Thursday, June 21, 2012

Russian Ship Carrying Attack Helecopters For Syria Stopped By Great Britian

A Russian ship believed to be carrying helicopters and missiles for Syria has been effectively stopped in its tracks off the coast of Scotland after its insurance was cancelled at the behest of the British government.

The British marine insurer Standard Club said it had withdrawn cover from all the ships owned by Femco, a Russian cargo line, including the MV Alaed.

"We were made aware of the allegations that the Alaed was carrying munitions destined for Syria," the company said in a statement. "We have already informed the ship owner that their insurance cover ceased automatically in view of the nature of the voyage."

British security officials confirmed they had told Standard Club that providing insurance to the shipment was likely to be a breach of European Union sanctions against the Syrian regime.

They said they were continuing to monitor the ship, which has been the subject of a fierce international row since US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week revealed it was adding to the arsenal of weaponry available for Mr Assad to use against rebellious Syrian towns.

"We have various ways of keeping track of this ship and that is what we are doing," a source told The Daily Telegraph.

The MV Alaed picked up its cargo of Mi25 helicopters – known as "flying tanks" – from the Russian port of Kaliningrad, where they had been sent to the state-owned manufacturer Mil's "Factory 150" for servicing and repairs.

They were originally sold to the Syrian government by Moscow, its major arms supplier, at the end of the Soviet era.
The ship headed south through the North Sea towards the English Channel on its way to the Mediterranean and, most likely, the Syrian port of Tartous, also home to a Russian naval base.

But under sanctions announced last year, the EU has banned not only exporting arms to Syria but also providing related services such as insurance.
As first revealed by The Sunday Telegraph at the weekend, the US notified the UK government that the insurance was British last week.

As it neared the Dutch coast, the authorities there also hailed the ship, the security sources said, and it made an abrupt turn, heading towards Scotland. It was last night now off the coast of the Hebrides but with no insurance covering the ship security sources say it may now have to return to port.

In their attempts to bombard rebel towns into submission, Assad regime forces have increasingly brought up helicopters, strafing the towns of Haffa and Rastan last week.

Their use, condemned by Kofi Annan, the UN peace envoy, has not stopped Russia's continued insistence on providing arms to the Syrians. Moscow is continuing with a 2007 contract to provide more than 20 MiG-29 M2 fighter aircraft, according to the Americans.

Russia also announced it was preparing to send an elite unit of marines to Tartous, a move which a Western defence source said was intended as a powerful signal that Russia would not tolerate foreign military intervention.

Classified US satellite images last week indicated that loading work had begun on two amphibious landing vessels, the Nikolai Filchenkov and the Caesar Kunikov, at the Crimean naval base of Sebastopol.
 Read More from The Telegraph

More American's Can't Afford TV Cable, Cutting The Cord To Save Money

Journalists routinely used the phrase "Age of Obama" shortly after the 44th President of the United States took the oath of office in January 2009.

Said scribes clearly expected great things to follow - perhaps they read their own biased news clippings.

And they were eager to associate all the impending good news on this magical new age.

The term is rarely used these days, even when it's oh, so applicable to current events.

Take the cable industry. For months, cable subscribers have been cutting the cord on their services, opting to utilize streaming technology for their home entertainment needs. This consumer did just that a few months ago with no regrets. But it turns out my situation was the exception, not the rule.

Those cord cutters were simply trying to save every last penny possible in a rickety economy.

Industry officials had worried that Americans would begin "cord-cutting" in a shift to internet TV, but the recession is more to blame, not internet bling.
Read More from Breitbart

New Zealand Woman Faces Losing Her Job For Carrying A Bible In Her Pocket

New Zealand---A union claims an Auckland casino worker faces the sack after bosses caught her carrying a pocket Bible with her at work.

Tuni Parata was left stunned after receiving a letter from her SkyCity managers accusing her of misconduct for carrying the Bible on her shifts as a tower host at the casino.

SkyCity says carrying the Bible is a breach of the uniform code.

