The general hypothesis I have is that past lives heavy exposure to toxicity of metals or non-metals can be tracked in the birthchart, and can have manifestations in current lifetime.
The idea is to identify such exposure to toxicity, in order to use means such a homeopathy to heal this type of impact.
Same thing with with past-lives medical conditions such as syphilis.
This seems interesting because homeopathic knowledge describes the effects of such conditions at physical, mental and emotional levels, and this would serve for observation-correlation.
Would you say this hypothesis is correct?
on: Today at 09:24 AM
|Started by Rad - Last post by Gonzalo|
Discussion / Evolutionary Astrology Q&A / Re: Pluto in Cap, the climate, ecology and environment topic
on: Today at 08:20 AM
|Started by Steve - Last post by Rad|
Study: Climate change slowed over last decade but may speed up again
By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, May 19, 2013 17:17 EDT
A global warming “pause” over the past decade may invalidate the harshest climate change predictions for the next 50 to 100 years, a study said Sunday — though levels remain in the danger zone.
Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, an international team of climate scientists said a slower rate of warming increase observed from 2000 to 2009 suggested a “lower range of values” to be taken into account by policy makers.
While the last decade was the hottest since records began in 1880, the rate of increase showed a stabilisation despite ever-rising levels of Earth-warming greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Scientists have alternatively explained the flatter curve by oceanic heat capture, a decline in solar activity or an increase in volcanic aerosols that reflect the Sun’s rays.
Because of the hiatus, warming in the next 50 to 100 years “is likely to lie within the range of current climate models, but not at the high end of this range,” said Alexander Otto of Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, co-author of the new study.
Otto and his team used up-to-date data on temperatures and levels of solar radiation trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases, to make new projections for climate warming.
The United Nations is targeting a global average maximum temperature rise of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) on pre-industrial levels, for what scientists believe would be manageable climate change.
In 2007, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in a report of the temperature rising by as much as 6.4 degrees C in the worst emissions scenario.
Study co-author Reto Knutti of ETH Zurich said data ruling out the most extreme scenarios for near-term warming was clearly welcome news.
“But even if the response is at the low end of the current range of uncertainty, we are still looking at warming well over the two-degree goal that countries have agreed upon.”
To meet the two-degree goal, countries are negotiating curbs to emissions of Earth-warming greenhouse gases released by fossil fuel burning.
Only last week, the level of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere breached a threshold of 400 parts per million — a level never experienced by humans and considered the absolute maximum for the two-degree target to remain within reach.
Many scientists believe that on current trends, Earth is set for warming much higher than the two-degree target.
Commenting on the publication, University of New South Wales climate researcher Steven Sherwood said the conclusions “need to be taken with a large grain of salt until we see what happens to the oceans over the coming years.”
The authors had partly based their finding on a higher-than-expected absorption of heat by the world’s oceans, he said, but other research has suggested this storage may reverse due to natural phenomena such as El Nino.
on: Today at 07:42 AM
|Started by Steve - Last post by Rad|
In the USA...
The Mainstream Media Suffers from Conservative-Induced Stockholm Syndrome
By: Hrafnkell Haraldsson
May. 20th, 2013
Kurtz’s position is that, for President Obama and the mainstream media, the honeymoon is over; that “The press has turned on President Obama with a vengeance.”
That immediately made me think of the power of perceptions. For example, I hadn’t been aware Obama and the media had ever been married. The honeymoon is over? The honeymoon can’t be over for the simple reason that there never was a honeymoon. When has the mainstream media ever been pro-Obama? Have mainstream media figures like Howard Kurtz have fallen for the Republican Big Lie of a “liberal media elite”?
I begin to wonder if the MSM is suffering from conservative-induced Stockholm syndrome. Certainly, after years of simultaneously defending the conservative viewpoint and being attacked for supposedly defending the liberal viewpoint, they have a right to be messed up. I wonder if, due to dangerously high levels of delusion, it is time to put the MSM, if not the Fourth Estate as a whole, away as a threat to society.
Kurtz wrote that,
Suddenly, the White House briefing room is filled with confrontational questions. Suddenly, the news pages are ablaze with scandal, and the commentators — even some of the president’s usual defenders — are bemoaning his shortcomings. Suddenly, Obama isn’t getting the benefit of the doubt.
I don’t think that in general, Obama was ever given the benefit of the doubt by the so-called liberal media elite but the conservative viewpoint has gained wide currency: Fox News did a piece in November 2012 in which they examined “Five ways the mainstream media tipped the scales in favor of Obama.”
You know what the media’s sin was? I will tell you, since Fox News won’t. The mainstream media’s sin was in actually reporting what Republicans were saying. Fox News spun this as: “The media unfairly jumped on inconsequential mistakes — or even invented controversies — from Romney and hyped them in to multi-day media “earthquakes.”
Fox News can say Romney’s problems were trivial but they were clearly not trivial for the American voter. I don’t know about you, but being characterized as an “uppity taker” cannot be defended as a “gaffe” or “misstep” unless by that you mean Romney accidentally said what he actually thought about us. The real problem for the American voter was not that the media had the decency to actually report Romney’s words but that Romney said them – and worse, believed them – in the first place.
For just about the first time ever, the Republican Party’s extremism bit itself in the ass, becoming so extreme that even the mainstream media could ignore it no longer. They actually had the audacity to, as Fox News put it, “Pound Romney With Partisan Fact Checking”! And of course, they’ll never forgive ABC’s Martha Raddatz for actually doing her job rather than letting the debate turn into another Jim Lehrer-sponsored Republican infomercial.
Yes, refusing to conform to Republican propaganda is apparently a form of media bias. Anything less than a free pass for their extremism is pro-Obama bias.
Another example: Fox News insists the economy is Obama’s Achilles heel. But the economy has improved, the deficit is disappearing at an unbelievable rate. The problem is not that the mainstream media has refused to report the truth about the economy – what Fox News calls “burying the bad economy”; the problem is that the mainstream media has failed to sufficiently conform to Republican propaganda. And all this while pretending that the Republican-controlled House has nothing to do with the economy, despite controlling the budget, despite spending the past half-decade obstructing any positive response to the economic debacle Republicans are responsible for in the first place!
In other words, in the real world, the economy is the Republicans’ Achilles heel, which was essentially the position of the Obama campaign. Republicans are just pissed that, for once, the truth won out. So we find Michele Malkin whining on May 13 of this year that, “For the Obama administration and the mainstream media, everything’s relative.” She complains that “CBS News President David Rhodes’ brother is Obama Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes” but she won’t tell you that ABC’s Jonathan Karl is an Alumnus of a Conservative Media Training Program. No, that would skew her rant toward the factual, and we can’t have that, because Karl is the guy responsible for, as Sarah Jones called it, “the infamous Benghazi email lie.”
Of this incident, Kurtz wrote, “The Karl report turned out to be based on an inaccurate, misleading characterization of an email,” somehow managing to fail to mention that the Republicans had doctored those emails, and ABC News’ own culpability, as though poor Karl was the victim of a hoax. That the lie worked to skew opinion of Obama to the negative was obliquely admitted by Kurtz: “for the first time, many journalists came to believe the administration had something to hide—and that they had been personally misled in press briefings. That is guaranteed to get the blood flowing.”
