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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Russian space experts examine 200-kilo metal 'UFO dustbin lid' which fell from the sky in Siberia

Space experts are trying to solve the mystery of ‘a UFO fragment’ which crashed close to a village in Siberia.

Locals insist the metallic object – which resembles a large rubbish bin – fell from the skies but initial checks by experts have concluded it is neither from a rocket nor a missile.

It is now under police guard as interest in the ‘visitor’ intensifies.

Weighing 200 kilograms and around two metres in height, locals fixed it onto a trailer and took across the snow to the village where local inspectors checked it.

‘The object found is not related to space technology. A final conclusion can be made after a detailed study of the object by experts,' said the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

Locals insist the metallic object - resembling a large shiny rubbish bin - fell from the skies. The object is six feet long and is at least partially made of titanium steel.

It's now under police guard as interest in the 'visitor' intensifies.

It was found near a village called Otradnensky some two thousand miles and three time zones east of Moscow.

The Russian media immediately claimed ‘fragments of a UFO’ were discovered in the remote forest.

Locals had heard strange sounds in the thick woodland in December, it was claimed.

But it was only on Sunday that the find was reported to local police who then alerted Moscow.

Yuri Bornyakov, head of rescue service department of Kuibyshevski district of Novosibirsk region, said: ‘We measured the radiation level near and inside the object. We found no radiation here.’

Initial theories that it was part of a space rocket or a satellite form a failed launch in Kazakhstan have been denied.

Head of Department for Civil Defence and Emergency Situations of the Kuibyshevski, Valery Vasiliev, said part of the fragment was made of ultra strong titanium.

Finder Sergey Bobrov undertook in an official statement that he would keep the UFO safe, but locals reported that ‘police came during the night and secretly removed it’.

A local police spokesman confirmed the object was now under guard by the force on orders from unspecified authorities.

‘You can see inside it, all is open, it's empty, no danger here. We were asked to take and store it. We brought it here. And now we are going to wait until they come to take it if they need it’ said Sergei Sulein.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2118280/Russian-space-experts-called-examine-200-kilo-UFO-fragment-fell-sky-Siberia.html#ixzz1ptJdo2nS

Laser fires most powerful laser blast in history

The largest laser in the world was turned on for a fraction of a second last week -- and it unleashed the most powerful laser blast in history.

The National Ignition Facility (NIF) -- a laser test facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. -- turned on its 192 laser beams for a brief instant on March 15, unleashing a record-setting 1.875-megajoule blast into a target chamber.

The lasers were combined, gathered and focused through a series of lens into a 2.03-megajoule shot, said Ed Moses, NIF director -- a record for the facility.

That pulse of energy lasted for just 23 billionths of a second, yet it generated 411 trillion watts of power, NIF said -- 1,000 times more than the entire United States consumes at any given instant.

“It’s a remarkable demonstration of the laser from the standpoint of its energy, its precision, its power, and its availability,” Moses told Nature magazine.

But it’s barely half the battle. NIF hopes to dramatically increase the power of the laser shots by the end of year, intending to ultimately use the facility to harness the energy reaction that occurs naturally within the sun: fusion.

“This event marks a key milestone in the National Ignition Campaign’s drive toward fusion ignition,” Moses said.

In fission, atoms are split and the massive energy released is captured. The NIF aims for fusion, the ongoing energy process in the sun and other stars where hydrogen and helium nuclei are continually fusing and releasing enormous amounts of energy. In the ignition facility, beams of light converge on pellets of hydrogen isotopes to create a similar, though controlled, micro-explosion.

As the beams move through a series of amplifiers, their energy increases exponentially. From beginning to end, the beams' total energy grows from one-billionth of a joule to a potential high of four million joules, NIF said -- a factor of more than a quadrillion.

And it all happens in about five millionths of a second.

Because the laser is on for the merest fraction of a second, it costs little to operate -- between $5 and $20 per blast, said spokeswoman Lynda Seaver. But the potential is enormous.

