Category Archives: Politiks As Usual

Silvio Berlusconi says bribes are a ‘necessary part of business’ and tells critics to ‘stop moralising’

berlusconi
No crime: Silvio Berlusconi, pictured during a political rally in Rome last week, defended the use of bribes in international negotiations saying they are ‘necessary’ when dealing with third world countries and regimes

Berlusconi defending bribes saying they are not criminal but ‘necessary’

The 76-year-old politician called critics ‘absurd’ and ‘masochist’
    
He said without bribes ‘you cannot be an entrepreneur on a global scale’

dailymail.co.uk | Feb 15, 2013

By Sara Malm

Silvio Berlusconi has defended the use of bribes in business saying they are necessary when securing international deals for Italian companies.

The former Italian Prime minister said illegal payments are vital when negotiating with ‘third world countries and regimes’.

Mr Berlusconi made the comments as a response to recent corruption scandals within several state-controlled conglomerates in Italy.

Mr Berlusconi, spoke against the arrest of Giuseppe Orsi, CEO of Finmeccanica defence group, who was taken into custody yesterday accused of paying Indian government officials to secure a helicopter contract.

The 76-year-old politician, who is running for his fourth term as Prime Minister in the country’s elections this month, said bribes are essential in international business, the Financial Times report.

Silvio Berlusconi compares himself to Benito Mussolini

Silvio Berlusconi praises dictator Mussolini for ‘having done good’

Berlusconi defends Mussolini for backing Hitler

‘Bribes are a phenomenon that exists and it is useless to deny the existence of these necessary situations when you are negotiating with third world countries and regimes,’ Mr Berlusconi said in an interview with Italian State broadcaster, RAI 3.

‘These are not crimes. We are talking about paying a commission to someone in that country. Why? Because those are the rules in that country.’

The centre-right leader also defended state-controlled energy group Eni, which is alleged to have used bribes to win contracts in Algeria.

Mr Berlusconi even went as far as to suggest that putting a stop to bribery has left Italian companies out of business.

‘No one will negotiate with Eni or Enel or Finmeccanica anymore,’ he said.

‘It’s pure masochism.’

Mr Berlusconi called those who condemn financial incentives in deals outside Western democracies ‘absurd’.

‘If you want to make moralisms like that, you can’t be an entrepreneur on a global scale.’

His comments comes one year after his own bribery case was thrown out of court.

Mr Berlusconi stood accused of handing British lawyer David Mills £380,000 to lie during two 1990s trials to shield Berlusconi and his Fininvest holding company from charges related to the billionaire media mogul’s business dealings.

The Italian general elections will take place 24-25th February where Mr Berlusconi is yet again heading the People of Liberty party and hoping for a centre-right coalition.

His comments were unsurprisingly slammed by opposition politicians, who pointed out that Mr Berlusconi himself is appealing against his October tax fraud conviction while running for Prime Minister.

Just last month an Italian court granted his defense team’s request to postpone a trial for alleged wire tapping until after the elections.

Prosecutors have asked for a one-year jail sentence for Mr Berlusconi for his alleged role in the publication of wiretap transcripts in a newspaper owned by his media empire and three years for his brother Paolo, the publisher of Milan newspaper Il Giornale.

Mr Berlusconi denies all charges.

See also: The Berlusconi Toxic Corruption Data Storage Dump

David Cameron begins propaganda war against Scottish independence

cameron_2476135b
Mr Cameron says the government papers – likely to be disputed by Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party (SNP) – would provide “expert-based analysis to explain Scotland’s place within the UK and how it might change with separation. Photo: GEOFF PUGH

David Cameron has praised the “unbreakable bonds” between England and Scotland as he launches a new phase of the campaign against Scottish independence.

telegraph.co.uk | Feb 10, 2013

By Patrick Hennessy

On Monday, ministers will fire the opening shots in the propaganda war by publishing the first in a series of government documents designed to show how being in the UK benefits Scotland.

