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23 February 2013

UN to Haiti: We’re Not Sorry For Killing 8,000 Haitians

Brian Concannon, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, explains why the UN says it is legally immune to such claims

From The BBC:

The United Nations has formally rejected compensation claims by victims of a cholera outbreak in Haiti that has killed almost 8,000 people.  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Haitian President Michel Martelly to inform him of the decision.

The UN says it is immune from such claims under the UN's Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the UN.  Evidence suggests cholera was introduced to Haiti through a UN base's leaking sewage pipes.

UN spokesman, Martin Nesirky: "The claims are not receivable"

The UN has never acknowledged responsibility for the outbreak - which has infected more than 600,000 people - saying it is impossible to pinpoint the exact source of the disease, despite the mounting evidence the epidemic was caused by poor sanitation at a camp housing infected Nepalese peacekeepers.

In a terse statement, Mr Ban's spokesman said damages claims for millions of dollars filed by lawyers for cholera victims was "not receivable" under the 1947 convention that grants the UN immunity for its actions.

But a lawyer for the cholera victims told the BBC's Barbara Plett at the UN that UN immunity could not mean impunity, and said the case would now be pursued in a national court.

The lawyer, Brian Concannon, said the victims' legal team would challenge the UN's right to immunity from Haitian courts, on the grounds that it had not established an alternative mechanism for dealing with accountability issues, as stipulated in its agreement with the government. 

Human rights lawyer Ira Kurzban: ''The secretary-general has to be held accountable.''

He also said lifting immunity would not challenge UN policy, which is protected by the convention, but its practice, such as how to test troops for disease and properly dispose of sewage. 

In December the UN launched a $2bn (£1.3bn) appeal to fight the cholera epidemic, which is currently the worst outbreak in the world, and Mr Ban reiterated to Mr Martelly the UN's commitment to the elimination of cholera in Haiti.

Cholera is a disease of poverty, analysts say. It is spread through infected faeces and, once it enters the water supply, it is difficult to stop - especially in a country like Haiti which has almost no effective sewage disposal systems. 



 Haiti cholera epidemic 'most likely' started at UN camp - top scientist

New evidence has emerged about the alleged role of United Nations troops in causing a cholera epidemic in the Caribbean nation of Haiti.

A top US cholera specialist, Dr Daniele Lantagne, said after studying new scientific data that it is now "most likely" the source of the outbreak was a camp for recently-arrived UN soldiers from Nepal - a country where cholera is widespread.

Dr Lantagne was employed by the UN itself in 2011 as one of the world's pre-eminent experts on the disease.

The new evidence could have serious implications for the UN, which is facing an unprecedented legal and moral challenge in Haiti - as well as a multi-billion dollar compensation claim from victims' families.

More than 7,500 people have died from the cholera epidemic in Haiti since it started in late 2010. Hundreds of new cases are still being registered every week.

Dr Daniele Lantagne

Dr Daniele Lantagne, top US cholera specialist

It is by far the largest cholera outbreak in the world in recent years - with more cases than on the whole of the African continent.  The most likely source of the introduction of cholera into Haiti was someone infected with the Nepal strain of cholera and associated with the United Nations Mirabalais camp.”

Prior to this outbreak, and despite Haiti's many other problems - including a devastating earthquake in January 2010 - the country had not recorded a single case of cholera for over a century.

Cholera is spread through infected faeces and once it enters the water supply it is difficult to stop - especially in a country like Haiti which has almost no effective sewage disposal systems. 

After studying molecular data known as full genome sequencing on the strain of cholera found in Haiti - and that prevalent in Nepal in 2010 - Dr Lantagne said: "We now know that the strain of cholera in Haiti is an exact match for the strain of cholera in Nepal." 

In 2011 Dr Lantagne was employed by the UN as one of a "Panel of Experts" tasked with looking into the outbreak. 

Jean Baptiste Roland

The 2011 UN report - co-signed by her - acknowledged that inadequate toilets in the Nepalese UN camp in the mountain town of Mirabalais could have leaked the cholera bacterium into the nearby Meye River which flows into the country's main waterways.  But the report stressed that the outbreak "was not the fault" of any "group or individual". 

The Panel of Experts added that the subsequent spread of the disease across Haiti was due to many factors - including the country's deeply inadequate water supply and almost non-existent sewage disposal systems.

Now, Dr Lantagne says the new genome data (in addition to other evidence) has changed her view since she had co-authored the UN report which effectively said no-one was to blame.


