Will Scotland Choose Independence?

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GLASGOW, Scotland -- The Scottish referendum on independence will take place 18 September 2014. If 40% of the population in Scotland vote in favor of separation, Scotland will be an autonomous nation once again, following 300 years of political fusion with Great Britain.

The movement is spearheaded by the opposing 'Yes Scotland' and 'Better Together' campaigns, which advocate Scottish independence and United Kingdom solidarity, respectively. The First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond is perhaps the most visible spokesman for the 'Yes Scotland' outfit. Allistair Darling is a longstanding member of the British parliament and heads the Better Together movement.

According to the 'Yes Scotland' and 'Better Together' factions, social problems in Scotland need to be addressed. But the two camps are at odds over whether these changes can take place with London in the driver's seat. According to Alex Salmond, the power dynamic between the UK and Scotland are among the most unequal in Europe.

Poverty, drug abuse and suicide affect Scots at much-higher rates than their British or Irish neighbors. Recent studies conducted throughout the Highlands find that Scottish men have a suicide rate 73% higher than males throughout the rest of the UK. The same study found that female Scots committed suicide at twice the rate of women throughout the Kingdom.

Wealth inequality has fluctuated over the past decade but remains a serious problem in Scotland. Throughout the population, one in five children are living below the poverty line. A study published by Child Poverty Action Group finds that in many Scottish communities, one in three children are currently impoverished. The 'Yes Scotland' campaign believes that with increased autonomy, Scots will be able to address problems in their communities, without relying on representatives in Westminster as middlemen.

The agriculture industry in Scotland is particularly invested in the outcome of September's referendum. Currently, Scottish farmers receive subsidies through the European Union. The EU allocates a lump sum to the UK, and stipends are generated to English and Scottish farmers from these funds.

Pro-independence farming coalitions believe that farmers in Scotland are undervalued in these calculations. They argue that an independent Scotland would receive greater allowances from the EU. Opponents of Scottish independence claim just the opposite, stating that the UK has greater lobbying power in the EU debates, and Scottish famers are wrong to think they could collect larger subsidies as a small, independent nation.

One of the largest controversies in the debate over Scotland's future is centered in massive oil reserves located in UK waters, off Scotland's coast. Alex Salmond has claimed that £1.5 trillion in natural gas deposits lie within Scotland's jurisdiction, but this figure is largely disputed. The veracity of the estimate is unclear, and both sides have much at stake with regards to the amount and ownership of the deep sea oil in question.

Scots are still widely divided on the issue of independence, but the international community is not so unsure. In recent weeks, President Barack Obama has come forward in support of UK solidarity.

In September Scotland will make its voice heard. Preliminary polls show that Scots are within reach of the votes required to pass the referendum. If Scotland splits from the UK, the dispute over Scottish identity will only intensify. Arguments over currency, citizenship and the economy are guaranteed to draw conflicting viewpoints between officials.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

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Amid Corruption Scandal, Venice is Drowning

Venice, Italy, view of the Main Harbour in front of Saint Mark Basilica, Photo by Moyan Brenn

Venice, Italy, view of the Main Harbour in front of Saint Mark Basilica, Photo by Moyan Brenn

VENICE, Italy— Climate change and political corruption are drowning the city of Venice. As high tides flooded the city Wednesday, Mayor Giorgio Orsoni of Venice was placed under house arrest.

According to the ANSA News Agency, Orsoni is officially accused of corruption, extortion and money laundering involving a public works project for underwater barriers that would prevent the city’s intensifying flooding.

The five billion euro public works project, dubbed the “Moses barriers” has been planned since 1966, but began just eleven years ago. As the result of ocean levels rising from climate change, Venice has been seeing increased flooding of the city.

The Moses barriers are supposed to limit the flooding from the Adriatic Sea. According to TheTelegraph, the project will construct 78 steel gates across over a mile of three inlets that lead to the sea. They also say when dangerous high tide is predicted, giant 300-ton panels will be raised to prevent excessive flooding.

The project is being handled by the Consorzio Venezia Nuova consortium, whose president was arrested last year on corruption charges involving the project, The New York Times reported. Mayor Orsoni is charged with being bribed by Consorzio Venezia Nuova so that they would be contracted with the Moses barriers project. The Telegraph claims he used the illicit bribes to fund his campaign for election. He has denied these charges calling them “barely credible”.

The mayor is one of 35 arrested for their involvement in the corruption scandal. Italian authorities claim that more than twenty-five million euros from the project bribed politicians. The money was then deposited into slush funds in Switzerland and San Marino and then used to fund foreign political parties. The Daily Mail reported prosecutors Luigi Delpino and Carlo Nordio said, “The investigation shows that a great portion of the funds was used to finance political forces at the city, regional and national level, and corrupt high-level public officials.”

