July 11th, 2012
Conservative Refocus notes: Our webmaster and editor, Kim, tries to stay in contact with Mr. Voight on looming issues from time to time. John is a rarity in a sea of leftist demagoguery on the star-studded Left Coast, and we thank God for him; to bad there aren't very many at all, like him.
By Hollie McKay
Last week, Brad Pitt’s mother Jane Pitt hit headlines after penning a response letter-to-the-editor of her local newspaper, Missouri’s Springfield News Leader, in which she advocated support for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, referring to him as a “a family man with high morals, business experience, who is against abortion, and shares Christian conviction concerning homosexuality.”
“Any Christian who does not vote or writes in a name is casting a vote for Romney's opponent, Barack Hussein Obama – a man who sat in Jeremiah Wright's church for years, did not hold a public ceremony to mark the National Day of Prayer, and is a liberal who supports the killing of unborn babies and same-sex marriage,” she continued. “I hope all Christians give their vote prayerful consideration because voting is a sacred privilege and a serious responsibility.”
"Good for her"
- John Voight
However, it seems the backlash surrounding Jane’s opinion has become so vehement that she has reportedly been “scared into silence.”
According to WND, Mrs. Pitt has not only been the victim of vulgar and hate-filled attacks, but she has also received death threats which have left her very frightened.
The tweets reportedly included: "BRAD PITT'S MOM WROTE AN ANTI-GAY PRO-ROMNEY EDITORIAL. KILL THE B***H" and, simply, "Brad Pitt's mom, die."
Some media outlets too had their way with her words as well, complete with headlines and references stating that she is “homophobic” and “hates Obama and gay people.”
But Mrs. Pitt has at least one high-profile supporter on her daughter-in-law's side of the family: Jolie's dad Jon Voight!
“Good for her,” Voight told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column, adding that he agrees with the points-of-view expressed by Jane.
A rep for Brad Pitt, an avid supporter of President Obama, did not respond for further comment. Jane Pitt declined further comment when we attempted to reach her.
Brad’s brother Doug also defended his mother earlier this week during an appearance on the "Today Show."
“I think moms and dads and kids agree to disagree all over the world. So why would our family be any different? There can be healthy discussion when people disagree with you,” he said. “The bad thing is when it turns to venom and negativity, and we don’t have that in our family. It’s open discussion. We can learn from each other and, if anything, it solidifies your point. Or maybe you learn something.”
Oh, to be a fly on the wall when Brangelina and the family sit down for Sunday dinner in that big French castle they bought…
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Danielle Jones-Wesley contributed to this report.
July 11th, 2012
San Bernardino on Tuesday became the third California city in less than a month to seek bankruptcy protection, with officials saying the financial situation had become so dire that it could not cover payroll through the summer.
The unexpected vote came at the suggestion of the interim city manager, who said the city faces a $46-million deficit and depleted coffers.
"We have an immediate cash flow issue," Andrea Miller told the mayor and seven-member City Council.
Mayor Patrick Morris called the decision, passed on a 4-2 vote, a "stain" on the city. But he said the only other option was "draconian cuts" to all city services, including the police and fire departments.
"It means the bills will be paid," said a dejected Morris, who is not a voting member of the council.
The city's fiscal crisis has been years in the making, compounded by the nation's crushing recession and exacerbated by escalating pension costs, lucrative labor agreements, Sacramento's raid on redevelopment funds and a city reserve that is tapped out, officials said.
Miller told the council that the city faced major deficits for the next five years.
The deficits remain even after the city negotiated $10 million in concessions from employees and slashed the workforce 20% over the last four years.
The expected bankruptcy for the city of 209,000 residents is certain to heighten concerns about the fiscal forecast for other struggling California cities, which have been slashing jobs and services as tax revenues have declined during the prolonged economic slump.
San Bernardino "is still facing the possibility of insolvency due to a variety of issues including accounting errors, deficit spending, lack of revenue growth and increases in pension and debt costs," according to a budget analysis prepared for the council.
"The city has reached a breaking point and faces the reality of deficient cash on hand to meet its contractual and debt obligations," the report said.
City Atty. James Penman said city budget officials had falsified documents presented to the mayor and council for 13 of the last 16 years, masking the city's deficit spending.
"For the last 16 years the budget prepared for the council showed the city was in the black," Penman said, not naming those allegedly responsible. "The mayor and the council were not given accurate documents."
Morris was taken aback by the comments, saying this was the first time he has heard of the allegations.
City Hall was packed for Tuesday's emergency council meeting, which had been called to discuss San Bernardino's bleak finances. Bankruptcy was expected to be discussed as one option but an actual vote to file was not anticipated.
