Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Brazil’

Toronto’s Scandal-plagued Mayor Rob Ford Defends Bieber.


Image: Toronto's Scandal-plagued Mayor Rob Ford Defends Bieber

Toronto’s bad boy mayor Rob Ford on Thursday defended troubled pop star Justin Bieber after police in Canada’s largest city charged the teenager with assault, his second arrest in a week.

“He’s a young guy, 19 years old. I wish I was as successful as he was,” Ford told a Washington radio show, urging listeners to “think back” to when they were teenagers.

Bieber was charged Wednesday with assaulting a limousine driver in Toronto last month.

Toronto police accused Bieber of hitting the driver “several times” over the back of the head. The car had picked him and five others up from a nightclub in the city in the early hours of December 30.

The misdemeanor charges in Canada follow his arrest in Miami Beach on January 23 for driving under the influence and resisting arrest during a street drag racing incident.

Through his lawyers, Bieber told AFP he is innocent of the Toronto charges, and he has pleaded not guilty to the charges filed in Miami Beach.

In recent weeks, Bieber’s Los Angeles mansion was searched over accusations he hurled eggs at a neighbor’s house, and illegal drugs were found at his home. One of his associates was arrested.

The singer has also gotten in trouble with the authorities in Australia for spraying graffiti. And in Brazil, Bieber was photographed emerging under a blanket from a notorious Rio brothel.

The White House has been asked to weigh in on Bieber’s bad behavior after it received a petition with more than 150,000 signatures calling for his deportation.

Ford himself has been mired in scandal for months, after admissions of crack smoking and binge drinking.

Though he defended his fellow Canadian, Ford said he is not a fan of Bieber’s music, preferring to listen to Led Zeppelin, the Eagles and the Rolling Stones.

 

 

© AFP 2014

Source: Newsmax.com

Obama to Pitch Ideas in Speech for Spurring ‘Upward Mobility’.


President Barack Obama will urge the U.S. Congress on Tuesday to do more to help poor and middle-class Americans move up the economic ladder.

Both Obama and congressional Republicans view that issue as a high priority, a rare point of agreement between the two sides. But the Democratic president and Republicans disagree on the remedies, setting up a debate that Obama will discuss in his State of the Union address to Congress.

In the speech, scheduled for 9 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Obama will push an agenda for increasing economic upward mobility and propose aid to the long-term unemployed, an increase in the minimum wage and an expansion of early-childhood education.

After Obama’s speech, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, will deliver a response on behalf of her party. She will likely emphasize free-market ideas for improving prosperity.

Senator Marco Rubio and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, two Republicans who are both seen as potential 2016 presidential candidates, spoke this month on proposals for helping people climb out of economic hardship.

Rubio has suggested shifting responsibility for many federal benefit programs to the states. Ryan has floated the idea of providing a single benefit to low-income families, modeled on one in Great Britain.

The problem of economic stagnation is expected to be a theme in congressional election campaigns this year.

Analysts said social mobility was a potent political issue because the United States has long seen itself as a place where anyone with grit and determination can succeed.

In recent years, however, the wages of many low- and middle-income workers have held steady or fallen on an inflation-adjusted basis. The slow growth after the 2007-2009 recession has exacerbated this trend.

At the same time, the wealthiest and most highly educated Americans, referred to as the “1 percent,” have grown more prosperous.

 

Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed concern about studies showing that economic mobility in the United States lags that of some other industrialized economies, calling into question the nation’s reputation as a land of opportunity.

More than 40 percent of American men born into the poorest one-fifth of earners remain there, a 2006 study led by Finnish economist Markus Jantti showed. In Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden, only about 25 percent of such men stay in that income segment.

American sons of low-income fathers are more likely to remain stuck in the bottom tenth of earners as adults than are Canadian sons, University of Ottawa economist Miles Corak said in a study published in 2010. In the United States, 22 percent of men born to low-income families stayed in that category, while the same was true of only 16 percent of Canadians.

In 2012, former U.S. Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger published a study that linked income inequality with low levels of upward mobility. He devised a chart he named “The Great Gatsby Curve” after the fabulously wealthy protagonist of the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

It showed the United States toward the upper end of the range of both inequality and low economic mobility, along with Argentina, Chile, and Brazil. At the opposite extreme, with low inequality and high mobility, were Denmark, Norway and Finland.

A study from a group led by Harvard University economist Raj Chetty added a new wrinkle to the debate with its finding that American children’s chances of moving up the economic ladder had not changed much in the past few decades. The study also made clear that children’s prospects were tightly linked to their parents’ socio-economic status – more so in the United States than in some other leading economies.

“It’s not so much that we’re losing the American dream,” said Harvard economist Nathaniel Hendren, one of the study’s authors. “It’s did we ever have it, and do we want it?”