If the media is so pro-Obama, why are they suspicious of Obama and not of the Republican Party, which so adroitly manipulated this episode?
They may not all be Fox News, but sometimes, there isn’t a lot of difference. The Republican point of view shows up everywhere, like US News & World Report contributing editor and Fox News opinion guy Peter Roff, who in September 2010 provided “More evidence of pro-Obama mainstream media bias”; or former Bush speechwriter Mary Kate Cary September 2012 opinion piece in the US News & World Report, that “Americans Are Sick of Media’s Pro-Obama Bias.”
No, they’re not, because there is no “Pro-Obama bias” in the media. What Cary is upset about is that her feelings have been hurt by an insufficiently compliant media that is no longer quite so anxious to swallow Republican lies hook, line, and sinker.
Yet apparently, according to Kurtz, ”According to Obama’s longtime detractors, the denizens of the fourth estate are finally climbing out of a tank in which they have been immersed since roughly 2007.”
Kurtz cautions that “the reality is a bit more nuanced than that.” He tells us that,
It’s easy to say that news organizations recoiled from Obama only when their own special interests were threatened, and maybe there’s some truth to that. But the media also have a deep, abiding love for scandal, and beyond the AP phone records story, the administration is lately providing that scandal in spades.
No, Mr. Kurtz: the Republicans have provided the mainstream media with scandal in spades, 100% American made. Look at how eager ABC News was to roast the president alive on the strength of doctored Republican emails. And ABC News hasn’t even had the decency to apologize for misleading the American people.
But there is nuance. CBS at least had the decency to out ABC’s “scoop,” exposing it for the lie it is (a crime for which they will never be forgiven, as Malkin’s outrage demonstrates). The Republicans are still acting like the emails they doctored are the real ones, but then the Republicans still act like it’s the height of the Gilded Age.
Kurtz alleges that, “Some in the media rolled over for Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign, though the record was decidedly more mixed once he took office.”
I don’t see this at all. I didn’t see it then and I don’t see it now. I think that if you go back and look at the mainstream media’s track record since 2008, you will see precious little evidence of a liberal media elite, or as Sarah Palin – upset that the media dared actually print what she said – whiningly put it, “lamestream media.”
But personal feelings toward this president who has never courted the press no longer matter; nor do personal predilections on gun control and immigration reform. The scandal machinery has kicked into high gear, and its sheer noise may drown out everything else.
The scandal machinery engineered by the Republican Party and all too eagerly embraced by a right-leaning mainstream media. Bill Maher and Americans uninfected by Republican propaganda understand where the real scandal lies: in Republican obstructionism; in the mainstream media pretending Republican lies are the truth.
Reality has never been more skewed than by the conservative spin on the true state of the MSM, so for conservative Jennifer Rubin, writing at The Washington Post, a mainstream media “see no evil, hear no evil, report no evil” can only describe a MSM reluctance to properly investigate the imagined evils of liberalism. We know full well the real scope of the problem, which is the MSM’s reluctance to talk about what the Republicans have been doing to America since 2008.
But the mainstream media has studiously avoided looking into Republican action/inaction since 2008 just as it had studiously avoided the implications of the faked emails. Maybe Kurtz should be asking himself why that is, rather than pretending the mainstream media was ever President Obama’s friend.
Mitch McConnell Crashes and Burns When Pressed for Evidence of Obama Scandal
By: Jason Easley
May. 19th, 2013
When asked for evidence of Obama’s role in the IRS scandal, Mitch McConnell crashed and burned by babbling on about a culture of intimidation with no supporting proof.
Transcript from NBC News:
GREGORY: Let me get right to it and start on the IRS. Why don’t you accept the word from not only White House officials but from former acting commissioner who said, these were foolish mistakes about targeting con– conservative groups, but there is not evidence of a political agenda?
SEN. MCCONNELL: Actually, there is a culture of intimidation throughout the administration. The IRS is just the most recent example. Let me just recount a few for your audience. Over at HHS, back during the Obamacare debate, Secretary Sebelius sent out a directive to health insurance companies telling them they couldn’t inform their policyholders of what they thought the impact of Obamacare would be on them. Now she’s trying to shake them down for contributions in effect to a group to go out and try to convince the public that they should love Obamacare. Over at the FCC, there have been efforts by Obama appointees to– to shut down or make difficult people who are seeking to buy advertising to criticize the administration. Over at the SEC, the Obama appointees have been engaged in an effort to make it difficult for corporations to exercise their First Amendment, political rights. The IRS– coming back to the IRS. The head of the union at the IRS gives 99 percent of her campaign money to Democrats. She openly criticizes the Republican House for trying to reduce government spending and has specifically targeted Tea Party groups in her public comments. It’s no wonder that the agents and the IRS sort of get the message. The president demonizes his opponent. The head of their union demonizes the people…
GREGORY: But Senator, that– that was a leap…
SEN. MCCONNELL: …who think that…
GREGORY: …that’s a leap that can you make as argument, but you don’t have fact to back it up. You can create and I just asked…
SEN. MCCONNELL: Well, the investigation…
GREGORY: …I asked Dan Pfeiffer about it. You can you talk about a culture. Do you have any evidence that the President of the United States directed what you call a culture of intimidation at the IRS to target political opponents?
SEN. MCCONNELL: I– I don’t think we know what the facts are. All I can tell you is…
GREGORY: But that hasn’t stopped you from– from accusing.
SEN. MCCONNELL: Well, what we’re talking about here is an– an attitude that the government knows best, the nanny state is here to tell us all what to do and if we start criticizing, you get targeted.
Basically, Sen. McConnell admitted that Republicans don’t have any evidence to back up their IRS allegations. They are investigating an Obama connection to the IRS scandal because they are falsely attributing some beliefs to him that he does not hold.
McConnell’s culture of intimidation talking point was supposed to act as justification for all of the congressional investigations.
Minority Leader McConnell never thought that David Gregory would ask him for evidence to back up his accusations. McConnell’s claim about Obamacare was a lie. The directive was sent out because insurance companies were sending their Medicare customers confusing and deceptive mailings designed to whip up opposition to Obamacare. His claim about the FCC was based on an attempt by the commission to require local stations to post online the names of those who purchase television campaign ads. Mitch McConnell views openness and transparency as part of Obama’s culture of intimidation.
McConnell’s complaint about the SEC also involved Citizens United. The SEC is considering a disclosure rule that would require publicly traded companies report to shareholders all of their political donations. According to McConnell, trying to stop billionaires from secretly buying our government is Obama intimidation.
Republicans have been screaming about an Obama culture of corruption since the president took office, but when asked to prove their allegations, they offer zilch. Without even realizing it McConnell proved that all of these “Obama scandals” are nothing more than political fishing trips. Congressional Republicans are hoping to find something to confirm their conspiracies about this president.
The truth is that outside of Obama hate, Mitch McConnell’s got nothing.
