Common Sense About Disincentive

From Daniel Hannan , MEP –

It’s a funny thing… but if you start taxing countries for doing the right thing, in order to pay countries who are doing the wrong thing, you’re going to end up fewer of the former and more of the latter.

When will politicians ever learn?  The best way to incentivize an economy is to leave it alone.  Neither crony capitalism nor socialism will ever triumph over a truly free market.

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Today’s Geography Lesson

This video illustrates the changes to Europe’s political map over the last 1,000 years.  It’s not news, but it is interesting.

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Pope Francis Overturns 2000 Years of Christian Doctrine

ROME – For two thousand years Christians have believed that Jesus Christ died for their sins and that the only path to heaven lay in acceptance of Christ as the Son of God and Savior.  London’s Daily Telegraph has reported that Pope Francis, in an op-ed written for the Italian daily La Republicca, has announced that:

"The question for those who do not believe in God is to follow their own conscience. Sin, even for a non-believer, is when one goes against one’s conscience.

"To listen and to follow your conscience means that you understand the difference between good and evil."

This follows a homily earlier this year where the Pope stated that even atheists could be welcomed into heaven.  It appears that His Holiness may be looking to take the Roman Catholic Church down the same path as the Episcopal Church.  He should carefully examine how that has worked out.

Acceptance of Christ is no long required for salvation?  We need only follow our own conscience?  Like dogs, do all sociopaths go to heaven?

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North Korea Vows to Strike Without Warning After Seoul Protests

PYONGYANG – The North Korean government has vowed to attack South Korea without warning if anti-North Korean protests continue in the south.

"The supreme command of the Korean People’s Army Tuesday issued an ultimatum to the South Korean puppet group," Pyongyang’s official news agency, KCNA, said.

Threatening that it would not give any advance notice before attacking South Korea, the North warned: "Our retaliatory action will start without any notice from now."

North Korea said it was responding to insults from the "puppet authorities" in the South, who yesterday held a rally against the North in Seoul.

While North Koreans were celebrating the 101st anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth, South Koreans protested recent threats from the North including burning North Korean leaders in effigy.

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BBC Attacks Margaret Thatcher in Death… As in Life

LONDON – The British Broadcasting Corporation is facing heavy criticism for its coverage of the passing of former PM Margaret Thatcher.  The BBC was been criticized for giving undue prominence to Thatcher’s political opponents in their coverage of her death.  Now the broadcaster has been covering a campaign to encourage citizens to buy recordings of the song, “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead”, including playing the song on air.

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Hijacking an Aircraft with a Smartphone

AMSTERDAM – A speaker at a recent computer security conference in Amsterdam demonstrated how to seize control of an aircraft using an app developed for Android smartphones.

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What Happened to Free Markets?

One of the assumptions of a free market is that all parties have equal access to all available information.  This is why things like “insider trading” are illegal.  We acknowledge that we do not live in a Pollyanna world of perfect competition and perfect information.  That said, we thought that the government was supposed to protect consumers from market manipulation.

It appears that this is not the case.  Any viewer of CNBC or Fox Business know that the release of minutes of the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) or of a Board of Governors’ meeting can, and do, move markets.  Why then did copies of the minutes of the March Fed meeting go out a day early to several banks, at least one hedge fund, a law firm, and several Congressional staffer?

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Margaret Thatcher, R.I.P.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has passed away at the age of 87.  Baroness Thatcher was the greatest women to live during my lifetime one of the greatest Western political leaders of my lifetime and arguably the greatest person ever to hold the title of Prime Minister.  She led Britain from the bottom of its post-WWII malaise and re-established the UK as one of the worlds greatest western democracies.  A key supporter of Ronald Reagan’s plan to defeat the evil empire of the Soviet Union, Thatcher served as PM from 1979 through the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Take time to watch this portion of Prime Minister Thatcher’s last question time before parliament.  At approximately 2:45 into this video you will see the typical attack from the left regarding “income inequality”.  As Mrs. Thatcher so ably points out, despite that fact that this “gap” has widened, even the poor in Britain were much better off under her policies.  Of course, that doesn’t hold much sway with those who believe that re-distribution of wealth will always succeed, despite the fact that it has NEVER succeeded.

