Monday, December 10, 2012

On a Monday

To start the week off...

A man accused of involvement in the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Libya has been arrested in Egypt, two intelligence sources in Cairo told NBC News on Saturday.

Mohammed Abu Jamal Ahmed, allegedly a member of a militant group, was detained in Cairo where he lives, the sources said.

In addition to the allegations that he was involved in the attack in Benghazi, he is also accused of transporting weapons from Libya to Egypt, the sources added.

It’s amazing what hush aid money can buy in a dictatorial state. I find it convenient that one man was apprehended, not the twenty or more al Qaeda attackers as reported.

About fiscal prudence, for example. Say what you like about a high-living, big-spending, bloated, decadent parasitical, wastrel monarchy, but, compared to the citizen-executive of a republic of limited government, it's a bargain. So, while the lovely Duchess of Cambridge nurses her baby bump, the equally radiant President of the United States nurses his ever more swollen debt belly. He and his family are about to jet off on their Christmas vacation to watch America slide off the fiscal cliff from the luxury beach resort of Kailua. The cost to taxpayers of flying one man, his wife, two daughters and a dog to Hawaii is estimated at $3,639,622. For purposes of comparison, the total bill for flying the entire Royal Family (Queen, princes, dukes, the works) around the world for a year is £4.7 million – or about enough for two Obama vacations.

THIS is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability. 

Many people in hillside mobile homes here are poor and desperate, and a $698 monthly check per child from the Supplemental Security Income program goes a long way — and those checks continue until the child turns 18. 

“The kids get taken out of the program because the parents are going to lose the check,” said Billie Oaks, who runs a literacy program here in Breathitt County, a poor part of Kentucky. “It’s heartbreaking.” 

This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.

Then don't support unsustainable, band-aid solutions that ultimately cripple the very people you claim you want to help.

China is on a buying spree:

A Chinese group agreed to buy 80.1 percent of American International Group Inc. (AIG)’s plane-leasing unit for $4.23 billion in the nation’s largest acquisition of a U.S. company. 

The International Lease Finance Corp. acquirers, led by New China Trust Co. Chairman Weng Xianding, have an option to buy another 9.9 percent, New York-based AIG said today in a statement. The transaction, which values ILFC at $5.3 billion, passes China Investment Corp.’s $3 billion purchase of a stake in Blackstone Group LP (BX) in 2007 as the biggest Chinese-U.S. deal. 

The acquisition gives the group control of the world’s second-largest aircraft lessor as rising travel in China and Asia spurs demand for planes. AIG, which counts the U.S. government as its largest investor, is selling the Los Angeles- based unit as Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche focuses on insurance operations and works to reduce debt.

As long as you have a totalitarian government, cheaply-produced goods and a labour force hampered by low wages, poor working conditions and an inability to change either of those things, trade with China will always be a very bad idea.

Consider that this report comes from atheists and the chief persecutors are from the very group many atheists are reluctant to speak out against:

Atheists and other religious skeptics suffer persecution or discrimination in many parts of the world and in at least seven nations can be executed if their beliefs become known, according to a report issued on Monday.

The study, from the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), showed that "unbelievers" in Islamic countries face the most severe - sometimes brutal - treatment at the hands of the state and adherents of the official religion.

But it also points to policies in some European countries and the United States which favor the religious and their organizations and treat atheists and humanists as outsiders.

First of all, no government or special-interest group has any right to tell a man what he can or cannot believe. It would also be unfair to suggest that there have never been atheists willing to speak out against Islam or Islamism. That being said, when a militant atheist expends all of his or her resources shutting down Christmas pageants, belittling believers of any stripe and claiming maliciously and without grounds that the aforementioned believers hate technology, childhood vaccines and science, he doesn't win any friends. Militant atheists certainly don't merit any support by lumping Christianity with Islamism or moaning how utterly oppressed they are in the West even though they have all the franchises of a Western citizen and have never been arrested or killed for their non-beliefs. Being decidedly antagonistic is not the same as being deliberately hunted, arrested and punished. If that truly bothers one, develop a spine and point a finger directly at the culprit. Don't be cowardly, vague or spiteful, especially in a part of the world where one's belief will never end in a beheading.

A 10-year-old was told he could not dress up as a gingerbread man at his school's traditional Lucia celebration as all references to the cookie had been banned in order to avoid offence.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 76% of American Adults believe Christmas should be more about Jesus. Only 14% think it should be more about Santa, but another 10% are not sure.

A mischievous macaque that nearly wandered into a Toronto Ikea on Sunday has become a celebrity after the monkey's adventures inspired international news reports and two spoof Twitter accounts. 

Shoppers quickly snapped several photos of the monkey wandering around the parking lot of the furniture store....

But the primate never got the chance to assemble any Ikea furniture and make us humans look incompetent because staff cornered it and called the police, according to the CBC.

Toronto police Sgt. Ed Dzingala said the monkey was in a crate in its owner's car but managed to get out and wander around.

"It's a smart monkey," Dzingala told the CBC.Animal services suspected the monkey was a pet because of its stylish attire and said a man claimed it on Sunday. Reports say he was charged with owning a banned animal.

(With thanks to one and all)

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