The Lie Matters: What Did Sen Coburn Know about the Edited Benghazi Email and How Did He Know It
By: Sarah Jones
May. 19th, 2013
Joy Reid dropped a little Benghazi lying leaker bomb yesterday on the Reid Report blog. A trusted source of hers told her to look at the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. One person who stood out to her was Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), who was on Morning Joe on May 9th, the day before the now debunked Benghazi email bombshell, claiming that there were “glaring omissions” in what was given to the intelligence committee, but that he couldn’t talk about it yet.
Senator Coburn appears to be referencing the email that was edited and shopped by “Republicans on Capitol Hill” to media outlets, and picked up by the gullible rube Jonathan Karl at ABC, as well as repeated by The Weekly Standard and a CBS reporter. This suggests that he saw the edited version of the email that was leaked by Republicans.
The Reid Report detailed on Saturday:
A very trusted source of mine gave me a cryptic piece of advice yesterday, which was to take a look at the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. I didn’t know quite what to make of it at the time, but tonight it occurred to me: could someone on that committee also have been on the Select Committee on Intelligence, which is the one that got the email briefing in February?
Here’s the Republican membership of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (the Committee is chaired by Democrat Thom Carper of Delaware):
• Tom Coburn, (OK) Ranking Member
• John McCain (AZ)
• Ron Johnson (WI)
• Rob Portman (OH)
• Rand Paul (KY)
• Mike Enzi (WY)
• Kelly Ayotte (NH)
Pretty juicy list! Note how stacked the minority side of the committee is with presidential aspirants, potential aspirants, a former aspirant, and some of the most hardcore tea party Senators, including some, like Rand Paul, John McCain and Kelly Ayotte, who have gone after, first Susan Rice, and then Hillary Clinton guns blazing on Benghazi. But only one of those Senators ALSO sits on the Select Committee on Intelligence — which is the one that my administration source says got the February briefing”
And that person is Tom Coburn.
Joy Reid points out that “On May 9th — literally the day before Jonathan Karl’s “bombshell” report went live, Coburn appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe” and said that the State Department was going to be in trouble because of “glaring omissions” that he could not discuss yet, but he assured us all would come out eventually.
Sen. Tom Coburn said the State Department was in real trouble due to a “glaring omission”, and that it would “eventually come out” but he “can’t talk about it now”, “I think the State Department has real trouble. Having sat on the intelligence committee and seen the review of emails that went back and forth as they developed the list, there is are glaring problem there that will eventually come out, and I can’t talk about now, but there was an omission that was given to the intelligence committee.”
Do tell, Senator. How did he know about the “glaring omission” in the emails? Someone had to have shown him the Republican version of the emails, since there is no glaring omission in the actual emails. The very next day, Jonathan Karl sold his soul to the devil by publishing his “exclusive” (aka, a lie).
Reid points out that this doesn’t mean the leaker is Coburn or is even from his office, but she’s fairly certain the leaker is high up (most likely a Republican top staffer, unless Republicans are even more suicidal than they currently appear) who leaked the deceptively edited email at the direction of their member.
Coburn, a far right Republican, does sit on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
The Senator, who misses his fair share of votes (“from Jan 2005 to May 2013, Coburn missed 112 of 2,611 roll call votes, which is 4.3%. This is worse than the median of 1.6% among the lifetime records of senators currently serving”), sits on the following committees:
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Ex Officio, Subcommittee on Emergency Management, Intergovernmental Relations, and the District of Columbia
Ex Officio, Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight
Ex Officio, Subcommittee on Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
Ex Officio, Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Member, Subcommittee on Economic Policy
Member, Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development
Member, Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
In January, Senator Coburn appointed Brian E. Treat as his Chief of Staff. Treat has been with him since he was in the House in 1998-2000, and then from 2005 to now. An index of Coburn’s past and present staffers can be found here.
Coburn’s top five donors from 2007- 2012 election were (per Open Secrets):
Club for Growth $63,300 $63,300 $0
Emergent Biosolutions $20,650 $15,650 $5,000
Cummins-American Corp $15,400 $6,400 $9,000
Koch Industries $14,800 $4,800 $10,000
Rooney Holdings $13,500 $13,500 $0
Coburn has said that he will retire in 2016. He is infamous for saying, “It’s just a good thing I can’t pack a gun on the Senate floor.” That was right before he told his constituents that Obama likes the culture of dependency because it worked so well for him as an African American male.
The most interesting thing about this suspicion is that if the leak came from the Senate and not the House, it can be investigated by Democrats who are the hamstrung, beleaguered majority in the Senate. I would have bet on the House being the leak for this reason, but perhaps I’ve underestimated Republican hubris.
Yesterday, Democratic Rep Adam Schiff (D-CA) called for an investigation into how the doctored email ended up in the media’s hands. There’s no way that Darrell Issa would allow an investigation of Republicans in the House. He’s way too invested in abusing his power for partisan gain, especially after the big money told Republicans to stop any legislating and just focus on drumming up Obama scandals.
Karl and ABC brushed this under the rug today, claiming that his story still stood. It most certainly does not. But clearly, they aren’t going to be outing their source and CBS did enough by outing that it was offered to them by Republicans on Capitol Hill. Americans deserve to know who lied to Congress, the public, and the press and why. Remember, “it’s the lie that matters”… and the cover up.
Republicans have been nattering on since September 12 about Benghazi. Now that we have the first piece of evidence that there has been malfeasance and an attempt to mislead the public, albeit by Republicans, suddenly they aren’t interested in wasting time on investigations anymore. File that with the years-stalled WMD investigations.
Benghazi Bullshit: The Real Scandal is the Media Pretending that Republicans Aren’t Lying
By: Sarah Jones
May. 19th, 2013
Pardon my language, but I’ve had it with this bullshit.
The real scandal, the only scandal, is that your “free press” is once again pretending as if Republicans are not lying to them. They are pretending that House Republicans did not feed a lie to the press in order to forward their bullshit Benghazi narrative.
The press is very busy and important moving forward the narrative that there’s a scandal. Oh, you might be impressed at first that they’ve finally found the courage so clearly missing during the Bush years, when they scraped the lies off of the administration’s feet with subservience and deference befitting propaganda outlets.
But you’d only be impressed if you didn’t look any deeper. You see, there is one consistency here and that is that when Republicans lie to the press, the public, and Congress, from WMD to Benghazi, the press carries their water like the corporate serfs they are.
They are not doing this to hold the executive branch accountable. They are doing it because this is the only time they have any balls at all, and they must make a show of it. They haven’t the courage to stand up to corporate Republicans in Congress because their corporate bosses need their Republican stooges to deregulate them for the profit. They haven’t the integrity to stand up to Bush’s WMD. But boy oh boy, can they stand up for phony Benghazi bullshit!
On the Sunday shows this week, you’d have thought that Jake Tapper never busted ABC’s deliberately misleading Benghazi email “exclusive” as the joke it was. Much concern over the trifecta of scandals. Yesterday I was listening to CNN on satellite radio, and they were breathless with the scandals– would Obama ever recover?
But it’s perfectly okay for ABC to lie to the public, carrying Benghazi bullshit for their conservative reporter who didn’t even demand to see the original email before passing along Republicans’ interpretation of it as fact.
