Friday, February 16, 2007

Where stars hide their money: Netherlands

Bidness: I have no problems with anyone having the knowledge and ability to pay less taxes on their product/services.

Feb. 14, 2007 — - U2, the Rolling Stones, movie stars, sports figures and a host of corporations have turned to an unlikely accountant, the Netherlands, to help them avoid paying taxes on multimillion dollar profits in their home countries.

Bands like the Rolling Stones and U2 were publicly outed last summer for using tax shelters in the Netherlands to protect the millions they earn on royalties from getting taxed in their respective home countries.

They are part of a growing number of celebrities who've turned to the low-tax, politically stable Netherlands to protect royalties they earn legally from licensing intellectual property -- from J.Lo's derriere to U2's hit song "One."

And the Dutch have beckoned by overhauling their tax structure this past year to make it easier and more lucrative for individuals and corporations to set up shell companies that allow income from royalties, interest and dividends to flow in and out of the country tax-free.

"What a group like U2 or the Rolling Stones has done is create a holding company that owns the rights to their songs and their name," Richard LeVine, an international tax expert who counsels corporate and individual clients on asset protection for the Connecticut-based Withers, Bergman LLP, tells ABC News.

"So every time their song is played on the radio, or they sell an album, royalties are paid to their Dutch company, which allows them to collect millions of dollars in royalties tax-free and lowers the profits they're paying taxes on in their home countries," LeVine says.

Kudos to the Dutch in creating as one put it a "respectable" tax haven that brings in added revenue. But the next time Bono starts to whine about the uncaring governments that don't want to spend taxpayer's dollars at the snap of his fingers...

U2's move came on the heels of a change in Irish tax law, which originated as a way to help struggling artists by not taxing their royalties. It also allowed world-famous Irish artists like Van Morrison, U2, the Cranberries and Sinead O'Connor to earn millions in untaxed royalties. As of Jan. 1, 2007, a cap was set on earnings, and artists who earn more than 250,000 euros (or about $319,000) have to pay taxes on up to half their creative income.

With the help of the Promogroup, the band created U2 Ltd., which now holds the rights to its song catalogue. U2 Ltd.'s earning are not known. However, the band is said to be worth around $900 million, according to the annual "Rich List" published by London's Sunday Times.

....A spokeswoman for U2 also said that the band would not comment. However, U2's lead guitarist, David Evans reportedly told a Dublin radio station in October, "Of course we're trying to be tax efficient. Who doesn't want to be tax efficient?"

Tell him to go take flying leap.

24 dials down torture scenes.

Entertainment: I agree with the move because it was getting way too routine and looked liked a crutch to the show.

The Ségolène Royal campaign is going off the rails.

France: This little sample of headlines doesn't sound too good.

Investing: Worry over Socialist affects French bonds
International Herald Tribune, France - 35 minutes agoBy Kabir Chibber Bloomberg News. LONDON: The French Socialist Party presidential candidate, Ségolène Royal, is raising concern among investors in French ...

Top taxpayers 'will flee Royal's France', UK - 4 hours agoBy Henry Samuel in Paris. Business leaders in France are warning of an exodus of the country's top-flight taxpayers to London and other foreign capitals if ...
Royal row: Ségolène aide quits campaign over 'zig-zag' policies
Independent, UK - 6 hours agoBy John Lichfield in Paris. The struggling presidential campaign of Ségolène Royal drifted further into confusion and internal party bickering yesterday. ...

A Right Royal Farce
Times Online, UK - 6 hours agoThis year’s French presidential election is the most important since François Mitterrand swept into the Elysée Palace in 1981. ...

New blow for Royal as top adviser quits
MSNBC - 9 hours ago By Martin Arnold and John Thornhill in Paris. Ségolène Royal suffered another setback in her campaign to become France's first woman president on Thursday ...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Gov. Ted Strickland a bigot or Ohioans all bigots?

Iraq: If you look at this statement the implication is horrific.

"COLUMBUS - Gov. Ted Strickland on Wednesday had a message for President Bush: any plan to relocate thousands of refugees uprooted by the Iraq war to the U.S. shouldn't include Ohio.

The Bush administration plans to allow about 7,000 Iraqi refugees to settle in the United States over the next year, a huge expansion at a time of mounting international pressure to help millions who have fled their homes in the nearly four-year-old war.

The United States has allowed only 463 Iraq refugees into the country since the war began in 2003, even though some 3.8 million have been uprooted.

Strickland, a Democrat who opposed the war as a U.S. House member, said Ohioans cannot be expected to have open arms for Iraqis displaced by the war. More than 100 Ohioans have been killed since the war began.

"I think Ohio and Ohioans have contributed a lot to Iraq in terms of blood, sweat and too many tears," Strickland said. "I am sympathetic to the plight of the innocent Iraqi people who have fled that country. However, I would not want to ask Ohioans to accept a greater burden than they already have borne for the Bush administration's failed policies."

Did Ohio turn into George Wallace's Alabama without anyone noticing? What is Strickland going to do if some Iraqis are sent to Ohio? Stand in front of their new home screaming "No Iraqi refugees now, No Iraqi refugees tomorrow, No Iraqi refugees forever,"

Scary thing is I haven't seen anyone nail him for it in the Ohio papers. The other implication is Strickland thinks Ohioans are so bigoted they will attack any Iraqi on sight. I thought Democrats were supposed to be the humanitarians?

Military analyst quits over William Arkin and NBC's behavior.

Politics: Bill O'Reilly gloating in 3...2... Keith Olbermann gets a mention as Allard goes thru a list of stuff that is bothering him about NBC.

"...It is, therefore, possible to argue that NBC is merely undergoing a delicate arabesque in anticipation of changing audience preferences and the long- hoped-for Democratic restoration (although journalists generally seem reluctant to raise the tough questions that should punctuate the 2008 campaign).

But has anyone else noticed the network's precipitous retreat from journalistic and ethical standards? Not only were no apologies given and no pink slips issued for Arkin's outburst, but on his MSNBC show last week, Keith Olberman went out of his way to defend this "valid criticism" of our military.

