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As Scott Walker addresses NRA, concealed carry vote criticized

 Second Amendment  Comments Off on As Scott Walker addresses NRA, concealed carry vote criticized
Apr 112015

Gov. Scott Walkers vote against a concealed carry bill in 2002 resurfaced Friday as the likely presidential candidate addressed an annual convention of the National Rifle Association.

Democrats highlighted the vote which clashes with his otherwise lengthy record of supporting Second Amendment rights as yet another example of Walker shifting his position for political gain. The 2002 vote came just before Walker mounted a successful campaign for Milwaukee County executive.

But Walker spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski countered that the reason Walker voted against the bill was because it came up after a lengthy late-night session and didnt follow the normal legislative process.

Gov. Walker was protecting the voters through transparency, Kukowski said. This is why the NRA has and continues to believe Gov. Walker stands up for Second Amendment rights, continually giving him good ratings year after year.

Walker didnt address his 2002 vote in his speech Friday, but highlighted how he has an A+ rating from the NRA as governor and had an A rating as a state legislator.

Im proud of that even though some on the left may say its a scarlet letter, Walker said in the speech. I say its a badge of honor.

The likely 2016 presidential contender has come under fire for shifting his position on various issues, including immigration, right-to-work, abortion, ethanol mandates and the Common Core education standards.

Add concealed carry to the list of issues Walker has changed his position on just to benefit himself, said Jason Pitt, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee. If weve learned anything from Scott Walker over the past few months its that his constant pandering on issues has defined him as one of the least trustworthy candidates among the 2016 GOP field.

Kukowski said Walkers record of supporting the Second Amendment included:

Co-sponsoring a constitutional amendment in the late 1990s that added the right to keep and bear arms;

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10 dead: Greek fighter jet crashes during NATO training – Video

 NATO  Comments Off on 10 dead: Greek fighter jet crashes during NATO training – Video
Jan 302015

10 dead: Greek fighter jet crashes during NATO training
Ten people were killed and another 13 people were injured after a Greek fighter plane crashed during NATO training in Spain, a spokesman for the defence mini…

By: euronews (in English)

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Condemn terrorism, but dont praise offensiveness

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Condemn terrorism, but dont praise offensiveness
Jan 252015

Freedom of expression through writing, speaking, dressing, music, art, religion and other forms and beliefs is one of the most cherished rights we have in a free society. Yet its one of the most abused and is often laced with hypocrisy and double standards. The truth is there is no such thing as free speech.

The words and the seeds we plant have an effect on ourselves and the universe around us. Speech isnt free. It comes at a cost and we should spend it wisely.

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper have spurred a new Je Suis Charlie movement. Millions of people around the world have started chanting and hashtagging Je Suis Charlie. I joined with the millions condemning those terrorist attacks and also supporting freedom of expression, but I cant join in with Je Suis Charlie. There must be room in our society to condemn acts of terror, support free speech and still condemn (or at least not praise) ones use of free speech.

For those who are proudly joining in with Je Suis Charlie, I must ask, would you be praising someone who made a living using the n-word in a racially inflammatory manner? Would you be praising someone and claiming ownership in someone who practiced blatant anti-Semitism?

I think the answer for most people would be no.

Muslims are not seeking to limit free speech or impose our beliefs on others. We only seek the same treatment and rights that are granted to others in our society. The best limits on ourselves and speech are those we put on ourselves, not by the government or someones interpretation of what Sharia law is. Our Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) practiced mercy and patience with those who mocked him. I dont know of any case of him ordering someone killed because of an insult.

As we look at France, other European countries and America, we see a ton of double standards when it comes to free speech and religion. In many places in Europe, simply questioning the Holocaust and forms of anti-Semitism will get you arrested.

In France, 54 people were arrested a day after their mass free speech rally, and a comic is facing seven years in prison for jokingly identifying with Je Suis Charlie and the terrorists. France just outlawed pro-Palestinian rallies. There have been several attacks on Masjids throughout France, yet most of the focus has been on synagogues. Not too long ago, France even outlawed the veil. So as we stand together in condemning acts of terror and supporting free speech, dont think that France is a bastion of freedom of expression and religion.

As much as I detest those who seek to mock and incite religious people and our great prophets, I still support a society that gives them that right as long there are no double standards. The double standards are just as offensive as (if not more than) the use of the expression. Looking back, my first remembrance of anyone mentioning Muslims was in a Richard Pryor joke about double Muslims. It planted a seed that helped bring me here. For that Im thankful and thats no joke or mockery. Je Suis Muslim!

Jibril Hough, is a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Charlotte, N.C. This column first appeared in The Charlotte Observer.

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Agua Hedionda Lagoon dredging starts soon

 Beaches  Comments Off on Agua Hedionda Lagoon dredging starts soon
Dec 012014

Every few years, the owners of the Encina Power Station have to dredge the Agua Hedionda lagoons outer basin to keep sand from blocking the flow of ocean water needed to cool the plants steam generators.

