The 300,000-member union that was the first to endorse then-Senator Barack Obama has released a devastating Obamacare report that says Obama’s controversial healthcare program will slash worker wages by up to $5 an hour, reduce worker hours, and exacerbate income inequality.
The report by Unite Here – a North American labor union that represents workers in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, and airport industries – is titled: “The Irony of ObamaCare: Making Inequality Worse.”
“Ironically, the Administration’s own signature healthcare victory poses one of the most immediate challenges to redressing inequality,” states the 12-page report. “We take seriously the promise that ‘if you like your health plan, you can keep it. Period.’ UNITE HERE members like their health plans.”
The report features first-person testimonials and photos of union members describing how Obamacare is personally hurting them and their families – the same kinds of stories that Majority Senator Harry Reid said are “all untrue” and that progressive New York Times columnist Paul Krugman mocked as”nonexistent” in his piece “Health Care Horror Hooey.”
Arturo Marquez, a single father with two children who works as a cook, explains how Obamacare is hurting him:
“I’m a single dad and need every penny for my kids. The best deal Obamacare could offer me would take $1,908 more than our union plan. That’s like a dollar an hour pay cut. If I get really sick and wind up in the hospital, they can charge me $3,700 more out of pocket. I can’t imagine taking care of my son and daughter while taking a $2.70 an hour pay cut,” says Marquez.
Another union member, housekeeper Angela Portillo explained how Obamacare is hurting she and her husband:
“Housekeeping is a tough job – many of us suffer serious injuries doing this work. And Obamacare would cause my husband and I even more pain. The Obamacare website says we would have to pay $8,057.04 a year more to keep the great insurance we have now. That’s a $3.87 per hour pay cut. We work hard for our insurance. Why should we have to take a cut in pay for it?” says Portillo.
Food service worker Earl Baskerville feels the same way, according to the report:
“The health care crisis hit our workplace hard. We tried three different plans in a three year contract. When the for-profit insurance companies were going through the roof, we switched our union’s plan to keep good benefits. But Obamacare will give government money to those plans and not ours. Obamacare would cost me $4,855.20 a year more, or a $2.33 an hour pay cut. That’s not right. We just want to be treated like everyone else,” says Baskerville.
Last week, Unite Here Donald Taylor discussed the possibility of a union worker strike over Obamacare and said, “Even though the president and Congress promised we could keep our health plan, the reality is, unless the law is fixed, that won’t be true.”
The Unite Here report further exacerbates Democrats’ already daunting electoral hurdles heading into the midterm elections, now less than eight months away.
Union members are not alone in opposing Obamacare. According to the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls, just 38% of Americans now support Obamacare.
Top administration officials have directed 21,000 border patrol officers to retreat whenever illegal immigrants throw rocks at them, and to avoid getting in front of foreign drug-smugglers’ vehicles as they head north with their drug shipments.
“Agents shall not discharge firearms in response to thrown or hurled projectiles… agents should obtain a tactical advantage in these situations, such as seeking cover or distancing themselves,” said the instructions, issued Mar. 7, under the signature of Michael Fisher, chief of U.S. Border Patrol.
Agents were also directed to keep their weapons holstered when drug smugglers drive by.
Agents can’t use guns against “a moving vehicle merely fleeing from agents,” say the instructions.
The new instructions do allow agents to use guns to defend themselves from vehicles that drive at them. “Agents shall not discharge their firearms at a moving vehicle unless the agent has a reasonable belief that… deadly force is being used against an agent,” the new instructions say.
However, the instructions also suggest that officers be penalized if they don’t step back. Agents “should not place themselves in the path of a motor vehicle or use their body to block a vehicles’s path,” according to new instructions.
The new curbs were praised by advocates for greater immigration, including Juanita Molina, director of the Border Action Network. New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, and Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Menendez is one of the drafters of the June 2013 Senate immigration bill, which would boost the inflow of legal immigrants and guest workers up to 40 million over the next decade. During the same period, roughly 40 million Americans will turn 18.
The new rules were issued at the direction of Jeh Johnston, the new head of the Department of Homeland Security.
The rules match the recommendation of a report by an advocacy group that wants to reduce policing of illegal immigration.
The report by the Police Executive Research Forum was commissioned by DHS, and it said border agents should be barred from standing in front of smugglers’ vehicles or from shooting at people who are attacking them with rocks.
The commissioned report was challenged by mid-level DHS officials, who argued that the rules barring self-defense from rock-throwers “could create a more dangerous environment [especially for agents operating] in rural or desolate areas, often alone, where concealment, cover and egress is not an option,” according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
But Johnston overrode the internal response, and forced the implementation of the advocacy groups’ recommendations.
The PERF report was commissioned by top DHS leaders after advocates said law-enforcement agents had killed roughly seven people a year along the 1,933-mile border in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The shootings came during 67 clashes with a huge stream of armed drug-smugglers and illegal immigrants.