NIF’s managers hope by the end of the year to reach a break-even point, where the energy released is equal to if not greater than the energy that went into the blast.

“We have all the capability to make it happen in fiscal year 2012,” Moses told Nature.

Experts aren't so sure, citing challenges that NIF and other types of fusion have had in the past.

Glen Wurden, a plasma physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, told Nature scientists should be wary of putting all their eggs in the laser basket.

“It’s premature right now,” he told the magazine, citing the troubles that have plagued a competing approach to fusion and its flagship project in France.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/03/21/worlds-most-powerful-laser-fires-most-power-laser-blast-in-history/#ixzz1pt0DrZfk

7 Archetypes of the Rapture Part 2

Spain never so close to default, economist warns

Spain has never been so close to default and Greece, Ireland and Portugal may need further bailouts, Citigroup Inc. chief economist Willem Buiter said.

“Spain is the key country about which I’m most worried,” Buiter, a former Bank of England policy maker, said in a radio interview Wednesday on “Bloomberg Surveillance” with Tom Keene and Ken Prewitt. “It’s really moved to the wrong side of the spectrum and is now at greater risk of sovereign restructuring than ever before.”

Two years of debt-driven stresses in European markets have eased as Greece avoided a disorderly default, the building blocks of a new euro economic management system fell into place and the European Central Bank pumped over 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) into the banking system.

“The European Central Bank has drowned the markets and the banks in liquidity,” Buiter said. “There’s a general feeling of near euphoria at the moment which leads those drowning in liquidity to believe that all troubles are over.”

Spain sold 5.04 billion euros of 12-month and 18-month bills at the lowest rates in almost two years Tuesday even as the nation’s overall debt last year surged to the highest in over two decades. Euro-area finance chiefs agreed on March 12 that Spain won’t achieve its budget goal for the second year in 2012 as the country’s second recession since 2009 hampers deficit-cutting efforts.

Buiter said Greece may need another bailout before the end of the year and no later than next year.

“The Greek sovereign is by no means on a sustainable path so they will have to restructure again,” he said.

Portugal and Ireland aren’t out of the woods either, Buiter said. Portugal is at a “very high” risk of a restructuring, which may occur next year, and Ireland certainly needs “additional official sector support,” he said.

“The efforts for recapitalization in the case of banks and deleveraging for governments tend to slacken off” when they are no longer confronted with extreme difficulties in funding themselves, Buiter said.

Financial Post

N. Korea warns against discussing it in summit

North Korea on Wednesday strongly warned against the upcoming Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, saying any attempt to raise the issue of North Korean nuclear programs during the summit will be deemed “a declaration of war.”

The North’s state-run Korea Central News Agency said South Korea’s Lee Myung-bak administration is trying to take advantage of its status as a host of the summit to make the international community hostile towards the North.

“If there is any provocative act such as the issuance of a so-called statement concerning ‘the North’s nuclear issue’ at the Seoul conference, it would constitute an extreme insult to the North’s deceased leaders who left denuclearization as their final wish,” the KCNA said in a commentary.

“Taking part in traitor Lee Myung-bak’s devilish act would only worsen the situation on the Korean peninsula all the more.”

The Seoul nuclear security summit is to gather leaders from 53 countries and four international organizations in southern Seoul on March 26-27, to discuss safeguarding nuclear materials around the world and preventing them from falling into the hands of terrorists.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan earlier said that although North Korean nuclear issue is not on the official agenda, it could be discussed in bilateral talks on the sideline of the nuclear security summit.

“There is no such thing as ‘North Korean nuclear issue,’ therefore, no reason to mention it at the meeting,” the KCNA said.

The North said Seoul’s hosting of the summit itself ridicules the local and overseas public, and an international shame because “the Korean Peninsula is the world’s largest nuclear powder keg.”

