Mexican farmers protest NAFTA

Farmers want the government to renegotiate the 1994 free trade agreement
Farmers: Mexican products are undermined by subsidized U.S., Canadian
grains
Pleas have fallen on deaf ears in the Mexican government, farmers say
Mexican officials: Grain prices have been stable in January
From Harris Whitbeck
CNN
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) — Hundreds of thousands of farmers clogged
central Mexico City Thursday with their slow-moving tractors,
protesting the entry of cheap imported corn from the United States and
Canada.
On January 1 Mexico repealed all tariffs on corn imported from north of
the border as part of a 14-year phaseout under the North American Free
Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.
The farmers want the government to renegotiate the 1994 free trade
agreement, which removed most trade barriers among Mexico, Canada, and
the United States, saying livelihoods are at stake.
“NAFTA is very bad, very bad for Mexican consumers and for Mexican
producers,” said Victor Quintana, head of Democratic Farmers Front,
which organized the protest.
The farmers complain that U.S. and Canadian grains are heavily
subsidized and therefore undermine Mexican products.
“The NAFTA agreement is in place and that's that,” said farmer Armando
del Valle. “But all producers should be under equal conditions, …

China's weapons exceed self-defence needs: US military

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States said Monday it was “troubling”
that China's weapons systems capability exceeded the level Beijing
defined as necessary for self-defence.
The head of the US armed forces in the Asia-Pacific, Admiral Timothy
Keating, said he was told by Chinese leaders during a visit to Beijing
that its so-called “area denial weapons” were “to protect those things
that are ours”.
But he said, “we find it troubling that the capabilities of some of
these weapons systems would tend to exceed our own expectations for
protecting those things that are 'ours'”.
Keating said the United States had “intelligence that reinforces my
opinion that China is developing, fielding and has in place weapons
that could be characterized as having, amongst perhaps other purposes,
an ability to restrict movement in and around certain areas on the sea,
in the air or under the sea.
“I'll go back to the point we made a couple of times already — that we
understood PRC (China's) intentions, not just their transparency, not
just the fact that these weapons exist. We know they exist,” he said.
“It's why are they being fielded,” Keating asked, speaking at a
Washington forum of the US-based Asia …

Hindu chants invocation in Colorado Senate

Now lawmaker suggests 'om' opens door for prayers 'in Jesus name'
By Bob Unruh
Hindu cleric Rajan Zed turns toward protester as he prepares to open
U.S. Senate with prayer (CNN)
A Nevada Hindu who has opened the U.S. Senate with a faith-specific
chant now has provided the invocation to open the state senate in
Colorado, and a senator is suggesting since “om” has been cited,
perhaps prayers “in Jesus name” again should be allowed.
The comments came after Rajan Zed, a Hindu from Reno who is making a
series of appearances at state legislatures to promote Hinduism, was
allowed to open the Colorado Senate, under the leadership of Senate
President Peter Groff, with a Hindu chant of the “om” syllable that,
according to his belief system, contains the universe.
Zed also recited the Gayatri Mantra from Rig-Veda, a prayer asking for
help to “lead me from the unreal to the real.”
Zed was the Hindu who last year was invited by U.S. Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to offer the first Hindu prayer in the U.S.
Senate.  
At that time, David Barton, president of WallBuilders, a foundation
that researches and promotes the Christian origination of American law

Credit card company:,No more buying guns

By Bob Unruh
A major credit card company has issued a letter to a gun dealer
canceling his payment processing services because of corporate concerns
firearms were being sold to consumers in other states, in “a non
face-to-face environment.” Now the move has raised the ire of the
National Shooting Sports Foundation.
“Your anti-gun corporate policy is based on ignorance of the law
applicable to the sale of firearms,” the NSSF wrote in response to the
action taken by First Data Corp., which operates Citi Merchant
Services.
“It is perfectly legal, in fact commonplace, for a federal firearms
licensee in one state to sell a firearm to a non-licensee (consumer)
from another state,” the foundation continued. “What you fail to
appreciate is that the firearm is not shipped in interstate commerce
directly to the consumer. Rather, as required by federal law, the
firearm is shipped by the selling licensee to another federal firearms
licensee in the state of residence of the consumer … The consumer
acquires the firearm from that licensed dealer in a face-to-face
transaction….”
(Story continues below)
The issue arose when Citi Merchant Services, in a letter signed by June
Rivera-Mantilla in the “Periodic Review” department, informed CDNN

Modern Day Miracle In The Land Of Israel

by Tamar Yonah
I was sent this email by a friend of mine, who knows the son of the person who saw this….  yah, it's one of those stories, BUT, I did confirm it by calling New York and speaking directly with Rabbi Bloom, who should be, G-d willing, on my radio show next week to speak about this.  The original email was written I believe, by the Rav's son in law, Eliyahu Rubinovich.  Here is what was written in the email:
“Rabbi Shmuel Bloom of Agudath Israel of America is a busy man involved in important matters concerning Klal Yisroel.
Why would he, then, spend a considerable amount of hours traveling to look at bananas (all the way up north near Tiberias) during his recent trip to Eretz Yisroel?
A completely secular farmer whose produce is bananas decided that he would undertake to keep Shmitah this time around. He approached the Keren HaShviis for assistance and they stipulated that he would be registered in their program if he would also undertake to be personally Shomer Shabbos throughout Shmitah. He agreed. Keren HaShviis (Here, I was told by Rabbi Bloom, that it was actually the Otzar Bet Din of Bnei …

Israel braces for war report

After months of media speculation, days of discussion and columns of commentary, the final report of the Winograd Commission on mistakes made in the prosecution of the 2006 Second Lebanon War will be released Wednesday evening Israel time.
Unlike the inquiry's interim report, released last April, the details made public on January 30 are not expected to shock Israelis, who have been saturated with information, including leaked details of its contents, every day since at least the start of the new year.
The interim report assigned responsibility for the major failures in the war to former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, to Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Halutz and Peretz no longer hold their positions: The former resigned last January – before the interim report was released – and the latter handed in his notice a few weeks after its release, after he had already been ousted from his position as Labor Party leader by former Prime Minister and current Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Olmert, however, retained his position despite a flood of criticism and numerous calls for his resignation.
While there was a lot of speculation back then that Winograd's final report …