Rick Santorum, the one-time Republican Party frontrunner in the 2012 presidential election, has officially suspended his campaign.
Santorum addressed a crowd Tuesday afternoon from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where he formally announced that he would be retiring his quest to seek the GOP’s nomination this election year. He had announced that he would be seeking the Republican Party’s nod last June.
This past February, polling data from RealClearPolitics had put Santorum in the lead among Republican Party candidate. In recent weeks, however, the former Pennsylvania senator has slumped in the polls.
In her year-end summary of the Arab Spring revolts of 2011, Christiane Amanpour, the Global Affairs Anchor of ABC News as well as an anchor and Chief International Correspondent at CNN, highlights the rebellions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria but never mentions the uprising in Bahrain (“This Week,” December 25, 2011). Apparently, Bahrain falls off the global map with Amanpour and ABC News .
In its year-end edition, the world’s largest weekly news magazine with headquarters in New York City, Time, awarded its “Person of the Year” award to ‘The Protester’ heralding the millions who voiced their opposition to dictators and corruption in 2011 starting with the protests in Tunisia which spread throughout the Arab world on into Europe and across the Atlantic to the Occupy Wall Street Movement in the USA. In his cover story on “The Protester,” Time magazine reporter Kurt Andersen praises activists in cities in Tunisia, Egypt, Spain, Greece, Britain, Israel, Mexico, India, Chile, the USA, Russia, Syria, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Jordan, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, and Morocco. Is Bahrain mentioned at all, our dear reader may inquire? Only once: to indicate that the “days of rage” had reached to the “softer monarchical dictatorships—Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco…” (Andersen, p. 72) . Yes, that is it—one mention. In a 21-page article, one would think that a seasoned journalist would care to write a little more about the massive demonstrations and subsequent onslaught by regime forces against the pro-democracy protesters which occurred in Bahrain in 2011. Is this careless journalism or deliberate policy to exclude reporting on Bahrain?
Dr. James J. Zogby, founder and president of the Washington DC-based Arab American Institute, in his article “The ‘Arab Spring’ Effect,” conducted a year-end public opinion survey in Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Iran regarding the effect of the 2011 Arab Spring and the publics’ satisfaction with the pace of political change, and there is not one mention of Bahrain and no reporting on how Bahrainis feel about the pace of political change in their country (January 1, 2012). Is Bahrain just too small or too insignificant one may begin to ponder?
Noted commentator on Middle Eastern affairs, Professor Juan Cole from the University of Michigan, in his November 10, 2011 article entitled “Protest Planet: How a Neoliberal Shell Game Created an Age of Activism,” writes of the factors that have motivated the Arab Spring rebellions including “the resulting corruption, the way politicians can be bought and sold, and the impunity of the white-collar criminals who have run riot in societies everywhere…high rates of unemployment, reduced social services, blighted futures, and above all the substitution of the market for all other values as the matrix of human ethics and life.”
Though able to pinpoint many of the causes of the revolts, Dr. Cole—like others in the American mainstream—fails to mention Bahrain even once when he traces the path of the Arab rebellions thusly: “The success of the Tunisian revolution in removing the octopus-like Ben Ali plutocracy inspired the dramatic events in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and even Israel that are redrawing the political map of the Middle East” (Cole, November 10, 2011). Excuse me, Professor Cole, but what about Bahrain?!
Figures from water regulator Ofwat, collated in response to a parliamentary question, show that the average bill for unmetered water was higher last year in all regions of the UK than it was in 2001, even with inflation taken into account.
Customers are about to receive notice of another inflation-busting increase, with the average household bill for water and sewerage increasing at 0.5pc above inflation this year, to an average of £376 across the country. Regional variations mean that some people will receive an increase of up to 8pc.
The Parliamentary figures show that customers in the South West paid the highest average bill for water only at £323 a year, while those in Portsmouth pay just £103.