About a dozen residents urged officials to protect services for the underprivileged, libraries and public safety.
Kathy Mallon, 57, who has lived in San Bernardino for a decade, blasted the city's elected leaders for allowing the financial crisis to grow unabated and wasting millions of tax dollars on transit projects and other non-essential services. Still, she urged them to do everything possible to avoid filing for bankruptcy.
"This is lose, lose, lose all the way around. Residents will suffer. Businesses will suffer and city staff will suffer," Mallon, a member of the city's senior affairs council, said before the vote. "We elected you to handle this, and I do not want to see the outcome decided by a bankruptcy judge who has nothing at stake."
With the vote, the council instructed the city attorney to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, a section of the federal bankruptcy code covering municipalities.Councilwoman Wendy McCammack said San Bernardino had little choice. Miller, the city manager, said that even if the council eliminated all services except for the police department, it would not be enough to pull the city out of its financial tailspin.
"Reorganization may be the only way to keep the city of San Bernardino on life support," McCammack said.Filing for municipal bankruptcy protection will allow San Bernardino to renegotiate contracts, including those with employees, and stave off creditors while officials restructure the city's finances. Current employee pension obligations, one of the contributors to the city's financial straits, will not be affected, officials said.
San Bernardino's tax revenues have declined by as much as $16 million annually over the last few years, primarily because of drops in sales and property taxes.
The city joins two others in California — Stockton and Mammoth Lakes — that have turned to bankruptcy in recent weeks to cope
with their financial problems, albeit for different reasons.
Stockton, a Central Valley agricultural hub with pockets of entrenched poverty, tried to remake itself during the last decade as a refuge for former San Francisco Bay Area residents. It spent money on a marina, a high-rise hotel and a promenade. They flopped.
Residents also got swept up in the boom years, snapping up new tract homes on the city's outskirts. Soon, many of them were empty, victims of the nationwide foreclosure crisis.
Stockton has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.
Tax collection plummeted and the city struggled to pay its debts. It also sized up its labor contracts and declared them unsustainable. Last month — after a lengthy period of mediation — the Stockton City Council voted to stop bond payments, gut employee health and retirement benefits, and squeak by on a spartan budget.
"This is what we must do to get our fiscal house in order and protect the safety and welfare of our citizens," Mayor Ann Johnston said in a statement when the city filed its bankruptcy paperwork.
Days later, the High Sierra town of Mammoth Lakes — population: 7,700 — also filed for bankruptcy. Its plight had little to do with the recession.
Officials said the town could not afford to pay a
$43-million breach-of-contract judgment in a lawsuit brought by a developer. That amount is nearly three times the size of Mammoth Lakes' annual operating budget.
In 1997, the town signed an agreement with Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition to make improvements to a nearby airport's fixed-base operations. In return, the company would get rights to develop a large hotel project at the airport and an option to buy the land.
But in 2007, the town changed its priorities and refused to move forward with the hotel project until some Federal Aviation Administration issues were resolved. The developer then filed suit and won.
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Times staff writer Ashley Powers contributed to this report.
July 11th, 2012
Officials have linked forensic evidence from the 2004 murder scene of a Juilliard student to the scene of a recent Occupy Wall Street subway vandalism, NBC 4 New York has learned.
Investigators have connected DNA evidence from the scene of Sarah Fox's murder in Inwood Hill Park eight years ago to DNA collected at the scene of an Occupy Wall Street subway station vandalism in March.
Fox, 21, was found nude and strangled in the park in May 2004, days after she disappeared during a daytime jog. Investigators recovered her pink CD player in the woods just yards from her body.
Sources said Tuesday the DNA found on the CD player is linked to DNA found on a chain left by Occupy Wall Street protesters at the Beverly Road subway station in East Flatbush on March 28, 2012.
That Wednesday morning, protesters chained open emergency gates and taped up turnstiles in eight subway stations and posted fliers encouraging riders to enter for free.
A "communique" posted online later that day by the "Rank and File Initiative" described the act as a protest against service cuts, fare hikes and transit employees' working conditions.
It was attributed to "teams of activists, many from Occupy Wall Street ... with rank and file workers from the Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the Amalgamated Transit Union."
Sources said they have not connected a person to the common DNA found on the CD player and the chain. There's no immediate evidence that the DNA belongs to the Occupy Wall Street protesters who chained open the gates.
No one was arrested in the March incidents. Police are continuing to investigate, and are now working to identify the source of the DNA found in common with the chain and the CD player.
Dr. Lawrence Koblinsky, a forensics expert at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the DNA link was a major clue in the investigation, one that could potentially break the case.