Three U.S. border guards have been killed in recent years, including one who was shot during a clash with drug smugglers carrying AK-47 assault weapons.
In a Friday news conference, Fisher told reporters that agents would be equipped with short-range tasers and pepper spray, plus medium-range pellet guns, to deter attacks.
But he also admitted that agents have been attacked 6,000 times since 2007. They’ve been “assaulted by rocks” 1,713 times since 2010, and have responded with deadly force only 43 times, he said.
The agents killed only 10 drug-smugglers and other attackers during the same three-year period, Fisher said.
Typical union goon behavior.
Via Red State:
In the latest development of a more than year-long labor dispute in Vancouver, the National Labor Relations Board has accused picketers of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 4 of a multitude of horrific acts which include violence, threats of rape and implied harm to children, as well as racial slurs toward company security officers.
These acts, according to The Oregonian include the pinning of a security officer’s legs under a moving vehicle, blocking drivers’ vision and causing permanent eye injury to a security officer, reckless pursuit of company vans, as well as threatening a manager’s daughter with rape and “implied threats to harm a manager’s children by telling him they would ‘see his children at school’ and asking, ‘are (his) children okay today?’”
The labor dispute began in February 2013, when United Grain Corporation – a wheat exporter that runs a terminal in Vancouver, Washington – locked out 44 ILWU workers following six months of “fruitless negotiations” and after an ILWU member allegedly sabotaged the company’s equipment. [...]
In addition to the acts alleged by the NLRB, the union has used religious leaders to accuse the company of sins, “including the sin of ‘theft in stealing the right to work,’ the sin of ‘heartlessness in failing to acknowledge the humanity of their workers’ and the sin of “manipulation in hiring replacement workers who need the money.’”
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.
Photographs from the trip show Obama inspecting a plant where Soviet-era artillery shells and shoulder-fired missiles were collecting dust, leftovers dumped in Ukraine after the USSR withdrew from Eastern bloc nations after the once-mighty communist nation fell apart.
The United Nations had already identified some 7 million small arms and light weapons, and 2 million tons of conventional ammunition, warehoused in more than 80 weapons depots spread across the country.
Many of the artillery shells shown in photographs from Donetsk, multiple weapons experts told MailOnline, would be the same types of ammunition required to repel advancing Russian divisions as they advanced to the west, had they not been destroyed.
Two experts said the ammunition, particularly small-arms rounds, would have been useful to train Ukraine’s armed forces and million-strong reserves.
‘Vast stocks of conventional munitions and military supplies have accumulated in Ukraine,’ Obama said in am August 30, 2005 statement from Donetsk. ‘Some of this stockpile dates from World War I and II, yet most dates from Cold War buildup and the stocks left behind by Soviet withdrawals from East Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungry and Poland.’
‘We need to eliminate these stockpiles for the safety of the Ukrainian people and people around world, by keeping them out of conflicts around the world.’
More than a year later, President George W. Bush signed into law a proposal authored by Obama and Lugar.
Obama said then that the existing Cooperative Threat Reduction Program ‘has effectively disposed of thousands of weapons of mass destruction, but we must do far more to keep deadly conventional weapons like anti-aircraft missiles out of the hands of terrorists.’
Much of the Ukrainian small-arms supply was ultimately exported, not scrapped, by a Yushchenko regime that chose revenue from arms dealing over the cost of melting down metal.
In 2008 the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that between 2004 and 2007, the Ukrainian Export Control Service told the UN that it sent 721,777 small arms and light weapons to 27 different countries.
The United States was the top recipient, with more than 260,000 of those weapons, followed by the UK and Libya, which each imported more than 101,000.
That flood of weapons exports has continued, with annual export records showing hundreds of thousands of new exports each year, covering everything from pistols and carbine rifles to heavy machine guns and anti-tank weapons.
But while today’s 130,000-strong standing Ukrainian military isn’t short on AK-47s, Russian troops have met little to no large-scale resistance from armored divisions or heavy artillery as they steamrolled their way into Crimea.
Some of that was Ukraine’s own doing – it sold 320 tanks to Pakistan in the 1990s, for instance – but Obama and Lugar accelerated the pace of the country’s arms liquidation.
While the Ukrainian army seems to have been careful to avoid provoking an even larger conflict, it’s impossible to know whether Putin would have behaved differently in the face of columns of heavy weapons that once belonged to the Soviet Union in whose KGB he held a high-ranking position.
Sky News video broadcast on Tuesday showed Russian troops firing automatic weapons over the heads of apparently unarmed Ukrainian Air Force personnel near a contested airfield in Crimea.
ANN COULTER / MICKEY KAUS DEBATE
……………………….Click on image above to watch video.
CPAC is hosted by the American Conservative Union.
