Pages: 1 ... 6 7 [8] 9 10
 71 
 on: Dec 17, 2014, 01:24 PM 
Started by Linda - Last post by Jen
Hi, weighing/waying in.. Wink
It seems to me that Jen your Neptune skipped step, with Pisces the sign of south Node in the first, and that loaded North Node, ruled by the Mercury Jupiter trining Neptune, suggests it is a lifetime that you become an inspired teacher, one who has moved beyond the personality of religion, as well as limiting belief systems of any kind.  

Instead I see you using the 10th house to be the example to others ( PL in Libra ) of a person whose dignity and integrity ( 10 h, Saturn conj no node ) allows her to stay in the be here now moments you describe earlier in the thread, as you become better in this life of embracing impermance.  As you mature you allow your true connection to the divine, and to mother nature's laws, to inform you.  

I see the North Node is suggesting that you again integrate the Capricorn theme of the Neptune in the 10th house to be responsible to how you earn your money ( venus no node Saturn) in this life.  The Virgo takes me back to the Chiron, healing your mind ( 3rd house ) and finding spiritual work.  Vesta conj Chiron backs this up, as does the 10h... again.

It seems that the( Uranus 17)  Moon ( a boomerang not a yod ) as the boomerang point of the yod to the apex (17 Vesta)  Chiron  ( healing your sacred work )  allows you to integrate your need for "freedom from the known", and your ability to be a psychic ( EA ) detective with your Soul's desire ( Pluto 17) and inspire and lead others (17 Neptune in the 10th house).  Also those lucky children who will learn so much from you, much like JWG's family.

The core of Pluto in Libra being backed up by the stellium and NO NODE in the 7h, one on one therapy/counselling, and of course the aries libra nodal axis showing us your need to find the balance between your personal need to be a parent (10H) and that which will truly help transform the lives of others.. ( no node conj Saturn, other 10h signature, leadership/guidance, giving others clarity and dignity).  

So, as you move away from all limiting beliefs ( neptune skipped step ) and find the balance between what you need for yourself for your own spiritual growth vedic use  south node for spiritual growth) pisces/ in the first house ) you will find the correct touch to both create financial support ( no node = material growth/ with venus  and saturn for practicality)and really stay in touch with an evolving truth, once again, rather than anything limiting, as you have stated yourself as well in an earlier thread...  

Uranus Moon opposite Vesta and Chiron tells me your emotional honesty is going to allow you work on yourself so that any new age spiritual fundamentalist virus trips are outgrown, suggesting a movement from first stage to second stage spirituality...    

Also the Sag quality suggests to me that you are here to write some books, as the Chiron Vesta in the third seems you perhaps avoided or put on hold... and doing so both helps your subconscious and emotional growth.  Moon Uranus giving you that be here now/ impermanent/ freedom from the know/ which gives your mind the ability to keep exploring all twelve pieces of the puzzle the 3rd house loves to explore.
Moon Uranus also suggests to me that the more you trust the moments, the provident uni-verse of mother nature, the more it showers you with blessings...

Hope some of this rings true...

Tashi



Thank you Tashi for your interpretation. It is very positive and inspiring to read. I am in a transitional point in my life at the moment and have not been focusing much on what will be and letting go of all that once was so I am not really able to confirm much of what you have written.

When it comes to work, jobs have always fallen into my lap and I have never worried much about how I will earn money. I am quite resourceful and I can learn almost anything I put my mind to. I have always worked in service occupations. I believe I will work with something meaningful and some sort of counselling as this comes so naturally but for now I am focusing on my children, home and family while supporting and aiding  my husband in his own spiritual work that I am sure I will have a more active part in as time goes on.

I have no interest in new age spirituality at all. The practices do not resonate with me. I have been redefining what is actually meant with the spiritual terms so that anyone can understand them, spiritual or not. I can imagine writing about these understandings in the future.

As for being showered with blessings… I feel that I already am.  Smiley

Thank you!
Jen

 72 
 on: Dec 17, 2014, 12:48 PM 
Started by Linda - Last post by Jen
Hello everyone,

Thank you Patricia, for you input regarding the skipped steps. I have felt that they were very active in my life but you put it in such a clarifying way regarding having “fallen from grace.. Gods grace even!!”  In fact I resonate with all that you have written.


Dawn Cerise

Because of this, I'd like to go back to the Yod configuration with Vesta pulling focus through Uranus. Attaching to Linda's point of the 11th cusp as it pertains to the persecution signature indicated in Pluto & the Nodal Axis.
Can we explore this further? I'm seeing the previously noted Neptune conjunction to Vesta's South Node as an obvious clue worth deeper investigation.
Thoughts anyone?
Jen, do you have some input on how these themes may have played out in your experiences? Do you have any stories on this theme? Timing?

I honestly don´t know enough about Vesta to give an accurate answer to your question but looking at major transits and what was happening in my life can give some clarity.

When transiting Pluto was approaching Uranus in 1988-89 I moved to a suburb in London with more nature to explore in. This also meant leaving the dreaded catholic school. I spent very much of my time in the forest climbing trees or in the river exploring so there was a return to nature. And when Pluto was completely conjunct Uranus I remember starting a school protest for girls to have the right to wear trousers in School. This was quite a big deal and it succeeded.

When Pluto later transited Neptune and the south node of Vesta I also returned to nature. I bought a cottage in the countryside where I spent the next few years healing from the shock of my awakening to the distortions of the world.  

If there are any other transits you would like me to look at just let me know. Wink

Jen

 73 
 on: Dec 17, 2014, 08:50 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
USA

Bernie Sanders: Destroy the big banks before the big banks destroy you

Travis Gettys
RawStory
16 Dec 2014 at 13:40 ET                   

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) plans a legislative push for the breakup of Wall Street’s largest banks and lifting the cap on contributions to Social Security.

“If Congress cannot regulate Wall Street, there is just one alternative,” said Sanders in a speech Saturday. “It is time to break these too-big-to-fail banks up so that they can never again destroy the jobs, homes, and life savings of the American people.”

Sanders, who has signaled he may run for president in 2016 to offer a true progressive alternative, said he would introduce legislation at the start of next congressional session to break up the largest investment banks.

“If a financial institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist,” he said.

He made the remarks during a debate on a controversial spending bill that contains provisions written by Citigroup lobbyists to weaken Dodd-Frank oversight of banking.

“If Wall Street lobbyists can literally write a provision into law that will allow too-big-to-fail banks to make the same risky bets that nearly destroyed our economy just a few years ago, it should be obvious to all that their incredible economic and political power is a huge danger to our economy and our way of life,” Sanders said.

Sanders also said he would introduce legislation intended to strengthen Social Security to lift a growing number of American seniors above the poverty level.

“The best way to expand Social Security is to ask the wealthiest people in our country to pay more into the system by scrapping the cap on income that is subject to the Social Security payroll tax,” he said.

Sanders said current rules allow a billionaire to pay the same amount into Social Security as a person who earns $117,000 a year.