“You’ve got the same DNA left at two distinct sites," said Koblinsky. "Until they find the individual who left that DNA, we won’t know. But the likelihood is high the person who left that DNA on the CD player is the killer of Sarah Fox.”
Dimitry Sheinman, 47, has been long been considered a suspect in the Fox murder. He has since moved to South Africa and started a family. He was never charged in the case.
Sheinman recently returned to New York City, proclaiming to be a clairvoyant with knowledge of the killer's identity. The information he gave police was unclear.
Sources said he remains a leading person of interest.
Sheinman did not respond to a request for comment.
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July 11th, 2012
Posted by Raymond Ibrahim
According to several reports in the Arabic media, prominent Muslim clerics have begun to call for the demolition of Egypt’s Great Pyramids—or, in the words of Saudi Sheikh Ali bin Said al-Rabi‘i, those “symbols of paganism,” which Egypt’s Salafi party has long planned to cover with wax. Most recently, Bahrain’s “Sheikh of Sunni Sheikhs” and President of National Unity, Abd al-Latif al-Mahmoud, called on Egypt’s new president, Muhammad Morsi, to “destroy the Pyramids and accomplish what the Sahabi Amr bin al-As could not.”
This is a reference to the Muslim Prophet Muhammad’s companion, Amr bin al-As and his Arabian tribesmen, who invaded and conquered Egypt circa 641. Under al-As and subsequent Muslim rule, many Egyptian antiquities were destroyed as relics of infidelity. While most Western academics argue otherwise, according to early Muslim writers, the great Library of Alexandria itself—deemed a repository of pagan knowledge contradicting the Koran—was destroyed under bin al-As’s reign and in compliance with Caliph Omar’s command.
However, while book-burning was an easy activity in the 7th century, destroying the mountain-like pyramids and their guardian Sphinx was not—even if Egypt’s Medieval Mamluk rulers “de-nosed” the latter during target practice (though popular legend still attributes it to a Westerner, Napoleon).ow, however, as Bahrain’s “Sheikh of Sheikhs” observes, and thanks to modern technology, the pyramids can be destroyed. The only question left is whether the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt is “pious” enough—if he is willing to complete the Islamization process that started under the hands of Egypt’s first Islamic conqueror.
Nor is such a course of action implausible. History is laden with examples of Muslims destroying their own pre-Islamic heritage—starting with Islam’s prophet Muhammad himself, who destroyed Arabia’s Ka‘ba temple, transforming it into a mosque.
Asking “What is it about Islam that so often turns its adherents against their own patrimony?” Daniel Pipes provides several examples, from Medieval Muslims in India destroying their forefathers’ temples, to contemporary Muslims destroying their non-Islamic heritage in Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Malaysia, and Tunisia.
It is further telling that such calls are being made now—immediately after a Muslim Brotherhood member became Egypt’s president. In fact, the same reports discussing the call to demolish the last of the Seven Wonders of the Word, also note that Egyptian Salafis are calling on Morsi to banish all Shias and Baha’is from Egypt.
In other words, Morsi’s call to release the Blind Sheikh, a terrorist mastermind, may be the tip of the iceberg in coming audacity. From calls to legalize Islamic sex-slave marriage to calls to institute “morality police” to calls to destroy Egypt’s mountain-like monuments, under Muslim Brotherhood tutelage, the bottle has been uncorked, and the genie unleashed in Egypt.
Currently, in what the International Criminal Court is describing as a possible “war crime,” Islamic fanatics are destroying the ancient heritage of the city of Timbuktu in Mali—all to Islam’s triumphant war cry, “Allahu Akbar!”
Much of this hate for their own pre-Islamic heritage is tied to the fact that, traditionally, Muslims do not identify with this or that nation, culture, heritage, or language, but only with the Islamic nation—the Umma.
Accordingly, while many Egyptians—Muslims and non-Muslims alike—see themselves as Egyptians, Islamists have no national identity, identifying only with Islam’s “culture,” based on the “sunna” of the prophet and Islam’s language, Arabic. This sentiment was clearly reflected when the former Leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Muhammad Akef, declared “the hell with Egypt,” indicating that the interests of his country are secondary to Islam’s.
Will all those international institutions, which make it a point to look the other way whenever human rights abuses are committed by Muslims, lest they appear “Islamophobic,” at least take note now that the Great Pyramids appear to be next on Islam’s hit list, or will the fact that Muslims are involved silence them once again—even as those most ancient symbols of human civilization are pummeled to the ground?