In January, Conan O'Brien was allowed to escape without apology after airing a particularly tasteless gay skit deriding Christianity: "Oh, Jesus, I love you, but only as a friend." (Just try doing that sometime using Mohammad's name!)

And only this week, questions have been raised about the cozy relationships between CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo and the companies she covers as a supposedly objective journalist. The response by Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE and godfather of the NBC family: "Substantially, I don't think she did anything wrong."

Fine: Let's hope he's right. But sometimes the only way to show where you really stand is to vote with your feet. And so with great reluctance and best wishes to my former colleagues, with this column I am severing my 10-year relationship with NBC News. "

Norway seeing Russia as a military threat.

Europe: No invasion anytime soon, but target practice seems a possibility.

"....Newspaper Aftenposten has gone through a series of recent speeches and reports written by Norwegian defense officials, and documented use of descriptions of Russia that reflect the recent tensions.

The most revealing was a fresh report from the defense institute FFI (Forsvarets forsvarsinstitutt) that analyzed threats against Norway. In the report, which sets the premises for the Defense Ministry from 2009 to 2012, Russia is identified as a "military threat." There's no fear of invasion, but rather a "limited, military action."

The report notes that the institute may be criticized for its classification of Russia, but even Defense Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen has altered her word usage of late. She has stressed that Russia isn't likely to exert power, but notes that its military build-up can't be overlooked.

"We must be aware that developments can take another direction than we want and expect," Strøm-Erichsen said in a recent speech before the defense group Oslo Militære Samfund.

'Demand for attention'
Espen Barth Eide, state secretary attached to the Defense Ministry, says Russia has consciously positioned itself as an "international player with a demand for attention and influence." Oil income and foreign currency reserves have helped give the country new economic clout that it lacked when the Soviet Union fell apart."

John Murtha, best friend of America's enemies.

Politics: You would think with the poll numbers, Murtha and friends would just outright kill the war funding but nope, party comes first so lets bleed the war effort on all fronts and national security dry.

Coming Tomorrow!!


Join Us!

Join us tomorrow at 11:00 AM EST when Congressman Jack Murtha will outline new details of a strategy to use his Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense to oppose the Bush war in Iraq. Congressman Jim Moran, another Committee member, predicts the Committee action will be the “bite” that follows this week’s Congressional “bark” – the three-day debate on a non-binding Congressional resolution.

The Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense has begun consideration of the president’s $93 billion supplemental appropriations request for Iraq. Action on the request will be the first opportunity for the new Congress to exercise its “power-of-the-purse” over the Iraq war.

Chairman Murtha will describe his strategy for not only limiting the deployment of troops to Iraq but undermining other aspects of the president’s foreign and national security policy. Chairman Murtha discusses these steps in a videotaped conversation with former Congressman Tom Andrews (D-ME), the National Director of the Win Without War coalition, sponsor of
Join us here tomorrow for this exclusive interview.

Via Politico.

Top House Democrats, working in concert with anti-war groups, have decided against using congressional power to force a quick end to U.S. involvement in Iraq, and instead will pursue a slow-bleed strategy designed to gradually limit the administration's options.

Led by Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., and supported by several well-funded anti-war groups, the coalition's goal is to limit or sharply reduce the number of U.S. troops available for the Iraq conflict, rather than to openly cut off funding for the war itself.

The legislative strategy will be supplemented by a multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign designed to pressure vulnerable GOP incumbents into breaking with President Bush and forcing the administration to admit that the war is politically unsustainable.

You think the Democrats couldn't shock you, but they keep coming up with ways. But here is the question not being asked at this time. Both these stories have been out since mid afternoon. Anyone see any Republicans livid on television or in any articles about this? How about the White House?

I could say since the GOP and White House know about it, they are planning to fight it when the plan starts, but I refuse to put myself out on a limb like that since I see no evidence of a spine since the mid-terms.

Studio 60 gets lowest rating yet and getting yanked early.

Entertainment: Never a good sign when your show gets yanked a week before it is supposed too.

NBC is pushing up the premiere date for "The Black Donnellys" -- and pulling "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" off the air a week earlier than planned.
"Donnellys," which was set to bow March 5, will now sign on Monday, Feb. 26, at 10 p.m. Move gives "Donnellys" an extra week on the air with a firstrun "Heroes" lead-in.

"Heroes" is set to go into repeats after its March 5 episode.

Premiere date change was announced Tuesday afternoon, hours after Nielsen confirmed that "Studio 60" -- the current occupant of the post-"Heroes" timeslot -- dropped to its lowest ratings yet. NBC hasn't yet said when it plans to bring back "Studio 60" for its final run of season one segs.

Decision to yank "Studio 60" a week early will no doubt raise a new round of questions about the show's long-term fate. Insiders said the net still hasn't decided what to do with the show and that the sked change is mostly about giving "Donnellys" the best possible launch.

Keith Ellison shows his petty side.

Politics: Above all the stuff about him being Muslim, the guy comes off as a do as I demand arrogant twit.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) believes it is his right as a Muslim to be sworn into Congress with the Quran. But apparently, the freshman lawmaker doesn’t believe it’s Rep. Tom Tancredo’s (R-Colo.) right to smoke a cigar in his congressional office.

Ellison’s office called the Capitol Hill Police on Tancredo last Wednesday night as Tancredo was in his office smoking a cigar. The lawmakers have neighboring offices on the first floor of the Longworth House Office Building.

Tancredo was still stunned a day later. “It’s very bizarre,” said Tancredo, who has never met Ellison. “Seemed to me not a good way to say hello.”

And let’s face it. Calling the cops on a colleague takes the cake for the nerviest behavior so far among members of this year’s freshman class of Congress.

Tancredo wasn't amused.

Tancredo said he would not stop smoking in his office. “Heck, no!” he said. “If he [Ellison] would have [had] the courtesy to say something I’m sure I would have been more accommodating to his wishes.”

