The fact that the money is extorted from millions of ordinary Britons via a compulsory "licence" fee does not inhibit their spending at all
Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC, insisted that all of the expenses claims made by staff were 'reasonable and justified'. Mr Thompson insisted that all of the expenses claims made by staff – including nights at five-star hotels, bottles of champagne and flights in private planes – were "reasonable and justified". He claimed BBC managers earn far less than they would in the private sector, and said it was right that the multi-million pound salaries of star presenters remained secret, otherwise there would be a "talent drain" to other channels.
Mr Thompson made his comments on the two of the state broadcaster's own shows – BBC1's Breakfast and Radio 4's Today programme – following the publication for the first time on Thursday of detailed breakdowns of his staff's expenses and salaries. The figures showed that the BBC's 50 highest-paid executives earned as much as £13.6million last year, with 27 paid more than the Prime Minister.
In addition, they spent tens of thousands of pounds' worth of public money on entertaining each other, staying at top hotels around the world and showering gifts on actors and other employees. One executive sent a £100 bouquet of flowers to Jonathan Ross, while another spent £1,137.55 on a dinner to mark Sir Terry Wogan's knighthood.
But Mr Thompson, whose basic salary is £647,000, said: "Every one of these expenses in my view was reasonable and was justified. "This is an organisation with a turnover over £4.5billion and this is a few hundred thousand pounds of expenses. "They've been pored over by the papers, The Daily Telegraph asked us 150 questions in the course of yesterday afternoon, and I don't believe that I've yet seen any evidence that a single one of these line-by-line expenses has been in any way unjustified."
He also defended the earnings of BBC executives, saying: "We all accept that we should get paid much less than our equivalents do in the private sector." Mr Thompson claimed the BBC had censored far less information than MPs had done when publishing their expenses in detail for the first time last week. But he said the salaries of its top performers must not be disclosed in order to stop them leaving for rival broadcasters. "We worry that, if it turns out you work for the BBC, you get your pay disclosed, if you work for ITV you don't, there will be a talent drain," Mr Thompson claimed.
Where's The U.N. On Iran?
A thundering silence from the would-be defender of human rights
People are being killed in Iran. Where is the U.N.? What institution could be better positioned to relieve President Obama of his worries about America standing up unilaterally for freedom in Iran? The U.N. is the self-styled overlord of the international community, committed in its charter to promote peace, freedom and "reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights."
Iran's regime is already in gross violation of a series of U.N. sanctions over a nuclear program the U.N. Security Council deems a threat to international peace. The same regime has now loosed its security apparatus of trained thugs and snipers on Iranians who have been, in huge numbers, demanding their basic rights. Surely top U.N. officials such as Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon should be leading the charge for liberty and justice, with the strongest possible criticism and measures against the Iranian regime.
But that's not happening. While Iranian protesters have been risking their necks to try to rid their country of a malignant despotism, the U.N. has hardly even qualified as voting "present."
During the upheaval following the disputed results of Iran's June 12 presidential election, Ban confined himself to a grand total of three public utterances on the matter. In the first, on June 15, with pictures of bloodied Iranian protesters already flooding the Internet, Ban told reporters in New York that he was "closely following the situation." In words so ritually obtuse that they could have been scripted for him by Iran's supreme tyrant, Ali Khamenei, Ban added that he had "taken note of the instruction by the religious leaders that there should be an investigation into this issue."
The next day, June 16, when asked again about Iran, Ban came up with pretty much the same anodyne answer: "taken note ... very closely following ... just seeing how the situation will develop." Other than that, for the next six days, Ban had lots to say--but not about Iran. He sent a message to a meeting in Yekaterinburg, Russia, of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was attending as an observer, having briefly decamped from the upheaval that his own Ayatollah-blessed, irregularity-fraught "re-election" had sparked in Iran.
To this gathering in Russia, where Ahmadinejad posed for the cameras among a lineup of heads of state, Ban dispatched a message full of buzzwords about poverty, climate change and "combined commitment to a peaceful and prosperous common future." He made no mention of the "situation" in Iran.
The 'democracy president' -- not
by Jeff Jacoby
THE CHOICE PRESENTED by the democracy protests in Iran could hardly have been clearer. On one side: a brutal theocratic regime that jails and tortures its critics at home and is a deadly sponsor of terrorism abroad; that loudly proclaims its enmity for the United States and has murdered many Americans to prove it; that barely conceals its drive to amass a nuclear arsenal; that lusts openly for the annihilation of Israel; that for 30 years has pursued a far-flung Islamist jihad. On the other side: throngs of Iranians calling for an end to their government's abuses.