 "There were patients all over the floor. They were reaching out and grabbing my feet." 

- Dr Rosana Edward of the Hopital Saint Nicolas

"We can now say," Dr Lantagne said, "that the most likely source of the introduction of cholera into Haiti was someone infected with the Nepal strain of cholera and associated with the United Nations Mirabalais camp."The UN's Head of Humanitarian Affairs in Haiti, Nigel Fisher, acknowledged the new information but said he could not comment on its substance.

"I know there's new information there," Mr Fisher said.

"But the investigation is still with the [UN's New York] legal office, so I'm not able to say anything at this time until that's gone through the due process."

Mr Fisher sought to stress, however, the work the UN was doing to mitigate the effects of the cholera.

"What I can tell you about is the work I'm co-ordinating to respond to that terrible epidemic and the fact that we've seen a significant decline in cases over the last year. If we take any encouragement, we take encouragement from that."

The UN's lawyers are facing a mass compensation claim being pursued by Haitian and US lawyers against the UN. 

The victims' families have lodged an official claim at UN HQ in New York for $100,000 (£62,500) for those who died and $50,000 for those who fell sick. The total claim runs into many billions of dollars.

After spreading along rivers in late 2010 the number of cases exploded in the coastal town of Saint Marc - before moving on, with deadly speed, into the slums of the capital Port au Prince.

Dr Rosana Edward was the first doctor to encounter the disease in St Marc's main public hospital, the Hopital Saint Nicolas.

"I remember that day very well," Dr Rosana - as she is fondly known in the hospital - told me in a stiflingly hot ward.

Daphne Orrel and her children in a cholera clinic in St Marc  
There had been no cholera in Haiti for about 100 years until 2010

"My first cases had fever and diarrhoea. I looked at their stool samples and I said to myself 'Hey!,I think this is cholera!' - but I was also confused because we don't have cholera in Haiti. 

"The next day the hospital was full to overflowing," Dr Rosana said. 

"There were patients all over the floor. They were reaching out and grabbing my feet. 

"'Help me'," they pleaded, "'Please, help me'." 

I asked Dr Rosana if she had heard the reports that the UN was to blame for introducing cholera into Haiti. 

"I've heard those reports," she replied, "but I don't know if they are true. I don't have the proof."

"Haiti doesn't need this cholera," the 40-year-old medic then said. "We have so many other problems."

And then - quietly and with great dignity - Dr Rosana started to cry.

Pictures by Mark Georgiou and Rob Magee.

Don't Ever Say That I Have A Problem With Omperor Playing Golf! It's Economy That Needs "Fore!"

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

"President Obama played golf with Tiger Woods. And Tiger said the president was a very good golfer for a guy who only plays five days a week. You know, so, that’s pretty good...

Political Cartoons by Steve Kelley

You know what the president’s handicap is? Anybody know? Doesn’t understand economics. That’s the handicap."

- Jay Leno

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok

I wished he'd play 24/7/365 and leave the rest of us the hell alone!

'Toons of the Day: Dems' New "Reality Based Community"

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

Political Cartoons by Eric Allie

22 February 2013

Columbine Survivor Pens A Letter To Obama: "Leave Guns Alone!"

From Metro Calgary:

Evan Todd has seen the worst that can happen when teens head down the wrong path.  On April 20, 1999, the sophomore at Columbine High School found himself at the mercy of two fellow classmates-turned-mass murderers, pleading for his life.

Dozens of fellow students weren’t as lucky in the 46-minute shooting rampage by Dylan Klebold, 17, and Eric Harris, 18, in their Littleton, Colo., high school, which ended with both shooters and 13 others dead. Twenty-four more, including Todd, were injured.

“I was the first student shot in the library and the last one to speak to the murderers before they ended up killing themselves,” said Todd, now 27.

He realizes that the horror he witnessed, which left four of his friends dead and others unable to walk, could have given him a negative outlook.

“School life was forever different,” he said. “But we chose as a school to try and take a negative and make it a positive.”

Now he speaks to teens, parents and teachers about the dangers of bullying and violence if left unchecked, and the importance of acknowledging potential victims.

“I really encourage students to watch what they’re saying and doing,” said Todd.

Now, he is talking his cause to the President of the United States, Barack Obama...