Although the North agreed with the U.S. to freeze its nuclear programs in exchange for food aid on Feb. 29, it recently announced that it would launch a satellite into space using a long-range missile technology. The U.S. has deemed the North’s decision a deal-breaker.


Sheriff Joe wants Obama's original draft card

A normal citizen would go to jail for this...

Following up on his investigative team’s finding of probable cause that Barack Obama’s Selective Service registration form is a forgery, Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio has asked Selective Service Director Lawrence Romo in a letter to produce original documentation.

A copy of Obama’s registration form indicates the registration took place at the Makiki Station Post Office in Honolulu on July 29, 1980. Arpaio wants court-approved, forensic experts selected by his office to examine the original for its authenticity, as well as any microfilm or computer copies that may exist.

In the letter, Arpaio also asked Romo to pursue his own investigation to determine when and how Obama’s Selective Service registration was submitted and entered into the agency’s records.

“No doubt your agency has established procedures for investigating probable cause suspicions when a Selective Service Registration card has been forged,” Arpaio writes.

Help Sheriff Joe bust the lid off Obama’s fraud. Join the Cold Case Posse right now!

Arpaio tells Romo his sheriff’s office “would appreciate knowing what steps you will direct the Selective Service system to take to investigate these allegations, so that together we may ultimately identify the person or persons responsible for producing the document.”

Arpaio asks Romo to respond within 30 days regarding whether or not his national office will provide him with the original document and if his agency will move forward with an investigation of its own.

Romo, who was appointed in 2009 by Obama, reports directly to the president.

Date stamp forged?

Exhibit A shows Obama’s Selective Service registration form, with the Post Office date stamp, July 29, 1980, in the lower right corner.

Exhibit A: Barack Obama's Selective Service registration form

Arpaio’s investigators reviewed a number of authentic Selective Service registration forms obtained from the federal government through Freedom of Information Act requests.

Read the preliminary findings of Sheriff Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse investigation.

Exhibit B presents four of the authentic Selective Service registration forms. All of the forms have a Post Office stamp that indicates the year with four digits.

Exhibit B: Authentic Selective Service registration forms, with Post Office stamps containing four-digit year designation

In sharp contrast, the year designation in Obama’s Selective Service registration has two digits, specifying only “80″ instead of “1980.”

Exhibit C shows the standard Post Office date-stamp equipment that was used to stamp Selective Service registration forms. A close-up shows the three slots on the bottom of the stamp in which the month, day and year plugs were inserted.

Exhibit C: Standard Post Office date stamp, Selective Service registration

Exhibit D shows five examples of the expected results from the pica stamp used by the U.S. Post Office to date-stamp Selective Service registration forms.

Exhibit D: Authentic Selective Service registration date stamps, 1980

The first two stamps in the illustration are from the same Post Office – Makiki Station in Honolulu, Hawaii – indicated on Obama’s Selective Service registration.

While some of the letters stamped in the outer ring on some of the authentic documents are indistinct or even missing, all of the authentic date stamps include four digits for the year at the center of the stamp.

Investigators duplicate Obama’s date stamp

Arpaio’s investigators located and interviewed several 1980s-era Post Office employees who attested that it was standard procedure to utilize a four-digit date stamp.

Investigators next turned their attention toward figuring out how Obama’s Selective Service registration form could possibly have obtained a two-digit year stamp.

Exhibit E shows investigators were able to obtain an authentic 1980 pica date stamp. The photograph also shows the knife set used in the investigation.

Exhibit E: Knife used to cut "2008" date, pica Post Office date stamp

Since investigators could find no 1980 pica Post Office date stamps available, they had no choice but to cut a 2008 pica Post Office date stamp and invert the “08″ half, so that when it was placed in the date compartment, the stamp printed out “80.”

Surprisingly, the result ended up looking identical to the date stamp on Obama’s Selective Service registration card, as demonstrated in Exhibit F.