To help keep his office free of impurities, Tancredo has three air purifiers. And he has no plans to meet Ellison anytime soon. “I’m sure we will, but I’m not going to make a point [of it],” the presidential hopeful said, adding that he supported Ellison’s right to be sworn in with the Quran.

Ellison’s press secretary, Rick Jauert, made the call to the Superintendent’s office when he noticed the smoke. “I called because the smoke was coming through the walls,” Jauert said, adding that the Superintendent’s office referred him to the Capitol Police.

Jauert said he then informed his boss what he had done. He said “fine,” Jauert said. “He’s complained of the smoke before.”

What kind of shoddy walls do they have in the congress offices that one guy smoking a cigar can go thru it? According to Ellison's personal press office the Minny Star Tribune, Ellison did get around to talking to Tancredo's chief of staff.

Espinosa said Tancredo smokes in his office about once every other week, usually in the evening because smoking in the Speaker's lobby near the chamber is banned.

Espinosa said Ellison later talked to Tancredo's chief of staff about how the smoke was distracting.

This is the first time something like this has happened in Tancredo's eight years on the Hill, Espinosa said.

"We found it kind of humorous," he said.

He also said the complaint would have been a nonissue had it been delivered to Tancredo's office rather than the police.

"It was definitely a bit of an overreaction on their part," he said.

Considering Tancredo can smoke in his office, the freshman congressman can just move his stuff to another office if he is too sensitive about it.

Once again, wild animals are wild animals.

World: Even if they are in a zoo.

BRUSSELS, Belgium — An animal lover was mauled to death by cheetahs after entering their cage at a zoo in northern Belgium, authorities and zoo officials said Monday.

Karen Aerts, 37, of Antwerp, was found dead in the cage, Olmense Zoo spokesman Jan Libot said. Police said they ruled out any foul play.

Authorities believe Aerts, a regular visitor to the zoo, hid in the park late Sunday until it closed and managed to find the keys to the cheetah cage.

"Karen loved animals. Unfortunately the cheetahs betrayed her trust," Libot said.

One of the cats that killed Aerts was named Bongo, whom the woman had adopted under a special program. She paid for Bongo's food, Libot said.

Animal rights group GAIA called for the immediate closure of the zoo, located 55 miles northeast of Brussels, saying it was unsafe for both visitors and the cats.

Rudy Demotte, the Belgian minister responsible for animal welfare, sent a team to investigate.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Joe Rogan confronting Carlos Mencia on stage.

Entertainment: Mencia has been accused for years of just stealing everyone elses material. Joe decides to confront him and it is hysterical. NSFW language so watch the speakers.


Rogan got suspended from the comedy club.

NYTIMES' s Tom Joyner profile has one glaring mistake.

Culture: I will give Joyner his due in helping out the black community, black colleges and other areas, but this profile by FELICIA R. LEE in the New York Times had this double take paragraph.

Unlike Mr. Stern or Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Joyner does not aspire to shock his audience or to hammer home a partisan position. In Mr. Joyner’s town square on the radio five mornings a week (with a recap on Saturdays offering highlights of the week’s shows), the conversation ranges from speculation about the White House to jokes about Whitney Houston. His guest list in the last year has included former President Bill Clinton; the actors Will Smith and Jamie Foxx; Senator Barack Obama of Illinois; the singers Lionel Richie and Aretha Franklin; the comedian Bill Cosby; the scholars Cornel West and Henry Louis Gates Jr.; Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker; and Bishop T. D. Jakes, the televangelist.

Tom Joyner and his crew including Tavis Smiley and Al Sharpton who come on different days absolutely hammer home a partisan position of being big government liberalism. The take of the only good black person or good negro as Smiley likes to say is one who is on the left and pushes policies and ideas designed not to help lift up black community as much as coddle them. Al Sharpton brings a good example today the kind of attitude that flow thru the show in regards to politics on that show.

“I think the identity politics should not be based on race,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, a 2004 presidential candidate.

“It should be based on agenda and policy — who stands for our best interests. We cannot put our people’s aspirations on hold for anybody’s career, black or white.”…
Without naming Obama, Sharpton added that “just because you’re our color doesn’t make you our kind.” He pointed to President Bush’s secretaries of state, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, as examples of African-Americans who he said haven’t necessarily worked in the interest of the African-American community.

Lets not forget his voter drive on the show and the shots taken at Michael Steele because he had the gall to have a (R) in front of his name. Amazingly, Lee puts this in later in the article

Unlike more strident pundits, Mr. Joyner does not tell listeners what to think. But what Mr. Joyner calls his “air advocacy” is on display, especially when he joins with Tavis Smiley, the media personality and editor of the best-selling book “The Covenant With Black America,” who offers twice-weekly commentary on Mr. Joyner’s show. Over the years, the two have led a number of campaigns. They pressured the owner of some slave artifacts to donate them to a museum instead of putting them up for bid at Christie’s auction house. They pushed for the Congressional Gold Medal for Rosa Parks , which she received in 1999.

The writer hits on the fact he does carry a partisan position and veers off to make it look rather tame and justified. The rest of the piece is fine, but this one point just annoyed me.

ETA terrorist sentence reduced from 12 to 3 years.

Spain: As the heat turns up on Zappo as he is getting played like a violin by a guy strapped in a hospital bed.

".....Iñaki de Juana Chaos, who has not eaten for 100 days, had given warning in an interview with The Times that he would not halt his hunger strike for anything short of unconditional freedom. But most people thought the convicted Eta leader would give up after the Supreme Court yesterday slashed his latest sentence for “glorifying terrorism”. Because he has already served two years on remand, De Juana would go free in a year — or less if the Government grants him certain benefits.

De Juana’s decision to continue piles renewed pressure on José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister, who will now have to decide whether to free De Juana or accept his death. De Juana is being force-fed after losing about 28kg (62lb). Doctors say that he could die within weeks.