Mr. President,

As a student who was shot and wounded during the Columbine massacre, I have a few thoughts on the current gun debate. In regards to your gun control initiatives:


First, a universal background check will have many devastating effects. It will arguably have the opposite impact of what you propose. If adopted, criminals will know that they cannot pass a background check legally, so they will resort to other avenues. With the conditions being set by this initiative, it will create a large black market for weapons and will support more criminal activity and funnel additional money into the hands of thugs, criminals, and people who will do harm to American citizens.

Second, universal background checks will create a huge bureaucracy that will cost an enormous amount of taxpayers’ dollars and will straddle us with more debt. We cannot afford it now, let alone create another function of government that will have a huge monthly bill attached to it.

Third, is a universal background check system possible without universal gun registration? If so, please define it for us. Universal registration can easily be used for universal confiscation. I am not at all implying that you, sir, would try such a measure, but we do need to think about our actions through the lens of time.

It is not impossible to think that a tyrant, to the likes of Mao, Castro, Che, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and others, could possibly rise to power in America. It could be five, ten, twenty, or one hundred years from now — but future generations have the natural right to protect themselves from tyrannical government just as much as we currently do. It is safe to assume that this liberty that our forefathers secured has been a thorn in the side of would-be tyrants ever since the Second Amendment was adopted.


The evidence is very clear pertaining to the inadequacies of the assault weapons ban. It had little to no effect when it was in place from 1994 until 2004. It was during this time that I personally witnessed two fellow students murder twelve of my classmates and one teacher. The assault weapons ban did not deter these two murderers, nor did the other thirty-something laws that they broke.

Gun ownership is at an all-time high. And although tragedies like Columbine and Newtown are exploited by ideologues and special-interest lobbying groups, crime is at an all-time low. The people have spoken. Gun store shelves have been emptied. Gun shows are breaking attendance records. Gun manufacturers are sold out and back ordered. Shortages on ammo and firearms are countrywide. The American people have spoken and are telling you that our Second Amendment shall not be infringed.


Virginia Tech was the site of the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Seung-Hui Cho used two of the smallest caliber hand guns manufactured and a handful of ten round magazines. There are no substantial facts that prove that limited magazines would make any difference at all.
Second, this is just another law that endangers law-abiding citizens. I’ve heard you ask, “why does someone need 30 bullets to kill a deer?”

Let me ask you this: Why would you prefer criminals to have the ability to out-gun law-abiding citizens? Under this policy, criminals will still have their 30-round magazines, but the average American will not. Whose side are you on?

Lastly, when did they government get into the business of regulating “needs?” This is yet another example of government overreaching and straying from its intended purpose.


Mr. President, these are your words: “And finally, Congress needs to help, rather than hinder, law enforcement as it does its job. We should get tougher on people who buy guns with the express purpose of turning around and selling them to criminals. And we should severely punish anybody who helps them do this.”

Why don’t we start with Eric Holder and thoroughly investigate the Fast and Furious program?

Furthermore, the vast majority of these mass murderers bought their weapons legally and jumped through all the hoops — because they were determined to murder. Adding more hoops and red tape will not stop these types of people. It doesn’t now — so what makes you think it will in the future? Criminals who cannot buy guns legally just resort to the black market.

Criminals and murderers will always find a way.


Mr. President, in theory, your initiatives and proposals sound warm and fuzzy — but in reality they are far from what we need. Your initiatives seem to punish law-abiding American citizens and enable the murderers, thugs, and other lowlifes who wish to do harm to others.

Let me be clear: These ideas are the worst possible initiatives if you seriously care about saving lives and also upholding your oath of office. There is no dictate, law, or regulation that will stop bad things from happening — and you know that. Yet you continue to push the rhetoric. Why?

You said, “If we can save just one person it is worth it.” Well here are a few ideas that will save more than one individual:

First, forget all of your current initiatives and 23 purposed executive orders. They will do nothing more than impede law-abiding citizens and breach the intent of the Constitution. Each initiative steals freedom, grants more power to an already-overreaching government, and empowers and enables criminals to run amok.

Second, press Congress to repeal the “Gun Free Zone Act.” Don’t allow America’s teachers and students to be endangered one-day more. These parents and teachers have the natural right to defend themselves and not be looked at as criminals. There is no reason teachers must disarm themselves to perform their jobs. There is also no reason a parent or volunteer should be disarmed when they cross the school line.

This is your chance to correct history and restore liberty. This simple act of restoring freedom will deter would-be murderers and for those who try, they will be met with resistance.

