Who Knew That It Was Global Orgasm for Peace Day?

[This is what passes for "psychiatry" in America.]

Celebrate the first day of Global Orgasm for Peace

Global Orgasm for Peace is organized by a group of American psychologists and therapists.
BBC Global Orgasm for Peace is organized by a group of American psychologists and therapists.

The aim of the conference is to dedicate each orgasm for world peace , to conflict resolution, whether occurring alone or accompanied, the important thing, say the organizers, is to channel “consciously orgasmic energy for positive change energy the Earth. “

“The energy that follows an orgasm combined with positive imagery could help reduce global levels of violence, hatred and fear. It is a biological gift that we must seize , “said Victoria Sinclair, one of the coordinators of the event. “I grew up in the 60′s with the” make love not war “and I know the importance of raising the vibration of the planet to love. Having an orgasm is free, healthy and fun. Why do so by his family and a peaceful planet? “details the therapist Sinclair, who describes herself as a priestess of peace.

Any place is good

organizers say that any place is good for one sex for peace but emphasized, “the ideal is to prepare a space, touch and bless the body with which to share (or your own if you are alone ), drink some liquid such as water previously or wine and pronounce some mudras (mantras) to focus sexual energy. ” Finally, “give thanks to life at the time of discharge energy,” with a smile and always projecting thoughts positive for peace. Sinclair and his partner Steve Schweitzer psychologist, invite everyone to participate in the global orgasm but especially to countries affected by war or violence. They also encourage the mass production of orgasms at any time although they recommend as valuable energy concentrated at key moments such as full moons, new moons, solstices and equinoxes. The website of the day began to fill with fans who want to bring your orgasm to the cause. “Count on me. With pleasure I spend all my orgasms for peace. That spread love, “ says one follower. “It’s a wonderful idea. I’ve been practicing all year for this,” adds another. “I’m not sure that orgasms 6,000 million people to bring the world peace but why not try? It’s free and it’s fun, “notes Bruce was active in the cause.

Islam Karimov Singing the Praises of Eurasian Union?

Photo session of Heads of State during the meeting the Council within the framework of the CSTO. Photos from the Web site of Russian President

At the CIS summit in Moscow, President Islam Karimov praised the efforts of the Eurasian integration

Fergana

December 19, 2011 in the capital of Russia held a meeting of the Supreme Economic Council of the Eurasian, the Interstate Council of Eurasian Economic Community, and on December 20 the session of the CSTO and the informal meeting of Heads of State of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Two days in Moscow were the presidents of most former Soviet countries (not including the Baltics) – Dmitry Medvedev, Alexander Lukashenko, Atambaev, Nursultan Nazarbayev, Viktor Yanukovych, Serzh Sargsyan, President Rahmon, Islam Karimov, as well as Representative G. Berdymukhamedov.

During the twenty years since the Soviet collapse of the former leaders of the Union all the time are talking about integration. No exception and the last meeting. Especially, now that everyone’s lips activation Eurasian unification process, initiated by the president of Kazakhstan, and Russia developed the current prime minister.

It is in this context, many observers were looking forward to see what would come to the summit of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, and what words he would say in public. Recall, December 7, he spoke in Tashkent with a report on the Day of Constitution of the Republic, which has signaled its unwillingness to participate in the formation of various inter-state associations, as he says, “it is possible that they will go beyond economic interests and political gain color and content. “As reported by RIA “Novosti” , Islam Karimov did not disappoint the crowd. He not only praised the CIS, such as education, which has a perspective, but noted that the Eurasian integration – “this is our future, this is the way in the direction in which all must go.”

“Single Economic Space, the Eurasian Economic Union, and later simply Eurasian Union – all of it, so to speak, is formed on the background of the CIS, and they (the integration associations) create a frame of mind, and then whether the CIS in general. And I answer that question (I’m just an opinion) is convinced that … Eurasian Union and everything else – natural and logical development of what is happening in the world “ - said Karimov (quoted by RIA “News”).

Recall Uzbekistan is a member of the CIS and the CSTO. In January 2006, he signed a protocol of accession to the Eurasian Economic Community, whose members since its inception are the five states – Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. However, in October 2008, Tashkent, its participation in the EurAsEC bodies suspended.

The international news agency “Fergana”

69 Patriot Surface-to-Air Missiles Found On Boat To China

[Someone not only transferred American technology to China, they transferred a shitload of our best missiles to China!]

Patriot missiles found on China-bound ship

CBS News
The cargo ship M/S Thor Liberty is seen at Mussalo harbour in Kotka, Finland, Dec. 21 2011. (AP Photo/Lehtikuva)

(AP)HELSINKI – Around 160 tons of explosives and 69 surface-to-air missiles have been found by Finnish officials on a cargo ship bearing a British flag and ultimately destined for China, authorities said Wednesday. They said they didn’t know the origin of the Patriot missiles or who was supposed to receive them.