… he would rather the POOR BE POORER provided that the RICH WERE LESS RICH.

Thatcher’s comments regarding the left are as true today as they were in November of 1990.  One need only listen to the rhetoric coming from today’s Democrat party leadership.

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The Observer – The Truth About Austerity … Everywhere But the U. S.

It seems that simple, basic economic truth is coming home to roost in the European socialist utopia.  It’s already occurred in Canada.  Why can’t our own politicians grasp the obvious?

In a study released Friday at the annual conference of the Royal Economics Society, economists Luca Agnello and  Vitor Castro of Italy and Ricardo Sousa of Portugal tracked austerity programs from 1978 – 2009.  They found that the best programs shoot for the greatest deficit reductions in the 2nd and 3rd years of a program.  They also show empirical data that opposition mounts to austerity programs lasting more than nine years.

Yet, here in the United States, our politicians are unwilling to make real cuts to government spending or to reform entitlement spending.  Don’t expect too much media coverage of this study; it violates the current political narrative too much to receive serious consideration.  Among the common sense findings:

  • Reducing public spending lowered deficits more than raising taxes
  • Trading nations are usually more successful at restoring their public finances
  • Low interest rates and “sound macro-economic” conditions improve the odds of financial consolidations
  • Spending cuts are typically deepest in the second and third years of austerity programs before rising again in the final years

IMAGINE – Reducing Spending is MORE EFFECTIVE than Raising Taxes!  I wonder what Barack Obama’s reaction would be if he was actually made aware of this study?

Lord Keynes gets a bad rap these days.  If he had lived to see the mess that was made from his General Theory he would be ashamed to see what the term “Keynesian economics” has come to mean.  Rationalism reigns.  Liberal politicians and economists tell us that if you spend X the economy will improve.  After spending X, we don’t see the desired result.  What is the left’s answer?  We didn’t spend enough! (don’t worry, Paul Krugman didn’t receive his Nobel Prize for spouting this macroeconomic drivel)

Common sense has fallen to men and women who fancy themselves gods.  While this statement may seem extreme, it is fact.  Omniscience and omnipresence are required to “manage” a national economy.  That’s either Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” or a god.  Since most of these folks don’t believe in either Smith or God …

H/T – D. J. McGuire @ Bearing Drift

The Observer appears on weekends in the DelMarVa Observer and provides commentary on a variety of issues.

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Pope Benedict to Step Down

In an unusual move, it has been announced by Italy’s ANSA news agency that Pope Benedict XVI will step down at the end of this month.  Typically a Pope remains in office from installation to death.  No details are available at this time.

UPDATE:  MSNBC has confirmed that 85 year old Pope Benedict has announced his resignation.  During a canonization ceremony in Vatican City, he stated that he “doesn’t have the strength to go on”.  Reported on the Morning Joe show, it was also reported that the last resignation of a Pope was in 1415.

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Royal May Have Been Target of Attack

The UK Press Association reports that Capt. Harry Windsor, better known to the world as Prince Harry, may have been the target of a Taliban attack against Camp Bastion.  Two U.S. Marines were killed in the attack.

Prince Harry may have been the primary target of an attack on the Camp Bastion military compound in Afghanistan, it has been claimed.

A Taliban commander told Sky News that Harry was the main focus of the attack, but other media organisations reported it was in revenge for an anti-Islamic film.

The prince was unharmed, but two US Marines were killed and several more wounded in Friday night’s attack.

Harry, an Army captain, is based at Camp Bastion for his second tour of duty.

US officials said the attack was by heavily-armed insurgents and involved a range of weaponry, including mortars, rockets or rocket-propelled grenades, as well as small arms fire.

Harry was about two kilometres away with other crew members of the Apache attack helicopters, of which he is a co-pilot gunner, when the attack took place, sources said.

There are no indications of any British fatalities or injuries.

A spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force coalition (Isaf) in Afghanistan said the attack happened near an airfield on the north-east side of the base, which houses American forces in Camp Leatherneck.

A Ministry of Defence source said: "After saying this attack was mounted in reaction to the video on Islam, it is entirely predictable that the Taliban have changed their tune to say it was aimed at Captain Wales.

"The insurgency who mounted this attack – most of who were killed by Isaf – were nowhere near Captain Wales, who with other UK and Isaf personnel was under lockdown."

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Saudi Arabia Ignores Accomplishments of Its Own Female Olympians

LONDON – On Wednesday, Sarah Attar became the first Saudi woman to compete in an Olympic track event.  While the 19 year old finished last in her heat, the crowd in gave Attar enthusiastic applause as she crossed the finish line.  You would think Attar’s achievement would garner wide media coverage in her home country.  You would be wrong.

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Churches Attacked in Nigeria

LAGOS – Six persons were killed when gunmen opened fire in a church in northwest Nigeria on Sunday.  In central Nigeria, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside a church.  A radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram claimed the attacks.

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Underwear Bomb Built by Al Qaeda in Yemen

WASHINGTON – After the CIA helped to foil an airline bomb plot, US authorities believe that the bomb, and plot, were orchestrated by Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is based in Yemen.  The FBI issued a statement:

“the device is very similar to IEDs that have been used previously by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations."

photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

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Playboy Model “Star” of Mexican Presidential Debate

MEXICO CITY – Mexican electoral authorities apologized after an appearance by a former Playboy model stirred up a social media frenzy at Sunday night’s presidential debate.  A short appearance of Julia Orayen, a former Playboy model working as an assistant at the debate, began trending on Twitter with thousands of mentions.  Mexican newspaper Excelsior declared her the online winner of the debate.

photo courtesy of Reuters

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Socialist Ousts Sarkozy in French Presidential Election

PARIS – French voters have denied President Nicholas Sarkozy a second term and elected Socialist Francois Hollande.  Sarkozy was a victim of spending cuts which have reverberated throughout Europe in response to government debt crises throughout the Euro-zone.

Hollande vows to increase government spending.  Many observers predict that Hollande’s election is a symbol of the European Union’s decline.

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School Rules Jesus Shirt “Hate Speech”

CHESTER BASIN, NS – A school has ruled that a student’s t-shirt promoting Christianity is “hate speech”.  William Swinimer, a student at Forest Heights Community School, was punished for wearing a shirt that read, “Life is wasted without Jesus.”  Swinimer, who has been disciplined in the past for wearing t-shirts promoting Christianity, is threatened with suspension for the rest of the school year if he wears the shirt to school again.

“I’ve been told by my principal that it is hate talk and is disrespectful to other people’s religions,” Swinimer said. “She said it (the shirt) cannot be in school because people would get offended.”

Nancy Pynch-Worthylake, the school board superintendent, told The Canadian Press that the wording on the shirt is “problematic.”

“If I have an expression that says, ‘My life is enhanced with Jesus,’ then there’s no issue with that, everybody is able to quickly understand that that’s my opinion about my own belief,” she told the newspaper. “If the shirt were to say, ‘Without Jesus, your life is a complete waste,’ then that’s clear that it is an opinion aimed at somebody else’s belief.”

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BREAKING NEWS – Chinese Dissident Wants to Come to US

BEIJING – Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng has told the AP that US Embassy staff relayed a message to him that the Chinese government threatened to beat his wife to death if he did not leave the American compound in Beijing.

Chen, who fled to the embassy six day ago, left under an agreement in which he would receive medical care, be reunited with his family and allowed to attend university in a safe place. He says he now fears for his safety and wants to leave.

A U.S. official denies knowledge of the threat, but says Chen was told his family would be sent back home if he stayed in the embassy.

Chen left the US Embassy because of those threats and is now in a Beijing hospital.

