOURCE
Merkel wants ‘permanent’ supervision of Greece, warns of war
By Valentina Pop
Brussels – Peace should not be taken for granted if the euro fails, German chancellor Merkel told MPs ahead of the eurozone summit where an increase of the bail-out fund firepower may lead to Germany’s own state assets being taken as collateral.
In a dark blue jacket reflecting the mood in and about the eurozone, Merkel abandoned her usual cautious rhetoric warned outright of a war.
“Nobody should take for granted another 50 years of peace and prosperity in Europe. They are not for granted. That’s why I say: If the euro fails, Europe fails,” Merkel said, followed by a long applause from all political groups.
“We have a historical obligation: To protect by all means Europe’s unification process begun by our forefathers after centuries of hatred and blood spill. None of us can foresee what the consequences would be if we were to fail.”
“It cannot be that sometime in the future they say the political generation responsible for Europe in the second decade of the 21 century has failed in the face of history,” the chancellor continued.
She was asking for the parliament’s “political” green light on a negotiation mandate for the EU summit, beginning later today in Brussels. The summit is seeking to increase the firepower of the €440 billion-strong European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to stop the sovereign debt crisis spreading to countries like Italy and ultimately, France.
The Bundestag approved the measure by a large majority, with 503 members in favour, 89 opposing and four abstaining.
While stressing that Germany’s contribution to the EFSF loan guarantees would continue to be capped at €211 billion, she said she could not exclude there may be “risks” for Germany linked to the EFSF increase of firepower. Her own party colleagues had demanded that she clearly excludes German state assets, such as the central bank’s gold reserves, to be put as collateral for the EFSF lending power.
“Nobody can clearly estimate if there will be such risks. What I can say is that we cannot exclude it,” she said, insisting that the current situation is pushing European leaders into “uncharted territories”.
“Not to take these risks would be irresponsible. There is no better and more sensible alternative. Europe and the world are looking at Germany,” the chancellor said.
Looking ahead to the summit, the chancellor repeated her long-standing stance that “there is no silver bullet, no simple solutions. We will still deal with these topics for years from now.”
She repeated her insistence that the EU treaty had to be changed, in the medium term, to be more strict on countries breaching the euro deficit rules.
“Where does it say that any treaty change has to take 10 years or that there should be no more changes after the Lisbon Treaty,” she asked.
EU leaders last Sunday agreed to have an evaluation presented to them in December by council chief Herman Van Rompuy about the possibility for a “limited” treaty change.
‘Permanent supervision’ for Greece
On the three euro-countries currently propped by EU-IMF loans, Merkel said Ireland was on “the right path”, Portugal showed it could implement the promised reforms, while Greece was still “at the beginning of a long road.”
For the first time, as opposition MPs noted later on in the debate, Merkel had words of praise for the ordinary Greek citizens feeling the brunt of the austerity measures demanded by international lenders. “People in Greece have to stomach a lot of sacrifices. They deserve our respect and also a sustainable growth perspective in the eurozone.”
According to the latest report of the so-called troika, consisting of experts sent from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Greece will need even higher debt restructuring and losses for private lenders compared to what EU leaders had agreed upon on 21 July.
“But debt restructuring alone does not solve the problem. Painful structural reforms have to be made, otherwise even after debt restructuring we’re back to where we are today,” Merkel warned.
That’s why, she said, Greece would have to be “assisted” for quite some time. “It’s not enough that the troika comes and goes every three months. It would be desirable to have a permanent supervision in Greece,” she said, adding that this issue would be brought up at the summit.
In return for what seems to be an unprecedented sovereignty loss in an old EU member state, Merkel promised German investments and mentioned a meeting of local representatives from Germany and Greece in the coming weeks.
“We want Greece to be back on its feet again as soon as possible and will do everything we can to this end,” she concluded.
Her junior coalition party, the Liberal Free Democrats (FDP), had less sympathy for Greece, however. Rainer Bruederle, leader of the FDP group, said that the troika had given Athens a “D” and that “nobody expects Greece to turn into an A student over night,” as it was now just like eastern-European transition countries 20 years ago.