The M/S Thor Liberty sailed from the north German port of Emden on Dec. 13 and two days later docked in Kotka, southern Finland, to pick up a cargo of anchor chains, officials said. Its final destination was Shanghai, but it wasn’t clear whether that’s where the arms shipment was going, officials said.

Detective superintendent Timo Virtanen of the National Bureau of Investigation said dock workers found massive amounts of picric acid — an explosive — and the missiles as they were loading the chains and alerted inspectors.

Some of the explosives were not stored properly, customs spokesman Petri Lounatmaa said, adding that an investigation was launched into a possible breach of Finnish export and weapons trading laws and that the cargo would be impounded if determined to be illegal.

“At this stage we don’t know where it was loaded on the ship or if the Thor Liberty planned a drop before its port of destination in China,” Lounatmaa told The Associated Press.

Returning From Iraq, Soldiers Find Themselves On Turnaround To Afghanistan

[As so many of us have been predicting, soldiers withdrawn from Iraq will be recycled into Afghanistan, to replace those allegedly being "withdrawn" there, or sent-on to the next war in Asia or Africa.  About now, American GIs are realizing what assholes they have been in signing away their lives, by volunteering to serving in the never-ending wars.  Remember, whatever you have to go through, you volunteered for it.]

Soldiers just back from Iraq get new orders: Afghanistan

By Chelsea J. Carter, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) – Soldiers who just returned from Iraq are among several thousand being ordered to Afghanistan in six months as part of a mission designed to beef up Afghan forces ahead of a planned 2014 U.S. military withdrawal, officials said.

News of the pending Afghanistan deployments came as families at bases across the country were celebrating the return in recent days of troops who turned off the lights at a number of U.S. bases ahead of an end-of-the-year deadline to leave Iraq.

“We are glad that we have brought all soldiers back home in time for Christmas to spend with loved ones. We do have to put information out about an upcoming mission, though,” the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, said Tuesday on its Facebook Page.

In the posting, the brigade said it was one of four selected to “support a Security Force Assistance Mission to Afghanistan in early summer.”

“We just received initial planning orders so lots of details are unknown,” it said. “…The mission is part of the transition from combat operations to advisory mission as we did in Iraq and is a sign of progress.”

Maj. Carla Thomas, a brigade spokeswoman, confirmed the validity of the Facebook announcement.

The new mission is part of an overall U.S. military exit strategy from Afghanistan that moves troops from a combat role to advise-and-assist positions that commanders and analysts say will significantly scale back operations ahead of President Barack Obama’s self-imposed deadline to leave the country.

Earlier this year, the United States outlined its plan to withdraw its troops, beginning by pulling 33,000 “surge” troops deployed to help quell the violence by the end of 2012. The remaining 68,000 troops would be withdrawn by the end of 2014.

News of the deployments comes as the Obama administration pushes to accelerate the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, a plan that many military commanders have said is unreasonable in a country still trying to gain its security footing.

“I don’t think we are going to turn around guys who spent time in Iraq and put them on planes to Afghanistan … without there being a clear indication that the Obama administration wants to continue the acceleration of the withdrawal,” said Bill Roggio, Editor of The Long War Journal & Senior Fellow at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“U.S. commanders want to stop with the withdrawal of the 33,000 (surge troops.) They want to halt it.”

Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, has said he would like to keep a U.S. “military presence” in Afghanistan beyond 2014 when NATO is scheduled to withdraw its forces. Allen suggested the presence could last as long as 2016 when the Afghan Air Force is completed.

Allen told reporters last week there is “no daylight” between him and the White House on this idea. Allen said he wants to shift the U.S. presence to an advisory capacity in the coming months and then continue to do that mission after 2014.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has asked Allen to review the counterinsurgency strategy and determine what changes are needed. Allen said he has to complete the review before he can decide on the rate of drawdown of current U.S. force levels.

The new mission in Afghanistan somewhat mirrors the U.S. exit strategy in Iraq, which used advise and assist teams to improve counterterrorism operations and train security forces.

Just like in Iraq, small teams of American troops will work and live among security forces, and will help coordinate military operations, according to comments Allen made to reporters last week.

In its Facebook posting, the 4th Brigade Combat Team said those who would be deployed in advise-and-assist roles would be senior enlisted personnel, ranging from master sergeants to colonels.

The deployment was expected to last nine months, though it was unclear how many members of the brigade will deploy.