“This is regressive, this is unfair, this is absurd,” the senator said. “If we lifted this cap and applied the Social Security payroll tax to income above $250,000 — not $117,000, but $250,000 a year, we could not only extend the solvency of Social Security for decades to come, which is what we want to do, but we could also provide the resources necessary to expand Social Security benefits. That is exactly what we should be doing, and that in fact is what the American people want us to do.”

A poll conducted in August found that 90 percent of Democratic voters supported lifting the cap, the senator said, along with 73 percent of independent voters and 73 percent of Republican voters.

“Sadly, despite this overwhelming support for expanding Social Security, the CEOs at the Business Roundtable — the organization representing the largest corporations in America — came out with a plan last year which does exactly what the American people do not want to do,” Sanders said. “The American people want to expand Social Security and the Business Roundtable came out with a plan that would increase the Social Security retirement age from 67 to 70 and severely cut the COLA of senior citizens and disabled veterans.”

**************

Federal ‘Cromnibus’ spending bill also effectively ends U.S. ban on medical marijuana

Arturo Garcia
16 Dec 2014 at 20:58 ET   

The newly-passed $1.1 trillion federal spending bill also includes a bipartisan provision that signals the end of the federal ban on medical marijuana, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The provision bars federal agents from raiding medical marijuana retailers in the 32 states and the District of Columbia where the practice has been legalized. It also protects hemp farms in Colorado. The amendment was written by two California congressmen, Sam Farr (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

“This is a victory for so many, including scores of our wounded veterans, who have found marijuana to be an important medicine for some of the ailments they suffer, such as PTSD, epilepsy, and MS,” Rohrabacher said in a statement.

The measure followed the Justice Department’s move last year to scale back prosecution against legal marijuana growers and distributors. The department issued a similar directive last week concerning Native American reservations that may also legalize the drug.

However, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug on a federal level. The “Cromnibus” bill, as it has been called, contains a separate provision that will also stop Washington D.C. from using taxpayer money to enacting its own legalization of medical marijuana.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the spending bill into effect this week.

“The war on medical marijuana is over,” Drug Policy Alliance lobbyist Bill Piper told the Times. “Now the fight moves on to legalization of all marijuana. This is the strongest signal we have received from Congress [that] the politics have really shifted.”

**************

Republican federal judge rules that Obama executive order on immigration is unconstitutional

Reuters
16 Dec 2014 at 17:55 ET                   

President Barack Obama’s new plan to ease the threat of deportation for 4.7 million undocumented immigrants violates the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge found on Tuesday, handing down the first legal ruling against the plan.

The ruling has no immediate impact, with the government saying there was no reason for Judge Arthur Schwab of the Western District of Pennsylvania to address the issue in the case, which concerns 42-year-old Honduran immigrant Elionardo Juarez-Escobar.

Schwab is the first judge to rule on the legality of the plan Obama announced on Nov. 20. The executive action by the Democratic president is opposed by Republicans and is already subject to other legal challenges.

Schwab ruled that the executive action violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of separation of powers and the separate “take care clause,” which requires the president to faithfully execute laws passed by Congress.

Schwab says he ruled on the executive action issue because he concluded that Juarez-Escobar could be eligible for relief under the executive action.

Government lawyers told Schwab that Juarez-Escobar, who has pleaded guilty to re-entering the country, was not eligible because Obama’s order does not affect criminal proceedings.

**************

Walmart ordered to pay $188 million for cutting workers’ meal and rest breaks

Reuters
16 Dec 2014 at 12:18 ET                   

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered Wal-Mart Stores Inc to pay $188 million to employees who had sued the retailer for failing to compensate them for rest breaks and all hours worked.

Wal-Mart said on Tuesday that it might appeal the decision, which upheld lower court rulings, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Monday’s ruling on the class-action lawsuit will reduce Wal-Mart’s earnings for the quarter ending on Jan. 31 by 6 cents a share, the company said in a securities filing. That amounts to roughly 4 percent of its profit forecast of $1.46 to $1.56 for the period.

Wal-Mart shares were up 0.5 percent at $84.39 in midday New York Stock Exchange trading.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld a 2007 lower court ruling in favor of the workers, who said Wal-Mart failed to pay them for all hours worked and prevented them from taking full meal and rest breaks.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said the company did not believe the claims should be grouped together in a class-action suit. “Walmart has had strong policies in place to make sure all associates receive their appropriate pay and break periods,” she said.

The decision, which affects about 187,000 Wal-Mart employees who worked in Pennsylvania between 1998 and 2006, marks the second unfavorable ruling in a week for the retailer, the largest private employer in the United States.

On Dec. 9, a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge found Wal-Mart had threatened employees trying to organize workers at two stores in California.

That ruling was seen as a victory for workers’ rights groups who have been challenging the retailer to boost wages and benefits.

A Wal-Mart spokesman said the company did not agree with some of the judge’s decisions in that case and was evaluating its next steps.

(Reporting by Shailaja Sharma in Bangalore and Nathan Layne in Chicago; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Lisa Von Ahn)

************

Family of Ohio man shot and killed in Walmart for holding a toy gun sue company, police

Reuters
16 Dec 2014 at 12:22 ET                   

The family of an Ohio man shot and killed by police while holding a BB gun in a Walmart store filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit on Tuesday against the police and the national retail chain.

John Crawford, 22, was shot after a 911 caller reported a man with a gun at the Beavercreek Walmart in a suburb of the southern Ohio city of Dayton.

In a surveillance video released by authorities, Crawford, who is black, can be seen picking up an unpackaged BB gun off a shelf and walking through the store while talking on a cell phone until a white police officer shot him.

Crawford’s death came a few days before the Aug. 9 fatal shooting by police in Ferguson, Missouri, of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, which is being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department and has focused national attention on the use of deadly force by police.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, names the city of Beavercreek; Sean Williams, the Beavercreek police officer who fatally shot Crawford; Sergeant David Darkow, who accompanied Williams; Police Chief Dennis Evers; and the Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The suit said Williams shot Crawford about one second after making contact with him.

In September, a nine-member grand jury opted not to indict the two officers involved in the shooting on murder, reckless homicide and negligent homicide charges.

Wal-Mart officials were not immediately available for comment.

*************

Cleveland cop pulls gun on man speeding home to help with wife’s high-risk pregnancy

Arturo Garcia
16 Dec 2014 at 19:01 ET                   

A Cleveland-area man said he was held at gunpoint, ticketed and threatened despite explaining to a police officer that he was speeding home to help his wife, who has a high-risk pregnancy, give birth Northeast Ohio Media Group reported.

“Officer Robinson approached me yelling at me to put my hands up and holding me at gunpoint as if I was threatening his life,” Samuel Taylor said of the encounter. “His finger was on the trigger.”

According to WKYC-TV, Taylor’s wife, Katie, sent him a text message last Friday morning asking him to come home from work because she was in labor. Taylor said he was traveling at 38 mph in a 25 mph zone when he passed Cleveland Heights Police Officer William Robinson in his patrol vehicle.

