Thursday, March 28, 2013

Devout Jews detained for attempted animal sacrifice

This is thoroughly obnoxious.  By what strange logic are Jews to be denied equal rights in Israel? Muslims can do whatever they like on the temple mount.  Animal sacrifice is clearly commanded in the Torah.  Is the Bible the book of the Jews or is it not?  If Jews renounce continuity with the Israelites of old, their entitlement to the land of Israel becomes very shaky

A lamb and two humans were detained by police in Jerusalem on Monday as they were making their way to the Temple Mount.

The humans, hard-right political and religious activists Noam Federman and Arye Sunnenberg, intended to go to the Temple Mount and carry out the Jewish ritual of the Passover Sacrifice, involving the slaughter of a lamb.

The sacrifice is an important commandment within Jewish law, which some religious authorities argues does not require the existence of a Temple for its performance.  It must, however, be conducted on the Temple Mount.

Federman and Sunnenberg are both associated with several Temple Mount organizations that insist on the right to Jewish prayer and worship at the holy site.

Both men were released a short time later although as of Tuesday night, the lamb remained in police custody.

Federman was stopped by the police close to the city center with the lamb in his car.

He said that since he had not been conducting any criminal activity, the police had detained him for infracting an Agriculture Ministry ordinance prohibiting the transport of livestock without a permit from a veterinarian.

Federman claimed that since he had made public his intentions to perform a Passover Sacrifice on the Temple Mount, the police had conducted a search in the city for his vehicle.

The Joint Association of Temple Organizations said it was concerned that the police intended to keep the lamb in administrative detention for another month, to prevent it from being brought as a sacrifice at the latest possible date, a month after the first day of Passover.

Although the Supreme Court has upheld Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount, the court allows the police to prevent prayer and other forms of worship if they believe that such activity will cause a disturbance of the public order.

The Wakf Muslim religious trust which administers the Temple Mount is fiercely opposed to any non-Muslim prayer there.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Federman said that for the police to prevent Jews from carrying out a central Jewish commandment like the Passover Sacrifice was extremely troubling.

“It’s unbelievable that Arabs are allowed to do whatever they feel like on the Temple Mount, yet Jews are forbidden from doing a mitzva which, according to Jewish law, if someone doesn’t perform incurs the punishment of spiritual excommunication,” he said.

Yehuda Glick, the association spokesman, said the Temple Mount organizations felt that that there needed to be some kind of protest at the infringement of the freedom of religion that prohibiting the performance of the Passover Sacrifice constitutes.

Asked whether the concern for public disturbance was reasonable given Muslim sensitivities, Glick said that the police exaggerate the threat and impose a de facto blanket ban on prayer and worship regardless of the situation.

He added that the police considerations should not come at the expense of freedom of religion.



The day the Euro banks became bank robbers

By Robert Romano

How can deposits in Cyprus be unavailable for withdrawal, and yet somehow available for taxation?

This has been a burning question for me as I have observed the banking crisis in the Mediterranean island nation — where banks have faced heavy losses on Greek sovereign debt, European officials proposed a levy on Cypriot bank deposits, and all the while banks were shut down to prevent withdrawals.

So I asked an expert, Mike “Mish” Shedlock of Mish’s Global Economic Analysis fame to reconcile the seeming contradiction. If there’s no money in the banks, how can deposits in them be taxed?

Mr. Shedlock even kindly created a blog post to answer the question publicly, wherein he wrote, “I believe that’s a rhetorical question. Robert knows the answer. Even with the EU kicking in 10 billion euros (a loan not a gift), the money is not there. If the banks were sufficiently capitalized, there would not be a need for capital controls.”

To be fair, when I wrote my letter, I was legitimately baffled. But as it turned out I was simply in denial. I had answered my own question.

So, now that Cyprus has agreed to confiscate up to 30 percent of the savings of those with uninsured deposits over €100,000, many from Russia, where did the money go?

Technically, it went nowhere — as it had already been lent out by the Cypriot banks. It was lost the moment they lent the money to Greece by purchasing their bonds. When Greece defaulted, it put the Cypriot banks who lent them the money effectively into default as well.