Also being deployed are troops from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart, Georgia; the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson, Colorado; and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The brigade deployments were first reported this week by Stars and Stripes, a newspaper that caters to military personnel.

Under an Army policy, troops are given one month of dwell time for every month they are deployed. In the case of 1st Armored Division’s brigade, which returned in December after less than six months in Iraq, its soldiers could be sent to Afghanistan as early as May.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment. Messages left early Wednesday by CNN at public affairs offices at the 3rd Infantry Division, the 4th Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne Division were not immediately returned.

Reactions at Fort Bliss were mixed with some soldiers and families telling CNN by telephone that they were resigned to the specter of an Afghanistan deployment, while others said they were surprised elements of the brigade would be deployed so soon after returning from Iraq.

None of the soldiers or their family members were willing to be quoted, citing possible repercussions over speaking to the media without prior approval.

Responses to the brigade’s Facebook post, though, revealed the feelings of spouses and family members.

“All we can do is enjoy the time we have with them,” one person wrote.

Another wrote: “Not even home a week. How sad.”

Questions remain about the stability of Afghan forces, with some questioning whether an Iraq-style exit strategy can work in Afghanistan.

“Given that we are 10 years into this, my confidence level is pretty low that we can turn the Afghan forces around,” Roggio said.

The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan began October 7, 2001, with an air campaign that was followed within weeks by a ground invasion. President Barack Obama has called it “the longest-running war in the nation’s history”.

As the United States turned its attention toward Iraq, insurgent violence in Afghanistan flared against Afghan civilians and security forces as well as the U.S. and its coalition partners.

In 2009, President Obama authorized a surge of 33,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to combat the violence.

Earlier this year, the president announced a plan to withdraw its troops. The move was followed by withdrawal announcements by most of the NATO nations.

CNN’s Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

BP-SOCAR duo deliver ‘coup de grace’ to Nabucco

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BP-SOCAR duo deliver ‘coup de grace’ to Nabucco

by petroleum consultant Ferruh Demirmen, Houston, Texas.

Despite denials, the EU’s flagship pipeline project Nabucco, as it is currently known, aimed at bringing Caspian and Middle East gas to European consumers to reduce EU dependence on Russian gas, has met a humiliating defeat. The coup de grace was delivered recently by the duo BP-SOCAR with Turkey’s blessing.

Struggling project

Conceived in 2002, Nabucco was a Southern Corridor project for the EU entailing the building and operation of a gas pipeline extending from Turkey to Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, terminating at Baumgarten in Austria (Fig. 1). It was developed by a consortium of six shareholders each holding an equal share (Fig. 2). The pipeline had a design capacity of 31 bcm/year over a length of 3,900 km, with entry points at the eastern borders of Turkey.

The Vienna-seated NIC (Nabucco International Company) represented the consortium. “National Nabucco Companies”, established as subsidiaries of the NIC, would build the pipeline in their home countries, and own and operate them.

From the outset Nabucco was stymied by lack of throughput gas. Over time, the construction of the pipeline was repeatedly delayed, the cost increased sharply to as much as EUR 14-15 billion ($20 billion), the potential creditors held back their credit guarantees, and competing projects emerged, ITGI (Italy-Greece Interconnector) and TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline), both designed to reach Italy (Fig. 1). The construction start-up date was last set at 2013, with the Azeri Shah Deniz II gas, at 10 bcm/year, as the start-up gas beginning 2017-2018.

The competing projects had design capacities of 10 bcm/year (TAP being expandable), and they also targeted Shah Deniz II gas beginning 2017-2018. The newly constructed pipelines would connect with the existing Turkish pipeline near Thessalonica in northern Greece, making the projects less costly. All three projects were vying for the same gas source.

There were also projects that would use the Black Sea route: White Stream (a subsea pipeline), CNG, and AGRI (an LNG project), from Georgia to Bulgaria, Romania or Ukraine (Fig. 1). But these projects were not credible alternatives to Nabucco, flagged by Azerbaijan in part as fallback export options and in part to maximize its bargaining power with the third parties, mainly Turkey.

Russia had its own Black Sea project, South Stream, spearheaded by Gazprom, designed to supply gas to south and central European countries (destination recently changed to Italy).

Despite the difficulties, Nabucco had a fighting chance. It was the most comprehensive, most mature Southern Corridor project designed to tap not only Azeri gas, but at a later stage, also Turkmen, and possibly Kazakh, Iraqi and Egyptian gas. In the eyes of the EU, plans to tap Azeri as well as non-Azeri gas gave the project a strategic advantage.

The project enjoyed a well-publicized intergovernmental agreement signed (some would say with much hype) in Istanbul in July 2009, had the full backing of the EU, and had won some exemptions from EU energy regulators and host-country governments. The EU Parliament had earmarked EUR 200 million funding for Nabucco.