CARLSBAD Carlsbad will have more sand on its beaches next summer thanks to a dredging project set to begin next month at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

Every few years, the owners of the Encina Power Station have to dredge the lagoons outer basin to keep sand from blocking the flow of ocean water needed to cool the plants steam generators.

The project has several other benefits as well, said David Knox, a spokesman for plant owner NRG Energy Inc.

For instance, it helps shore up Carlsbad beaches, which if not replenished become narrower and covered with rocks.

The dredging puts sand back on the beach so that beachgoers have a nice, sandy spot to place their towels, said Kasia Trojanowska, Carlsbads parks planner.

About 500,000 cubic yards of sand will be pulled from the bottom of the lagoon. About half that sand will go to a stretch of the beach between the intake and outlet jetties just outside the lagoon. The remaining sand will be split between the beach at Tamarack and Oak avenues and the shoreline just south of the lagoon.

In addition to cooling the plant, the dredging is key to maintaining the tidal circulation within the lagoon, which is important for the recreational, commercial and biological uses of the lagoon, Knox said.

Though the outcome is a boon for visitors, the process isnt always pleasant.

During the months-long project, a dredge barge similar to a tug boat sucks sand from the bottom of the lagoon like a large vacuum cleaner. The sand, which looks like black ooze, is then carried to the beach through large, 20-inch-diameter black pipes.

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California Cant Enforce Rules Tracking Sex Offenders Online

 Free Speech  Comments Off on California Cant Enforce Rules Tracking Sex Offenders Online
Nov 192014

California cant enforce a law to combat sex trafficking because it tramples on free speech rights of sex offenders by requiring them to report online activities, such as their Twitter, e-mail and chatroom accounts, a U.S. appeals court ruled.

The San Francisco-based court today upheld a judges decision to block enforcement of a voter-approved law that was backed by former Facebook Inc. (FB) executive Chris Kelly and garnered support from more than 80 percent of California voters in 2012.

The measure, known as Proposition 35, isnt clear about what accounts or Internet service providers offenders are required to report and targets online speech that could include blogging about politics and posting comments on news articles, the appeals courts three-judge panel said today.

The law also harms sex offenders ability to engage in anonymous speech because it allegedly allows police to disclose their online identities to the public, the court said. Failure to report on Internet activity can lead to criminal sanctions.

A requirement that registered sex-offenders notify police within 24 hours of using a new Internet identity chills activity protected by the U.S. Constitutions First Amendment, U.S. Circuit Judge Jay S. Bybee wrote in the unanimous ruling.

Attorneys for the laws backers had argued it doesnt regulate the speech of sex offenders and would give police a head start to investigate when a parent reports that a child has been communicating with a stranger online and was going to meet that person.

While the state has a legitimate interest in preventing sexual exploitation and human trafficking, California officials didnt show that blocking the law would seriously hamper the ability of law enforcement to investigate online sex offenses because there are other methods to do so, the court said.

There will be some hardship on the state, the court said. Nevertheless, the balance of equities favors the sex offenders who sued to overturn Proposition 35, whose First Amendment rights are being chilled.

David Beltran, a spokesman for California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who defended the law, said her office is reviewing the ruling.

Attorney General Harris is committed to fighting human trafficking, he said in an e-mail responding to the ruling.

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NATO promises Afghans air support after 2014 as it shuts key base

 NATO  Comments Off on NATO promises Afghans air support after 2014 as it shuts key base
Oct 262014

KABUL, Afghanistan The international military coalition said Sunday it would continue to provide air support to Afghan forces after the scheduled end of combat operations in December, even as it shuttered a major regional command in the violent Helmand province.

Maj. Paul Greenberg, a spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, said in a statement to Stars and Stripes that cooperation with the Afghan police and military after the transition to Afghan control “will include continued aviation support” by the coalition.

The framework for the continued air support was laid out in a recent agreement between Afghanistan and NATO, said Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi.

“According to our new agreement, the NATO air forces will support Afghan security forces until the Afghan air force is sufficient,” he told Stripes in a phone interview. He said the current goal is to have the Afghan air force fully operational by 2016.

That news came as the United Kingdom essentially ended its combat mission in Afghanistan by handing over control of Camp Bastion to the Afghan forces in Helmand. Neighboring Camp Leatherneck was also formally transferred, signaling that the mission for U.S. Marines in the province is also nearing its end.

The planned American drawdown announced by President Barack Obama calls for about 9,800 U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan next year for a “noncombat train, advise, and assist mission.” Other NATO partners have pledged to send about 2,000 troops. It is not clear whether coalition air forces will be counted in those numbers.

Continuing violence in the country has led the Afghan government to retain a massive national security force and to seek additional support from NATO.

