|Mr Yaalon said senior officers should be able to provide a moral compass for their troops|
May 9, 2016
November 6, 2014
May 5, 2013
The Conservative MP and deputy speaker of the Commons, Nigel Evans, was arrested yesterday at his cottage in Lancashire on suspicion of rape and sexual assault. Forensic teams searched the property, in the village of Pendleton, and Mr Evans was then questioned at Preston police station before being released on bail.
The 55-year-old MP, who came out as gay in 2010, is accused of raping a man and sexually assaulting a second man between July 2009 and March this year. The attacks are alleged to have taken place against men in their 20s. He has represented the safe Conservative seat of Ribble Valley for 21 years. Both the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, were immediately informed of Mr Evans's arrest.
The MP, who also has a home in east London, was born in Swansea, the son of a newsagent, and has held a variety of government posts in the course of his career. He was a parliamentary private secretary to several senior ministers in John Major's government, including employment secretary David Hunt, and William Hague. He has since held a series of senior roles in the party, including vice-chairman in 2004. He is a noted global-warming sceptic, and has been a consistent opponent of the minimum wage.
Councillor Terry Hill, deputy chairman of the Ribble Valley Conservative Association, said: "I have just heard the news. I am in complete and utter shock.
"People are innocent until proven guilty, but I'm sure that discussions will take place pretty quickly to decide what reaction [the association] gives."
Brian Binley, Tory MP for Northampton South, said: "I know him to be caring, compassionate and in no way would he inflict himself violently on any other person. I just hope and pray that this thing is cleared up sooner rather than later."
Mr Evans came out as a gay in 2010 in an interview with The Mail on Sunday, saying that he was "tired of living a lie". The MP said he had been persuaded to go public after a conversation at a party with the Coronation Street actress Vicky Entwistle, who lives in his Lancashire constituency. "Vicky and I went for a drink after the party and she said to me, 'You're gay, aren't you?' It's a subject I avoid usually but Vicky is very natural and I told her I was," he said. "I thought to myself, 'I am now telling people I am gay – it's time I did something about it and told everyone.'"
Mr Evans said he had been inspired by the rugby union player Gareth Thomas, a fellow Welshman, who had come out a few months previously. "If people like Gareth, who was married, can come out, it should be no big deal for me," he said. Mr Evans claims that he had been challenged by an unnamed Labour MP to go public with his sexuality, reportedly with the threat that he would be exposed otherwise, before coming out.
The MP's parents ran a corner shop on a council estate in Swansea, South Wales, while he was growing up. Mr Evans joined the Conservative Party aged 17 and served as a local councillor in West Glamorgan. He had lost elections in Swansea West and Pontypridd before taking on his current constituency of Ribble Valley. He lost a by-election there in 1991 but won the seat from the Lib Dems the following year at the general election. He has held the seat comfortably since, and at the last general election increased his majority.
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: "We take all allegations of a sexual nature extremely seriously and understand how difficult it can be for alleged victims to have the confidence to come forward."
Mr Evans has been bailed to return before police on 19 June.
May 3, 2013
Venezuela’s National Aseembly Had a Brawl } We Are Waiting for US Congress to Join One of These Days. At Least The’ll be doing Something
Republicans and Democrats aren’t coming to blows. Check out the wild brawl that broke out on Tuesday in Venezuela’s National Assembly.
April 16, 2013
April 7, 2013
When citizens become patients, the country's growing economic divide is painfully evident.
miss the video at the end of the page
miss the video at the end of the page
Irina, an elegant 70-year-old pensioner with a shock of white hair, sporting modest makeup and a smart black coat, cut a peculiar figure behind the wheel of a taxi on Moscow’s snowy roads this month.
A widow, Irina says that cab fares are the only way she can make enough money to get treatment for her daughter. She brushes away tears with apparent embarrassment as she explains that her divorced 33-year-old daughter, a German-Russian translator, has advanced leukemia and urgently requires a blood transfusion to replace platelets in her blood stream.