Your media hasn’t the guts to call ABC out, just like they got Fox’s back when the President said they were not a news organization. It’s a big club, and the only reason you got the Tapper story is probably because Tapper has a grudge against Karl. He should despise him for being a moron and a Republican stooge, but that’s not the problem at all. After all, we all remember when Tapper was carrying GOP Benghazi water, so concerned that the administration might have not been honest – based on nothing but Republicans claiming so during an election — oh, but, integrity!
The problem is that ABC replaced Tapper with this former CNN conservative because, you know, chasing after a demo that is aging itself out of existence seemed like a great plan to ABC. I don’t give a crap why Tapper went all Benghazi bombshell on Karl, Karl set himself up for it. But who is going to go after the rest of the walking dead corporate puppets?
Do they even care about the truth? If they did, Republican Benghazi bullshit would not be headlining. The headline right now should be that ABC doesn’t see anything wrong with what Karl did, and apparently our misinformed public couldn’t give a crap either. Kim Kardashian! Sparkles! Oh, yes, and Obama is Nixon/Bush only worse. Wrap that up with a bullshit bow, because that is all you are getting for news from the bullshit factory that brought you WMD as a real thing.
Note: I save bad language for moments like this, when nothing else will do. My contempt runneth over.
Cowardly Karl: ABC Let’s Their Chief White House Correspondent Issue Non-Apology
By: Sarah Jones
May. 19th, 2013
On CNN’s Reliable Sources, host Howard Kurtz read a statement this Sunday from Jonathan Karl, chief White House Correspondent for ABC News, that didn’t make Karl look any better, but in fact only raised more questions.
Karls’ statement was a response to being busted by Jake Tapper of CNN for taking a doctored email hawked to other reporters by House Republicans and creating an “excuslive” out of it that specifically charged that the White House had changed talking points in order to protect itself.
Jonathan Karl isn’t backing down. Nope. He’s doubling down on the accusations while expressing regret that the email was quoted incorrectly (by whom? aliens who took over his keyboard?) and for the “distraction” from what Karl sees as the real story:
Clearly, I regret the email was quoted incorrectly and I regret that it’s become a distraction from the story, which still entirely stands. I should have been clearer about the attribution. We updated our story immediately.
-Jonathan Karl, ABC News Chief White House Correspondent
Somehow, Karl believes that the story still stands. But all examinations of the emails show that the minor edits fundamentally altered the meaning of the email. They were edited in order to make the Obama administration look bad, “inventing the notion that Rhodes wanted the concerns of the State Department specifically addressed.” That was the entire point of Karl’s story, and not coincidentally, the narrative of House Republicans.
Karl tried to defend his false story at the time by claiming his story still stood and pointing his finger at the White House. He wanted more information, darn it! Sadly for him, the White House complied and those emails proved that Karl’s story did not stand. Jason Easley explained at the time that by doing this, Obama put a stake through the heart of the GOP’s Benghazi scandal:
The president put a stake through the heart of the GOP’s attempts to revive Benghazi by releasing 100 pages of emails. (Now, the world can see how badly Jon Karl and ABC News got played when they used the summaries of someone else’s notes.) The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent published an email from Tommy Vietor, who until recently was the spokesperson for the National Security Council. Vietor wrote, “Regarding the talking points, it’s not surprising that the entire government would want the chance to look at and edit that language. This was a dynamic situation and new information was constantly flowing in, and different agencies had important concerns that had to be addressed – the State Department had security concerns, the FBI was worried about its investigation, and the CIA had a major, yet still undisclosed, role.”
What makes this even more egregious is that somehow Jake Tapper got the original email. How did he do that? Was Karl unable to get the original email or is he responsible for altering it?
Karl’s Rovian mea culpa actually only raises more questions, most specifically who is responsible for incorrectly quoting the email. Until now, it seemed he was had by the House GOP, who hawked their email to other reporters. But now, we have to ask — who altered the email, who “quoted it” incorrectly? Is Karl trying to cover for House GOP?
Yesterday, I gave Karl the benefit of the doubt, even after learning that he had been trained by a conservative media outlet also responsible for unleashing James O’Keefe, Michelle Malkin, and a host of other well known frothing lunatics who now pass themselves off as “journalists”.
Proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is indeed a Republican with an agenda that has made him blind to evidence and a general sucker for any lie a Republican wants out there, Karl’s words remind us all that crazy can never see just how crazy it appears, “I regret that it’s become a distraction from the story, which still entirely stands.” Oh, thanks for clearing that up, Karl. Integrity: ZERO.
Karl’s non-apology apology and refusal to go on his own network, let alone Reliable Sources, to explain what happened and how he came to mislead the public is indicative of an agenda that can’t afford the prying eyes of a TV audience.
Jonathan Karl is a coward, and a dupe. He misled his readers about his source, attributing it to a review of the actual emails when in fact he never had them. He got played by the GOP. The public is already starting petitions demanding his resignation (a move I support). But instead of apologizing for the real crime, ABC let him double down, claiming that he regrets this distraction. ABC is chasing after Fox News in the integrity department.
Jonathan Karl has officially become his own scandal, exposed by his own words and hubris.
Lyin’ Paul Ryan Tells A Fact Free Tale About Obama and The IRS Scandal
By: Jason Easley
May. 19th, 2013
Paul Ryan ignored the evidence, and wove a web of lies in an attempt to insinuate that President Obama was involved in the IRS scandal.
Paul Ryan started off his Fox News Sunday interview by admitting that he had no proof that President Obama was involved in the IRS scandal. This did not stop Rep. Ryan from insinuating that Obama was involved in the IRS scandal.
What we also know from just this one hearing is that groups with the word progressive, or organizing, groups with a liberal persuasion did not have this targeting. They went through. They were approved. So we know that they specifically targeted people based on their political beliefs. Based on people who have a suspicion of the size and direction of government. Based on tea party, and 9/12, and the word patriots. So we know for sure they targeted people based on their political beliefs.
We’ve got allegations based on, you know, religious beliefs that were contrary to the president’s positions. We have credible allegations that donors to these groups were targeted. We know that the IRS leaked private confidential information to the public, for political, which served political purposes, so there’s so much more that we’ve just uncovered that we do not know the root causes of.
And so to suggest that this is some bureaucratic snafu, it it, that’s already been disproven, Chris. The other point I’d say this is. The person in charge of this bureaucratic snafu is has now been put in charge of implementing Obamacare. The IRS is now going to be granted huge amounts of unprecedented power over our health care in the implementation of Obamacare, and so this is just rotten to the core. This is arrogance. This is big government cronyism, and this is not what hardworking taxpayers deserve. People deserve a government that they can trust. That’s honest, that’s impartial, equality before the law, and that’s not what we are getting here, so to try and suggest bureaucratic snafus. We already know that this is not true.
Paul Ryan was lying. His lie was one of omission. Rep. Ryan made those claims based on only the year 2010. The problem is that the IRS also targeted liberals 2011 and 2012. In 2012, the IRS revoked the tax exempt status that they had given a liberal group in 2011.
The report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that the IRS was targeting groups on both the left and the right who were interested in expanding or limiting government. The IRS wasn’t targeting for partisan reasons. They were trying to figure out if these political groups violated the tax exempt status limitations on partisan political activity.