Robinson started following Taylor, and signaled for him to pull over. But because he was “literally about six or seven houses” away from his home and street parking was blocked by other vehicles, Taylor said, he slowed down and pulled into his driveway, at which point Robinson allegedly approached him with his gun drawn.

Taylor said he spent the next 20 minutes explaining the situation to Robinson, and offered to let the officer follow him into the home if he holstered his weapon. Instead, the officer allegedly told him to stay in his car while he went to the home. At that point, Taylor said, he called the police department, and was threatened with felony charges by an unidentified lieutenant.

Meanwhile, Katie Taylor met Robinson at the door and confirmed her husband’s story.

“My wife said, ‘I need my husband to come here,’” Samuel Taylor said. “‘I’m going into labor. Please tell me what is going on. I need help.’”

Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson told WKYC that Robinson only had his gun drawn for two minutes during the encounter, then holstered it after “evaluating the situation.” Robertson also said that the officer arranged for a city ambulance to take the Taylors to the hospital.

The couple drove themselves to the hospital, instead, where Katie Taylor delivered a boy. Though the child, Jonah, was born healthy, Katie Taylor was briefly hospitalized for complications surrounding the pregnancy. Both have reportedly been allowed to return home. Samuel Taylor was cited for speeding and failure to yield for an emergency vehicle.

“Upon initial review we are comfortable that the officer followed CHPD protocol appropriately and he conducted himself in a professional manner,” Cleveland Heights City Manager Tanisha Briley said regarding the incident.

**************

Key Witness Who Corroborated Darren Wilson’s Testimony Exposed As A Total Fraud

By: Justin Baragona
PoliticusUSA
Tuesday, December, 16th, 2014, 2:42 pm   

On Monday, The Smoking Gun published a lengthy report exposing “Witness 40,” a woman who testified before the St. Louis County grand jury who corroborated all of the main details of former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s story regarding his encounter with unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August. TSG was able to identify “Witness 40″ as Sandra McElroy, a 45-year-old St. Louis resident who has a history of making false statements and previously interjected herself in a high-profile case in the St. Louis area. McElroy’s testimony has been used by a number of conservative pundits, most visibly Sean Hannity, to bolster their support of Wilson’s account.

Earlier this month, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes showed how often Hannity has pointed to “Witness 40’s” testimony as the absolute truth.

After St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced Wilson would not be indicted in the shooting death of Brown, he publicly released all of the evidence and testimony from the grand jury proceeding. News outlets started sifting through all of the pages. Outside of Wilson’s own testimony, it was noticed that there was really only one other witness who fully supported his story: “Witness 40.” However, right off the bat, it was apparent that there was something awful fishy about her testimony, especially how she ended up on the street at the exact time Wilson shot Brown, despite not living anywhere near the neighborhood.

What makes TSG’s report so damning isn’t that it shows how ludicrous McElroy’s testimony is, as others have already ripped it apart, but that it identifies her and questions why someone with her mental issues and criminal past would even be brought forth by the prosecution to speak to the grand jury. What good would her testimony be other than to help the accused’s case? After being initially questioned, wouldn’t a prosecutor know that she was a complete fraud and not even bother putting her out there to give her testimony? It would seem McCulloch only wanted her up on the stand to lend even a slight bit of credence to Wilson’s account.

In their report, TSG pointed out that Fox News and others have clung to McElroy’s testimony to refute that of Dorian Johnson’s. Johnson was Brown’s friend who was with him when Wilson stopped them for jaywalking on Canfield Drive in Ferguson. The sleuthing site also provided details on how they were able to accurately identify McElroy.

    While the “hands-up” account of Dorian Johnson is often cited by those who demanded Wilson’s indictment, “Witness 40″‘s testimony about seeing Brown batter Wilson and then rush the cop like a defensive end has repeatedly been pointed to by Wilson supporters as directly corroborative of the officer’s version of the August 9 confrontation. The “Witness 40″ testimony, as Fox News sees it, is proof that the 18-year-old Brown’s killing was justified, and that the Ferguson grand jury got it right.

    However, unlike Johnson, “Witness 40″–a 45-year-old St. Louis resident named Sandra McElroy–was nowhere near Canfield Drive on the Saturday afternoon Brown was shot to death.

    Though prosecutors have sought to cloak the identity of grand jury witnesses, a TSG investigation has identified McElroy as “Witness 40.” A careful analysis of information contained in the unredacted portions of “Witness 40″‘s grand jury testimony helped reporters identify McElroy and then conclusively match up details of her life with those of “Witness 40.”

    TSG examined criminal, civil, matrimonial, and bankruptcy court records, as well as online postings and comments to unmask McElroy as “Witness 40,” the fabulist whose grand jury testimony and law enforcement interviews are deserving of multi-count perjury indictments.

Throughout the body of the report, TSG gives details of McElroy’s life, through public records and social media activity, to prove without a doubt McElroy is indeed “Witness 40.” They also show how McElroy involved herself in the high-profile case of Shawn Hornbeck, a St. Louis boy who was kidnapped and held hostage for more than four years by Michael Devlin before being rescued in 2007. After Hornbeck’s rescue and Devlin’s arrest, McElroy spoke to local news station KMOV and claimed that she had known Devlin for 20 years and had gone to the police after Hornbeck went missing to tell him she had seen the boy with Devlin. She also claimed that she knew that another missing boy from the early ’90s was taken by Devlin. Police regarded her claims as completely fraudulent.

It appears that McElroy did the same thing with the Ferguson case. With it being a very big case, and her sympathies lying with Wilson, McElroy decided to put together false testimony and claim she was a witness based solely on public accountings of Wilson’s story. She fabricated a diary in which she documented her travels to Ferguson to get to know black people so she wouldn’t be so racist anymore. (McElroy has a long history of making racist statements.) She then gave an incredulous account of how she ended up on Canfield Drive the very moment Wilson shot Brown, claiming she saw Brown rushing at Wilson like a football player, just as Wilson had claimed.

Once again, one has to wonder how a crazy racist with a criminal past and a penchant for lying to get attention somehow finds herself testifying before a grand jury in one of the most explosive cases in recent American history. How in the heck does a prosecutor, who is supposed to be trying to get an indictment against the accused, allow somebody to spin obvious fairy tales to bolster a defendant’s story? Of course, we all know why — McCulloch planned from the get go to throw this case and make sure Wilson never saw a trial.

One would like to see this bombshell about “Witness 40″ lead to something, like perhaps another grand jury proceeding with another prosecutor. But, it seems like the political machine in St. Louis and Missouri won’t let that happen.

***************

Bill Clinton Says Eric Garner “Didn’t Deserve To Die” For Selling Untaxed Cigarettes

By: Justin Baragona
PoliticusUSA
Tuesday, December, 16th, 2014, 6:19 pm   

In an interview with Fusion that will air in its entirety Tuesday evening, former President Bill Clinton told interviewer Jorge Ramos that Eric Garner did not deserve to die for the minor crime of selling untaxed cigarettes. Clinton expressed sympathy for Garner’s family and echoed many of the same points that his wife Hillary touched on earlier this month when she discussed the Staten Island grand jury decision surrounding Garner’s death. On December 3rd, the grand jury decided not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Garner, even though there was video evidence showing Pantaleo using an illegal chokehold and a medical examiner had ruled Garner’s death a homicide.

