Jihadis all over the place in Europe
Amid mounting terrorism fears in Europe, investigators on Tuesday arrested 10 suspects after busting an Islamic extremist network, which plotted to attack a Belgian port-city. The Belgian prosecutor's office said that an international terrorist group used an extremist Internet site, Ansar Al Mujahideen, for this to plot the attack. The Belgian investigators had been suspecting the network, which is based in Antwerp, home to both Muslim and Jewish communities, since last year.
Most of the suspects were arrested in Belgium, while the Dutch and German investigators also arrested some of the suspects in their countries. The prosecutor's office said that the attack’s target was not yet specifically determined, adding that they had "sufficient facts" to justify the raids.
The government's crisis center’s spokesman said that no additional security measures have been decided to date in Belgium.
Dutch prosecutors confirmed the arrest of three men in their late 20s in Amsterdam, adding that all three Dutch nationals have been arrested on Belgium’s request and would soon be extradited to Belgium. German police also arrested a man aged 31 in Aachen.
The Belgian prosecutor’s spokesman said that out of those 10 arrested were nationals from Belgium, the Netherlands, Morocco and Russia. The men are also believed to have recruited "jihadist candidates" and financed the Chechen terrorist group - the Caucasian Emirate.
The fresh arrests came after several people have already been detained in Spain, Morocco and Saudi Arabia under the same probe. The investigation was conducted in collaboration with the European Union's judicial cooperation unit Eurojust and a host of other nations.
Israel as a rogue state
My latest hero is a 19-year-old Canadian called Gabriel Latner, and for three reasons. The first is that he presented the most brilliantly audacious defence of Israel since Moses parted the Red Sea. The second is that he told his "ally" in a Cambridge Union debate, Lauren Booth (the dingbat half-sister of Cherie Blair) -- "I am going to nail you to the f***ing wall up there." He duly did. The third is that he is banned from life from the Cambridge Union for swearing in front of a lady. Yes, I know, that's where feminism has got us -- equality whenever it suits; otherwise a reversion to the swooning damsel of yesteryear.
Gabriel, who is also Jewish, was proposing the motion in the CU that Israel is a rogue state. He asked the fundamental question: well, what does rogue actually mean? He referred to the dictionary. 'Aberrant, anomalous, misplaced, occurring (especially in isolation) at an unexpected place or time'. In other words, just like Israel.
His first argument was statistical. There are 195 countries in the world; Christian, Muslim, secular. But Israel is the only country in the world that is Jewish -- therefore, a rogue. That he is a better rhetorician than mathematician came in his next assertion, that the chance of any randomly chosen state being Jewish is 0.0051pc. Not true, Gabriel. Two decimal places out; it is 0.51pc.
His next argument came from its treatment of Darfurian refugees, the survivors of the Sudanese Janjaweed war of genocide, who are scorned throughout the Middle East, and even shot on sight in Egypt (Dear old Egypt). But they are welcomed in Israel, with the Israeli government even sending out its soldiers into the Sinai to rescue what are, in essence, illegal immigrants. Clearly, a rogue again.
Thirdly, the Israeli government engages in an activity that the rest of the world shuns -- it negotiates with terrorists. Yasser Abed Rabbo is one of the lead PLO negotiators in talks with Israel. He was formerly a leader of the PFLP -- "an organisation that engaged in such freedom-promoting activities as killing 22 Israeli high-school students".
Gabriel argued that (amongst other governments) the British government would never negotiate with terrorists -- but he was on weaker ground here. Lauren Booth's semi-brother-in-law, yes Phony Tony, even had terrorists staying with him at his personal residence at Chequers. But his point is that to negotiate with murderers -- as Israel does -- is surely the mark of a rogue.
Fourth, Israel has a better human rights record than any of its neighbours. Quite so. As Gabriel himself said, there has never been a liberal democratic state in the Middle East -- except for Israel.
And of all the countries in the region, Israel is the only one where lesbians, gays and bisexuals enjoy equality. In Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and Syria, homosexual conduct is punishable by flogging or imprisonment, or both. In Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, homosexuals are put to death. Yet again, Israel is the rogue, for not killing queers, lezzies and trannies.
