On the face of it, they seem worlds apart. Switzerland’s referendum vote against the free movement of labour, the ruling by the German Constitutional Court on the European Central Bank’s (ECB) attempts to save the euro, and the warning to Scotland that it won’t be allowed to keep the pound if it votes for independence – these might seem unrelated, but in truth they are all part of an increasingly explosive stand-off between the forces of national sovereignty on the one hand, and political and economic integration on the other. With elections in May likely to give rise to the most Eurosceptic parliament in the EU’s history, Europe’s long-running financial and economic crisis is threatening to spill over into an all-encompassing political one. According to Berlin and Brussels, Europe’s dark night of the soul – its most serious crisis since the Second World War – is now essentially behind us, with the promise of a slowly recovering economy and renewed political harmony to come. To my mind, it has hardly begun. Europe’s epic attempt to impose political union on widely divergent countries is being broken on the back of economic hardship, popular discontent, and financial disintegration. Virtually all successful currency unions start with political union, and then proceed through shared insurance, institutions, and fiscal arrangements to a common form of exchange. Europe, it hardly needs saying, is trying to do it the other way round; it has forced monetary union on an unsuspecting public, and now, via the resulting financial crisis, hopes to bulldoze through the shared fiscal and political arrangements that might eventually make it work, culminating ultimately in a United States of Europe. More
British citizens could be barred from adopting Russian children under a decree outlawing adoptions from countries with gay marriage signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The decree, which is dated February 10 but was posted on the Russian government’s website on Thursday, is officially intended to “help improve the procedure for transferring children without parental care to families of Russian and foreign citizens, and to protect the rights and interests of these children.” The amendments to the Russian adoption law that were signed by Mr Medvedev include a bar on adoptions by “those in a same-sex union recognized as a marriage and registered an accordance with the law of states in which such marriage is allowed, and also citizens of such states who are not married.” The new wording of the law suggests that married heterosexual couples from countries that allow gay marriage will not be affected by the changes, though Russian media reported the law as a blanket ban. The decree brings the Russian government’s guidelines into line with a federal law passed by the Russian parliament in June last year that banned adoptions by gay couples. More
The US army has built a fake city designed to be used during combat training exercises. The 300 acre ‘town’ includes a five story embassy, a bank, a school, an underground subway and train station, a mosque, a football stadium, and a helicopter landing zone. Located in Virginia, the realistic subway station comes complete with subway carriages and the train station has real train carriages. The subway carriages even carry the same logo as the carriages in Washington DC There are also bridges and several other structures which can be transformed into different scenarios. The U.S. army’s Army Asymmetric Warfare Group opened the training centre last month. The unit was created in 2004 to help combat terrorism and reduce the vulnerabilities of the army to emerging threats. Colonel John P. Petkosek, the commander of the group said of the new training city : “This is the place where we can be creative, where we can come up with solutions for problems that we don’t even know we have yet,” “This is where we’ll look at solutions for the future–material solutions and non-material solutions…anything from how you’re going to operate in a subterranean environment to how you dismount a Humvee to avoid an IED strike. “The things that we do here at this facility will have a direct and lasting impact on our entire army.” It has taken six years for the site to be developed, including two years of construction. The Telegraph
With Democrats facing a real possibility of losing the Senate this November, the Communist Party USA has announced the cavalry is planning to ride to their rescue by helping unite the left and stave off “right-wing extremism.” The plans were announced during a web streaming event held by party Chairman Sam Webb Wednesday titled “Taking care of the future: from here to socialism.” The event was part of the party’s national convention process which will culminate later this year in Chicago, where the party was formed in 1919. Webb told listeners that there is no direct path to socialism and that to arrive at their destination they would have to pass through different stages. He stated one of those steps was to work with other left-wing groups to press for issues important to the left. “We can talk about shortening the work week, green jobs, restructuring the economy, we can talk about the de-militarization of the economy and putting those people back to work in jobs that are productive,” Webb said. “The starting point has to be this immediate engagement, but once we do that many things become possible such as more radical demands.” Webb acknowledged that one of the problems the movement faces is the stigma of the name Communist among some Americans, but he believes under the policies of the Obama administration the country is now more willing to embrace those beliefs. More
Becoming more like Europe is not a good thing. But that is the path that we are currently on. For the most part, Europeans live in a socialist “Big Brother” system in which the government completely dominates your life from the cradle to the grave. Of course there are differences from country to country, but generally speaking the lives of most Europeans are very tightly regulated. You see, the truth is that high levels of individual liberty and freedom are considered to be “dangerous” by the European elite. They believe that if we are all allowed to just do whatever we want that it would result in utter chaos. They are convinced that life is better when those that are smarter (them) control the lives of everyone else. In essence, Europe is like a giant religious cult in many ways (minus the religion). With each passing year, the number of rules and regulations governing the daily lives of Europeans steadily grows, as does the level of control. If you try to live outside of that control, you could very well find yourself in a direct confrontation with the authorities very rapidly. Just consider what is happening in Germany. Authorities there have stated repeatedly that they do not believe in having any “parallel societies”, and therefore everyone must participate in the system that the government has established. That includes all children. In Germany today, almost all forms of homeschooling are illegal. In fact, one judge shockingly ruled that one set of parents could not have custody of their children because they might move them to another country and homeschool them there. More