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News Corp to Cameron … Be Careful Who You Go After

LONDON – The government of British Prime Minister David Cameron is getting a lesson in the politics of media relations.  While Cameron’s government is attempting to use News Corporation as a whipping boy, the owner of the Times of London and FOXNews is showing the coalition government that it will only take so much without fighting back.

Culture minister Jeremy Hunt may be forced to resign over evidence being released in hearings by James Murdoch, scion of News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch.  The PM has been caught in at least one lie and his government faces the biggest crisis of its relatively short tenure.

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Sarkozy Loses First Round of French Presidential Elections

PARIS – As expected, French president Nicholas Sarkozy lost the first round of the French presidential elections to Francois Hollande.  With an estimated voter turnout of 80% Holland received 28.56% of the vote with Sarkozy receiving 27.07%.

The two will face off on May 6th in a rubber match.  Hollande is expected to win the final as well.

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Egypt Scraps Natural Gas Supply Deal with Israel

CAIRO – Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) has cancelled their gas-supply deal with Israel, claiming that they have not been paid by the Israeli-Egyptian firm which buys the gas and sells it to Israel.  The Israeli government denies the claim and states that cancellation of the deal is a violation of the 1979 peace accord between the two countries.  Interruption of gas supplies have already caused increased electricity rates in Israel.  Israel Electric Company, the country’s electric utility, has warned that further interruptions could result in rolling blackouts this summer.

photo courtesy of the BBC

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Coast Guard Sinks “Ghost Ship”

GULF OF ALASKA – A US Coast Guard (USCG) cutter fired on an abandoned ship and sunk her in 1,000 feet of water, 150 miles from land.  Last year’s tsunami set the 164 foot Ryou-Un Maru adrift.  She was in Hokkaido, Japan in preparation of being scrapped.

The USCG made the decision to sink the vessel rather than risk it running aground or being a further hazard to navigation.

photo courtesy of AP Canada

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Australian School Suspends Boy for Shaving Head for Charity

MORNINGTON, Australia –  An Australian schoolboy was suspended after he shaved his head to raise funds for a cancer charity and support a friend who is battling leukemia.

Going beyond a "number two" haircut was against the school’s uniform and grooming policy, said school principal Christopher Houlihan of Padua College in Mornington, about 25 miles southeast of Melbourne.

The Year Nine student received an internal suspension. He went back to school on Monday, but must wear a cap until his hair grows back, the Mornington Peninsula Leader reported.

"He took it on himself to shave his head for a very good cause, he didn’t go through school procedures and deal with us first," Houlihan said.

"I’ve always told students who wanted to support World’s Greatest Shave it was OK, as long as hair length was within acceptable levels — a number two. Then we can also then support them with publicity."

Every March thousands of people shave, color and wax their hair to raise funds for the Leukaemia Foundation in what is one of Australia’s biggest fundraising events.

Melbourne radio station 3AW reported that the teenager’s act was in support of a friend who is battling leukemia.

story courtesy of FOXNews

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Iran Denies Pastor Faces Execution

GENEVA – The Iranian government has denied that Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani faces execution for “insulting Islam”.

The UN Human Rights Council met in Geneva Monday, where Ahmed Shaheed, a “special rapporteur for human rights in Iran" delivered a report on human rights abuses in Iran and called for the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. The pastor has been held in prison for nearly three years and was convicted on charges that Tehran has described in conflicting terms, first as apostasy and other faith-based crimes, then as rape and extortion.

Responding to Shaheed’s presentation, Iranian human rights envoy Mohammad Javad Larijani denied that Nadarkhani faces the death penalty, though the sentence was spelled out in a ruling handed down by Iran’s highest court last fall. Larijani also offered a new set of charges against Nadarkhani, including preaching to youth without their parents’ permission, converting his home into a church and offending Islam.

“In the last 33 years after [the Islamic] revolution, no single person has been put to death or executed or pursued for changing his religion from Islam,” he told the council. “Hundreds of people are changing from other religions to Islam. Why we should be so sensitive about a few people to change their religion from Islam?”

photo courtesy of the Blaze

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Obama Moves G-8 Summit to Camp David

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has announced that this year’s G-8 summit will not be held in the President’s hometown of Chicago.  Instead, the meeting will be held at the President’s Camp David retreat in Maryland’s Cacoctin Mountains.  The Obama administration denies that the meeting was moved due to security concerns.  The NATO summit is still scheduled for Chicago.