There has been much speculation about the exact nature of future international military backing. Now ISAF says combat aviation forces may be part of that support.

While he said the past two years have seen “exponential growth of the Afghan Air Force and the ability of the ANSF to operate independently,” Greenberg said military support will continue.

“Upon the request of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the International Security Assistance Force has provided robust aviation support to the ANSF throughout Helmand Province in the form of close air support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft,” he said in the statement to Stripes. “This support has been provided consistently over the past two years. Upon request of the ANSF, NATO will continue to provide aviation support to Afghan forces during Resolute Support.”

NATO promises Afghans air support after 2014 as it shuts key base

Southern Oregon University allegedly threatens students handing out Constitutions

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Southern Oregon University allegedly threatens students handing out Constitutions
Oct 162014

ASHLAND, Ore., Oct. 16 (UPI) — Four students at Southern Oregon University claim they were threatened by campus officials while protesting the school’s free speech policies.

The students were passing out copies of the Constitution and asking for signatures on a petition to end SOU’s “free speech zone” policy, which limits protests to one spot on campus. They say they were targeted because of their affiliation with Students for Concealed Carry, a new group advocating for gun rights on college campuses.

“We encountered wild accusations that because the event was affiliated with SCC, there was legitimate fear for the imminent danger of students on campus,” student Stephanie Keaveney told Campus Reform, which also obtained video of the indecent. “Administrators accused us of causing an immediate panic for the safety of students in the face of gun violence, or the promotion of such.”

She said campus officials told them they had received a complaint from another student, but denied being approached by anyone other than university personnel.

The students claimed the university staff threatened to call police or otherwise bring disciplinary action if they did not stop their demonstration.

But a spokesman for the university said students were only asked to relocate, not forced or threatened.

“[The students] were not forced to move to the free speech zone, nor were they prevented from continuing to hand out their literature,” said Ryan Brown, Southern Oregon University’s Head of Community and Media Relations.

Keaveney confirmed that they had not been approached by city police, nor had they faced action from the university. Brown said the school has no intention to take any action against the students.

In videos obtained by Campus Reform, director of university housing Tim Robitz can be heard asking the SCC students to move their protest elsewhere.

“I would very much like you to leave, if you would, please, because the students have the right to be able to come by here without you guys, you know, invading their space and asking them to do something,” he says in the video.

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Afghans allege NATO airstrike kills 7 civilians

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Oct 132014

A U.S. army soldier, center, takes his position at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. An Afghan official said a suicide bomber targeting a NATO convoy in Kabul killed one civilian and wounded three others. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) A mountain ambush by Taliban fighters killed at least 14 Afghan security force troops, authorities said Monday, as villagers elsewhere in the country alleged a NATO airstrike that the coalition said targeted militants actually killed civilians.

The fighting in Sari Pul province, as well as the disputed NATO airstrike in eastern Paktia province, show the serious challenges facing new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai. Former President Hamid Karzai repeatedly clashed with NATO forces over civilian casualties from airstrikes, straining relations as public anger against the coalition grew.

The ambush in Sari Pul, where Taliban fighters reportedly have been massing for days, happened Sunday in its Kohistanat district. There, militants opened fire on an Afghan Army unit heading back to the capital after several months being deployed there, killing 12 soldiers and two police officers, said Kazim Kenhan, a spokesman for the provincial police chief.

Kenhan said 13 troops and four police officers were wounded and six troops are missing after the ambush there, some 340 kilometers (210 miles) northwest of the capital, Kabul.

“A very intensive gun battle is going on right now and the casualty number might change overnight,” Kenhan said Monday. “It is a mountainous area and very difficult to reach. We do need air support as we requested from the international forces, but they didn’t help us.”

In Paktia province, hundreds of villagers protested over their allegation that a NATO airstrike killed seven civilians in an operation NATO said killed “eight armed enemy combatants.”

The protesters brought seven corpses to the governor’s office there, claiming they were civilians killed Sunday during a NATO airstrike in a mountainous area on the outskirts of the city of Gardez. The villagers said the strike targeted eight people collecting firewood and left one man wounded.

“From the evidence it seems that all seven who have been killed in the airstrike of the coalition forces are civilians, but this needs to be investigated more to find out why and how this incident has happened,” said Abdul Wali Sahee, deputy provincial governor of Paktia province.

Sahee said that there was a dead body of a 12-year-old boy among those brought to the provincial capital.

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Liberty Twp. Tea Party members share frustration with IRS scandal

 Liberty  Comments Off on Liberty Twp. Tea Party members share frustration with IRS scandal
Sep 162014


Members of the Liberty Twp. Tea Party organization say they are beyond frustrated with the Internal Revenue Services handling of their tax-exempt status request.

Nine Tea Party organizations, including the Liberty Twp. group, are still awaiting a response from the IRS, according to Gene Kapp, a spokesman for the American Center for Law and Justice.