The papers will examine key issues in the independence debate ahead of the planned referendum, which is likely to be held in the autumn of 2014, including the economy, the currency, defence, foreign policy and welfare.

In an article published on the Downing Street website, the Prime Minister restates his “passionate” belief in retaining the historic Union between the two countries, declaring: “I will make the case for the UK with everything I’ve got.”

Mr Cameron argues that the case for the Union depends on the head as well as the heart, claiming: “Our nations share a proud and emotional history. Over three centuries we have built world-renowned institutions like the NHS and BBC, fought for freedom and democracy in two World Wars, and pioneered and traded around the world.

“Our ancestors explored the world together and our grandfathers went into battle together as do our kith and kin today – and this leaves deep, unbreakable bonds between the peoples of these islands.”

Polls north of the border suggest support for an independent Scotland is stalling, at around 23 per cent.

Mr Cameron states in his article: “Put simply, Britain works. Britain works well. Why break it?”

Mr Cameron says the government papers – likely to be disputed by Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party (SNP) – would provide “expert-based analysis to explain Scotland’s place within the UK and how it might change with separation. We don’t shy away from putting facts and evidence before the Scottish people.

“I know those arguing for independence are already preparing their separate transition plan, as though they’ve got this in the bag, but to me that is wrong. It’s last fast-forwarding to to the closing credits before you’ve been allowed to see the movie.”

The Prime Minister’s intervention came after Mr Salmond outlined transitional arrangements if Scotland voted to go it alone – with Independence Day likely to be in March 2016, and the first elections to a stand-alone parliament two months later.

Mr Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, said last week: “We’re putting forward what we think is the best future for Scotland, the best way to do it. We’re putting forward how the processes will unveil.”

Boys will be boys, says Afghan President Karzai of Prince Harry’s comparing killing to a video game

Harry

Prince Harry should be allowed to make mistakes, Afghan President says

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has dismissed Prince Harry’s comparison of war to video games – claiming “young men make mistakes”.

telegraph.co.uk | Feb 4, 2013

By Hayley Dixon

The 28-year-old Army captain gave “candid” descriptions of killing Taliban as he returned from a 20 week tour of Afghanistan, which some politicians in the country described as a propaganda victory for the enemy.

But speaking to ITV News and The Guardian President Karzai, who has a long-standing friendship with Prince Charles, refused to add his voice to the backlash.

The Prince claimed that his prowess on computers had helped him with on the battlefield, and described taking insurgents “out of the game”.

President Karzai, who described The Prince of Wales as “a very fine gentleman”, said of the furore: “Prince Charles is a great representative of Britain and the British ways of life. Prince Harry is a young man, we do give exits to young men when they make mistakes.”

When pushed on the issue he replied: “As I said, he’s a young man, and young men do make mistakes talking, while behaving, all of us have gone through that period, so let’s drop it there.”

His comments came as St James’s Palace announced that Harry is to pay a visit to Lesotho and South Africa at the end of the month for a three-day trip on behalf of his charity Sentebale.

He will spend the first two days privately, visiting Sentebale programmes throughout Lesotho, and on the final day will carry out public engagements in the Maseru district of Lesotho and then attend the Sentebale Gala Dinner in Johannesburg.

The last time the third in line to the throne was in Lesotho was in June 2010 when he took his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, to see Sentebale’s work as part of their first joint overseas trip.

President Karzai, who has not had a holiday in 12 years, is visiting the UK for a trilateral meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron, and Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari.

He used the trip to condemn the recent insider attacks against British and American troops, describing it as “a serious breach of hospitality”.

But he also echoed comments he made four years ago that between the country was safer between 2002 and 2006 than it is now.

He said: “Schools were open in Helmand and life was more secure. But I am not going to blame.”

He said he “appreciated” the sacrifices of the British forces and the contributions they made to the country, adding: “Whatever happened is the past, and now we are looking forward to the future.”