State Representative Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville) celebrated the passage today of Senate Resolution 736 by Senator Cecil Staton (R- Macon) in the Georgia House of Representatives. SR736 calls for an Article V Convention of States for the purpose of proposing amendments to the United States Constitution on the limited topics of limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and establishing term limits for federal officials
Brockway, the resolution’s primary sponsor in the Georgia House said, “I’m proud Georgia has taken the lead on the very important work of restoring our Republic. An Article V Convention of States would provide an opportunity for the citizens of this great nation to restore the balance of power between the States and the Federal government. I urge Legislators in the other 49 states to join Georgia and call for a Convention of States for the purpose of proposing amendments to the U.S. constitution.”
By a vote of 107-58, Georgia becomes the first state in the country to pass this historic resolution which is being promoted nationwide by the Convention of States Project (“COS”), a grassroots, non-profit organization founded this past August by constitutional attorney, Dr. Michael Farris, of Virginia, and Mark Meckler, founder of the political think tank, Citizens for Self-Governance. The same resolution has been introduced into 13 different state legislatures in 2014 with more to come. COS hopes to gain passage in 34 states in time for a convention to be held in 2016.
Buzz Brockway was first elected to the State House of Representatives in November of 2010. He is a Majority Caucus Deputy Whip and serves as Vice Chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee. He is also a member of the Appropriations, Economic Development, and Insurance Committees. He has been named a ‘Defender of Liberty” by the American Conservative Union for the past two years, and scored 100% on Legislative scorecards for Americans for Prosperity and the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Buzz holds a B+ average from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and an A+ average from the Georgia Parents Alliance.
Buzz has been involved in local politics since the mid-1990′s and served as Chairman of the Gwinnett Republican Party from 2002 – 2005. He also served the Gwinnett Republican Party as a Precinct Captain, District Manager and 2nd Vice Chairman. Since 2005 Buzz has blogged at Peach Pundit, the State’s most popular independent political blog. He is a 1990 graduate of Georgia Tech with a Bachelor of Science in Management Science and runs a small business in Lawrenceville with his wife Christa. They are the proud parents of three daughters. The Brockway’s are active members of Victory World Church at Hamilton Mill. Buzz has lived Lawrenceville since 1976.
The powerful House Ways and Means Committee will get everything from disgraced former IRS official Lois Lerner’s email account since a few weeks before Barack Obama became president.
And Republican committee members are hoping they’ll find a smoking gun tying the Obama administration to the years-long scheme to play political favorites with nonprofit groups’ tax-exemption applications.
After eight months of back-and-forth stonewalling, the IRS has agreed to turn over the complete contents of Lerner’s email account, along with other documents that two congressional committees have been demanding.
‘If there’s not a Holy Grail email in this round of documents,’ a senior staffer to a Ways and Means committee member told MailOnline, ‘then we’re not going to find it.’
‘Whether that’s because Lerner covered her tracks or because the IRS is shredding documents, we’re probably never going to know.’
The committee’s chairman, Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Camp, seems eager to put his staff to work sifting through thousands of messages in search of an explanation for the program that has been a major embarrassment to the White House.
‘This is a significant step forward and will help us complete our investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups,’ Camp said Friday.
‘From the few Lerner documents we have received, we know that Washington, DC orchestrated the targeting of groups applying for tax-exempt status, surveillance of existing tax-exempt groups and formed the proposed 501(c)(4) rules designed to push conservative groups out of the public forum.’
Camp warned the IRS in a February 24 letter that he would start issuing subpoenas if the agency didn’t turn over the documents he wanted.
The IRS has proposed a rewrite of its regulations governing communications restrictions on ‘public benefit’ organizations that are exempt from paying federal income taxes.
That redesign of the rules began long before Lerner herself exposed the IRS’s pattern of holding up right-wing groups’ applications, often with dozens of intrusive questions over several years.
The effects of the agency’s desired rule change would be substantial: Organizations would be prohibited from emailing information, or publishing anything online, about candidates’ voting records during the last 60 days before an election.
Tea party groups, which began their rise to prominence five years ago, comprised most of the organizations that the IRS targeted beginning in 2010. Their political free-speech concerns have driven more than 146,000 public comments to the IRS, demanding that the regulatory revisions be scrapped.
Cleta Mitchell, a board member of the American Conservative Union Foundation, said Friday during that organization’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference that the new rules would affect the event where she was speaking.
‘It would mean that in even-numbered years, CPAC could have no speakers who are candidates for office,’ she said, dumbfounded.
Mitchell, an attorney, is representing some of the tea party groups in lawsuits related to the IRS targeting scheme.
The House Oversight Committee, chaired by California Rep. Darrell Issa, has cast a larger public shadow than Ways and Means has on the IRS targeting scandal.
Lerner has appeared before Issa-led hearings twice, both times invoking her Fifth Amendment rights and refusing to testify, despite President Obama’s insistence in a February interview that the IRS displayed ‘not a smidgen of corruption’ in the damaging episode.