De Juana’s lawyer told the television channel ETB today that he planned to file for an injunction with Spain’s Constitutional Court, which could theoretically block the Supreme Court’s latest sentence. Alternatively, the Government could grant De Juana “conditional freedom” because he has already served two thirds of his revised sentence, and because of his precarious state of health.

But the Government would face an outcry from groups representing Eta’s 800 victims, many of whom already despise Mr Zapatero for having held peace talks with Eta during its ceasefire last year. The powerful Association of Victims of Terrorism has called a mass demonstration on February 24 to protest against the reduced sentence, which it blames on Mr Zapatero.

Mariano Rajoy, the leader of the opposition Popular Party, said De Juana should not qualify for any benefits “because he has not shown any remorse, nor apologised” for his crimes.

De Juana was originally sentenced to 3,000 years in jail for his part in the killings of 25 soldiers and policemen in a string of attacks during the 1980s. In accordance with Spanish sentencing rules, however, he was due to be released two years ago after serving 18 years in prison."

3000 years for killing 25 people to just 18 year. What a justice system.

Enviros knock Kenyan flower trade on V-day.

Africa: African nation trying to build an industry and they get knocked around by busy body enviro nuts more concerned about lake conditions in the future than the here and now.

The British and Kenyan governments weighed into the growing debate over "food miles" yesterday, insisting it was ethically and environmentally sound to buy flowers from Kenya on Valentine's Day.

There is increasing concern at the amount of carbon emitted by the fleets of aircraft that carry millions of flowers to Europe every day from the impoverished east African nation. People in Britain will buy 10,000 tonnes of roses today.

Joseph Muchemi, the Kenyan high commissioner to Britain, said: "'Food miles' is a valuable concept but it must be looked at in the whole. It is neither fair nor sustainable to stigmatise certain goods purely on the basis that they have been freighted by air. 'Food miles', or the distance food has travelled, is on its own not a reliable indicator of the environmental impact of food transport."

Hilary Benn, the international development secretary, said that while people wanted to buy ethically and do their bit for climate change, they often did not realise that they could support developing countries and reduce carbon emissions.

"Recent research shows that flowers flown from Africa can use less energy overall than those produced in Europe because they're not grown in heated greenhouses.

"So, this Valentine's day, you can be a romantic, reduce your environmental impact and help make poverty history. This is about social justice and making it easier, not harder, for African people to make a decent living."

Mr Muchemi said Kenya provided 31% of Europe's cut flowers, directly employing 500,000 people and another million through auxiliary services.

Air-freighted fresh flowers, fruit and vegetables from the whole of sub-Saharan Africa accounted for less than 0.1% of total UK carbon emissions, he said. Moreover, while the average Briton emits 9.3 tonnes of carbon a year, the average Kenyan is responsible for 0.2 tonnes.

"European nations must look to reduce their emissions first before penalising African producers. A boycott of Kenyan roses or green beans would be disastrous for many Kenyan farmers, especially smallholders, and would do little to mitigate climate change."

The climate changers are not concerned about facts and how it could hurt Kenya, its all about the enviroment.

Mr Muchemi said he was concerned that plans by European retailers to introduce labels on their products more clearly identifying their origin could hit Kenyan farmers. "We can't have a situation in which poor farmers in Africa pay the price for European carbon emissions. It's simply not fair to penalise African farmers."

Environmentalists, though, are concerned about the ecological impact that flower growing is having in Kenya.

As we report in Society Guardian today, the thousands of workers who have flocked to the shores of Lake Naivasha to work in the flower-growing areas are placing enormous strain on the local ecology, such that the lake could soon be polluted beyond use and have all but dried up in the next 10 to 15 years.

David Harper, a University of Leicester ecologist, says the flower trade is devastating the area. "The lake is being destroyed at an alarming rate by the sheer pressure of people on it." He does not advocate boycotting Kenyan flowers but wants to see a "Fair Trade" system and "Fair Planet" label to highlight the problem. Its profits would be used to improve the lake's environment, he says.

Very imperialist to show those dumb Africans how to care for their land. I would like to think that the Kenya government and businesses are smart enough to reinvest and manage resources on their own without outside interference. How stupid would they be not to make sure their growing economy/industry has resources to use in the future?

BTW, This food miles gimmick seems short-sighted and geared towards protecting European industries.

Food miles

The idea of food miles is an extension of the argument that the further things are transported to Britain from other countries, the higher will be the amount of carbon dioxide emitted.

The study mentioned by Hilary Benn yesterday, though, shows that the arguments can become complex if, in the case of fresh flowers, they are also produced in Europe but in heated greenhouses, which emit CO2 in far greater quantities than aircraft that bring flowers from Kenya.

You needed a study to figure that out? It seems that it would make common sense.

Aussie opposition loves their Hugo Chavez.

Australia: This new concern Rudd and his party has for the US alliance, why would members of his own party ask for Chavez to come to Australia to admire him from a close distance?

Labor's national president and a lineup of Greens politicians are behind a push to bring the world's most outspoken socialist leader and virulent US critic to Australia.

In parliament on Tuesday, Treasurer Peter Costello produced a copy of an online invitation which calls on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to visit Australia.

The invitation, from a group called the Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network, lists ALP national president Warren Mundine and Labor senator Gavin Marshall among its signatories.

"We have watched developments in Venezuela with great interest. We have been impressed by the great effort that your government has taken to improve the living standards of the majority of Venezuelans," the invitation states.

"Although we are on the opposite side of the globe, we feel that our shared ideals of social justice and democracy bring us close together ... what Venezuela has been able to achieve in so little time will be a source of inspiration and ideas for many in Australia."

I wonder what are the ideas?

Price control and government control over food distribution and private business?

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - President Hugo Chavez's government has drafted a decree allowing officials to take control of food distribution chains, including supermarkets and storage depots, if services are interrupted, officials said Sunday.

Industry and Commerce Minister Maria Cristina Iglesias said the decree would help curb supply problems that have caused severe shortages of meats, milk and sugar in recent weeks.

Industry officials blame the shortages on price controls that oblige retailers to sell at a loss, while the government says the fault lies with unscrupulous speculators, including supermarket owners and distributors, who hoard food or boost prices.

