February 19, 2011
EU/US accused of cover-up on Kosovan organ trafficking. And that includes the UK. A Council of Europe investigator, Dick Marty, says that 'Europe is now unwilling to properly investigate the situation for fear of being exposed'. Marty also said that credible witnesses were reluctant to come forward to give evidence to EuLex, the EU team investigative team, because EuLex was in disarray and leaking like a sieve.
"If I gave [Eulex] the names of the witnesses I interviewed [as called for by the EU], their lives would immediately be under threat." Calling for an independent special investigation unit Marty added, "Europe is never going to accept that. Because it knows that my witnesses would really talk and reveal that a large part of the European politicians knew all along what was going on in Kosovo. Do you really think that Brussels wants to hear something like this."
Still so-so An investigation has shown that about a sixth of MEPs check in for work on a Friday in order to receive the £258 daily allowance before leaving almost immediately for the weekend. A third of MEPs turned up for work with luggage for the weekend. Conservative MEP Robert Sturdy and Labour MEP Peter Skinner were both filmed signing in and then arriving at the Eurostar in a chauffeur driven car, to catch the 8:29am journey to London. (Signing in, sodding off).
Playing at Space Cowboys I find it hard to believe this simulation cost only $15m.
Britain seeks guarantee on fiscal sovereignty Britain is trying to secure an opt-out on national budgetary frameworks including "new rules on public accounting systems, statistics, forecasting practices and many other stages in the budgetary process."
House of Lords criticises EuPol in Afghanistan "... after four years of work, around 70% of Afghan police cannot read or write and process basic paperwork, many ask for bribes to carry out day-to-day tasks, operate out of "desolate" huts and violate human rights. After completing their six-week-long EUpol course, 75% of them vanish."
A Conservative MEP questions the UK's continuing membership of the Council of Europe "This latest ECHR ruling has persuaded me that maybe it is time for the government to consider whether the benefits of full Council of Europe membership outweigh the costs. Is it really in our national interest to be part of this organisation. What benefits do we get and what would leaving actually mean?"
Council of Europe Anti-Torture Committee publishes a report on Malta. My first thought was why Malta? Why not, eg, Turkey? Then I flipped to the committee members page and saw that Turkey holds the current rotating chairmanship of the CoE.
How's your French? French Defence Minister: “We live in an unpredictable world and it would be irresponsible of the EU not to mutualise its forces. We need to encourage, push this process which does not move ahead spontaneously, we need to involve the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland.”
EU sued over India trade talks Advocacy group claims deal will be detrimental to farmers and will widen inequality. More HERE "... also accusing the Commission of violating transparency rules, and of favouring corporate lobbyists in the decision-making process."
EU does an Ireland on Portugal A financial rescue plan is already in place and expected to be called upon within the next few weeks. An unnamed "eurozone source" said: "Portugal is drowning. It's not going to be able to hold on beyond the end of March."
Austria under fire over 'free movement' EC commissioner Reding gave Vienna until the end of February to fall in line with EU regulations or face treaty violation procedures. Among the commissioner's criticisms was the fact that Austria's current law does not clearly define criteria for deporting EU nationals. While EU citizens were required to carry a proof of identity at all times, this was not the case for Austrians.
A call for 80-95% reduction in EU CO2 emissions below 1990 levels by 2050. Roadmap 2050:
How's your German? Taxpayers might be ultimately liable for shortfall in MEPs 2nd pension fund.
... and Spanish? EU gives 17m euros to Tunisia with another 258m euros in the pipeline.
MEPs call for "common standards" of prisoner care overseen by the EU's FRA
Security staff moved to other duties after armed robbery
Belgium 251 days without a government
In the press:
Osborne refuses to sign off EU's 2009 accounts
“Taxpayers face huge EU financial penalties if targets to reduce the amount of rubbish sent to landfill are not met”.
Ireland threatened with 3.2m euro fine for failure on farming directive
Britain's oldest Bitter under threat
UK Register of herbal medicine practitioners limits impact of EU directive
Cameron's new SpAd denies he's a pro-EU, anti-family nutjob
February 18, 2011
As the stolen property was evidence, much of it had to be held until the case was adjudicated; sometimes for several years as the case could be brought up for an appeal. The insurance companies would pay for the loss in many instances and it was a nightmare on how to settle the proceeds of the crime once they were sold at a police auction.
That being said, the feds always seemed to have a hankering for a good old fashioned sting. And it may come back to haunt them.
According to an El Paso newspaper, Operation GunRunner has been operating since at least January, 2008.
Sen. Chuck Grassley: Guns in ATF sting tied to agent's death
A senator is examining claims that bandits who gunned down a U.S. Border Patrol agent during a December firefight near the Arizona-Mexico border may have been armed with assault rifles purchased from a Glendale, Ariz., gun store that were part of a federal sting operation and subsequently smuggled into Mexico.