In the aftermath of the grand jury decision, protests have flared up all across the country, demanding justice for Garner and other unarmed black men who have been unjustly killed by law enforcement. This past weekend, tens of thousands gathered in New York City, Washington, D.C and elsewhere to take part in protest marches. Prior to the Garner decision, demonstrations had been ongoing in relation to the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9th. A St. Louis County grand jury decided not to indict Wilson last month, leading to violent protests in Ferguson and demonstrations in cities nationwide.

In his interview with Fusion, Clinton spoke at length on the Garner decision and the issues it has brought to the forefront of our national conversation. When discussing the arrest that led to Garner’s death, Clinton said the following:

    “He was obviously not well, he was overweight and vulnerable therefore had lung problems, heart and lung problems. He was doing something he should not have been doing. That was illegal. He was selling untaxed cigarettes on the street in small volumes, trying to make a little extra money.

    But he didn’t deserve to die because of that.”

Below is video of the interview excerpt, courtesy of Fusion:

Clinton’s words were far more sympathetic than those uttered by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) the day the Staten Island grand jury handed down its decision. King, whose Congressional district is in Staten Island, blamed Garner for his own death. The following is from the article I wrote regarding King’s comments.

    King was interviewed on CNN hours after the grand jury announced its decision. In a moment that can only be described as disgustingly crass, King claimed that the police officer was “just doing his job” and that Garner is dead because of his weight and his bad health, not from anything the cop did. King said, “If he had not had asthma, and a heart condition, and was so obese, he would not have died from this.” King even insinuated that Garner was lying when he repeatedly stated “I can’t breathe,” since if someone can talk, they can breathe.

The interview will also feature Clinton discussing issues of race as it involves law enforcement and how racial tension has been exacerbated by these two grand jury decisions and the feeling among the black community that they are being targeted by police. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton touched on this the day after the Garner decision was announced.Prior to a scheduled speech in Massachusetts that day, Mrs. Clinton offered these remarks:

    “Each of us has to grapple with some hard truths about race and justice in America. Because despite all the progress we’ve made together, African-Americans, and most particularly, African-American men, are still more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charge with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms.

    The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population, yet we have almost 25% of the world’s total prison population. It is because we have allowed our criminal justice system to get out of balance. And I personally hope that these tragedies give us the opportunity to come together as a nation to find our balance again.    …

    These tragedies did not happen in some far away place. They didn’t happen to some other people. These are our streets, our children, our fellow Americans, and our grief.”

Besides the Garner and Brown cases, another tragic killing that has gathered national attention is the police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland last month. Police shot and killed the young black child seconds after confronting him near a playground. Rice was holding a toy airsoft gun. A grand jury has been convened to decide the fate of Officer Timothy Loehmann. Records indicate Loehmann had been recommended for termination at his former department due to his inability to handle pressure before being hired by the Cleveland force.

**************

Americans Love Their Obamacare: The ACA Is On Pace To Smash 2015 Sign Up Target

By: Jason Easley
PoliticusUSA
Tuesday, December, 16th, 2014, 3:50 pm   

The latest estimated enrollment numbers show that the ACA is on pace to blow past the Obama administration’s goal of 9.1 million enrolled Americans by 2015. These numbers demonstrate that Americans love their Obamacare.

Politico reported, “HealthCare.gov appeared to withstand a surge of consumer traffic ahead of Monday’s deadline for Jan. 1 coverage amid growing confidence that the administration will meet or surpass its scaled-back goal of having 9.1 million people covered in the exchanges in 2015…Consulting firm Avalere Health estimated Tuesday that 10.5 million people would be enrolled in the exchanges by the end of 2015, with some fluctuation during the year. As of mid-October, 6.7 million people were fully enrolled, meaning they had chosen a plan and were paying their premiums.”

The Obama administration’s goal was to have 9.1 people enrolled in 2015, but it looks like consumer demand will smash those goals by roughly 1.4 million. According to the website ACAsignups.net, 4.5 million more Americans have gotten affordable healthcare coverage during the 2014 open enrollment period. 3.38 million of those individuals purchased their coverage on healthcare.gov.

December 15 was the deadline for enrollment using the federal ACA website, but states that set up their own exchanges have different deadline dates for 2015 coverage. This is all bad news for Republicans who are still dreaming of killing the Affordable Care Act. It should come as a shock to no one who isn’t a Republican, but Americans want access to affordable healthcare.

The numbers for the January 2015 deadline reveal that Americans love their Obamacare. This development will also put political pressure on the Supreme Court when they hear arguments in a case that challenges the constitutionality of the federal subsidies for residents of states that didn’t set up their own exchanges.

The Republican fight to destroy Obamacare is only serving to make the party less party with mainstream voters. The Obama administration will be thrilled that the president’s signature policy achievement is popular with the millions of people who are gaining access to health insurance. Republicans turned Obamacare into a slur, but the popularity of the Affordable Care Act will make it nearly impossible for Republicans to legislatively kill.

 74 
 on: Dec 17, 2014, 08:32 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
‘A Great Moment’: Rover Finds Clue That Mars May Harbor Life

By KENNETH CHANG
DEC. 16, 2014
NYT

SAN FRANCISCO — Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all.

A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday.

Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months.

For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.

“It is one of the few hypotheses that we can propose that we must consider as we go forward,” said John P. Grotzinger, the mission’s project scientist.

The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them.

“This is really a great moment for the mission,” Dr. Grotzinger told a news conference here at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found evidence of lakes and streams on a warmer, wetter, habitable Mars.
OPEN Interactive Feature: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/12/09/science/space/curiosity-rover-28-months-on-mars.html

The presence of methane is significant because the gas cannot exist for long. Calculations indicate that sunlight and chemical reactions in the Martian atmosphere would break up the molecules within a few hundred years, so any methane there now must have been created recently.

It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.

Even if the explanation for the methane turns out to be geological, the hydrothermal systems would still be prime locations to search for signs of life.

Scientists have always expected that some tiny amount of methane would be found on Mars. Cosmic dust falling on the planet contains organic compounds that are broken up by ultraviolet light from the sun, producing methane.

But the new findings, which are described in detail in a paper this week in the journal Science, are a 180-degree flip from a year ago, when mission scientists said that Curiosity had found no signs of methane, placing an upper limit of 1.3 parts per billion by volume.

Since then, the scientists refined their measurements, detecting a background level of 0.7 parts per billion. That is half of what was predicted, raising another mystery that somehow methane is also being destroyed.

But in November 2013, two months after the scientists reported the absence of methane on Mars, the rover measured methane levels 10 times as high. “It was an ‘oh my gosh’ moment,” said Christopher R. Webster of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the lead author of the Science paper.