Maybe its the taking over of oil businesses or shutting down radio and television stations that don't tout the Chavez line?

As Chavez accelerates his country's shift toward "21st-century socialism," a decision not to renew RCTV's broadcast license is among the government's more dramatic steps, and one that has caused serious concern among free-press advocates. While Venezuelan officials have accused the 54-year-old station of having collaborated with organizers of a 2002 coup against Chavez, the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York, the Organization of American States and the Catholic Church have warned that press freedoms in Venezuela are in danger.

The case has attracted widespread attention from officials in Washington and Latin America, for whom the non-renewal of a license has echoes of right-wing dictatorships of the past, when newspapers and broadcasters were closed if they veered from the party line. Though self-censorship and slayings of journalists remain common, particularly in Colombia and Mexico, the closing of a media outlet for political reasons has not occurred in years.

Costello points out it could be the high inflation.

Mr Costello said Venezuela's inflation rate of 18 per cent was among the highest in the world, and yet the invitation praised what Mr Chavez had done for the country's living standards.

He called on Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd to discipline Labor's signatories to the letter.

"I would have thought that the leader of the opposition, who is so concerned about the US alliance, wouldn't have his own senators inviting to this country a man who called the US president a genocidal killer and who went to the UN General Assembly and called the President of the United States the devil," Mr Costello said.

"Now that we're all into the business of protecting the alliance ... we will be looking forward to the leader of the opposition disciplining Warren Mundine, disciplining his own senator Gavin Marshall, and explaining to us what the president of Venezuela could advise us on how to improve Brutopia here in Australia."

Wait, maybe they admire Chavez for his Israel bashing and Hamas/Hezbollah loving and his friendship with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which has caused a rise in anti-Semitism in Venezuela. There always seems to be this commonality between Islamists and the anti-war crowd everywhere in the world.

But with this renewed opposition love for America and the "Alliance." I am sure Mr. Rudd will quickly assure people that Hugo Chavez is not welcomed to Australia to be praised.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Dixie Chicks winning 5 grammy

Entertainment: The rush to push them as being defiant comeback winners after being awarded by a left-leaning music industry as some sort of freedom of speech victory shows how out of touch entertainers are in the country. I have yet to see any evidence that the Dixie Chicks were banned from making a living or banished to another dimension.

Freedom of speech involved those who agree and disagree, if you want to say something fine. But don't whine and cry when people not only disagree but make the choice to shun you. That part is called freedom of choice.

As Ice-T once said you have Freedom of Speech, but watch what you say. It doesn't mean there can't be consequences(in this case financial) if you are not intelligent enough to put words in the right context. Entertainers from movie stars to musicians have this idiotic notion that you can say whatever and everyone else should listen and agree with everything you say without consequence. It doesn't work like that so deal with it.

Alright Kevin Rudd, you put up or shut up.

Australia: As he whines about Anti-war protestors are being lumped in with Al-Qaeda for having the same goals.

OPPOSITION leader Kevin Rudd claims the Federal Government has compared Australians with terrorists if they don't support the Iraq war.

Mr Rudd has accused Defence Minister Brendan Nelson of the comparison, after comments made in an interview last night about anti-war protestors.

Dr Nelson agreed there was a "coincidence of interests" between anti-war protestors and Al Qaida.

"People who are arguing that we withdraw from Iraq, to abandon the Iraqi people, to ignore the requests of the democratically elected Iraqi Government - those who argue that we should do that before the Iraqi security forces are in a position to essentially look after their own security, we will by definition hand victory to those al Qaeda and other terrorist networks who see it as important," Dr Nelson said on ABC TV's Lateline.

Mr Rudd said the claim amounted to directly comparing many Australians to terrorists.

"Dr Nelson, on behalf of Mr Howard, told the Australian people last night than anybody who wants to see our troops brought home has the same interests as Al Qaida.

"To accuse any Australian who holds those views, as having the same views as terrorists."

"That is an extraordinary assault on the nature of Australia's democracy," Mr Rudd said on Southern Cross radio today.

I would like to hear Mr. Rudd's plan to winning in Iraq and the war on terror. So far, all I can find is Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups want everyone to leave and you are in favor of just yanking troops out ala Zappo of Spain. So enlighten everyone on your plan to win in Iraq and against terrorism in general.

Australia's The Age paper takes "US bloggers" reaction.

Australia: In regards to John Howard's remark on Obama and Iraq. According to Renee Switzer, US bloggers consists only the far left Daily Kos and its posters. Next time, do a little more blog hunting Renee.

Raid on illegals ruins Cactus, Texas.

Immigration: Couple of months ago Cactus, Texas came into the immigration picture with a truly obnoxious article in the Dallas News gloating about the semi-fiefdom that was created there. Then the feds came to raid the Swift plant and now the town is going to ruin. I cry. The police chief who has been outspoken about the amount of illegals in the town got fired.

On this particular weekend, the streets of Cactus are empty, save for the occasional pedestrian walking to the local Laundromat.

"This looks like a ghost town," said Elvia Vásquez, the town's midwife, who has lived here more than 30 years. "There are more dogs and cats than people."

Apartments once occupied by entire families are up for rent.

"I don't even worry about renting the apartments, because it's just too hard," said Albertina Corral, the owner of an apartment quad in the area. "I was renting them to a group of Guatemalans, and most of them have gone. The raids affected everything."

Former Police Chief Tim Turley, who was outspoken about the problems brought on by an illegal immigrant population, was fired the day after the raid. He says he's disappointed that people seem to overlook the fact that hundreds were victimized by identity theft.

"Honestly, I don't see that it hurt the town," he said. He is annoyed by the refrain of: "Oh, the poor people. They're just trying to make a living and take care of their families."

The individuals working at Swift were working "under an assumed identity, using somebody's Social Security number," he said. "For every one of those individuals who was taken away, there is a corresponding person, the victim of identity theft."

2 year old white non-Muslim girl kept from UK pool.