Water companies base their price increases on the RPI rate of inflation, but the Ofwat figures show that water bills have risen far faster than inflation. Customers of Anglian Water would have paid £181 for their water in today’s prices in 2001, but pay an average of £230 now. Customers of South West water would have paid an average of £171 at today’s prices for their water, but pay £323 today.
A spokesman for regulator Ofwat said that the bills reflected the fact that £21 billion has been invested to improve water services across England and Wales. it added that, thanks to the fact that it had challenged the water companies’ proposed rises, average bills are “set to remain broadly in line with inflation by 2015″ and will be 10pc below on average what water companies asked for.
Ofwat, the water industry watchdog, faces calls for it to be overhauled amid accusations that it is not doing enough to remedy leaking drinking water while privatised water companies enjoy soaring profits and consumers face high bills.
Analysis by The Independent on Sunday shows that more water is being lost through leakage now than 10 years ago – despite £7.5bn invested in infrastructure since then.
Every day more than 3.3 billion litres of treated water – 20 per cent of the nation’s supply and 234 million litres a day more than a decade ago – are lost through leaking pipes in England and Wales. The water lost would meet the daily needs of 21.5 million people.
A former head of Welsh Water has claimed Wales should profit from transferring water to England.
John Elfed Jones, former chairman and chief executive of the company, says water is a business and, like oil, it should be sold to make money.
It comes as Severn Trent, which supplies mid Wales, announced plans to sell water to Anglian Water, one of the firms which has imposed a hosepipe ban.
But Welsh Water said water transfer was too expensive and impractical.
Mr Jones told BBC Wales’ Taro Naw programme, to be broadcast on S4C (Tuesday 21:30 BST): “What is fairness? Is it fair that Wales isn’t profiting a penny from the water which is exported to England?
“In 50 years will our people look back and ask why didn’t we invest years ago?
The ferocity of the attacks on George Galloway by the British commentariat is one of the most revealing outcomes of his victory in the Bradford West by-election. News presenters saw no problem in conducting interviews with the newly elected MP that were largely a shower of insulting and unproven accusations. Columnists wrote thousands of shrill words warning readers that he and his victory were atypical and had no broader significance for the country. And, if his success did have any relevance, it was the ominous one of illustrating deepening racial division in Britain, despite the fact that Mr Galloway continually explained that he had won in non-Muslim as well as Muslim majority wards.
There is an amusing half-hour to be spent watching YouTube clips of television interviews with Mr Galloway in the days after he was elected. With a few honourable exceptions – Sky was more even-handed here than the BBC or ITN – most of the interviewers appeared in the role of prosecuting attorneys. They had the air of men and women who knew they were not going to be reprimanded by their employers, however rude they were to the successful candidate. They were convulsed with rage because Mr Galloway said complimentary things to Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad when he met them. Of course he had, as had every other visitor from Donald Rumsfeld to Tony Blair who had been to see these autocrats when they were in power. Other criticism was of astonishing naivety. For instance, had not Mr Galloway played ethnic politics by cultivating Muslim voters? Of course he had since they were numerous in the constituency, but then so had Labour to a far greater extent by selecting a Pakistani Muslim as its candidate.
These interviews, analyses and commentaries told one more about the cast of mind of inner circles of the British political class than it did about Mr Galloway or the people of Bradford. Since few reporters appear to have gone to the city before or after the election, and commentators were quick to say the result did not matter, it was difficult even to establish basic facts about the poll, such as why people voted the way they did. It is an old American journalistic nostrum that “comment is free and facts are expensive”, but US op-ed writers and their television counterparts at least make more effort than in Britain to pretend to first-hand knowledge of whatever they are commenting about.
The chancellor said he had seen “anonymised” tax returns submitted by multimillionaires using aggressive avoidance schemes to dramatically reduce their tax bills.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) found that the income tax rate among some of the highest earners was, on average, only 10%.
Osborne said the HMRC study convinced him of the need to “take action” to ensure high earners pay more income tax.