Congress and the Justice Department are investigating whether the IRS improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups during the 2010 and 2012 elections. A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit by 10 tea party groups to move forward against the IRS, rejecting a request by the federal government to dismiss all the allegations that the agency subjected conservative groups to additional, often burdensome scrutiny.

Whether that lawsuit will be continued or dismissed will be known any day now, Kapp said.

The U.S. government filed a motion to dismiss our lawsuit some time ago, he said. We, of course, filed our response opposing the motion to dismiss. We expect a decision by a federal judge any day now regarding that motion.

Liberty Twp. Tea Party applied for tax-exempt status in January 2011.

I have moved beyond frustration with governments inability to process paper work in a timely manner, said Susan McLaughlin, a member of the Liberty Twp. Tea Party. I have lost any trust or expectation of fairness in the federal government. My naivet in believing the government would follow their own rules has been replaced with anger and suspicion.

Katy Kern is more to the point saying how the group feels: I dont think we are frustrated, I think we are pissed off.

We refuse to back down or be intimidated, Kern said. Somebody has to stand up to the bullies and we are glad that there are 8 other tea parties w the stones to do it.

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After Sandy, feds discuss plans for artificial islands off New Jersey, New York

 Islands  Comments Off on After Sandy, feds discuss plans for artificial islands off New Jersey, New York
Mar 302014


SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. A string of artificial islands off the coast of New Jersey and New York could blunt the impact of storm surges that proved so deadly during Superstorm Sandy, according to a proposal vying for attention and funding as the region continues its recovery.

It’s a big proposal that would cost $10 billion to $12 billion. But it’s also the kind of innovative idea that federal officials requested as they consider how best to protect the heavily populated region from future storms.

“We’ve discussed this with the governor’s office of Recovery and Resiliency and the Department of Environmental Protection, and they all look at me like, `Whoa! This is a big deal!” said Alan Blumberg, a professor at New Jersey’s Stevens Institute of Technology. “Yes, it is a big deal. It can save lives and protect property.”

The “Blue Dunes” proposal is part of Rebuild By Design, a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to come up with novel ways to protect against the next big storm. It is one of 10 projects that will be evaluated and voted on next week, but there’s no guarantee any of them will receive funding. Other ideas include building sea walls around cities, re-establishing oyster colonies in tidal flats to blunt wave action and creating water-absorbent nature and recreational preserves.

The artificial islands plan was created by Stevens Institute, along with the WXY architectural firm and West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture. It is designed to blunt the worst effect of Sandy: the storm surge that pounded the coast. From Maryland to New Hampshire, the storm was blamed for 159 deaths, and New Jersey and New York alone claimed a total of nearly $79 billion in damage.

“How do you protect New Jersey and New York at the same time from the storm of the future?” Blumberg asked. “Our idea is to build a chain of islands, like a long slender banana. The wave action and storm surge will reflect off these islands and go back out to sea rather than hitting the coast. Barnegat Bay would not be pounded, nor would lower Manhattan or Hoboken.”

The islands 10 to 12 miles off the coast would be uninhabited, though day trips for surfing or fishing might be allowed, Blumberg said. They would be built by pumping sand atop some hard base made of rock, concrete or other material, he said.

Steve Sandberg, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said funding for at least some of the proposals is already available as part of the $60 billion in Sandy aid that Congress passed last year. Other money could come from disaster recovery grants as well as public and private-sector funding, according to the Rebuild by Design website.

A gap would be left between the New York and New Jersey island groups, mainly to allow water from the Hudson River to flow out into the ocean.

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Caterpillar said to be focus of U.S. Senate panel inquiry

 Offshore Companies  Comments Off on Caterpillar said to be focus of U.S. Senate panel inquiry
Mar 222014

A U.S. Senate investigative panel is examining whether Caterpillar Inc. improperly avoided U.S. taxes by moving profits outside the country, said three people familiar with the inquiry.

The Senates Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will hold a hearing in early April, said two of the people. They spoke on condition of anonymity before an official announcement.

Rachel Potts, a spokeswoman for Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Ill., declined to comment. Gordon Trowbridge, a spokesman for Subcommittee Chairman Carl Levin, declined to comment.

In 2009, Daniel Schlicksup, an employee who had worked on Caterpillars tax strategy, alleged in a lawsuit in federal court that the company used a Swiss structure to shift profits to offshore companies and avoid more than $2 billion in U.S. taxes. He also alleged that Caterpillar used a Bermuda structure involving shell companies to return profits to the U.S. without paying required taxes.

According to Schlicksups complaint, the Swiss structure involved many shell corporations with no business operations, in which the management of profitable businesses was technically shifted to Switzerland while actually remaining in the U.S.

Schlicksups lawsuit, which alleged that Caterpillar executives retaliated against him, was settled in 2012, according to court filings. The company denied the allegations, which Bloomberg News first reported in 2011.