Exhibit F: "80" two-digit PICA Post Office date stamp in Barack Obama's Selective Service registration (black stamp) and in the date stamp produced by Sheriff Arpaio's investigators (red stamp)

Exhibit G makes clear that the off-to-the-right date stamp seen in the registration, the same as is seen in the demonstration by Arpaio’s investigators, is not observed in the authentic four-digit pica date stamp used in the same office indicated on Obama’s Selective Service registration, which has the same month, July 1980.

Exhibit G, Obama Selective Service registration on left, authentic Selective Service registration on right – same month, same Post Office

The numbers “80″ are out of line to the right in Obama’s card because when the numbers “08″ were cut away from the “2008″ date plug, they were not cut squarely.

Arpaio’s investigators concluded that Obama’s Selective Service registration card fit into what was becoming a common narrative for his life: The document was not only forged, it was poorly forged.


Obama Has Increased Debt $5T

President Barack Obama has now increased the national debt by approximately $5 trillion since the day he was inaugurated, according to the official debt figures the U.S. Treasury released at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

While Obama has been president, the federal government’s debt has increased by $15,824.21 for each of the 313,223,079 million people that the Census Bureau now estimates live in the United States—and by $41,762.92 for each of the nation’s 118,682,000 households.

On Jan. 20, 2009, the day Obama was inaugurated, the federal government’s debt was $10,626,877,048,913.08. As of the close of business on Tuesday, March 20, 2012, it was $15,583,383,846,149.34.

That represents an increase of $4,956,506,797,236.26—which rounds to $5 trillion.

(As of the close of business on March 19, 2012, the debt had increased since Obama’s inauguration by $4,947,361,319,191.81—slightly below the rounding point of $4.95 trillion.)

The $4,956,506,797,236.26 in new debt the U.S. government has accumulated since Obama’s inauguration is equal to all the debt the U.S. government accumulated between Jan. 4, 1776, when the British colonies declared their independence from England, until Aug. 15, 1995, when Bill Clinton was in the third year of his first term.

In the first 1,156 days of Obama’s presidency (through March 20), the federal debt increased at an average rate of $4,287,635,637.75 per day. Were the debt to maintain that aveage daily rate of increase through the end of Obama's term on Jan. 20, 2013, the debt will have increased by $6,264,235,666,752.75 during Obama’s term.

The total national debt did not exceed $6,264,235,666,752.75 until Oct. 29, 2002, during George W. Bush’s first term. If the rate of increase in the debt continues at the average daily rate it has maintained thus far in his term, Obama, in just four years, will increase the federal government’s debt by more than all presidents from Washington through Clinton combined.


