The June 30 Deadline For The Iran Talks Will Be Missed

ABC News is reporting that Iran‘s foreign minister is headed home to consult with Iran’s leaders before he returns to Vienna for further negotiations.

PJMedia is also covering the story.

PJMedia reports:

Iranian media said Mohammed Javad Zarif’s trip was planned in advance. Still, the fact that he was leaving the talks so close to the Tuesday deadline reflected his need to get instructions on how to proceed on issues where the sides remain apart — among them how much access Tehran should give to U.N. experts monitoring his country’s compliance to any deal.

ABC News reports:

The United States insists on more intrusive monitoring than Iran is ready to give. With these and other disputes still unresolved, the likelihood that the Tuesday target deadline for an Iran nuclear deal could slip was increasingly growing even before the U.S. confirmation.

The dispute over access surfaced again Sunday, with Iranian Gen. Masoud Jazayeri saying that any inspection by foreigners of Iran’s military centers is prohibited.

He said the attempt by the U.S. and its allies to “obtain Iran’s military information for years … by the pressure of sanctions” will not succeed.

But German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who joined the talks Friday, said Iran’s “nuclear activities, no matter where they take place,” must be verifiable.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Zarif met in Vienna for their third encounter since Saturday. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also is in Vienna, as is British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, while Russia and China are represented for now by deputy foreign ministers.

The article at PJMedia concludes with the truth:

The real question is how much of a cave-in to Iranian red lines the U.S. will agree to. Not being able to inspect military installations, as Iran insists, would almost certainly lead to widespread opposition not just in the U.S., but also in France, which has threatened to walk from the talks unless there is a strict inspections regime. And the president’s continued insistence that some sanctions on Iran be maintained for years will probably be negotiated away in favor of something approaching immediate lifting of most of the important sanctions on Iran’s financial and oil industries.

The extra time for negotiations won’t matter if it simply means more time for an American surrender. Kerry and Obama will do anything to get a deal and that’s what should worry everyone who thinks this is a bad idea.

The Canary In The Coal Mine

Tonight I attended an event at Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, Massachusetts, entitled, “From Austria to Israel: The Worldwide Assault on Christians and Jews.” The speakers were Elizabeth Sabatisch Wolf, Renya Matti, and Moshe and Leah Goldsmith. All of these people are on the front lines of the battle for Western Civilization, and each one had a story to tell.

Ms. Sabatisch Wolf was charged with hate speech in Austria when a journalist recorded a seminar on Islam she was conducting. The European Union does not have a First Amendment that guarantees the right of free speech, and the growing Muslim population of the EU is using the lack of free speech as a weapon to prohibit any criticism of Islam. Mrs. Sabatisch spoke about the growing problem of anti-Semitism in Europe as a result of Europe’s exploding Muslim population.

Ms. Matti is an Assyrian Christian who explained what is happening to Christians and Jews in the Middle East. She reminded us that radical Muslims want to eliminate anyone who does not practice Islam. Her family fled Syria and is now living in Austria. She mentioned that the groups that were attempting to overthrow the government of Syria had been killing Christians and Jews from the beginning of the Syrian civil war. There are no supporters of freedom in that war.

Moshe and Leah Goldsmith are a Jewish couple from Brooklyn who now live in Itamar, Israel. Itamar is in the center of Israel, in the region of Judea and Samaria. They have lived there for more than thirty years, and have witnessed terrorism first hand. Moshe was one of the first responders the night the Fogel family was murdered. They explained the way the media has misrepresented the fact that Judea and Samaria are in the heart of Israel and are an integral part of the country.

The event was a reminder that all of us have a choice to make. What are we going to do about radical Islam? It is not only a European problem; it is not only an Israel problem. After recent events in Garland, Texas, many of us have realized that it is also an American problem. As much as we may want to ignore it, radical Islam will not ignore us. It is time to educate ourselves to this major threat to our freedom and our lives.

Videos of tonight’s event will be posted at the Gates of Vienna website in the near future. It is time for all Americans to wake up and defend their freedom.

 

 

Why Nuclear Disarmament Is A Really Bad Idea

The Washington Free Beacon reported yesterday that Russia’s envoy to NATO has stated that Russia will bolster forces in Ukraine and has not ruled out bringing nuclear weapons into Ukraine.

The article reports:

“Everything that we do in Crimea fully complies with all obligations of the Russian Federation under international treaties. We do not violate anything, there are no prohibitions on us deploying certain weapons systems,” said Alexander Grushko, the envoy, when asked if nuclear arms would be placed in Crimea.

Grushko also declined to say whether nuclear arms currently are deployed inside the Ukrainian territory forcibly annexed by Russia in March 2014. He made the remarks in a video press conference from Moscow with reporters in Brussels, where NATO headquarters is located.

European Command spokesman Capt. Greg Hicks said Grushko’s comments were “rhetoric” and a “diatribe” that would not alter the NATO position on the issue.

Russia stopped worrying about NATO when President Obama changed his mind and did not sent the missile shield to Poland.

The United States Congress has asked that the secretary of defense notify them within seven days if Russia brings nuclear weapons into Ukraine and explain the U.S. strategy and response.