Mr. President, do the right thing, restore freedom, and save lives. Show the American people that you stand with them and not with thugs and criminals.


Severely Concerned Citizen, Evan M. Todd

Obama's Minimum Wage Hike: A Case of Zombie Economics

By James Dorn

President Obama’s proposal to increase the federal minimum wage is a case of what Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman calls “zombie economic ideas.” According to Krugman, “a zombie idea is a proposition that has been thoroughly refuted by analysis and evidence, and should be dead—but won’t stay dead because it serves a political purpose, appeals to prejudices, or both.” In his New York Times column,”Rubio and the Zombies,” Krugman does not attack the minimum wage, but he should.

A fundamental law of economics—the law of demand—states that when the price of anything (including labor) increases, the quantity demanded will decrease, assuming other things affecting demand remain unchanged. In the case of labor, this means as the price of labor (the wage rate) increases, the number of jobs will decrease, other things constant. Moreover, the decrease in employment will be greater in the long run than in the short run, as employers shift to labor-saving methods of production.

Of course, other things seldom stay constant in the real world, so the law of demand is sometimes difficult to test. But just as when the wind blows a leaf upward, the law of gravity remains intact, so too with the law of demand. Public policy should be based on sound economics, not on politically popular myths.

Numerous studies have shown that when the real minimum wage is pushed above the prevailing market wage for unskilled workers, jobs are lost and others never created. The government can promise a higher wage rate, but if a worker loses her job, her income (hourly wage x hours worked) will be zero.

President Obama is practicing zombie economics when he ignores the law of demand and promises to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9, so that “no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.” He believes that “this single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families.” If so, why not increase the federal minimum to $100 an hour and abolish poverty?

Earlier work by Princeton economists David Card and Alan Krueger (now the chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers) purported to show that modest increases in the minimum wage don’t necessarily decrease employment and may even have a positive impact on jobs for low-skilled workers. Their use of survey data, however, was seriously flawed and their results were refuted by University of California at Irvine economist David Neumark and others.

In an article in Cato’s Regulation magazine in 1995, Donald Deere, Kevin Murphy, and Finis Welch carefully examined the Card-Krueger case studies, which appeared in Myth and Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage, and concluded: “Higher minimum wages go hand-in-hand with substantial declines in the employment of low-productivity workers…. The conventional wisdom remains intact.”

In addition to the negative impact of the minimum wage on employment (i.e., the number of jobs or the quantity demanded of labor), a rise in the minimum wage tends to draw workers into the job market (i.e., increase the quantity supplied of labor). But those new entrants will not be able to find jobs at the above-market wage rate. The result will be an increase in the unemployment rate for low-skilled workers, especially teens and minorities—and the unemployment will be greater in the long run than in the short run. Even though President Obama promises jobs to low-skilled workers, there will be many disappointed workers who won’t be able to find a full-time job or any job at the legal minimum, if the federal real minimum wage exceeds the market wage.

Labor economist Douglas K. Adie, in an important study of “Teen-Age Unemployment and Real Federal Minimum Wages” (Journal of Political Economy, 1973), found that a 10 percent increase in the federal real minimum wage increases the unemployment rate for teens by 3.62 percent. That effect is greater in the long run as employers change their production methods to save on the higher-priced labor, and is more pronounced for minorities.

If Congress increased the minimum wage to $9 an hour, a 24 percent rise in the price of unskilled labor, and indexed it, one could predict with a high degree of confidence that the unemployment rate for teens, especially minorities, would rise—unless there were offsetting forces to increase the demand for low-skilled workers.

The way to create jobs and increase one’s real wage rate is not to increase the minimum wage, but to increase one’s productivity. Forcing employers to pay a worker $9 an hour when that worker produces only $7 an hour is a recipe for failure and poverty. Enacting a higher minimum wage does not guarantee a job or a higher income for all workers—only those who retain their jobs at the expense of those who lose their jobs or can’t find a job at the above-market wage.

Economic growth, not price fixing in the form of a federally mandated minimum wage, is the only path to prosperity. Economic freedom and limited government are paramount in the process of wealth creation through mutually beneficial market exchanges. President Obama, in his State of the Union address, called for government to encourage “free enterprise.” That objective is not served by denying low-skilled workers the opportunity to get a job, increase their human capital, and move to higher paying jobs as they acquire experience and training.

The minimum wage has the most serious impact on the least productive workers who are likely from poor families. Increasing wage rates by government fiat is not a solution to the problem of poverty; increasing economic freedom so people can lift themselves out of poverty is a better alternative to zombie economics.