The focus on economic mobility builds on a pledge Obama has emphasized over the past two years: to improve the standing and security of the middle class.

The theme is newer for Republicans, who failed to capture the White House in 2012 in part because many voters perceived their party’s candidate, Mitt Romney, as dismissive of the struggles of the poor and working classes.

But analysts say a promise to boost economic mobility could resonate across the ideological spectrum.

“The idea of the United States being exceptional in its ability to promote economic opportunity or the notion of the nation being suited to help people rise is very much part of our national ethos,” said Erin Currier, director of economic mobility for the Pew Charitable Trusts.

“Americans feel strongly that the United States should be the land of opportunity.”

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Ex-NSA Chief Hayden: Snowden Always Intended to ‘Scrape’ Data.


Image: Ex-NSA Chief Hayden: Snowden Always Intended to 'Scrape' Data

By Bill Hoffmann

Michael Hayden, former director of both the CIA and the NSA, says that in no way can Edward Snowden be considered a whistleblower on the National Security Agency’s surveillance policies.

“I really do think he had evil intent. This is not an innocent who went to work under one set of expectations and then was just shocked and appalled by what he found at work and was driven to some sort of action,” Hayden, a retired four-star general, told “The Steve Malzberg Show.”

Latest: Is Snowden a Hero or Traitor – Vote in Urgent Poll 

“This is somebody who sought the job he had in order to scrape information off of NSA’s systems. I’m fond of saying he was a hunter, not a gatherer. He went there with a plan and malice aforethought.”

Snowden has been baring classified information about the NSA’s spying programs since he fled the United States for Hong Kong and then Russia, where he has been given asylum.

“When you look at the totality of Snowden’s actions, certainly one hypothesis that jumps out at you, that seems to explain his ability to do all these things, is that he had help, and had help from somebody who was very competent in these matters,” Hayden said.

Hayden said he thinks President Barack Obama wants to keep the NSA’s spying programs going, despite saying last week that new restrictions were necessary to protect privacy.

“In his heart, I’m now convinced that he wants to keep it, and he’s willing to give up a few things from operational capacity, perhaps, at the margins, a little more oversight, a slower approach to it so that he’s got more checks and balances,” Hayden said.

“But, fundamentally, he wants to keep it. And that might be the cause of some of the confusion that folks who listened to the speech had.”

In a 45-minute speech at the Justice Department, Obama unveiled new guidelines and reforms for the NSA.

He placed restrictions on the agency’s access to domestic phone records, but noted that the collection of personal data from billions of people around the world, Americans and foreigners, will continue.

“We cannot prevent terrorist attacks or cyberthreats without some capability to penetrate digital communications, whether it’s to unravel a terrorist plot, to intercept malware that targets a stock exchange, to make sure air traffic control systems are not compromised or to ensure that hackers do not empty your bank accounts,” the president said.

“We are expected to protect the American people. That requires us to have capabilities in this field.”

Latest: Is Snowden a Hero or Traitor – Vote in Urgent Poll
See the “Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.
© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

High-Ranking NSA Official Admits That America Has Become A Police State.


Last year, high-ranking NSA official Bill Binney said, “We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.” Now, Binney says that the U.S. has already become a full-blown police state.

Binney told Washington’s Blog on Wednesday that:

“The main use of the collection from these [NSA spying] programs is for law enforcement. [See the 2 slides below].”

nsa-spying-slides-law-enforcement-police-state

“These slides give the policy of the DOJ/FBI/DEA etc. on how to use the NSA data. In fact, they instruct that none of the NSA data is referred to in courts – cause it has been acquired without a warrant.”

nsa-spying-slides-law-enforcement-police-state-1984

“So, they have to do a ‘Parallel Construction’ and not tell the courts or prosecution or defense the original data used to arrest people. This I call: a ‘planned programed perjury policy’ directed by US law enforcement.”

“And, as the last line on one slide says, this also applies to ‘Foreign Counterparts.’” “This is a total corruption of the justice system not only in our country but around the world. The source of the info is at the bottom of each slide. This is a totalitarian process – means we are now in a police state.”

Binney, a 32-year veteran of the agency, was instrumental in the creation of the NSA’s surveillance program for digital information. He also served as the NSA’s senior technical director.

As a result, he’s been sought after by a multitude of media outlets, like CBSABCCNNNew York TimesUSA TodayFox News, and PBS. Concerning the collection of data by federal agencies mentioned by Binney, Washington’s Blog added that:

“By way of background, the government is spying on virtually everything we do.”