The article concludes:

There have also been U.S. intelligence reports indicating Russia plans to deploy nuclear arms in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, where Iskander short-range missiles are said to be deployed.

Grushko, meanwhile, also called on the United States to withdraw its tactical nuclear weapons from Europe, specifically from Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Turkey.

“I am talking about the practice of the so-called nuclear missions of the NATO states,” he said. “It’s not a new issue, it emerged before the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was signed in 1968.”

“It is strictly forbidden under the NPT. The first article of the treaty prohibits nuclear countries to convey any nuclear arms or other nuclear explosive devices to anyone directly or indirectly,” he added.

“The U.S. must pull out these nuclear bombs to its territory,” Grushko said. “It would be a serious contribution to strategic stability and security in Europe.”

The United States is believed to have around 200 nuclear weapons in Europe. Russia’s tactical nuclear arsenal is at least 2,000 weapons.

If we do not stand up to the Russians at some point, there is a good possibility that they will seize control of more European territory that belongs to countries we are supposed to be allied with.

In November of last year, I posted a story about Ukraine that included the following:

A deal was signed on February 5, 1994, by Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, John Major and Leonid Kuchma—the then-leaders of the United States, Russia, United Kingdom and Ukraine—guaranteeing the security of Ukraine in exchange for the return of its ICBMs to Moscow’s control. The last SS-24 missiles moved from Ukrainian territory in June 1996, leaving Kiev defenseless against its nuclear-armed neighbor.

That deal, known as the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, was not a formal treaty but a diplomatic memorandum of understanding. Still, the terms couldn’t be clearer: Russia, the U.S. and U.K. agreed “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine…reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine.”

I don’t think we have lived up to our part of the bargain. Ukraine is one more country that we are supposed to be allied with that the Obama Administration has treated very badly.

Good News For Britain

David Cameron has won a resounding victory in the British election. Prime Minister Cameron has spoken out strongly against terrorism and has been a leading voice in enunciating the threat that radical Islam poses.

Yahoo News is reporting today on some of the Prime Minister’s other policies:

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he would press ahead with a planned referendum on the country’s membership of the European Union and he promised Scotland the most devolution “anywhere in the world” after his resounding election victory.

“Yes, we will deliver that in-out referendum on our future in Europe,” Cameron said as he addressed the media after visiting Queen Elizabeth to start the process of forming a new government.

Cameron said he would move ahead as fast as possible with a plan to give more powers to Scotland, which voted overwhelmingly for the pro-independence Scottish National Party.

Congratulations, Prime Minister Cameron. Best wishes for a successful term.

This Really Isn’t A Surprise

Reuters is reporting today that Britain has told a United Nations panel in charge of sanctions on Iran that there is an active Iranian nuclear procurement network linked to two blacklisted firms.

The article reports:

“The UK government informed the Panel on 20 April 2015 that it ‘is aware of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network which has been associated with Iran’s Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA) and Kalay Electric Company (KEC)’,” the Panel of Experts said in its annual report. The panel monitors Iran’s compliance with the U.N. sanctions regime.

KEC is under U.N. Security Council sanctions while TESA is under U.S. and European Union sanctions due to their suspected links to banned Iranian nuclear activities.

Iran, which is has been under sanctions for years, has a long history of illicit nuclear procurement using front companies and other methods of skirting sanctions.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. Iran is not an honest negotiator, and America needs to break off talks with them at least until the American prisoners they hold are released.

 

If You Are Concerned About The Nuclear Deal With Iran, Here Is Your Plan Of Action

Hugh Hewitt posted an article on his website today about the recent developments in the Iranian nuclear deal.

The article reports:

Now that Iran has announced (1) there is no deal unless sanctions are lifted on day one and (2) there will be no “anytime, anywhere” access to military facilities, Democrats up for re-election in 2016 and 2018 face a dilemma even if they are indifferent to national security. Both are deal killers (as should have been the continuation of support for the Iran-backed killer militias of the region and export of existing enriched uranium stockpiles and closing of Fordo.)

…Like the vote on the Iraq war, the vote on the Corker-Menendez will haunt senators for a decade or more to come.  Indeed it will haunt them in history.

The article then lists the Democrats facing re-election in 2016 and 2018 and the phone number to contact them.

The article then lists links to interview Hugh Hewitt has done in recent days regarding the Iranian nuclear deal. I strongly suggest that you follow the link above to the article and read more about the nuclear deal. To agree to this deal should be regarded as treason.

This Seems To Be A Rather Unagreeable Agreement

Yesterday the Washington Free Beacon posted an article about the nuclear agreement reached with Iran.

The article reports:

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the Obama administration of misleading the American people and Congress in a fact sheet it released following the culmination of negotiations with the Islamic Republic.

Zarif bragged in an earlier press conference with reporters that the United States had tentatively agreed to let it continue the enrichment of uranium, the key component in a nuclear bomb, as well as key nuclear research.

Zarif additionally said Iran would have all nuclear-related sanctions lifted once a final deal is signed and that the country would not be forced to shut down any of its currently operating nuclear installations.