Ms Parata has worked at SkyCity for 16 years but now fears for her job after keeping her faith close to her.
A disciplinary hearing is scheduled for Thursday but her union, Unite, has called for the action against her to be dropped.

"This is completely absurd," said Unite national director Mike Treen.

"Since when does carrying a Bible in your pocket become unlawful in New Zealand workplaces?"

Grainne Troute, SkyCity general manager group services, called the union's response "alarmist" and said a breach of uniform policies was unlikely to result in a sacking.

"Different roles have different uniform standards but as a general principle staff in customer service roles are in breach of SkyCity's uniform standards if they carry items such as mobile phones, books and other items which might interfere with their full engagement with their customers."

She said such a breach of uniform policies was not considered serious misconduct and would not be expected to result in the dismissal of any staff member.

In a letter to Ms Parata last Tuesday, the casino said: "The company is considering disciplinary action being taken in relation to the alleged incident on April 26 2012 when you were seen by a senior manager of another department with non-work related material in a front of house work environment."

An earlier letter of May 27 related how a manager saw Ms Parata with the Bible in toilets and how a union rep told her it didn't matter if it was "a Playboy magazine or a Bible, it was not work related material, therefore should not be with you front of house and certainly not being read".

Ms Parata said today that carrying a Bible at all times was a vital part of her faith and relationship to God.

She was reluctant to comment further, saying: "I'd rather wait til after Thursday's meeting."

Unite, which has 8000 members across several sectors in New Zealand, including 700 - 800 at Skycity, said it had already tried to argue for their member but the casino seemed unmoved.

"We tried to explain that a business that feeds off gambling addictions of many people in this country and is seen as a den of inequity already won't do its reputation any good. However, our efforts fell on deaf ears."

He accepted that the casino needed strict rules over dealers and workers handling money and what they could carry on them but said the policy went "overboard".

"What happened to freedom of opinion and religion as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights?

"It gets to the point where the bureaucratic rigidity rides over practical common sense.
Read More from NZ Herold

50th Anniversary Of Prayer Banned In U.S Schools

Fifty years ago this month, the Supreme Court declared an official school prayer unconstitutional. How have the schools fared since then? The facts speak for themselves.

The June 25, 1962 ruling by the Supreme Court was Engel v. Vitale, the first in a string of decisions that seemed to rule God and the Bible out of our public schools. Justice Hugo Black wrote the Engel decision, saying, "a union of government and religion tends to destroy government and to degrade religion." I agree with that statement, but not his decision.

Justice Potter Stewart, the lone dissenter, wrote, "On the contrary, I think that to deny the wish of these schoolchildren to join in reciting this prayer is to deny them the opportunity of sharing in the spiritual heritage of our Nation." As we'll see, that heritage is quite considerable.

Part of the problem with the case in question was that the New York State Board of Regents – a government body – had written a bland prayer that they hoped would offend no one.

Well, bad cases can end up causing bad precedents. Those who objected to the prayer could, and did, point out that the state had no business getting into the prayer-writing business.

But the bigger issue is the symbolic one. The Supreme Court seemed to begin a process of censorship of God in the public schools that continues to this day.
The next year, the high court said you can't read the Bible in the schools – for devotional purposes – but they explicitly said that objective "study of the Bible or of religion" is to be allowed in schools. But many schools eventually threw the Bible out entirely.

After writing in favor of voluntary school prayer a few months ago, I had some interesting feedback from a Baptist deacon involved in the public schools. He said this of Engel : "The SCOTUS determined that any kind of organized prayer, composed by public school districts, even nondenominational prayer, is an unconstitutional government sponsorship of religion."

He added, "Public Schools should be religiously neutral." He also said the real solution is what parents do:

"We should be encouraging and equipping parents to lead their children in daily prayer and Bible study, before school. Daily parent-led devotions in Christian homes across America would do more for the moral development of our children than all the government-composed generic prayers could ever hope to do." I certainly agree with him on that point.