Sticking to the teacher-pupil metaphor, Bruederle urged Greeks to “do their homework” and said the country could not be funded endlessly like a “bottomless pit”.
The leftist opposition was outraged, with Die Linke leader Gregor Gysi pointing out that austerity has forced 27,000 small and medium enterprises to go bankrupt in Greece and that teachers earn as little as €1,000 a month. “What more do you want from them? Do you want them to starve to death?” he said.
Congressman: Secret Report On TSA Pat Downs, Body Scanner Failures Will “Knock Your Socks Off”
“Off the charts” failure rate “sort of like the record of the Marx Brothers”
The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which oversees the TSA, has asserted that the release of a classified report on TSA security failures will renew calls for the replacement of the agency with private airport security personnel.
“The failure rate (for body scanning equipment) is classified but it would absolutely knock your socks off,” Florida Republican, Rep. John L. Mica told reporters during a briefing Monday.
Mica also asserted that recorded instances of pat downs failing to detect contraband are “off the charts.” This information is also currently still classified, but is due to be released within weeks as part of an upcoming committee report on the TSA’s first decade.
Mica suggested that the TSA’s performance report would read “sort of like the record of the Marx Brothers”.
The TSA has withheld results of its official security tests, despite repeated requests to release the information under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Department of Homeland Security has classified the results of the most recent random, covert “red team tests,” where undercover agents try to see what they can get past airport security. The reason they have done so, according to MIca, is because the results have been so shockingly and consistently bad for the past nine years.
Mica further slammed the TSA Monday, ripping into the agency’s latest experimental security “chat down” procedure.
The chairman referred to the pilot program of “behaviour detection” being tested at Boston Logan airport as an “idiotic mess”.
Describing the program as a poor man’s version of Israeli interrogation security techniques, Mica noted that that the pilot is merely an extension of an already existing program that the Government Accountability Office concluded had little scientific credibility and had cost “a quarter billion” in hiring additional TSA officers.
“This is no joke,” Mica told reporters at the briefing, adding that he had personally visited Logan airport and witnessed first hand the failures of the program.
“I put my ear up and listened to some idiotic questions,” Mica said of the “chat down” procedure, also noting that TSA officers expressed a lack of understanding of the program they had supposedly been trained to engage in.
“I talked to them about their training, which was minimal,” Mica said, adding “It’s almost idiotic… It’s still not a risk-based system. It’s not a thinking system.”
The program is set to be beta tested in Detroit next, before being rolled out nationwide.
Mica repeatedly argued that the TSA’s role at airports could be undertaken in a more efficient and less costly manner by private companies, albeit ultimately still under the supervision of the federal government.
Back in March, the Congressman charged that the TSA intentionally fixed data to ensure that federal workers were employed to screen airport passengers, rather than private contractors.
“TSA cooked the books to try to eliminate the federal-private screening program,” said Mica at the time.
The Congressman was referring to revelations from federal auditors that cost differentials between federal employees and private contractors were overstated by the TSA.
Though the agency contends it was an “error”, The TSA made it appear that it was more cost effective for airports to use federal government workers for security “by increasing the costs for private-contractor screeners relative to federal screeners,” government auditors wrote.
The 2001 Aviation Transportation Security Act, which created the TSA, contained an option written in by Congress allowing airports to choose between using TSA workers and private screeners. It is known as the Security Partnership Program (SPP).
Currently, sixteen airports throughout the country use private contractors under the SPP, however, the TSA has since actively prevented other airports from joining the program, as more and more express an interest in dropping the federal workforce in wake of an epidemic of TSA scandals and failures.
Mica, who helped create the TSA after 9/11, has repeatedly stated that he believes the agency is now completely out of control and believes it should be radically reformed.