Following a subsequent press conference by Secretary of State John Kerry—and release of a administration fact sheet on Iranian concessions—Zarif lashed out on Twitter over what he dubbed lies.

Zarif has told reporters that the agreement allows Iran to continue its nuclear program.

It seems the only concession made in the negotiations was that the sanctions on Iran would be lifted. I don’t see any evidence that Iran gave up anything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Sense Is Obviously Becoming More Rare

On Thursday, MSN News reported that the European Union human rights court has ordered France to pay thousands of euros to Somali pirates for violating their rights.

The article reports:

The Somali pirates were apprehended on the high seas by the French army on two separate occasions in 2008 and taken back to France for trial.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said that French authorities should have brought the pirates before a judge “without delay” when they arrived on French territory after being held at sea. The EU’s top human rights court said French authorities were wrong to keep the pirates in custody for an additional 48 hours before bringing them before a judge.

“Nothing justifies such an additional delay,” the court said in its verdict, adding that it constituted a “violation of their rights to freedom and security”.

France was ordered to pay between €5,000 and €2,000 ($6,100 and $2,500) to each pirate for “moral damages”, plus amounts varying from €3,000 to €9,000 ($3,700 and $11,200) to cover legal costs.

They are pirates. They earn a living by attacking ships, stealing and kidnapping and killing innocent people. They gave up their rights to freedom and security when they chose piracy as a profession. Would the court have ruled this way if any of its members had any personal knowledge or experience with Somali pirates?

At Least Someone Is Standing Up For The Ukraine

Yesterday the U.K. Telegraph reported that there was a very tense exchange between Vladimir Putin and David Cameron at the G20 summit.

The article reports:

The Russian president is reportedly planning to leave the summit early on Sunday and miss its official lunch in response to repeated criticism from western leaders.

The move comes after Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister, threatened to “shirt front” Mr Putin – a form of physical confrontation. Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, told Mr Putin: “I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I’ll only have one thing to say to you – get out of the Ukraine.”

Mr Cameron told Mr Putin that he is at a “crossroads” and could face further sanctions after the pair held “robust” discussions on Ukraine.

During a tense 50 minute meeting Mr Cameron warned that Russia is risking its relations with the West and must end its support for Russian separatists.

Let’s remember how we got here. In March of this year the U.K. Daily Mail reported:

As a U.S. senator, Barack Obama won $48 million in federal funding to help Ukraine destroy thousands of tons of guns and ammunition – weapons which are now unavailable to the Ukrainian army as it faces down Russian President Vladimir Putin during his invasion of Crimea.

In August 2005, just seven months after his swearing-in, Obama traveled to Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine with then-Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar, touring a conventional weapons site.

The two met in Kiev with President Victor Yushchenko, making the case that an existing Cooperative Threat Reduction Program covering the destruction of nuclear weapons should be expanded to include artillery, small arms, anti-aircraft weapons, and conventional ammunition of all kinds.

After a stopover in London, the senators returned to Washington and declared that the U.S. should devote funds to speed up the destruction of more than 400,000 small arms, 1,000 anti-aircraft missiles, and more than 15,000 tons of ammunition.

It gets worse. In March of 2014, Newsweek Magazine reminded us:

 A deal was signed on February 5, 1994, by Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, John Major and Leonid Kuchma—the then-leaders of the United States, Russia, United Kingdom and Ukraine—guaranteeing the security of Ukraine in exchange for the return of its ICBMs to Moscow’s control. The last SS-24 missiles moved from Ukrainian territory in June 1996, leaving Kiev defenseless against its nuclear-armed neighbor.

That deal, known as the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, was not a formal treaty but a diplomatic memorandum of understanding. Still, the terms couldn’t be clearer: Russia, the U.S. and U.K. agreed “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine…reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine.”

 I am not convinced that any of the countries involved have lived up to that agreement. America has done very little to ensure the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine (we gave up Crimea very easily, and it is very rarely spoken of in the news).

However, there is good news in this–as the price of oil falls, the economy of Russia will also spiral downward. If America begins sending natural gas to Europe, Russia will lose part of the bullying tactics they have employed in the region. Also, just to make it even more interesting, as the price of oil falls, Venezuela will also continue its economic spiral downward. The falling price of oil will also impact some of the despots in the Middle East that have had a strangle hold on American diplomacy for generations.

American energy independence is important as a security matter, but it is also very important as a component of American foreign policy. As the price of oil falls, we will begin to see the impact of that decrease in international politics.

Facts Are Such Inconvenient Things

Yahoo.com posted an article yesterday about President Obama’s speech at the United Nations. The article pointed out how the President spun the statistics in order to paint a picture that was not entirely true.

Here are a few examples of the spin:

OBAMA: “Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution by more than any other nation on Earth.”

THE FACTS: Europe as a whole has cut a bigger proportion of its emissions.

From 2005 to 2013, the period cited by Obama, the European Union reduced carbon dioxide by 13.9 percent, compared with a 10 percent reduction in the U.S. Because the United States pollutes more, it has reduced more raw emissions than the EU — cutting raw tonnage by 649 million tons since 2005, compared with Europe’s reduction of 614 million tons. But Europe has cut a bigger proportion of its emissions.