The NIC planned to generate income by trading pipeline capacity through a tender process (Fig. 3). Fifty per cent of the capacity would be offered to the shareholders, the rest to third parties. The shareholders would compete among themselves for capacity offered in each host country. In June 2011 “Project Support Agreements” were signed in Kayseri, Turkey, that laid the legal framework between the Nabucco companies and the host countries.

New entry

The end to Nabucco came swiftly, with almost no warning. Until late September, Nabucco was still up and running, and by the 1 October deadline, the consortium had submitted a comprehensive transportation proposal to the Shah Deniz consortium. The ITGI and TAP consortia also submitted their own proposals. The Shah Deniz consortium would evaluate these offers and chose the winning project.

And as late as mid-November, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) had declared its readiness to finance Nabucco once it got under way.

As the Shah Deniz consortium was to begin deliberations, partner BP deftly came up with a totally new alternative: SEEP (South-East Europe Pipeline). BP tabled its proposal just in time for the 1 October deadline.

SEEP was not much of a project as a concept, as neither a feasibility study had been carried out nor was a cost estimate available. Details were sketchy.

Like ITGI and TAP, SEEP would have a design capacity of 10 bcm/year targeting Shah Deniz II gas; but unlike these two projects, gas would be earmarked for Austria, following more or less the same route as Nabucco, and in addition with a branch to Croatia.

And unlike Nabucco, SEEP would use BOTAS’ existing pipeline network in Turkey and some of the interconnectors in southeast Europe, and entail the building of only 1,300 km of new pipeline beyond Turkey. The cost, therefore, would be much less than that of Nabucco. BP has also suggested the pipeline capacity could later be expanded, if need be.

Being a major shareholder (25.5%) of the Shah Deniz consortium as well as its operator, BP had a strong voice in the consortium, giving its proposal an edge in the winner-take-all pipeline contest. It did not take too long for SOCAR or the consortium to warm to SEEP.

Game-changer

In fact, SEEP was a game-changer, and set the stage for the demise of Nabucco.

As the Shah Deniz consortium deliberated, on 25 October Azerbaijan and Turkey signed an agreement in Izmir in western Turkey. The presidents of SOCAR and BOTAS were present. Among other accords, it was agreed that starting in 2017 or 2018, Azerbaijan would supply 6 bcm/year gas to Turkey for its own consumption (with Turkey having re-export rights), and another 10 bcm/year for transit to Europe.

Initially BOTAS’ existing pipeline network (with upgrades) in Turkey would be used, but later, a new pipeline across Turkish territory would be built to accommodate growing Azeri gas exports.

The 6 bcm import volume for Turkey had long been planned, but the provision to build a new pipeline across Turkish territory, and SOCAR being the direct seller of gas to Europe, was new ground.

There was also a groundbreaking ceremony for a refinery at Aliaga, Izmir, to be built by SOCAR and its Turkish partner Turcas.

During the signing ceremony and in the accompanying press release, no mention was made of Nabucco, or for that matter, of ITGI, TAP and SEEP. But the agreement clearly had the footprints of SEEP.

This was all against the background of the Shah Deniz PSA (Production Sharing Agreement) signed on 4 June 1996, in which the signatories agreed that Turkey would be the export market of first choice for Shah Deniz gas. Whether this provision of the PSA ever entered the negotiations in Izmir was not apparent.

Fatal blow

The more definitive, and in a sense official, blow to Nabucco was delivered on 17 November during the Third Black Sea Energy and Economic Forum held in Istanbul. At the meeting SOCAR President Rovnag Abdullayev announced that a new gas pipeline, which he named “Trans-Anatolia”, would be built in Turkey from east to west under the leadership of SOCAR. (The same term is also used for the Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline.) The new pipeline would deliver Shah Deniz II gas to Europe.

Azerbaijan and Turkey had already started working on the pipeline project, he said, and others could possibly join later. The cost was estimated at $5-6 billion. The planned capacity was at least 16 bcm/year – most likely big enough to absorb all future Azeri exports to Europe.

The announcement was an offtake from the Izmir agreement, and it signaled a surprising 180-degree turn on the part of Turkey on Nabucco – a key player in the project all along.

It was also notable that the announcement was made not by BOTAS, but by SOCAR.

An unnamed source indicated that Turkish officials had not been informed in advance, and were taken aback by Abdullayev’s announcement.

Denials

Damage control was quick to follow. After Abdullayev’s announcement, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz claimed during the Istanbul meeting that the new pipeline would “complement” Nabucco. Separately, the NIC chief Reinhard Mitschek expressed his “confidence” in Nabucco.