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Putin Elected Russian President

Observers Claim “Serious” Problems with Election

MOSCOW – Former president and current Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was elected president amid charges of election fraud and voter intimidation.  Tonino Picula, head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observer team claimed that the entire process was geared to produce one result – the election of Putin:

"there was no real competition and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt."

The police and military are preparing for expected protests across the country.

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Kylie Minogue Calls Police Over “Twitter Weirdo”

Australian pop star Kylie Minogue has alerted police to an online stalker who is issuing threats on Twitter.  Minogue, who has over 1,000,000 Twitter followers, informed her fans via Twitter.

photo courtesy of The Australian

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Over 100 Dead Due to Cold in Europe

WARSAW – While we enjoy a mild winter on the Eastern seaboard of the US, more deaths are reported throughout Eastern Europe due to an unusually harsh winter.  In the past week frigid weather is the reported cause of 112 deaths in the Ukraine and Poland.  Almost 1,000 cases of hypothermia and frostbite have been reported in Ukrainian hospitals.

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Oxygen Enhanced Wet Suit to Aid Surfer in Breaking Big Wave Record

MIAMI, FL – Pro big wave surfer Garrett McNamara is hoping that a specially designed, oxygen enhanced wet suit will help him to break his own big wave record.  The wet suit contains an oxygen pocket, designed by hydration pack maker Camelback.  This could allow McNamara to breath underwater for several minutes if pinned underwater by a large wave.

McNamara currently holds the world big wave record – 90 feet.  The record was set off of Nazare, Portugal.  McNamara hopes to break his record in the same area.

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Hugo Chavez’s Daughter Flaunts Law and Lavish Lifestyle

CARACAS – Rosines Chavez, the 14 year old daughter of Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez, doesn’t seem to understand that her father is attempting to construct a socialist paradise in the oil rich country on the southern edge of the Caribbean.  Ms. Chavez posted a photo of herself flaunting US dollars on her Instagram account.  There are just a few problems – Ms. Chavez is only 14, she flaunts a lavish lifestyle in this impoverished, socialist country, AND access to US dollars is tightly controlled in Venezuela.

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SEAL Raid Frees Hostages

MOGADISHU – U.S. military forces, reportedly Navy SEAL’s, staged a helicopter raid and rescued one American and one Danish hostage being held by Somali pirates.  Nine pirates were killed in the raid.

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U.S. Carrier, Battle Group, Sail Through Straits of Hormuz

WASHINGTON – For the first time since Iran began threats of shutting down the key oil transport waterway, the USS Abraham Lincoln, its battle group, along with a Royal Navy frigate and a French naval vessel, sailed through the Straits of Hormuz Sunday.

Iran has repeatedly warned that it could close the strait — which the US Energy Information Administration calls the "most important chokepoint" for the world’s oil tankers — if increased Western sanctions halt Iranian oil exports.

The situation grew increasingly tense earlier this month when the Islamic republic’s navy warned that it would react if the US tried to redeploy one of its aircraft carriers to the waterway.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the US would not tolerate Iran blocking the strategic route and would respond if Tehran crossed that "red line."

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Russian Tanker Arrives at Destination, Prepares Fuel Transfer

NOME, AK – A Russian tanker has finally arrived at Nome and is now preparing to transfer 1.3 million gallons of diesel and gasoline.  The tanker was dispatched because a fall storm prevented Nome from receiving its final fuel delivery before being iced in over the winter.

The tanker, anchored about 1/2 mile offshore, will begin transferring the fuel as soon as as the ice is prepared and a hose is deployed to the ship.