…OBAMA: “So, all told, these advances have helped create jobs, grow our economy, and drive our carbon pollution to its lowest levels in nearly two decades — proving that there does not have to be a conflict between a sound environment and strong economic growth.”

THE FACTS: About half of the 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions the U.S. has achieved in recent years can be attributed to the economic recession, not any specific actions from the Obama administration. Obama’s comments also left out that U.S. carbon emissions rose 2.9 percent from 2012 to 2013, the first increase since 2007, because higher natural gas prices spurred more coal use.

OBAMA: “We’re helping more nations skip past the dirty phase of development, using current technologies, not duplicating the same mistakes and environmental degradation that took place previously.”

THE FACTS: The U.S. is actually sending more dirty fuel abroad even as it takes steps to help other nations transition to cleaner energy. The U.S. has cuts its own coal consumption by 195 million tons in six years. But according to an AP analysis of Energy Department data, about 20 percent of that coal was shipped to power plants and other customers overseas. Emissions from that coal were not eliminated but rather moved to other countries. As well, the U.S. exported more products refined from oil — another dirty fuel — than it imported, starting in 2011.

…OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: From a White House background document: “The Climate Action Plan is working. In 2012, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell to the lowest level in nearly two decades.”

THE FACTS: That plan has nothing to do with reductions in emissions in 2012 because it was not announced until June 2013. Moreover, two of its cornerstone regulations — controls on new and existing coal-fired power plants — are at this point just proposals. The administration isn’t expected to complete those rules until next year and some states may not submit plans until after Obama leaves office. The statement also leaves out the fact that in 2013, emissions in the U.S. rose for the first time since 2007.

I don’t know if the listening audience at the United Nations believed what the President said or not, but President Obama obviously has a very casual relationship with the concept of truth.

Some Perspective On The Ukraine

On Thursday the U.K. Telegraph posted an article by Edward Lucas about the situation in the Ukraine. Obviously, events there are moving very quickly. The U.K. Daily Mail posted an article by Mark Almond yesterday. Both articles point to the danger of the spread of the unrest in the Ukraine. Please follow the links to the articles. There is a lot of information in both articles.

The article in the Daily Mail reminds us that the Ukraine is made up of both Russians and Ukrainians. Each group has their own concept of what the country’s relationship with Europe and Russia should be. There is a serious division among the population of the country.

The article in the Telegraph states:

Without Vladimir Putin, Ukraine would be at peace today. It was Russia which forced Ukraine to shun the economic agreement offered by the EU in October, launching a crippling trade war against Ukrainian exports. It was Russia which offered cheap gas and soft loans as the Ukrainian economy tottered. It was Russia which installed hundreds of “advisers” in key Ukrainian public bodies and ministries, including the SBU secret police, to ensure that they toe the Moscow line. Without Russia’s silent putsch, Ukrainians would have not have needed to build barricades in the streets in protest at the regime’s misrule. Even then, without the continued and escalating Russian pressure on Mr Yanukovych, the conflict could have been defused.

We have seen enough of Putin to know that he will not let the Ukraine move toward Europe politically and economically without a fight. President Putin has openly stated that his dream is to bring back the old Soviet Union.

The Telegraph reports:

But Russia’s interference in Ukraine has intensified in recent months, just as Western efforts have floundered. European policymakers still cling to the notion that talks with Russia can bring a mutually beneficial solution to Ukraine’s agony. That is a false hope. The Kremlin does not like win-win solutions. It likes outcomes in which it wins, and its detestable Western rivals lose, preferably humiliatingly – this, for Mr Putin, is a matter of personal prestige. In short, though the EU finds the whole notion of geopolitics old-fashioned and unappealing, geopolitics is happening on its doorstep. And it is losing.

America is out of the game, too. The Obama administration has neglected its European allies since the day it took office. Its senior official dealing with Ukraine, Toria Nuland, is admirably energetic – and blunt (she recently declared “F— the EU” in a phone call to her ambassador in Kiev, bugged and then leaked by Russian intelligence). But she lacks the clout to make the wheels of policy turn in Washington. Without Moscow’s interference, the EU and United States could marshal their modest resources to make a difference. Faced with Russia in all its implacable fury, both are outgunned. The fallout from Edward Snowden’s leaks of secret material from the National Security Agency has corroded and weakened the transatlantic alliance: fury with American snooping in countries such as Germany has paralysed what should be vital discussions on security.

Hopefully this will end with freedom for the people of the Ukraine, but I am not optimistic. I remember how hard Poland fought to be free of the Soviet Union. Putin does not give up easily, and he does not compromise.

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Social Media And The Holocaust

The Blaze posted a story today about an Israeli-based social media genealogy company that is using the Internet to help match property stolen by the Nazis to heirs of the victims. A website called My Heritage founded by Gilad Japhet lets people build their family trees on line. The names on that website are being matched up with the names of businesses and properties seized by the Nazis during the reign of Adolph Hitler so that restitution can be made to survivors and heirs.