He now wants to move forward in the peace process, to make it something “tangible” for the people who no longer want guns in their communities, and to bring to an end three decades of suffering.

The idea foreign troops would completely pull out of the country was a “Utopian state of mind” but would ultimately fail as the country needs to rebuild itself with the help of the international community, he said.

In ten years time the situation in the country is expected to have improved three fold. President Karzai added: “A good future lies ahead of us but we need to work for it, and work hard for it.”

‘Stalin Buses’, Soviet Tanks and Military Parades Celebrate Dictator’s Victory at Stalingrad

340957
Five coaches bearing portraits of the moustachioed dictator have been allowed to operate in ‘Stalingrad’ (Victory Bus)

Volgograd renamed Stalingrad to celebrate key WWII battle against Nazis in 1943

ibtimes.co.uk | Feb 1, 2013

By Umberto Bacchi

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of a key World War II victory Russian lawmakers have renamed Volgograd as Stalingrad (Vicory Bus)

On Saturday, visitors to Volgograd are to experience a trip back in time of 60 years as buses painted with images of Joseph Stalin are driven around the southwestern Russian city, temporally renamed Stalingrad in honour of the Communist dictator who more than any other moulded the Soviet Union.

A military parade led by an old T-34 Soviet tank will also rally in the city centre.

Russian city gets to play ‘Stalin wasn’t so bad’ six days a year

Stalin gets his city back as Russians celebrate dictator’s triumph over Nazis

‘Stalin buses’ to mark 70th anniversary of Battle of Stalingrad in Russia

On 2 February, 1943, the Red Army won the decisively battle of Stalingrad, turning back Nazi forces after about six months of fighting.

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the key World War II victory, regional lawmakers decided to use the city’s Communist-era name in for the day and on other key anniversaries through the year.

Five coaches bearing portraits of the moustachioed dictator will operate as part of the “Victory Bus” initiative.

It is a controversial move. Nostalgics credit him with leading the country to victory in World War II and making it a world superpower but to many others he is a hate figure for his genocide of millions of fellow countrymen and for his repressive regime.

“It’s blasphemous to rename the great Russian city after a bloody tyrant who killed millions of his fellow citizens,” said Nikolai Levichev a senior federal lawmaker with the leftist Just Russia party.

“This is an insult to the memory of those who died,” Russia’s human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin told Interfax news agency.

The city was renamed Volgograd in 1961 as part of the Soviet Union’s rejection of the Stalin personality cult.

“Our people won under the lead of Joseph Stalin and there is nothing about our supreme commander to be ashamed of,” reads a statement by the Victory Bus.

“We don’t paint swastikas. Thank God, Communist ideology and Stalin’s image have not been officially condemned. We only urge the preservation of memory of the WWII victory and people who contributed to it,” organiser Aleksey Roerich told Izvestia.

Roerich said the buses are from private firms funded by the Communist party and private donors.

The so-called “Stalinobuses” will operate in Volgograd until 9 May when Russia celebrates the final victory of the so-called Great Patriotic War. Stalin’s image will also appear on vehicles in the streets of St Petersburg and Chita.

Stalin led the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953.

John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and Rand Paul remind Americans that 9/11 remains a dominant political theme

130125-rand-paul-4x3.photoblog600
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) questions Senator John Kerry (Not Pictured) during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Kerry’s nomination to be secretary of state, on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 24, 2013. Gary Cameron / Reuters

NBC News | Jan 26, 2013

By Tom Curry

The attack of Sept. 11, 2001, has been so pervasive a theme in American politics in the years since that at times we scarcely notice its influence even though it explains so much of what came after that day.

Sometimes almost forgotten, 9/11 is an experience some Americans may recall only when they travel and must undergo screening from a select few of the army of 45,000 screeners that was created by the actions of 19 suicidal hijackers.

So it was remarkable that three times in the space of two Senate hearings on Wednesday and Thursday, the 9/11 attack percolated through the discussion.

