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Thursday, 31 May 2012

0 Exposed! Obama used to smoke tub

Michelle Obama has opened up about her husband’s past drug use during an appearance on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show to promote her new cookbook.

The First Lady said Barack Obama gave up drugs at a young age because he realised he ‘could do more with his life’.

She made the revelation when the show’s host Jon Stewart asked her about recent claims of the President’s smoking habit during his high school and college years, the Daily Mail reported.

Teenage Obama used to smoke pot

It follows excerpts released from a forthcoming biography of the President by David Maraniss that portrayed him as a party-loving pot smoker.

The book, titled Barack Obama: The Story, reveals how a teenage Obama and his friends formed The Choom Gang – slang for smoking marijuana – in which he invented inhaling techniques and rode a car called the Choomwagon.

Though the President has disclosed his drug use in previous statements- including a portion of his memoir – the new details have surprised some because of the extent of his usage.

On the Daily Show, Stewart joked that the stories about the president as a young man resembled the ‘script of a Cheech and Chong movie.’

While Michelle didn’t directly address the claims in Maraniss’ book, she did say that her husband underwent a change during his college years.

“By the time he was in college, like so many young people, he realised that he could do more with his life,” she responded.

“He had a mother that was always saying you’re so gifted, you’re so talented, slap him on the head, ‘get yourself together.’”

“When he lost his father, that was one of those click-in moments. And he really buckled down, he transferred schools, went to Columbia, and thought about how to use his life to the fullest,” she said.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

0 Britney Spears On ‘The X Factor’: Preview the Pop Star As A Evaluator

Britney Spears no doubt has the star quality Simon Cowell was searching for when he went on the lookout for new judges for The X Factor‘s second season. But does the pop star have what it takes to be a judge? Many (including us) are dubious of Brit’s ability to give helpful, pointed and smart criticism to aspiring singers, as Spears hasn’t exactly been all that articulate or in-depth in her own interviews. Giving us a bit of a preview ahead of the show’s Season 2 premiere are four recently surfaced audio clips of the “Criminal” singer interacting with contestants and giving critiques of their performances. And since we abide by the rule “Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged”, we’ve included our own personal critique of her judging ability. Check them out below!

Britney Spears On ‘The X Factor'

CLIP #1:

BRIT-TIQUE: “I felt like your songs were really great and your voices are magical. When you sing you have a nice soothing sound, and I wish you could wake me up in the morning,” she says. “Singing!” she adds after Simon’s teasing.
OUR CRITIQUE: Brit is entering Paula Abdul nonsense-judging territory with this one. “Really great” and “magical” don’t help anybody. They’re barely words that describe anything, really. And her stilted delivery makes it seem like she’s pulling her comments out of thin air. Secondly, we have to give Britney one giant demerit for speaking in some weird Paris Hilton-y baby voice. It’s fine hearing her sing this way — but we refuse to believe this isn’t her attempt at being cute and feminine and totally “on”. (In fact, what happened to that just-as-mysterious deep voice she had during her Femme Fatale promotional cycle?)

CLIP #2:

BRIT-TIQUE: Okay, there’s no real critique here, just Brit fumbling over a contestant’s name and asking about his choice of clothing. Small talk before the audition — which we kind of can’t wait to see. Jake sounds like an emo-geek about to prove he’s a heartthrob by performing an Enrique Iglesias song.
OUR CRITIQUE: We’re glad to hear her being friendly and welcoming with the contestants, as that can put them at ease and calm their nerves. Too bad she sounds like a cartoon beauty pageant contestant.

CLIP #3:

“It sounded like I was listening to Alvin and The Chipmunks,” says Brit. “I think your voice was too high, sweetie.”
OUR CRITIQUE: A criticism, for sure, but she delivers it too delicately. She doesn’t necessarily need to go for the jugular, but don’t come off like you have no authority, Brit.

CLIP #4:

After a contestant reportedly disses Demi Lovato‘s vocal ability, Brit comes to her co-judge’s defense. “I want to know who let you on stage,” quips Brit (losing her baby voice for a second). “I feel uncomfortable with you even staring at me.”
OUR CRITIQUE: Confident, unafraid to appear less-than-chipper and standing up for her fellow judge? That’s the Brit we want to see on the show.

0 US again inflict clean-energy tariffs on China

The Obama administration moved Wednesday to impose stiff new tariffs on wind-energy towers made in China, the latest strike in an escalating trade war over clean energy.

The Commerce Department said in a preliminary decision that Chinese companies have received government subsidies on steel wind towers ranging from about 14 percent to 26 percent. The decision could result in tariffs of those amounts being imposed on about a dozen Chinese companies that export large steel towers used in U.S. wind farms.

US again inflict clean-energy tariffs on China

The decision follows a Commerce Department decision earlier this month to impose tariffs averaging about 31 percent on solar cells and panels imported from China.

China has called the U.S. action on solar equipment unfair and warned that U.S. tariffs could hurt efforts to promote clean energy. Four U.S. wind tower manufacturers complained in December that Chinese-subsidized rivals were harming their business. Members of the Wind Tower Trade Coalition - Illinois-based Broadwind Towers Inc., North Dakota-based DMI Industries, Nebraska-based Katana Summit LLC and Texas-based Trinity Structural Towers Inc. - called for tariffs of more than 60 percent to offset Chinese subsidies.

Alan H. Price, a lawyer for the U.S. manufacturers, called the Commerce ruling an important step to remedy harm caused by what he termed unfair Chinese subsidies.

The towers covered by the ruling are least 150 feet high and support turbines that generate at least 100 kilowatts of electricity each. The United States imported steel towers worth an estimated $222 million from China last year.

Commerce still needs to decide whether Chinese and Vietnamese manufacturers are "dumping" their wind towers to gain an edge in the fast-growing international market for wind turbines. A ruling on anti-dumping tariffs is expected in July. Commerce plans to make a final decision on tariffs in August and will collect cash deposits from Chinese companies immediately.

President Barack Obama has said that China has "questionable competitive practices" on clean energy and that his administration has fought dumping activities and will continue to do so. The administration will act to enforce trade laws where appropriate, Obama said.

0 Israel may decide Middle East crisis unilaterally

Israel may take up "unilateral actions" if the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks do not move ahead, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said.

This comment prompted speculation that Israel may unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank like it did in 2005 in Gaza Strip.

Israel may decide Middle East crisis unilaterally

Barak said that if the Palestinian-Israeli talks "prove to be impossible, we have to consider a provisional arrangement or even unilateral action".

He, however did not specify which "unilateral actions" he meant.

In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip, evacuating 8,500 settlers and thousands of soldiers from the occupied territory.

The talks stalled in September 2010 over disagreements on Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank. Palestinians said they would not resume negotiations unless the construction stopped.

The Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, partially occupied by Israel, and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and want Israel to pull out from the Palestinian territories occupied after the 1967 war.

Israel may resolve Middle East crisis unilaterally

Israel, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to raise the issue of Jerusalem, which it says is the indivisible capital of the Jewish state.

0 Team Anna says regretful for 'Shikhandi' comment

Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday apologised to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the 'Shikhandi' remark made by Prashant Bhushan.

"Some people had raised questions about the language used by Prashant Bhushan. We apologise for that. There's the difference of opinion on Prashant Bhushan's 'Shikhandi' remark in Team Anna," he said.

According to Team Anna, the allegations were levelled based on a CAG report, which threw light on irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks, when PM Singh held the coal portfolio.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

"There is no need for a change in the law to auction coal blocks but the Prime Minister's Office insisted and proceeded with giving away the coal blocks. This has led to huge loss to the country," said Arvind Kejriwal.

"We would be happiest if the allegations against the Prime Minister are proved wrong. But for this, there should be an investigation. According to CAG report, there has been a scam. The Prime Minister may not have been the beneficiary but someone has taken the benefits and that needs to be Probed," he added.

