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By Admin (from 22/10/2010 @ 11:00:48, in en - Global Observatory, read 1567 times)

A note from Ric O'Barry:

"I hope you'll join me in this campaign to stop the killing of dolphins in Japan. Most people in Japan don't have any idea that the dolphin slaughter is even happening. If we can spread the word around the world - and especially in Japan - we can expose the secret of Taiji and force the Japanese government to stop it. We can win this issue - but we need your help!

At the Cove in Taiji, the dolphin killing continues. Although the killing of bottlenose dolphins - the primary target species - has dramatically decreased compared to previous seasons, they, along with other dolphin species, including many pilot whales and Risso's dolphins, continue to be captured for aquariums and slaughtered for meat by the Taiji fishermen. The fight for the protection of all marine mammals goes on. For updates on the situation, visit our Blog."

What about the Europe Massacre ???

 

On the day a Federal District Court judge told the would-be Times Square bomber that she hoped he would spend his life sentence thinking about whether “the Koran wants you to kill lots of people,” Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan took the stage at the 92nd Street Y to debate the question, “Is Islam a religion of peace?”

Neither man liked the question.

“This is not the right question to ask,” Ramadan said in his opening remarks. “It doesn’t mean anything.” It didn’t mean anything when George W. Bush called Islam a religion of peace, said the Swiss scholar, barred by the Bush administration from entering the United States on anti-terrorism grounds in 2004.

The right question, he said is “do we have something helping us toward peace?” Ramadan seemed to be saying that Islam served that purpose, though he never said so outright. “The Koran is the word of God,” he said. “The problem is not the book. The problem is the reader.”

In his rebuttal, Hitchens would agree with Ramadan about the perils of reading, but said that the fault did not always lie with the reader. “In reading the Koran,” Hitchens said, “I can’t tell if it’s the word of god, but I can hope it’s a sign of god having a bad day.”

Ramadan argued that religion was “instrumentalized” (he used the word five times) by bad actors who distorted it. With a penchant for becoming emphatic when stating the obvious, Ramadan said, “Islam is a religion for human beings. But we are not peaceful human beings.” The “diversity” within Islam—“Maimonides spoke Arabic better than me,” he said—led to the risk of “lots of wars.” Turning to Hitchens, a former Trotskyist and trade union organizer, Ramadan said, “You see what some did with Marx. Is therefore all Marx bad? No.”

(When he spoke next, Hitchens seemed to pause as he considered how far to take the bait about Marx, and then declined to do so at all.)

“You don’t give the people all the interpretation,” Ramadan told Hitchens. “It’s not serious to say all Muslims are acting in the same way. Don’t tell me you didn’t hear the Muslim condemnation of September 11.”

But Ramadan went on to complain that in fact Muslim appeals for reason do go unheard. Speaking of himself, he said, “When what he’s saying is good, he’s alone. When they don’t like what I say, it’s, `He has a huge following.’“

But he did not think that history should be any guide to reform. “Don’t rely on history,” he said. “With history you prove whatever you want.” He then drew a parallel between Islamist terror as a distortion of Islam and the American campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. “In the name of human rights we kill innocent people,” he said, his soft, French-inflected voice rising as he leaned over the podium. “The blood of an Iraqi or an Afghan is as good as American blood.”

In his rebuttal, Hitchens pointed out that though he didn’t think “the motion was a particularly good one, I knew about it as long as Professor Ramadan did, and I agreed to speak to it. Not to make it a point of self-pity.”

After rebuking Ramadan for his remark about American and Middle Eastern blood, Hitchens asked, “What has the United States done in Iraq that was as criminal as the blowing up of the Golden Mosque in Samarra? Deliberately intending to start a civil war, which it did. Where is the Sunni outrage? Where is the Sunni fatwa against this conduct? I missed it. And so, apparently, did the followers of the prophet.”

TO BE CONTINUED ...

WIE VAN DE DRIE

Barbra  
Barbra | Satin | Aria
 

The U.S. government will "vigorously enforce" federal laws against marijuana even if voters next month make California the first state to legalize pot, Attorney General Eric Holder says.