Just recently, Abdullayev maintained Nabucco was still in the race, and questioned the basis of assertions about the demise of Nabucco. The NIC has also started the pre-qualification process for procurement contractors.

For all these business-as-usual pronouncements, however, there was little doubt that Nabucco – a project already under duress – had received a fatal blow. With Trans-Anatolia in place, and dedicated to Shah Deniz II gas, Nabucco had lost its start-up feed gas, and along with that the justification to build new infrastructure across Turkey and beyond. (See also an article in the Oil and Gas Journal.)

Deprived of its economic and operational synergy with Azeri gas exports, a Nabucco project dedicated solely to Turkmen gas also has a slim chance.

Through Trans-Anatolia, Azerbaijan will no doubt want to export additional gas volumes to Europe when offshore fields Absheron, Umid, and possibly Shafag-Asiman come onstream.

Aftermath – winners and losers

While Nabucco has fallen, ITGI and TAP may well survive. Unlike Nabucco, these projects did not envision the construction of a new pipeline across Turkish territory, and they may well link with Trans-Anatolia.

Depending on the Shah Deniz consortium’s decision, Shah Deniz II gas may still go to Austria, but it will not be through the Nabucco project as it is officially known. A “truncated,” much modified “Nabucco”, starting at the Turkey-Bulgaria border and heading to Austria, may well emerge, however. Gazprom’s recent decision to shift South Stream’s destination from Austria to Italy could boost the prospect of a modified Nabucco for an alternate destination.

The biggest winner in all these developments is Azerbaijan, which not only will have the major voice on Trans-Anatolia, but will be able to sell gas directly to Europe, bypassing Turkey as an intermediary. Selling gas directly to Europe has long been an objective for Azerbaijan.

Long forsaken as a gas trading and distribution hub in the region, Turkey will settle to serve as a mere transit country for gas heading to Europe – notwithstanding the 1996 Shah Deniz PSA.

The biggest loser will be Turkmenistan which, over the past year, expressed earnest interest in supplying gas to the West, reducing its dependence on Russia for export. With its gas reserves upgraded as a result of Gaffney, Cline & Associates’ recent review, Turkmenistan has shown growing eagerness to export gas to the West. Since January, the EU has conducted serious negotiations with Turkmen officials to revive – against Russia’s objections –TCGP (Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline) project, dormant since 1996.

To justify TCGP commercially, Azerbaijan’s cooperation is essential. While Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has expressed willingness to cooperate on the implementation of TCGP, his actions have not matched his words.

Cynics will remember Aliyev’s snub of the Nabucco intergovernmental agreement in Istanbul when the president chose to attend a meeting in London.

Aliyev apparently believes the Azeri-Turkmen gas issue is a zero-sum contest – which it is not. Both Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan could benefit from a TCGP connecting with the Azeri export network.

Russia has objected to TCGP on grounds that the territorial boundaries in the Caspian Sea have not been established. It has also raised environmental concerns. The EU has challenged Russian claims.

For their own reasons, Turkish officials have preferred to stay on the sidelines while the EU representatives approached Ashgabat on Turkmen gas. Following the straining of Ankara-Baku relations in summer 2008 in connection with the pricing of Shah Deniz I gas imports to Turkey, and exacerbated by Ankara signing the “normalization protocols” with Armenia in October 2009, the Turks have been overly eager to patch up relations with their Azeri brethren, while ignoring their Turkmen brethren further to the east.

For Turkey, not taking part in negotiations with Ashgabat was a strategic mistake. To diversify its gas supply sources and enhance its energy security, Turkey should have lobbied along with the EU for Turkmen gas. In 1999 Turkey signed a 16 bcm/year gas-purchase agreement with Turkmenistan, but the accord remained on paper.

Russia no doubt will be pleased. Gazprom’s failed attempts to route Shah Deniz II gas to Russia in 2009 and 2010 notwithstanding, Russia must be satisfied that TCGP will continue gathering dust.

The EU cannot be too pleased, as the prospect of prized Turkmen gas reaching Europe has for all practical purposes been lost. The Turkmen gas component, in fact, was what had made the Nabucco project “special” to the EU.

With Nabucco frozen in its tracks, and considering shale-gas potential, Nord Stream, Iraq LNG, new gas discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean, and the EU’s 20/20/20 plan, the chances of Turkmen (and Kazakh) gas ever reaching Europe are now virtually nil. By 2025 the EU’s gas market may well be oversupplied, with no need for gas from across the Caspian Sea.