An MP and former Italian culture minister, Giancarlo Galan, is one of those also being charged. He is said to have been bribed with 200,000 euros by Consorzio Venezia Nuova to speed-up finalizing their contract, according to The Telegraph. But besides politicians, businessmen and a retired police general are also being implicated with the corruption after a three-year investigation.

The Moses barriers scandal is just one of many; Italy has been riddled with political corruption scandals as of late. The Moses barriers scandal comes just one week after politicians were charged with corruption crimes surrounding the Milan 2015 world’s fair expo. Also, many high-ranking Italian officials have been arrested recently on other unrelated corruption and embezzlement charges, according to The Guardian. Notably, they say a former interior was charged with helping a businessman flee the country to avoid being sentenced with mafia association.

The country was sixty-ninth on Transparency International's rank of countries with threats of corruption. To combat the country’s recent bouts with corruption, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi created an anti-corruption authority. He has since put the authroity’s president, Raffaele Cantone, in charge of the Milan world’s fair expo as a result of the corruption there. The prime minister faces even more difficulties with corruption after the Moses barriers scandal.

Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

Sade, Timeless

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 13:30 PM EDT, 27 April 2012 First Published: 15:03 PM EDT, 15 January 2010

Sade, Photo by OutkastedLONDON, England - Helen Folasade Adu “Sade”, 53, who was born in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, has come out with a follow-up single to "Soldier of Love," aptly titled "Love is Found." It is amazing to watch and listen to a woman who has been performing since 1984, and whose musical style has remained consistently outstanding and timeless.

I think in part her longevity is due to the private nature of her life, as it seems she has wisely chosen to focus her public persona entirely on her music. But for a brief moment when she experienced a terribly painful breakup, this seems little more than a blip compared to the drama that regularly plays out in the tabloids and news media about today's "musicians."

Sade is a songstress, an artist who harkens back to vocalist like Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, to name a few. Women who inhabited their talent with grace and class. We have chosen to update this post because of the recent news comparing Sade to Adele, another British superstar, and rumors of another album release.

Sade's soulful renderings come from a place borne of the experiences of a woman who has known and lost love, who is daughter and mother, who has navigated the complexities of a heritage that is both African and European, and who has passed through the agonies of heartbreak and pain played out in the public domain.

Her commitment to her music is what continues to draw fans to listen to and buy her music which has remained relevant even with a nine-year hiatus. She is the epitome of a true artist who is beholden first and foremost to their craft.

She possesses the patience to await the muse of inspiration that has once again enabled her to deliver a song that is "classic," evocative, and boldly revealing. She remains an inspiration to those of us who seek to live boldly without artifice, to display without sentiment our triumphs and foibles, and to experience the spectrum of emotional interactions that makes us uniquely human.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15WDBuvovXo]

Music video by Sade performing Love Is Found. (c) 2011 Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited

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Music video by Sade performing Soldier Of Love (c) 2010 Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited

Watch the making of "Soldier Of Love" below.

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Anders Breivik, Norway’s Timothy McVeigh?

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:57 p.m. EDT, 18 April 2012

OSLO, Norway - Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing Norwegian fanatic has proudly admitted to killing 77 people on 22 July 2011. His trial started on Tuesday with his declaration to the court that he did not recognize their authority to judge him. He has been charged with terrorism for both the bomb attack of a government building and the targeted shooting of innocent teenagers.

Unfortunately, in cases of unconscionable violence when ‘normal’ perpetrators commit horrendous acts, it’s often the lives of theirs victims which gets lost in the cacophony of outrage, anguish, and rhetoric. The initial pain the loved ones suffer at the loss of their family members is further exacerbated by the calculated and callous remarks and antics of their murders during trial.

In an effort to keep the focus on the victims, the Police in Norway have published the names and photos of the shooting victims as well as the 8 people who died in the bombing of a government building in central OSLO.  Breivik’s victims received flowers, an outpouring of national grief, and sympathy but in all likelihood it will be his courtroom antics which will remain etched in the memories of the public.

The 69 young people whom Breivik randomly assassinated on the island of Utoeya were involved with the Norwegian Labour Party's youth wing, the AUF. According to him, the youth wing of the Norwegian Labour Party that he attacked was akin to the Hitler Youth movement, indoctrinating young people into hatred of Norway's cultural heritage.

Breivik grandiosity inspired him to compare his killings to the U.S. use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945; when in fact his terrorist act does not even rise to the level of the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh. On 19 April 1995 McVeigh detonated a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City killing 168 people and injuring over 800 people.