In last month’s budget he limited how much people could offset their tax bills by investing in businesses or donating to charity.
Anyone seeking to claim more than £50,000 of tax relief in any one year will have a cap set at 25% of their income from 2013.
HMRC found hundreds of millions of pounds of income tax is avoided by using legal loopholes.
The main methods included writing off business losses, offsetting the cost of business mortgages, and borrowing on buy-to-let properties.
Others took advantage of tax relief on donations to charity.
HUNDREDS of Devon and Cornwall Police officers are expected to march through the streets of London as part of a national protest against the Government’s “unprecedented attack on policing”.
The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, is also to ballot its members on whether or not they should have full industrial rights, including the right to strike. The action follows the publication of the most radical review of police pay and conditions for a generation which was labelled as an “attack on the very bedrock of the office of constable”.
Sergeant Nigel Rabbitts, chairman of the federation in Devon and Cornwall, said: “People have sat down and done the maths and realised how the reforms are going to affect them and they are up in arms about it. We are going on the offensive with the ballot, the march and advertising and I think over the summer there will be a variety of different things.”
MUSIC videos are to be given IQ ratings to prevent frustration among the relatively intelligent.
Under new guidelines, music videos must display an intelligence rating at the start, giving viewers the option to turn off if they feel the inanity of the content may drive them to self-harm or an unbearable level of intellectual smugness.
The video for Katy Perry’s Part of Me, in which the singer joins a platoon of attractive female marines after seeing her boyfriend leaning over another woman, has been rated 50 IQ Points, or ‘suitable mostly for cretins’.
Dance Again by Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull, in which the singer writhes in a giant trough full of semi-naked people before turning silver, has been given an IQ level of 38.
French DJ David Guetta’s promos are rated between 12 and 23 IQ points – ‘liable to offend even the most rudimentary brain’.
BBFC music video censor Nikki Hollis said: “Pop promos have become increasingly controversial for their use of overtly moronic imagery and storylines.
“Often they open with the aftermath of a party, where models are lying around in states of undress with some farm animals running about, and then proceed to tell the story of the previous night, complete with angry parents, bikini-clad ‘cuties’ in a paddling pool and a breakdancing zebra.
“Basically it’s teenage fun as imagined by some fat, old record executives.”
Greece is offering a ‘cop-for-hire’ service, renting out policemen for €30 per hour, plus €10 if you want a police car too. It triggered fears that security of people who cannot afford a policeman for hire may be affected in favor of those who can.
This new way for the cash-strapped Greek state to raise money will “pay for the cost of using police materials and infrastructure, and allow to modernize them”, the Ministry of Citizen Protection said in a statement.
The Police services on offer were previously used in “exceptional cases” – escorting the transportation of dangerous material or art works and were free of charge. Now, Police services have a price-tag. If you need something special the hourly fee for patrol boats is €200, and €1500 for helicopters, according to the Proto Thema newspaper.
The security and surveillance state does not deal in nuance or ambiguity. Its millions of agents, intelligence gatherers, spies, clandestine operatives, analysts and armed paramilitary units live in a binary world of opposites, of good and evil, black and white, opponent and ally. There is nothing between. You are for us or against us. You are a patriot or an enemy of freedom. You either embrace the crusade to physically eradicate evildoers from the face of the Earth or you are an Islamic terrorist, a collaborator or an unwitting tool of terrorists. And now that we have created this monster it will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to free ourselves from it. Our 16 national intelligence agencies and army of private contractors feed on paranoia, rumor, rampant careerism, demonization of critical free speech and often invented narratives. They justify their existence, and their consuming of vast governmental resources, by turning even the banal and the mundane into a potential threat. And by the time they finish, the nation will be a gulag.
The tiny town of Lakota, N.D., is quickly becoming a key testing ground for the legality of the use of unmanned drones by law enforcement after one of its residents became the first American citizen to be arrested with the help of a Predator surveillance drone.