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July 10th, 2012
Cr Note: Er...."spooky,"....was that the expected response? Give me a break...sorry, but I remember those cold war days stalking Soviet ships in the Atlantic quite fondly, their remaining fleet is laughable at best
By ANDREW E. KRAMER and RICK GLADSTONE
MOSCOW — Russia said on Tuesday that it had dispatched a flotilla of 11 warships to the eastern Mediterranean, some of which would dock in Syria. It would be the largest display of Russian military power in the region since the Syrian conflict began almost 17 months ago. Nearly half of the ships were capable of carrying hundreds of marines.
The announcement appeared intended to punctuate Russia’s effort to position itself as an increasingly decisive broker in resolving the antigovernment uprising in Syria, Russia’s last ally in the Middle East and home to Tartus, its only foreign military base outside the former Soviet Union. The announcement also came a day after Russia said it was halting new shipments of weapons to the Syrian military until the conflict settled down.
Russia has occasionally sent naval vessels on maneuvers in the eastern Mediterranean, and it dispatched an aircraft-carrying battleship, the Admiral Kuznetsov, there for maneuvers with a few other vessels from December 2011 to February 2012. There were rumors in recent weeks that the Russians planned to deploy another naval force near Syria.
But the unusually large size of the force announced on Tuesday was considered a message, not just to the region but also to the United States and other nations supporting the rebels now trying to depose Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad.
Tartus consists of little more than a floating refueling station and some small barracks. But any strengthened Russian presence there could forestall Western military intervention in Syria.
The Russian announcement got a muted response in Washington. “Russia maintains a naval supply and maintenance base in the Syrian port of Tartus,” said Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “We currently have no reason to believe this move is anything out of the ordinary, but we refer you to the Russian government for more details.”
The announcement came as a delegation of Syrian opposition figures was visiting Moscow to gauge if Russia would accept a political transition in Syria that excludes Mr. Assad. It also coincided with a flurry of diplomacy by Kofi Annan, the special Syria envoy from the United Nations and the Arab League, who said Mr. Assad had suggested a new approach for salvaging Mr. Annan’s sidelined peace plan during their meeting on Monday in Damascus.
While the Kremlin has repeatedly opposed foreign military intervention in Syria, Russian military officials have hinted at a possible role in Syria for their naval power. The ships have been presented as a means either to evacuate Russian citizens or to secure the fueling station at Tartus.
A statement by the Defense Ministry said ships had embarked from ports of three fleets: those of the Northern, the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, and would meet for training exercises in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Taking part, the statement said, would be two Black Sea Fleet landing craft that can carry marines: the Nikolai Filchenkov and the Tsezar Kunikov.
Russia’s Interfax news agency cited an unnamed military official as saying that an escort ship, the Smetlivy, would stop in Tartus for resupplying in three days — though it had presumably recently left its home port of Sevastopol, in the Black Sea.
Another contingent, from the Arctic Ocean base of Severomorsk, in the Murmansk Fjord, will take longer to arrive. That convoy includes three landing craft with marines escorted by an antisubmarine ship, the Admiral Chabanenko.
The voyage to the Mediterranean was unrelated to the Syrian conflict, the official said, but the boats laden with marines would stop in Tartus to “stock up on fuel, water and food.”
Visits on Tuesday by Mr. Annan to Iran, the Syrian government’s most important regional ally, and Iraq, Syria’s neighbor to the east, which fears a sectarian spillover from the conflict, came as a deadline of July 20 approaches. That is when the United Nations Security Council is to decide whether to renew the mission of 300 observers in Syria charged with monitoring the introduction of Mr. Annan’s peace plan. The observers’ work was suspended nearly a month ago because it was too dangerous.
At a news conference in Tehran, Mr. Annan reiterated his view that the Iranians had a role to play in resolving the conflict, despite objections from the United States. Mr. Annan also said Mr. Assad had proposed altering the peace proposal so that the most violent areas of the country would be pacified first. The current plan calls for an immediate cessation of all violence everywhere as a first step.
“He made a suggestion of building an approach from the ground up in some of the districts where we have extreme violence — to try and contain the violence in these districts and, step by step, build up and end the violence across the country,” Mr. Annan told reporters in Tehran.
There was no immediate word on whether the suggested new approach would be accepted by Mr. Assad’s opponents. But in Moscow, a delegation from the Syrian National Council, the umbrella opposition group in exile, suggested they had no interest in engaging with him.
“What brings together the opposition today is our consensus on the need to topple Assad’s regime and build a new political system,” Bassma Kodmani, a member of the delegation, said at a news conference in Moscow.
The delegation members, who are to meet on Wednesday with Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov, also said they would not ask that Russia grant Mr. Assad asylum — something Russian officials have said they are not considering anyway.
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