Meanwhile, another Team Anna member, Manish Sisodia added fuel to the already raging controversy by saying that he deserved to spend the rest of his life in jail rather than quitting public life if the allegations against him were proved.

PM Singh said that he would leave public life if found guilty.

"Why is the Prime Minister avoiding probe in the coal scam? The Prime Minister says if the allegations are proved, he will quit public life. Why doesn't he say that he will spend the rest of his life in prison if the scam is true? This means the Prime Minister is confessing that politicians can evade and live a life of luxury despite carrying out huge corruption," said Manish Sisodia.

"I will give up my public life if allegations are proved against me. My long public career as Finance Minister, as Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and now as Prime Minister has been an open book," said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.


0 US election: Mitt Romney grows Republican nomination with Texas crucial win

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney addresses supporters in Las Vegas after clinching the Republican presidential nomination with a win in the Texas primary on Tuesday.

It's a triumph of endurance for the candidate who fought hard to win over sceptical conservative voters he must now fire up for the campaign against President Barack Obama.

Mr Romney, 65, outlasted a carousel of Republican rivals who dropped out of the state-by-state primary contest.

Mitt Romney grows Republican nomination

Employment was a strong theme in Mr Romney's Las Vegas address.(Google)

He accused the current president of being out of touch with the needs of small enterprise.
"This president doesn't understand that because he hasn't lived that. And instead, on almost every dimension he's made it harder for our economy to come back and to put people to work," he told supporters.

"I want more jobs for your kids and for you."
Republicans won't officially nominate Mr Romney until late August at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida


0 Modi, BJP tactics to get more minorities’ votes in Gujarat

In his bid to wean away Muslim voters from Congress’ fold in election year, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is making efforts that include experimenting social engineering and even shedding his saffron persona to woo the community towards BJP.

In what appears to be a well thought out strategy, Modi is holding a meeting of the state BJP Minority Cell at Staff Training College in Gandhinagar today to “ponder” over the ways to bring Muslims to BJP, a party functionary said.

Narendra Modi

“We will try to bring the minority community towards BJP’s call of nationalism and inform them of Congress’ divide and rule policy,” BJP spokesperson Jagdish Bhavsar said.

With poll calculations weighing heavily on its mind, the saffron party seems determined to dent what is considered as the traditional vote bank of the Congress.

“Programmes would be devised by the party in this meeting to counter Congress’s vote bank politics. Programmes will be devised in such a way that BJP party workers and especially minority community workers will donate maximum time, engage them and establish contact with Muslims population of the state,” Bhavsar said.

This is for the first time that Gujarat BJP will chalk out an all out plan to woo Muslims under Modi, who is accused of complacency in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

However, in a well-cultivated effort to build bridges with the community, Modi launched his much-touted ‘Sadbhavna Mission’ and undertook fasts at all the district capitals in the state.

In tomorrow’s meeting, more than 400 members of minority cell will remain present, including 150 Muslim
leaders who have been elected to various municipalities on BJP ticket in the state.

According to sources, besides BJP leaders Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, national vice-president Purshottam Rupala and state unit president R C Faldu, chairman of the state Haj Committee Sufi Saiyad Mahebub Ali, retired IAS officer and chairman of state Waqf board Ali Saiyed will also attend the meet.

The assembly elections in the state are scheduled in December.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

0 Victoria Beckham is too chic too smile

Victoria Beckham knows she doesn't appear happy in pictures.

The fashion designer - who is married to soccer star David Beckham - is famous for looking demure and hardly smiling for photographs, but insists she is happy in her daily life.

She told German edition of Interview magazine: "Yes, I created this persona and I'm very different from that.

Victoria Beckham is too posh too smile

"I don't feel like I have to scream and shout about it - I know I am a happy person. So I don't get upset when people comment on the fact that I look quite miserable all the time. But people think I am.

"And you know, sometimes I think the same thing when I look at the pictures."

Beckham, 38, has plenty to be happy about, with the four children she raises with her husband - Brooklyn, 13, Romeo, nine, Cruz, seven and ten-month-old daughter Harper - and her successful, self-titled fashion line, which made a reported £15 million in sales in the first three months of 2011.

Beckham also looks back fondly on her days as a singer with girl group The Spice Girls in the 90s, but admitted she was never a great singer.

She added: "Was music my talent really? No, I don't think I was particularly talented.

"With the other girls, the five of us all really worked together. But talented? I sound a bit odd to myself."


0 Chicago summit: Khar vindicate Pakistan’s involvement

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has described Pakistani delegation’s participation in the recently-concluded Nato summit in Chicago as successful.

“When there is debate about Afghanistan taking place, should Pakistan, a responsible regional player, an important neighbour and a country that has huge stakes in peace and stability in Afghanistan, not participate?” she told The Express Tribune in an exclusive interview.

Chicago summit 2012 Hina Rabbani Khar

She claimed that Pakistan had the highest stakes amongst 60 countries participating in the summit.

“The spill-over effect of instability in Afghanistan is instantaneous in Pakistan and if there is stability in Afghanistan, the effect of that too in Pakistan is likely to be instantaneous. I will completely disagree with anyone who says that Pakistan should have not participated in such a forum.”

“We need to engage with the world on what the challenges are and how we can pursue mutual interests with tools and frameworks acceptable to both parties. For that, you need extensive engagement with the rest of the world, and I think Chicago provided an excellent opportunity for that,” Khar said.

“This is the question for Pakistan – what message do we want to give the world? Are we enablers, a facilitator, a responsible country on the road that leads to Afghan stability, or are we a blocker, a disabler to the international efforts towards peace and stability,” she said.

In response to a question, Khar said that no hostile attacks were made on Pakistan during speeches and remarks at the Nato summit. Khar highlighted that during President Karzai’s interview on CNN, he said that they were working in the ‘friendliest of environments’. She added that Prime Minister Gilani will also visit Kabul soon.

US-Pakistan relations

On drones, Khar said that Pakistan’s position was clear – ‘they are unlawful, illegal and counterproductive’.

“What we need to emphasise is how they are counterproductive. Drones are a means to an end, they are there to achieve a certain objective, so if you can achieve those objectives with different tools, which are acceptable to both parties, isn’t that a better option? There is a lot of work that we have done together, and I am fairly optimistic that we can find a way where drones are not required in Pakistan.”

Khar said Pakistan had good dialogue with every major player in the US administration that they met on the sidelines of the summit, including a good meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, over the importance Pakistan’s parliamentary review and its recommendations.

Asked if they had anything to announce for the future, Khar said it was a continued engagement process, and they were in touch on various levels. She added that Pakistan was given the honour of being invited at the conference, and was the only neighbour of Afghanistan that had been invited.(Google)

“I think we should take things positively, and not go into conspiracy theory mode that everything is happening against Pakistan,” she added.

0 Pippa Middleton evades point out Queen's Diamond Jubilee in Latest Party Tips

Pippa Middleton posted a new article on her online site, The Party Times, giving party tips for big events taking place in Britain. The sister of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was cautious in her approach by not mentioning the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. It's fairly obvious she's referring to a milestone celebration with the Jubilee in June.

Pippa wrote:

"Lots of big events are planned across the nation this summer to celebrate all things British, providing everyone with a great excuse to get out there and join in the fun.

Pippa Middleton

"Here are a few ideas for inspiration if you're planning a bumper British knees-up on your street, to share with family, friends and neighbours, come rain or shine."

Middleton wrote tips about decorating, fun things for kids, and party foods. She gives great advice...clearly her specialty.

Pippa Middleton has been accused of using her connections to the royal family as a way of promoting her professional and personal life. To be fair, the 2012 Summer Olympics will be held in London and her party suggestions could also be associated with street celebrations the British will hold as the world's eyes are concentrated on England.