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Urinating Marines Identified

CAMP LEJUENE, NC – The four Marines seen in a video urinating on dead Taliban fighters have been identified.  The Marines are all members of a sniper unit within the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Division.  It was also disclosed that 7 members of the Marines’ battalion were killed in action during their last deployment to Afghanistan.  While the Marines have been identified, none are currently in custody.

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US Drone Helps Russian Tanker Deliver Needed Fuel to Frozen Alaska Town

NOME, AK – Last fall a storm prevented Nome from receiving its last pre-winter fuel delivery.  Now a USCG ice breaker and a Russian tanker are crawling across the frozen Bering Sea to deliver fuel too this Alaskan town of 3,500.  As they move toward their goal the two vessels are receiving help from an unusual source – an aerial drone.

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Britain’s Future Queen Turns 30

LONDON – The Duchess of Cambridge, formerly Kate Middleton, turns 30 today.  She will observe the event with a quiet celebration with family and friends.  This announcement quashed previous reports that the Duchess would be celebrating with a lavish 80’s themed party.

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Human Remains Found on Queen’s Estate

SANDRINGHAM, ENGLAND – Human remains have been discovered in a wooded area of Queen Elizabeth II’s Norfolk estate.  Norfolk police state that the remains were discovered around 4:00 PM Sunday by a member of the public walking in the area.  The individual reported the discovery to police.

The police gave no details of the discovery.  Buckingham Palace has refused to comment.

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Syrian Forces Firing on Protesters

BEIRUT – Activists report that Syrian security forces have fired upon on protesters in the Hama province of this authoritarian Middle Eastern country.  The protesters were calling for the overthrow of President Bashar Assad.

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28 Year Old Kim Jong Un Declared North Korea’s “Supreme Leader”

PYONGYANG – Kim Jong Un, the third son of the late despot Kim Jong Il, was declared “Supreme Leader” of North Korea by the military and the ruling Communist party during the memorial for his father.  This is significant because Kim Jong Il took several years to consolidate his power.  Kim Jong Un is also the youngest leader of a nuclear state.

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Argentine Government Takes Control of Newsprint

BUENOS AIRES – The Argentine government has taken control of newsprint production and distribution in the country.  Argentina’s Senate voted 41 – 26 to control the manufacture, sale, and distribution of the paper used to print newspapers.

Vice President Amadou Boudou said the law "will improve the quality of information and the plurality of opinions in Argentina."

71% of the nation’s newsprint are allocated to just two newspapers – Clarin and La Nacion.  The remaining 29% are allocated to 168 other newspapers in the country.

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Body Found at Home of Terrorist

LIEGE, BELGIUM – Police discovered a body at the home of a terrorist who killed three and injured 123 others in this Belgian city.  The body of a woman was discovered in the home of Nordine Amrani, 33.  The woman was killed prior to Amrani’s murderous rampage on Liege’s main city square.

Amrani began his attack at 12:30 PM yesterday by lobbing several grenades at a bus shelter on the Place Saint-Lambert.

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165 MPH Winds Blast Scotland

CAIRNGORMS, SCOTLAND – An icy winter storm is buffeting northern Britain with winds over 160 MPH.  Schools, roads, and rail lines have been shut down and residents have been told to remain indoors.

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How Did Iran Capture US Spy Drone?

TEHRAN – Iranian television shows Iran has somehow captured a USAF RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone.  The question remains … HOW?

Iranian officials claim that the drone was shot down by their armed forces.  However, television footage shows the craft to be intact and apparently undamaged.  U.S. officials have admitted that the drone was lost on a mission last week.

Those same officials state that President Barack Obama decided against an attempt to retrieve the drone, one of the nation’s most sophisticated aircraft, because it could be seen as an act of war.

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American Sentenced to 30 Months for Insulting Thai King

BANGKOK – A Thai-born U.S. citizen has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for insulting the Thai monarchy.  Joe Gordon, 55, pleaded guilty in October for translating and publishing online excerpts of a biography which are banned in Thailand.  He was originally sentenced to 5 years in prison, but the sentenced was reduced because he had pleaded guilty.

Gordon posted the excerpts of the biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej several years ago while living in Colorado.