National Healthcare Will Require National RFID Chips
by Timothy Baldwin
Now that the healthcare bill has passed and been signed into law, one must inquire: How will the federal government keep track of the millions of persons in America now (supposedly) required to operate according to the federal government’s healthcare program?
Now that the federal government is responsible to ensure that millions of people’s health concerns are treated or eliminated, how will the federal government distribute, execute, and ration its resources paid for by tax dollars? Now that the federal government has a vested interest in the health of hundreds of millions of Americans, how will they ensure that the system itself can be maintained by the government?
Identifying the means and methods by which the government will accomplish their task is less than speculative. Though the legislation itself does not mandate this technology to be used, as we reported five years ago, the implantation of Radio Frequency Identification chips (RFID) into all persons within the government’s healthcare system for purposes of “prevention, detection and treatment of diseases” is a primary objective of a number of government officials and industry proponents. Whether or not they will be successful in doing so remains to be seen.
What is the RFID chip? It is a small electronic computer device placed into the skin of a person that can be used for identification, tracking, information storage and interfacing with external sources, such as for financial, business, commercial, governmental, educational, and medical institutions. In other words, an RFID can be utilized for every area of life.
Many legitimate and natural questions have been raised about RFID chips, like: What are the societal risks of the RFID chip? What are the foreseeable or likely governmental abuses? How does its implementation relate to the principles of freedom in a Constitutional Republic? Will I be able to maintain my rights of privacy and other liberties if I have an RFID implanted in my skin for societal and governmental purposes? As we will show, the answers are very relevant, because it is known that the federal government will likely mandate that these RFID chips be implanted into all persons in America.
The German IT industry group BITKOM recently conducted a survey that found that one out of four Germans would willingly, without force of law, have a RFID chip placed inside their skin for societal and governmental purposes. Perhaps those in the United States are not much different. The idea of a microchip being implanted into your body for these purposes has been around for several years and is only becoming more popular and accepted.
Advocates for RFID for Societal and Government Purposes
Some of the most well-known and widely listened to news commentators and political leaders have advocated the use of RFID chips for societal and government purposes. Andy Rooney, news commentator on CBS’s 60 Minutes, said on February 10, 2002: “Something has to change. They have to find a better way to identify the bad guys or the rest of us are gonna’ stay home and watch the world go by on television…. We need some system for permanently identifying safe people…. I wouldn’t mind having something planted permanently in my arm that would identify me.’‘
While interviewing Scott Silverman (Applied Digital CEO), Sean Hannity said on October 24, 2008: “[Parents are saying:] we can’t even allow our kids to play in the front yard. Is there anything — technologically speaking — that [parents] can do that can help the situation, like a kidnapping. Is there, for example, a microchip…we can use for our kids?” In the interview, Silverman describes a PLD, which is an acronym for “Personal Locating Device,” which is an RFID chip. This PLD is to be implanted into the body of the “child or someone you are interested in tracking.”
While Hannity initially presents the RFID’s use into the context of “protecting children from being kidnapped,” Silverman quickly admits the multi-function purpose of the RFID: “It is the first implantable microchip for humans that has multiple security, financial and healthcare applications.” Sean Hannity’s response: “I love this idea, Scott.” Security, financial, and healthcare: These are the vast categories of use which would encompass all of human life and activity in America.
Three years earlier, Silverman already outlined his ambitions for revolutionizing healthcare in the United States. A July 25, 2005 WebMD article opened with this bold query: “They’re here. They have FDA approval. But are Americans ready to get chipped?”
According to WebMD, Silverman offered the following statistics as support for his company’s technology in relation to medical care:
“When we first announced VeriChip, a network poll asked people if they would put one in their bodies,” Silverman tells WebMD. “Only 9% said yes. After FDA approval, 19% said yes. When former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson joined our board, the rate went up to 33%. But our own study shows that if you ask people whether they would have a VeriChip implant to identify their medical records in case of an emergency, the positive response goes to 80%.”