In a letter to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggests that negligence by federal agents who failed to keep the firearms out of Mexico may have played a part in the Dec. 14 slaying of agent Brian Terry, a member of the Border Patrol's elite tactical unit known as BORTAC.
Grassley said he had information that the AK-47s recovered at the shooting scene were traced to Project Gunrunner, an ATF program designed to stem the illegal flow of U.S. guns to Mexico.
"Members of the Judiciary Committee have received numerous allegations that the ATF sanctioned the sale of hundreds of assault weapons to suspected straw purchasers, who then allegedly transported these weapons throughout the southwestern border area and into Mexico," the senator wrote to acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson. "According to the allegations, one of these individuals purchased three assault rifles with cash in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 16, 2010. Two of the weapons were then allegedly used in a firefight on Dec. 14, 2010, against Customs and Border Protection agents, killing CBP Agent Brian Terry."
In addition to the tragic possiblility that an American law enforcement officer was killed just last month as a result of this sting, it begs the following questions:
The LA Times is also running this story, but it minimizes the role the ATF played in getting the guns into the hands of murderous cartel members. Call your congresscritter and let them know that you want a complete inquiry into this matter.
February 17, 2011
There is but a single, solitary gun shop authorized to exist in all of Mexico. It is the Army's Directorate of Arms and Munitions Sales located in Mexico City; this shop sells about 7,000 guns per year. Handgun sales to civilians are limited to .38 caliber and below but most purchases are for .22 cal. It is next to impossible to get a permit for a .357, .40 or .45 handgun.
In addition to a single retail outlet, Mexico's gun laws are very similar to those of Great Britain, among the most restrictive in the world.
If this is so, then why does Mexico have a murder rate almost three times greater than the US?
Murders per 100,000 population
Mexico .......... 13.02
USA ............... 4.28
Mexico blames the US and so does the Obama administration. In 2009 the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued an 83 page report which was widely proclaimed to prove that 87% of firearms confiscated by Mexican authorities were purchased in the United States.
This report was patently false and, I believe, deliberately misleading. The following is an analysis of the GAO report by Scott Stewart of STRATFOR.
The following summary is very important.
According to the GAO report, some 30,000 firearms were seized from criminals by Mexican authorities in 2008. Of these 30,000 firearms, information pertaining to 7,200 of them (24 percent) was submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for tracing. Of these 7,200 guns, only about 4,000 could be traced by the ATF, and of these 4,000, some 3,480 (87 percent) were shown to have come from the United States.
This means that the 87 percent figure relates to the number of weapons submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF that could be successfully traced and not from the total number of weapons seized by Mexican authorities or even from the total number of weapons submitted to the ATF for tracing. In fact, the 3,480 guns positively traced to the United States equals less than 12 percent of the total arms seized in Mexico in 2008 and less than 48 percent of all those submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF for tracing. This means that almost 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico in 2008 were not traced back to the United States.
[...] Of course, some or even many of the 22,800 firearms the Mexicans did not submit to ATF for tracing may have originated in the United States. But according to the figures presented by the GAO, there is no evidence to support the assertion that 90 percent of the guns used by the Mexican cartels come from the United States — especially when not even 50 percent of those that were submitted for tracing were ultimately found to be of U.S. origin.
To really understand Mexico’s gun problem, however, it is necessary to recognize that the same economic law of supply and demand that fuels drug smuggling into the United States also fuels gun smuggling into Mexico. Black market guns in Mexico can fetch up to 300 percent of their normal purchase price — a profit margin rivaling the narcotics the cartels sell. Even if it were somehow possible to hermetically seal the U.S.-Mexico border and shut off all the guns coming from the United States, the cartels would still be able to obtain weapons elsewhere — just as narcotics would continue to flow into the United States from other places. The United States does provide cheap and easy access to certain types of weapons and ammunition, but as demonstrated by groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, weapons can be easily obtained from other sources via the black arms market — albeit at a higher price.
There has clearly been a long and well-documented history of arms smuggling across the U.S.-Mexico border, but it is important to recognize that, while the United States is a significant source of certain classes of weapons and ammunition, it is by no means the source of 90 percent of the weapons used by the Mexican cartels, as is commonly asserted.
But we're not done with this mess. Federal law enforcement agencies muddy the waters with "sting" operations that in some cases are the case of mini-crime waves. Federal dollars become available for local law enforcement to purchase stolen goods through false storefront operations and the local hoods go into a thieving frenzy; or worse. We'll discuss this tomorrow.
"Mexico's Gun Supply and the 90 Percent Myth" is republished with permission of STRATFOR. STRATFOR is an excellent source of global intelligence with over two million readers.
H/T to Charley.
February 16, 2011
One of the most heavily armed countries in the world also has one of the lowest crime rates. The country I am referring to is ... Switzerland. In this country there are almost 2 million publically owned firearms stored in citizen soldiers' residences - this includes over a half million fully automatic weapons and ammunition.