Becca Glover Watkins, the Oversight Committee’s communications director, told MailOnline that Issa’s and Camp’s committee staffers are working hand-in-hand.
‘The Oversight Committee and the Ways and Means Committee have worked in partnership during the course of this investigation,’ Watkins said.
‘We expect the IRS will also be delivering a copy [of the complete Lerner files] to the Oversight Committee.’
A spokesperson for the Ways and Means Committee told MailOnline that it was the new IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen, who broke the inertia after months of requests.
‘We have been asking for the materials for months, and after many discussions the new IRS Commissioner has said the IRS will comply with the request,’ said the committee’s Sarah Swinehart.
Lerner ‘was clearly at the center of the IRS targeting and was running it out of the Washington, D.C. office,’ she added. ‘We expect her documents to provide a fuller picture of this.’
Koskinen took over the tax agency on December 23, ending a 13-month period during which two interim commissioners served as caretakers.
The IRS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Taxpayers have paid more than $2.4 million to develop “origami condoms,” including male and female versions, and the “first of its kind anal condom.”
Out to “reinvent the condom,” Los Angeles businessman Danny Resnic has completed the first rounds of testing for three variations based on Japanese folding paper, courtesy of the National Institutes of Health.
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development initially spent $212,162 for a feasibility study on Resnic’s “new condom” in 2006. The idea was a non-rolled, silicone-based condom that “increases pleasure” and is more effective at preventing sexually transmitted diseases.
The issue is important to Resnic who said a broken condom in the 1990s changed his life.
“We all know that latex condoms don’t feel great. They break, they slip, and they interfere with intimacy,” Resnic said, sporting green neon shoes and sitting next to an outdoor fireplace for a promotional video on his website.
“From my perspective, the latex condom, designed in 1918, just got it wrong,” he said. “In 1993 I had a life-changing incident, a broken condom and an HIV diagnosis. This drastically changed my view about condoms.”
“Like many people, I don’t love condoms for the obvious reasons,” Resnic continued. “Do you know anyone who does? What if there was something new and radical that you loved using instead of latex condoms?”
Resnic says he has done just that, creating a design that gives the feeling of “sex without a condom: the real deal.”
Perfecting his condoms would not be possible without the U.S. taxpayers. “Generous research and development funding” provided by the NIH supported Resnic’s company’s research and development and four Phase I clinical trials. Since 2006, he has received $2,466,482 to test the three variations.
The NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases then began funding Resnic’s clinical trials in 2009, providing two grants worth $1,130,670 to design and test the Origami RAI condom for “receptive anal intercourse.”
The “feasibility and acceptability study” tested the anal condom, which is “worn internally by a receptive male or female partner,” on 24 couples.
The condom is intended to “provide better sensation and less breakage” and to “increase the acceptability of condoms among those who practice anal intercourse and are at risk of HIV / STIs.”
“Unlike the off-label use of the rolled latex male condom, the [origami anal condom] OAC creates direct tactile contact for the penis inside the internally lubricated condom,” the company said. “The Top partner does not need to wear a condom, creating an experience closer to ‘sex without a condom.’”
“You can walk around and do most any activity with the condom pre-inserted,” Resnic said.
The anal condom is expected to hit the market in late 2015. It is undergoing further clinical trials.
Additionally, Resnic received $591,950 to test his “Origami female condom” on 40 heterosexual couples.
The female condom’s design provides “maximum protection against breakage, slippage, and viral permeability.” It features a “unique patented reservoir designed to minimize semen backflow,” the grant said. A video demonstration is provided on Resnic’s website.
Finally, the initial study for the “Origami male condom” cost $531,700, beginning in 2011. The male and female versions, which can “accommodate a range of penis sizes,” are also expected to reach the market in 2015.
“I am grateful for the support from the epidemiology research community and the NIH, without whom these innovations would not be possible,” Resnic said on his website.
“We re-invented the condom,” a promotional video on the Origami condom website said. The video will be used on social media to market the products, since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) restricts their advertising on television and radio.
Set to electronic dance music and neon colors, the 30-second promo begins with a song:
We’ve realized that people are still having sex
They’ve been told not to
Perhaps they are perplexed
When you see them holding hands
They’re making future plans to engage in the activity
Do you understand me?
People are still having sex
Lust keeps on lurking
Nothing makes them stop
“We did not anticipate the marketing challenge with FCC restrictions on media placement for the condom ads on TV and radio,” Resnic said. “The FCC will not allow a condom to be shown on TV, and radio messages have language restrictions. This makes it really difficult to market a product that cannot be seen or discussed.”
Resnic, who studied design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., said the “strategic” promo works around the FCC rules. “Origami condoms won’t go viral, but our promo should,” he said.
The Origami condom has been praised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is also providing millions in research for new condom designs. The billionaire and Microsoft founder is a strong proponent for increasing contraceptive use in developing countries in response to “population growth.”
Resnic also sees his products as being used around the world.