Ryan also lied about the IRS having power over health care. The IRS will be involved in making sure that everyone is participating in Obamacare or paying the penalty. The IRS will not be involved in health care, or health care decisions.
Republicans are trying to use this IRS scandal to attack Obama, and stop Obamacare. Notice that near the end of his remarks Ryan mentioned people deserve a government that they can trust. This statement was the first sign that the goal of these scandals is to use them against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Republicans are laying the groundwork for the argument the Obama administration can’t be trusted, and Clinton would represent a third term for Obama.
It is all a lie. There is no evidence that the president was involved, but that is not going to stop Republicans from drawing connections where none exist in order to trump up another Obama scandal.
White House Fights Back: We’ve Seen the GOP Playbook of False Allegations Before
By: Sarah Jones
May. 19th, 2013
Top White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer fought back against the week of Republican lies on Meet the Press, telling David Gregory, “We’ve seen this playbook from the Republicans before. What they want to do when they are lacking a positive agenda is they want to drag Washington into a swamp of partisan fishing expeditions, trumped up hearings, and false allegations. We’re not going to let that happen.”
He then proceeded to drop a few fact bombs on the alleged “scandals”.
Transcript from NBC News, with modifications and additions for missing text, my bold:
DAVID GREGORY: You don’t buy the theory there’s a big cloud, scandal over this president.
DAN PFEIFFER: No, I do not. We’ve seen this playbook from the Republicans before. What they want to do when they are lacking a positive agenda is they want to drag Washington into a swamp of partisan fishing expeditions, trumped up hearings, and false allegations. We’re not going to let that happen. The president has business to do for the American people.
DAVID GREGORY: We’re going to hear from Dave Camp (R-MI, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee)… This is one of the things he said. I want to get your reaction.
DAVE CAMP: Listening to the nightly news, this appears to be an example of cover-ups and it seems like the truth is hidden from the American people just long enough to make it through an election.
DAVID GREGORY: How do you react to that?
DAN PFEIFFER: There’s no evidence to support at that. The first time the White House was aware of this investigation was a few weeks ago when our office was notified it was happening. At that point, we had no idea what the facts were. Congressman Issa has been aware of this investigation since before the election. He didn’t say anything publicly for very good reason. As he said, want to make sure you actually have facts before you raise allegations — when you’re talking about a nonpartisan entity like the IRS.
DAVID GREGORY: You’re a communications professional as well. You never want a president of the United States coming out and saying I just learned about this from news reports. It doesn’t look like someone is large and in charge–
DAN PFEIFFER: In this situation that’s exactly what you want. You don’t want the President involved in an independent investigation with an agency with an independent stature like the IRS. That would be inappropriate.
The Obama administration appointed a career official to review the IRS procedures, someone who has served under presidents of both parties, because that is exactly what you do when you do not have an agenda to cover something up. The President is staying out of the investigation, as he should.
The facts are that the IRS was not only “targeting” conservatives. In fact, conservatives were only 1/3 of the groups “targeted”. During another one of the Republicans’ wasteful congressional hearings, they got handed their hysteria on a platter of “don’t ask questions you don’t know the answer to”, when they forced acting IRS commissioner Steve Miller to explain to them that conservatives were not targeted. Eric W. Dolan at Raw Story reported Saturday that Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) stepped in a big puddle of unbecoming fact:
“If the targeting wasn’t targeting, if the targeting wasn’t based on philosophy, how come only conservatives got snagged?” Roskam confidently asked.
“They didn’t, sir,” Miller responded. “Organizations of all walks and all persuasions were pulled in. That’s shown by the fact that only 70 of the 300 organizations were tea party organizations, of the ones that were looked at by TIGTA [Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration].”
Furthermore, Republicans knew about the IRS investigation last year, because they requested it (caution: Jonathan Karl article). They also know why it didn’t “come out” then, and that is because no wrongdoing had been found yet. This is the nature of investigations, something Issa admitted then and now plays confused over. However, you can’t blame Republicans for their most defining characteristic of jumping the gun. They don’t care much for evidence, as proven in these trumped up charges (Benghazi gate, in which they were busted as manufacturing evidence against the Obama administration, should burnish the WMD rep once and for all).
The “scandal” that certain folks knew about the “IRS targeting conservatives”, suggesting yet another coverup, was planted in the press last week by Republican congressional aides, who failed to mention that Congressman Issa also knew about it.
These are the facts, and it’s a sad commentary on our media that the White House had to send out their own representative to point these things out. If they didn’t, the “trifecta” of trumped up scandals would be allowed to continue ala the Clinton years, costing untold amounts of money and halting government for years. But guess what? President Obama is not going to let that happen again.
Democrats have learned a few things from the Clinton years, but Republicans clearly have not. Speaker Boehner was already asked if he was worried about backlash last week. If they aren’t careful, the narrative by next week will resemble something closer to the truth: These scandals are trumped up by Republicans, who have once again lied to the press, Congress, and the public.
Meanwhile, the President’s approval ratings are going up.
Backlash is on the menu.
Scandals Backfire on Republicans as Obama’s Approval Ratings Go Up
By: Jason Easley
May. 19th, 2013
Despite the many attempts by Republicans to generate a scandal, a new CNN/ORC poll found that the president’s approval ratings have increased by two points.
The latest CNN/ORC poll reveals that President Obama’s approval rating has gone up by two points from 51% in April to 53% today, while his disapproval rating has fallen by two points from 47% to 45%. While 85% of those polled agree that the IRS targeted of political groups is very or somewhat important issue, by a margin of 61%-37% respondents believed that President Obama’s statements on the matter have been completely mostly true. (That 37% number comes up a lot in polling. It represents the higher end of the number of self-identified conservatives/Republicans in the country.) By a margin of 54%-42% respondents think Republicans are reacting appropriately to the matter, but the vast majority (55%-37%) believe that the IRS acted alone without White House orders.
A majority of those polled were dissatisfied with the way the Obama administration handled Benghazi (53%), but they believe that the administration was passing along the facts as they knew them to be at that time (50%-44%).
These “scandals” haven’t hurt President Obama at all. The most logical reasons for this are that people aren’t paying attention, and those who are don’t believe the Republicans. President Obama has always been well liked trusted by a majority in this country. For years,Republicans have tried and repeatedly failed to damage the relationship that the president has with a majority of Americans.
President Obama has been consistently viewed by the majority in this country as honest. This hasn’t stopped Republicans from continuing to damage their own brand by trying to portray the president as dishonest, or covering up something.
This poll reveals that congressional Republicans are walking a fine line on the IRS scandal. People support them investigating the IRS, but they don’t support turning the investigation into an Obama witch hunt. Since House Republicans excel at self-destruction, they should be expected to try to link Obama to the IRS in their future hearings.
The scandals appear to be backfiring, and setting a dangerous trap for Republicans. The fundamental political dynamic of President Obama being much more popular than the Republican Party is shaping these numbers. If the unpopular congressional Republicans continue to attack Obama with scandals, they will make the president more popular and drive his poll numbers up.