UK: I say it again, this is unnecessary foolishness by a local government. You can't have a public pool paid with taxpayers money and then bar people from it based on race/religion. This is ridiculous and needs to stop.

When Lee Williams saw a parent-and-toddler session advertised at his local pool, he thought it was the perfect chance to teach his young daughter to swim.

Arriving at the leisure centre already in her swimming costume, two-year-old Darby was desperate to get into the water.

But she was left in tears when staff said they were not allowed in the pool because the session was for Muslim women and their children only.

Mr Williams, 34, bitterly criticised Manchester City Council yesterday after it admitted that advertising for the session, on its website and on leaflets, had been misleading. 'I can understand why Muslim women need to have this kind of session, but the council should not be advertising it as parent and toddler,' he said.

'They made out I'd got it wrong, but I had checked on the council's website for the times.'

So when is the Christian only pool sessions?

If you want to be a terrorist, go to Germany.

Germany: The kind of jail terms they give out to terrorists of all stripes are pretty easy compared to a normal rational thinking judicial system.

A former member of the Baader-Meinhof gang is to be freed on probation after serving 24 years for her involvement in kidnappings and murders in the 1970s.
A German court ruled that Brigitte Mohnhaupt, 57, qualifies for early release after serving a minimum proportion of her five life sentences.

The group, also known as the Red Army Faction, were behind kidnaps and killings in West Germany.

The prospect of Mohnhaupt's release has sparked a fierce debate in Germany.

Mohnhaupt was convicted of involvement in nine murders. Victims included a judge, a banker and the employers' federation president.

....Speaking before the court ruling, Mr Schleyer's son Joerg said members of the group had expressed no remorse for the killing.

"I can't understand that we would take [let] them out because within the last 30 years there's nothing they said - 'OK we're sorry we murdered your father, sorry for that, we murdered policemen, sorry for that.' Absolutely no word."

The court in Stuttgart said Mohnhaupt would be released on five years probation on 27 March.

"This is not a pardon, rather a decision that is based on specific legal considerations," the court said in a statement, Reuters news agency reported.

"The decision for probation was reached based on the determination that no security risk exists."

This is the group that Margaret Cho named her dog after one of its leaders. Leftists like her consider this "Chic Terrorism."

Zimbabwe a running joke.

Africa: Just try to square the headlines.

Zimbabwe inflation nears 1,600%

Zimbabweans asked to help pay for their leader's birthday bash

Monday, February 12, 2007

Obama with the Soldiers death, wasted lives speech.

Politics: Cited on Hot Air and Michelle Malkin.

If anyone is surprised by this and his seeming turn to the left/nutroots crowd, you shouldn't be for two reasons. The first is with primaries coming up and him way back in second to Hillary, he needs to appeal to the far left. Second, he was never a centrist/moderate/uniter/second coming the press has made him out to be. Back in 2003 he showed his true colors and then masked it for his senate run. He was called out on it by Bruce A. Dixon of the Black Commentator as being an opportunist.

Update# Obama apologises for saying their lives were wasted.

Obama Restructures a Remark on Deaths

DURHAM, N.H., Feb. 12 — Senator Barack Obama of Illinois said Monday that he had misspoken when he suggested that the lives of more than 3,000 American soldiers killed in Iraq had been “wasted.”

As he arrived in New Hampshire, Mr. Obama said he would “absolutely apologize” to military families if they were offended by a remark he made in Iowa while criticizing the Bush administration’s Iraq policy.

“What I would say — and meant to say — is that their service hasn’t been honored,” Mr. Obama told reporters in Nashua, N.H., “because our civilian strategy has not honored their courage and bravery, and we have put them in a situation in which it is hard for them to succeed.”

A New Hampshire reporter asked Mr. Obama whether he regretted the remark, made at a rally on Sunday that “we ended up launching a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged, and to which we now have spent $400 billion and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted.”

“Even as I said it,” Mr. Obama said Monday, “I realized I had misspoken.”

I love the the Times take that he "restructed" his remark. So quait and full of it, my take on his anti-war speech 4 years ago when he said this.

""I don't oppose all wars ... What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne."

is the same vibe I got from his speech in Iowa. He meant what he said the first time and of course will get a pass from the media.

Obama dislikes the mainstream media.

Politics: The hell?

Barack Obama used his first news conference after announcing his run for president to accuse the media of ignoring his substantive record and falsely depicting him as a lightweight.

"The problem's not that the info's not out there," he said of his record on policy issues. "The problem is that that's not what you guys have been reporting on. You've been reporting on how I look in a swimsuit."

Obama's peevish comment reflected an ambivalent relationship with the national media, rooted in his transformation from an obscure Chicago politician into a bona fide celebrity over just 2 1/2 years. Obama has been the subject of almost entirely favorable coverage from the national media, and his aides acknowledge that he's parlayed that new profile into his presidential campaign. But Obama also espouses a new brand of politics aimed at transcending the celebrity obsessions and superficiality promoted by modern 24-hour news cycles.

The info is not out there? AP wrote about his liberal record that was widely distributed.

AP: Obama's Past Offers Ammo for Critics.

Lee News: Barack Obama has built a solid liberal record

As for his noise about the press, what he has done in his short time at the Senate is piggyback on other people's ideas or existing programs.

Obama has served in the United States Senate for two years. Combined with his eight years in the Illinois State Senate, he has spent more time in elective office than his leading democratic rivals. In his short time in Washington, he hasn't sponsored any legislation that would affect the way Americans live their daily lives – but few first-term senators, and few of his rivals for the presidency, can claim
otherwise. In the Illinois legislature, he spent most of his time in the minority, but played a role in crafting legislation on the death penalty and on ethics.

Now, he is at pains to buff his record in the U.S. Senate. He dwelled in his announcement speech on his accomplishments in Washington – notably work on securing Russian nuclear material and tightening congressional ethics.

The nuke issue is a continution of an existing bill started by Senator Lugar.