“In the long term we believe we can make a sustainable and measurable difference to reduce incidence of HIV and unplanned pregnancies on a global scale,” he said.
Requests for comment from NIH were not returned.
Vladimir Putin has mocked diplomatic efforts to end the Ukraine crisis as Russia threatened to disrupt European gas supplies by cutting off sales to Kiev over its unpaid debts.
The Russian president said through his official spokesman that, despite deep disagreements with the West, he did not want a confrontation over Ukraine to spiral into a “new cold war”.
Nevertheless Dmitry Peskov ridiculed Western demands for direct talks between the Kremlin and the new Kiev government, claiming that the loss of credibility involved “puts a smile on our face”.
The remarks were broadcast during the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, where the Ukrainian athlete carrying his national flag was given a loud cheer.
Earlier, Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy giant, said it would start to reduce deliveries to Kiev, a move that would disrupt supplies to Europe. Gazprom said Ukraine had failed to make payments on its £1.2 billion debts.
Ukraine is one of the main transit routes for the continent’s gas and the suspension of Gazprom exports in freezing temperatures in 2006 and in 2009 endangered national grids and caused sharp rises in prices. “We can’t supply gas for free,” Alexey Miller, the head of Gazprom, said. “Either Ukraine settles its debt and pays for current deliveries or the risk arises of a return to the situation we saw at the start of 2009.”
Energy experts said Russia had the power to cause problems in markets across Europe, even though peak winter demand was past. “Europe still relies heavily – in some cases 100 per cent – on Russian gas. And if that was interrupted very suddenly, there would be difficulties all round,” said Lord Howell, the former energy secretary.
But the White House brushed off the Russian announcement as less of a blow for EU economies than in previous years. Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, said reduced Russian exports would not have an immediate effect since stocks in Europe were above normal levels because of a mild winter. Structural changes in the industry also mean that less of Europe’s gas went through Ukraine.
Russian foreign ministry officials issued the tit-for-tat warnings a day after an EU summit suspended talks on visa-free access for Russians to Europe and threatened sanctions if Moscow did not change course. “Russia will not accept the language of sanctions and threats,” a foreign ministry statement said.
Two potential Ukrainian presidential contenders demanded a single, tough Western stance against Russia. Vitali Klitschko, the former boxer, and Petro Poroshenko, a businessman, both of whom are seen as likely candidates in presidential elections in May, used a visit to Paris to shore up European resolve.
Moscow displayed no signs of pulling back in the flashpoint region of Crimea despite the summit outcome and a subsequent telephone conversation between Mr Putin and President Barack Obama.
Russia’s parliament made preparations to endorse next week’s referendum in Crimea on joining the Russian Federation as a group of Crimean MPs were accorded a hero’s welcome in Moscow.
Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, said the outcome would be accepted “unquestionably”. Officials in Kiev retorted that no country in the “civilised world” would recognise a vote for merging with Russia.
Checkpoints manned by Russian soldiers and Crimea militias blocked efforts by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to enter the peninsula.
The OSCE convoy, led by a police car and followed by two buses carrying the observers, returned to the southern city of Kherson to decide if the unarmed monitoring mission can go ahead at all.
Russia said the mission was blocked because it had begun without seeking the traditional consensus support from all the organisation’s members.
Russia also scuttled a third ship in the Crimean harbour of Donuzlav to tighten its blockade on the doggedly loyal Ukrainian navy vessels trapped behind Russian lines.
The only bright point of the day came when Ukraine’s Paralympic team announced it would participate in the Winter Games in Sochi.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine prime minister, said his government was still pressing for direct talks with Russia to resolve the crisis. He demanded that Russia pull back its forces and stop supporting “separatist” activities inside Ukraine.
“We are ready to build relations with Russia,” he said. “But Ukraine will never be a subordinate or branch of Russia.”
Mr Yasenyuk also revealed the Kiev and the EU would soon sign an agreement on the political aspects of a strategic accord that fell through late last year.
The collapse of the EU association agreement provoked the mass pro-Western demonstration movement that led to the collapse of the former government of President Viktor Yanukovych.
“It is the matter of weeks now,” Mr Yatsenyuk said. “This is the most important decision that the whole country has been waiting for. This is what people were going to the streets for.”
A convoy of 60 unmarked military trucks carrying hundreds of soldiers was today spotted snaking its way from eastern Ukraine into Crimea, with the country appearing more divided than ever.
Warning shots were also fired inside Crimea as a foreign military mission was barred from entering the Ukrainian province by pro-Russian troops.
The mission, made up of soldiers of different nationalities from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, had automatic weapons fired over their heads.
The soldiers were told they had no authorisation to enter the peninsula. No injuries were reported.
Earlier this morning Russian foreign secretary Sergei Lavrov said that the crisis had been ‘artificially created’ for ‘geopolitical reasons’, though stopped short of accusing the West of creating tensions.