Also he said, "Our public schools did not 'ban God from the classroom.' The US Supreme Court banned sectarian prayer and other religious observances that had been imposed on school children. Student prayer is not illegal – it happens every time there is an exam!"
Read More from Christian Post

Volunteer Police Chaplains Banned From Praying In Jesus Name

Volunteer chaplains in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department have been banned from using Jesus’ name during prayers that are uttered during public events.

Rather than serving as a discriminatory practice, the new policy is intended — at least according to Major John Diggs who oversees the chaplain program — as an effort to respect people of all faiths.

“[It's a] matter of respecting that people may have different faiths and that it is not aimed at any one religion or denomination,” Diggs told WSOC-TV.

But while Diggs claims that the decision is rooted in not offending non-Christians and that it is not geared toward any particular denomination, some are voicing their disapproval. Take, for instance, Pastor Terry Sartain, who is the senior faith leader at Horizon Christian Fellowship and who has been a chaplain with the police department for seven years.

Sartain was scheduled to speak recently at a government event where he planned, as per usual, to use Jesus’ name in his invocation. Just before the event, he received a phone call informing him of the new-found ban. Naturally, he was saddened and made the decision not to attend the event.

“When I heard this I was sad,” he explained. ”I asked if I could withdraw, because Jesus is the only thing I have to bless people with.”

In the end, the pastor was told that his decision not to attend and pray at the event will hurt his standing as a chaplain. Despite this incident, Sartain pledges to stay with the ministry, as he believes his work with the police officers is important. That being said, he has asked to have his name removed from the roster of individuals who would offer up public prayers at local events.
Read More From The Blaze

Adults Heckle NYC Schoolchildren While They Sing ‘God Bless the USA’

We already told you about the New York City public school principal who banned “God Bless the USA” from a kindergarten graduation program. Now, the same schoolchildren who were forbidden from singing the song at P.S. 90 in Brooklyn were heckled by adults when they performed the song at a protest event held in a nearby park.

(Related: Update: Principal Pulls Bieber Song From Graduation Line-Up, Still Doesn‘t Reinstate ’God Bless the USA’)

Adults Heckle NYC Schoolchildren While They Sing God Bless the USA

Parents, outraged by Principal Greta Hawkins’ decision to ban the song, organized the protest and invited Rep. Bob Turner (R-NY) to attend (he’s running against Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand). But the event, which was assembled to allow the children and families to make their opposition to Hawkins’ stance known, went terribly wrong when some adults chose to shout over the children in protest.

Video of the incident shows boys and girls waving flags and singing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” As they performed, though, some angry adults began swarming and shouting. Turner confirmed that these events unfolded in an interview with Fox News Radio, calling the actions “really bad form.”
Adults Heckle NYC Schoolchildren While They Sing God Bless the USA
One of the hecklers yelling at children and adults during their "God Bless the USA" performance

“You Republicans come go to a Republican area and do that, we don’t do that here,” proclaimed one of the counter protesters. “This is ridiculous, this is sad. This is so crazy. This is sad.”

As Fox’s Todd Starnes notes, one of the staffers told the protesters to stop intervening and to let the kids sing. To that request, one of them responded, claiming that the spectacle was “ridiculous” and that those orchestrating the event were going to “burn in hell.”

“The kids don’t even know what they’re singing. They got something you tell them to say. It’s ridiculous,” he said. “It’s sad, sad, sad. You all are going to burn in hell. You all burn in hell. Shame on you. Shame on you.”
In an attempt to drown the protesters out, the children began chanting “USA, USA, USA!“ One of the kids even told the most vocal of the detractors to ”get out of here.”

Read More from The Blaze

Swarms of cyborg insect drones are the future of military surveillance

Researchers have now developed bio-inspired drones with bug eyes, bat ears, bird wings, and even honeybee-like hairs to sense biological, chemical and nuclear weaponsThe kinds of drones making the headlines daily are the heavily armed CIA and U.S. Army vehicles which routinely strike targets in Pakistan - killing terrorists and innocents alike.

But the real high-tech story of surveillance drones is going on at a much smaller level, as tiny remote controlled vehicles based on insects are already likely being deployed.