Will Pippa give more sports-themed party tips before the Olympics take place?

Monday, 28 May 2012

0 Congress Must distribute Postal Fix

The United States Postal Service does not take one dime of taxpayer money. You've heard this, I've heard this, and it is something postal employees say to me time and time again. For the most part, it is absolutely true.

It is what postal unions won't tell you that should scare every taxpayer.

distribute Postal Fix

Before I scare you, let me say that the USPS is home to hundreds of thousands of dedicated, hard-working American citizens. Many veterans wear the uniform of the Postal Service with as much pride as they wore the uniform of the armed services. Unfortunately, they and the taxpayer, are being fleeced by politicians, union leadership and a service unwilling to change.

There are those who say "privatize it." Unfortunately, no one will buy it. UPS and FedEx need the Postal Service, and the relationship is less adversarial and more symbiotic today than ever.

There are those who say, "get rid of it, I will use email." Unfortunately, you can't get pills via email, send toys to the grandkids via email or conduct some commercial enterprises without the mail.

It is not a choice between having a Postal Service and not. It is a choice of having a Postal Service that works, does not take taxpayer money and meets the needs of a 21st-century information society or a Postal Service whose only hope of survival is a taxpayer-funded bailout.

First, the facts.

In 1971, Congress created the USPS as a self-supporting, independent agency. According to the Office of Personnel Management, "Congress granted the USPS fiscal independence in exchange for a promise of fiscal responsibility." The USPS got independence, what taxpayers did not get was fiscal responsibility.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

0 Aishwarya Rai Bachchan grips her head high in Cannes following baby weight review

She may have been criticised in her native India for not losing her baby weight fast enough, but Aishwarya Rai Bachchan looked nothing short of dazzling at the AmfAR Cinema Against Aids gala in Cannes this week.

Baby weight or not, the Bollywood actress, 38, lived up to her title of "the world's most beautiful woman" in a gold embroidered sari and co-ordinating tailored jacket with Mandarin collar.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Her hair was piled high on her head and adorned with a slender gold band, while her make-up was understated, save the dark eyeliner around her eyes.

The former Miss World gave birth to her first child, a daughter, in November last year. But an unfortunate recent photograph that captured her with a double chin sparked a flurry of cruel criticism, with some suggesting that she has a "duty" to her fans to regain her pre-pregnancy figure.

One website posted a video of the star looking less than her usual svelte self, flicking between photographs of her pre-birth and photos now. Called "Aishwarya Rai's shocking weight gain," the clip, which came accompanied by elephant sound effects, has been seen more than 500,000 times.

Dozens more videos in a similar vein have been posted, each with viewing figures in the tens or hundreds of thousands. Comments left after the video prove that many of those watching have little sympathy for the star.

"She is a Bollywood actress and it is her duty to look good and fit," one said. Another added: "She needs to learn from people like Victoria Beckham who are back to size zero weeks after their delivery."

Mrs Rai-Bachchan has commendably remained cool-headed about the criticism, and has been open about the fact that she is in no hurry to lose the few extra pounds she gained during her pregnancy.
She has said that she simply wants to "enjoy motherhood."

Indeed, if last night's appearance at Cannes is anything to go by, she has little to worry about. Nor is she short of support in her goal to prioritise her new daughter.

Though there is certainly more critique than praise, many have come out in defence of the star, saying that she, like any new mother, should be focusing on her infant, not her diet.

One wrote: "She is a real women looking after a baby. We should be concern [sic] for her health and happiness especially if she is nursing the baby."

Another said. "Kudos to you Aish for keeping it real and letting your baby have all the bonding and attention she needs with you. Enjoy your life."

0 Israel Is nervously Watching Egyptian Vote

Both candidates for Egypt's presidency have pledged to respect the country's peace treaty with Israel, but they differ greatly in their approach, especially regarding the Palestinians.

In addition to preserving the peace with Israel, Ahmed Shafik, a former Egyptian Air Force general, is expected to continue Egypt's patronage of the mainstream Palestinian faction Fatah. Fatah, which leads the Palestinian Authority, cooperates with Israel.

Egyptian Vote

Mr. Shafik's military background and his role as the last prime minister to have served under the ousted president, Hosni Mubarak, suggest that he would approach Hamas, the Islamist faction that controls Gaza, with suspicion and hostility. Mr. Mubarak was one of Israel's staunchest allies.

Mohamed Morsi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood and former leader of its parliamentary bloc, has a long history of hostile statements about Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. He has called Israel's citizens "vampires" and "Draculas."

Mr. Morsi has also criticized the Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas for what he called gullible collaboration with Israel in the absence of a Palestinian state, and he has praised Hamas -- an Islamist offshoot of the Brotherhood -- for resisting the Israeli occupation.

"For Hamas, it means the final outcome of this election will be the difference between winning Egypt and more of the same," said Gamal Abdel Gawad, director of the Ahram Center in Cairo.

Brotherhood leaders have said they intend to use their influence with both Fatah and Hamas to urge them to compromise with each other to press Israel to recognize a Palestinian state.

"The Brotherhood will gently pressure Hamas to be more pragmatic, although that is a direction that Hamas is already moving," said Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Doha Center.

Hamas officials have acknowledged that they are looking more to Egypt and the Brotherhood for support as they move away from Syria. A top Hamas official, Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, settled in Cairo after fleeing the unrest in Syria and maintains close ties with the Brotherhood. He could not be reached for comment on Friday, but the recording on his spokesman's cellphone was set to the theme song of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party.

Egypt awaits the writing of a new constitution that will define the powers of the president, but the office is expected to oversee foreign policy, possibly in consultation with military leaders.

Thus, gaining the presidency would pose challenges to Mr. Morsi and the Brotherhood. If, as promised, the Brotherhood maintains the peace with Israel, Mr. Morsi as president could be expected to meet with Israeli's ambassador and top officials, which for the Brotherhood would mark a new level of official recognition of the Israeli state. "I assume he would have to," Mr. Hamid said, "and that would be a landmark moment."

The Israeli government, though alarmed at the prospect of a less-friendly Egypt, has maintained a wary silence about the elections, fearing any perceived interference could backfire.

But Israeli analysts and experts view Mr. Shafik as a moderate who can probably be counted on to keep his promise to preserve Egypt's 33-year-old peace treaty with Israel, long a cornerstone of regional stability. Mr. Morsi, who has also pledged to respect the treaty, is described by some as a potentially dangerous unknown who might be tempted to act more out of religious ideology.

Many Israeli analysts say they are grappling less with the question of who the president will be and more with the question of what direction he, and Egypt, will take.

"The balance between the presidency, the government, the Parliament, the army and public opinion will determine the future of Egypt and its relations with its neighbors, including Israel," said an Israeli government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the nature of the subject.

0 Poll illustrates Romney with little lead in NC

Republican Mitt Romney holds a slight lead over Democrat Barack Obama in North Carolina, according to a new poll.

Romney leads Obama 47 percent to 45 percent, a gap that is within the margin of error, according to the Civitas Poll, which was conducted by a polling firm for a Raleigh-based conservative advocacy group. The results were similar to a poll taken for WRAL which showed Romney up 45 percent to 44 percent.

Romney with little lead in NC

The Civitas Poll found that Romney had moved up substantially in North Carolina since a February survey.

This is largely because he is doing well among unaffiliated voters. The survey found that Romney is leading Obama among the unaffiliated voters 49 percent to 40 percent. In February he was down by 2 points among unaffiliated voters.