The bizarre case started when six cows wandered onto Rodney Brossart’s 3,000 acre farm. Brossart, an alleged anti-government “sovereignist,” believed he should have been able to keep the cows, so he and two family members chased police off his land with high powered rifles.
After a 16-hour standoff, the Grand Forks police department SWAT team, armed with a search warrant, used an agreement they’ve had with Homeland Security for about three years, and called in an unmanned aerial vehicle to pinpoint Brossart’s location on the ranch. The SWAT team stormed in and arrested Brossart on charges of terrorizing a sheriff, theft, criminal mischief, and other charges, according to documents.
Brossart says he “had no clue” they used a drone during the standoff until months after his arrest.
“We’re not laying over here playing dead on it,” says Brossart, who is scheduled to appear in court on April 30. He believes what the SWAT team did was “definitely” illegal.
“We’re dealing with it, we’ve got a couple different motions happening in court fighting [the drone use].”
Broadcom has just rolled out a chip for smart phones that promises to indicate location ultra-precisely, possibly within a few centimeters, vertically and horizontally, indoors and out.
The unprecedented accuracy of the Broadcom 4752 chip results from the sheer breadth of sensors from which it can process information. It can receive signals from global navigation satellites, cell-phone towers, and Wi-Fi hot spots, and also input from gyroscopes, accelerometers, step counters, and altimeters.
The variety of location data available to mobile-device makers means that in our increasingly radio-frequency-dense world, location services will continue to become more refined.
In theory, the new chip can even determine what floor of a building you’re on, thanks to its ability to integrate information from the atmospheric pressure sensor on many models of Android phones. The company calls abilities like this “ubiquitous navigation,” and the idea is that it will enable a new kind of e-commerce predicated on the fact that shopkeepers will know the moment you walk by their front door, or when you are looking at a particular product, and can offer you coupons at that instant.
The integration of new kinds of location data opens up the possibility of navigating indoors, where GPS signals are weak or nonexistent.
Broadcom is already the largest provider of GPS chips to smart-phone makers. Its new integrated circuit relies on sensors that aren’t present in every new smart phone, so it won’t perform the same in all devices. The new chip, like a number of existing ones, has the ability to triangulate using Wi-Fi hot spots. Broadcom maintains a database of these hot spots for client use, but it says most of its clients maintain their own.
The Invisible Children NGO, most famous for its Kony 2012 online video, helped the Ugandan government arrest a former child soldier and backed an operation that killed more civilians than militants, cables published by Wikileaks reveal.
A memo written by a public affairs officer at the US embassy in Uganda documents Invisible Children’s collaboration with Ugandan intelligence services. It notes that the US-based NGO tipped the Ugandan government on the whereabouts of Patrick Komakech, a former child soldier for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), who was wanted by security officials for extorting money from the government officials, NGO’s and local tribal leaders. Ugandan security organizations jumped the tip and immediately arrested Komakech.
As a result of the tip, the Ugandan military claimed it obtained the names of other suspects from Komakech. The military then conducted a sweep and arrested a number of people, many of whom declared their innocence, the Ugandan media reported. Human rights groups say torture of arrested suspects by Ugandan security forces is routine.
Invisible Children also actively supported Operation Lightning Thunder (OLT), a joint attack by Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the then-autonomous South Sudan against the LRA. The operation, which was also received US intelligence and logistical backing, killed more civilians than LRA militants.
In a confidential memo dating back to 2009, US ambassador to Uganda Steven Browning noted that the US-based NGO planned pro-OLT events under the theme “Kony Must Be Stopped. Rescue Our Children”.
Browning says local Invisible Children activists led the events. These events included visiting Washington to meet with lawmakers and conducting awareness campaigns in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and Mexico.
But Norbert Mao, a Ugandan opposition politician who, Browning claimed, “honchoed” the 2009 events, disputes the veracity of the ambassador’s assessment.