WebMD concluded its report with this unsettling thought: “… Silverman says, some 2,000 people worldwide are using them for medical or security purposes. But soon he expects that millions of people will get VeriChip implants every year.”
On July 31, 2005, in an articled titled “\'Health Chips\' Could Help Patients in US,” The Business reported: “President Bush’s former health secretary Tommy Thompson is putting the final touches to a plan that could result in US citizens having a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip inserted under their skin.” Thompson’s purpose in doing so? According to The Business: “The RFID capsules would be linked to a computerised database being created by the US Department of Health to store and manage the nation’s health records.”
Two months before these scattered news reports made less-than-noticed headlines, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) introduced S. 1262, the “Health Technology to Enhance Quality Act of 2005.” During a press conference at George Washington University Hospital, Senator Clinton stated: “This legislation marries technology and quality to create a seamless, efficient health care system for the 21st century.” Senator Frist characterized it as “an interoperable national health information technology system.” The only way to have an interoperable information system is to have a unique identifier for each person in the system, which can’t be altered, lost, stolen, or tampered with. In 2005, Clinton and her allies sought to lay the technological infrastructure for just such a system. Now that health care has been nationalized, why would they approach things any differently?
So, will the “common person” in America accept the implantation of an RFID for societal and government purposes? Some already are. Daniel Hickey, a retired Navy Commander, expresses his of-course-attitude when interviewed by Channel 5, WPTZ news: “They’ve been putting them into dogs and cats for years. It’s about time they put them into human beings.” Perhaps like Germany, the numbers of those who accept this idea in America will only continue to grow.
Plans for RFID Chips for Healthcare
The facts already establish that certain infrastructure in America is being implemented to incorporate the use and application of the RFID chip. Today, hospitals throughout America are already implementing RFID technology and have begun implanting RFID chips into their patients for medical purposes, such as those who suffer from Alzheimer.
Openly, “a number of U.S. hospitals have begun implanting patients with RFID tags and using RFID systems, usually for workflow and inventory management.” There are various groups that openly advocate for the use of RFID chips for all medical patients. As a result of this movement, many predict that the investment value of RFID technology will increase exponentially and dramatically, making many people very rich.
Even “the Department of Homeland Security has indicated it likes the concept of RFID chips,” CNN reported several years ago in an article about the Real ID Act. For what purpose does Homeland Security like RFID chips to be implanted into people’s skin? You name it. The same CNN report also noted that the Real ID Act required that “the IDs must include a ‘common machine-readable technology’ that must meet requirements set out by the Department of Homeland Security.” — which could very well have meant RFID chips, though as the article pointed out, other possibilities could have included magnetic strips or enhanced bar codes. The Real ID Act requirements were derailed by a firestorm of resistance from the states. But there is, without question, a push by the private industry, investors, and the federal government to accept and (as time will tell) force this type of technology for “security, financial and healthcare” purposes.
Pre-Obama Nationalization of Healthcare and Use of RFID
What few people know is that the federal government has been making attempts to national the healthcare system for years, relating back to the Clinton administration’s push to create a National Identification for medical purposes, and which continued during the Bush administration.
To effectuate a national healthcare system, the federal government advances the use of RFID technology to be used in each medical patient for healthcare purposes. More than just for the treatment of the patient, the federal government proposes a “nationwide electronic health care information network for research and disease prevention.”
Without equivocation, on October 19, 1992, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Louis W. Sullivan, said: “It is our intention to act on our own and with the private sector in every area where we have authority to bring the new electronic network into being.” It was this same “electronic network” of healthcare that was advanced by G.W. Bush during his administration: “Strengthening the health care safety net is a necessary part of improving American’s access to care.”
To the federal government, the purpose of creating a nationalized electronic safety network was to “research to improve the prevention, detection and treatment of diseases.” As became law under the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, the federal government recognized their role in “disease management programs” through their healthcare safety network. Then, one year after the FDA approved the full use of the RFID chips in humans, by executive order in 2005, G.W. Bush ordered HHS “to create a nationwide interoperable health information technology infrastructure.”