The spin: “In our first poll since the effective end of the Republican primary and after Democrats have started a barrage of attacks, Romney is not only competitive, but slightly ahead,” said Francis De Luca, Civitas president. “Romney’s poll numbers have stayed virtually unchanged in North Carolina, a key battleground state. On the other hand, Obama’s numbers seem to move in tandem with the economic news of the day.”(Google)

The poll of 600 registered voters was conducted May 19-20 by National Research, Inc. of Holmdel, N.J. and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

Senator hosts book signing

Sen. Marco Rubio, a possible GOP vice presidential choice, will be at Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh at 7:30 p.m. July 6 for a book signing.

The Florida senator will sign his book, “Marco Rubio, An American Son: A Memoir.” The event is free and open to the public. Rubio will sign books but will not be able to personalize them or pose for photographs.

Ellmers supports Romney

U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers laid out her case last week for why constituents should vote for Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney instead of President Obama.

In an Op-ed penned for the Fayetteville Observer, Ellmers cites Romney’s business experience and leadership of the Salt Lake City Olympics. She did not mention his time as governor of Massachusetts.

“When he took the helm of the 2002 Winter Olympics, Romney’s goal was to strengthen the games and make them a success, not blame what he inherited, ignore the future risks and move on,” Ellmers writes. “But this is exactly how Barack Obama managed his administration, which has prolonged and delayed our recovery. The credit cards are maxed, the excuses persist and we are left with the false hope of borrowing our way into prosperity.”

Norquist wades in on dentists

A conservative national political group led by Grover Norquist is wading into the North Carolina debate on whether to toughen regulations on the state’s dental industry.

Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to lawmakers asking them to defeat Senate Bill 655, saying the bill “is an attempt to use the power of government to eliminate competition.”

The bill passed the Senate last year is awaiting action in the House.


Friday, 25 May 2012

1 Men in Black 3 [MIB-3] Review

Men in Black 3 (stylized as MIB3) is a 2012 American 3D science fiction comedy film starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. This film is the sequel to the 2002 film Men in Black II released on May 23, 2012, almost ten years after its predecessor and fifteen years after the release of the original Men in Black.It also stars Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson, Alice Eve and Jemaine Clement, with Barry Sonnenfeld returning as director, and Steven Spielberg returning as executive producer. The film is the third installment in the Men in Black film series which is based on the Malibu / Marvel comic book series The Men in Black by Lowell Cunningham. Principal photography began in New York City on November 16, 2010

Men in Black 3

On July 16, 1969, Agent K apprehended the intergalactic criminal Boris the Animal at Cape Canaveral in Florida before setting up the ArcNet shield, which protected Earth from an invasion by Boris' species and rendered them extinct. Over 40 years later, Boris escapes from the Lunar Max prison facility on the Moon and arrives on Earth, with the intent on taking revenge on Kay - who took away his left arm during his arrest. After investigating a spaceship crash in New York City, Kay deduces that Boris has sprung out of prison, and he regrets not having killed him back in 1969.

The next day, Agent J notices that Kay is no longer in his apartment. He arrives at MIB headquarters to discover that Kay has been dead for over 40 years. Agent O, the new Chief after Agent Z's passing, deduces that there has been a fracture in the space-time continuum based on Jay's insatiable craving for chocolate milk to ameliorate his headaches. Jay comes to the conclusion that Boris acquired a time-jump device and traveled back to 1969 to kill Kay, resulting in an inevitable invasion of Earth due to the absence of the ArcNet. Jay goes to Obadiah Prince, a black market dealer who sold Boris the time-jump device, and acquires one of his own. As the time-jump device needs a certain amount of velocity to activate, Jay must jump off the Chrysler Building to make the time-travel. He travels to July 15, 1969 - one day before the incident involving Boris and Agent K.

Upon arriving at the timeline, Jay travels to Coney Island, knowing that Boris will be committing a murder based on the database records he accessed beforehand. However, a younger Kay arrests him and has him placed in a larger, more primitive Neuralyzer. At the very last second, Jay convinces Kay to stop the process when he reveals the truth of his mission. They eventually work together and follow Boris' trail. Their clues lead them to a prescient alien named Griffin, who is in possession of the ArcNet. Being able to look into multiple future outcomes and scenarios, he warns the two agents of Boris' impending arrival and hurriedly leaves the venue.

Based on the clues left for them, the Agents locate Griffin, who gives them the shield that has to be placed onto the Apollo 11 lunar rocket launch occurring in less than six hours. Upon arriving at Cape Canaveral, the two agents and Griffin are quickly arrested by military police. The Colonel in the scene, however, allows the two agents to carry on their mission after Griffin uses his precognitive power to show them what great men they are.

Jay and Kay arrive at the launch pad, but are confronted separately by both 1969 and modern-day incarnations of Boris. Modern-day Boris impales Jay with his spikes before they both fall off the pad; however, Jay uses the time-jump to travel back to the beginning of the fight and avoid the spikes before pushing the criminal off the pad into the fiery exhaust gases of the rocket. Meanwhile, as Kay battles the younger Boris, he ruptures a fueling hose, causing it to spray liquid nitrogen on 1969 Boris' left arm and shatter it. Kay then successfully plants the ArcNet on the rocket, which deploys after reaching the Earth's atmosphere. The Colonel congratulates Kay, who in turn invites him to join the agency. However, 1969 Boris emerges from the blast chamber and kills the Colonel before Kay disintegrates the criminal. A young boy, who turns out to be a prepubescent Jay, arrives at the launch site looking for his father, but is slowly coaxed away from the gruesome truth by Kay, who will later recruit him into the Agency.(Google)

Jay returns to the present day, where he meets up with his partner at the usual diner. There, he shows Kay his father's pocket watch. The senior agent, in return, tells him it was an honor to have met him that fateful day. As they leave the diner, Griffin - who is a few seats away, tells the viewer that all is well with the world, except for an inevitable asteroid impact on Earth because Kay forgot to leave a tip. But when Kay returns to leave his tip, the asteroid collides with a satellite, thus avoiding the catastrophe.


0 Is NATO Still considered necessary?

Street protests in Chicago targeted a NATO summit where President Obama was promoting a gradual military withdrawal from Afghanistan. However, protesters challenged the continued need for this expensive alliance designed for the Cold War, reports Lawrence S. Wittner.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (better known as NATO) is in the news once again thanks to a NATO summit meeting in Chicago over the weekend of May 19-20 and to large public demonstrations in Chicago against this military pact.

NATO Still needed?

NATO’s website defines the alliance’s mission as “Peace and Security,” and shows two children lying in the grass, accompanied by a bird, a flower and the happy twittering of birds. There is no mention of the fact that NATO is the world’s most powerful military pact, or that NATO nations account for 70 percent of the world’s annual $1.74 trillion in military spending.

The organizers of the demonstrations, put together by peace and social justice groups, assailed NATO for bogging the world down in endless war and for diverting vast resources to militarism. According to a spokesperson for one of the protest groups, Peace Action: “It’s time to retire NATO and form a new alliance to address unemployment, hunger and climate change.”

NATO was launched in April 1949, at a time when Western leaders feared that the Soviet Union, if left unchecked, would invade Western Europe. The U.S. government played a key role in organizing the alliance, which brought in not only West European nations, but the United States and Canada. Dominated by the United States, NATO had a purely defensive mission — to safeguard its members from military attack, presumably by the Soviet Union.(Google)

That attack never occurred, either because it was deterred by NATO’s existence or because the Soviet government had no intention of attacking in the first place. We shall probably never know. In any case, with the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of the Soviet Union, it seemed that NATO had outlived its usefulness.

But vast military establishments, like other bureaucracies, rarely just fade away. If the original mission no longer exists, new missions can be found. And so NATO’s military might was subsequently employed to bomb Yugoslavia, to conduct counter-insurgency warfare in Afghanistan, and to bomb Libya.

Meanwhile, NATO expanded its membership and military facilities to East European nations right along Russia’s border, thus creating renewed tension with that major military power and providing it with an incentive to organize a countervailing military pact, perhaps with China.