Testifying Thursday morning at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to be secretary of state, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., voiced his regret that one effect of that fateful day has been to make people abroad see American policy simply in terms of killing individual al Qaida leaders and pre-empting terrorist threats.

America’s foreign policy must not be “defined by drones and deployments alone,” Kerry warned. “We cannot allow the extraordinary good we do to save and change lives to be eclipsed entirely by the (counterterrorism) role we have had to play since September 11th, a role that was thrust upon us.”

A day before, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her testimony about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, used the 2001 attack to make the case for continued robust American involvement in North Africa.

She warned of the risks of a 9/11-style attack from the group Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

“People say to me all the time, well, AQIM hasn’t attacked the United States. Well, before 9/11, 2001, we hadn’t been attacked on our homeland since, I guess, the War of 1812 and Pearl Harbor. So you can’t say, well, because they haven’t done something they’re not going to do it,” she said.

But a bit later Clinton came under assault from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who used 9/11 as his rhetorical theme.

“Ultimately with your leaving (the State Department), you accept the culpability for the worst tragedy since 9/11, and I really mean that,” Paul told Clinton. Democrats on the committee recoiled in anger at what they saw as a cheap exploitation of 9/11.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., told Clinton, “I think if some people on this committee want to call the tragedy in Benghazi the worst since 9/11, it misunderstands the nature of 4,000 Americans-plus lost over 10 years of war in Iraq, fought under false pretenses. It was fought under false pretenses, but it was also fought, I think, because we had a misunderstanding of what we could do and what we could manage in that region for what was under our control.”

Murphy, first elected to the House in 2006 as part of the voter backlash against the Iraq war, didn’t mention that Clinton herself, serving in the Senate in 2002, voted for the congressional resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to invade Iraq.

Her vote was one liability during her bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination – a liability which Barack Obama, a state senator when Congress voted on the Iraq invasion, didn’t have.

The 9/11 attack created the political environment which made possible, and perhaps even inevitable, the congressional vote authorizing Bush to use military force against Iraq.

In his Oct. 7, 2002, speech making the case for using force, Bush repeatedly invoked 9/11. To those American who wondered “why do we need to confront it (the threat of Saddam Hussein) now?” Bush said, “There’s a reason. We have experienced the horror of Sept. 11. We have seen that those who hate America are willing to crash airplanes into buildings full of innocent people.” And America’s enemies would be eager “to use a biological or chemical, or a nuclear weapon.”

Four days later, the Senate voted for the Iraq war authorization, with Kerry, Clinton and then-Sen. Joe Biden among the 77 voting for it.

Just as Murphy had argued at Wednesday’s Senate hearing that Iraq was “fought under false pretenses,” so, too, Democrats back in 2004 argued that Kerry, Clinton, Biden, then-Sen. Chuck Hagel and the other members of Congress who’d voted for the Iraq war resolution had been deceived.

But some antiwar Democrats argued that – deception or not – their party could never beat Bush in 2004 with a candidate who was compromised by having voted for the Iraq war resolution.

It’s impossible to know the answer to that question – would Howard Dean or Sen. Bob Graham (who voted “no” on the Iraq war resolution) have defeated Bush in 2004?

We do know that Bush held his party’s 2004 convention in New York City, a target of the 9/11 attack and defeated Kerry in the election.

His second term was an unhappy one for many reasons, but it was Bush – not Kerry – who got to the fill the next two vacancies on the Supreme Court.

And 9/11’s effect is also still directly felt in the current wrestling over fiscal policy. As Obama and congressional leaders try to figure out how to pay for ever-growing entitlement programs and reduce budget deficits, Republicans in Congress, but many Democrats, too, are reluctant to significantly reduce a $630 billion Defense Department budget that grew massively in the years after Sept. 11, 2001.

Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood Propped Up by US Since 2007 Under Bush

landdestroyer.blogspot.com | Jan 24, 2013

by Tony Cartalucci

MuslimBrotherhood-1In 2007, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled, “To Check Syria, U.S. Explores Bond With Muslim Brothers.” And even then, it was noted that the Brotherhood held close links with groups the US recognizes and lists as terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Al Qaeda.

The report gives a disturbing foreshadowing of US support that would eventually see the Muslim Brotherhood rise as both a political and terroristic power across the Arab World, after decades of hard-fought attempts to crush the sectarian extremist organization everywhere from Tunisia to Syria, from Egypt to Libya, to Jordan, and beyond. In fact, the 2007 Wall Street Journal article specifically noted that the US partnership could “destabilize governments in Jordan and Egypt, two US allies where the Brotherhood is a growing opposition force.”

Egypt is now run by a sectarian-extremist Muslim Brotherhood dictatorship, after the US incited unrest there in 2011, while Jordan is seeing increasing unrest led by the Jordanian arm of the Brotherhood.

What is also disturbing about the 2007 report, is that it shows how allegedly “Bush-era” policies transcended the 2000-2008 administration and continued in earnest under President Obama.

The report, written by Jay Solomon, echoes similar foreshadowing of the coming violent sectarian bloodbath now engulfing Syria, found in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s New Yorker piece titled, “The Redireciton: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?

Full story

. . .

Related

‘CIA favors Brotherhood as Egypt dictatorship benefits US’

Satanists planning rally for Florida Gov. Rick Scott

RickScottSatan
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has some unexpected, and likely unwanted, new support (Logo from Satanic Temple website/Scott …

Yahoo! News | Jan 16, 2013

By Eric Pfeiffer

Florida Gov. Rick Scott may have earned himself a new constituency, but the devil is in the details.

Local news site WPBF.com reported that a group of Satanists plans to hold a rally outside Scott’s office on Jan. 25 to support the governor’s signing of a bill that allows students to pray at school events.

“We’ve gotten such a response, it’s just impossible for me to know what that translates into,” Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves told WPBF, regarding how many will show up at the rally.

“You don’t build up your membership unless people know about you,” Greaves said in a separate interview with the Palm Beach Post. “So this allows us to get our message out in public. We’re hoping it will reduce the stigmatism.”

The Satanic Temple was launched in 2012 with what Greaves described as being “more or less an online community.”

The group’s website describes itself as being different from other, better-known Satanic organizations. Greaves said the rally is part of a larger ongoing effort at making the group’s beliefs more commonplace in mainstream discussions of religion and belief. From the website:

“Though we have far to go before public education leads to a mainstream embrace of our Satanic religion, we feel that our own public ‘coming out’ will go a long way toward raising the consciousness of the populace … and the social environment has never yet been better prepared for the welcoming of a new Satanic era.”

The group’s founder, Neil Bricke, is scheduled to speak at the rally.

“We feel it’s time for Satanists to come out and say exactly who we are,” Greaves said.

So, what does Scott think of the newly organized support?

“This is a great country. Everyone has a voice,” Gov. Scott’s press secretary wrote in an email to ABCNews.com.

 

Secret papers show extent of British Royalty’s veto power over legislative bills

queen elizabeth dark shadows
The Queen was asked for consent on a range of bills, including those affecting her estates. There is growing concern in parliament at a lack of transparency over the royals’ role in lawmaking. Photograph: Sergeant Dan Harmer

Court order reveals how approval of Queen and Prince Charles is sought on range of bills

Guardian | Jan 14, 2013

by Robert Booth

The extent of the Queen and Prince Charles‘s secretive power of veto over new laws has been exposed after Downing Street lost its battle to keep information about its application secret.

Whitehall papers prepared by Cabinet Office lawyers show that overall at least 39 bills have been subject to the most senior royals’ little-known power to consent to or block new laws. They also reveal the power has been used to torpedo proposed legislation relating to decisions about the country going to war.