Hackers have modified those electronic roadside signs before, for things like an oncoming zombie apocalypse, or because the British were coming. Those might have been snarky and humorous, but this definitely is not: a road sign on a Michigan freeway was hacked early Monday morning and its message altered to read “Trayvon A N*gger.”
The message obviously referenced 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed by 28-year-old George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch member in Sanford, Florida in late February.
Rob Morosi, a spokesman for the Michigan’s Department of Transportation said that someone had broken the lock on the sign’s controls. “We were first alerted to it a little after midnight. By 12:50 a.m. it was returned to the [appropriate message].”
“Not too many people saw it but it was long enough to make people very upset. We’re just hoping they’re [authorities] able to gather evidence, determine who it is and take appropriate action.” Morosi added that the state police were investigating the incident and had the sign in their possession.
Hacking into these types of road signs is not uncommon, but the hackers are usually snarky in their messaging, as we noted. Morosi said, “When you take it to this level now you’ve raised the bar in terms of how appalled we all were.”
One thing that most people don’t think about, but that is definitely true: these sorts of sign changes distract drivers, and are not just a nuisance, but a traffic hazard, as well.
In this case, it was also a blatant sign that racism is still alive and well in America.
The establishment media is all over a story about members of a crackpot “National Socialist movement” from Detroit “occupying” Sanford, Florida, where Trayvon Martin was killed.
And yet they do not talk about violent racist threats by the New Black Panther Party (NBPP).
Both groups represent the lunatic fringe of American politics.
“We are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody, but we are prepared for it,” Nazi Commander Jeff Schoep told the Miami New Times.
The NBPP, on the other hand, have called for bloodshed, violence against “crackers,” and the end of capitalism.
The NBPP has teamed up with “Million Hoodies for Trayvon Martin Coalition,” as the flyer taken from their website below reveals. A crosshair on a photo of George Zimmerman – who has yet to be arrested and is in hiding fearing for his life – demonstrates the sort of vigilante justice the New Black Panthers have in mind: taking Zimmerman “dead or alive,” as the diatribe by NBPP Chief of Staff Michelle Williams makes clear in the above video.
As United States lawmakers continue to consider anti-piracy legislation in Congress, they’ve found an ally in Netflix. Now the streaming content giant has created its own super PAC, whose main goal is to promote SOPA-like legislation.
Hollywood and record industry support didn’t help Congress get SOPA and PIPA to pass the House and Senate, but now they have a new accomplice in their continuing fight to try and push for anti-piracy legislation. Netflix, the number one name in (legally) streaming video services in the US has announced the formation of their own political action committee. Appropriately titled FLIXPAC, the just established-agency will be able to endorse politicians by way of stuffing their pockets, which in turn could influence even more congressmen to condone increasingly controversial bills that are being considered in the House and the Senate.
Following the defeat of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act (or SOPA and PIPA, respectively), Congress has been drafting an array of options that, if passed, are being touted as the long-awaited solution to what lawmakers consider a dire problem in the States: online piracy. While the newest SOPA-substituting legislation have been authored already and ushered through Congress, the backing of streaming behemoth Netflix could ensure that the next attempt at censoring the Web sees US President Barack Obama signing it in no time.
If police officers were to file a subpoena for your Facebook information, they would receive a printout of the data from the social network. This printout would be so detailed, complete and creepy that you should strive to be a good law-abiding citizen, just to prevent it from ever existing.
We have just learned about the true nature of Facebook’s responses to subpoenas thanks to documents uncovered by the Boston Phoenix, an alternative weekly.
While researching a story about a man dubbed the “Craigslist Killer,” reporters at the Phoenix had access to “a huge trove of case files released by the Boston Police Department.” And in the process of sifting through all of those documents, they discovered the Boston Police’s subpoena of the suspect’s Facebook information— as well as the data provided by the social network.