The Senate subcommittee led by Levin, a Michigan Democrat, has been examining tax avoidance by multinational companies.

Microsoft Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Apple Inc. have been the subjects of previous hearings by the panel.

The 2013 investigation into Apple uncovered a subsidiary that earned $30 billion over four years with no home for tax purposes.

The subcommittee also has investigated Swiss banks such as Credit Suisse Group AG for aiding tax evasion by wealthy Americans.

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Renzi vows crackdown on tax dodgers

 Tax Havens  Comments Off on Renzi vows crackdown on tax dodgers
Mar 212014

‘Cheats to pay back the working man’

(By Christopher Livesay) (ANSA) – Rome, March 21 – Premier Matteo Renzi on Friday vowed to rein in tax dodgers, who every year evade payments on over 130 billion euros in income. Speaking after his first EU summit in Brussels, the new premier said that finally “those who have never paid will have to pay,” in order to “pay back citizens who have paid for the crisis due to nearsighted politicians who are far from the needs of the people”. Renzi vowed to implement “innovative methods” to cross check financial records digitally. The problem of tax evasion is well publicized and a constant and long-running problem for governments. They have intensified in recent years as governments have struggled to meet their obligations in the midst of a double-dip recession that began in 2008-2009. On the heels of that came a second crisis which reached depths in the past two years not seen since World War II. That was further aggravated by austerity measures to avoid a Greek-like economic meltdown when interest rates on Italian bonds rose alarmingly high. The hard medicine forced on Italy to try to regain its financial footing included program cuts and tax hikes that businesses say have crippled their operations while stunting economic growth and job creation. Recession in Italy, the eurozone’s third-largest economy, began to show tentative signs of easing only in the second half of last year. The economy remains fragile with a tepid growth outlook, although things may be improving with Renzi, a business-friendly reformer, at the reins. On Friday, Italian retailers’ association Confcommercio revised its growth forecast from 0.3% to 0.5% in 2014, and 0.9% in 2015. Those numbers could go up even more if Renzi follows through on cutting over 12 billion euros in income and business taxes, Confcommercio said. However, the forecast is weaker than the national inflation rate that averaged 1.2% in 2013, and if unemployment remains at the record-high 12.9%, it suggests that the incentives to avoid paying out cash to tax collectors will remain weak. According to the finance police, last year they discovered 8,315 evaders who concealed income or did not even file a tax return on 16.1 billion euros in revenues. About 15.1 billion euros that were not reported to tax authorities came from international income including “transfers of convenience” to tax havens as well as foreign-based companies’ income earned in Italy that is subject to taxation here. The finance police said much of that was uncovered by working cooperatively with agencies in other countries. Almost five billion euros were dodged by Italians avoiding the value-added tax alone, and more than 13,000 people were found to be working “in nero” or outside the legal system, meaning their work was not reported and they paid no tax. By not cracking down on tax evasions, particularly on value added tax, Italy lost 36.1 billion euros in 2011, giving it the worst record in the EU on VAT collection, according to a study by the European Commission. France had the next worst record, losing 32.2 billion euros to tax evasion in 2011, followed by Germany with 26.9 billion euros lost. The study says reasons for tax evasion include fraud but also bankruptcies and defaults, and the eurozone economic crisis which left more and more companies in such dire straits they cannot pay taxes owed. Still, improving anti-fraud measures would “certainly help Italy to bridge the gap” between value-added taxes owed and what is actually paid to the government, said a spokesman for EU Taxation Commissioner Algirdas Semeta. Across the 28-member European Union, lost revenue in 2011 totalled 193 billion euro, equal to 1.5% of GDP.

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Balearic Islands Lose Environmental Case in Spanish Court

 Islands  Comments Off on Balearic Islands Lose Environmental Case in Spanish Court
Mar 202014

Spains Balearic Islands plan to regain control over offshore projects from tourism to oil drilling when the activities are adjacent to protected habitats.

The regional government is revising 14 management plans that were partially annulled last month by the Supreme Court for failing to demonstrate why control over the Mediterranean waters shouldnt be under the jurisdiction of the national government.

At stake are environmentally sensitive areas of water for which the European Commission has approved extra protections to foster biodiversity of plants and wildlife. Spains high court, after an appeal by the national government, invalidated parts of those plans that covered offshore areas of the zones, which are called Sites of Community Importance under European Union law.

The revisions should restore authority to the Balearic Islands government, according to a spokesman for its environment ministry who asked not to be named, in line with the departments policy.

The Supreme Court invalidated the safeguards for waters off Mallorca, Menorca and smaller islands in the area in a Feb. 20 ruling published subsequently on the judiciarys website.

The Balearics, particularly Mallorca and Ibiza, are popular with tourists to Spain. While the court ruling didnt specifically address oil exploration, the islands waters have drawn interest from prospectors seeking licenses for seismic studies. Exploration is opposed by the regional government and has been supported by Spains national government.