In conjunction with and to the end of creating a nationwide health information infrastructure, HHS is to advance “the development, adoption, and implementation of health information technology standards nationally through collaboration among public and private interests that are consistent with current efforts of the Federal Government [for the prevention, detection and treatment of diseases].” This collaboration with public and private interests easily identifies the method by which this national safety network system will be effectuated: RFID technology.
Some of the most highly influential medical groups and organizations propose not only that the private industry utilize RFID technology, but also that the federal government use its “policy-making” power to advance its use of an electronic healthcare safety network and to abandon the old methods. In short, each patient would and should be required to possess an RFID chip before getting medical treatment.
The New Healthcare Application
Today, the federal government has more motivation and incentive than ever to create and mandate a national safety network system. They have been working on it for 20 years or more, but its reality is with us today. The federal government now has the responsibility and power to control much (if not all) of the regulations and systems used in the medical industry, including how patients will be identified, processed, and treated through the system. Its vested interest in the entire medical industry and in the cost of healthcare for each person will undoubtedly create a system of control upon the lives of those within its system.
To do this, facts reveal that the federal government will utilize RFID chip technology and will require every person within the healthcare system to receive this chip into their bodies. For some Americans, this may be acceptable, just as it is for one out of four persons in Germany. For others Americans, this is going to be a serious and fundamental line in the sand.
Consequently, these questions must be asked. Who will submit? Who will resist? What will the states do to protect their citizens from these mandates? What will the states do to require their citizens to comply with these mandates? What will the individual do to receive medical treatment who does not take this chip? Where will the individual go to receive quality medical treatment if all medical facilities require that you have this RFID chip? What penalties will be imposed upon those who do not take this chip?
These are all questions which must be answered and realized, because inevitably, the federal government will do all that it can to implement a RFID chip system.
Japan, Turkey, Poland, Mexico the Rising World Powers?
Talk about taking the long view. Stratfor founder George Friedman takes a stab at predicting what the world will look like a hundred years from now in a provocative forthcoming book, The Next 100 Years.
Contrary to those who see the rise of China as the next major historical development, Friedman argues that the next century will continue to to be dominated by the United States.
There are many who predict that China is the next challenger to the United States, not Russia. I don’t agree with that view for three reasons. First, when you look at a map of China closely, you see that it is really a very isolated country physically. Second, China has not been a major naval power for centuries, and building a navy requires a long time not only to build ships but to create well-trained and experienced sailors.
Third, there is a deeper reason for not worrying about China. China is inherently unstable. Whenever it opens its borders to the outside world, the coastal region becomes prosperous, but the vast majority of Chinese in the interior remain impoverished. This leads to tension, conflict, and instability. It also leads to economic decisions made for political reasons, resulting in inefficiency and corruption.
The inherent power of the United States coupled with its geographic position makes the United States the pivotal actor of the twenty-first century.
Friedman sees Japan, Turkey, Poland and Mexico potentially emerging a major players on the world political stage.
With a history of militarism, Japan will not remain the marginal pacifistic power it has been. It cannot. Its own deep population problems and abhorrence of large- scale immigration will force it to look for new workers in other countries.
Turkey is a stable platform in the midst of chaos. The Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Arab world to the south are all unstable. As Turkey’s power grows — and its economy and military are already the most powerful in the region — so will Turkish influence.
Two factors make Poland’s reemergence as a world power possible.
First will be the decline of Germany. Its economy is large and still growing, but it has lost the dynamism it has had for two centuries. In addition, its population is going to fall dramatically in the next fifty years, further undermining its economic power. Second, as the Russians press on the Poles from the east, the Germans won’t have an appetite for a third war with Russia. The United States, however, will back Poland, providing it with massive economic and technical support. Wars — when your country isn’t destroyed—stimulate economic growth, and Poland will become the leading power in a coalition of states facing the Russians.
Finally, Mexico will be emboldened by the population bust in the developed world that will create a major labor shortage in advanced industrial countries, Friedman argues.