Over recent years a range of miniature drones, or micro air vehicles (MAVs), based on the same physics used by flying insects, have been presented to the public.

The fear kicked off in 2007 when reports of bizarre flying objects hovering above anti-war protests sparked accusations that the U.S. government was accused of secretly developing robotic insect spies.

Official denials and suggestions from entomologists that they were actually dragonflies failed to quell speculation, and Tom Ehrhard, a retired Air Force colonel and expert on unmanned aerial craft, told the Daily Telegraph at the time that 'America can be pretty sneaky.'
The following year, the US Air Force unveiled insect-sized spies 'as tiny as bumblebees' that could not be detected and would be able to fly into buildings to 'photograph, record, and even attack insurgents and terrorists.'

Around the same time the Air Force also unveiled what it called 'lethal mini-drones' based on Leonardo da Vinci's blueprints for his Ornithopter flying machine, and claimed they would be ready for roll out by 2015.

That announcement was five years ago and, since the U.S. military is usually pretty cagey about its technological capabilities, it raises the question as to what it is keeping under wraps.

The University of Pennsylvania GRASP Lab recently showed off drones that swarm, a network of 20 nano quadrotors flying in synchronized formations.

The SWARMS goal is to combine swarm technology with bio-inspired drones to operate 'with little or no direct human supervision' in 'dynamic, resource-constrained, adversarial environments.'

However, it is most likely the future of hard-to-detect drone surveillance will mimic nature.

Research suggests that the mechanics of insects can be reverse-engineered to design midget machines to scout battlefields and search for victims trapped in rubble.

Scientists have taken their inspiration from animals which have evolved over millennia to the perfect conditions for flight.

Nano-biomimicry MAV design has long been studied by DARPA, and in 2008 the U.S. government's military research agency conducted a symposium discussing 'bugs, bots, borgs and bio-weapons.'

Researchers have now developed bio-inspired drones with bug eyes, bat ears, bird wings, and even honeybee-like hairs to sense biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

Judge Rules That Prostitution Site Run By College Professors Is Legal

A website that authorities say two aging professors used to run a multistate prostitution ring is legal, a state judge has ruled, highlighting the difficulties that prosecutors face in using decades-old laws to combat a modern phenomenon.

The ruling comes as prosecutors were scheduled to present to a grand jury their case against former University of New Mexico President F. Chris Garcia, who is accused of helping a physics professor from New Jersey oversee a prostitution website called "Southwest Companions."

State District Judge Stan Whitaker ruled that the website, an online message board and Garcia's computer account did not constitute a "house of prostitution," the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Whitaker also said the website wasn't "a place where prostitution is practiced, encouraged or allowed."
The ruling means that prosecutors will now have to decide how to proceed with a case involving Garcia, retired Fairleigh Dickinson University physics professor David C. Flory and others.

They were arrested last June on a criminal complaint charging them with promoting prostitution. Flory, a retired physics professor at the New Jersey school and has a home in Santa Fe, is accused of buying the site in 2009.

Garcia's attorney, Robert Gorence, said Garcia was satisfied with the judge's decision and felt vindicated. A woman who answered the phone at Flory's Santa Fe residence said he had no comment.

Investigators said the prostitution ring had a membership of 14,000, including 200 prostitutes. Members paid anywhere from $200 for a sex act to $1,000 for a full hour. Prostitutes were paid with cash, not through the website, according to police.

But the ruling also showed the difficulty that prosecutors have in trying prosecute owners of websites that promote or facilitate prostitution because of laws created long before the Internet age, experts say.

"Most state laws only address street walkers and brothels and are so narrowly written that it's hard to prosecute these new cases," said Scott Cunningham, a Baylor University economics professor who has written about technology and prostitution.

For example, Cunningham said, Craigslist withstood lawsuits and challenges by law enforcement agencies and district attorneys' offices to shut down its erotic services section and only closed them later for publicity reason.

To change laws, Cunningham said, some states will have to pass laws that outline step-by-step regulations on websites.
Read More From ABC News