The article reports:

“We are only just seeing the huge impact that social media will have on Holocaust history,” said Robert-Jan Smits, the director-general of the European Union’s commission for research and design. “We are moving from dusty archives to digitized databases.”

One of the driving forces behind the new push has been Gilad Japhet, CEO and founder of Israel-based MyHeritage, a social media website with about 70 million registered users worldwide that lets individuals build their own family trees online.

A few months back, Japhet read a report about the Claims Conference’s list of over 40,000 buildings, stores and factories that could not be matched with their original owners. Japhet matched some names on the list to the millions of names that users had posted on MyHeritage’s family trees online.

This is fantastic. The article explains:

Japhet put together a team of five employees and had them write a computer program that automatically matches the names on the Claims Conference’s list with those on the virtual family trees. So far, they have been able to match about 150 names on the list with names on the family trees. They expect to continue working on this project for several more months.

Nothing can make up for the suffering the Jews went through under Adolph Hitler, but it is wonderful to know that members of families who lost everything will be compensated.

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Making Anti-Semitism Official

Last week the Daily Caller reported that the European Union has forbidden its member states from funding Israeli individuals or organizations based in the contested territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The article states:

In new guidelines that were originally published on June 30 and are scheduled to go into effect on Friday, the 28 nations that make up the E.U. are no longer allowed to contribute financially to or cooperate in any way with organizations that are headquartered beyond the historic “Green Line” that divides the West Bank from the rest of Israel.

Significantly, the guidelines also define East Jerusalem as one of the illegal Israeli settlements that cannot receive future funding. East Jerusalem includes Old City landmarks like the Temple Mount and the Western Wall that are central to thousands of years of Jewish faith and history, making Israeli agreement with the ruling very unlikely.

It’s amazing sometimes how some organizations rewrite history. In April 2011, the American Thinker posted an article stating:

…Except that there was no “border” on Israel’s eastern flank from 1948 until 1967 — only a 1949 armistice line that marked the farthest westward military penetration by Jordan during Israel’s War of Independence when half a dozen Arab armies unsuccessfully tried to exterminate the nascent Jewish state.

The 1949 armistice line was never recognized internationally as a “border.”  Neither of course were Jordan’s aggression and illegal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem since  they occurred in flagrant violation of the 1947 UN partition plan to divide British Mandate Palestine between a Jewish state and an Arab state.

Israel needs defensible borders. Israel lives in a tough neighborhood where its neighbors won’t even admit that it has a right to exist there. The European Union is definitely coming down on the wrong side of history.

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The Roots Of The Collapse In Cyprus

Yesterday the New York Times posted an article about a decision made by the European Union in October 2011 that began the unravelling of the banks in Cyprus.

The article reports:

“It was 3 o’clock in the morning,” recalled Kikis Kazamias, Cyprus’s finance minister at the time. “I was not happy. Nobody was happy, but what could we do?”

He was in Brussels as European leaders and the International Monetary Fund engineered a 50 percent write-down of Greek government bonds. This meant that those holding the bonds — notably the then-cash-rich banks of the Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus — would lose at least half the money they thought they had. Eventual losses came close to 75 percent of the bonds’ face value.

The decision resulted in the country of Cyprus, with a gross domestic product of 18 billion euros, taking a hit of four billion euros. Laiki, also known as Cyprus Popular Bank, alone took a hit of 2.3 billion euros. This is not the sole cause of the banking collapse in Cyprus, but it is a major factor.

The article further reports:

As well as hitting Cyprus over its banks’ holdings of Greek bonds, the European Union also abruptly raised the amount of capital all European banks needed to hold in order to be considered solvent. This move, too, had good intentions — making sure that banks had a cushion to fall back on. But it helped drain confidence, the most important asset in banking.

“The bar suddenly got higher,” said Fiona Mullen, director of Sapienta Economics, a Nicosia-based consulting firm. “It was a sign of how the E.U. keeps moving the goal posts.”

The European Union did what it needed to do to protect itself–it did not look at the long-term consequences of its actions, and its actions were tilted toward the interests of the larger countries in the E.U.  Cyprus never really had a chance.

The article further reports:

After the Greek write-down, Cyprus compounded its problems by dithering on whether to seek a bailout from the European Union. At first, it appealed to Russia, which provided a 2.5 billion-euro loan in December 2011. But this money quickly ran out, and when Cyprus did finally go cap-in-hand to its European partners for a lifeline, it received a rude shock: Germany, already gearing up for an election this year, wanted not just budget cuts and other conventional austerity measures but a complete overhaul of Cyprus’s economic model, built around financial services for foreigners seeking ways to dodge taxes and, Berlin suspected, launder dirty money.

“They did not want the Cypriot model to exist as it did — they wanted Cyprus to stop being a financial center,” said Pambos Papageorgiou, a former central bank board member who is now a member of parliament and on its finance committee. “It was very brutal, like warfare.”

Mr. Papageorgiou complained that the European Union had shown “the opposite of solidarity” in its dealings with one of its weakest and most vulnerable members.

The role Cyprus played in harboring money from questionable sources is not unique and has occasionally in the past gone unpunished. I recently watched a documentary about the role the Swiss banks played in holding the wealth the Nazis confiscated from the Jews of Germany. Most of that money still sits in Swiss banks. There was no reason the banks of Cyprus would have assumed that their business model would face a day of reckoning.