What is occurring now is that the banks are writing off a liability — some €4.2 billion of uninsured deposits they owe — effectively defaulting on their obligations to those depositors. A move that in reality does not require any funds to be transferred anywhere.

If it makes it simpler to think about, the money is effectively being destroyed. The Cypriot banks will no longer show losses on Greek debt, and the uninsured depositors’ account statements will be now €4.2 billion lighter.

In fact, in this latest deal, there was no deposit tax levied by the Cypriot parliament. There was no vote to do so. The legislation that did ultimately pass Cyprus’ parliament provided for the restructuring of the banks there.

As German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble explained, “The Commission informed us today that the necessary legislation to implement these points has already been passed… Additional legislation would only have been necessary if a levy on uninsured deposits would have been raised but (not) for restructuring of the banks in question.”

Such a move was a necessary precondition for those banks to receive €10.7 billion of recapitalization loans from the so-called Troika: The European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

In short, to “avert” a bank collapse in Cyprus, the banks there are defaulting on depositors’ savings. Which, basically means they collapsed anyway — and will be reconstituted using new Troika loans.

A similar result occurred in Iceland in 2008 when the Icesave bank collapsed and British and Dutch depositors were not covered under Iceland’s deposit insurance regime. The reason that had to be so was because the banking system — which was up to 10 times larger than Iceland’s economy — was too big to save.

In other words, when financial institutions bet everyone’s savings on the roulette wheel landing on red, and it lands on black, somebody has to end up holding the bag. In that case, Iceland guaranteed domestic depositors, devalued its currency, and utilized some capital controls. And then when the United Kingdom and the Netherlands came looking for their citizens’ money, the Icelanders told them to go pound sand. As well they should have.

What made the original deposit tax in Cyprus so outrageous — and even the latest deposit write-off — is that although it falls on foreign depositors, any Cypriot with more than €100,000 in savings is taking it on the chin, too.

At least Iceland protected its own citizens, who were the government’s primary concern there. It let the banks fail themselves. Whereas in Cyprus, the banks are being saved — and the euro itself — at the expense of the wealthy.

Both cases underscore something that everyone should have already known: Uninsured deposits are, well, uninsured. If the bank that holds them goes kaput, so do the savings.

The key takeaway now is that anyone who keeps uninsured deposits in the Eurozone — or anywhere else for that matter — is doing so at their own risk.

Already, this “one-off” is being discussed as a template to resolving the sovereign debt crisis across Europe.  Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said after the Cyprus episode that if a bank cannot meet capital requirements, “then we’ll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders, we’ll ask them to contribute to recapitalizing the bank, and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders.”

Can you say, “bank run”? Why should any depositor keep their funds in Eurozone banks if they are subject to seizure at any moment?

Dijsselbloem’s comments have since been walked back by the Eurogroup which stated “Macro-economic adjustment programmes are tailor-made to the situation of the country concerned and no models or templates are used.”

Nonetheless, even the prospect of deposit seizures raises serious questions about the nature of bank deposits and the relationship between depositors and banks. No longer an asset to be protected, deposits — especially large deposits — can readily be seized and converted into bank capital at will at any time without warning.

That would be bad enough. But this episode also raises troubling questions about property rights. Whether officials care to admit it, the door is now open even for insured deposits to be seized as well.

And since it is practically impossible to live in today’s society without participating in the banking system, this exposes a fundamental shift in the social contract. The fruits of our labor can be taken from us without a moment’s notice at the state’s whim in order to shore up the solvency of a financial institution.

This turns the notion of the government as the protector of property rights on its head. There can be no property rights if the people do not even have a right to keep their own money after taxes.

How can the people trust the government or the banking system to protect their assets when the Cyprus precedent turns the government and the banks into bank robbers with an open vault. Something to think about.



Why Harry Reid is ashamed of the Senate budget

By Rick Manning – Hell must have frozen over this past weekend as the U.S. Senate broke a four year record of intransigence and failure as it unleashed a blizzard of votes that culminated with the passage of a budget document that reveals the plans and priorities of the 50 Democrats who supported it.