As for the US, against its best interests it had long lost interest in Turkmen gas. Before the announcement of Trans-Anatolia in Istanbul, the US special envoy for Eurasian energy issues, Richard Morningstar, told reporters in Baku that Azerbaijan should favour the smaller ITGI or TAP projects over Nabucco. That was not the “endorsement” Nabucco needed.

On their part, the Nabucco partners will realize, belatedly, their fatal mistake: designing an elaborate gas infrastructure project without first ensuring gas supply. The mistake could have been avoided e.g. by including a gas supplier such as SOCAR as a partner.

Giuseppe Verdi no doubt would have approved.

About the author: Retired from Shell International  Petroleum Co., Ferruh Demirmen, PhD, is an independent petroleum consultant based in Houston, Texas. The article is based on an invited talk he gave at the 8th Energy Symposium, the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB), Istanbul, 17-19 November 2011. ferruh@demirmen.com)

News.Az

Neut and Republican Co-Conspirators Plan Executive Takeover of Supreme Court

Gingrich Leads Revolt Against Judges

Q

By Greg Stohr

Newt Gingrich, who says as president he would ignore U.S. Supreme Court rulings he dislikes, has plenty of company among Republican candidates in vowing to blow up long-held premises of constitutional law.

Rick Perry is calling for judicial term limits. Michele Bachmann says she would invite a confrontation with the court over abortion. Ron Paulwould bar federal judges from hearing many cases involving abortion, same-sex marriage and religion.

Almost a half century after Richard Nixon campaigned against Supreme Court criminal-law rulings, Republican presidential candidates have ratcheted their criticisms of the judiciary to new levels in the 2012 campaign, sometimes drawing rebukes from prominent lawyers in their own party.

In advance of the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, the candidates are moving beyond objections to individual judges and rulings and telling voters that they want to cut back the authority of the government’s third branch and assert the supremacy of the president and Congress on social issues.

“Republicans are starting to unite around the idea that we’ve got to do something structurally to bring the courts back within the bounds established by the Constitution,” says Robert George, a constitutional law professor at Princeton University in New Jersey. George questioned the candidates at a Sept. 6 forum in South Carolina.

Voters’ Concerns

Reining in the judiciary is not an issue that tops voters’ concerns in public opinion polls. Still, it may have particular resonance in Iowa, where social conservatives last year unseated three state Supreme Court justices who supported a 2009 decision allowing same-sex marriage. Gingrich backed the effort and a charitable group he founded helped provide financing for the campaign, R.C. Hammond, Gingrich’s spokesman, said.

The former House speaker and co-leader in primary national polls with former MassachusettsGovernor Mitt Romney, Gingrich is making the judiciary a central campaign issue. He told reporters in a Dec. 10 conference call he is “fed up with elitist judges imposing secularism on the country and basically fundamentally changing the American Constitution.”

As evidence, the former Georgia congressman points to a 2002 appeals court decision barring public-school teachers from leading the Pledge of Allegiance with the words “under God” and a June decision by a San Antonio judge barring student-led prayer at a high school graduation. Both rulings were unanimously reversed on appeal.

’Anti-American’

Gingrich says judges who issue “anti-American” decisions should have to defend themselves before Congress — or face arrest if they fail to appear to do so. He says he would impeach those judges and potentially abolish their courts.

Some of Gingrich’s proposals are drawing fire from fellow Republicans. Two of former President George W. Bush’s attorneys general, Michael Mukasey and Alberto Gonzales, last week told Fox News that mandatory congressional testimony on rulings would threaten judicial independence. Mukasey, who has informally advised Romney, called Gingrich’s approach “outrageous.”

Edward Whelan, another former Bush administration official, said in a blog post on National Review Online that Gingrich’s plan to abolish judgeships is both unconstitutional and “foolish.”

Co-Equal Status

The proposal “threatens to undermine his ability, if he is elected president, to achieve real and readily attainable progress in the war against liberal judicial activism,” wrote Whelan, the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington.

Less controversial, at least among the Republican Party base, are calls for the president and Congress to assert co- equal status with the Supreme Court in interpreting the Constitution.

At the Sept. 6 forum, Bachmann said she would support an effort to end abortion rights — and overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision — by invoking Congress’ power to enforce the 14th Amendment’s equal protection guarantee.

“If the Supreme Court, by a plurality of the justices, may impose their own personal morality on the rest of the nation, then we are quite literally being ruled by those individuals, as opposed to giving our consent to the people’s representatives,” said Bachmann, a Minnesota representative.

At the same event, Romney said he wasn’t “looking to create a constitutional crisis.” Even so, Romney left open the possibility that Congress and the president might take such a step.

Abortion Restrictions

“It’s reasonable that something of that nature might happen someday,” he said.