Companies that have explored the Spanish Mediterranean or have permits to do so include Repsol SA (REP), Cairn Energy Plc and Spectrum Geo Ltd. Most of their searches are focused instead on the waters off the mainland peninsula.

To contact the reporter on this story: Todd White in Madrid at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Timothy Coulter at Alex Devine, Amanda Jordan

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Balearic Islands Lose Environmental Case in Spanish Court

Chicago’s ban on gun sales violates the Second Amendment, rules federal judge

 Second Amendment  Comments Off on Chicago’s ban on gun sales violates the Second Amendment, rules federal judge
Jan 072014

Chicago’sbanon the sale and transfer of firearms was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge, saying that while the government has a duty to protect its citizens, it’s also obligated to protect constitutional rights, including the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.

A federal judge on Monday overturnedChicago’sbanon the sale and transfer of firearms, ruling that the city’s ordinances aimed at reducinggunviolence are unconstitutional.

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US District Judge Edmond E. Chang said in his ruling that while the government has a duty to protect its citizens, it’s also obligated to protect constitutional rights, including the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. However, Chang said he would temporarily stay the effects of his ruling, meaning the ordinances can stand while the city decides whether to appeal.

The decision is just the latest to attack what were some of the toughest gun-control laws in the nation. In 2010, the US Supreme Court struck downChicago’slong-standinggunban. And last year, Illinois legislators were forced by a federal appeals court to adopt a law allowing residents to carry concealed weapons in Illinois, the only state that stillbannedthe practice. The resulting state law largely stripped city and officials of surrounding Cook County of their authority to regulateguns, which especially irked officials inChicago, where residents had to apply for concealed-carry permits through the police chief.

National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Vandermyde applauded Chang’s decision, saying the fact a federal judge appointed by President Barack Obama “ruled in favor of the Second Amendment, shows how out of step and outrageousChicago’sordinances really are.”

Roderick Drew, a spokesman forChicago’slaw department, said Mayor Rahm Emanuel disagrees with Chang’s ruling and has instructed the city’s lawyer to consider options to regulategunsales.

“Every yearChicagopolice recover more illegalgunsthan officers in any city in the country, a factor of lax federal laws as well as lax laws in Illinois and surrounding states related to straw purchasing and the transfer ofguns,” Drew said. “We need strongergunsafety laws, not increased access to firearms within the city.”

Chang’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the Illinois Association of Firearms Retailers and threeChicagoresidents. The judge notedChicago’sbancovers not only federally licensed firearms dealers, but also gifts among family members, all in the name of reducinggunviolence.

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Report: Wider Beaches On The Way For Some Shore Towns

 Beaches  Comments Off on Report: Wider Beaches On The Way For Some Shore Towns
Nov 082013

Water breaches sand dunes in Belmar, NJ as Hurricane Sandy approaches on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012 (credit: Kathryn Brown/CBS 2)

MANASQUAN, N.J. (AP) Wider beaches are on the way for some Jersey shore towns whose coast took a pounding during Superstorm Sandy as a $25 million beach replenishment project led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begins Friday in Manasquan.

Right after Superstorm Sandy, I remember seeing the devastation, said U.S Rep. Christopher Smith, a Republican who represents some of the affected towns. Weve got to replenish, weve got to rebuild the dunes because they did mitigate the loss. The damage would have been far worse had the Army Corps projects not been in place.

But the project that will widen beaches from Manasquan north to Belmar will not include restoring dunes that washed away during Sandy last year. That would have to be done under a separate project, possibly funded by state and local governments

The work is among several beach restoration projects that were done this year, or that will begin next spring or summer. Work on the northern Monmouth County shoreline including Sea Bright was done earlier this year, as were projects in three towns on Long Beach Island in Ocean County. Additional projects in Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties could get underway next spring or early summer, said Ed Voigt, a spokesman for the Army Corps.

Those projects include the southern end of Ocean City, along with Strathmere and Sea Isle City, and additional towns on Long Beach Island. Beach replenishment should be completed by December in Ventnor, he said.

The work will widen beaches, some of which have eroded to just 75 feet wide, to a width of 150 to 250 feet.

Normally, the Army Corps would be authorized to return the beaches only to their pre-storm condition. But special authorization after last years devastating storm gave the Corps permission to restore the beaches to their fully-built design condition, a state last achieved in 1997, according to Anthony Ciorra, a Superstorm Sandy project manager for the Army Corps.

Much of Manasquans beachfront was devastated by the storm on Oct. 29, 2012. It washed away tons of sand, smashed and washed away half the boroughs asphalt beach walk, and destroyed numerous beachfront houses.

Beach replenishment works by sucking sand from the sea floor, carrying it through a network of submerged pipes, and shooting it through a huge basket-type filter onto the shoreline.