With whom should America stand -- the bloody tyranny or the people opposing it? For most Americans the question surely answers itself, which is why both houses of Congress voted all but unanimously last week to condemn the Iranian government and support the protesters' embrace of human rights, civil liberties, and the rule of law.
So why was President Obama's response initially so muted and ambivalent? Why was he more interested in preserving "dialogue" with Iran's dictatorial rulers than in providing moral support for their freedom-seeking subjects? Why did it take him until yesterday to declare that Americans are "appalled and outraged" by Iran's violent crackdown and to "strongly condemn" the vicious attacks on peaceful dissenters?
A disconcerting answer to those questions appears in the new issue of Commentary, where Johns Hopkins University scholar Joshua Muravchik isolates the most striking feature of the young Obama administration's foreign policy: "its indifference to the issues of human rights and democracy."
In an essay titled "The Abandonment of Democracy," Muravchik -- the author, most recently, of The Next Founders: Voices of Democracy in the Middle East -- observes that every president since Jimmy Carter has made the advancement of democracy and human rights one of his foreign-policy objectives. Now, he writes, "this tradition has been ruptured by the Obama administration."
The rupture was telegraphed at a pre-inauguration meeting with the Washington Post, during which the incoming president argued that "freedom from want and freedom from fear" are more urgent than democracy, and that "oftentimes an election can just backfire" if corruption isn't fixed first. Muravchik points out that when Obama gave Al-Arabiya, an Arabic-language satellite channel, his first televised interview as president, he focused on US relations with the Middle East and Muslim world, yet "never mentioned democracy or human rights.".....
Authoritarian regimes, naturally, have welcomed the new approach. According to the Associated Press, Egypt's ambassador to the United States expressed satisfaction "that ties are on the mend and that Washington has dropped conditions for better relations, including demands for 'human rights, democracy and religious and general freedoms.'" And just as Team Obama has downplayed democracy and human-rights efforts in the Middle East, it has done so as well with regard to China, Russia, and even Sudan. "Obama seems to believe that democracy is overrated, or at least overvalued," Muravchik writes.
Obama may see himself as the un-Bush, cool to democracy because his predecessor was so keen for it. But to millions of subjugated human beings, he is the leader of the free world -- an avatar of the democratic freedoms they hunger for. On the streets of Iran recently, many protesters held signs reading "Where Is My Vote?" There are limits to what the American president can do for Iran's beleaguered democrats. But is it too much to ask that he take their question seriously?
Just A Coincidence?
The day after Hall Of Record publishes a post critical of the Administration's Climate Bill, this is received:
Hello, Your blog at: http://hallofrecord.blogspot.com/ has been identified as a potential spam blog. To correct this, please request a review by filling out the form at [link]. Your blog will be deleted in 20 days if it isn't reviewed, and your readers will see a warning page during this time. After we receive your request, we'll review your blog and unlock it within two business days. Once we have reviewed and determined your blog is not spam, the blog will be unlocked and the message in your Blogger dashboard will no longer be displayed. If this blog doesn't belong to you, you don't have to do anything, and any other blogs you may have won't be affected. We find spam by using an automated classifier. Automatic spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and occasionally a blog like yours is flagged incorrectly. We sincerely apologize for this error. By using this kind of system, however, we can dedicate more storage, bandwidth, and engineering resources to bloggers like you instead of to spammers. For more information, please see Blogger Help: http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=42577 Thank you for your understanding and for your help with our spam-fighting efforts. Sincerely, The Blogger Team
Sure, just a coincidence.
See the sidebar at Hall of Record
A Sign of the Times?
Is this the new “justice” for America? A massive armed federal raid in Utah has resulted in two deaths, including the suicide of a popular small town doctor. Those arrested have been accused of stealing American Indian artifacts from federal land.
The Obama administration’s Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar flew to Salt Lake City to proudly announce the raid. But the arrests were conducted in a chilling manner. According to the LA Times:
Shortly after sunrise last week, a squad of flak-jacketed federal agents surrounded the remote home of Dr. James Redd, arrested his wife and then stopped the 60-year-old doctor as he returned from his morning rounds to arrest him as well….
Nearly 20 agents had surrounded a pair of mobile homes belonging to septuagenarian brothers and led them away in cuffs…. Local authorities called the raids overkill.
Then a day after his arrest, Dr. Redd killed himself…. Redd, the town's only physician, was known for traveling to treat patients at all hours. Huge lines formed outside the town mortuary for his wake.
The Times story says that the US attorney for Utah “noted that many of the defendants own guns, common in this part of the country but still a cause for caution.”