Holder's warning, contained in a letter to ex-federal drug enforcement chiefs, was his most direct statement yet against Proposition 19, and it sets up another showdown with California over marijuana if the measure passes.

With Prop 19 leading in the polls, the letter also raised questions about the extent to which federal drug agents would go into communities across the state to catch small-time users and dealers, or whether they even had the resources to do it.

If the ballot measure passes, the state would regulate recreational pot use. Adults could possess up to one ounce of the drug and grow small gardens on private property. Local governments would decide whether to allow and tax sales of the drug.

But Holder stressed that the Justice Department remains committed to enforcing the Controlled Substances Act in all states.

"We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law," he wrote.

The letter was dated Wednesday and was obtained by The Associated Press.

Medical marijuana users and experts were skeptical, saying there was little the federal government could do to slow the march to legalization.

"This will be the new industry," said Chris Nelson, 24, who smokes pot to ease recurring back pain and was lined up outside a San Francisco dispensary. "It's taxable new income. So many tourists will flock here like they go to Napa. This will become the new Amsterdam."

Holder also said legalizing recreational marijuana would be a "significant impediment" to the government's joint efforts with state and local law enforcement to target drug traffickers, who often distribute pot alongside cocaine and other drugs.

The attorney general said the ballot measure's passage would "significantly undermine" efforts to keep California cites and towns safe.

Officials in Los Angeles County, where authorities have aggressively moved to tamp down on an explosion of medical marijuana dispensaries, vowed that they would still assist the federal government in drug investigations.

County Sheriff Lee Baca and District Attorney Steve Cooley said at a news conference that the law would be unenforceable because it is trumped by federal laws that prohibit marijuana cultivation and possession.

"We will continue as we are today regardless of whether it passes or doesn't pass," Baca said. His deputies don't and won't go after users in their homes, but public use of the drug will be targeted, he said.

Both gubernatorial candidates - Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman - oppose Prop 19 and declined comment Friday.

The ex-Drug Enforcement Administration chiefs sent a letter to Holder in August calling on the Obama administration to sue California if Prop 19 passes.

If California prevents police from enforcing the stricter federal ban on marijuana, the Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government cannot order local law enforcement to act, he said.

It "is a very tough-sounding statement that the attorney general has issued, but it's more bark than bite," said Robert Mikos, a Vanderbilt University law professor who studies the conflicts between state and federal marijuana laws.

"The same factors that limited the federal government's influence over medical marijuana would probably have an even bigger influence over its impact on recreational marijuana," Mikos said, citing not enough agents to focus on small-time violators.

Federal drug agents have long concentrated on big-time drug traffickers and left street-level dealers and users to local and state law enforcement. As police departments began enforcing California's medical marijuana law, the DEA only sporadically jumped in to bust medical users and sellers that local law enforcement was no longer targeting.

 

Allen Hopper, a drug law reform expert at the American Civil Liberties Union in Northern California, predicted that federal agents would selectively crack down on marijuana growers and merchants instead of going after every Californian who uses pot.

"They don't have the resources to flood the state with DEA agents to be drug cops," he said.

Nearly all arrests for marijuana crimes are made at the state level. Of more than 847,000 marijuana-related arrests nationwide in 2008, for example, just over 6,300 suspects were booked by federal law enforcement, or fewer than 1 percent.

Consequently, the fight over legalization may end up the same way medical marijuana did, experts said.

When Californians approved their first-in-the-nation medical marijuana law in 1996, Clinton administration officials vowed a harsh crackdown. But nearly 15 years later, California's billion-dollar medical marijuana industry is thriving.

During the Bush administration, retail pot dispensaries across the state faced regular raids from federal anti-drug agents. Their owners were sometimes sentenced to decades in prison for drug trafficking. Yet the medical marijuana industry still grew.

Besides California, 13 other states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana in recent years.