The internal Whitehall pamphlet was only released following a court order and shows ministers and civil servants are obliged to consult the Queen and Prince Charles in greater detail and over more areas of legislation than was previously understood.

The new laws that were required to receive the seal of approval from the Queen or Prince Charles cover issues from higher education and paternity pay to identity cards and child maintenance.

In one instance the Queen completely vetoed the Military Actions Against Iraq Bill in 1999, a private member’s bill that sought to transfer the power to authorise military strikes against Iraq from the monarch to parliament.

She was even asked to consent to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 because it contained a declaration about the validity of a civil partnership that would bind her.

In the pamphlet, the Parliamentary Counsel warns civil servants that if consent is not forthcoming there is a risk “a major plank of the bill must be removed”.

“This is opening the eyes of those who believe the Queen only has a ceremonial role,” said Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, which includes land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, the Prince of Wales’ hereditary estate.

“It shows the royals are playing an active role in the democratic process and we need greater transparency in parliament so we can be fully appraised of whether these powers of influence and veto are really appropriate. At any stage this issue could come up and surprise us and we could find parliament is less powerful than we thought it was.”

Charles has been asked to consent to 20 pieces of legislation and this power of veto has been described by constitutional lawyers as a royal “nuclear deterrent” that may help explain why ministers appear to pay close attention to the views of senior royals.

The guidance also warns civil servants that obtaining consent can cause delays to legislation and reveals that even amendments may need to be run past the royals for further consent.

“There has been an implication that these prerogative powers are quaint and sweet but actually there is real influence and real power, albeit unaccountable,” said John Kirkhope, the legal scholar who fought the freedom of information case to access the papers.

The release of the papers comes amid growing concern in parliament at a lack of transparency over the royals’ role in lawmaking. George has set down a series of questions to ministers asking for a full list of bills that have been consented to by the Queen and Prince Charles and have been vetoed or amended.

The guidance states that the Queen’s consent is likely to be needed for laws affecting hereditary revenues, personal property or personal interests of the Crown, the Duchy of Lancaster or the Duchy of Cornwall.

Consent is also needed if it affects the Duchy of Cornwall. These guidelines effectively mean the Queen and Charles both have power over laws affecting their sources of private income.

The Queen uses revenues from the Duchy of Lancaster’s 19,000 hectares of land and 10 castles to pay for the upkeep of her private homes at Sandringham and Balmoral, while the prince earns £18m-a-year from the Duchy of Cornwall.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “It is a long established convention that the Queen is asked by parliament to provide consent to those bills which parliament has decided would affect crown interests. The sovereign has not refused to consent to any bill affecting crown interests unless advised to do so by ministers.”

A spokesman for Prince Charles said: “In modern times, the prince of Wales has never refused to consent to any bill affecting Duchy of Cornwall interests, unless advised to do so by ministers. Every instance of the prince’s consent having been sought and given to legislation is a matter of public record.”

Graham Smith, director of Republic, the campaign for an elected head of state, has also called for full disclosure of the details of the occasions when royal consent has been refused.

“The suggestion in these documents that the Queen withheld consent for a private member’s bill on such an important issue as going to war beggars belief,” he said. “We need to know whether laws have been changed as the result of a private threat to withhold that consent.”

The Cabinet Office fought against the publication of the 30-page internal guidance in a 15-month freedom of information dispute. It refused a request to release the papers from Kirkhope, a notary public who wanted to use them in his graduate studies at Plymouth University.

It was ordered to do so by the Information Commissioner. The Cabinet Office then appealed that decision in the Information Tribunal but lost.

Royal influence

Here is a list of government bills that have required the consent of the Queen or the Prince of Wales. It is not exhaustive and in only one case does it show whether any changes were made. It is drawn from data gleaned from two Freedom of Information requests.