Feeding The Homeless BANNED In Major Cities All Over America

What would you do if you came across someone on the street that had not had anything to eat for several days?  Would you give that person some food?  Well, the next time you get that impulse you might want to check if it is still legal to feed the homeless where you live.  Sadly, feeding the homeless has been banned in major cities all over America.  Other cities that have not banned it outright have put so many requirements on those that want to feed the homeless (acquiring expensive permits, taking food preparation courses, etc.) that feeding the homeless has become "out of reach" for most average people.  Some cities are doing these things because they are concerned about the "health risks" of the food being distributed by ordinary "do-gooders".  Other cities are passing these laws because they do not want homeless people congregating in city centers where they know that they will be fed.  But at a time when poverty and government dependence are soaring to unprecedented levels, is it really a good idea to ban people from helping those that are hurting?
This is just another example that shows that our country is being taken over by control freaks.  There seems to be this idea out there that it is the job of the government to take care of everyone and that nobody else should even try.
But do we really want to have a nation where you have to get the permission of the government before you do good to your fellow man?
It isn't as if the government has "rescued" these homeless people.  Homeless shelters all over the nation are turning people away each night because they have no more room.  There are many homeless people that are lucky just to make it through each night alive during the winter.
Sometimes a well-timed sandwich or a cup of warm soup can make a world of difference for a homeless person.  But many U.S. cities have decided that feeding the homeless is such a threat that they had better devote law enforcement resources to making sure that it doesn't happen.
This is so twisted.  In America today, you need a "permit" to do almost anything.  We are supposed to be a land of liberty and freedom, but these days government bureaucrats have turned our rights into "privileges" that they can revoke at any time.
The following are some of the major U.S. cities that have attempted to ban feeding the homeless....
Mayor Nutter recently banned feeding homeless people in many parts of Philadelphia where homeless people are known to congregate....
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has announced a ban on the feeding of large numbers of homeless and hungry people at sites on and near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Mayor Nutter is imposing the ban on all outdoor feedings of large numbers of people on city parkland, including Love Park and the Ben Franklin Parkway, where it is not uncommon for outreach groups to offer free food.
Nutter says the feedings lack both sanitary conditions and dignity.
Last June, a group of activists down in Orlando, Florida were arrested by police for feeding the homeless in defiance of a city ordinance....
Over the past week, twelve members of food activist group Food Not Bombs have been arrested in Orlando for giving free food to groups of homeless people in a downtown park. They were acting in defiance of a controversial city ordinance that mandates permits for groups distributing food to large groups in parks within two miles of City Hall. Each group is allowed only two permits per park per year; Food Not Bombs has already exceeded their limit. They set up their meatless buffet in Lake Eola knowing that they would likely be arrested as a result.
Down in Houston, a group of Christians was recently banned from distributing food to the homeless, and they were told that they probably would not be granted a permit to do so in the future even if they applied for one....
Bobby and Amanda Herring spent more than a year providing food to homeless people in downtown Houston every day. They fed them, left behind no trash and doled out warm meals peacefully without a single crime being committed, Bobby Herring said.
That ended two weeks ago when the city shut down their "Feed a Friend" effort for lack of a permit. And city officials say the couple most likely will not be able to obtain one.
"We don't really know what they want, we just think that they don't want us down there feeding people," said Bobby Herring, a Christian rapper who goes by the stage name Tre9.
Dallas has also adopted a law which greatly restricts the ability of individuals and ministries to feed the homeless....
A Dallas-area ministry is suing the city over a food ordinance that restricts the group from giving meals to the homeless.
Courts dismissed Dallas’ request for a summary judgment last week, saying the case, brought up by pastor Don Hart (in video above) may indeed be a violation of free exercise of religion, as protected by the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the blog Religion Clause reported.
In the court filing, the ministry leaders argue that their Christian faith requires them to share meals with the homeless (Jesus did!) and that the requirement that even churches and charities provide toilets, sinks, trained staff and consent of the city keeps them from doing so.
Las Vegas
A few years ago, Las Vegas became the first major U.S. city to specifically pass a law banning the feeding of homeless people....
Las Vegas, whose homeless population has doubled in the past decade to about 12,000 people in and around the city, joins several other cities across the country that have adopted or considered ordinances limiting the distribution of charitable meals in parks. Most have restricted the time and place of such handouts, hoping to discourage homeless people from congregating and, in the view of officials, ruining efforts to beautify downtowns and neighborhoods.
But the Las Vegas ordinance is believed to be the first to explicitly make it an offense to feed “the indigent.”
That law has since been blocked by a federal judge, and since then many U.S. cities have been very careful not to mention "the indigent" or "the homeless" by name in the laws they pass that are intended to ban feeding the homeless.
New York City
New York City has banned all food donations to government-run homeless shelters because the bureaucrats there are concerned that the donated food will not be "nutritious" enough.
Yes, this is really true.
The following is from a recent Fox News article....
The Bloomberg administration is now taking the term “food police” to new depths, blocking food donations to all government-run facilities that serve the city’s homeless.
In conjunction with a mayoral task force and the Health Department, the Department of Homeless Services recently started enforcing new nutritional rules for food served at city shelters. Since DHS can’t assess the nutritional content of donated food, shelters have to turn away good Samaritans.
Can you believe that?
The bureaucrats are officially out of control.
In America today, it seems like almost everything is illegal.
One church down in Louisiana was recently ordered to stop giving out waterbecause it did not have a government permit.
Well, I don't know about you, but I sure am going to give a cup of cold water to someone if they need it whether I have a permit or not.
It is as if common sense has totally gone out the window in this nation.
Over in New Hampshire, a woman is being sued for planting flowers in her own front yard.
This is the kind of thing that makes me glad that I have moved to a much more rural location.  People in the country tend to be much more relaxed.
Sadly, those that love to micro-manage others continue to get the upper hand in America.  Back in January, 40,000 new laws went into effect all over America.  The politicians continue to hit us with wave after wave of regulations and laws with no end in sight.
All of this is making America a very unpleasant place in which to live.
Economic Collapse