The United States will be competing for increasingly scarce immigrants and will be doing everything it can to induce Mexicans to come to the United States—an ironic but inevitable shift.
These changes will lead to the final crisis of the twenty-first century. As the Europeans slip out, the Mexicans, like the Turks, will rise in the rankings until by the late twenty-first century they will be one of the major economic powers in the world. During the great migration north encouraged by the United States, the population balance in the old Mexican Cession (that is, the areas of the United States taken from Mexico in the nineteenth century) will shift dramatically until much of the region is predominantly Mexican.
By 2080 I expect there to be a serious confrontation between the United States and an increasingly powerful and assertive Mexico. That confrontation may well have unforeseen consequences for the United States, and will likely not end by 2100.
Turkey emerging as leader in North Africa, Arab world, says EP member
A former Belgian prime minister and a member of the European Parliament has said Turkey is emerging as a leader of the North African and Arab world while praising the country’s attitude toward the public demand for democracy and reforms in those regions.
Guy Verhofstadt, who served as the Belgian prime minister from 1999 to 2008 and is currently a member of the European Parliament and leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), spoke to Sunday’s Zaman in an exclusive interview. ALDE is the third-largest political group in the 736-member European Parliament.
“I find the position of Turkey very courageous [toward public revolutions in the Arab world and North Africa] and very important for the rest of the world. And I don’t think that Turkey is isolated. Actually, the opposite is true — because Turkey is becoming the political leader, I should say, of a whole range of countries from reformed Morocco, democratic Tunisia, Libya without Gaddafi and Egypt that still has to find its way in the next month, in the next year and a number of other countries.
I see Turkey emerging as a leader for a whole new region in North Africa and the Arab world,” Verhofstadt said.
Since the beginning of the public revolts in the Arab world and North Africa early this year, which has so far resulted in the toppling of some long-time dictators, Turkey has been calling on these countries to heed the demands of their people to expand democracy and freedoms while calling on them to avoid the use of violence against anti-government protesters.
Verhofstadt also praised Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s messages on secularism during a tour of Arab Spring nations last month, saying that he found Erdo?an’s remarks honest.
During a televised interview in Egypt, Erdo?an urged Egyptians to not be afraid of secularism and that they should embrace it. “A devout Muslim can successfully govern a secular state,” he said.
“I think he is very honest about what he said in Egypt. Mr. Erdo?an is personally a Muslim, that’s very clear; he has repeated that several times already. But on the other hand, when it comes to the political aspect of the issue and the way a state is organized, the state has to be secular. Otherwise you end up mixing up religion and politics and that’s always a bad thing. So I think it is one of the big achievements of Turkey that it has created a society that is democratic, albeit with some problems from time to time, but it is basically democratic and secular and thus keeps religion and politics separate and gives freedom of religion to everybody. The values that are emerging now in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya are not Western values; they are values for the whole world. They are universal values, indeed,” he said.
Verhofstadt was in Turkey earlier this month with an EU delegation. They visited the party groups in Parliament. Sharing his impressions from the Turkey visit, he said he saw a Turkey that is in good shape economically, with growth figures around 9 to 10 percent.
He said the reason for his visit was the relationship between Turkey and the European Union, which is not in a good state at the moment. Verhofstadt acknowledged that Turkey’s negotiations with the EU are blocked at the moment while voicing his belief that the year 2012 could be a crucial year for unblocking the negotiations.
EU countries unanimously agreed to open official accession talks with Turkey in 2005 before German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy came to power. Sarkozy claims Turkey does not belong in Europe, while Merkel promotes a “privileged partnership” that falls short of membership, a formula Ankara categorically rejects. In Berlin in May 2009, Merkel and Sarkozy made a joint statement declaring that they shared a common position regarding Turkey’s accession to the EU in that it should be offered a privileged partnership, not full EU membership.
Although having started accession negotiations with the EU in 2005, Turkey has only been able to open talks on 13 out of 35 chapters thus far, and talks have been provisionally completed on only one chapter.