“I am not getting out of this car until I have 5000 rubles,” Irina says. “That’s what it costs for a donor for a single day. They say that if she doesn’t get this blood, it will be too late and the illness will become irreversible. This is quite literally a matter of life and death.”
Irina gets a monthly pension of 13,000 rubles as a former civil servant who retired from the Foreign Ministry a decade ago. She says she has no one to turn to for help.
“If anyone tries to tell me that we have good medical health care, what can I say? It is bad. Where can I get 5,000 rubles in a day? Tell me — where?”
She declines to give her surname or be photographed out of apparent shame for herself and her daughter. “I’m not healthy either," she says. "I am disabled and I have problems with my lungs. And I’m driving I’m earning money. I’m ashamed. I’m so unbelievably ashamed. When you see a woman of my age driving a taxi… it is shame. Pure shame.”
"I really wish care wasn’t so expensive," says Lyubov Mitichkina, a Sister of Mercy and senior nurse at Saint Alexei. “The vulnerable section of society really need the government’s help as they can only receive free care to a very limited extent.”
Queues and corruption
Alexander Saversky, head of the Patients' Rights Protection League, said the health care system is increasingly focused on paid treatment. He says that state hospitals offer paid services in parallel with free services, which he claims makes it profitable for doctors to pressure patients into paying for treatment.
“We have queues because the top doctors want to earn more money and create queues so that for patients get to treatment they have to pay money,” said Saversky.
He explained that the health care system has not recovered from the lows of the turbulent 1990s that followed the Soviet collapse. He pointed to the World Health Organization’s 2000 report that ranked Russia in 130th. He said Russia’s system had deteriorated faster than its post Soviet neighbors Kazakhstan and Belarus, which ranked 64th and 72nd respectively.
Research from the ROMIR center found last year that 65 percent of Russians paid for medical services and 20 percent of patients made informal payments to doctors. One estimate put these shadow patients at $5.5 billion last year.
Natalya Bondarenko of the Levada Center said that every year there is a larger portion of Russians who say the health care situation is worsening. In 2012, polls showed it was a bigger national bugbear than corruption, one of the main drivers of the last year of street protests against President Vladimir Putin.
"It is a larger concern than the problem of corruption and improvement of the police force. That's a pretty significant indicator,” said Bondarenko.
Fewer Russians who can afford to go private, risk going to state-funded services, according to Elena Prikhodova, 44, the executive director of a fund that allocates health cover for personnel at JSC Medicina.
“Free health care in Russia doesn’t exist,” says Prikhodova. “The range of medicines that are available for free are probably not enough. You need more. If you want to be healthy, then you have to pay.”
Pirkhodova holds medical insurance at JSC Medicina, an award-winning private clinic in the elite Mayakovskaya district of Moscow established in 1990.
A first-time consultation with the doctor costs between $80 and $100.
A Maserati is parked outside and a harp player strums in the foyer as receptionists guide patients through spacious, wood-paneled corridors. These lead into immaculate clinics with state-of-the-art equipment.
Prikhodova says she recently injured her leg when she slipped while making her children’s beds at home. She says she was rapidly seen by a doctor, X-rayed quickly and received top-class treatment. She squeezed in a subsequent check-up during her lunch break.
“Of course,” she says, “a main problem is avoiding long queues.”
The clinic has a bustling commercial marketing department, which did not allow GlobalPost to interview patients apart from Prikhodova.
It forwarded kitschy promotional images of expansive hotel-style recovery rooms featuring planted patients relaxing in large quilted beds beside faux antique telephones. Its clientele are top managers, cultural figures and politicians, as well as middle managers.
“Haggling” for health
The Sisters of Mercy operate a nightly bus of volunteers who reach out to the homeless with shelter, food and treatment during Moscow’s bitter winters. It also helps poor families raise funds for expensive medical care.
Without such charity financing, there is every chance wheelchair-bound 12-year old Dasha Smirnova would not have survived 2012. She was born with cerebral palsy and her mother Polina was told that she would die unless she received risky corrective surgery on her spinal cord.