The article concludes:

“We are looking at a very grim future for Cyprus,” said Michael Olympios, chairman of the Cyprus Investor Association, a lobbying group. “Even firm believers in European project like myself see now that it was a bad idea and that we should have at least stayed out of the euro.”

As jobs disappear and the economy contracts, Mr. Olympios said, faith in Europe will wither. “I used to be a believer. Not anymore.”

There is such a thing as giving a small people too much power. ‘Nuff said.

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Making Friends All Over The World

On Friday the U. K. Mail posted an article entitled, “A Meddlesome Obama Should Keep His Nose Out Of Our Affairs.” Wow. How’s that for diplomacy? What is this about?

The article reports:

…Yet it was outrageous for a White House official to warn this week that our membership of the EU was ‘in the American interest’ and that pulling out would be a mistake.

State Department official Philip Gordon may hold a post that is the equivalent to a junior under-secretary in our Foreign Office but he is the authentic voice of the Obama administration.

His unwelcome interference in this country’s internal affairs comes at a most sensitive time, considering that David Cameron is soon due to make a major speech on the subject — and is expected to say whether we are to be offered the in/out referendum that the majority of voters want.

Ironically, those on the Left who normally revile America — for its interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, support of Israel and alleged mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay — are happy to use the U.S. official’s remarks as a stick with which to beat Mr Cameron.

…As for Mr Gordon’s specific comments about the possibility of Britain holding a referendum on our future membership of the EU, he reveals America’s own myopia.

He said: ‘Referendums have often turned countries inwards.’

Such a remark is pretty rich coming from an American whose country is one of the most parochial societies in the world. What’s good for the U.S. should be good for Britain.

Mr Gordon and his Washington buddies must accept that we, too, should be able to decide what our national interest is — whether America likes it or not.

How to win friends and influence people…

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The Saudis Bring Reason To OPEC

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is meeting this week. The Financial Times reminds us that oil prices have dropped from $128 a barrel in March to a current price of about $100. The drop is partially due to the financial difficulties in the European Union and the general slowdown in the world’s economy. Normally when the price of oil drops, OPEC calls for a decrease in production so that the price will rise again (supply and demand works!).

Recently OPEC has been producing more oil than its quota in an effort to lessen the impact of the oil sanctions that Europe and America have placed on Iran in an attempt to end Iran’s nuclear program. Saudi Arabia seems to be responsible for the increase–Ali Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, told the Financial Times in March that he would like to see lower oil prices  “that will not hurt the global economic recovery”.

The Saudis have called for higher oil output levels despite the lower prices. I would love to be a fly on the wall (one who understood whatever language is spoken) at the coming OPEC meeting!

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This May Be One Reason Why ‘We Can’t All Just Get Along’

Yesterday Breitbart.com reported that the European Union (EU) has been asked to intervene to prevent the execution of a man who sold the Bait HaMachpela (House of the Patriarchs) to Jewish families in Hebron.

The Jewish community of Hebron has asked the EU to stop the execution. The story reports the response of EU Committee for Foreign Affairs Chairman, Dr. Fiorello Provera:

“Abu Shahala’s conviction has no justification, and therefore the European Union will intervene to save his life. It is inconceivable that a man who sells his house will be convicted of a crime and sentenced to death. The PA is the foremost beneficiary of a European assistance, so we must intervene interest and demand the PA immediately cancel Abu Shahala’s death sentence. And, to remove the death penalty for the sale of property and land [to Jews].  I call on the PA to immediately block the implementation of death sentence on Abu Shahala, as required by the UN General Assembly.”

The PA has been clear from its founding that it wants to drive the Jewish people from Israel. That in itself is the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East. I am not convinced you can negotiate with people who would kill a man for selling his house.

The Secret Service Were Not The Only People Caught With Their Pants Down In Columbia

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily reported on a major event at the Colombian summit that seems to have been overlooked in the reporting.

The article reports:

Never was a response to a global outrage more mealy-mouthed than the one from the U.S. after Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, standing under a portrait of Evita Peron, announced a brazen grab for YPF, the Argentine oil company that’s 57% owned by Spain’s Repsol.

Markets fell, world leaders denounced the violation of contracts and economically battered Spain rallied European Union support.

But the U.S.? “We are following developments on this issue. We are not currently aware of any WTO complaints related to this issue,” the State Department said.

The article points out that Argentina is in financial trouble because of overspending. If Argentina defaults or Spain defaults, the IMF will be called in to do a bailout. That will directly impact the pockets of American taxpayers.

The article reminds us:

Meanwhile, U.S. investors own about 5% of Repsol. Its takeover hurts U.S. investors and our tax base. This should concern the indebted U.S., which if it did what other countries do, would defend its investors.

The U.S. buys 29,000 barrels a day from Argentina, a third of its output, and will need to find a new supplier as that collapses. Worse still, Argentina will lose investment in its vast shale reserves, the world’s third-largest at 22%. As that goes, prices will rise.