None of this seems likely to end soon. In the days preceding the Chicago meeting, NATO’s new, sweeping role was highlighted by Oana Longescu, a NATO spokesperson, who announced that the summit would discuss “the Alliance’s overall posture in deterring and defending against the full range of threats in the twenty-first century, and take stock of NATO’s mix of conventional, nuclear, and missile defense forces.”

In fairness to NATO planners, it should be noted that, when it comes to global matters, they are operating in a relative vacuum. There are real international security problems, and some entity should certainly be addressing them.

But is NATO the proper entity? After all, NATO is a military pact, dominated by the United States and composed of a relatively small group of self-selecting European and North American nations. The vast majority of the world’s countries does not belong to NATO and has no influence upon it.

Who appointed NATO as the representative of the world’s people? Why should the public in India, in Brazil, in China, in South Africa, in Argentina, or most other nations identify with the decisions of NATO’s military commanders?

The organization that does represent the nations and people of the world is the United Nations. Designed to save the planet from “the scourge of war,” the United Nations has a Security Council (on which the United States has permanent membership) that is supposed to handle world security issues.

Unlike NATO, whose decisions are often controversial and sometimes questionable, the United Nations almost invariably comes forward with decisions that have broad international support and, furthermore, show considerable wisdom and military restraint.

The problem with UN decisions is not that they are bad ones, but that they are difficult to enforce. And the major reason for the difficulty in enforcement is that the Security Council is hamstrung by a veto that can be exercised by any one nation.

Thus, much like the filibuster in the U.S. Senate, which is making the United States less and less governable, the Security Council veto has seriously limited what the world organization is able to do in addressing global security issues.

Thus, if the leaders of NATO nations were really serious about providing children with a world in which they could play in peace among the birds and flowers, they would work to strengthen the United Nations and stop devoting vast resources to dubious wars.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

0 Israel steps up protection ties with China

After a prolonged chill, security ties between Israel and China are warming up.

With Israel offering much-needed technical expertise and China representing a huge new market and influential voice in the international debate over Iran's nuclear program, the two nations have stepped up military cooperation as they patch up a rift caused by a pair of failed arms deals scuttled by the U.S.(Bing)

Israel steps up protection ties with China

The improved ties have been highlighted by this week's visit to Beijing by Israel's military chief and a training mission to Israel by the Chinese paramilitary force that, among other things, polices the restive Tibetan and Muslim Uighur regions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to travel to China in the coming weeks.

After their meeting Monday, both China's chief of staff, Gen. Chen Bingde, and his Israeli counterpart, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, hailed the growing ties and held out the possibility of even closer military cooperation.

Chen told the official China Daily that China "attaches importance to the ties with the Israeli military and is willing to make concerted efforts with the Israeli side to deepen pragmatic cooperation."

In a statement released by the Israeli military, Gantz mentioned a commitment to developing the relationship, including "joint courses that are scheduled to take place." It did not elaborate.

Such comments are a remarkable turnaround from just a few years ago, when ties deteriorated after the failed arms deals.

Israel and China established diplomatic relations in 1992, and the two countries traded military technology for nearly a decade. Some military analysts believe that Israel helped China develop its J-10 fighter plane during the 1990s, a claim that both countries have denied.(Google)

These ties suffered a blow in 2000 when the U.S. pressured Israel to cancel the sale of a sophisticated radar system to China, fearing it could alter the balance of power with Taiwan. The cancellation infuriated China, cost Israel hundreds of millions of dollars, and frayed ties.

Then, in 2005, the U.S. persuaded Israel not to service spare parts for unmanned aircraft drones already sold to China, concerned that it would upgrade China's airborne anti-radar capability. Israel officials say that Israel has since halted weapons sales to China.

But in recent months, relations have begun to improve. In June 2011, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak traveled to China. Chen, the Chinese military chief, visited Israel in August, and in December, Israel's paramilitary Border Police unit hosted a delegation from the People's Armed Police.

During the monthlong course, "cadets were taught a variety of information, with an emphasis on fighting terror, dealing with disturbances, self defense, open field combat and more," according to an Israeli police statement. It was the first such exercise, police said.

This newfound cooperation has raised concerns among human rights advocates. Israel's Border Police serve on the front lines of anti-Israel demonstrations in the West Bank and have been accused of using excessive force dispersing crowds. It denies the allegations.

The People's Armed Police, or PAP, has also been accused of using excessive force, particularly in Tibet, a western region where the indigenous Buddhist population has pushed for independence.

Policing Tibet is a small part of a challenging mission. Believed to have as many as 1 million members, the PAP is responsible for asserting government control over a rapidly changing society beset by soaring numbers of protests, strikes and ethnic unrest by Tibetans and Muslim Uighurs on China's Central Asian frontier.

Set up in the early 1980s to take over domestic security from the armed forces, the PAP has been derided for much of its history as undisciplined. The units proved unfit to handle the Tiananmen Square democracy demonstrations in 1989, forcing the Communist Party to call in the People's Liberation Army.

In the past decade, the government has launched a full-force upgrade.

It now has rapid-response, counterterrorism, anti-hijacking and other specialized units.(Aol)

Nicholas Bequelin, a China researcher at Human Rights Watch, said PAP units engaged in "widespread abuses" in putting down a mass Tibetan uprising in 2008, using live ammunition against unarmed protesters, disappearances and other acts of disproportionate brutality.

He said the Israeli training "must include a human rights component, such as the principle of proportionate use of force."

Israeli officials rejected any notion of wrongdoing, saying that all cooperation was "transparent" and done with the full knowledge of the U.S. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a sensitive diplomatic issue.

The Chinese Embassy in Tel Aviv did not respond to a request for comment.

According to Israeli diplomats and analysts, the interests on both sides are clear. Israel has a strong interest in getting closer to a rising world power, while China is interested in Israeli military and technological know-how.

"I'm sure Israel does whatever it can to let the Chinese know that despite limitations on military transfers, Israel still has a strong will to attain good relations," said Yoram Evron, a China expert at Haifa University and the Institute for National Security Studies, a Tel Aviv think tank.

He said he believes the warming ties were initiated by the Chinese, who were caught off guard by the Arab Spring protests convulsing the region in the past year and a half.

"Due to the Arab Spring, China may have the impression, a stronger impression than before, that Israel is relatively stable compared with other players in the region," he said.

An Israeli diplomat involved in Asian affairs said the security ties are part of a larger blossoming of relations. China is now Israel's third-largest trade partner, after the European Union and United States. Bilateral trade exceeded $8 billion last year, roughly 20 percent higher than the previous year.(Yahoo)

While those figures are minuscule for China, the diplomat noted that China is very interested in some key industries in which Israel has expertise. He cited Israeli water technologies in agriculture, desalination and wastewater management.

He said Israel has signed number of trade agreements with China in recent years, including a new scholarship program to bring 250 Chinese university students to Israel annually. It also has expanded its diplomatic presence in China with a new consulate in the city of Guangzhou, and another one set to open in Chengdu next year.

Israeli officials acknowledged their motives go beyond trade. They said they routinely raise concerns about Iran's nuclear program with China, which is both a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and which relies on Iran for roughly 10 percent of its oil supply.

Israel, like the West, believes Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb, and has hinted it will attack Iran if it concludes that international diplomatic efforts to stop Iran have failed. An Israeli attack could disrupt the flow of oil and send global energy prices skyrocketing, a nightmare scenario for China.

So far, the Israeli lobbying has yielded mixed results. China has helped pass four sets of economic sanctions against Iran, but has tried to dilute the language.

"We would like to see them taking more concrete steps because they have clout over Iran," the diplomat said. "We explain that if the issue is not resolved, it might affect stability in the Middle East."

0 Prince William wakeful before wedding

Britain's Prince William barely slept the night before his wedding.