Jimmy Carter supports same sex ‘marriage’ as he launches his new Bible

ATLANTA, GEORGIA, March 20, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Former president Jimmy Carter has been strongly identified as a “Born Again” Christian and as a liberal Democrat for nearly five decades. He is once more blending those roles as he promotes “his” latest book, his own study Bible.

The NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter contains the full text of the New International Version of the Bible and the former president’s prayers, reflections, and asides.

During his book tour to promote a study of the Scriptures, Carter mentioned he supports same-sex “marriage.”

President Carter told Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, senior religion editor of The Huffington Post:

Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things – he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies. (Emphasis added.)

However, he said he drew the line, “maybe arbitrarily, in requiring by law that churches must marry people.”

“If a church decides not to, then government laws shouldn’t require them to,” he said, adding his own church accepts “gay members on an equal basis.”

When Raushenbush pressed him about whether he believed the Bible is God’s word, Carter answered, “the basic principles of the Bible are taught by God, but written down by human beings deprived of modern day knowledge. So there is some fallibility in the writings of the Bible. But the basic principles are applicable to my life and I don’t find any conflict among them.”

“There are many verses in the Bible that you could interpret very rigidly,” Carter said, “and that makes you ultimately into a fundamentalist.”

“Fundamentalists,” he wrote in his 2005 book Our Endangered Values, tend “to demagogue emotional issues” and “are often angry and sometimes resort to verbal or even physical abuse against those who interfere with the implementation of their agenda.” Carter applied this term to figures as divergent as the Ayatollah Khomeini and Pope John Paul II, to atheist neoconservatives and his fellow Baptists.

He contended the “mandated subservience of women by Christian fundamentalists” contributes to the Islamic practice of female genital mutilation.

Carter wrote that he exchanged harsh words with the late Pope John Paul II during a state visit over what Carter classified as the Pope’s “perpetuation of the subservience of women.” He added, “there was more harshness when we turned to the subject of ‘liberation theology’.”

The former president, who has released recordings of the Sunday School classes he teaches and written previous books about the Bible, disassociated himself from the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000. He and former President Bill Clinton attempted to realign the Baptist faith in a more liberal direction by calling for a new Baptist convention in 2008. The formation of this new Baptist body, he wrote, constituted an “historic event for the Baptists in this country and perhaps for Christianity.”

Carter, whose single term in office was marred by turbulence at home and abroad, has denounced those who disagree with his political views in strident terms.

Pro-lifers, Carter wrote, “do not extend their concern to the baby who is born.” He instead suggested the nation support contraceptive sex education, taxpayer funding of international “family planning,” and embryonic stem cell research.

In addition to nuptial vows, Carter encouraged the military to end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 2007, and in 2010, he told the website Big Think it was time to elect “a gay person” as president.

The new study Bible, published by Zondervan,

Life Site News

The president wants to track you

Consumers love their iPhones, Androids and BlackBerrys. With built in GPS navigation, these handy little gadgets can point the way to the nearest gas station with a low price or the highest-rated restaurant within a few blocks. Results can be personalized based on the user’s location at any given moment, a feature so handy that many never leave home without their mobile.