But Russia’s top state institute for this surgery declined to perform the operation, leaving what looked like only one option — to use inexperienced surgeons in Moscow.
“I asked them whether they had ever done the operation and they openly admitted that they had only done it twice over a matter of years. Dasha is my only child – I decided to try different options.”
Polina Smirnova, 37, is not poor by any stretch in terms of property and income, She owns a 9-floor apartment which she inherited from the mass post-Soviet housing privatization and she earns 40,000 rubles a month ($1,320) as an assistant at a jewelry company.
But, she says, the operation, wheelchair, medicine and rehabilitation for her daughter far surpass her insurance coverage.
Smirnova applied to various charity support schemes and raised 1.6 million rubles through the Sisters of Mercy, which allowed her to fly Dasha to Germany for the operation. It also afforded her a German-made wheelchair.
Polina knows how lucky she has been to find charity help. Every year thousands of children are handed over to orphanages as parents see health complications such as cerebral palsy as an insurmountable challenge.
“The state does not pay for medicine for disabled children. So I have to buy medicine,” said Polina, adding that up to $200 a month goes to stocking up on a pages-long shopping list of medicines. She says she feels abandoned by the state.
Saversky of the Patients' Rights Protection League sums up the health care landscape for Muscovites:
“The patient is constantly haggling,” he says. “Do you want the pills that work or do you want the ones that could maim you? Do you want the prosthetic limb that becomes rusty or do you want the one that will last your whole life? The system is always bearing down on the patient.”
March 17, 2013
With US forces having withdrawn after the deaths of almost 4,500 American troops and an estimated $1 trillion outlay, there is little soul-searching in Washington today about a war that has faded from public consciousness.
And 10 years after the “shock and awe” that launched Operation Iraqi Freedom, removing Saddam Hussein from power, most analysts and diplomats agree the Iraq war did nothing to improve the US position in the Middle East.
On the contrary, “misplaced certainty” about the ability of US military power to do the job and a lack of regard to Saddam’s role as an Arab counterbalance to Iran have harmed American interests, he said.
“The fall of Saddam didn’t just create a power vacuum in Baghdad, it created a power vacuum in the region, which plunged neighboring states into an intense environment of security competition” that continues today, Mardini added.
Such miscalculations were not confined to the presidency of George W. Bush, according to Christopher Hill, a veteran of the peace settlement in Bosnia and North Korea nuclear talks, who arrived in Baghdad in 2009 as the US ambassador.
Hill, now dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, suggested the “complete disconnect between Washington” and people such as himself “on the ground” continued until the end.
Barack Obama had used his opposition to the war to distinguish himself from Hillary Clinton when seeking the Democratic nomination in 2008. As president, he ended US military involvement on the same December 2011 timeline set by Bush.
“America did not show enough strategic patience with politics in Iraq,” Hill said, recalling the months he spent trying to ensure a government was formed after elections in 2010 that served Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish interests.
Instead, US policy continued to be largely guided by military considerations, said Hill, noting that general David Petraeus’s recent fall from grace has left many people “including me” to take “a more honest look” at Iraq.
Petraeus became the face of the “surge,” a mix of troop reinforcements and counterinsurgency tactics which in 2007 was credited, along with Sunni tribes turning against Al-Qaeda and siding with the US military, with halting the worst of Iraq’s bloody sectarian conflict.
“There were people in Washington more interested in consolidating gains made in counterinsurgency warfare than in understanding the essential politics of the country,” said Hill.
As a result, the Iraq that America left behind had a “democratic standard that we would not sign off on,” and the “great game for Iraq” is under way among its neighbors, Hill added.
Obama’s desire for a smooth military exit perhaps reflects the tortured place that the conflict occupies in the American psyche.
“All rhetoric aside, we invaded a country by mistake,” said James Dobbins, director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corporation, a Washington think tank with close ties to the US government.
“For all Saddam’s malign intent, he had effectively been disarmed already. The sanctions had worked.”
With no nuclear weapons program or significant chemical weapons dumps ever found, the second Bush administration refocused its effort on establishing a pro-Western state in occupied Iraq, aiming to gain a regional ally.