The Queen

Agriculture (miscellaneous provisions) bill 1962

Housing Act 1996

Rating (Valuation Act) 1999

Military actions against Iraq (parliamentary approval bill) 1999 – consent not signified

Pollution prevention and control bill (1999)

High hedges bills 2000/01 and 2002/03

European Union bill 2004

Civil Partnership Act 2004

Higher Education Act 2004

National Insurance Contributions and Statutory Payments Act 2004

Identity cards bill 2004-06

Work and families bill 2005-06

Commons bill 2006

Animal Welfare Act 2006

Charities Act 2006

Child maintenance and other payments bill (2006/07)

Rating (Empty Properties) Act 2007

Courts, Tribunals and Enforcement Act 2007

Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007

Fixed term parliaments bill (2010-12 session)

Prince Charles

Conveyancing and Feudal Reform (Scotland) Act 1970

Land Registration (Scotland Act) 1979

Pilotage bill 1987

Merchant Shipping and Maritime Security Act 1997

House of Lords Act 1999

Gambling bill 2004-05

Road Safety bill 2004-05

Natural environment and rural communities bill 2005-06

London Olympics bill 2005-06

Commons bill 2006

Charities Act 2006

Housing and regeneration bill 2007-08

Energy bill 2007-08

Planning bill 2007-08

Co-operative and community benefit societies and credit unions bill 2008-09

Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction (Lords) 2008-09

Marine and Coastal Access (Lords) 2008-09

Coroners and justice bill 2008-09

Marine navigation aids bill 2009-2010

Wreck Removal Convention Act 2010-12

• This article was amended on Tuesday 15 January 2013 because it stated that Prince Charles has used the veto on more than a dozen occasions when it should have said that he has been asked to consent to 20 pieces of legislation.

 

Senator Rand Paul: What Israel Does With US Money and Weapons is None of Our Business

rand paul
Paul’s late-night trip to the Wall was relatively low-key. Accompanied by the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz, Paul spends a few minutes of reflection at the Wall.

Cutting aid to Israel did not come up during his meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or President Shimon Peres.

jpost.com | Jan 12, 2013

By HERB KEINON

As week-long visit to Israel comes to a close, senator says US should not meddle in decisions regarding settlement construction, but on issue of Iran J’lem’s decision making has ramifications for the entire Mideast.

It is “none of our business” whether Israel builds new neighborhoods in east Jerusalem or withdraws from the Golan Heights, and the US should not tell Israel how to defend itself, US Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) said Saturday night at the end of a week-long visit to the country.

Paul, a maverick libertarian senator known for his advocacy of slashing US foreign aid, said at a press briefing that the issue of cutting aid to Israel — something he advocates as part of a gradual process — did not come up during his meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or President Shimon Peres.

Paul said that he was not interested in the message of his trip being that he came here “touting and spouting “ cutting aid to Israel. “I came here to show that I am supportive of the relationship between Israel and America,” he said.

Rand Paul Aligns Himself With Zionist Criminals

The first-term senator’s anti-foreign aid approach does concern some pro-Israel advocates in the US, concerned that he wants to significantly trim Washington’s annual $3billion military aid to Jerusalem.

PHOTOS: Rand Paul Visits The Western Wall

“The biggest threat to our nation right now is our debt,” said Paul, adding that a bankrupt America would not be a good ally for Israel. “This does mean that we have to reassess who to give aid to, and when we do reassess that, I would begin with countries that are burning our flag and chanting death to America. No one is accusing Israel of that.”

Paul said he was not talking about anything different than what Netanyahu said in a 1996 speech to Congress, in which he advocated Israel gradually weaning itself of American aid dollars. Paul said this would benefit Israel and its defense industry, because it would not have to buy all its weaponry from the US, and that a curtailment of US foreign aid would also mean less money for arms for Israel’s neighbors.

Stating that the US gives more foreign aid to Israel’s neighbors than to Israel, Paul said that if the US gives 20 F-16 fighter plans to Egypt, Israel then feels it needs to buy 25; or if the US gives Egypt 200 tanks, Israel feels the need to purchase 300.