The methane levels stayed high through at least the end of January. They subsequently fell, to less than one part per billion.

An earlier measurement in July had also been high, although it dropped by half a week later, and the margin of error made it unclear what was going on. Curiosity made no methane measurements between July and November 2013.

Sushil K. Atreya of the University of Michigan, a member of the science team, said it was possible that elevated methane levels lasted from July through January. “It could have been over six months,” he said, “but we don’t know that.”

Given its quick appearance and quick disappearance, the newly discovered methane was a relatively small burst, mission scientists suspect.

A decade ago, three teams of scientists reported that they had detected methane in the Martian atmosphere — two using observations from Earth, one using the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter.

All of the measurements were at the edge of the instruments’ capabilities, and the methane appeared to disappear two years later. If true, that meant not only that was something creating methane on Mars, but also that something else was quickly destroying it.

Many Mars scientists decided that a simpler solution to the methane mystery was that the measurements were mistaken, a conclusion bolstered by the absence reported by the Curiosity team last year.

Now, Dr. Grotzinger said, “It’s back on the table.”

Michael J. Mumma of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who led one of the teams that reported much larger methane plumes in the Mars atmosphere in 2003 based on measurements from Earth — and has found no methane since 2005 — said the new data was “pleasant” after years of doubts from critics.

The new Curiosity measurements “confirmed this startling reality that methane is being released, sporadically, and it is being destroyed quickly,” he said. “Both events are surprising.”

As for the organic molecules, they showed up in a mudstone nicknamed Cumberland that Curiosity drilled in May 2013.

Within Curiosity is a miniature chemistry laboratory that detected significant amounts of the organic molecule chlorobenzene, in much higher concentrations than had been seen in other rocks it had examined.

Scientists spent months analyzing whether the organic compounds came from Cumberland or contamination Curiosity had brought from Earth.

“You don’t want to be faked out,” Dr. Grotzinger said.

The scientists are still unsure whether Cumberland contained chlorobenzene, which is not a naturally occurring compound on Earth, or if that was the end product of chemical reactions involving other organic molecules in the rock as it was heated. But they convinced themselves that the organic carbon is Martian.

“In part, Curiosity was built to explore for organics,” Dr. Grotzinger said, “and we found them.”

 75 
 on: Dec 17, 2014, 08:31 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
‘A Great Moment’: Rover Finds Clue That Mars May Harbor Life

By KENNETH CHANG
DEC. 16, 2014
NYT

SAN FRANCISCO — Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all.

A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday.

Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months.

For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.

“It is one of the few hypotheses that we can propose that we must consider as we go forward,” said John P. Grotzinger, the mission’s project scientist.

The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them.

“This is really a great moment for the mission,” Dr. Grotzinger told a news conference here at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found evidence of lakes and streams on a warmer, wetter, habitable Mars.
OPEN Interactive Feature: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/12/09/science/space/curiosity-rover-28-months-on-mars.html

The presence of methane is significant because the gas cannot exist for long. Calculations indicate that sunlight and chemical reactions in the Martian atmosphere would break up the molecules within a few hundred years, so any methane there now must have been created recently.

It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.

Even if the explanation for the methane turns out to be geological, the hydrothermal systems would still be prime locations to search for signs of life.

Scientists have always expected that some tiny amount of methane would be found on Mars. Cosmic dust falling on the planet contains organic compounds that are broken up by ultraviolet light from the sun, producing methane.

But the new findings, which are described in detail in a paper this week in the journal Science, are a 180-degree flip from a year ago, when mission scientists said that Curiosity had found no signs of methane, placing an upper limit of 1.3 parts per billion by volume.

Since then, the scientists refined their measurements, detecting a background level of 0.7 parts per billion. That is half of what was predicted, raising another mystery that somehow methane is also being destroyed.

But in November 2013, two months after the scientists reported the absence of methane on Mars, the rover measured methane levels 10 times as high. “It was an ‘oh my gosh’ moment,” said Christopher R. Webster of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the lead author of the Science paper.

The methane levels stayed high through at least the end of January. They subsequently fell, to less than one part per billion.

An earlier measurement in July had also been high, although it dropped by half a week later, and the margin of error made it unclear what was going on. Curiosity made no methane measurements between July and November 2013.

Sushil K. Atreya of the University of Michigan, a member of the science team, said it was possible that elevated methane levels lasted from July through January. “It could have been over six months,” he said, “but we don’t know that.”

Given its quick appearance and quick disappearance, the newly discovered methane was a relatively small burst, mission scientists suspect.

A decade ago, three teams of scientists reported that they had detected methane in the Martian atmosphere — two using observations from Earth, one using the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter.

All of the measurements were at the edge of the instruments’ capabilities, and the methane appeared to disappear two years later. If true, that meant not only that was something creating methane on Mars, but also that something else was quickly destroying it.

Many Mars scientists decided that a simpler solution to the methane mystery was that the measurements were mistaken, a conclusion bolstered by the absence reported by the Curiosity team last year.

Now, Dr. Grotzinger said, “It’s back on the table.”

Michael J. Mumma of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who led one of the teams that reported much larger methane plumes in the Mars atmosphere in 2003 based on measurements from Earth — and has found no methane since 2005 — said the new data was “pleasant” after years of doubts from critics.

The new Curiosity measurements “confirmed this startling reality that methane is being released, sporadically, and it is being destroyed quickly,” he said. “Both events are surprising.”

As for the organic molecules, they showed up in a mudstone nicknamed Cumberland that Curiosity drilled in May 2013.

Within Curiosity is a miniature chemistry laboratory that detected significant amounts of the organic molecule chlorobenzene, in much higher concentrations than had been seen in other rocks it had examined.

Scientists spent months analyzing whether the organic compounds came from Cumberland or contamination Curiosity had brought from Earth.

“You don’t want to be faked out,” Dr. Grotzinger said.

The scientists are still unsure whether Cumberland contained chlorobenzene, which is not a naturally occurring compound on Earth, or if that was the end product of chemical reactions involving other organic molecules in the rock as it was heated. But they convinced themselves that the organic carbon is Martian.

“In part, Curiosity was built to explore for organics,” Dr. Grotzinger said, “and we found them.”

 76 
 on: Dec 17, 2014, 08:25 AM 
Started by Rose Marcus - Last post by Rad
Vatican Report Cites Achievements and Challenges of U.S. Nuns

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
DEC. 16, 2014
IHT

A Vatican investigation of American nuns begun under the previous pope, prompting protests from outraged Catholics, ended in Rome on Tuesday with the release of a generally appreciative report that acknowledged the achievements and the challenges the nuns face given their dwindling ranks.

The relatively warm tone in the report, and at the Vatican news conference that released it, were a far cry from six years ago when the investigation was announced, creating fear, anger and mistrust among women in religious communities and convents across the United States.

“Sorry, folks. This is not a controversial document,” Mother M. Clare Millea, an American nun who directed the investigation, said at the news conference. Instead, she said, it was “a challenge for all of us.”