At the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Club, where you can buy marijuana-filled carrot cake and lollipops, manager James Kyne said the federal government would just be continuing "an endless cycle" with little positive effect.

Holder "is opening a bigger can of worms," Kyne said.

---

Associated Press writers Pete Yost in Washington, Terry Collins and Lisa Leff in San Francisco, Samantha Young in Sacramento and Robert Jablon in Monterey Park, Calif., contributed to this report.

Author: MARCUS WOHLSEN - Source: washinghtonpost.com

 

WIE VAN DE DRIE

 

... CONTINUES.

Hitchens asked Ramadan, who has said that terrorism is never justified but that he could understand how, in certain circumstances, people could be led to commit terror, “who has the authority to issue fatwas?” Not to be misunderstood, Hitchens pointed out, “I’m certainly not going to criticize Islam for not having a pope. The Christian world is full of pope-types.” But, he told Ramadan, “in cities from Sweden to Spain” Muslims are calling for inclusion into a restored Caliphate. “That’s why you’re in the position you’re in.”

Ramadan admitted there was a “crisis of authority” in Islam, but told Hitchens that he could not “reduce” Islamic leaders who espouse suicide bombing, to that position alone. “I read what is said and I try to be selective,” Ramadan said. “We need to have a particular debate.”

“You seem to want to have that a little bit both ways,” Hitchens said, before rounding on the biggest applause line of the night, “If you want diversity, you need a secular state with a godless constitution. Secularism is the only guarantee of religious freedom.”

Returning to the evening’s assignment, Hitchens said Islam requires the belief that the prophet Muhammad was “a perfect human being” and that the Koran is “a perfect book.” “These are categories that do not exist,” Hitchens said. “Yet any challenge to them is heresy. The demands that you believe these imperatives do not lead to peaceful outcomes.”

In the evening’s one stirring moment, Hitchens pointed out that the Jews had “decided about the second messiah what they had decided about the first.” There was a note of despair in his voice when he asked, “Will they ever be forgiven for either?”

Having defined jihad as a “resistance to reform the world for the better and blamed “political instrumentalization” for the misunderstanding of Islam, Ramadan did not respond. Later, when Hitchens remarked that “Syria does fund the murder gang Hezbollah,” Ramadan reacted, with some relief, as if he’d scored his biggest point of the night. “You agree on the instrumentalization of religion,” he said. “That’s good enough for me.”

After the debate a viewer said of Ramadan, “He was very articulate, but it sounded like he was talking around what would have gotten him in trouble.” This quality was apparent several times in the evening, not least when the moderator, Laurie Goldstein of the New York Times, asked Ramadan if he really meant to say that Turkey was becoming “more progressive” as its government became increasingly Islamic.

Ramadan, who had said Turkey was “progressing” and “moving to become more democratic,” responded by saying, “We don’t know what to call the leaders now. Islamists? Ex-Islamists? They have new thoughts on the rule of law promoting what they are trying to promote.”

But he never said what new thoughts either the Islamist or ex-Islamists had in mind.

By now Hitchens, who had arrived on stage in a trim blue suit with a clipboard and a bottle of water (and, incongruously, a massive Flashman collection), was no longer taking notes. Ramadan, whose voice rises when he slips into jargon such as “Islam says your dignity is in your freedom,” went on to say “don’t reduce Turkey to levels… there are dynamics… Turkish women everywhere are promoting a better kind of Islam. This is what I promote.”

At the end of the debate, Hitchens was rolling his pen in the fingers of one hand and looking over his shoulder offstage. After shaking hands with his opponent, he stood and waited for Ramadan to leave the stage before he turned to leave on his own.

Source: VanityFair.com

 
By Admin (from 24/10/2010 @ 13:55:09, in en - Global Observatory, read 2269 times)

Al Jazeera English:

It is the biggest leak of military secrets ever. Al Jazeera has obtained access to almost 400,000 classified American documents. Torture, claims of murder at the checkpoint - revelations that make a mockery of the rules of combat. This special programme reveals the truth about the war in Iraq.