"Eighteen vehicles surrounded the Redd’s house,” San Juan County Supervisor Bruce Adams said in an interview. “Do we do that with child molesters? With murderers?” He added, “I haven’t seen a piece of pottery or an artifact that’s worth a human life.”
All of this for stealing shards of pottery. For those Americans who bitterly cling to their guns and Bibles … did you get the message?
German hard line may spur sanctions against Iran: "EUROPEAN Union ministers may be ready to push for tougher sanctions against Iran after Germany has shown growing willingness to take a harder line. At the G8 gathering in Italy yesterday, EU foreign ministers were loath to press ahead with plans for tightening curbs amid turmoil in Tehran. The EU and US do not want to help anti-Western voices in Iran. But even before the election, EU ministers were considering tighter curbs on exports and on Iran's banks. If they revive those plans, in which Germany is taking a prominent role, it will come as a relief to the US, which has criticised the EU's softness. Germany was the target of harsh remarks from Iranian officials at meetings in Tehran on Sunday and Tuesday with EU counterparts. Chancellor Angela Merkel has led a shift in German ties with Iran, which have been warmer than those of Britain or France. Germany is Iran's largest trading partner in the EU, with sales of between E4 billion ($7bn) and E5bn a year, more than double those of Italy, France, Switzerland and Britain. It has been Iran's largest trading partner overall, although now overtaken by China."
Hitler's heirs: "A hardline cleric close to the Iranian regime demanded the execution of leading demonstrators yesterday as the opposition ended the week in disarray. In a televised sermon at Friday prayers in Tehran, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami called on the judiciary to “punish leading rioters firmly and without showing any mercy to teach everyone a lesson”. He said that those leaders were backed by the United States and Israel. They should be treated as mohareb — people who wage war against God — and deserved execution. In a clear warning to all other dissenters, he declared: “Anybody who fights against the Islamic system or the leader of Islamic society, fight him until complete destruction.” The Ayatollah claimed that Neda Soltan, the woman shot during a demonstration last Saturday, had been killed by fellow protesters because “government forces do not shoot at a lady standing in a side street”. Ayatollah Khatami’s address came at the end of a week in which the regime has brutally suppressed all street protests and arrested hundreds of opponents for daring to challenge President Ahmadinejad’s re-election".
Britain: The bankrupt welfare State: "The stark evidence of the growing imbalance between what the Government raises and what it spends is likely to intensify the political row over the public finances and may strengthen calls for cuts in spending. Treasury figures show that welfare payments will exceed income tax receipts by almost £25 billion. Normally, income tax receipts comfortably cover the benefits bill. The disparity between tax revenue and welfare costs was identified by Andrew Brough, a fund manager at Schroder Investment Management, who suggested that the amount of money spent on social protection could soon exceed that raised from both income tax and national insurance. According to an official Treasury forecast, benefits will cost £170.9 billion in 2010/11. That is equal to what the Government will spend on the NHS, schools and universities combined. This year will be the first in a decade that benefits cost more than workers pay in income tax."
Conn. church creates stir with gay exorcism video: "A Connecticut church has outraged gay rights advocates by posting a video of members performing an apparent exorcism of a teen's "homosexual demons." The 20-minute video was posted on YouTube before it was taken down. Gay youth advocate Robin McHaelen (mih-KAY'-lehn) says the video appears to show abuse. She says she plans to report it to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. The boy confirms he is 16 but otherwise has declined to comment. The Rev. Patricia McKinney of Manifested Glory Ministries in Bridgeport says he is 18 and came to the church on his own seeking help. She denies the church is prejudiced and says it took care of the youth.
Tax leeches lose in N. Carolina: "The U.S Supreme Court's 1992 Quill decision forbids states from forcing tax-collection obligations on out-of-state merchants, but Tarheel legislators still want Amazon and other online retailers to start taxing their constituents. The Seattle-based retailer has no physical presence in the state, but a pending North Carolina bill holds that since affiliate Web sites in the state link customers to Amazon, the company is now responsible for extracting cash from Carolina shoppers. Other proposed North Carolina legislation would apply a new tax only to Internet ticket resales, in direct defiance of the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act, which prohibits taxes that target the Internet with burdens not applied offline. To its credit, Amazon yesterday refused to accept the expected new compliance burden and announced the cancellation of its North Carolina affiliate relationships. Said the company, "This is a direct result of the unconstitutional tax collection scheme expected to be passed any day now by the North Carolina state legislature (the General Assembly) and signed by the governor." So now the state won't get the revenue, even as in-state Web retailers lose their ties to Amazon thanks to the legislature's revenue grab. Brilliant."
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)