May 2006 – Lugar’s newest program, the Lugar-Obama Act, heads to the Senate floor. The act is “modeled after the Nunn-Lugar program that focuses on weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union,” and was created with the cooperation of Senator Barack Obama. The Lugar-Obama Act will “expand the cooperative threat reduction concept to conventional weapons,” and also grant the State Department more “ability to detect and interdict weapons and materials of mass destruction.” – Congressional Press Releases

It passed the Senate later that month, it looks nice on a resume but in reality, nothing changes.

Back to his complaining about the press, they are not too happy about it and shocked their creation would turn on them.

The cliché that "you don't pick fights with people who buy ink by the barrel" has been losing much of its relevance at least since Bill Clinton's presidency. President Bush and his aides prospered politically, at least for a time, by attacking what they called the biased "filter" of the Washington- and New York-based newspapers and television networks. Political figures on the left and the right, and their Internet allies, now compete in their disdain for the "MSM."

Still, Obama's pointed riff was unexpected by many in the press. Newsweek's senior White House correspondent, Richard Wolffe, said he took it as both personal and strategic.

"The key term he used is 'mainstream media' – it's that we're the establishment and that he's siding with the people," Wolffe said. But, he added, "I was surprised by the edge."

The MSM has been attached to his hip for so long that they should have been classified as a new part of the human anatomy. It looks like the beginning of a riff if Obama thinks he can sidestep the MSM and make himself one of the people.

China's one child policy comes back to haunt them.

China: A wifeless future for chinese men, though the women are going to get the cream of the crop.

Mbeki finally realizes South Africa has a crime problem.

Africa: I know this has nothing to do with the World Cup coming to South Africa in 2010 that all of a sudden this massive surge of interest in getting the crime rate down.

The government often suggests that only white people are worried about crime.

"They should get out if they don't like it," one minister said recently.

Our experience showed that black people are just as frightened by it.

Every day, more than 300 murders and violent attacks take place in South Africa. Together with Iraq and Colombia, it is one of the three most dangerous countries on earth.

But there are two important points to make.

First, this is not a question of black versus white. Far more black people than white people are affected by crime, though the white population is certainly suffering heavily.

The high growth in the country despite the crimes is taken as a breakdown of society's values.

Professor Barney Pityana, the head of one of South Africa's largest universities, UNISA, agrees.

"There has been a breakdown of societal values in South Africa," he says.

"It is not enough to blame the legacy of apartheid. This is something we each have to take responsibility for as individuals."

In Soweto, we spoke to a successful entrepreneur whom everyone knows simply as Tebogo. He explained what he did to lessen crime.

"We only hire people whose backgrounds we know and can trust. We never buy stolen goods, even though they are cheaper. And we report every crime we come across," he says.

It does not help when senior figures close to the government seem protected against the law. Jackie Selebi, the police chief, is still in his job even though he has been shown to have friends in the mafia.

The ANC chief whip, Tony Yengeni, sentenced to prison for four years for corruption, spent four months in a comfortable open prison, and was then released.

Professor Pityana says pointedly that there must be change right at the top.

No wonder Obama thinks he is a foreign policy expert

Politics: But you are supposed to stay at a Holiday Inn, not stop by it.

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Venezuela draft laws to take over supermarkets.

World: As it is better known as the Robert Mugabe law.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - President Hugo Chavez's government has drafted a decree allowing officials to take control of food distribution chains, including supermarkets and storage depots, if services are interrupted, officials said Sunday.

Industry and Commerce Minister Maria Cristina Iglesias said the decree would help curb supply problems that have caused severe shortages of meats, milk and sugar in recent weeks.

Industry officials blame the shortages on price controls that oblige retailers to sell at a loss, while the government says the fault lies with unscrupulous speculators, including supermarket owners and distributors, who hoard food or boost prices.

Ségolène Royal unveils her hard left manifesto

EU: I have no problem with it, if it passes France will be an even heavier anchor strapped around the waist of Europe. China and India will be happy.

Ségolène Royal sought to revive her flagging campaign for the French presidency yesterday by re-embracing her Socialist Party and casting herself as a modernising champion of the State and the suffering lower paid.

As a Paris crowd of 15,000 chanted “Ségolène, Président,” Ms Royal, 53, promised higher wages and pensions, a stronger welfare state and more protection against foreign competition as she set out her manifesto for the April election.

“I can offer you something more than a manifesto — a pact of honour, a presidential pact that I propose to everyone, the most vulnerable and the strong, those who have been our supporters all along and those who have not, because France needs all its people,” Ms Royal said.

She pitched her two-hour speech with gravity, adopting a statesman’s tone new to her. In the past month the excitement that once surrounded her has faded since Nicolas Sarkozy, the centre-right candidate, seized the spotlight with a more dynamic campaign and Ms Royal exposed the depth of her ignorance of foreign-policy issues.

Royal meet Obama, Obama; Royal.

Update# Look even leftists can't be this stupid to think this is good for France.

A substantial part of her speech was dedicated to social and economic issues, on which Royal took a hard-left line.

"The unfettered rein of financial profit is intolerable for the general interest," she said. "You told me simple truths. You told me you wanted fewer income inequalities. You told me you wanted to tax capital more than labor. We will do that reform."

Royal said she would tax companies in relation to what share of their profits is reinvested in equipment and jobs, and what portion is paid to shareholders. She also promised to abolish a flexible work contract for small companies and hold a national conference in June on how to increase salaries.

Indeed, she seemed to have something to offer to most groups in society without saying how much the combined measures would cost: Under her presidency, she said, young women would get free contraception, all young people would get access to a €10,000 interest- free loan and the handicapped would see their benefits rise.

Royal meet Hillary, Hillary; Royal. The whole take away for the common good thing should make you great friends. It would pay to be the leech in France than the actual producer of goods.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Barack Obama's idiotic answer to PM John Howard.

Politics: Nine times out of ten I would put up the mantra politicians from outside the country keep out of our politics. But considering the importance of Islamic terrorism and Obama's foolish push to yank everyone out of Iraq without any concern to the how much harm it will cause America and the West. I make the exception.

