December 29th, 2011
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Fox Latin America has apologized for a poll on whether Jews killed Jesus Christ that one of its staffers put on a Facebook page promoting the National Geographic Channel's Christmas special.
The poll asked readers who they think is responsible for the death of Christ: Pontius Pilate, The Jewish People or the High Priests.
The Simon Weisenthal Center in Buenos Aires calls it a defamatory reference to Vatican propaganda that "resulted in the persecution and murder of Jews for two millennia."
The Jewish group says it's outraged that Fox would perpetuate an idea that the Vatican annulled back in 1965.
Fox Spokeswoman Guadalupe Lucero apologized on behalf of National Geographic, saying the poll was removed immediately and measures have been taken to prevent such incidents in the future.
December 29th, 2011
CR note: The most outlandishly negative thing that was run on Romney, by the national media, was this June 2011 cover of Newsweek portraying Romney as a Mormon door-banger....then everything got very quiest in the MSM.
Don't worry, the MSM teeth will be bared and the fangs will come out "IF" Romney becomes the nominee....you ain't seen anything yet.
By Alex Roarty
In a new radio ad released Wednesday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry set his sights not on Romney but on former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who is enjoying his own surge in Iowa. In the ad and on the campaign trail, Perry criticized Santorum's previous support for earmarks, calling the ex-U.S. senator part of the big-spending Washington establishment. He does not, however, mention Romney.
December 29th, 2011
The Christian Science Monitor / Dave Cook
2012 will be a more highly regulated year since all 50 state legislatures passed close to 40,000 new laws in 2011. A number of those measures will take effect Jan. 1.
A compilation prepared by the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) highlights laws taking effect on New Year's Day in at least 21 states. State legislators have been especially active on issues pertaining to immigration, government costs, and the care of young people. But Americans will face new state laws on a wide variety of areas ranging from abortion to the distribution of shark fins, the NCSL report shows.
NCSL did not provide a breakdown on which states produced the most new laws, but its report on laws taking effect on Jan. 1 was heavy with legislation from California.
In some cases, states are taking markedly different stands on issues, with immigration being a key example. Laws requiring businesses to enroll in the federal E-Verify program to determine the eligibility of workers to be employed in the United States will go into effect in Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia. But a law taking effect Jan. 1 in California takes almost the opposite approach: It prohibits any state or local government from requiring a private employer to use the E-Verify program unless required to do so by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds.
On the cost-control front, state employees will feel the pinch. A Delaware law requires new state employees who become members of the Delaware pension fund to make larger contributions than earlier members. It also will require those new members to be older or to work longer than current members to earn a pension benefit.
State lawmakers also passed numerous laws in 2011 to protect children and improve their education. In Illinois, those 18 and under will be required to wear seat belts when using taxis to travel to school functions. A law in Oregon requires state universities and community colleges to waive tuition and fees for current and former foster children under age 25. And California passed a law to prohibit the use of ultraviolet tanning devices by those under age 18.
Several measures regulating abortion take effect on New Year’s Day. In New Hampshire, girls seeking an abortion will be required to first tell their parents or a judge. It was passed over the governor’s veto. Meanwhile, a law takes effect in Arkansas aimed at Planned Parenthood facilities that provided an abortion pill. It requires facilities that perform 10 or more nonsurgical abortions a month be subject to the same kind of state Health Department inspections as facilities offering surgical abortions.
Many states passed laws aimed at restricting texting or the use of cellphones when driving. A Nevada law prohibits drivers from text messaging and using hand-held phone devices. North Dakota passed one law that bans drivers younger than 18 from using cellphones and another that bars all drivers from text messaging. Oregon adjusted its laws on the subject, adding an exception for drivers operating a tow vehicle, roadside assistance vehicle, or a vehicle owned by a utility.
While most of the laws that take effect in 2012 are aimed at protecting people, some focus on the animal kingdom. Two coastal states, California and Oregon, passed measures prohibiting the possession, sale, or distribution of shark fins. The fins are used in soup and are considered a delicacy in some Asian cultures. Animal-rights advocates argued it was cruel to cut off a shark’s fin and then dump the fish back in the ocean.
Material from the Associated Press was used in compiling this report.
December 29th, 2011
The New York Times / DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and J. DAVID GOODMAN
CAIRO — Egyptian security forces stormed 17 offices of nonprofit groups around the country on Thursday, including at least three democracy-promotion groups financed by the United States, as part of an investigation that the military rulers say will reveal foreign hands in the recent outbreak of protests.
In Cairo, heavily armed men wearing the black uniforms of the central security police tore through boxes, hauled away files and computers and prevented employees from leaving offices of two of the American groups, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which are affiliated with American political parties and financed by the United States government. The security forces also raided the offices of the Washington-based Freedom House.
The raids were a stark escalation in what has appeared to be a campaign by the country’s military rulers to rally support by playing to nationalist and anti-American sentiment here.
“General prosecutor & central security stormed N.D.I. office in Cairo & Assiut,” an employee of the National Democratic Institute wrote in a text message from inside its offices. “We are confined here as they’re searching and clearing out office.”