He confirmed that Russia was open to further talks with the West as long as they remained ‘honest and partner-like’, and said he was in contact with the Ukrainian interim government, though he accused them of being right-wing extremists.
In a telephone call he also warned US secretary of state John Kerry that any sanctions would have a ‘boomerang effect’ on America.
Meanwhile pro and anti-Putin protesters have taken to the streets of Ukraine today as the country appears more divided than ever.
In the Crimean city of Simferopol hundreds of demonstrators waving Ukrainian flags marched to a military base surrounded by Russian troops while chanting ‘Russian Soldiers Out Of Crimea’.
Many of the activists waved Crimean Tartar flags. The Tartars were persecuted by Russian during the world wars and driven to Crimea, and so are strongly opposed to closer ties with the Kremlin.
In another city, Bakhisaray, more Tartars gathered urging Ukraine to stay united after the regional government said Crimea was officially part of Russia and announced a public referendum on March 16 to confirm it.
Meanwhile in the city of Donetsk, former stronghold of ousted president Viktor Yanokovych, thousands gathered to wave banners reading ‘I Love Putin’.
Today is not the first time shots have been fired in the region, but it is the first time bullets have been directed at international troops.
Last week a Russian soldier fired above the head of Ukrainian air force troops as they marched unarmed to their base which had been occupied by Putin’s troops.
Late last night pro-Russia soldiers tried to take over a Ukrainian base in a tense stand-off that lasted for several hours.
Lt. Col. Vitaly Onishchenko, deputy commander of the base, said three dozen men wearing unmarked camouflage uniforms arrived late Friday.
While one group climbed over a wall on one side of the base, another crashed a heavy military truck through the gates, Mr Onishchenko said.
He said that they turned off power, cut telephone lines and demanded that about 100 Ukrainian troops, who barricaded themselves into one of the base buildings, surrender their weapons and swear allegiance to Russia. The invaders left at about midnight.
No shots were fired in the stand-off, and no injuries were reported, but the incident reflected tensions running high on the Black Sea peninsula.
In the week since Russia seized control of Crimea, Russian troops have been neutralising and disarming Ukrainian military bases there.
Some Ukrainian units, however, have refused to give up.
Crimea’s new leader has said pro-Russian forces numbering more than 11,000 now control all access to the region and have blockaded all military bases that have not yet surrendered.
Russian energy giant Gazprom has also confirmed that Ukraine owes $1.89billion and has threatened to turn off the gas supply, which could affect the rest of Europe as several important pipelines run through the country.
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An aggressive cyber weapon called Snake has infected dozens of Ukrainian computer networks including government systems in one of the most sophisticated attacks of recent years.
Also known as Ouroboros, after the serpent of Greek mythology that swallowed its own tail, experts say it is comparable in its complexity with Stuxnet, the malware that was found to have disrupted Iran’s uranium enrichment programme in 2010.
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The cyber weapon has been deployed most aggressively since the start of last year ahead of protests that climaxed two weeks ago with the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovich’s government.
Ouroboros gives its operators unfettered access to networks for surveillance purposes. But it can also act as a highly advanced “digital beachhead” that could destroy computer networks with wide-ranging repercussions for the public.
Cyber warfare experts have long warned that digital weapons could shut off civilian power or water supplies, cripple banks or even blow up industrial sites that depend on computer-controlled safety programmes.
The origins of Ouroboros remain unclear, but its programmers appear to have developed it in a GMT+4 timezone – which encompasses Moscow – according to clues left in the code, parts of which also contain fragments of Russian text. It is believed to be an upgrade of the Agent.BTZ attack that penetrated US military systems in 2008.
The malware has infected networks run by the Kiev government and systemically important organisations. Lithuanian systems have also been disproportionately hit by it.
Ouroboros has been in development for nearly a decade and is too sophisticated to have been programmed by an individual or a non-state organisation, according to the applied intelligence unit at BAE Systems, which was the first to identify and analyse the malware.
The Financial Times has corroborated the existence of Snake with security and military analysts.
BAE has identified 56 apparent infections by Snake globally since 2010, almost all in the past 14 months. Ukraine is the primary target, with 32 recorded instances, 22 of which have occurred since January 2013.
“Ukraine is top of the list [of infections] and increasing,” said Dave Garfield, managing director for cyber security at BAE, who added that the instances were almost certainly “the tip of the iceberg”.
“Whoever made it really is a very professional outfit,” Mr Garfield added. “It has a very high level of sophistication. It is a complex architecture with 50 sub-modules designed to give it extreme flexibility and the ability to evolve. It has neat and novel technical features.”
“You never get beyond reasonable doubt levels of proof in this area but if you look at it in probabilistic terms – who benefits and who has the resources – then the list of suspects boils down to one,” said Nigel Inkster, until 2006 director of operations and intelligence for MI6 and now director of transnational threats at the think tank IISS.