All of the information gained by the NSA through spying is then shared with federal, state and local agencies, and they are using that information to prosecute petty crimes such as drugs and taxes. The agencies are instructed to intentionally “launder” the information gained through spying, i.e. to pretend that they got the information in a more legitimate way … and to hide that from defense attorneys and judges.”source – CNS News.

by NTEB News Desk.

Nigeria’s New “MINTed” Hope By Okey Ndibe.


 

Columnist:

Okey Ndibe

During a brief trip to London last week, I was intrigued to realize that part of the news buzz pertained to Nigeria’s inclusion in a list of countries with prospects of becoming four of the world’s biggest emergent economies. The so-called MINT countries are Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey. Jim O’Neill, an economist at the international investment firm, Goldman Sachs, popularized the acronym. He earlier coined the term BRICS countries, denoting Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which he rated a few years ago as some of the globe’s emerging economic giants.
On Thursday, Peter Okwoche of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) ended a short interview on my new novel, Foreign Gods, Inc., by asking what I thought about Mr. O’Neill’s rosy prediction for Nigeria.

Lacking the time to offer a detailed and nuanced response, I stated that Nigeria is endowed with extremely bright people, that the country is full of energetic and industrious men and women. By contrast, I added, the country has never been lucky in the department of leadership. To sum up, I invoked Chinua Achebe’s dire—but hardly contestable—conclusion that Nigeria has an amazing facility for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Nigeria’s economic policy makers are understandably giddy about Mr. O’Neill’s flattering prognosis. I’d caution the infusion of a high dose of chastening realism into the premature celebration. A sense of history demands nothing less than a sober—and sobering—confrontation of the facts. Achebe was no economist, but the central fact of Nigeria’s journey, as far as economic development is concerned, bears out the late writer’s dim take on his country. In a sense, we could say that Achebe was the sounder economist and Mr. O’Neill, in inflating Nigeria’s odds, the fiction-maker.

This is not the first time Nigeria has been mentioned enthusiastically in prognoses of dramatic economic growth. Again and again, experts, foreign and homebred, had foretold that Nigeria was on the cusp of becoming a stupendous economic miracle. Each new prediction or declaration would trigger its own surge of elation. Nigeria’s policy makers and their sometimes over-pampered partners in the private sector would go into a spree of premature celebration, as if the word potential was interchangeable with reality, as if promise were the equal of performance. Each time, in the end, the outcome was embarrassing. Rather than rise to its potential, Nigeria always somehow found a way to stay stuck in the mud of failure and mediocrity, continuing to romance its worst nightmares.

Nigerians are all-too aware of their country’s missed opportunities. Many years have been lost to wasteful, visionless squander mania. Rampant, unchecked corruption has smothered many a promising grand idea. For many discerning people, Nigeria has become a huge graveyard: a cemetery littered with betrayed dreams, dashed hopes, and asphyxiated aspirations. We’re all too familiar with many dud promissory notes that came with such flamboyant names or phrases as “Green Revolution,” “Consolidating the Gains of SAP,” “Vision 2020-10,” “NEEDS,” “Dividends of Democracy,” and “Transformational Leadership.”

Read Nigerian newspapers or watch any Nigerian television station and you’re bound to realize that there’s zero discussion of the things that matter. It’s all about one empty-headed politician decamping from one political party to another; one squabble or another between two politicians or two political parties; one hireling or another warning that presidential power must stay where it is, or must be transferred to a person from a different geo-ethnic sector, or it’s hell-in-Nigeria; some pastor or imam declaiming that God whispered into his/her ears that Nigerians must fast and pray more (even though most of the populace is already on poverty-enforced fasting). Much of Nigeria’s public discourse is taken up by a tizzy of political rants and faux piety.

Greatness never comes by accident, nor is it imposed by divinity on an unwilling people. A country, like a person, must prepare—be prepared—for greatness. It starts with dreaming greatness, imagining it, contemplating what it must take, and deciding that the venture is worth the risk, that we’re willing to invest the time, intellect and material resources to translate the dreamed into reality.

Do Nigerians dream big? In words, they do, but not in deed. In the 1960s through the 1980s, Nigerian “leaders” used to speak of “this great nation of ours.” But even they have abandoned that species of bad joke! Now, they speak of “moving the nation forward” or “delivering the dividends of democracy.” But the rickety molue they claim to be moving forward is in reverse gear, headed, any moment, for a jagged gorge. Ask any Nigerian official what “dividends” they have delivered and you’re bound to hear such fatuous lines as, “I purchased 100 tractors to mechanize agriculture,” “I don’t owe civil servants any arrears of salaries,” “I bought chalks for all elementary schools in my state,” “I have commissioned 500 water boreholes,” etc, etc.