(via Agence France-Presse}Dobbins, who has held State Department and White House posts, including assistant secretary of state for Europe and special assistant to the president, said Americans should not fool themselves about the limited outcome. ON THE SIDE:
It appears that in only 10 years Iraq has emerged has one of the world’s military weapons and hardware buyer. They have oil and it seems they have given the priority to National Defense. They have no Street sewage but would have nice shinny tanks and airplanes.
What this means no body knows. Lets hope that the government stabilizes there. At the present the small kingdom of Jordan may be the only government stable enough that an ally can depend on not being drag to war alongside them.
Everyone had their hopes in Egypt but the election in which the Moslem Brotherhood took over and proceeded to bring Egypt back to the middle ages with their sharia laws. This happened because the moderate people did not like the choices so they stayed home. Big mistake that some times we make here in the USA and find ourselves decades after an incompetent president leaves, yet through his life appointments will linger on until death and their unjust laws with them. Just because we were not 100% satisfied on the candidates and either stayed home or voted with the majority not to have a’wasted’ vote…which by the way that is something that does not exists. Doing just that is what brings misery to the country every 20 to 40 years or so.
Adam Gonzalez for adamfoxie*
March 16, 2013
BUENOS AIRES (ARGENTINA): It's beyond dispute that Jorge Mario Bergoglio, like most other Argentines, failed to openly confront the 1976-1983 military junta as it kidnapped and killed thousands of people in a "dirty war" to eliminate leftist opponents.
However, human rights activists differ on how much responsibility Pope Francis personally deserves for the Argentine church's dark historyof supporting the murderous dictatorship.
The new pope's authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin, argues that this was a failure of theRoman Catholic Church in general, and that it's unfair to label Bergoglio, then a thirty-something leader of Argentina's Jesuits, with the collective guilt that many Argentines of his generation still wrestle with.
"In some way many of us Argentines ended up being accomplices," at a time when anyone who spoke out could be targeted, Rubin recalled in an interview with Associated Press just before the papal conclave.
Some leading Argentine human rights activists agree that Bergoglio, now 76, doesn't deserve to be lumped together with other church figures who were closely aligned with the dictatorship.
"Perhaps he didn't have the courage of other priests, but he never collaborated with the dictatorship," Adolfo Perez Esquivel, who won the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize for documenting the junta's atrocities, said Thursday. "Bergoglio was no accomplice of the dictatorship. He can't be accused of that," Perez Esquivel told Radio de la Red in Buenos Aires.
However, others say Bergoglio's rise through the Argentine church since then has put him in many positions of power where he could have done more to atone for the sins of Catholic officialswho did actively conspire with the dictators. Some priests even worked inside torture centers, and blessed those doing the killing.
And now that Argentina is actively putting former dictatorship figures on trial for human rights violations, they say he's been more concerned about preserving the church's image than providing evidence that could lead to convictions.
"There's hypocrisy here when it comes to the church's conduct, and with Bergoglio in particular," said Estela de la Cuadra, whose family lost five members during the junta years and whose mother co-founded the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo activist group to search for missing people. "There are trials of all kinds now, and Bergoglio systematically refuses to support them."
Bergoglio twice invoked his right under Argentine law to refuse to appear in open court in trials involving torture and murder inside the feared Navy Mechanics School and the theft of babies from detainees. When he eventually did testify in 2010, his answers were evasive, human rights attorney Myriam Bregman told the AP.
Bergoglio's own statements proved church officials knew from early on that the junta was torturing and killing its citizens even as the church publicly endorsed the dictators, she said. "The dictatorship could not have operated this way without this key support," she said.
Rubin, a religious affairs writer for the Argentine newspaper Clarin, said Bergoglio actually took major risks to save so-called "subversives" during the dictatorship, but never spoke about it publicly before his 2010 biography, "The Jesuit."