A man, who identified himself as an official with the public prosecutor’s office but declined to give his name, stood outside the offices of the International Republican Institute in the Dokki neighborhood. He refused to answer questions about the raids but said, “Don’t worry, we’re not going to arrest them.”
The raids come of the heels of an investigation by the Egyptian government into foreign financing for nonprofit organizations operating in the country. The military has suggested that such funding has played a role in fomenting protests with goal of bringing down the Egyptian government.
The raids also coincided with the acquittal of five police officers in the deaths of protesters during the revolution that ousted the country’s autocratic president, Hosni Mubarak. An Egyptian court found that the police officers had either not been at the scene or, in the case of two of the men, had fired in self-defense, state media reported, a ruling likely to further inflame opponents of the country’s military rulers.
Human rights advocates have urged the Egyptian government to drop its investigation into foreign funding of civil society, which prosecutors have described as treason. A September report by state security prosecutors identified what it said were more than two dozen unregistered groups receiving foreign funding and operating in Egypt. By the country’s law on associations, the violation is punishable with imprisonment.
The Republican and Democratic institutes have worked openly since 2005 and had been assisting with election monitoring during the country’s parliamentary vote.
In separate statements on Thursday, the two groups said they were troubled by the sudden raids on their offices. “Cracking down on organizations whose sole purpose is to support the democratic process during Egypt’s historic transition sends a disturbing signal,” the N.D.I. president Kenneth Wollack was quoted as saying.
The statement from the International Republican Institute was even more direct. “It is ironic that even during the Mubarak era I.R.I. was not subjected to such aggressive action,” the group said.
December 29th, 2011
The New York Times / CHOE SANG-HUN
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea publicly declared the young heir Kim Jong-un supreme head of the country on Thursday before a giant rally in Pyongyang that culminated his ascent to the top of the hermetic Communist nation after nearly two weeks of national morning for his father, Kim Jong-il.
Thursday’s ceremony was particularly symbolic of the son’s rise to top leadership: for the first time since his father’s death, he was facing a massive crowd of North Koreans alone — without his father standing by him.
Through Thursday’s choreography and the relentless pronoucements of the past week, North Korea has declared Kim Jong-un top leader of the country, although he has yet to take official titles, such as supreme commander of the 1.2 million-strong Korean People’s Army and general secretary of the Workers’ Party. Those titles are given at meetings of top party and government representatives, likely in the coming months, that have in the past been rubber-stamping formalities.
From a balcony, with top party officials and military brass standing behind him, the new leader looked over the snow-covered plaza, where people stood in neat rows. He was dressed in a black greatcoat — a winter dress code favored by his grandfather, who was a godlike figure among North Koreans that the young leader appeared to copy in dress, demeanor and physique.
Mr. Kim, believed to be in his late 20s, was unveiled as successor in September 2010, following his father’s 2008 stroke. After his father’s sudden death on Dec. 17, he was rapidly elevated to the top military and party posts, though he has yet to assume those official titles.
How much he has consolidated his grip on power before his father’s death — and whether he would have to depend on caretakers or even regents — remain topics of intense speculation and contention among outside analysts. All indications from the North, however, suggest that at least in the public eye, he will not share power with anyone.
North Korea has said the “great successor,” as Mr. Kim has been called, will faithfully follow his father’s songun, or “military-first,” policy, which has raised tensions with Washington and Seoul.
In his speech, Kim Yong-nam, the ceremonial head of state, credited that policy with “turning our fatherland into a global military power and a proud nuclear-weapons state.” Under Kim Jong-il, North Korea conducted two nuclear tests, one in 2006 and the other in 2009.
The North Korean government often stages huge rallies or military parades at Kim Il-sung Plaza to mark important state events and demonstrate unity.
At noon on Thursday, the country observed three minutes of nationwide silence in memory of Kim Jong-il. Trains and ships sounded their horns, state media reported. Similar but smaller memorial rallies were held in provincial cities across North Korea, the country’s official news agency, K.C.N.A., reported.
On Wednesday, as the funeral motorcade traveled through Pyongyang, people lined the streets weeping and wailing over the death of Kim Jong-il, who ruled their country for 17 years, in part with the assistance of a state-orchestrated personality cult.
The funeral showcased seven senior party and military officials who are believed to be key aides or mentors to Kim Jong-un. They included Jang Song-taek, Mr. Kim’s uncle and a vice chairman of the National Defense Commission; Kim Ki-nam, North Korea’s propaganda chief; Choe Tae-bok, the party secretary in charge of external affairs; Ri Yong-ho, head of the military’s general staff; Kim Yong-chun, the defense minister; Kim Jong-gak, a four-star general whose job is to monitor the allegiance of other generals; and U Dong-Chuk, head of the North’s secret police and spy agency.
The seven men’s rising status was confirmed on Thursday when Rodong Sinmun, the Workers’ Party’s official newspaper, released a photograph that showed them standing together with Mr. Kim as he paid his last farewell to his father shortly before the funeral procession began on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the newspaper’s Web site also carried photos of Mr. Kim and the seven men walking along the hearse during the funeral procession. It identified them as “key figures who will lead the party and military during the Kim Jong-un era.”
White House Memo