Exchange glitches, arrests, government crackdowns, and volatility haven’t been able to stop people wanting to get their hands on the bitcoin, and the CEO of BTC China Bobby Lee told RT the bitcoin revolution will be bigger than the Internet. “I think over the next 25 years, we will see bitcoin evolve and become more mature. It will be a wild ride, it will be exciting,” Lee told RT at the “Inside Bitcoins: The Future of Virtual Currency” conference in Berlin. Lee is optimistic bitcoin isn’t just a fad and will resist recent setbacks. “So that’s what’s amazing about bitcoin, it’s truly a global phenomenon, very resilient and the reason it is resilient is because many people want to buy into it. Whenever the price dips, we see people sitting on the sidelines eager to buy.” The value of bitcoin has always been volatile, but dropped below $500 after one of the world’s largest exchanges, Mt. Gox, experienced a major glitch that forced it to temporarily halt withdrawals. Lee likens the glitches to the early years of the Internet, and like the internet, the uses for bitcoin will evolve over time, saying that when the internet was only 5 years old (the same age as bitcoin) it was met with negative skepticism and very little media coverage. “It’s like the Internet. The reality is that internet penetration is a lot higher than it was 10-20 years ago,”said Lee. Bitcoin is very much a product of its time and can only be used by those internet savvy enough to either “mine” the currency through a series of logarithms or track down a buyer. More
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — In a federal court ruling echoing decisions reached elsewhere in the U.S., Virginia on Thursday became the first state in the South to overturn a voter-approved prohibition of same-sex marriage. U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen issued a stay of her order while it is appealed, meaning that gay couples in Virginia still will not be able to marry until the case is ultimately resolved. Both sides believe the case won’t be settled until the Supreme Court decides to hear it or one like it. Allen’s decision makes Virginia the second state in the South to issue a ruling recognizing the legality of gay marriages. A judge in Kentucky ruled Wednesday that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. But that judge did not rule on the constitutionality of same-sex marriages inside the state. Decisions similar to that of the Virginia judge have been issued in in Utah and Oklahoma federal courts. The office of newly elected Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring took the unusual step of not defending the law because it believes the ban violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. In her ruling, Wright Allen agreed. “The court is compelled to conclude that Virginia’s Marriage Laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia’s gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry. Government interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parenting over others must yield to this country’s cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private choices of the individual citizen regarding love and family,” Wright Allen wrote. The plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel, Theodore B. Olson, said in a statement: “Through its decision today, the court has upheld the principles of equality upon which this nation was founded.” Wright Allen’s stay was requested by the Virginia Attorney General’s Office to avoid a situation similar to what happened in Utah after that state’s ban on gay marriages was declared unconstitutional. More than 1,000 gay and lesbian couples were married in the days after the ruling until the U.S. Supreme Court granted the state an emergency stay, halting the weddings and creating a cloud of uncertainty for the status of the married couples. Soon after, a federal judge also declared Oklahoma’s ban unconstitutional. That ruling also is on hold while it is appealed.
“The legal process will continue to play out in the months to come, but this decision shows that Virginia, like America, is coming to a better place in recognizing that every Virginian deserves to be treated equally and fairly,” Herring, a Democrat, said in a statement. Supporters of the state ban on same-sex marriages issued statements decrying Wright Allen’s ruling. “It appears that we have yet another example of an arrogant judge substituting her personal preferences for the judgment of the General Assembly and 57 percent of Virginia voters,” said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council. “Our nation’s judicial system has been infected by activist judges, which threaten the stability of our nation and the rule of law.” Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, called the ruling “another example of an Obama-appointed judge twisting the constitution and the rule of law to impose her own views of marriage in defiance of the people of Virginia.” “There is no right to same-sex ‘marriage’ in the United States constitution,” Brown said. “In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has said that states have the pre-eminent duty of defining marriage. The people of Virginia did just that in voting overwhelmingly to affirm marriage as the union of one man and woman. That decision should be respected by federal judges and we hope that the U.S. Supreme Court ends up reversing this terrible decision.” In a movement that began with Massachusetts in 2004, 17 states and the District of Columbia now allow gay marriage, most of them clustered in the Northeast. None of them is in the old Confederacy. The Virginia case centered on a gay Norfolk couple, Timothy Bostic and Tony London, who were denied a marriage license by the Norfolk Circuit Court on July 1, shortly after the Supreme Court struck down parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Since then, a Chesterfield County couple, Carol Schall and Mary Townley, have joined the case. The couple married in California in 2008. They have a teenage daughter and want Virginia to recognize their marriage. In her ruling, Wright Allen said the lesbian couple “suffer humiliation and discriminatory treatment on the basis of their sexual orientation.”