Under federal law, even the most basic cellphone must collect location information so that 911 services can respond appropriately. The Obama administration wants the ability to seize this data for its own purposes. Last month, the Justice Department filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit insisting the government had the right to gather 60 days’ worth of tracking information from a cellphone without a warrant issued on probable cause.

By claiming this detailed information is relevant to a criminal investigation, there would effectively be no limit to the state’s ability to know someone’s every move. In the case at hand, federal agents sought the travel history of certain customers of T-Mobile and MetroPCS, but a federal magistrate ruled that the government’s hunch that these individuals might be involved in crime was good enough to merit release of basic subscriber information, such as name and address, but “a higher standard of proof” had to be met before the court would compel the release of location information.

The administration appealed this decision to a district court, arguing the location information represented “third-party business records” entitled to no privacy protection whatsoever. The judge saw this as a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The most troubling aspect of the Justice Department’s pursuit of this case to the next level is that the Supreme Court has already shot down its effort to allow warrantless installation of GPS trackers on automobiles. Tracking a phone potentially reveals far more information than merely following a car, since the phone usually doesn’t stop at the parking space or garage.

Knowing where an individual goes over a two-month period paints a very revealing look at a person’s life. The data could expose a person’s friends, associates, political leanings, religious affiliations, hobbies and even vices like gambling. Such a dossier could as easily be misused to blackmail political enemies as it could be used to crack an organized crime ring.

In a free society, government is not simply entitled to this information. A neutral third party decides whether law enforcement has a real case against the person whose privacy would be violated.

Unfortunately, the administration has too often chosen to trample on the right of citizens to be free from the prying of nosy bureaucratic busybodies. President Obama’s lack of leadership on privacy is most apparent in the hands-on investigations conducted at airports by the Transportation Security Administration. If Congress doesn’t have the courage to step in and tackle this issue, the courts should shut the door once and for all on these attempts to create a surveillance state.

The Washington Times

Syria's leadership making mistakes, says Russia

Syria's leadership is making "a lot of mistakes", Russia's foreign minister has said, in a further sign Moscow may be hardening its stance on Damascus.

Sergei Lavrov said President Bashar al-Assad's regime had "responded incorrectly" from the start, when the protests were peaceful.

He also said Moscow was prepared to support a UN resolution backing its envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan.

It comes a day after Russia called for a daily humanitarian ceasefire.

Earlier on Tuesday, US campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused elements of Syria's armed opposition of carrying out serious human rights abuses, including kidnapping, torture and execution.'Continuing efforts'

"We believe that the Syrian leadership responded incorrectly to the very first manifestations of the peaceful protests," Mr Lavrov told Kommersant FM radio in a pre-recorded interview.

"The Syrian leadership - despite the numerous promises it has made in response to our calls - is making a lot of mistakes. Unfortunately this is why the conflict is so acute."

Russia is a key ally of Syria and, along with China, has twice thwarted attempts to agree to a UN resolution condemning Mr Assad's actions.

But observers believe Moscow's patience with Damascus has been wearing thin.

Mr Annan, the UN-Arab League special envoy on Syria, has spent the last few weeks meeting all sides in the conflict - putting forward proposals to try and bring about an immediate ceasefire by both sides, access for humanitarian aid and the beginning of political dialogue.

Mr Lavrov, speaking at a news conference after meeting his Lebanese counterpart, said the UN Security Council should support the proposals, "not as an ultimatum, but as a basis of continuing efforts" by Mr Annan to find a solution to the crisis.

Following talks with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Monday, Mr Lavrov's ministry put out a statement urging the Syrian government "and all armed groups who oppose it" to agree to ceasefires "without delay".

The ministry said it supported the ICRC's demands for a daily pause in fighting to evacuate the wounded from the worst affected areas and allow in food and medicine, and urged the Syrian authorities to give the organisation "access to all detained persons in Syria following the protests".