The Obama scandals are backfiring in a big way. If Republicans don’t play it straight with these investigations, they could end up boosting Obama while burying their own party.
on: Today at 07:19 AM
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18-year-old’s breakthrough invention can recharge phones in seconds
By Stephen C. Webster
Sunday, May 19, 2013 18:42 EDT
An 18-year-old science student has made an astonishing breakthrough that will enable mobile phones and other batteries to be charged within seconds rather than the hours it takes today’s devices to power back up.
Saratoga, Calif. resident Eesha Khare made the breakthrough by creating a small supercapacitor that can fit inside a cell phone battery and enable ultra-fast electricity transfer and storage, delivering a full charge in 20-30 seconds instead of several hours.
The nano-tech device Khare created can supposedly withstand up to 100,000 charges, a 100-fold increase over current technology, and it’s flexible enough to be used in clothing or displays on any non-flat surface.
It could also one day be used in car batteries and charging stations not unlike those used by the Tesla Model S, which includes “supercharger” technology that promises to charge vehicles in 30 minutes or less.
“I’m in a daze,” Khare told CBS San Francisco after being honored among the three finalists at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix over the weekend. “I can’t believe this happened.”
Over 1,600 finalists from around the world competed in the science fair for a $75,000 scholarship grand prize awarded by Intel. Runners-up received $50,000 scholarships.
Khare was the runner-up to 19-year-old Romanian student Gorden E. Moore, who created a low-cost artificial intelligence that can drive vehicles. She tied with Louisiana 17-year-old Henry Wanjune, who figured out new ways to measure dark matter and energy in space.
on: Today at 07:17 AM
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HIV vaccine efforts face several years of ‘void’ after latest setback
By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, May 19, 2013 10:25 EDT
The hunt for an HIV vaccine has gobbled up $8 billion in the past decade, and the failure of the most recent efficacy trial has delivered yet another setback to 26 years of efforts.
With the next attempts expected to be years away, top researchers now say there is a “void” or a “gap” in current clinical trial efforts to test whether a vaccine may be safe and effective in people.
A kind of ongoing autopsy of the last four major bids to make an HIV vaccine has informed the field as to what does not work, with the latest casualty being a trial called HVTN 505 that was halted early because it did not prevent HIV.
“It leaves us with a gap in several years before we have another HIV vaccine efficacy trial under way, and that is unfortunate,” said James Kublin, executive director of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.
Another concern for researchers is that two vaccine trials — HVTN 505 and a previous trial known as STEP that ended unsuccessfully in 2007 — both revealed apparent increases in the number of vaccinated patients who got HIV.
HVTN 505 showed 41 cases of HIV were acquired in the vaccine group, compared to 31 in the placebo group. Among some 2,500 participants, the difference was not statistically significant, and so researchers found that no harm was caused by the trial.
“But the number is in the wrong direction,” said trial leader Scott Hammer, who described the trial’s outcome as a “disappointment.”
Researchers are still investigating why this may have happened, but some theorize the cold virus known as Ad5 that served as a vector to deliver the vaccine may have somehow caused more infections by making it easier for HIV to penetrate the body.
“You scratch your head,” said Hammer, a professor of medicine at Columbia University, adding that Ad5 may now be considered too risky and other options are being investigated.
“No one is going to want to a do a major trial with this sort of vector in the future,” he told AFP.
The key puzzle in the vaccine search has been the nature of the human immunodeficiency virus itself, which has managed to fool modern medicine by changing its genetic makeup so often that a single weapon cannot silence it.
“The virus is a very elusive foe,” said Wayne Koff, chief scientific officer at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI).
“It is more variable than almost any other virus that a vaccine has been attempted for. So if one wants to make antibodies against a virus that is variable, one has to have a broadly reactive antibody,” he told AFP.
A small number of HIV-positive people have been found to produce antibodies that can neutralize a broad range of HIV variants, but scientists have not yet figured out how to make a vaccine from that information.
“Lots of people are working on that very hard. I would have thought we would have that immunogen to test in phase I trials by now, but hopefully soon,” said Hammer, a leading HIV researcher.
About 34 million people are infected with HIV worldwide, and AIDS has killed 30 million people since the epidemic began 30 years ago.
The vaccine field has fallen short of expectations since 1984, when Margaret Heckler, who was then US secretary of Health and Human Services, declared a vaccine would be ready for testing in about two years’ time.
The first phase I trial of a vaccine began in 1987 at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and included 138 healthy volunteers. The first large-scale trials did not begin until the late 1990s.
The sole success story to date has been a trial in Thailand known as RV144, which in 2009 saw a modest, 31 percent rate of protection, still far below the 50 percent threshold needed in order to license a vaccine.
Researchers are continuing to study the results for clues as to why it worked in some cases but not others, and why it appears the protective effects may have waned over time.
A similar vaccine modeled for South Africans is expected to enter human trials in the next couple of years. Other approaches for increasing T-cell immunity are also on the horizon.
“I am an optimist. I think we are at least halfway there, hopefully further,” said Hammer. “The world needs an HIV vaccine.”
on: Today at 07:12 AM
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Venezuela’s new government ‘open’ to resuming U.S. diplomatic relations
By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, May 19, 2013 21:06 EDT
Venezuela's Foreign Minister Elias Jaua attends an ALBA ministers meeting in Guayaquil, Ecuador on April 22, 2013. Venezuela on Sunday made a rare diplomatic overture to the United States, suggesting it could
Venezuela on Sunday made a rare diplomatic overture to the United States, suggesting it could be time for better ties.
“We are going to remain open to normalizing relations with the United States,” Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said on Televen television Sunday.
“The first thing would be to resume diplomatic representation at the highest level,” he said.
The country’s late socialist president Hugo Chavez was a staunch critic of the United States, and his successor Nicolas Maduro is still feeling out its footing with Washington.
Chavez for more than 14 years unleashed verbal broadsides on US leaders before his death in March. The United States and Venezuela since 2010 have not even had ambassadors in their embassies in their respective capitals.
Maduro, who earlier said his government would like to increase dialogue with the United States, has selected lawmaker Calixto Ortega as its potential US envoy.
US President Barack Obama however has not congratulated Maduro for his controversial, razor-thin April 14 election, as Maduro’s opposition rival Henrique Capriles presses claims that the Venezuelan presidential election was marred by irregularities.
Maduro meanwhile slammed Obama “the top leader of devils” after he commented on post-election unrest in Venezuela.
Despite the bad blood, Venezuela sells about 900,000 barrels of oil every day to the United States.
on: Today at 07:10 AM
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May 19, 2013
Fresh Israeli Face Plays Down Dimming of Political Star
By JODI RUDOREN
TEL AVIV — To say Yair Lapid has been on a roller coaster would be an understatement. One recent headline blared about his “meteoric rise and fall,” another said he had gone from “political darling to national whipping boy.”
Mr. Lapid, a popular television host with no political experience, stunned Israel in January by galvanizing the secular middle class around kitchen-table concerns to make his new Yesh Atid Party the second largest in Parliament. He was immediately crowned a kingmaker, and talked openly about quickly replacing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But he ended up with the fraught job of finance minister, and facing a huge deficit. As he presented an austerity budget this month with tax increases and subsidy cuts that hit hard the people he claimed to represent, polls showed his approval rating plummeting to 21 percent; fewer than half of those who voted Yesh Atid (There is a Future), said they would pick the party again. The protesters who had helped propel his political rise began showing up outside his home on a cul-de-sac here.