The future king married his long-term love Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey in April last year. The royal wedding attracted interest from people around the world and thousands flocked to see the newlyweds on their special day.

Prince William wakeful before wedding

William admits that the well-wishers who gathered in London were in such great spirits that he struggled to get any rest.

"I hadn't slept at all that night because obviously all the crowds were on The Mall," he explained in an interview for Elizabeth: Queen, Wife, Mother, which airs in the UK on June 1. "They were singing and cheering all night long. So, the excitement of that, the nervousness of me, and everyone singing meant I slept for about half an hour, I think.

"So when I did get up in the morning, I can say that I had prepared myself totally by that point. It was a case of just going out there and trying to enjoy the moment and also get through it.

"But it was good fun, it was really good fun."

William went on to reveal that he and his brother Prince Harry had a moment of panic as they were leaving Clarence House for the wedding ceremony.

"The hardest thing was trying to walk down the stairs with my spurs on, sideways," he laughed. "I had visions of myself and my brother colliding and crashing down the stairs."

The royal insists he and Catherine did have control over the planning of their wedding. In fact, William's grandmother Queen Elizabeth II made sure the couple were happy with every decision made.

"There was very much a subdued moment when I was handed a list with 777 names on it - not one person I knew or Catherine knew," he explained. "I went to [the queen] and said, 'Listen, I've got this list, not one person I know - what do I do?' And she went, 'Get rid of it. Start from your friends and then we'll add those we need to in due course. It's your day.'"

William spoke of his admiration for his grandmother - who is celebrating 60 years on the throne.

He is in awe of how she coped with becoming queen when she was "only 25".

"When I was younger and a young boy growing up, I'd say probably queen first, then grandmother. But now it's definitely a case of grandmother first, and queen second," he smiled. "That's really quite something, to be in a man's world and then as a woman to suddenly be thrust into the position she found herself.(Google)

"They're quite hard footsteps to fill. There's not much wiggle room left for me to try and find my own path, but I will do."

Read more:

0 Obama stress Romney to explain Bain

At an Iowa campaign rally, President Obama pressures Mitt Romney to explain how Bain Capital prepared him for the presidency. MSNBC's Krystal Ball, E.J. Dionne, and Ari Melber join MSNBC's Martin Bashir to discuss the week in Bain and Romney's upcoming Vegas event with Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich.

>> good evening, i'm martin bashir in for lawrence o'donnell, tonight on the campaign trail, president obama rallied support in iowa where he pressured mitt romney to explain how bain capital prepared him for the presidency.

Obama stress Romney

>> he doesn't really talk about what he did in massachusetts . but he does talk about being a business guy. right, he says, this gives him a special understanding of what it takes to create jobs and grow the economy. even if he's unable to offer a single new idea about how to do that, no matter how many times he's asked about it, he says he knows how to do it.

>> the president then articulated his problem with mitt romney 's experience at bain capital .

>> there may be value for that kind of experience, but it's not in the white house .

>> today the president's general election opponent opted for revisionism and extreme rhetoric to muddy the waters around his career at bain capital . it began this morning on the good ship fox news where romney falsely accused the president of being anti-capitalist.

>> there's no question but that he's attacking capitalism. frankly the american people understand that it's the economy is tough, it's hard work. and when they're hearing that bain capital was successful 80% of the time. and 5% of its investments went bankrupt. that's a pretty good record. if all the president wants to talk about is the failures, why he's representing --

>> now listen to what the president really thinks of firms like bain capital . here he is again tonight in iowa.

>> there's an important creative role for it in the free market . their main goal is to create wealth for themselves and their investors. yeah, that's part of the american way , that's fine.(Google)

>> the president doesn't have a problem with bain capital . what he does have a problem with is mitt romney claiming that being ceo of bain capital makes him a job creator, when he of all people knows full well, that isn't what private equity managers do. an important fact that even rush limbaugh little illustrated no less than twice this week.

>> bain capital didn't go into business to create jobs anyway. that's not what private equity does.

>> private equity is not there to create jobs. that's not what they do.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

0 MPs heed announcement on G8 and NATO Summits

We'll be hearing a lot from David Cameron today. He's got PMQs, and then he's giving a statement in the Commons about the recent G8 and Nato summits in the US. The G8 summit seems to have been one of the least productive in recent years, but, with the eurozone on the brink of collapse, MPs will have plenty to ask Cameron about. And there are at least three stories in the news today that are likely to come up in some form.

David Cameron is taking PMQ

Nick Clegg has told the Financial Times (subscription) that the government is planning a "massive" increase in state-backed investment in housing and infrastructure. It sounds suspiciously like Plan B. Here's an extract.
In an interview with the Financial Times, the deputy prime minister sounded a new tone on economic policy, when he said the government's "absolute priority" was to use the government's strong balance sheet to inject credit into the economy.

Mr Clegg said the coalition was looking at "massively amplifying the principle of what we did on credit easing" – a reference to the Treasury's £20bn scheme to support lending to small businesses.
Adrian Beecroft, the Tory business adviser, has told the Daily Telegraph that Vince Cable is a "socialist" who should not be running the Deparment for Business.
claims the Business Secretary's objections to the proposals are "ideological not economic". "I think he is a socialist who found a home in the Lib Dems, so he's one of the Left," Mr Beecroft says. "I think people find it very odd that he's in charge of business and yet appears to do very little to support business."

The BBC has revealed that ministers have taken legal advice on how Britain could, or could not, intervene in a war between Israel and Iran. This is from Nick Robinson.(Google)

I have learnt that UK ministers are discussing not just the possibility of a military confrontation but what role, if any, Britain might play and whether any involvement would be legal.
Last week in London, the National Security Council discussed what would happen if the latest set of negotiations with Iran failed and if Israel carried out its threat to launch a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Ministers were told that this could trigger a wider war in the Middle East in which Iran might respond not just by attacking Israel, but also by closing the vital trade route - the Strait of Hormuz - through which more than a fifth of the world's oil shipments are carried.
I understand that the government's law officers are now examining the legality of any British involvement if this happen.

I expect we'll hear more on all three of these stories later today.

Here's the full agenda.
BBC presenters Andrew Marr and Jeremy Paxman, the Tory MP Stephen Dorrell and the Labour peer John Reid give evidence to the Leveson inquiry.

David Cameron and Ed Miliband clash at PMQs.Cameron makes to Commons statement on the G8 and Nato summits.

The Commons transport committee takes evidence on transport and the Olympics.

Kenneth Clarke, the justice secretary, gives evidence to the Commons justice committee on the Ministry of Justice.As usual, I'll be covering all the breaking political news, as well as looking at the papers and bringing you the best politics from the web. I'll post a lunchtime summary at around 1pm and another in the afternoon.


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

0 US Asked to discard Cold War Nuke Approach

In run-up to the NATO Summit in Chicago on May 20, a new report is calling for abandoning the Cold War rationale and ushering in a systemic change in U. S. nuclear force structure, strategy and posture in order to address the security threats in the 21st century.

The impassioned plea has been made by the U.S. Nuclear Policy Commission of Global Zero, an international movement for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

According to General James E. Cartwright, who heads the Commission, the U.S. nuclear deterrence could be guaranteed with a total arsenal of between 500 and 900 warheads, and with only half of them deployed at any one time.

Even those in the field would be taken off hair triggers, requiring 24 to 72 hours for launching, to reduce the chance of accidental war, says General Cartwright, the retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former commander of the United States’ nuclear forces.

The Obama administration is reportedly considering at least three options for lower total numbers of deployed strategic nuclear weapons: reducing their numbers to 1,000 to 1,100; 700 to 800; or 300 to 400. The Global Zero report calls for such weapons to be reduced to about 450, while maintaining an equal number of stored weapons.