“Until recently the Russians have kept a low profile, but there’s no doubt in my mind that they can do the full scope of cyber attacks, from denial of service to the very, very sophisticated.”
Это Костас, его пиздят второй раз уже. pic.twitter.com/09RbLJT6nE
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Ukrainian journalists are reported to have been brutally beaten during the seizure by Russian soldiers of a Ukrainian military unit on Friday evening, while in Simferopol STB journalists were attacked during a live news broadcast.
Budzhurova, head of the Crimean Association of Free Journalists stated on the Savik Shuster talk show on Friday that she had received two calls from Olena Myekhanik, a journalist from TV Inter. Myekhanik first told her that the Ukrainian military unit was under attack, that a KAMAZ truck had rammed the gates and 12 individuals had crossed onto the unit’s land. She asked for a journalist team from TV ATR to be sent. Later she rang in distress saying that the Ukrainian journalists present, including women, had been assaulted, and their video recorders smashed. The journalists were all at Unit 2355 where there is an air force command point in charge of overseeing air safety. The journalists also included a TV STB firlm crew and a Georgian national.
HOLLYWOOD CONSERVATIVES (PANEL) – DINESH D’SOUZA (SPEECH)
DINESH D’SOUZA’S ‘AMERICA’ (MOVIE TRAILER)
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CPAC is hosted by the American Conservative Union.
It seems 47-year-old Cambodian prankster Chin Chean is up to his old tricks again. Not familiar with Mr. Chean’s hijinx? Well, according to The Daily Mail, “Chin Chean was known to take drugs and commit unusual acts, such as running around the local pagoda naked.” Classic Chin!
In his latest antic, Chin Chean attended the funeral of a 17-year-old village girl only to return to the site of her grave the following day to… um… finish paying his respects. Ugh. At 10pm the night following the bereavement services of the victim, Chean began to attempt exhuming her body with the intent of committing necrophilia. Upon reaching the deceased’s coffin, Chin found it was too small to enter. Dumb luck!
All of that digging apparently tired poor Chin out. Instead of, you know, climbing out of the Earth and taking the fit issue as a sign that desecrating the dead was a terrible idea that he should leave alone forever, Chin remained 6 feet under and fell asleep in the coffin on top of the victim’s body. And that is exactly where Cambodian police found him the next morning – taking a necro nap.
Several people in the village surrounding the cemetery spotted a foot poking out of the ground, which is – needless to say, pretty weird. The witnesses notified the police and the family of the departed. Fortunately for Chean, Cambdonian authorities have elected to question him regarding his actions rather than send him directly to court for his transgressions.
Still, I have a feeling this isn’t the last we’ll hear from Chin Chean.
Midwest City Police say the man they arrested for trying to rob IBC Bank told them he was up for four days using methamphetamine prior to the incident.
Christopher Fulton was arrested Friday, one day after the attempted robbery at IBC Bank on N. Air Depot Blvd in Midwest City.
According to court documents, on Thursday Fulton entered the bank and handed the teller a personal check with the personal information scribbled out and a threatening note written on it. The note read “You know what to do or we all die, I will shoot you first $500 $100 $50 $20 $10″.
Police say Fulton thought the bank had triggered the hold up alarm and ran from the bank. He climbed into a black sports car and left the scene.
The next day, the FBI contacted Midwest City Police and said Fulton was confessing to the crime. According to the report, Fulton said he saw the robbery suspect’s picture in the newspaper and it looked like him.
Police say he told them he thought it was his body in the bank, but not his mind. He then told police that he was up for four days and using methamphetamine.
Fulton told police he stole the check from his mother. He also said a friend owed someone $1,400 for two ounces of methamphetamine and that his girlfriend influenced him to commit the crime. According to Fulton, the plan was to rob the bank to get the money to pay back the debt.
He told police that he chose IBC Bank because he had previously banked there.
He was booked into the Midwest City Jail on robbery charges.
Kyle Bishop figured it was risky when he applied to a University of Arizona Ph.D. program in English eight years ago by proposing a dissertation on zombie movies.
He was dead wrong.
The program approved Mr. Bishop’s proposal, and he is now chairman of Southern Utah University’s English department. The 40-year-old has been invited to give zombie lectures in Hawaii, Canada and Spain.
“It’s clearly now acceptable to study zombies seriously,” he says.
Just as zombies – those mythical revived corpses hungry for living human flesh and gray matter – have infiltrated pop culture, they have also gotten their hands on our brainiest reserves: the academy.
Mr. Bishop is among an advancing horde of scholars who, compelled by the cultural history and metaphor of the undead, are teaching and conducting research in disciplines from economics to religion to medicine.
The last five years have seen 20 new scholarly books with “zombie” in the title or topic category, according to Baker & Taylor, a distributor of academic and other books; in the 10 prior years, there were 10. JSTOR, an online archive of about 2,000 academic journals, says the journals have run 39 articles invoking the undead since 2005, versus seven in the preceding 10 years.