 

California voters now oppose Proposition 19, the measure to legalize marijuana, by 49% to 44%, according to the latest poll from the Public Policy Institute of California.

The poll found a sharp reversal from last month, with support dropping 8 percentage points. The previous poll found that 52% of likely voters favored the measure. That poll, coming after others found that about half the electorate backed legalization, had encouraged supporters and helped bring in high-dollar donations.

The latest poll found a drop in support across all demographic groups, but most steeply among Latino voters. In September, 63% backed it. Now, 51% oppose it.

The latest poll shows that men are evenly split. In September, men favored the measure by 16 points. Women now oppose the initiative  50% to 41%. The earlier poll found them slightly in favor.

Independent voters strongly backed the measure, 65% to 31%, in September, but they now oppose it, 49% to 40%. Democrats support the measure by 56%, down 7 percentage points from last month. Republicans reject it by 66%, an increase of 4 percentage points.

The earlier poll showed overwhelming support among likely voters between ages 18 and 34. Support in that age bracket dropped from 70% to 59% this month. Support also slipped among voters 35 and older.

Much of the change appears to have been driven by evaporating support in Southern California. In September, 56% of likely voters in Los Angeles County and 52% in other Southern California counties supported the measure. This month, those percentages slipped to 41% and 42%.

The Public Policy Institute of California surveyed 1,067 likely voters Oct. 10-17. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Author: John Hoeffel - Source: latimesblogs.latimes.com

 
By Admin (from 26/10/2010 @ 19:17:05, in en - Global Observatory, read 1676 times)

War-torn states are still seen as being the most corrupt in the world, according to a new report from Transparency International.

The Berlin-based watchdog monitors perceived corruption and has published its annual report, based on a poll of businesses and people in 178 nations.

The worst country is Somalia, followed by Burma, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore tie for top place as the world's least corrupt countries, with the UK 20th.

'Good governance needed'

Transparency International was founded in 1993 and is a non-governmental organisation that monitors corporate and political corruption.

In its latest report, Russia is rated as among the worst for corruption, in 154th place. And Italy, down in 67th spot, now comes below Rwanda.

Meanwhile, emerging economic powerhouse China is in 78th place.

Global corruption: Biggest changes

Improving*2009 rank2010 rankRise

* COUNTRIES WHERE SOURCE DATA REMAINED THE SAME. SOURCE: TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL

1. Haiti

168

146

22

2. Ecuador

146

127

19

3. Gambia

106

91

15

4. Bhutan

49

36

13

Getting worse*

2009 rank

2010 rank

Fall

1. Madagascar

99

123

24

2. Niger

106

123

17

3. Greece

71

78

7

= 4. Hungary

46

50

4

= 4. Italy

63

67

4

It is the poor and vulnerable who suffer the consequences of corruption, Transparency International found.

Hence, more should be done to enforce existing rules and laws, according to Huguette Labelle, chair of Transparency International.

"These results signal that significantly greater efforts must go into strengthening governance across the globe," she said.

"With the livelihoods of so many at stake, governments' commitments to anti-corruption, transparency and accountability must speak through their actions.

"Good governance is an essential part of the solution to the global policy challenges governments face today."

Chile and Uruguay are rated the least-corrupt countries in Latin America. In the Middle East, the best placed is Qatar.

Top-rated African nation is Botswana, in 33rd place.

Transparency International concludes that some countries have become more corrupt in the past year, particularly the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy and the US.

Despite falling down the list, perhaps because of corruption revealed by the financial crash, the US still comes near the top at number 22.

Source: BBC

 
By Admin (from 28/10/2010 @ 09:19:22, in en - Global Observatory, read 1719 times)

A recent announcement was made, saying that George Soros, a billionaire who was born in Hungary, recently donated a million dollars to the “Proposition 19” campaign that is seeking to legalize marijuana in California.