Meanwhile, HRW has called on Syria's main opposition coalition, the Syrian National Council (SNC), to condemn the abuses carried out by some of its supporters.

According to HRW, abuses include kidnapping for ransom, detention, and torture of security force members, government supporters, and people identified as members of pro-government militias, called Shabiha.

HRW has frequently accused Syria's government of abuse over the past year of conflict.

The UN says more than 8,000 people have been killed in the year-long uprising, while tens of thousands of people have fled their homes.


Lindsey Williams & Chris Waltzek

University: Classes No Longer Cancelled For Christian, Jewish Holidays

New York’s Stony Brook University has decided to no longer cancel classes for major Christian and Jewish holidays in an effort to ensure that some religions aren’t given special treatment and to “afford equal support and equal respect to students and faculty from all faiths.”

Jewish students would be impacted on Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Passover and Holy Week. Christian students would be impacted on Good Friday. The Christmas holiday is protected under a union contract and occurs when classes are traditionally not in session.

The university had considered allowing faculty to schedule exams on Saturday and Sunday – a time when many students attend worship services. However, that decision was tabled after reaching a compromise with students.

“As a secular university, as a state-funded university our priority must be to maximize instructional opportunities for our students,” said Charles Robbins, vice provost for undergraduate education. “First and foremost, it’s important to note that while I respect everyone’s concerns, the reality is it’s a relatively small number of people who are upset.”

Robbins told Fox News the university’s decision to stop cancelling classes for Christian and Jewish holidays offers “equal protection under the regulations to everybody and no one is getting quote, unquote, special treatment.”

Robbins, who has a background in social justice, said many religions, including the Muslims and Buddhists have never had their holidays officially recognized by the university.

“Now all segments of our population will be equally recognized,” he said. “It really is the American fair thing to do.”

However, Stonybrook University’s 24,100 undergraduate and graduate students are not as religiously diverse as the vice provost said. According to a report in The Jewish Week, 26 percent consider themselves Roman Catholic, 24 percent consider themselves other Christian, eight percent are Muslim, five percent are Jewish, and five percent are Hindu.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, told Fox News that the university’s board of trustees should conduct an investigation into the matter.

“The goal here is radical secularism being shoved down the throats of the people at Stony Brook,” he said.

The university’s decision led the school’s Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Catholic and Asian Christian chaplains to write a letter encouraging them to reconsider.

“We’re not taking an adversarial position against the university administration,” Rabbi Joseph Topek told Fox News. He heads the university’s Interfaith Center and wrote the letter with “a heavy heart.”

Topek said the new policy “becomes less respectful of religious diversity instead of more respectful.”

“Rather than ‘respecting all religions equally,’ as we were told the new calendar would do, it will surely be perceived as an attack on student and faculty religious identity and observance,” the letter read. “We fear that this will be seen as making Stony Brook a less tolerant community that seeks conformity over diversity.”

But Robbins disagreed and said the new policy is anything but disrespectful. He said students may still attend and participate in their religious activities. They will also have the ability to make up any class work should they be absent. Faculty members will also be instructed not to assign exams on religious holidays.

“We’re giving more students the ability to practice their faith in any way that they see fit,” Robbins told Fox News.

Donohue also took issue with the university’s contention of religious fairness.

“There are thousands of religions but this country was founded on the Judeo-Christian ethos,” he said. “No one should be apologetic about it. It’s just a matter of giving due tribute to the heritage and the legacy of western civilization. So that argument doesn’t work either.”

A number of faculty and students are outraged over the decision.

“You really have to choose between my faith and my school work and I don’t want to be put in that position,” Aaron Gershoff told CBS News.

Norman Goodman, a professor of sociology, told The Jewish News the policy “stinks.”

“It was done without any input except from the administration – and it was done in secret. It does not take into account the variety of needs of faculty and students and it shows no respect for religion.”

Fox News

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