Verhofstadt said he is in favor of full accession for Turkey into the European Union, and he does not believe in other alternatives such as privileged partnership.
“Because, in fact, Turkish people also don’t want this [privileged partnership]. They want to be part of the European Union. And I think because of the economic strength of Turkey and at the same time the political weight of Turkey in the region, there are more reasons today than there were two or three years ago to support the full accession of Turkey,” he said.
When asked whether progress in Turkey’s accession talks is possible without a change of attitude by Germany and France regarding Turkey’s membership, he said he finds the year 2012 crucial as change is possible in the political leadership in Europe and in a number of other countries.
“That’s one of the opportunities. The second opportunity is that I think everybody accepts that we create a new, positive political agenda between Turkey and the European Union based, for example, on the facilitation and liberalization of visas. This is a very important thing,” he added.
The EU offers a limited explanation as to why Turkey is the only EU candidate country that is not exempt from visa requirements, while the usual spectacle of long lines and waiting times for Schengen visas in front of EU member country embassies significantly add to the distaste felt by society.
Verhofstadt also dwelled on the claims of some Turks who say Turkey no longer needs the EU because it has a very strong economy. He said this kind of thinking is wrong because a huge part of the gross national product of Turkey is created by exports to the EU.
“Look to the European Union and certainly the eurozone as an internal market of 400-500 million people, who are consumers at the same time. I think Turkey has an enormous interest in investing in that internal market and having full access to that. And in the end, that is the aim of full membership in the EU, naturally, that Turkey becomes a part of that internal market. So, I think it would be a mistake to follow those who say ‘the center of gravity is shifting to the north of Africa.’ I think Turkey has a role to play as the bridge between the European Union on the one side and the democratic Arab world and a democratic North Africa on the other,” he said.
Does Sex Ed Undermine Parental Rights?
By ROBERT P. GEORGE and MELISSA MOSCHELLA
IMAGINE you have a 10- or 11-year-old child, just entering a public middle school. How would you feel if, as part of a class ostensibly about the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, he and his classmates were given “risk cards” that graphically named a variety of solitary and mutual sex acts? Or if, in another lesson, he was encouraged to disregard what you told him about sex, and to rely instead on teachers and health clinic staff members?
That prospect would horrify most parents. But such lessons are part of a middle-school curriculum that Dennis M. Walcott, the New York City schools chancellor, has recommended for his system’s newly mandated sex-education classes. There is a parental “opt out,” but it is very limited, covering classes on contraception and birth control.
Observers can quarrel about the extent to which what is being mandated is an effect, or a contributing cause, of the sexualization of children in our society at younger ages. But no one can plausibly claim that teaching middle-schoolers about mutual masturbation is “neutral” between competing views of morality; the idea of “value free” sex education was exploded as a myth long ago. The effect of such lessons is as much to promote a certain sexual ideology among the young as it is to protect their health.
But beyond rival moral visions, the new policy raises a deeper issue: Should the government force parents — at least those not rich enough to afford private schooling — to send their children to classes that may contradict their moral and religious values on matters of intimacy and personal conduct?
Liberals and conservatives alike should say no. Such policies violate parents’ rights, whether they are Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or of no religion at all. To see why, we need to think carefully about the parent-child relationship that gives rise to the duties that parental rights serve and protect.
Parents are responsible for bringing new people into the world, bound to them by blood and, ordinarily, deep feeling. These people are incapable of developing their uniquely human capacities on their own, giving parents an obligation to their children and to society to help them reach maturity — one that requires attending not only to children’s physical and emotional needs, but their intellectual and moral growth as well.
Parenting, especially in moral and religious matters, is very important and highly personal: while parents enlist others’ help in this task, the task is theirs. They are ultimately responsible for their children’s intellectual and moral maturity, so within broad limits they must be free to educate their children, especially on the deepest matters, as they judge best. This is why parental rights are so important: they provide a zone of sovereignty, a moral space to fulfill their obligations according to their consciences.