The U.S. and Russia have an estimated 5,000 nuclear weapons each, either deployed or in reserve. The two countries are already on track to reduce to 1,550 deployed strategic warheads by 2018, as required by the New START treaty.

“The strategy inherited from the Cold War which remains in place artificially sustains nuclear stockpiles that are much larger than required for deterrence today and that have scant efficacy in dealing with the main contemporary threats to U. S. and global security – nuclear proliferation, terrorism, cyber warfare and a multitude of other threats stemming from the diffusion of power in the world today,” says the report.

The 26-page report Modernizing U.S. Nuclear Strategy, Force Structure and Posture Current avers that U. S. nuclear policy “focuses too narrowly on threats rooted in Cold War thinking, incurring excessive costs to prepare for an implausible contingency of nuclear war with Russia when there is no conceivable circumstance in which either country’s interest would be served by deliberately initiating such a conflict.”

The report warns that current U. S. nuclear policy also unnecessarily incurs risks of unintentionally initiating a nuclear conflict. By maintaining launch-ready nuclear postures just as they did during the Cold War, the United States and Russia run risks of nuclear mistakes that could have catastrophic consequences.

Continue reductions

The Global Zero report notes that the U. S. and Russian arsenals have been steadily shrinking since the end of the Cold War 20 years ago and pleads for continuing these reductions. “Steep bilateral reductions in all categories of weapons in their stockpiles are warranted and should be pursued in the next round of U. S.- Russian negotiations. An arsenal of 500-900 total weapons on each side would easily meet reasonable requirements of deterrence and would set the stage to initiate multilateral nuclear arms reductions involving all countries with nuclear weapons,” says the report.

The United States should seek to achieve such reductions in ten years and plan to base its arsenal on a dyad of nuclear delivery vehicles, the report advises. The optimal mix of carriers would consist of ten Trident ballistic missile submarines and eighteen B-2 bombers.

General Cartwright and his team are of the view that under normal conditions, one-half of the warhead stockpile would be deployed on these carriers; the other half would be kept in reserve except during a national emergency. All land-based intercontinental missiles armed with nuclear payloads would be retired along with the carriers of non-strategic nuclear warheads, all of which would be eliminated from the stockpile. B-52 heavy bombers would be completely dismantled or converted to carry only conventional weapons.

Increase warning time

The report further asks the U.S. and Russia should to devise ways to increase warning and decision time in the command and control of their smaller arsenals. The current postures of launch-ready nuclear forces that provide minutes and seconds of warning and decision time should be replaced by postures that allow 24-72 hours on which to assess threats and exercise national direction over the employment of nuclear forces.

“This change would greatly reduce the risks of mistaken, ill-considered and accidental launch. It would also strengthen strategic stability by removing the threat of sudden, surprise first strikes. Any move by one side to massively generate nuclear forces to launch-ready status would provide ample warning for the other side to disperse its nuclear forces to invulnerable positions,” says the report.

It adds: “By increasing warning time through de-alerting, the new postures would actually increase force survivability and diminish the adverse impact of missile defences in the equation. Missile defenses would be less threatening to the other side’s larger retaliatory force and less undermining of the other side’s confidence in its ability to carry out effective retaliation.”

In the context of such reduced reliance on offensive nuclear weapons on launch-ready alert, the United States would increase its reliance on missile defences and advanced conventional forces in an integrated new strategy, explains the report.(Google)

The Global Zero expects these non-nuclear forces to replace nuclear forces. Their role in deterring and defeating a 21st century adversary, and in reassuring U. S. allies of Washington’s commitment to their defence, would be especially important during the 24-72 hour period prior to the possible generation of offensive nuclear capability. This time-limited role, however, would reduce the requirements imposed on missile defences and conventional forces. Missile defence architecture in particular could be scaled down, says the report.

The study further advises the U.S. to broaden the agenda of nuclear arms regulation to include all categories of weapons in all nuclear weapons countries. “Only a broad multilateral approach can effectively address the multitude of serious nuclear dangers found in other parts of the world. While pursuing bilateral negotiations to reduce the U. S. and Russian stockpiles to much lower levels, the two sides should initiate a multilateral process that would seek to cap, freeze, reduce and otherwise constrain the arsenals of third countries. Nuclear arms regulation must become comprehensive and universal,” Global Zero experts say.

They plead for extending multilateralism beyond nuclear arms reductions into the realm of multilateral security cooperation.


0 Pursue in Kate Middleton’s fashion path with peplum dresses from Shelikes

Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton is well-known for her impeccable style, and those that would like to follow in her fashion footsteps can now find Kate-inspired peplum dresses at online fashion retailer Shelikes.
Peplum dresses seem to be a favourite of Kate Middleton’s, as she’s been spotted in more than a few of them. The dresses certainly suit her shape and style, and any ladies wanting to convey some of the elegance and poise of the nation’s favourite Duchess should take a look at the wide range of peplum dresses available at Shelikes right now. 

Kate Middleton fashion

Shelikes has taken inspiration from the catwalks in order to create its new range of peplum dresses, with dresses styled after those by designers Francesco Scognamiglio and Preen. The dresses incorporate some of this season's biggest colour trends as well, such as pastel tones and bright shades of red, blue and pink.
Three of the dresses contained within Shelikes’ peplum dress collection have been styled after Kate Middleton – the Fuchsia Pink Polka Dot Frill Peplum Dress, Blue Polka Dot Frill Peplum Dress, and Cream Polka Dot Frill Peplum Dress each channel Miss Middleton’s impeccable style. 

Nick Puri, Managing Director, of Shelikes said: “Peplum dresses are absolutely huge right now thanks to Kate Middleton, although it isn’t just for this reason that ladies everywhere should be jumping on the peplum bandwagon. 

“These dresses are incredibly complimentary to a range of body shapes, so anyone that wants to accentuate their natural curves or create the illusion of curves would be wise to invest in a peplum dress or two, whether it’s for the workplace or elsewhere.”

Shelikes’ peplum dresses start at just £11.99 and are available in a great selection of colours, fabric patterns and lengths to suit all styles. The retailer has other Kate Middleton-inspired clothing, such as pastel skinny fit jeans to match the coral ones seen on the Duchess when photographed with the Team GB women's hockey squad at the Olympic Park in Stratford earlier in the year.(Google)

To see Shelikes’ great collection of peplum dresses and other Kate Middleton clothing, visit now

0 U.S. Tattered between Israel’s Nuclear Demands Versus Iran’s

U.S. negotiators going into Iranian nuclear talks today are under pressure to reconcile two fundamental and seemingly irreconcilable demands before the clock runs out on a diplomatic solution.

Iranian leaders want the international community to accept that their nation has a right to enrich uranium on its soil for peaceful use. In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the Jewish state will never be safe unless Iran ceases all enrichment so it can’t secretly build an atomic bomb.

Israel’s Nuclear Demands Vs Iran

That puts the U.S. in a difficult position as it heads into a second round of nuclear talks in Baghdad with its five partners -- the U.K., France, Germany, China and Russia. All six have agreed to demand that Iran provide greater transparency and safeguards against illicit weapons development.

“The U.S. is negotiating on two fronts -- with Iran and with Israel,” Vali Nasr, a former U.S. State Department senior adviser, said in an interview. “A deal that would work with Iran would not satisfy Israel probably,” and the reverse is also true, he said.

The stakes are high for Iran and Israel -- and, politically, for President Barack Obama. Obama is under pressure in an election year to forestall any Israeli or U.S. military strike against Iran, while blunting attacks from Congress and Republican challenger Mitt Romney that portray him as not being tough enough on Iran.

Core Issue

Oil prices declined yesterday on news from Vienna of an Iranian agreement with United Nations atomic inspectors, who are engaged in separate talks from the six-power meeting in Baghdad. Oil for June delivery slid 91 cents to settle at $91.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Front-month futures are down 7.3 percent this year, and prices have fallen for 14 of the past 17 days.