Paul stressed that he was worried about giving weapons to Egypt at the present time, especially since he said Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is listening to a spiritual leader calling for “the death of Israel and all its friends.” He said he was “very disappointed” that after giving Egypt some $60 billion in aid over the last 30 years, rioters there climbed the roof of the embassy last year, took down the US flag and burned it. “That should never have happened and is inexcusable,” he asserted.

Paul said the issue of his position regarding aid toward Egypt did come up in the conversation with Netanyahu.

Unlike most senators who visit the country, Paul had two public appearances during his week here, an indication perhaps that he is indeed — as has been widely speculated — gearing up for a 2016 presidential bid. He also spent a day in Jordan, meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Paul, a newly appointed member of the Senate’s foreign relations committee, would not comment on the controversial nomination of former senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, or how he would vote. Regarding the overall direction of the US-Israel relationship in a second Obama term, he said that “even with the problems,” America’s ties with Israel are so strong that they will remain that way “even with the Obama administration not seeming to be going out to dinner with Netanyahu, or playing bridge, or whatever you do with your friends.”

While Paul said the US should not meddle in Israel’s decision making regarding settlement construction or the Golan Heights, he said Iran was a different issue because it had ramifications for the entire Middle East.

The senator, who voted for sanctions against Iran, said the sanctions would have a better chance of success if Russia and China were involved, and advocated using trade leverage with those countries to get them on board. As opposed to what he termed “show votes” on sanctions at the UN, where some countries do whatever they can to show their strong opposition to the US, he advocated “ quiet diplomacy” with China and Russia on the matter.

“We do a lot of trade with Russia, and Iran does some,” he said. “But I think the trade with America is more important to China and Russia, and I think that trade should be used with some leverage to get them to cooperate and help talk Iran down and get them to do the right thing.”

Paul was not the only republican senator in the country over the weekend, and Netanyahu on Friday met another delegation of five republican senators — led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, another Kentucky senator — where Iran was the focus of discussion.

“My priority, if I’m elected for a next term as prime minister, will be first to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu told the delegation.”I think that was and remains the highest priority for both our countries. I appreciate the American support and your support for that end. “

McConnell, at the meeting, talked about the storing bipartisan support for Israel, even as Republicans and Democrats are at odds on so many other issues.

“As everybody in Israel knows, there are a lot of things we disagree on in America,” McConnell said. “We’ve had big battles over deficit and debt, but there’s board bipartisan support for Israel, and our agenda in this part of the world is the same as your agenda. You’re one of our best friends, and we’re happy to continue that relationship.”

Obama signs law giving himself and George W. Bush lifetime armed Secret Service guards

20120601_BUSH_OBAMA
President Barack Obama on Thursday signed into a law a measure giving him, George W. Bush and future former presidents and their spouses lifetime Secret Service protection

Yahoo! News | Jan 10, 2013

By Olivier Knox

Former presidents have to give up rides on Air Force One. But now they don’t have to give up being shadowed by the armed-and-earpieced bodyguards of the Secret Service.

President Barack Obama on Thursday signed into a law a measure giving him, George W. Bush and future former presidents and their spouses lifetime Secret Service protection, the White House announced.

The legislation, crafted by Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, rolls back a mid-1990s law that imposed a 10-year limit on Secret Service protection for former presidents. Bush would have been the first former commander in chief affected.

At the time, lawmakers who supported the measure said it would save the government millions of dollars. They also argued that former presidents could hire private security firms (as Richard Nixon did after he decided to forgo Secret Service protection in 1985).

The bill had sailed through Congress with bipartisan support—it cleared the House of Representatives by voice vote in early December, and then it zipped through the Senate unopposed. The law also provides protection for former presidents’ kids until age 16. But “protection of a spouse shall terminate in the event of remarriage.”

The Secret Service started protecting presidents in 1901 after the assassination of William McKinley. In 1965, Congress passed a law authorizing the agency, which is now a part of the Department of Homeland Security, to protect former presidents for life.