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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Blair: West must prepare to confront Iran with force

Photo: AP

Former British PM says 'we have to get our head out of the sand' because Islamic Republic 'disagrees fundamentally with our way of life and will carry on unless met with determination and, if necessary, force'

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair urged the West to be prepared to confront Iran with force in order to face the "looming and coming challenge" from Tehran, French news agency AFP reported on Saturday.

"It (Iran) has to be confronted and changed. Iran is a looming challenge. It is negative and destabilizing. It supports terrorists," Blair said Friday at the Chilcot inquiry, the British inquiry into the war in Iraq.

"I say this to you with all of the passion I possibly can -- at some point the West has to get out of what I think is a wretched policy or posture of apology for believing that we are causing what the Iranians are doing, or what these extremists are doing," said Blair, who serves as the Quartet envoy to the Middle East.

"We have to get our head out of the sand. They disagree fundamentally with our way of life and will carry on unless met with determination and, if necessary, force."

Blair added that he could see the "impact and the influence of Iran everywhere."

Iran and six world powers meet again in Istanbul Saturday amid stiff resistance by Tehran to demands for discussion of its nuclear activities that could be used to make weapons.

Tehran denies that it wants nuclear arms, insisting it wants only to make peaceful nuclear energy for its rising population. But concerns have grown - because its uranium enrichment program could also make fissile warhead material, because of its nuclear secrecy and also because the Islamic Republic refuses to cooperate with UN attempts to investigate suspicions that it ran experiments related to making nuclear weapons.

While the six want the two-days of talks focused at freezing Iran's uranium enrichment program, Tehran has repeatedly said this activity is not up for discussion. Instead, Iranian officials are pushing an agenda that covers just about everything except its nuclear program: global disarmament, Israel's suspected nuclear arsenal, and Tehran's concerns about US military bases in Iraq and elsewhere.

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Postal Service to close another 2,000 locations

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The money-losing U.S. Postal Service is planning to shut down thousands of stations and branches to try and ward off its fiscal woes.
The Postal Service has set a goal of closing 2,000 stations and branches in 2011, said Postal Service spokeswoman Joanne Veto. That's in addition to the 491 closures that are already underway, she said.

The Postal Service is not planning to close any post offices, she said, noting that the law prevents the closure of post offices for solely economic reasons. She described stations and branches as being smaller than post offices, with no mail processing, and sometimes no mail carriers.
Mail volume, the main source of income for the Postal Service, has plunged in tandem with the recession. Not only is it competing with the Internet as a means of communication, but businesses have been spending less money to send out advertisements, a form of mail that is not-so-affectionately known as junk mail.

The Postal Service suffered a net loss of $8.5 billion in fiscal year 2010, which ended Sept. 30. That's compared to a loss of $3.8 billion the prior year. The Postal Service delivered about 171 billion pieces of mail in fiscal year 2010, compared to 177 billion the prior year, costing about $1 billion in lost revenue.
"We have post offices that have fewer than five transactions a day," said Veto.


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Silver Shortage this decade, silver will be worth more than gold

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President defends abortion as a right... as lawmakers get set to roll those rights back

Is not 53 million deaths is enough? 
May the Lord have mercy on the US.

Spoiling for a new fight: Barack Obama has drawn a line in the sand over abortion rights, saying American girls have the same right to achieve their dreams as American boys

President Barack Obama has labelled abortion a 'right', setting the grounds for a  new battle with lawmakers determined to roll those rights back. 

The President marked the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark decision on abortion by calling the procedure a constitutional right he's committed to protecting.

But he spoke against a rising tide of anti-abortion activists who sense the time is right for a new push to rein in the broad access to abortions established by the 1973 Roe v Wade decision. 
Buoyed by huge election gains for their allies, anti-abortion activists in America head into their annual March for Life rallies on Monday sensing a prime opportunity in many states.