Worst of all, the expropriated assets may now go to China, significantly raising its influence in the region.

It sounds as if our State Department was not paying attention to the events around them.

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Why America Needs To Be Energy Independent

President Obama’s blocking of the Keystone Pipeline had an obvious negative impact on jobs–the pipeline would have created thousands of jobs instantly–but it had a more dangerous long term impact on America’s energy independence. Alternative energy will not give us that independence at this time–we are a carbon based economy. The fruits of the decision to block the Keystone Pipeline and limit domestic energy production are becoming very obvious today.

Reuters is reporting today that Iran has stopped selling crude oil to British and French companies in retaliation for sanctions imposed because of Iran’s nuclear program.

The article reports:

Iran was supplying more than 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) to the EU plus Turkey in 2011, industry sources said.

By the start of this year imports had sunk to about 650,000 bpd as some customers cut back in anticipation of an EU ban.

Saudi Arabia says it is prepared to supply extra oil either by topping up existing term contracts or by making rare spot market sales. Iran has criticized Riyadh for the offer.

The European country most impacted by the Iranian move is Greece.

CNBC reported today that in December Saudi Arabia cut its oil production and exports.

CNBC reports:

Iraq, another frequently-cited supplier to make up for part of the Iranian oil shortfall following European Union sanctions,  reported no major changes to its supply and export regime. Authorities there are pursuing an ambitious production expansion plan with the aim of reaching 12 million bpd by 2016.

The Reuters article reports:

Brent crude oil prices were up $1 a barrel to $118.35 shortly after Iran’s state media announced last week that Tehran had cut oil exports to six European states. The report was denied shortly afterwards by Iranian officials.

“We have our own customers … The replacements for these companies have been considered by Iran,” Nikzad said.

This is not good news for the western world. Now is the time for America to develop any and all of its energy sources. Even if we drilled everywhere today, we would still be facing a summer of at least $5 a gallon gasoline, but if we drilled everywhere today, we would at least have a better outlook for the future.

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One Way To Deal With A Shakedown By Extreme Environmentalists

Reuters is reporting today that China is banning its airlines from the European Union (EU) policy that charges a carbon fee for flights in and out of Europe. The carbon fee is essentially an additional tax and China has said that it simply will not pay the tax.

The article reports:

The EU plan is intended to curb rising greenhouse gas pollution from aviation and fight climate change. Globally, emissions from aviation comprise about two percent of mankind’s greenhouse gas pollution and this share is expected to grow.

“China hopes Europe will act in the light of the broader issues of responding to global climate change, the sustainable development of international aviation and Sino-European ties, strengthening communication and coordination to find an appropriate solution acceptable to both sides,” an unnamed official from China’s civil aviation authority said, according to the announcement.

The interesting fact in this little dust up is that China is included in the EU plan to reduce air pollution. One of the problems with the Kyoto Protocol of 2006 was that the restrictions on greenhouse gases were not extended to India and China.

The National Geographic Magazine reported in July of 2007:

Damaging air pollutants include sulfur dioxide, particulate matter—a mixture of extremely small particles and water droplets—ozone, and nitrogen dioxide. China accounts for roughly one-third of the global total for these pollutants, according to Krzyzanowski (Michal Krzyzanowski, an air quality adviser at the WHO Regional Office for Europe).

China is not willing to play the global warming game. As I have stated before, I do not support dirty air. However, I think we need to make sure that any climate change is man-caused before we cripple the major free economies of the world in the name of saving the planet. The current ‘solutions’ to global warming are nothing more than a global redistribution of wealth–the major polluters are not included in the restrictions. Evidently China does not like being included in the efforts to save the planet.

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Why I Am Concerned About Free Speech

The thing to remember when dealing with Muslim blasphemy laws is that under Sharia Law, the charge of blasphemy has nothing to do with truth. If what has been said about the Muslim religion or its past or present leaders is negative, it can be considered blasphemy, whether it is true or not. I believe that in America some time in the near future, we will see the same standard applied to the concept of ‘hate speech’ against Islam. The case of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff in Austria is an example of this happening in the European Union.

Front Page Magazine posted an interview with of Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff today. Please follow the link to read the entire article–it is fascinating. Because of her years of living in Muslim countries in the Middle East, both under Sharia Law and under secular governments, she understands totally how Muslims use ‘hate speech’ laws to curtail free speech.

In the article she explains where she is and how she got there:

What happened? A young woman, a journalist, had infiltrated two of my seminars in October and November, illegally recording my presentation, and then reported me to the Austrian authorities, who in turn began an official investigation. The charge: Hate speech.

The outpouring of criticism from official Austria was astounding. From the vice chancellor to the chief rabbi, from a high-ranking bishop to party leaders: My statements – all taken out of context – were condemned through and through. I was even compared to Bin Laden by one Muslim official. Not one of these so-called leaders bothered to ask for clarification from my side. I was to be vilified, my statements were to be condemned, for two reasons. First, I gave these seminars for the “right-wing, xenophobic” Freedom Party and second, the content of the seminars described Islam.

She continues:

Simply put, I have now been made a victimless convict. On December 20, 2011, my conviction for denigration of a legally recognized religion was upheld by the higher court.