In the book, Bergoglio said he didn't want to stoop to his critics' level — and then shared some of his stories. Bergoglio said he once passed his Argentine identity papers to a wanted man with a similar appearance, enabling him to escape over the border to Brazil. Various times, he said he sheltered people inside church properties before they were safely delivered into exile.
The most damning accusation against Bergoglio is that as the military junta took over in 1976, he withdrew his support for two slum priests whose activist colleagues in the liberation theology movement were disappearing. The priests were then kidnapped and tortured at the Navy Mechanics School, which the junta used as a clandestine prison.
(Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio meets Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner)
Bergoglio said he had told the priests — Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics — to give up their slum work for their own safety, and they refused.
"I warned them to be very careful," Bergoglio told Rubin. "They were too exposed to the paranoia of the witch hunt. Because they stayed in the barrio, Yorio and Jalics were kidnapped."
Yorio later accused Bergoglio of effectively delivering them to the death squads by declining to publicly endorse their work. Yorio is now dead, and Jalics has refused to discuss those events since moving into a German monastery.
Both priests were eventually dropped off blindfolded in a field after a harrowing helicopter ride, two of the few detainees to have survived that prison.
Rubin said Bergoglio only reluctantly told him the rest of the story: that he had gone to extraordinary, behind-the-scenes lengths to save them.
The Jesuit leader persuaded the family priest of feared dictator Jorge Videla to call in sick so that he could say Mass instead. Once inside the junta leader's home, Bergoglio privately appealed for mercy, Rubin wrote.
"Fortunately, a while later they were freed, first because they couldn't accuse them of anything, and second, because we moved like crazy people. The very night that I learned of their kidnapping, I began moving" to save them, Bergoglio recalled. All this was done in secret, at a time when other church leaders were publicly endorsing the junta and calling on Catholics to restore their "love for country" despite the terror in the streets. Other members of the slum church who were captured along with the priests were never seen again.
"It's a very sensitive subject," Rubin told the AP. "The Argentine church was one of the most conservative in Latin America. It showed a good disposition toward the military authorities, who, to make matters worse, considered themselves Christians and called themselves good Catholics."
There were about 50 Argentine bishops at the time, and Bergoglio was somewhere in the middle politically, Rubin suggested.
"There were some who were in it up to their necks," he said, citing Christian Federico von Wernich, who served as a police chaplain then and is now serving a life sentence for torture and kidnapping.
"There were those who risked it all to openly challenge the junta, and some of those ended up dead," Rubin added, among them Bishop Enrique Angelelli who was killed in a suspicious traffic accident in 1976 while carrying evidence about two murdered priests.
Activists say the church has yet to fully apologize for its human rights record, identify those responsible for the many violations the church knew about at the time, or lead Argentina's justice system to bodies and people who were stolen as babies from their birth families.
Bergoglio said when he ran Argentina's bishops conference in the 1990s that no such evidence existed in church files, but that hasn't satisfied Gaston Chillier, director of the Center for Legal and Social Studies, which tracks the country's human rights cases.
"There's a serious problem here, that the new pope could be involved in confusing episodes over his role in covering up the human rights violations during the dictatorship, and beyond that, he was the head of the church for a long time during which they didn't apologize. This affects the legitimacy they were hoping to confer on the leader of the church," Chillier said.
Bergoglio was named Buenos Aires cardinal in 2001, after running the Argentine conference of bishops for several years. Under his leadership, Argentina's bishops issued a collective apology in October 2012 for the church's failures to protect its flock during the dictatorship, but the statement blamed the era's violence in roughly equal measure on both the junta and its enemies.
"Bergoglio has been very critical of human rights violations during the dictatorship, but he has always also criticized the leftist guerrillas; he doesn't forget that side," Rubin said
Donald Trump was supposed to be the guy who would fix everything in Washington, but after two months in office he’s p...
Words from the publisher: Before you start reading this posting let me warn you that NOT ALL the information here has been verified. Th...
If Trump’s Grand daddy would have been denied entrance here (we were in between wars with Germany)Trump would not be here...
[ thinkprogress.org ] JUDD LEGUM : He seems to have made things worse, with many noting that his phrasing implied...