Recently a coalition of Swedish
socialists progressives tried to remove these weapons from the homes of citizen soldiers. From Sunday's Deutsche Welle:
Swiss voters on Sunday rejected a proposal to ban army firearms from their homes, following a nationwide referendum.
The referendum was launched by a coalition of non-governmental groups, religious authorities and center-left parties, who sought to get the weapons stored in armories instead.
Voters upheld their national tradition of having an ever-ready army, and many see keeping a weapon at home as a crucial aspect of national identity.
Just two hours after polls closed, 22 out of 26 cantons returned final results, with a majority of cantons - 17 - voting firmly against the move. For the referendum to have passed, it would have needed the support both a majority of cantons and a majority of people.
Progressives also promote the deaths of people who have committed no crime; i.e., abortion, euthanasia and Teri Schiavo-style slow death by starvation. So why should they argue against a gun suicide since one less adult means a smaller carbon footprint for Mama Gaia? Oh, of course - an evil firearm was used. No mention of suicide by rope, dagger, train, bus, bridge, booze, boa constrictor or aspirin. They have no problem with that.
Tomorrow: What the GAO and ATF refuse to tell you about gun crime in Mexico.
February 15, 2011
For some reason an old hobby has been resurrected - mouse stuffing.
No, not that kind of mouse. An actual rodent-type mouse, dead of course. From the NY Post:
Myself, there's a few rogues I know that could stand a bit of creative taxidermy. Dead or otherwise.
They look like sculptures, but the figurines were once living, breathing, scurrying rodents.
"It looks less like an animal and more like a weird art project," said Susan Jeiven, 39, a tattoo artist and taxidermist who'll teach the class at Observatory art space.
The three-hour stuffing session is not for the squeamish.
Jeiven buys the frozen vermin from snake-feed stores, then thaws them out and sucks out their blood with a syringe.
On class day, students will clean out the mice's innards with razors and remove their bones. Borox and strong chemicals are applied to preserve their coats.
Then the artistry gets under way, with the students shaping molds out of clay, sewing on the preserved skins, and using wires to set the mice into odd poses.
Jeiven is a purist, so her mice will be dressed in Victorian bloomers and vintage doll clothing.
"I don't like rogue taxidermy. I want them to look classy," she said.
And of course this activity is not limited just to mice.There are literally scores of wee beasties who are ripe for scraping, stuffing, mounting and dressing. You are limited only by your imagination and lack of taste.
Anthropomorphic taxidermy was once all the rage of high Victorian society. The Big Apple's first public museum, Scudder's American Museum, featured exhibits on it, and British practitioners created entire weddings and banquets with dozens of stuffed squirrels, cats and mice.
Some of the works fetched $53,000 during a 2003 auction of the largest collections of the oddities in Cornwall, and macabre artist Damien Hirst loves the stuff.
The strange art was featured in last year's comedy flick "Dinner for Schmucks," where actor Steve Carell fishes dead mice off the road to stuff and arrange them.
"There is definitely a revival. Our lectures that touch on taxidermy are standing-room only," said Joanna Ebenstein, an Observatory curator, noting that the biggest interest has come from women.
Thank you, but I'll limit my stuffing to turkeys and Thanksgiving.
Sadly, the first thing some of them thought to do was to go and wave their flag of jihad outside the Great Synagogue of Tunis and shout vile anti-semitic slogans. Some people never learn -what's happened to the true meaning of "hope not hate?" It's a pitiful display - they should be ashamed of themselves.
"Jews wait, the Army of Mohammed is coming back."
As well as naming individuals working for Wikileaks, tactics suggested by Team Themis (available in full at the link above) included the following:
* Feed the fuel between the feuding groups. Disinformation. Create messages around actions of sabotage or discredit the opposing organizations. Submit fake documents and then call out the error.TechHerald has all the details including the news that two of the companies have now disassociated themselves from the third amidst all the unsavoury publicity. They also have details of another instance where Team Themis, on behalf of the US Chamber of Commerce, targeted unions & political opponents including their families and children.
* Create concern over the security of the infrastructure. Create exposure stories. If the process is believed not to be secure they are done.
* Cyber attacks against the infrastructure to get data on document submitters. This would kill the project. Since the servers are now in Sweden and France putting a team together to get access is more straightforward.
* Media campaign to push the radial and reckless nature of WikiLeaks activities. Sustain pressure. Does nothing for the fanatics, but creates concern and doubt among moderates.
* Search for leaks. Use social media to profile and identify risky behavior of employees.
You don't need me to tell you what a dirty, filthy business this is and how we'd be kidding ourselves to think it doesn't happen here too so I'll just say 'good' for Wikileaks and Anonops and long may they continue the fightback against sordid politicians and institutions.