What was the reason for this conviction, you may ask. Well, during the course of my seminars, I mentioned the choking EU directive “Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia,” and in order to illustrate my point I told the audience about a conversation I had with my sister and how she believed that one should find a different word for Mohammed’s actions with Aisha. I said, “How does one name what he did if not call it pedophilia?” And this sentence got me convicted, for I am allowed by law to say that Mohammed had sex with a young girl, but I may not qualify this behavior as this is deemed “excessive” and thus denigrating. The Austrian state has created a victimless crime, and a criminal without a single victim.

The trial is now officially over. There is only one way to appeal, and that is taking the matter to the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg. But– this will cost a lot of money and will take a lot time (6-8 years minimum).

The law that Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff was convicted under took effect in November 2010, when all members of the European Union were required to implement the “Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia”, or, more fully, the “Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008. The intent of the law was to combat racism and xenophobia. The impact of the law was to severely limit free speech.  

In the article, Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff details here supposed ‘crime':

What was the reason for this conviction, you may ask. Well, during the course of my seminars, I mentioned the choking EU directive “Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia,” and in order to illustrate my point I told the audience about a conversation I had with my sister and how she believed that one should find a different word for Mohammed’s actions with Aisha. I said, “How does one name what he did if not call it pedophilia?” And this sentence got me convicted, for I am allowed by law to say that Mohammed had sex with a young girl, but I may not qualify this behavior as this is deemed “excessive” and thus denigrating.

Again, under Sharia Law, blasphemy has nothing to do with truth. Evidently, under the new speech rules in the EU, that is also true.

 

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When Laws Get Totally Out Of Control

Last week the U.K. Telegraph reported that the European Union (EU) has banned drink manufacturers from claiming that water can prevent dehydration. I am still trying to figure that one out.

The article reports:

EU officials concluded that, following a three-year investigation, there was no evidence to prove the previously undisputed fact.

Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month.

There are a few problems with this statement. First of all, with all the current problems in the EU, why in the world are they worried about whether or not water is the solution to dehydration? Second of all, this does seem to be a rather odd conclusion.

The story began when German professors Dr Andreas Hahn and Dr Moritz Hagenmeyer, asked the European Commission if the claim that “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration” could be made on drink labels.

The article reports:

However, last February, the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) refused to approve the statement.

A meeting of 21 scientists in Parma, Italy, concluded that reduced water content in the body was a symptom of dehydration and not something that drinking water could subsequently control.

Now the EFSA verdict has been turned into an EU directive which was issued on Wednesday.

I am not a scientific type, but this just seems odd to me!

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Why Global Regulations Don’t Work

Theoretically the idea of all countries working together to make the world a better place is a really good idea. Unfortunately, it loses something when you put it into practice. My current case in point–the debate over greenhouse gas emissions.

Breitbart.com reported yesterday that Brazil, South Africa, India and China have asked industrialized nations to step up their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a key UN climate summit later this year. China’s climate change minister Xie Zhenua called for greater cooperation from industrialized countries. Well, wait a minute. This is ridiculous. This is like having a race with someone who when you take the lead says, “Stop, I need a chance to pass you so I can win.” Why are China and India not considered industrialized countries?

The article reports:

Former president George W. Bush said Kyoto was fatally flawed because it does not require developing giants, already major polluters, to take on similar constraints.

European countries are generally on track for their emissions reductions, but Canada is poised to miss its target by a wide margin.

At the same time, emissions by China, India, Indonesia and Brazil have rocketed — nations bound by Kyoto account for less than 30 percent of global CO2 emissions, which hit record levels in 2010.

Japan, Canada and Russia have said they will not sign up for a new round of carbon-cutting vows.

The European Union (EU) says it will only do so if other nations — including emerging giants such as China and India, which do not have binding targets — beef up efforts in a parallel negotiating arena.

Developing countries, though, insist the Protocol be renewed in its current form. 

Of course the developing countries want the Protocol renewed in its current form–it puts no restrictions on them, just on everyone else.

In September of 2010, a website called Alttransport.com reported:

For the first time this decade global CO2 emissions decreased 1.3 percent in 2009, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. But that drop was offseted by a significant rise in emissions in China and India by 9 and 6 percent.

While the drop is a reason to celebrate, the decrease in emissions is linked to the slow global economy. China and India, on the other hand, have had two of the fastest growing economies — with India’s growth rate at about 8.6 percent and China’s at 10.3 percent.

I don’t wish any harm on the ‘developing’ counties–I just want to know at what point they cease to be ‘developing’ and become developed. It seems to me that with the amount of jobs outsourced from America to India, that maybe America should be seen as de-developing and India should be seen as developed. Considering the trade deficit between America and China, are we sure China is ‘developing,’ or is it developed? The debate over carbon emissions is another way to penalize countries that have achieved commercial success in an attempt to let other countries achieve that success. I have a better idea. If ‘developing’ countries truly want to become commercially successful, they need to look to the model of America at its founding–give everyone an equal chance to own property and to be successful. You’d be surprised what equal opportunity does to the growth of a country’s economy!
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