Mr. Bishop’s timing was impeccable. His dissertation coincided with a zombie onslaught that infected television, literature and other media. AMC’s TV series “The Walking Dead” is a top-rated cable show, and the 2013 zombie movie “World War Z” grossed $540 million globally.
Mr. Bishop turned his dissertation into a book, “American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture,” which surprised everyone when over 1,000 copies sold. Back when he proposed his dissertation, he says, “nobody would touch the zombie.”
Now, zombies thrive on campuses like California State University, East Bay, in Hayward. Christopher Moreman, a philosophy professor there, co-edited a two-volume collection of essays on “the Humanity of the Walking Dead” and “Cross-Cultural Appropriations” of the monsters. The initial plan was for one volume, he says, but over 100 proposals arrived.
When Mr. Moreman worked the theme into a course – “Philosophy 3432: Religion, Monsters and Horror” – he says he drew 55 students vying for 35 spots.
In one class, students read his work examining Buddhist imagery in zombie movies, which echo the religion’s meditation on mortality, he says, because “you recognize that everything’s temporary and zombies keep going on and on.”
Some find the trend ominous. There is a “danger” when scholars probe subjects like zombies, says Mark Bauerlein, an English professor and author of “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future.”
“They end up invariably turning their attention away from the tradition,” he says, “the classics, the works that have survived the test of time.”
Michael Poliakoff, who directs policy for the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, says the proliferation of undergraduate courses in topics like zombies and vampires is helping ruin American students’ brains. Citing various studies, Mr. Poliakoff says many U.S. college graduates still lack proficiency in basic verbal literacy.
“What have we given up in order to dabble in the undead?” he says. “We’ve given up survival skills.”
Last year, some parents objected to an optional reading class at Armand Larive Middle School in Hermiston, Ore., using materials describing a “zombie apocalypse.” The district eliminated the material, says Superintendent Dr. Fred Maiocco, and “we extend our regrets to anyone offended.”
Zombie scholars say their subject is worthy of study because the living deads’ history and ubiquity in modern literature and culture present metaphors ripe for analysis.
Self-described “zombie scholar” Sarah Juliet Lauro, a Clemson University assistant English professor, acknowledges that some think it is silly or inappropriate to study the ghouls.
She counters that “it’s a deeply important mythology that is specifically about slavery.” She is finishing a book tracing zombie folklore to its 18th-century roots in the Haitian Revolution. Zombis were field laborers raised from the dead who led a slave rebellion.
Her book, “The Transatlantic Zombie: Slavery, Rebellion and Living Death,” examines how zombies came to represent the struggles of slavery and colonialism.
A former student of Ms. Lauro’s, 34-year-old Christopher Schuster, says studying zombies analytically in her class “struck a chord.” An Iraq War veteran, he saw parallels to post-traumatic stress disorder. “A single bite changes you from my best friend to someone who’s trying to kill me,” he says, adding that war “can take a child and turn him into a tormented man.”
Zombies are staggering into many fields. Last year, English professor Sherryl Vint at the University of California, Riverside, and a grad student called for submissions to “an edited volume on zombies in comics and graphic novels through the lens of medical discourse.”
The editors “seek to move beyond merely identifying the similarities between the etiology of infectious disease and zombie plagues to question how medical discourse constructs and is constructed by popular iconography of the boundaries of life, illness and health.”
Other collections due this year include “Economics of the Undead,” which co-editor Glen Whitman, a Cal State Northridge economics professor, says “raises issues of the use of resources” in an apocalyptic event. The work is academic, he says, but might draw readers “with a casual interest in economics.”
A media-studies anthology edited by Steve Jones, a senior lecturer at England’s Northumbria University, “seeks to investigate zombie sexuality in all its forms and manifestations.”
Max Brooks, author of hit pop-culture books like “The Zombie Survival Guide” and “World War Z” – often cited in academic works – is skeptical about exploring the undead theoretically. “It just becomes academics writing papers for other academics,” he says.
Instead, he says, “I would want a professor who would dig into the very real questions” that his own books seek to answer – such as, what steps would one take should a zombie apocalypse arrive—and “take that knowledge and apply it to the real world.”
Less than a year after suffering a major investment downgrade, Chicago has been downgraded again. Moody’s Investment Services announced Tuesday that it was lowering Chicago’s rating from A3 to Baa1, three levels above junk bond status.
Last July, Moody’s downgraded Chicago from Aa3 to A3. President Barack Obama’s adopted hometown now has the lowest municipal bond rating of any city in the U.S. except bankrupt Detroit.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as White House Chief of Staff for President Obama from 2009 to late 2010, and who is close to Bill and Hillary Clinton, has struggled to tackle the city’s looming pension crisis.
Through he reached an agreement with sanitation workers to reform the city’s garbage collection system, he has struggled to work with teachers’ unions and has not been able to rally the city behind broader municipal financial reforms.