It was no mistake that the big reveal by Senate Democrats was that they had no plan whatsoever to ever bring the budget into balance came on Friday evening going into pre-dawn Saturday morning.  Harry Reid and crew clearly were embarrassed by their budget and hoped to avoid widespread media coverage by scheduling votes when they would receive the least amount of attention.

Ironically, Democrat Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) actually had the audacity to complain that it was irresponsible for the Senate to be considering major foreign policy decisions at 3 am on Saturday, referring to a budget amendment that passed putting the Senate on record as opposing the United Nations Small Arms Treaty which the Obama Administration is currently negotiating.

Menendez’s complaint should have been with Majority Leader Reid who deliberately scheduled the vote-a-thon in the wee hours of the morning to keep the results cloaked from real time reporting as much as possible.

But the rationale behind Reid’s Hide the Budget Act makes perfect sense.

The Senate Democrats claimed that their budget was “balanced” a grand total of 230 times as noted by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in spite of their voting for a budget that never even gets close to balance.

In spite of these rhetorical claims, every Democrat Senator with the exception of West Virginia’s Joe Manchin voted against sending the budget back to Committee with instructions that it balance within ten years.  The motion to recommit by Sessions was defeated by a 46–53 margin with Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) not voting.

The significance of this admission by 53 Democrat Senators — 50 of whom voted for final passage of the budget — that they have no intention of ever bringing the budget to balance cannot be overstated.

No matter their orchestrated protestations to the contrary, and their attempts to spin the American people by perverting the definition of balancing the budget, their votes do not lie. The budget that was passed by the Senate Democrats creates $7.3 trillion in new debt over the next ten years despite a $1.5 trillion tax increase.

It immediately increases the budget deficit and grows federal government spending by 60 percent over the next ten years.  Even more stunning, the growth of means-tested spending increases by 80 percent — i.e spending on those who are the poorest amongst us.

This last point is a bald admission that the Democrats who voted for this budget do not believe that their big government policies will work. Nor do they think their budget will grow the economy or ween people away from government dependency, but instead they project that the very dependency that sucks the self-respect from the least of these, will dramatically increase. Incredibly, the Senate Democrats actually budgeted for the failure of their policies.

To put an exclamation point on the devastating impact that the Senate Democrat vision for federal government taxing and spending would have on American’s who want a job, the Heritage Foundation found that if passed into law, it would cost our nation an average of 853,000 jobs per year for the next ten years.

That’s 8.5 million jobs that either won’t be created or would go away entirely if the Senate Democrats’ vision for America became a reality.

That’s 8.5 million Americans consigned to perpetual dependency rather than developing the kind of sustainable careers that our nation’s workers have traditionally been able to depend upon.

That’s 8.5 million disappointments, tears and putting off a vibrant future for another day as American workers are stuck in a cycle of Democrat Senate induced dependency rather than being able to stand on their own two feet to determine their own futures based upon their ability and hard work.

That’s simply unacceptable and inexcusable.  Yet, it is the consequence of a Senate Democrat vision that dramatically increases government, puts another $7 trillion onto the national debt, all the while sucking an additional $1.5 trillion in new taxes out of the economy.

Thankfully, one of the positives from the Senate budget debate is that our U.S. Senate went on the record on a number of other issues, producing mixed results.

Beyond the UN Small Arms Treaty vote, another of these was the vote of support by 56 Senators in favor of illegal immigrants having access to free taxpayer funded health care should they become legal under a future immigration reform bill.

Another vote that is good news for those who believe in free markets but bodes ill for those in the Obama Administration who hope to pass a carbon tax, as 53 Senators rejected this holy grail for the environmental left on a bi-partisan basis.

This past weekend was indeed momentous for not only the Senate Democrats being forced to actually do their jobs and lay out their budgetary vision for the country, but also for the 47 votes taken that put every Senator on record on many of the other critical issues facing our nation.

It is just too bad that Harry Reid was so ashamed of the product his Budget Committee produced that he attempted to hide their work behind a late night curtain.




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