Foes of abortion gained strength in Congress, among state governors and in many state legislatures, raising hopes among social conservatives for a broad surge of anti-abortion bills.
Mr Obama's comments today squared him off against them. 
He called on Americans to recommit themselves to ensuring that 'our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams'. 
The President said the 1973 Roe v Wade decision that legalised abortion affirmed what he called a 'fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters'.
Many others disagree.

'We are seeing a cultural shift toward protecting life and rolling back the tide of unrestricted abortions,' said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life.

In many states, prospects for passage of such measures are bright, although they may face court challenges. 

NARAL Pro-Choice America, a leading abortion-rights group, said there are now 29 anti-abortion governors out of 50.
That's up eight from the 21 anti-abortion governors in place before the mid-term elections - a blow to Mr Obama's side, as governors have often acted as a firewall for abortion legislation. 
Of the 29, there are 15 in states where abortion opponents also control both legislative chambers.

'In those states in particular, there are almost no pro-choice checks and balances,' said Donna Crane, NARAL's director of public policy.
While abortion-rights supporters traditionally hold commemorations of the court decision, the anniversary has become an even higher-profile date for the anti-abortion movement. 
Its major event, the March for Life in Washington, D.C., is scheduled this year to take place on Monday - not the anniversary itself - while other events are scheduled throughout the weekend nationwide.

On both sides of the debate, the mood contrasts sharply with 2009 and 2010.
Two years ago, the anniversary came two days after Mr Obama's inauguration - a time of enthusiasm among abortion-rights supporters, who tend to vote Democratic. 
A year ago, the anniversary coincided with the first day of testimony in the murder trial of Scott Roeder, who was later convicted of killing late-term abortion provider Dr George Tiller at his church in Wichita, Kansas.
Kansas is now one of the states where anti-abortion activists hope for dramatic legislative gains.

Its new governor, Republican Sam Brownback, is an ardent foe of abortion who has made clear he will sign restrictive measures that his Democratic predecessors vetoed. 
Anti-abortion activists hope to advance bills that would further restrict late-term procedures, increase reporting requirements for abortion providers, and make it harder for abortion clinics to be licensed.

In several other states, Democratic governors who generally supported abortion rights were replaced by Republicans opposed to abortion.

Gay lessons' in maths, geography and science

Children are to be taught about homosexuality in maths, geography and science lessons as part of a Government-backed drive to "celebrate the gay community".

'Gay lessons' in maths, geography and science

Lesson plans have been drawn up for pupils as young as four, in a scheme funded with a £35,000 grant from an education quango, the Training and Development Agency for Schools.
The initiative will be officially launched next month at the start of "LGBT History Month" – an initiative to encourage teaching about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual issues.
The lesson plans, spread across the curriculum, will be offered to all schools, which can choose whether or not to make use of them.
But critics last night called the initiative a poor use of public money which could distract from the teaching of "core" subjects.
Among the suggestions are:
Maths – teaching statistics through census findings about the number of homosexuals in the population, and using gay characters in scenarios for maths problems;
Design and technology – encouraging pupils to make symbols linked to the gay rights movement;
Science – studying animal species where the male takes a leading role in raising young, such as emperor penguins and sea horses, and staging class discussions on different family structures, including same-sex parents;
Geography – examining the transformation of San Francisco's Castro district in the 1960s from a working-class Irish area to the world's first "gay neighbourhood", and considering why homosexuals move from the countryside to cities;
Languages – using gay characters in role play scenarios, and teaching "LGBT vocabulary".
The lesson plans, written by teachers and backed by the Department for Education, will be available for schools to download from the Schools Out website.
For younger children, the plans will suggest using images of same sex couples and also promoting books such as "And Tango Makes Three", which is about two male penguins raising a young chick, inspired by actual events at New York's Central Park Zoo.
The Schools Out organisation, which runs the month-long event, declares on its website that the aim is to "celebrate the lives and achievements of the LGBT community" and "encourage everyone to see diversity and cultural pluralism as positive forces".
The Telegraph

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