If anything, the report may help spur the process of including women in more decision-making roles in church life, some church observers said. According to the report, some nuns felt that bishops and priests did not welcome their opinions on “pastoral decisions which affect them or about which they have considerable experience and expertise.”

The report concluded by citing Pope Francis’ call “to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the church.” But it did not make any concrete suggestions.

Pope Francis, who was elected last year and had no role in initiating the investigation, celebrated Mass on Tuesday with some of the nuns and clergymen who carried it out.

Mother Millea said that Francis told them he knew the investigation was an “arduous experience,” and said of the nuns in the United States, “Please give them all my blessing.”

But the American sisters are not out from under Vatican scrutiny yet. There is still a separate review of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella group representing about 80 percent of American nuns. The Vatican’s doctrinal office accused that group of hosting speakers and issuing materials that had a feminist cast and strayed from Catholic doctrine. In 2012, the Leadership Conference was put under the oversight of an American bishop for a thorough overhaul — a process that was supposed to last five years.

Sister Sharon Holland, the president of the Leadership Conference, who spoke at the Vatican news conference on Tuesday, said in an interview afterward that her organization had been working “very well” with the overseer bishop and his team, and that the oversight may end sooner than five years. She said there may be a news conference soon to discuss the outcome.

She also had an upbeat take on the new Vatican report, saying in the news conference: “It is not a document of blame or simplistic solutions. One can read the text and feel appreciated and trusted to carry on.”

The investigation, known as an apostolic visitation, was initiated in 2008 under Pope Benedict XVI with only a vague explanation. The Vatican said it was the largest apostolic visitation ever undertaken in a single country. Cardinal Franc Rodé, the head of the Vatican office for religious orders, said then that the purpose was to examine “the quality of life of religious women in the United States.”

The Vatican usually orders an apostolic visitation in the case of a serious problem or scandal, but there was no clear event or cause in this situation.

Cardinal Rodé later said he was concerned about “a certain secular mentality that has spread in these religious families and, perhaps, also a certain feminist spirit.”

About 350 communities of religious women were sent questionnaires asking about such things as their numbers and mission, prayer schedules, living arrangements, financial assets and property. Nearly 80 investigators visited 90 communities of nuns.

Some religious communities took umbrage at the investigation and did not cooperate fully. A few nuns said in interviews that their communities had decided to give the Vatican only a copy of their original founding constitutions. The survey questions about property and finances led some nuns to suspect that the Vatican could be assessing their communities’ assets with an eye to appropriating them. The nuns were eventually told that they did not have to answer the questions about finances, but the suspicions never fully faded.

The report acknowledged the resistance, saying that the Vatican was “well aware that the apostolic visitation was met with apprehension and suspicion by some women religious,” and that “the lack of full cooperation was a painful disappointment for us.”

Other communities of nuns, however, did cooperate and said that the process was an opportunity to reflect on their lives and communities and to be in more direct communication with the wider church.

Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, coordinator of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, a smaller and more conservative umbrella group of nuns, said at the news conference that the visitation was “an overwhelmingly beautiful experience.”

If the Vatican does reprimand any communities or call for any changes, that would be done in private. Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, a Brazilian who succeeded Cardinal Rodé as head, said his office will send “individual reports” to some communities of nuns that “may have been the object of some concerns.”

But the broad report released Tuesday contained only brief, muted criticism, saying that the communities should “carefully review their spiritual practices and ministry to assure that these are in harmony with Catholic teaching.”

The concerns of some nuns that the Vatican had wanted the sisters to shift away from “social justice” ministry or advocacy were allayed by the report. Instead, it encouraged them to continue working with the poor and toward “the elimination of the structural causes of poverty.”

But the picture the report presented of the women’s orders was grim. It found that there were now about 50,000 nuns in the United States, a decline of 125,000 from the peak in the mid-1960s. The median age of American nuns is now in the mid- to late 70s, according to figures reported in other studies.

Many communities of nuns also struggled financially, “despite careful stewardship,” the report found. The sisters work for free or are “undercompensated,” sometimes in church positions. With the church downsizing, some had been laid off.

The investigators found that “many sisters expressed great concern” about how to continue their religious orders’ purpose and mission and the lack of a new generation to provide leadership. Many orders have invested a lot of time and energy in initiatives to attract new members. But the report found that “the results are not commensurate with the expectations and efforts.”

The two Vatican investigations had caused an uproar among some Catholics who picketed in front of parishes and cathedrals across the country. Nearly 60,000 signed a petition of support for the nuns, which was delivered to the American bishops at their conference in Atlanta in 2012. Several prominent bishops said at that meeting that the two crackdowns on the nuns had been damaging to the church’s public relations.

The Nun Justice Project, a coalition of Catholic groups organized to defend the sisters, on Tuesday called the visitation process “demeaning and a huge waste of time” that diverted the sisters from vital work.

 77 
 on: Dec 17, 2014, 08:22 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Slowdown in China Bruises Economy in Latin America

Eduardo Porter 
IHT
12/17/2014 

SANTIAGO, Chile — Few people are as intensely worried about the slowing Chinese economy as Latin Americans.

Not only does China buy nearly 40 percent of Chile’s copper, but its once-insatiable demand helped push copper prices from $1 to $4 a pound.

Meanwhile, Beijing plowed billions into Peruvian mines and fisheries and spent billions more buying soybeans from Argentina and Brazil. And it propped up the Venezuelan government to the tune of $50 billion in loans, to be paid in shipments of oil.

China’s voracious hunger for Latin America’s raw materials fueled the region’s most prosperous decade since the 1970s. It filled government coffers and helped halve the region’s poverty rate.

That era is over. For policy makers gathered here last week for the International Monetary Fund’s conference on challenges to Latin America’s prosperity, there seemed to be no more clear and present danger than China’s slowdown.

“The commodity boom allowed governments and companies to avoid hard choices,” Andrés Velasco, Chile’s finance minister from 2006 to 2010, told me. “For goodness’ sake even Argentina grew by 5 to 6 percent per year for almost a decade.”

Copper is back under $3. As commodity prices continue to swoon, driven in large part by China’s weaker demand, the going will get much tougher.

That’s especially true of the major oil exporters, clobbered by a collapse in oil prices driven by faltering global demand and increased supplies from the United States and elsewhere.

Venezuela, notably, is in free fall. The I.M.F. expects the Venezuelan economy to contract both this year and next. And it has been forced to limit its promised oil shipments to China, in effect defaulting on its Chinese debt.

But the commodity decline isn’t sparing many. “Growth in Latin America should move back to pre-commodity boom rates,” said Alejandro Werner, who leads the Western hemisphere division at the I.M.F. Indeed, the fund expects the region to grow barely 1.3 percent in 2014, a third of its pace just three years ago.

The bust underlines how Latin American economies have failed to overcome the existential weakness that has plagued them throughout history: a dependence on raw materials that has shackled the region’s development to an incessant sequence of booms and busts.