It’s the 21st century, but very little of the language of those who run (that is, ruin) Nigeria suggests that they are aware of what time it is. They’re conscious of the world, of course, but only in a slavish, opportunistic way. They, their relatives and cronies are at their best when they travel in style to the world’s most dazzling cities: New York, Paris, Dubai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Beijing, etc. Once in these cities, they unleash their rank consumerist impulse, eager to bask in the most garish of each city’s sensual offerings. But it never occurs to them that the goods that make them swoon, the services they lust after are products of other thinking people’s imagination and work.

Meanwhile, back home, the masses are steeped in grim lives, trapped by ignorance and disease. Last week in London, a friend showed me a Youtube video of a brackish lake in Nigeria swarmed by thousands of sick, desperate Nigerians who believe that the stagnant body of water has healing powers. I was incensed by the spectacle, the hysteria of ignorance. Then it dawned on me: this is what can happen—what happens—in a country bereft of any healthcare system.

I’d like to hear Mr. O’Neill stipulate a recipe for Nigeria’s emergence into economic greatness. Nigeria has a high supply of thinkers, of experts in every field, including economic policy. But the hordes of unthinking, grub-obsessed politicians who dominate the political sphere are consistently threatened by expertise.

I don’t know of any country that rose to economic powers via fasting and prayers. And yet that’s the formula most treasured by Nigerian politicians who exhort their victims to fast and pray. Luck can only carry a person or a nation so far. And Nigeria has long exhausted its stock of luck, even if it somehow keeps borrowing some more.

The “N” in Mr. O’Neill’s MINT will become yet another mirage unless Nigerians find a way to reverse the toxic culture that validates corruption and venerates mediocrity.

Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe

(okeyndibe@gmail.com)

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Pope to Nuns: Why Aren’t You Answering the Phone?.


Pope Francis has made another one of his cold calls to wish a group of nuns in a Spanish convent Happy New Year. Only he got their answering machine instead.

“What are the nuns doing that they can’t answer the phone?” Francis asked in the message he left, a recording of which was obtained by Spain’s El Mundo newspaper and broadcast on Italian media Saturday.

Francis: Who Is Pope Francis? Book Reveals the Man

“This is Pope Francis. I wanted to offer you greetings for the end of the year. Maybe I’ll try to call again later. May God bless you,” he said.

Francis has made a habit out of calling people out of the blue, often checking in with ordinary folk who have written him about their hardships. He places the calls himself, as evidenced by the message.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

US Spy Court: NSA to Keep Collecting Phone Records.


Image: US Spy Court: NSA to Keep Collecting Phone Records

A secretive U.S. spy court has ruled again that the National Security Agency can keep collecting every American’s telephone records every day, in the midst of dueling decisions in two civilian federal courts about whether the surveillance program is constitutional.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Friday renewed the NSA phone collection program, said Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Such periodic requests are somewhat formulaic but required since the program started in 2006.

The latest approval was the first since two conflicting court decisions about whether the program is lawful and since a presidential advisory panel recommended that the NSA no longer be allowed to collect and store the phone records and search them without obtaining separate court approval for each search.

In a statement, Turner said that 15 judges on the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on 36 occasions over the past seven years have approved the NSA’s collection of U.S. phone records as lawful.

Also Friday, government lawyers turned to U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to block one federal judge’s decision that threatens the NSA phone records program.

The opposing lawyer who spearheaded the effort that led to the ruling said he hopes to take the issue directly to the Supreme Court.

The Justice Department filed a one-page notice of appeal asking the appeals court to overturn U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s ruling last month that the program was likely unconstitutional. The government’s move had been expected.

Larry Klayman, who filed the class-action suit against President Barack Obama and top administration national security officials, said he intends to petition the federal appeals court next week to send the case directly to the Supreme Court. Klayman said the move was justified because the NSA case was a matter of great public importance.

“There are exigent circumstances here,” Klayman said. “We can’t allow this situation to continue. The NSA’s continuing to spy on everybody.”

Turner said U.S. intelligence agencies would be willing to modify the phone records surveillance program to provide additional privacy and civil liberties protections as long as it was still operationally beneficial. He said the Obama administration was carefully evaluating the advisory panel’s recent recommendations.

Judges sitting on the secretive spy court have repeatedly approved the program for 90-day periods. They also have repeatedly upheld the constitutionality of the program — a judicial bulwark that held strong until Leon’s surprise decision last month.

Leon said the NSA’s program was “almost Orwellian,” a reference to writer George Orwell’s futuristic novel “1984,” and that there was little evidence the operation had prevented terrorist attacks. He ruled against the government but agreed to postpone shutting down the program until the government could appeal.

In a separate case involving the same NSA phone records program, a district judge in New York last month upheld the government’s data collection as lawful. The American Civil Liberties Union, which lost that case, said this week it will appeal to a federal appeals court in New York.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Tag Cloud