So after months of communicating with the public only on Facebook, Mr. Lapid has embarked on a media blitz, deploying his telegenic good looks and sound-bite savvy. He summoned a series of journalists to an outdoor cafe here on Thursday, wearing jeans and his trademark black T-shirt, and tried to take the long view.
“I’m going to be bashed now, and be the beneficiary of this within, I don’t know, a year or a year and a half,” Mr. Lapid, 49, said in his first interview with an international news organization since his unexpected vault into global headlines. He still hopes to succeed Mr. Netanyahu, but said, “I’m in no hurry.”
Asked about the transition to politics, he called it “painful,” joking, “I used to have so many opinions before I learned the facts.”
In an hourlong conversation, Mr. Lapid offered no criticism of Mr. Netanyahu. He said he talks or exchanges text messages almost daily with Naftali Bennett, the leader of the nationalist Jewish Home Party, with whom he formed an alliance to block the ultra-Orthodox from joining Israel’s governing coalition. He declined to discuss security issues like Iran.
An avowed centrist, Mr. Lapid nevertheless took a hard line on policy toward the Palestinians, the issue that has defined Israeli politics for decades but that was overshadowed by domestic concerns in the recent campaign. He said that Israel should not change its policy on Israeli settlements in the West Bank in order to revive the stalemated peace process, and that Jerusalem should not serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state — an essential part of Palestinian plans.
Mr. Lapid acknowledged that tens of thousands of Jews would someday be uprooted from what he described as “remote settlements” in the West Bank, something he called “heartbreaking.” But he said that problem should be set aside for now, advocating the immediate creation of an interim Palestinian state in parts of the West Bank where no Jews live, with final borders drawn in perhaps three, four or five years. Palestinian leaders have roundly rejected temporary borders.
While he described the two-state solution as “crucial” to preserving Israel as a Jewish nation, he offered no hints of Israeli concessions that could break the stalemate in the peace process. Instead, he repeatedly said he hoped that Secretary of State John Kerry, who is scheduled to arrive here this week for his fourth visit in two months, would “jump-start” it.
And he expressed extreme skepticism about the likelihood of reaching a deal with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, saying, “He’s one of the founding fathers of the victimizing concept of the Palestinians.”
He also questioned whether Palestinians truly wanted a state.
“Israelis want peace and security and Palestinians want peace and justice — these are two very different things, and this is the real gap we have to close,” he said. “More and more people are saying to themselves and to others, this is not going to happen, all we have to do is some maintenance and we’ll see. Some people think ‘we’ll see’ is ‘God will help us,’ which is not a very tangible idea to me. Others say, ‘Some problems are not to be solved,’ which is a very sad idea.
“I am saying what we need to do is something.”
Yet while Mr. Lapid vowed “to be proactive about this and do everything in my power to contribute to the discourse,” he said he has not spoken with Mr. Kerry since sitting with him at a state dinner during President Obama’s visit to Jerusalem in March. Nor has he met with any Palestinians since taking office.
He said he had found Mr. Netanyahu “more willing” and “more prepared than people tend to think” to make peace with the Palestinians. Indeed, there was little daylight between the two men’s positions. Mr. Lapid said he would not stop the so-called “natural expansion” of settlements in the West Bank, nor curtail the financial incentives offered Israelis to move there. He said the large swaths of land known as East Jerusalem that Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war and later annexed must stay Israeli because “we didn’t come here for nothing.”
“Jerusalem is not a place, Jerusalem is an idea,” he said. “Jerusalem is the capital of the Israeli state.”
Little known outside Israel a few months ago, Mr. Lapid in April ousted Mr. Netanyahu from Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people, and last week topped the Jerusalem Post’s ranking of influential Jews. (Mr. Netanyahu landed at No. 3.) But he has become the target of angry Facebook campaigns and editorial cartoons, and is battered daily by columnists across the spectrum.
“In no time at all, he has lost his major assets: the credibility and trust of the Israeli voter,” Yossi Verter, the political writer for the left-leaning daily Haaretz, wrote Friday. In Yediot Aharonot, Nahum Barnea said, “The truth is that Lapid has taken too much upon himself.” And in the right-leaning Jerusalem Post, Gil Hoffman observed, “The boxer who idolizes Muhammad Ali has now become a political punching bag.”
One of the things that led some to turn on Mr. Lapid was the revelation that he met in April with Sheldon Adelson, the ultraconservative financier who backs Mr. Netanyahu and owns the Israel Hayom newspaper that loyally supports him. Mr. Lapid said Thursday that Mr. Adelson requested the meeting to ensure that the government would continue its matching grant of about $40 million to Birthright, a program that brings young Jews to Israel, and that “there was nothing political about it.”
Throughout the interview, Mr. Lapid was charming, confident — and controlling. Pressed on a certain point, he warned, “I’m so good at not answering questions I don’t want to answer that we could go all night.” And he refused to be photographed for this article at the cafe, insisting that the photographer try Friday, when Mr. Lapid would don a jacket to meet with the German foreign minister.
He was sanguine about his situation, rejecting the conventional wisdom that he has made a series of missteps.
“Making hard choices always seems to be mistakes, but these are not mistakes,” he said. “If you want to change a country, you’re going to be bumped every now and then.”
Ethan Bronner and Irit Pazner Garshowitz contributed reporting.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: May 20, 2013
An earlier version of this story misstated the timing of Secretary of State John Kerry’s arrival in Israel. He is scheduled to arrive this week, not next week.
on: Today at 07:05 AM
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Kuwait deports ‘hundreds’ for traffic offenses
By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, May 19, 2013 10:16 EDT
Kuwait has deported hundreds of expats for traffic offences in the past month, a report said on Sunday, drawing condemnation from a human rights group.
The Al-Anbaa newspaper cited a senior interior ministry official as saying that as many as 1,258 foreigners have been deported for traffic violations since a crackdown began about a month ago.
Foreign residents caught driving without a licence, using their cars to carry paying passengers, jumping a red light for a second time, or breaking the speed limit by more than 40 kilometres per hour (25 miles per hour), can be deported without a court order.
The Kuwait Society for Human Rights called on the government to halt the deportations describing them as “oppressive”.
“The oppressive measure against expatriates… violates the basic principles of human rights,” it said.
The group warned that the measure could tarnish the Gulf state’s image abroad at a time when its human rights record is under scrutiny.
Kuwait is home to 2.6 million expatriates who form 68 percent of the country’s 3.8 million population.
Kuwaiti nationals who commit similar offences have their vehicles seized and can be sent to court.
Last month, Minister of Social Affairs and Labour Thekra al-Rasheedi said the emirate plans to deport around 100,000 expatriates every year for the next decade to reduce the number of foreigners living in the Gulf state by one million.
She did not say what measures she would adopt to carry out the plan.
Foreigners need to hold a university degree, earn 400 dinars ($1,400) a month and have lived in Kuwait for at least two years to be eligible to apply for a driver’s licence, under a decision issued nearly a decade ago.
on: Today at 07:04 AM
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Egypt police shut passage to Israel due to abductions
By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, May 19, 2013 10:14 EDT
Egyptian police closed a commercial passage with Israel on Sunday in support of colleagues who shut down a crossing with Gaza to protest the abduction of policemen, state media reported.