From Brazil and Argentina in the southern tip of the region to Mexico in the north, officials across Latin America fretted for years that China undermined their decades-long efforts to build the manufacturing industries that, they hoped, would provide a ticket into the developed world.

Not only did China’s cheap labor outcompete Latin American industry and draw the lion’s share of global manufacturing investment, but its appetite for Latin America’s minerals, oil and agricultural products also raised the value of currencies around the region, making their manufactured goods even less competitive.

Manufacturing’s share in Latin America’s economic output has declined steadily for more than a decade, ever since China inserted itself aggressively into the global economy by entering the World Trade Organization.

At the same time, the share of raw materials in Latin America’s exports, which had fallen to a low of 27 percent in the late 1990s, from about 52 percent in the early 1980s, surged back to more than 50 percent on the eve of the global financial crisis.

China’s footprint on Latin America is contributing to what the Harvard development expert Dani Rodrik would call its “premature de-industrialization,” shutting off the standard path of economic development followed by pretty much everybody since the industrial revolution.

Mr. Velasco, 54, recalled when a 23-year-old student in Antofagasta asked him what the Chilean government would do with the nation’s copper riches. By the time the student was his age, Mr. Velasco responded, Chile would have no more copper.

“The question,” he said, “isn’t what should we do with copper but what will we do without it.”

China’s diplomats emphasize that it is a developing country, not an advanced, “imperialist” power like the United States or the European colonial powers who ruled for centuries and served as the first foreign exploiters of Latin America’s mineral wealth. To many in Latin America, the difference hardly seems relevant.

Take San Juan de Marcona, a remote village on the edge of the Pacific Ocean in the Nazca region of Peru. Built in the 1950s to house workers at the vast open-top American-owned iron mine, the town no longer houses managers from the United States. In the 1970s, General Juan Velasco Alvarado, then Peru’s military dictator, pushed them out.

Today, Marcona’s managers come from Shougang, of China, which bought it from the Peruvian government in the 1990s.

“A growing China was very important to bring Peru along in the last 10 years,” said Cynthia Sanborn, who leads the Research Center at the Universidad del Pacífico in Lima.

North of Marcona, Chinalco built a town to relocate 5,000 inhabitants of Morococha, where it will blast open a copper mine. This year, China’s MMG, Guoxin International Investment and Citic Metal bought the Las Bambas copper mine from the Anglo-Swiss conglomerate Glencore.

Chinese companies are interested not only in raw materials but also in vast public works to transport the raw materials, including rail links across Brazil and a proposed $50 billion, 171-mile canal across Nicaragua.

In 2010, Chinese lending to Latin America roughly equaled that of the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the United States Ex-Im Bank combined. (It has since slowed.) Carmen Reinhardt of Harvard forecasts that China could become Latin America’s main source of financing.

Perhaps Latin America should just count its blessings. “The concerns of dependency are there, but if China weren’t there, Peru would be seeking other markets for its minerals,” he told me.

Mr. Werner of the I.M.F. argues that the case for deindustrialization is overblown. “From a medium-term perspective, China is a plus, plus, plus for Latin America,” he said.

In agriculture, for instance, exports to China are leading to lots of innovation and efficiency improvements. Demand for Brazil and Argentina’s soy — a principal source of animal feed — is unlikely to wane as the Chinese become richer and eat more meat.

“Don’t bet against nature,” Mr. Werner urged policy makers in the region. “Play to your comparative advantage.”

In some of the region, however, China has inspired a nostalgic reinterpretation of its economic history and a re-examination of the policy choices of its past.

Remember Dependency Theory?

The doctrine, which spread across Latin America from the 1950s through the 1970s, proposed that the region, or any developing country, could never advance simply by selling natural resources to the rich North, using the money to import the North’s industrial goods. Import substitution, behind a wall of trade barriers, was the path to prosperity.

The theory fell into disrepute during Latin America’s “lost decade” of the 1980s — blamed by a new crop of market-oriented, United States-trained leaders in the 1990s for turning the region into an uncompetitive backwater.

Courtesy of China, it’s back, fine-tuned to adapt to a more integrated global economy.

“We’re not calling for more protectionism, but to substitute imports within competitive open economies,” said Alicia Bárcena, who leads the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. “We must think of creating regional production chains to serve regional markets.”

She suggests that China should still be invited to participate in Latin America’s development, but on different terms: “You want our commodities? O.K. But also invest in solar panels here,” she proposed.

Yet for all the hopes in Latin America that a new kind of deal can be had, the symbiotic relationship between the largest importer of commodities and one of the biggest commodity-exporting regions of the world is unlikely to change in any substantial way.

“Without this complementarity, the Chinese don’t have much to go on,” said Matt Ferchen, who runs the China and the Developing World program at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing. “It’s working out quite well for China.”

And the symbiosis could survive for a long time. As Huang Haizhou, the managing director of China’s International Capital Corporation, told the nervous Latin Americans at the I.M.F.’s conference here, despite any slowdown in growth, China’s long-term demand for commodities remained voracious.

China’s income per person is still only about one-third that of Chile. Every year for the next 30 years, it plans to move 1.3 percent of its population from the countryside to cities. That will require a lot of construction.

“China’s demand for commodities is more important for Latin American growth than exports to the United States,” Mr. Huang said, “and it will be more important for many years to come.”

This may come as a relief to the worried finance ministers here, struggling to recrunch their budgets to fit lower growth and scarcer tax revenue. But it also poses a challenge to the region’s leaders: maybe the traditional development strategy based on manufacturing needs to be recast in Latin America for a new era.

 78 
 on: Dec 17, 2014, 08:19 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Nicolás Maduro lashes out at US over sanctions against Venezuela officials

Socialist leader, who is seeing his popularity fall amid deep economic crisis, lambasted ‘insolent Yankees’ to thousands of supporters at rally in Caracas

Reuters in Caracas
theguardian.com, Tuesday 16 December 2014 00.20 GMT   
   
President Nicolás Maduro has lashed out at the US government on Monday over sanctions against Venezuelan officials and branded ex-Spain Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a “murderer”.

The socialist leader, who replaced the late Hugo Chávez last year and is seeing his popularity fall amid a deep economic crisis, addressed thousands of red-clad supporters at a rally in Caracas on Monday to protest against the USsanctions plan.

“They can shove their US visas where they should be shoved, insolent Yankees!” Maduro thundered in rhetoric reminiscent of his mentor Chávez’s 14-year rule.

US President Barack Obama plans to sign the legislation to deny visas and freeze assets of Venezuelan officials accused of repressing anti-Maduro protests earlier this year. The House of Representatives and Senate approved the measure last week.

The threat of sanctions has provided Maduro a nationalist rallying cry to try to revive his popularity at the end of a tough year for Venezuela which is suffering widespread shortages of basic products and the worst inflation in the Americas.

Having recently slammed Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy over his call for a jailed opponent to be released, the Venezuelan president said on Monday he would not retract his words despite the controversy caused in Europe.

“The Spanish right wing gets annoyed because I tell the truth. I’m not taking back a single comma or full-stop,” he said, before turning on Aznar, a long-time enemy of Venezuela’s 15-year-old socialist government.