US presidential candidate Barack Obama has told Prime Minister John Howard to put up or shut up.

Mr Obama, speaking at a packed press conference in Iowa today, said if MrHoward was concerned about the situation in Iraq he should send 20,000 Australian troops to the strife-torn nation.

The Illinois senator added that if Mr Howard did not send the troops, then the prime minister's attack on the Democrat presidential hopeful's Iraq policy was "empty rhetoric''.

"I would also note that we have close to 140,000 troops on the ground now and my understanding is that Mr Howard has deployed 1400,''Mr Obama, who next year could become the first African American to be elected US president, said.

"So, if he's ginned up to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them up to Iraq.

"Otherwise, it's just a bunch of empty rhetoric.''

If he is "ginned up?" Australia has been one of the finest allies America has and contributed to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan despite overwhelming public disapproval to the point it was though John Howard would lose over it the last election. This childish taunt of just throw 20000 troops shows the lack of Obama's foreign policy expertise( he did live overseas you know) and lack of understanding about the consequences of his talk. This is a slap in the face of the troops and help we already have from them.

The glaring point that Obama is missing is that Australia has a huge stake for success in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the war on terror. Australia had 88 of it citizens killed in the Bali bombings, it has Islamic terrorism right in that part of the world. If he can't figure that out he is not ready for prime time.

Leftist opposition rally around Obama, Australian leftists.

OPPOSITION Leader Kevin Rudd today moved a censure motion against Prime Minister John Howard over his attack on US presidential hopeful Barack Obama.
Mr Rudd said Mr Howard should be censured over his comment yesterday that terrorist network al-Qaeda would be hoping for a Democratic candidate to win next year's US presidential election.

Senator Obama has pledged to withdraw US troops from Iraq by March 2008, a timetable Mr Howard believes is dangerous.

Labor's censure motion refers to Mr Howard's “false statement” that his comments were directed only at Senator Obama and criticises Mr Howard for damaging the Australia-US alliance.

It also accuses Mr Howard of “gross insensitivity” for lecturing the United States on Iraq when the war has claimed the lives of more than 3,000 US servicemen and women.

Mr Rudd demanded that Mr Howard withdraw his comments unreservedly.

The problem Obama is going to have he is drawing himself into a fight with a veteran politician who doesn't mince words and will not have Australia be put into a corner.

Apology call

Labor argues Mr Howard has demeaned the alliance between the two countries, and Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd believes the Prime Minister should apologise.

"I think Mr Howard went too far," Mr Rudd told Sky News.

"When we're dealing with something as important as the US alliance, Labor and Liberal leaders need to be very careful about what we say because we'll be dealing with an administration of either political persuasion in a year or so's time."

But Mr Howard says he will continue to criticise policies that work against Australia's interests.

"This is a world where people should be able to express their views," he said.

"I think the Labor Party is wanting to have double standards - it's OK to attack Bush on Iraq because they don't agree with him, but it's not okay for me to attack Senator Obama's position on one aspect of Iraq, because they hold to that view themselves."

Mr Howard has strong support from Liberal backbencher Cameron Thompson, who says the US Senator's plan to withdraw from Iraq is evil.

As if the Labor party gave a damn about America.

Mohammed cartoon makes its debut in the UK.

Culture: As a univeristy in Cambridge buckles under fast from outraged Muslim student groups to be politically correct. The student has gone into hiding for his own safety which doesn't get much of a reaction as the printing of the cartoon.

MUSLIMS in Cambridge have demanded a public apology from a student who printed anti-Islamic material in a magazine.

The material included a cartoon depicting the prophet Mohammed which sparked worldwide outrage last year when it was published in Denmark. It is thought this is the first time the cartoon has appeared in a publication in England.

Asim Mumtaz, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, said: "I'm horrified and shocked. In such a seat of learning, I am horrified that things could stoop to this level.

"I'm actually shocked that intelligent people know how offensive this cartoon is and that they have decided to reprint it in such a horrible manner. It's disgusting."

The cartoon was reprinted in Clare College's student magazine in a special edition on religious satire. The 19-year-old student who printed the cartoon has since gone into hiding and the college has called a rare Court of Discipline to decide how the student should be brought to account.

Mr Mumtaz, a former Cambridge University student himself, is now demanding that everyone involved with the publication of the cartoon should make a public apology.

He said: "I hope the magazine and the JCR apologise for what they have done. We thought we had gone past this and that people realised there is a difference between freedom of speech and outright insult.

Russell Crowe a beaten down shell of a man.

Culture: How depressing that Russell Crowe just buckles like a whimpering puppy. A scared coward!

CANBERRA: Oscar-winning Hollywood actor and phone-thrower Russell Crowe has revealed a new sensitive side, axing scantily-dressed cheerleaders from his Sydney football club.

Crowe, who co-owns one of Australia's oldest rugby league clubs, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, will replace the club cheer girls this season with a drumming band of men and women after his wife Danielle Spencer and other fans complained.

Research, Crowe said, showed fans were uncomfortable going to games with girls on the sidelines dressed in skimpy green, red, white dance costumes.

"It makes women uncomfortable and it makes blokes who take their son to the football also uncomfortable," Crowe told Australian media. "We've talked to a lot of people and everyone sees it as being progressive."

Crowe, a long-term Rabbitohs fan, bought the cash and win-strapped club in 2006 with Peter Holmes a Court, the scion of one of Australia's wealthiest families.

The actor, who in 2005 pleaded guilty to throwing a faulty telephone handset at a hotel concierge, said wife Spencer liked the idea of percussion band.

"She likes the fact that game day entertainment will be multi-sex," he said.

Guys were uncomfortable with their sons, BULL! I refuse to believe that Aussie men have turned into mush. This is Australian rugby, one of the ultimate manly sports in the world. Russell Crowe has finally been broken and now got that leash on his neck locked tight. Pic is at the link, no worse than you would see on an NFL sideline maybe even more conservative compared to say the Philly Eagles squad.

A sad day indeed.