The ballots on November 2 will contain an area for Californians to vote on whether or not Marijuana should be legalized in the State, a move that The Drug Policy Alliance is hoping for. The group’s main focus is to decriminalize the use of drugs in the United States. The group also confirmed that Soros had donated the million dollars to the “Proposition 19” campaign.

Soros earlier announced that he would be supporting the movement in the Wall Street Journal, although he did not give details about what his support would look like. Soros issued a statement to the magazine, saying, “Regulating and taxing marijuana would simultaneously save taxpayers billions of dollars in enforcement and incarcerations costs, while providing billions of dollars in revenue annually.”

He went on to say that legalizing marijuana would “also reduce crime, violence and corruption associated with drug markets, and the violations of civil liberties and human rights that occur when large numbers of otherwise law abiding citizens are subject to arrest. Police could focus on serious crime instead.”

Source: healthrelatedinfos.com

 
By Admin (from 28/10/2010 @ 21:55:55, in en - Global Observatory, read 3205 times)

At 5pm EST Friday 22nd October 2010 WikiLeaks released the largest classified military leak in history. The 391,832 reports ('The Iraq War Logs'), document the war and occupation in Iraq, from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009 (except for the months of May 2004 and March 2009) as told by soldiers in the United States Army. Each is a 'SIGACT' or Significant Action in the war. They detail events as seen and heard by the US military troops on the ground in Iraq and are the first real glimpse into the secret history of the war that the United States government has been privy to throughout.

The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 'civilians'; 23,984 'enemy' (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 'host nation' (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 'friendly' (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths.That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period. For comparison, the 'Afghan War Diaries', previously released by WikiLeaks, covering the same period, detail the deaths of some 20,000 people. Iraq during the same period, was five times as lethal with equivalent population size.

Please donate to WikiLeaks to defend this information.

Diary Dig

 Diary Dig

Browse the diaries and make complex searches.

 

War Logs

War Logs

Browse the diaries, rate and comment the reports.

 

You can also download the complete logs
via bittorrent (~350MB): 
in CSV format, in SQL format

 

It's time to end the insanity and end marijuana prohibition.

500,000 Californians have been arrested in the past ten years for marijuana possession.
Mostly minorities and the poor.
$1.8 billion a year is wasted policing marijuana users.
When we could be using that money to fund jobs, healthcare, and public safety.
We can stop the insanity in California.
And lead the nation in a new direction.
It's time to end marijuana prohibition and legalize marijuana.
Vote Yes On Proposition 19...Tuesday, November 2.

www.yeson19.com



$ 3,901,765

$ 311,499

Supporting 
marijuana
legalization

Opposing 
marijuana
legalization

Prop 8 Money Totals
 
 
Search the Database

Explore $4.2 million of donations filed on or before October 28, 2010, 5 p.m.

 

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What is Proposition 19?

 

Californians go to the polls Nov. 2 to vote on an initiative that would legalize possession and cultivation of marijuana. If approved Proposition 19 would make it legal for anyone 21 or older to possess, share or transport up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use and to grow up to 25 square feet per residence or parcel. Cities and counties would be authorized to regulate and tax commercial marijuana production and sales.

 

The measure could put California on a collision course with the federal government. The possession and sale of marijuana remain a federal crime and President Obama's drug czar, R. Gil Kerlikowske, recently has spoken out against legalization.

 

History of legalization in California

 

The vote this fall, the first on the question of legalizing pot in the state in four decades, is expected to draw national attention. In 1972, California voters cast ballots on an initiative, also named Proposition 19, that aimed to legalize marijuana. At the time, only one-third of those voting supported the measure.

 

A July Field Poll found that 48% of likely voters oppose the measure and 44% support it, a contrast with two polls taken in May that showed voters were leaning slightly in favor of the measure.

 

Dig deeper with primary sources

 

Read the complete text of the "Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010"

 

Explore the Legislative Analyst's report on the initiative

 

Join the discussion

 

Share your thoughts about Proposition 19

 
 
Top total donations by state/territory
 
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Source: California Secretary of State
Credits: Michelle Minkoff and Maloy Moore

 
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