Paul would strip federal courts of jurisdiction over certain types of cases, including challenges to state and local abortion restrictions, marriage laws and religious displays.

The Texas representative said last month that legislation he introduced in Congress could have “saved millions of lives” over the past decade by letting abortion restrictions go into effect.

Perry, the governor of Texas, says he would seek a constitutional amendment imposing term limits for newly appointed federal judges. The Constitution says federal judges can keep their seats “during good behavior.”

The calls to limit judicial power stem in part from a re- evaluation of the seminal 1803 Supreme Court decision Marbury v. Madison, in which Chief Justice John Marshall said it is “emphatically the province and duty” of the courts “to say what the law is.”

Judicial Supremacy

Some legal scholars now say that ruling establishes only that the Supreme Court can interpret the Constitution as needed to resolve a legal case. Gingrich has endorsed that reasoning, contending that Presidents Thomas JeffersonAbraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt all took actions indicating they rejected judicial supremacy.

Gingrich says the notion of judicial supremacy didn’t take hold until 1958, when the high court unanimously ordered Arkansas officials to obey the Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision. In a 54-page position paper on his website, Gingrich calls the 1958 decision “factually and historically false.”

Gingrich’s attack on a legal pillar of the civil rights movement is fueling criticism.

“It’s not just that his end proposals are radical,” says Ian Millhiser, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, an advocacy group in Washington founded by a Democrat. “The intellectual basis of his proposals are shocking.”

Republicans could suffer under Gingrich’s approach. The candidate’s reasoning would mean President Barack Obama could try to ignore the Supreme Court next year, should the justices declare the 2010 health-care law unconstitutional, George said.

“What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,” George says.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

KGB in Belarus Torture Femen Topless Activists, Arrest Australian Filmmaker Kitty Green

  • by:Lucy Carne, Shannon Deery 
  • From:Herald Sun 
Femen

Femen protesters are arrested by security services in Ukraine earlier this month. Picture: AFP AFP

Kitty Green arrested in Belarus

Kitty Green has told friends she is safe. Herald Sun

UPDATE 9.02am: A MELBOURNE woman has been arrested by the KGB during a topless protest against Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, in Belarus.

Young filmmaker Kitty Green, 27, was feared missing after KGB officers abducted her on Monday at 11am (local time) during a feminist protest on the streets of Minsk.

The group of topless women said three of its members were abducted by security officers, beaten, humiliated and left naked in a forest during the protest.

Ms Green was reportedly held with three other Belarusian female journalists in a KGB office where she was fingerprinted and interrogated until evening.

It was not until the Australian embassy in Moscow intervened that she was released, according to the Femen organisation.

Ms Green had been living in Kiev, Ukraine for the past six months working on a documentary on the Femen organisation.

Femen is widely known in Ukraine and neighbouring countries for its demonstrations in which women bare their breasts to draw attention to an array of causes.

It is understood Ms Green had been in Belarus by herself before the protest.

She has told friends on Facebook she was arrested but is safe after leaving the country via Lithuania.

“She is very relieved she was freed,” Ms Green’s flatmate Alexandra Shevchenko told the Herald Sun this morning from Kiev.

“We were very worried when she was missing but we are very thankful the Australian Embassy in Moscow helped free her.

“Kitty said she was held in the KGB office and they took her fingerprints and made a file on her.

“She told me she will never go to Belarus again.”

The three Ukrainian women were later seized by Belarusian KGB agents at the Minsk train station.

They were reportedly blindfolded and taken to a forest where they were forced to strip naked.

The KGB agents then doused them in petrol and threatened to set the women on fire, before using knives to cut off their hair.

The women were then abandoned without their passports, clothes or money in the forest, a Femen spokewoman said.

They walked to a nearby village to seek help.

“They were able to telephone and told me they were in awful condition, barely alive,” the group’s leader Anna Gutsol said.

A KGB spokesman refused to comment.

Ms Shevchenko said the Ukrainian Embassy in Belarus would not to help the women escape.

“It’s a terrible situation,” she said.

“Kitty was lucky and was not hurt like the other girls, but she is from a strong democratic country.”

A close friend of Ms Green’s, who did not wish to be named, said she was shocked to read about the arrests.

The woman, who met Ms Green while the pair were studying at Melbourne University, said she was worried by the reports but glad to hear her friend was safe.

She said Ms Green had told her friends over Facebook that she was safe and well.

“I was very, very surprised,” she said.

The friend said Ms Green had been overseas for about six months, and had not yet revealed plans to return home.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade this morning confirmed that an Australian journalist was detained and subsequently released in Minsk.

“Consular Officials from the Australian Embassy in Moscow provided the journalist with consular assistance. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra provided assistance to the journalist’s family in Australia,” a DFAT spokeswoman said.