The protesters say the commercial Al-Ouga crossing between Egypt and Israel will remain closed until three policemen and four soldiers abducted by gunmen in the Sinai peninsula are released, the official MENA news agency reported.
Police had shut down the Rafah crossing with the Palestinian Gaza Strip to the north on Friday, a day after gunmen abducted the policemen, who worked in the crossing, and soldiers.
State media has said security officials were in talks with the abductors via local Bedouin leaders who hold sway in the restive peninsula.
A spate of hostage-taking has rocked the Sinai, which borders Israel as well as Gaza, but they usually last for no longer than 48 hours and are often carried out by Bedouin seeking the release of jailed relatives.
Such abductions have been on the rise since the 2011 uprising that toppled veteran president Hosni Mubarak.
on: Today at 07:03 AM
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EU decision to lift Syrian oil sanctions boosts jihadist groups
Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaida affiliate, consolidates position as scramble for control of wells accelerates
Julian Borger and Mona Mahmood
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 19 May 2013 12.51 BST
The EU decision to lift Syrian oil sanctions to aid the opposition has accelerated a scramble for control over wells and pipelines in rebel-held areas and helped consolidate the grip of jihadist groups over the country's key resources.
Jabhat al-Nusra, affiliated with al-Qaida and other extreme Islamist groups, control the majority of the oil wells in Deir Ezzor province, displacing local Sunni tribes, sometimes by force. They have also seized control of other fields from Kurdish groups further to the north-east, in al-Hasakah governorate.
As opposition groups have turned their guns on each other in the battle over oil, water and agricultural land, military pressure on Bashar al-Assad's government from the north and east has eased off. In some areas, al-Nusra has struck deals with government forces to allow the transfer of crude across the front lines to the Mediterranean coast.
Syria oil fire map Syria oil fire map
As a result of the rush to make quick money, open-air refineries have been set up in Deir Ezzor and al-Raqqa provinces. Crude is stored in ditches and heated in metal tanks by wood fires, shrouding the region with plumes of black smoke, exposing the local population to the dangers of the thick smog and the frequent explosions at the improvised plants.
Heating oil, diesel and petrol is condensed in hoses running from the tanks through pools of water and sold across the north, as far as Aleppo. The remaining crude is shipped by road on tankers to Turkey.
One leading opposition figure said: "The northern front hasn't just gone dormant; the northern front has gone commercial."
The EU announced it was lifting its oil embargo in April to help the moderate opposition. The implementation regulations have yet to be issued so the decision has not taken effect, but regional experts say the announcement intensified the race for oil – a race the western-backed moderates lost.
Joshua Landis, an expert on the region at the University of Oklahoma who runs the Syria Comment blog, said the EU decision on oil "sent a message that oil could come back online faster than most thought possible".
"Whoever gets their hands on the oil, water and agriculture, holds Sunni Syria by the throat. At the moment, that's al-Nusra," Landis said. "Europe opening up the market for oil forced this issue. So the logical conclusion from this craziness is that Europe will be funding al-Qaida."
Abu Albara, an al-Nusra fighter who spoke to the Guardian by telephone from Deir Ezzor, said: "Now, we can say that most of the oil wells are in the hands of the rebels, only a single oil facility in Hasakah is still under the control of [Kurdish fighters]. There are two other oil wells close to the Iraqi borders in the desert. The Iraqi army have surrounded them with tanks but we do not know what they are doing with them."
The al-Nusra guerilla said the group was merely guarding the wells it captured, but the rival groups have accused the Islamists of asset-stripping them for quick money.
"Jabhat al-Nusra is investing in the Syrian economy to reinforce its position in Syria and Iraq. Al-Nusra fighters are selling everything that falls into their hands from wheat, archaeological relics, factory equipment, oil drilling and imaging machines, cars, spare parts and crude oil," Abu Saif, a fighter with the Ahrar Brigade, linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, told the Guardian by phone from the Deir Ezzor area.
"The Syrian regime itself is paying more than 150m Syrian lire [£1.4m] monthly to Jabhat al-Nusra to guarantee oil is kept pumping through two major oil pipelines in Banias and Latakia. Middlemen trusted by both sides are to facilitate the deal and transfer money to the organisation."
A western diplomat watching the situation said: "We understand that in Deir Ezzor, it's a bit of a mix. Al-Nusra is there and there is sometimes co-operation with the regime for practical reasons. In some areas oil products are being given to the local communities, but there are clear dangers in these kinds of open-air refineries."
The diplomat said the EU implementation regulation for the lifting of the oil embargo would include safeguard clauses that would give the western-backed opposition, the National Coalition, the power to authorise exports. But as things stand, the coalition and its allies hold very little of Syria's oil wealth in their hands.
A former Syrian oil executive in the rebel-held areas said: "In the last few months, they seem to have figured a way to sell the oil supply across the lines from the rebels to government forces, through intermediaries trusted on both sides."
The former executive said the oil trade had spawned a growing demand for oil tanker lorries, as a single shipment could earn a profit of up to $10,000 (£6,600). He added that al-Nusra and other jihadist groups were using much of the money to win hearts and minds in areas they have captured, such as al-Raqqa city, which fell in March.
"If you look at what the money does in these places," he said, asking for his name not to be used because of the sensitivity of the issue. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist. You bring in flour, you repair the bakeries, so there are big smiles in the local community. It's an incredible marketing machine."
In April, the head of the western-backed rebel Supreme Military Council, General Selim Idriss, pledged to create a force to secure the oilfields and other economic resources in Deir Ezzor, al-Hasakah and Raqqa provinces, but that force has yet to materialise and observers doubt Idriss has the money, manpower or weaponry to displace the jihadists.
"Idriss probably felt he had to say that, to reassure the Europeans," Landis said. "But nobody takes such claims seriously. Where is he going to get 30,000 men from?"
The only rivals to the power of the jihadists in the oil region are the Kurds in al-Hasakah, and the Sunni tribes around Deir Ezzor, who have found themselves increasingly marginalised by Islamic extremists.
In one well-documented case, fighting broke out in the village of al-Musareb, near Deir Ezzor, between al-Nusra fighters and local tribesmen over ownership of an oil tanker. The al-Nusra commander, a Saudi called Qasura al-Jazrawi, was killed. As a reprisal, the jihadist group levelled much of the village and executed 50 of its residents.
Apart from the latest round of conflict the oil rush has triggered, human rights campaigners have raised concerns about the health impact of the wildcat refining industry. Skin and breathing complaints have become common while there are reports of workers on the improvised oil fields, including children, being burned to death in accidents.
An opposition activist in Hasakah, Salman Kurdi, said: "They refine oil by boiling it to very high temperatures by using gas cans, and most of the time, they blow up. It's killed many of the people who work there.
"A month ago, an explosion happened in an oil well called Shadada, in the countryside south of here, and five people were killed. They dig a big hole and put lots of fire in it and gas to make it boiling. If you travel south to the countryside, you can spot the smoke rising every few kilometres."