The White House is pushing back against the media for what it sees as oversaturated coverage of this week’s forthcoming North Korean missile test.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know this is a propaganda exercise,” National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor told me. “Reporters have to be careful not to get co-opted.”
The long-range missile test – which the country is touting as a peaceful satellite launch — has given networks, newspapers, and wires a rare opportunity to report from within the country. NBC’s Richard Engel, ABC’s Bob Woodruff, and CNN’s Stan Grant are among those who have already produced curtain-raising segments on the days ahead. The Associated Press is turning out blow-by-blow coverage, and reporters are tweeting and filing frequently.
But Vietor fears that by flooding the zone in North Korea, U.S. media outlets are providing the country’s leadership with propaganda tools that will only embolden their efforts to enhance its intercontinental ballistic missile capability.
A White House order updating federal emergency powers has raised alarm among some conservative commentators, and U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams, that President Barack Obama is attempting to grab unconstitutional powers.
A columnist with The Washington Times declared the mid-March order — an update of a 60-year-old document outlining the president’s authority in a national emergency — “stunning in its audacity and a flagrant violation of the Constitution.” The conservative Drudge Report website linked to it with the headline, “Martial Law?”
And Adams, R-Orlando, said it “leaves the door open for the president to give himself control over American resources during both times of peace, and national crisis.”
So Adams filed a nonbinding resolution specifying what Obama cannot do with the order — including institute a draft, confiscate personal property and “force civilians to engage in labor against their will or without compensation.”
The special prosecutor investigating the shooting death of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin has ruled out using a grand jury in the case, meaning her office alone will decide whether to charge shooter George Zimmerman with a crime.
The case has captured national attention, largely because of race. Martin, 17, was black and Zimmerman, 28, who has not been charged, is white and Hispanic.
Police in the town of Sanford declined to arrest Zimmerman after the shooting, saying they found no evidence to contradict his account that he acted in self-defense.
The state attorney previously investigating the shooting, Norm Wolfinger, had said the case would go to a grand jury on April 10. That grand jury would have decided whether to charge Zimmerman but Wolfinger removed himself from the case on March 22 and was replaced by Angela Corey.
Millions of home owners will be forced to pay hundreds of pounds more to build conservatories or replace broken boilers because of “green taxes” to be introduced from October.
New regulations proposed by the government will prevent people making significant home improvements unless they also pay for energy saving measures such as loft or wall insulation for existing foundations at the same time.
The work, aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of Britain’s homes, will add 10 per cent to the cost of the initial project, with more expensive work such as conservatory extensions requiring a greater “green” outlay.
Home owners who are unable to afford the additional cost will be told to borrow it under the government’s Green Deal, under which the money is paid back with interest via energy bills.
In a small but growing number of cases across the nation, lawyers are blaming the U.S. military’s heavy use of psychotropic drugs for their clients’ aberrant behavior and related health problems. Such defenses have rarely gained traction in military or civilian courtrooms, but Burke’s case provides the first important indication that military psychiatrists and court-martial judges are not blind to what can happen when troops go to work medicated.
After two long-running wars with escalating levels of combat stress, more than 110,000 active-duty Army troops last year were taking prescribed antidepressants, narcotics, sedatives, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety drugs, according to figures recently disclosed to The Times by the U.S. Army surgeon general. Nearly 8% of the active-duty Army is now on sedatives and more than 6% is on antidepressants — an eightfold increase since 2005.
“We have never medicated our troops to the extent we are doing now…. And I don’t believe the current increase in suicides and homicides in the military is a coincidence,” said Bart Billings, a former military psychologist who hosts an annual conference on combat stress.
The pharmacy consultant for the Army surgeon general says the military’s use of the drugs is comparable to that in the civilian world. “It’s not that we’re using them more frequently or any differently,” said Col. Carol Labadie. “As with any medication, you have to look at weighing the risk versus the benefits of somebody going on a medication.”
But the military environment makes regulating the use of prescription drugs a challenge compared with the civilian world, some psychologists say.