“Aznar is a murderer ... His hands are covered in blood,” Maduro said, citing the Spaniard’s support of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein.

 79 
 on: Dec 17, 2014, 08:17 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Car Bombs in Yemen Kill Dozens, Including Schoolchildren

By KAREEM FAHIM
DEC. 16, 2014
IHT

SANA, Yemen — Two car bombs exploded in a city in central Yemen on Tuesday afternoon, killing more than two dozen people, including at least 15 children returning home from school, according to a witness and Yemeni officials.

The city, Rada, has been a flash point for the armed conflict between Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate and Houthi rebels, who seized control of the capital, Sana, in September.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings in Rada, but suspicion fell on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Nasser al-Sana, a media spokesman in Rada, said the bombings appeared to target Houthis gathered at the home of a local political leader, Abdullah Idris, who has come under repeated attack from Al Qaeda for his cooperation with the rebels. In October, another car bombing at Mr. Idris’s compound killed at least 15 people and destroyed several buildings.

Despite security checkpoints in and around Rada, the attackers were able to detonate at least two explosives Tuesday, killing at least 10 Houthi fighters, officials said. One of the bombs also appeared to have struck a passing bus carrying schoolgirls from Al-Khansa school, Mr. Sana said. After the bombings, Houthi fighters put the city on virtual lockdown and set up roadblocks, he added.

The government of Yemen is facing a calamitous financial crisis and the country’s feuds are growing ever more violent while drawing in regional powers like Saudi Arabia and Iran. In recent days, there have been signs of growing friction between the Houthis and Yemen’s president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a United States ally whose authority was greatly weakened after the Houthi takeover.

In southern Yemen, where a secessionist movement has lately grown more assertive in its demands, the killing of a prominent political activist by the security services this week has led to fears of further civil unrest.

 80 
 on: Dec 17, 2014, 08:16 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Israel Cracks Down on Lehava, a Group Tied to Anti-Arab Acts

By ISABEL KERSHNER
DEC. 16, 2014
IHT

JERUSALEM — Ten members of a far-right Jewish organization were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of incitement and calls for acts of violence motivated by racism, the Israeli police said. The arrests came against a background of heightened Jewish-Arab tensions in Israel and Israeli-Palestinian hostility.

The police crackdown came a day after three activists from the group, Lehava, long known for provocative anti-Arab activities, were charged in a November arson attack against a Jewish-Arab bilingual school in Jerusalem. There are growing calls in Israel for the group to be outlawed.

The police have described Lehava, Hebrew for “flame” and an acronym for Preventing Assimilation in the Holy Land, as acting against mixed Jewish-Arab couples in the spirit of Meir Kahane, an American-born rabbi whose Kach party was banned in Israel two decades ago on the grounds that it was racist and undemocratic. Rabbi Kahane was shot to death in a Manhattan hotel in 1990.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, a lawyer representing the 10 suspects, called the arrests a “disgrace,” saying the police had capitulated to pressure from leftist politicians “even though it is clear to them that this is a legal organization that operates openly against assimilation.”

Mr. Ben-Gvir, who is a prominent ultranationalist activist, also represents the three men charged with arson: a 22-year-old man from Jerusalem and two brothers, ages 20 and 18, from the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Beitar Illit in the West Bank. Mr. Ben-Gvir said they confessed after their interrogators from the Shin Bet internal security agency threatened them.

The nighttime arson attack at the Max Rayne Hand in Hand school prompted condemnation across the Israeli political spectrum. Two empty classrooms were set on fire. Graffiti sprayed on an outside wall included the slogans “Death to Arabs,” “No coexistence with cancer,” “Kahane was right,” and “Stop assimilation.”

Among those arrested on Tuesday was Benzion Gopstein, the leader of Lehava. Mr. Gopstein, a Kahane disciple, was filmed at his daughter’s wedding last year as young revelers sang “Kahane lives!” Asked by a reporter for Israel’s Channel 2 news what would happen if there were an Arab waiter present, a grinning Mr. Gopstein replied that he would not be serving the food but rather “would likely be looking for the closest hospital.” After the main course, some of the guests donned masks and danced with table knives, jabbing them in the air like daggers.

Mr. Gopstein’s wife, Anat, told Ynet, a Hebrew news site, that the police raided their home in a West Bank settlement on the edge of Hebron early Tuesday and took books written by Rabbi Kahane and pictures of him, T-shirts printed with Kahanist and Lehava logos, and computers and cellphones. Video footage showed Mr. Gopstein sitting in handcuffs while the police searched his bookshelves. Asked about the school arson, Mrs. Gopstein said her husband was “opposed to illegal activity.”

Lehava has recently raised its profile, feeding on public anger fanned by the 50-day war against Hamas in Gaza in the summer and a recent wave of Palestinian attacks against Israelis in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the West Bank.

The police also arrested eight Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem this week on suspicion of spreading incitement on social media. The police said that the suspects had praised the attacks on Israelis and encouraged further attacks, and that they had been photographed posing with guns. Israel has also accused the Palestinian Authority leadership of incitement to violence.

Lehava’s activities stretch back several years and are documented in a recent report titled “Racism and Gender in Israel” by the Israel Religious Action Center and the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, groups active against racism. In May 2011, Lehava posted fliers in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem denouncing a supermarket chain that employed Arabs, with the slogan, “Do you want your grandson to be called Ahmad Ben Sarah?” The group began distributing “kosher certificates” to businesses that did not employ Arabs.

Racial incitement is punishable by up to five years in prison, according to Moshe Negbi, the legal expert for Israel Radio.

A coalition of anti-racist groups has petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court against the state attorney, Lehava and Mr. Gopstein. Among other things, according to the petition, Mr. Gopstein praised the Jewish teenagers who attacked Palestinian youths in downtown West Jerusalem in August 2012 and left one 17-year-old unconscious and hospitalized. Around the same time, Lehava distributed fliers warning Arab men not to date Jewish girls. The court case is pending.

Anat Hoffman, the executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, said the first complaint against Lehava had been made four years ago. “Under the guise of fighting intermarriage in Israel they are distributing plain old racism,” Ms. Hoffman said, adding that Jewish-Arab intermarriage was a marginal phenomenon.

The group made headlines in August when it tried to disrupt the wedding of an Arab groom from Jaffa and his Jewish-born bride, who had converted to Islam. The groom had asked for a court injunction against the group’s planned protest outside the wedding hall in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Lezion, but the court allowed the protest on the condition it was confined to a parking lot about 200 yards away. Despite being publicized for days in the mainstream Israeli news media, the demonstration attracted only about 300 activists.

Representatives of Lehava denied having a racist agenda and said they were interested only in what they called the preservation of the Jewish nation, but some of the demonstrators chanted “Death to Arabs” and other hate slogans. About 150 counterdemonstrators stood across the road from the wedding holding flowers and heart-shaped signs congratulating the couple.

Pages: 1 ... 6 7 [8] 9 10
Video