And fifthly, Israel is the only democracy in the entire Middle East. Again, clearly a rogue! Gabriel then added a sixth argument -- that Israel wilfully and forcefully disregards international law. Look how in 1981 the Zionists destroyed Saddam Hussein's nuclear bomb plant. The rogues!
Gabriel's co-sponsor of the motion, Lauren Booth, was clearly caught unawares by his brilliant definition of rogue. This convert to Islam divides her loyalties ecumenically between Shia and Sunni mosques in London, which makes her the Islamic equivalent of a Free Presbyterian-Roman Catholic.
She later complained about Gabriel's private use of the F-word to her (and I don't mean Fatima, the shrine at which she was converted to Islam). Well we know that if a man had complained about someone using the F-word to him, he would have been told to grow up, but poor Lauren is a WOOO -- Whingeing Owner Of Ovaries -- and the President of the Union, a silly boy named James Counsell, ordered Gabriel to apologise. The latter refused, (good man, Gabriel) and has accordingly been banned from the Cambridge Union for life.
Obamacare kills health insurance for children -- again
One of the largest union-administered health-insurance funds in New York is dropping coverage for the children of more than 30,000 low-wage home attendants, union officials said. The union blamed financial problems it said were caused by the state’s health department and new national health-insurance requirements.
The fund is administered by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. Union officials said the state compelled the fund to start buying coverage from a third party, which increased premiums by 60%. State health officials denied forcing the union fund to make the switch, saying the fund had been struggling financially even before the switch to third-party coverage.
The fund informed its members late last month that their dependents will no longer be covered as of Jan. 1, 2011. Currently about 6,000 children are covered by the benefit fund, some until age 23.
The union fund faced a “dramatic shortfall” between what employers contributed to the fund and the premiums charged by its insurance provider, Fidelis Care, according to Mitra Behroozi, executive director of benefit and pension funds for 1199SEIU. The union fund pools contributions from several home-care agencies and then buys insurance from Fidelis.
“In addition, new federal health-care reform legislation requires plans with dependent coverage to expand that coverage up to age 26,” Behroozi wrote in a letter to members Oct. 22. “Our limited resources are already stretched as far as possible, and meeting this new requirement would be financially impossible.”
Empty Promises on Healthcare Will Hurt Obama
Barack Obama is only halfway through his term, but it's not too early to ask: What is the biggest whopper he has told as president? So far, the hands-down winner is, "No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your healthcare plan, you'll be able to keep your healthcare plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what."
Obama made that particular pledge in a speech to the American Medical Association in June 2009, but he said the same thing, with slight variations, dozens of times during the healthcare debate. And now, exactly eight months after he signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, we're seeing just how empty the president's promise was.
The New York Times reports there is a "growing frenzy of mergers" in the healthcare field in which hospitals and other care providers, pressured by the new law's provisions, are joining forces to save money. "Consumer advocates fear that the healthcare law could worsen some of the very problems it was meant to solve," the paper reports, "by reducing competition, driving up costs and creating incentives for doctors and hospitals to stint on care, in order to retain their cost-saving bonuses."
The Obama administration's answer to the problem will undoubtedly be more regulation. But the wave of mergers is just one of many signs of trouble with the new law.
For example, we know that the government's Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has found that the new law will increase healthcare costs, rather than reduce them, in the coming decade. We know that cuts in Medicare, with the money saved going to pay for expanding coverage to the poor, will jeopardize seniors' access to care. We know the law will make it impossibly expensive for companies that currently offer bare-bones health coverage to low-income employees to keep doing so. We know several corporations are taking giant write-downs because the bill will increase the cost of providing prescription-drug coverage to retired employees. And perhaps most important, we know the law offers an enormous incentive for employers who currently provide coverage to workers to stop doing so, sending those workers to buy coverage in government-subsidized healthcare exchanges.
In sum, what the law means for millions of Americans is: No matter what the president said, if you like the coverage you have now, you can't keep it.