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Report: Wider Beaches On The Way For Some Shore Towns

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Japan putting missiles on Pacific gateway islands

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Nov 072013

TOKYO: Japan is putting missiles on islands marking the gateway to the Pacific, officials said on Thursday, as part of a huge military drill that has unsettled Beijing.

The exercise, aimed at bolstering Japan’s defence of remote islands, has already seen a launching system and a loader for Type-88 surface-to-ship missiles installed on Miyako island, complete with two missiles.

Four more missiles were due to arrive on the main island of Okinawa later on Thursday. It was not clear how long they would remain in place.

“This is the first time” that missile systems have been taken to Miyako, said a spokesman for the Joint Staff of the Self Defence Forces, adding that the missiles could not be fired in their present state.

“The drill is designed for the defence of islands,” he said.

While the Japanese military makes no secret of the fact these missiles are not operable, observers say their deployment serves to remind anyone watching of Japan’s capabilities.

The Self Defense Forces began their 18 days of war games on November 1, with 34,000 military personnel, six vessels and 360 aircraft.

The exercise comes amid growing nervousness in Japan and other parts of Asia over China’s surging military might, which has seen it expand its naval reach into the Pacific Ocean as it squabbles with Tokyo over the ownership of islands in the East China Sea.

Beijing also has separate disputes with numerous countries over competing claims in the South China Sea. It claims most of the sea as its territory.

Chinese naval assets stationed in the north of the country are somewhat hemmed in by the chain of Japanese islands that separate the East China Sea and the Pacific.

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Japan putting missiles on Pacific gateway islands

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Liberty Said Unlikely to Counter Vodafone on Kabel Deutschland

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Jul 042013

Billionaire John Malones Liberty Global Plc (LBTYA) is unlikely to raise its offer for Kabel Deutschland Holding AG (KD8) after Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) agreed to buy the German cable company, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Liberty, which made a preliminary offer for Kabel Deutschland last month, recognizes its bid would face antitrust obstacles and considers Vodafones offer expensive, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The company hasnt made a final decision, they said.

Vodafone announced June 24 that it planned to buy Kabel Deutschland after increasing its bid for Germanys largest cable company to 87 euros a share, or 7.7 billion euros ($10.1 billion). Liberty, whose offer a week earlier was said to be valued at 85 euros a share, hasnt been in touch with Kabel Deutschland executives since the agreement with Vodafone, said another person familiar with the matter.

Liberty already owns Germanys no. 2 cable operator after combining Unitymedia and Kabel Baden-Wuerttemberg GmbH last year, making antitrust approval difficult, the people said. While Vodafones offer is all-cash, Liberty proposed a complex structure that involved injecting Malones existing cable assets into Kabel Deutschland, people familiar with the matter said earlier.

Kabels board is set to recommend the offer from the U.K. company, in what would be the second-biggest takeover of a telecommunications network in Europe this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Mobile operators are looking to acquire fixed-line assets as smartphone adoption slows and heavy regulation restrains wireless profits. Last year Vodafone agreed to buy the U.K.s Cable & Wireless Worldwide Plc to cope with surging data traffic on its own network in its home country.

Marcus Smith, a spokesman for London-based Liberty, and Insa Calsow, a spokeswoman for Kabel Deutschland, based near Munich, declined to comment.

The odds of Liberty success seem slimmer and slimmer, Robin Bienenstock, an analyst with Sanford C Bernstein in London, said in a July 1 note. German regulators would probably subject the deal to a heavy review and Kabel Deutschlands board has welcomed the Vodafone bid, she said.

Vodafones 87-euro offer is 37 percent more than Kabel Deutschlands closing price on Feb. 12, the day before Vodafones interest was initially reported. Liberty considers that a high price based on earnings multiples, the people said.

Kabel Deutschland shares fell 0.2 percent in Frankfurt to 83.87 euros today. Liberty increased almost 1.7 percent to $75.65 at yesterdays close in New York.

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Liberty Said Unlikely to Counter Vodafone on Kabel Deutschland

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Watchdog sees complications with Liberty-Kabel deal

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Jun 262013

BONN, Germany (Reuters) – A takeover of Kabel Deutschland (Other OTC: KBDHY – news) by rival Liberty Global (NasdaqGS: LBTYA – news) would be more complicated from an anti-trust point of view than Kabel’s acquisition by Vodafone (LSE: VOD.L – news) , Germany’s cartel office said on Wednesday.

Vodafone on Monday agreed to buy Kabel Deutschland, Germany’s largest cable operator, for 7.7 billion euros ($10.1 billion), beating a rival approach made by Liberty.

But if Liberty were to return with a counter bid it would face difficulties due to competition issues, the head of the German cartel office said.

“Without any doubt anti-trust problems will arise in the case of a merger between Liberty Global and Kabel Deutschland,” Andreas Mundt told reporters at a press conference in Bonn.