A preliminary agreement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency -- which would grant greater access to Iranian sites suspected of housing undeclared nuclear activities -- doesn’t change the core issue of uranium enrichment, which has drawn threats of possible military strikes this year by Israel.

Public and private posturing on all sides has marked the run-up to a second round of nuclear talks, following a meeting last month in Istanbul.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak flew to Washington last week for talks on Iran, following an unpublicized visit by Israeli Military Intelligence chief Major General Aviv Kochavi to Washington and the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Enrichment ‘Right’

Iranian leaders have insisted in state-run media reports over the last month that the world has recognized their right to enrichment activities. U.S. diplomats dispute that.

The U.S. and European Union have stuck to a hard bargaining position: that Iran must meet all international obligations and resolve all concerns about its nuclear program. U.S. and Western officials have said there will be no relief from punishing oil and financial sanctions until a deal is done.

Dennis Ross, Obama’s former chief adviser on Iran, said a deal between Iran and the six powers meeting in Baghdad is achievable over time if Iran were to agree to start implementing certain confidence-building steps.

Those might include halting 19.75 percent uranium enrichment, shipping out stockpiles of that medium-enriched uranium, answering questions about possible military dimensions of the nuclear program and accepting additional transparency measures, said Ross, now counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. While medium-enriched uranium is needed to make medical isotopes to treat cancer patients, it also can be enriched further to fuel a nuclear weapon.

Curtailing Enrichment

In the longer-term, Ross and other analysts suggested, Iran would need to accept steps that would prevent the conversion of a civilian nuclear power program into a weapons effort. Those measures might include forgoing enrichment and receiving fuel from an international fuel bank or accepting strict limits on enrichment at levels of less than 5 percent, restrictions on the number of centrifuges and intrusive inspections.

U.S. and Western diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the U.S. and its European partners haven’t decided yet whether a low level of domestic uranium enrichment might be acceptable ultimately if Iran were to comply with the rest of the international community’s demands.

Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a former member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team from 2003 to 2005, said yesterday that the right to domestic enrichment has been understood as a right by every Iranian government dating back to the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iran’s last monarch who was deposed in Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

‘Red Line’

“It was a red line under the Shah, who was an ally of the U.S.,” Mousavian, now a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, in Princeton, New Jersey, said yesterday. No Iranian government will be in a position “to sell the rights of the nation under the NPT,” he said, referring to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Nuclear specialists debate whether the treaty guarantees the right to domestic uranium enrichment or simply the right to a civilian nuclear program. Iran’s critics say the nation is in violation of the NPT and several UN Security Council resolutions in any case, and therefore forfeits rights it would have under the treaty.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak yesterday reiterated Israel’s demands that Iran halt all enrichment. “In addition, all enriched uranium should be removed from Iran,” he said.

Promises, Actions

The deal announced yesterday to grant UN inspectors expanded access to Iranian military sites “is a net positive, but it is premature to make too much of it” because Iran has a record of unfulfilled commitments, Ross said. “Let’s see the actions, not just the promises.”

U.S. diplomats said Iran’s talks with the IAEA are a separate track from the Baghdad negotiations and insisted they wouldn’t reward Iran’s concessions to the IAEA with relief from oil and financial sanctions.

Rather than relief from oil sanctions, U.S. officials said the six major powers meeting in Baghdad are ready to offer a basket of confidence-building measures to assist Iran’s civilian energy program if Iran were to cease medium-level uranium enrichment.(Google)

Other incentives for Iran’s compliance might include lifting restrictions that have prevented Iran from importing spare parts for civilian aircraft, according to the U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity about private deliberations.


0 South Korea to manufacture 500-600 additional Missiles

South Korea plans to increase the number of ballistic and cruise missiles with a view to incapacitating North Korea's nuclear weapons and long-range missiles in an emergency. The government and military aim to spend some W2.5 trillion (US$1=W1,170) over the next five years to secure 500-600 new cruise and ballistic missiles.

South Korean Missiles

A government source on Sunday said, "Given the mounting threat of provocations from the North since Kim Jong-un took power, the Defense Ministry reported to President Lee Myung-bak last month a plan to increase missile capabilities in response to asymmetric threats from the North."

The military will boost the number of new Hyunmu-3 series cruise missiles, which have a range of between 500 and 1500 km and the Hyunmu-2 ballistic missiles, which have a 300 km range. Both were unveiled last month. They are supposed to incapacitate the North's nuclear weapons facilities, Rodong and Scud missile bases, biochemical weapons facilities, command facilities, and Air Force bases in the early stage of a war to prevent or minimize damage to South Korea.

The military wants to ask the government for a budget for these plans and implement it as soon as possible. Lee approved the plans when Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin reported them on April 28, the source added.

The Hyunmu-3 cruise missile can hit targets with 1-3 m accuracy, and the Hyunmu-2 ballistic missile with 50 m accuracy. Each of the new missiles costs about W4 billion.

North Korea — North Korea is warning that it will keep developing its nuclear program if the United States continues to “stifle” the country.There is concern that North Korea may carry out a nuclear test after a failed attempt to launch a long-range rocket last month. The North insists it was a peaceful bid to send a satellite into space (Google)


Monday, 21 May 2012

0 12,500 police at Olympics as UK learns from mutiny

British police will deploy around 12,500 officers to protect the Olympic Games after facing strong criticism for their lack of manpower and slow response to last year's U.K. riots.

The Olympic operation, drawing officers from 52 forces across Britain, will bolster the 10,500 army personnel already tasked with securing the July 27-Aug. 12 Games.

Planning was reviewed after Britain was stunned by violence last August that left five people dead and a trail of looted stores, torched cars and burned-out buildings in London and a few other cities.

12,500 police at London Olympics

Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Chris Allison, who is coordinating Olympic policing, insisted Monday that lessons had been learned from the unexpected rioting.

"We are in a different place to where I think we were last summer, a number of sentences have been given by the courts which I think will act as a clear deterrent to people, communities themselves have come out and said, `This is not acceptable,'" Allison told The Associated Press inside Scotland Yard police headquarters in London.

He also noted that now "we have command team in place, we have up to 9,500 officers on duty (in London) on peak days, unlike last summer when we didn't."

This time the streets of the capital will be flooded with officers in a pre-emptive move to dissuade anyone from causing mayhem as the Olympics return to London after 64 years.

"My hope is if anything were to happen ... we have the resources we can quickly assign to try to deal with it and nip it in the bud," Allison said. (Google)

While insisting that officers on patrol won't be "oppressive," Allison said there will be a robust response from the outset -- unlike during the riots -- with annual leave for officers heavily restricted and non-essential training postponed.

"We will follow the approach of intervening when we have the officers," Allison said. "Our challenge last summer is we didn't have those officers."

Last month, the public was given a glimpse of what could be in store when police snipers and heavily armed officers intervened to stop an armed siege in London's shopping district. No one was hurt.

The army operation will be using surface-to-air missiles systems, typhoon fighter jets, helicopters, two warships and bomb disposal experts.

Inside the venues, which can only be entered through airport-style security, Allison assured the public that there will be no risks to their safety.

"They are probably some of the securest places anywhere in the country ... and these are people who just want to watch sport, so there are no crime challenges in there," Allison said. "The vast majority of police officers will be out in the public space, in the public transport infrastructure, in the crowded spaces."

Police will be deployed heavily in the capital's tourist hotspots -- including Covent Garden and Leicester Square -- as well as at sites across London showing the Olympic action on big outdoor screens.

Allison hopes people will embrace the games rather than using them as a platform for anarchy.

"I am sure when the games come everyone will be bitten by the Olympic bug," he said.

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