Liberal lid won't fit on boiling Tea pot
Whew. Liberals are breathing a sigh of relief after the Associated Press released a poll this past week showing that Tea Partiers are out of step with the rest of America. Doctrinaire liberal: "We just knew those people were wacko. Now we have proof."
Another doctrinaire liberal: "Thank goodness for polls like this and a reliable outlet like AP, or Sarah Palin and her backwoods family might yet dance their way right into the White House."
Here's how AP spun it:
" 'Tea party' backers fashion themselves as 'we the people,' but polls show the Republican Party's most conservative and energized voters are hardly your average crowd.
"According to an Associated Press-GfK Poll this month, 84 percent who call themselves tea party supporters don't like how President Barack Obama is handling his job - a view shared by just 35 percent of all other adults. Tea partiers are about four times likelier than others to back repealing Obama's health care overhaul and twice as likely to favor renewing tax cuts for the highest-earning Americans."
Doctrinaire liberal: "See? They're out of the mainstream. Now we can get back to pretending we care about the national debt. Hey, have we told you how debt talk can translate into higher taxes?"
Here's their problem: The only poll that counts was taken Nov. 2, when liberals were routed all over the nation in the Great Shellacking. So, either those Tea Partiers found a way to resurrect the dead like miracle-performing precinct captains in Chicago and Baltimore or the nation is closer to the Tea Party vision than liberals want to admit.
There is other evidence that Americans are not quite ready to jump back aboard the Hope and Change Express. The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll on Wednesday showed that just 28 percent of voters "strongly approve" of how Mr. Obama is performing as president. Forty-two percent strongly disapprove, "giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of minus 14."
I'm not a statistician, but combined with rude comments from Democratic consultant James Carville about Mr. Obama's anatomy, these developments indicate that Mr. Obama's troubles are deepening and the Tea Party's moment in the sun may be just beginning.
Even if the AP poll is accurate and the Tea Party crowd is more adamant than other Americans about rejecting Obama Nation, that should not bring liberals any solace. People who are politically active are naturally more energized and motivated than other citizens. And it takes only a highly motivated minority to shift political tectonic plates.
Largely out of step with America, liberals have enjoyed decades of success because the liberal media have kept the spotlight off their prevarications and policy failures. But the new media have changed that.
Now, when you hear the New York Times or CBS touting "research" showing that global warming causes hair loss, herpes and acid rain in the Sahara, you can check out other sources.
Medical malpractice reform a good chance for a GOP win
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that medical malpractice reform would save $54 billion over the course of the next ten years.
Savings in the cost of insurance premiums doctors are forced to pay, coupled with savings from ending the defensive medical practices that result from fear of frivolous lawsuits which result in doctors ordering multiple expensive tests just to cover themselves.
Medical malpractice reform will not only save money for everyone involved in the delivery of health care, it will increase the availability of health care overall....
House Republicans have the opportunity to force Harry Reid’s Senate Democrats to confront the harsh reality of the deal they have made with the nation’s trial lawyers, and with some aggressive work by Senate Republicans, they would have to make a choice.
In the past two years, the Democrats chose their big money funders in the professional lawsuit industry over the needs of patients to gain access to quality, affordable health care. Republicans, if they hold every vote in their conference, have the opportunity to force them to choose again. While getting 13 votes to invoke cloture may be a bridge too far, it will only require the votes of four vulnerable or already partially supportive Democrats like Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Jon Tester of Montana, Tom Carper of Delaware and Virginia’s Jim Webb to force Reid into the uncomfortable position of opposing legislation that a majority of the Senate supports.
The imagery of Harry Reid and the Democrats turning their backs on African American expectant mothers who cannot find an obstetrician due to their acquiescence to the wealthy trial bar doesn’t fit nicely into the ObamaCare narrative for the 2012 election, and so the Republicans should have some political leverage.
Who knows? Maybe 2011 will finally be the year when our nation’s lawmakers deal with one of the key factors denying access to medical care and stand up to the powerful trial bar. At least one can hope.
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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)