Speaking after the verdict, Gordon said, "I am an American citizen, and what happened was in America."

He also said he had no expectation of being let off easy. "This is just the system in Thailand," he said. Speaking later in Thai, he added: "In Thailand, they put people in prison even if they don’t have proof."

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Italy Approves Austerity Plan

ROME – The government of Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has approved a plan to re-invigorate the Italian economy and to save the European central currency from collapse.  The €30 billion plan includes spending cuts and a plan to fight tax evasion (something akin to sport in Italy).

Following a three hour cabinet meeting, Monti announced that, in addition to the nuts and bolts of the austerity plan, he would forgo his salaries as both Premier and as Finance Minister.

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Delaware State University Plays Role in Latest Mars Mission

DOVER, DE – On November 26th, NASA launched its latest Mars mission.  The one ton rover will retrieve and analyze a variety of surface samples.  Delaware State University’s Optics Research program took part in designing the rover’s “ChemCam” which includes Laser-induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS).

Dr. Noureddine Melikechi and PhD. candidate Alissa Mezzacappa were part of a multinational team which prepared the ChemCam’s use of LIBS in the Martian environment.

from Delaware First Media

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Global Health Fund Ceases New Grants

GENEVA – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced Thursday that they would cease awarding NEW grants until at least 2014.  They cited the world economic malaise brought on by the US and European debt crises.

The fund, established in 2002, serves as a financing and coordinating tool to fight these three diseases on a global scale.  Since its founding it has disbursed over $15 billion.

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Climategate 2.0 – Emails Add Fuel to Debate Over Man-Made Climate Change

Nearly two (2) years after leaked emails sparked intense debate regarding the validity of scientific evidence supporting man-made climate change, 5,000 new emails have been leaked.  Three (3) themes seem to underlie this latest batch:

  1. Scientists are attempting to conceal, rather than disseminate data.
  2. Many of these scientists view climate change as a political cause.
  3. Many of these scientists admit that the evidence supporting man-made climate change is weak.

One key concept of science is the open sharing of data, theories, hypotheses, etc. so that independent parties can repeat an experiment or verify conclusions.  However, scientists involved in climate change research seem eager to hide their data from the prying eyes of skeptics:

“I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI [Freedom of Information] Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process,”writes Phil Jones, a scientist working with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in a newly released email.

“Any work we have done in the past is done on the back of the research grants we get – and has to be well hidden,” Jones writes in another newly released email. “I’ve discussed this with the main funder (U.S. Dept of Energy) in the past and they are happy about not releasing the original station data.”

Scientists are also shown in this latest batch of emails to suggest that data should only be released if it supports “the cause”.  While it was the Bush administration that was accused of “politicizing” science, this latest batch of emails appears to indicate that it is supporters of the man-made climate change theory who are promoting a cause, rather than engaging in honest scientific inquiry.

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Gadhafi’s Son Captured

TRIPOLI – CNN reports that Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of slain Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, has been captured in the Libyan desert.  According to senior Libyan military commanders, Saif Gadhafi was captured near the town of Obari after a brief firefight.  He is being transported to the city of Zintan, where he will be held.

Gadhafi is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution.

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United States to Expand Military Presence Down Under

CANBERRA – The United States has reached an agreement to expand its military presence in Australia.  The agreement, emphasizing regional concerns of an increasingly assertive China, was announced in a joint press conference with President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Under the terms of the agreement, the United States will station up to 250 Marines in Northern Australia beginning next year.

Obama insisted that any notion that the United States fears China or wants to exclude the growing power from American economic alliances in the Asia-Pacific region is mistaken. But he said the United States will keep sending a clear message that China needs to accept the responsibilities that come with being a world power.

"It’s important for them to play by the rules of the road," Obama said.

Chinese defense spending has increased by over 200% since the 1990’s to over $160 billion.

Obama said the new deployment to Australia was important because it would help partners in Asia feel that "we have the presence that’s necessary to maintain the security architecture in the region."

photo courtesy of the Associated Press

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