Breivik claimed that he had acted in self-defense and that the shootings were a preventive strike to “protect my people, my city, and my country against Muslim domination.” Therefore, from his perspective, he was protecting himself from certain elimination which under Norwegian law; a plea of 'necessity' means a person may not be punished for taking action to defend their person in the face of unavoidable danger.

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As he initiated his testimony, Breivik read his manifesto at high speed in which he stated that Norway and the rest of Europe had not had real democracy except between the two world wars because dissent over multiculturalism was stifled by ''cultural elites'' such as academics, journalists and feminists.

McVeigh also instructed his lawyers to use a necessity defense, but they ended up not doing so because they would have had to prove that McVeigh was in "imminent danger" from the U.S. government. In American criminal law, necessity may be either a possible justification or exculpation for breaking the law.

Defendants seeking to rely on this defense argue that they should not be held liable for their actions as a crime because their conduct was necessary to prevent some greater harm and when that conduct is not excused under some other more specific provision of law such as self-defense. (Source: Wikipedia)

Just as this argument did not work for McVeigh, it will almost certainly fail in the case of Breivik. His trial is expected to last 10 weeks and he faces a sentence of 21 years in prison, which is the maximum sentence the courts can render since Norway does not have the death penalty. The one caveat and small comfort for the families of the victims is that this term can be extended if he is considered a danger to society.

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Dominique Strauss-Khan | Sex Addict, Pimp

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Original post date: 21 May 2011Last Modified: 20:44 PM EDT, 26 March 2012
 
Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been charged in France with “aggravated pimping” for his alleged participation in a prostitution ring.
 

Dominique Strauss-Kahn bat le bitumePARIS, France - When the media reported on the attempted rape by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former managing director of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) it seemed strange that they referred to the victim as a chambermaid.

The assignation of this descriptor to the rape victim in the 21st century was incongruous.  A fact that must have been noticed as  the media in subsequent coverage began to refer to her as a cleaning women. In this country and in particular within the hospitality industry cleaning women are invisible.

Cleaning is an honorable job and many hard-working individuals have raised their children  by virtue of working in this industry; and thus afforded them the opportunity to move into the professional arena.  As with previous  groups, the first generation often provided the platform upon which subsequent generations built.

Most people however, have utterly no regard and in some cases disdain for these industrious individuals.  Because of their disdain they rarely grant these workers consideration nor acknowledgement as fellow human being.  Strauss-Kahn displayed a disregard for this Muslim woman's humanity as he sought to use her for his base desires.

When I heard about the 'chambermaid' from Guinea who despite the shame this accusation could cause her, displayed uncommon courage in reporting the attempted rape, I was proud of her.  It took a lot for a woman of "such low station" to resist and then report this attempted rape by such a 'powerful' man.  Because of her courage the authorities were able to apprehend Strauss-Kahn as he tried to flee the country.

The fact that this would be rapist had the audacity to attack a woman is unconscionable but it is even more shameful that he would dishonor this Muslim woman by attempting to touch her at all.  Orthodox Muslim, Jewish and Christian women are prohibited from touching or being touched by a man other than her husband.  Such an act would be considered totally inappropriate and one against which they would vigilantly guard.

Strauss-Kahn, was a likely candidate for the presidency of France and thus befitted the station of an aristocrat.  He has since resigned his position at the IMF and in the days following his high-profile arrest this baronial figure was released on a $1 million  dollar bond and sentenced to house arrest.

Without a doubt this is yet another example of one rule of justice for the rich and another for the poor.  The reason that I referred to Strauss-Kahn as a baron is because of his imperious nature and the air of entitlement that he projects.  A baron is one name for a nobleman of the middle ages.  In the middles ages the legal system that existed was feudalism.  Within this system the Upper Class of which barons were a part, ruled their fiefdoms with tyranny and injustice.

These fiefdoms contained large swaths of land which were farmed by the lower classes who were referred to as peasants or serfs.  Either free, slaves or indentured servants, their lives were one of hardship, misery and fear.  The feudal lords had absolute dominion over every aspect of their lives.  In fact, a lord could rape any peasant woman without fear of reprisal and often their husbands were powerless to stop the defilement.

The reason that I chose to refer to the victim as a charwoman is because it is term as equally incongruous to our century as is chambermaid.  The definition of a charwoman is, "quite literally, a woman who does ‘chores’. Already by the 15th century it had connotations of menial or household jobs: ‘making the beds and such other chares’." (Source: Word-Origins)

My friend who is from Trinidad and Tobago told me a saying from her country which I believe is totally apropos here - "every hog has it Saturday."  It means that each time the butcher goes to get a hog for slaughter the other pigs squeal (it seems with delight) that it is not them.  But their turn is coming and some Saturday they will adorn a table as the main course of a meal; and so it is with Dominique Strauss-Kahn.  His Saturday has come.

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