Mundt also said that Liberty’s 3.16 billion-euro ($4.13 billion) takeover of smaller peer KabelBW was approved in 2011 only after far-reaching conditions were set to satisfy the regulator, since it already owned Unity Media, Germany’s second-largest cable operator.

Liberty is still considering its options following the Vodafone offer for Kabel Deutschland, a person familiar with the deliberations told Reuters.

However, Liberty may still face a setback in its takeover of KabelBW as Deutsche Telekom (Xetra: 555750 – news) challenged the approval decision last year in a court case which opened on Wednesday.

Liberty Global and Kabel Deutschland have been winning customers from Deutsche Telekom with their expansion into broadband.

Their cable lines, designed to deliver TV to homes, have been upgraded to carry voice calls and Internet at speeds often five times faster than competing services offered by Deutsche Telekom and others.

During the court hearing in Duesseldorf on Wednesday the terms of the KabelBW deal were closely questioned again, a spokesman for the court said.

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Liberty Global receives European Commission nod to acquire Virgin Media

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Apr 162013

BRUSSELS Europe’s biggest cable operator Liberty Global Inc. received the green light Monday for its $22.5 billion acquisition of Virgin Media Inc., the U.K.’s second-largest pay-TV operator, after the European Union said the acquisition raised no competition concerns.

Market analysts said the Virgin Media deal will likely reinforce Douglas County-based Liberty Global’s challenge against BSkyB, the U.K.’s top pay-TV provider, owned by Rupert Murdoch. News Corp., which owns The Wall Street Journal, is BSkyB’s largest shareholder, with a 39.1 percent stake.

The European Commission, which acts as the EU’s antitrust watchdog, said the companies operate cable networks in different EU countries, and that the merged entity would have only a limited market position in the wholesale of TV channels in the U.K. and Ireland.

Liberty Global said the transaction was still subject to majority approval from both shareholders. “The respective shareholder meetings, as well as the closing of the transaction, are expected to occur in the second quarter of 2013,” said Marcus Smith, a spokesman for the company.

In its review, the commission said it had looked into the TV content acquisition sector in the U.K., Ireland and the European Economic Area as a whole. It also investigated the vertical link between Liberty Global’s activities in the wholesale supply of pay-TV channels, it said.

“It is unlikely that the merged entity would shut out competing TV channel broadcasters from access to the retail Pay-TV market,” the commission said in its statement.

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Liberty Global receives European Commission nod to acquire Virgin Media

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SEO Traffic Lab celebrate winning more clients from diverse markets

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Apr 022013

SEO traffic Lab went into the Easter break celebrating even more client wins from two very different markets and unlike the old adage everything but the kitchen sink, this time one of the clients includes them.

Gainsborough, Lincolnshire (PRWEB UK) 2 April 2013

With over 30 years in the business, supplying both domestic and commercial kitchen products and appliances a spokesman for Fit My Kitchen said, The focus of our business is to offer valuable support and advice, giving you the product that would best suit your requirement. We also specialise in stocking items that you may not find elsewhere, giving you the opportunity to make your project more personal and unique.

SEO Traffic Lab are going to be looking after a complete and bespoke project package for Fit My Kitchen which will include a full SEO campaign for the firm as they move into 2013 with a focus on expanding their already substantial market share of this fast paced market.

The second business to join the Lab is at the opposite end of the spectrum but another familiar market to the Lincolnshire based firm. Katie Long Shoes specialise in providing fashionable footwear to the ever growing market for ladies with a need for a larger shoe size. The firm which started in 2008 is the brainchild of a budding entrepreneur who in her own words started a quest for lovely Large Size Ladies Shoes.

Since this time the company has sourced several top brands that manufacture large size ladies shoes and this includes having their own brand which is manufactured in several independent Spanish factories in many beautiful styles. Founder of Katie Long Shoes said This is a major investment of resources for our firm and we are looking forward to improving our market share with the help of SEO Traffic Lab.

The Lincolnshire based digital marketing experts have seen their business go from strength to strength throughout 2012 with not only taking on many new clients but doubling the number of their own team and this looks set to continue throughout 2013 with the firm once again looking to recruit more staff. Richard Hill the managing director of the firm said, We expect 2013 to progress at an even faster pace than we experienced last year, and are currently planning a major event calendar as well as recruiting more staff. Not only have we expanded at a phenomenal rate over the past 18 months, but we have managed to maintain our core belief of performance driven digital marketing.


SEO Traffic Lab are a Lincolnshire based SEO Company focused on Performance Driven Digital Marketing with offices in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire and London. Their unique combination of dedicated conversion rate optimisation and search marketing (SEO) makes sure that their SEO campaigns drive growth with a measurable return on investment.

Their fundamental mission is to relentlessly create results that can transform a business, a dedicated customer experience, real results and a focus on delivering what they say they will.

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SEO Traffic Lab celebrate winning more clients from diverse markets

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