The right to parent is rather like the right to exercise one’s religion. Like parental duties, religious duties are serious and highly personal. This is why, absent the most serious reasons, it would be a grave violation of individual rights if the state prevented people from honoring what they regarded as their religious obligations. To subject children to indoctrination in deeply personal matters against their parents’ consciences is no less a violation than forcing Muslim parents to send their children to a Catholic Mass.
True, the state needs to protect children from abuse and neglect. It is also true that the state has a legitimate interest in reducing teenage pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. But it is not abuse or neglect to protect the innocence of preteenage children or to teach one’s children more conservative, as opposed to more liberal, moral values. Nor is it wrong or unreasonable to limit the state’s control over what one’s children learn and think about sensitive issues of morality. On the contrary, that is just what is required if parents are to fulfill their duties and exercise their legitimate rights.
Unless a broader parental opt out is added, New York City’s new policies will continue to usurp parents’ just (and constitutionally recognized) authority. Turning a classroom into a mandatory catechism lesson for a contested ideology is a serious violation of parental rights, and citizens of every ideological hue should stand up and oppose it.
Robert P. George is a professor of politics at Princeton and the founder of the American Principles Project. Melissa Moschella is a doctoral candidate in political theory at Princeton.
Mandatory Sex Ed Details May Be Too Racy for Parents: Report
Details about the new sex education curriculum in New York City public schools are out — and some are concerned the lessons are too racy.
The New York Post obtained workbooks that will be used for the new recommended curriculum, which begins in middle schools and high schools around the city next spring. Parents, they say, may be shocked by details of the work.
Middle school students will be assigned “risk cards” that rate the safety of different activities, the paper says, from French kissing to oral sex.
The workbooks for older students direct them to a website run by Columbia University, which explores topics such as sexual positions, porn stars, and bestiality. The lessons explain risky sexual behavior and suggest students go to stores to jot condom brands and prices.
The Department of Education says the curriculum “stresses that abstinence is the best way to avoid pregnancy and STD/HIV” and reminded the Post that parents have the option to exclude their kids from lessons on “methods of prevention.”
When given details of the new programs, one Manhattan mom — who has a child in middle-school — was surprised.
“I didn’t know how much detail they would get,” she said.
In August, Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs commended the return of mandatory sex ed, saying the DOE wants to give students the correct information about sexual activity if they do choose to engage in it.
“We want to help kids to delay the onset of sexual activity, and if they choose to engage in sexual activity, to do it in a healthy way,” she said.
The classes will be coeducational, and can be incorporated into existing health education courses.
Libya’s interim leader outlined more radical plans to introduce Islamic law than expected as he declared the official liberation of the country.
By Richard Spencer
Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council and de fact president, had already declared that Libyan laws in future would have Sharia, the Islamic code, as its “basic source”.
But that formulation can be interpreted in many ways – it was also the basis of Egypt’s largely secular constitution under President Hosni Mubarak, and remains so after his fall.
Mr Abdul-Jalil went further, specifically lifting immediately, by decree, one law from Col. Gaddafi’s era that he said was in conflict with Sharia – that banning polygamy.
In a blow to those who hoped to see Libya’s economy integrate further into the western world, he announced that in future bank regulations would ban the charging of interest, in line with Sharia. “Interest creates disease and hatred among people,” he said.
Gulf states like the United Arab Emirates, and other Muslim countries, have pioneered the development of Sharia-compliant banks which charge fees rather than interest for loans but they normally run alongside western-style banks.
In the first instance, interest on low-value loans would be waived altogether, he said.
Libya is already the most conservative state in north Africa, banning the sale of alcohol. Mr Abdul-Jalil’s decision – made in advance of the introduction of any democratic process – will please the Islamists who have played a strong role in opposition to Col Gaddafi’s rule and in the uprising but worry the many young liberal Libyans who, while usually observant Muslims, take their political cues from the West.