- with AP

Salala Outpost Attack A Secret Indian/Afghan Provocation

[Was this the opening act of Afghan/Indian Security Pact?  This is the Northern Alliance Afghans finally having their way, using the American Air Force to target Pakistan.]

“Investigators are convinced that an Afghan National Army (ANA) officer conspired with India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security in prompting the Nato airstrike.”

RAW collusion suspected: Probe faults Afghan serviceman for NATO air raid, says report

The alleged Pakistan report concluded that US forces were not involved in the attack. PHOTO: REUTERS/ISPR

A Pakistani investigation into the November 26 Nato air raid on a border post appears to have exonerated the United States and faulted an Afghan military commander for the unprovoked attack, the BBC reported.

The airstrike sparked outrage across the country – forcing the government to review its ‘terms of engagement’ with the United States in the war against terrorism.

The probe report – parts of which have been shared with Nato forces in Kabul – states that no US soldier was involved in the airstrike on the Salala check post in the Mohmand Agency that left two dozen border guards dead.

Investigators are convinced that an Afghan National Army (ANA) officer conspired with India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security in prompting the Nato airstrike, an officer privy to the probe told the BBC.

Islamabad has shared the evidence of his involvement with Nato, saying that the evidence warrants action against him.

Islamabad has long suspected that archrival India is using Afghan soil to foment trouble in Pakistan’s border regions.

The investigators interviewed local military commanders and evaluated ground evidence for their report.

According to the report, troops deployed at the Salala border post spotted the suspected men in a seasonal stream which, according to US intelligence, was used by the Taliban insurgents for sneaking into the Malakand division and Swat.

As per standard operating procedure (SOP), the Pakistani military commanders ordered fire. Minutes later, Nato helicopter gunships attacked the Pakistani post. It turns out that Pakistani troops had fired at ANA personnel patrolling the area. Investigators cite two reasons for the fire. First, the area was not within the patrolling jurisdiction of the ANA. And if needed, they were required to inform the Pakistani officials 72 hours before entering the region.

Second, the ANA patrol didn’t use SOP after receiving the fire. Instead, they appealed for a Nato air raid — even though local ANA commanders were aware of the location of the Pakistani border post in the region.

The ANA patrol was deliberately sent to the area under a conspiracy and then ‘Link 16’ which is normally used for huge operations against militants and extremists.

Pakistani investigators also blame Nato for negligence. According to them, the officer on duty in the control room ordered the airstrike, after receiving ‘Link 16’ and did not bother to check the location on the map which clearly shows that the area is in Pakistan and a security post is also located in the region.

The version of events as gleaned by the BBC from the probe report is disputed by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media arm of the Pakistani military, which even called it ‘inaccurate.’

The ISPR also clarified a related report which gave the impression that border coordination centres were closed and that officers posted there had been recalled. According to the ISPR, few officers were called for consultations only and now they have gone back to the border coordination centres.

This came after a Nato official said in Kabul that Pakistan has restored liaison officers at coordination centres on the Afghanistan border. “We have seen liaison officers, Pakistani officers, return to border coordination centres, General Allen (the top Nato commander in Afghanistan) has spoken to (Pakistani army chief) General Parvez Kayani, so we are moving in the right direction,” Brigadier General Carsten Jacobsen, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force told reporters in Kabul.

with additional reporting from agencies

Published in The Express Tribune

Atlantic Free Press Closing Doors

Atlantic Free Press Closing Doors

Dear Readers,
It’s been six years and over 13,000 articles published by some 250 of the world’s finest politically progressive writers – some 20 per cent with Ph.D.s.
It’s been a labour of love for myself, doing my thing to help educate people to ideas that I believe needed to be shared – and some 2.5 million people read articles  on this site over the years.
In 2011 Atlantic Free Press won a Computerworld Honors Laureate for Innovation -  honoured for visionary application of IT to promote positive social, economic and educational change including category co-winners from NASA and Duke University.
It’s a fitting last act for Atlantic Free Press. And I say finale because I can no longer afford the time to dedicate to AFP with a young family and a career in technology that’s just become to big a part of my life to pull the time needed to run this site pro bono. Thanks to all those who helped donate over the years – but this project still cost me money in server bills. I was just not able to make it a commercial viability.
I will of course leave the site up for posterity. If anyone is interested, feel free to contact me.
Pacific Free Press will live on – edited by Chris Cook in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Please visit him and the writers there and feel free to contact Chris if you would like to write for Pacific Free Press. editor@pacificfreepress.com
Best
Richard Kastelein
EXPATHOS @ GMAIL dot COM