Hong Kong did not become rich by resorting to a minimum wage; it became rich by embracing economic freedom. Likewise, China has allowed millions of people to lift themselves out of poverty by expanding the range of choices open to them, by opening markets, not by increasing the minimum wage. Until recently, there was no national minimum wage in China, and local minimum wages were typically below the prevailing market wage so as not to destroy jobs and growth. Economic liberalization stimulated real economic growth, and as productivity increased so have living standards.

The United States needs to abolish the minimum wage, not increase it. Workers who are willing to work at free-market wages should have the right to do so, and employers should have the right to hire them. Government should get out of the way and let markets work.

Reducing the size and scope of government, lowering taxes on labor and capital, ending corporate welfare, lowering the costs of doing business, and safeguarding freedom of contract are the best practices necessary for a harmonious society and future prosperity.

The minimum wage is popular with many voters who want to express their sympathy for the poor and who don’t recognize the unintended consequences of “living wage” laws. Unions also support the minimum wage but out of self-interest. A hike in the legal minimum wage helps protect union jobs by reducing competition from lower-skilled workers.

The truth is that telling low-wage workers that Washington will increase their wage rates by fiat and secure their jobs is a false promise. It is dishonest. Using Krugman’s terminology: The idea that government can create prosperity by enacting a higher minimum wage is “a zombie idea … that has been thoroughly refuted by analysis and evidence, and should be dead.” 

Related Reading:

Soft Apartheid:  The Income Inequality Factor Liberals Can't Talk About

Unsurprisingly, Higher Minimum Wages Do Nothing To Alleviate Income Inequality

Obama's Minimum Wage Delusion

Obama's Minimum Wage Hike: A Case of Zombie Economics

No, Sergeant Schultz, A Higher Minimum Wage Will Not Address Income Inequality

Obama's Progressive Mythology

Will The Real Paul Krugman Please Stand Up?


Disturbing Report: Veterans Are Receiving Letters From VA Prohibiting The Ownership Or Purchase Of Firearms... Developing...

Is this Barack Obama's way of thanking all of those that honourably served our country on the battlefield?

Letters are being sent out that tell these heroes that they are disabled and may not own, possess, or  purchase a firearm.  If you do, then you will be fined, imprisoned or both.

Constitutional Attorney Michael Connelly reported this at Red Flag News.

va guns

Written by Constitutional Attorney Michael Connelly, J.D.

How would you feel if you received a letter from the U.S. Government informing you that because of a physical or mental condition that the government says you have it is proposing to rule that you are incompetent to handle your own financial affairs? Suppose that letter also stated that the government is going to appoint a stranger to handle your affairs for you at your expense? That would certainly be scary enough but it gets worse.

What if that letter also stated: “A determination of incompetency will prohibit you from purchasing, possessing, receiving, or transporting a firearm or ammunition. If you knowingly violate any of these prohibitions, you may be fined, imprisoned, or both pursuant to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, Pub.L.No. 103-159, as implemented at 18, United States Code 924(a)(2).”?

That makes is sound like something right from a documentary on a tyrannical dictatorship somewhere in the world. Yet, as I write this I have a copy of such a letter right in front of me. It is being sent by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of America’s heroes. In my capacity as Executive Director of the United States Justice Foundation (USJF) I have been contacted by some of these veterans and the stories I am getting are appalling.

The letter provides no specifics on the reasons for the proposed finding of incompetency; just that is based on a determination by someone in the VA. In every state in the United States no one can be declared incompetent to administer their own affairs without due process of law and that usually requires a judicial hearing with evidence being offered to prove to a judge that the person is indeed incompetent. This is a requirement of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that states that no person shall “… be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law…”.

Obviously, the Department of Veterans Affairs can’t be bothered by such impediments as the Constitution, particularly since they are clearly pushing to fulfill one of Obama’s main goals, the disarming of the American people. Janet Napolitano has already warned law enforcement that some of the most dangerous among us are America’s heroes, our veterans, and now according to this letter from the VA they can be prohibited from buying or even possessing a firearm because of a physical or mental disability.

Think about it, the men and women who have laid their lives on the line to defend us and our Constitution are now having their own Constitutional rights denied. There are no clear criteria for the VA to declare a veteran incompetent. It can be the loss of a limb in combat, a head injury, a diagnosis of PTSD, or even a soldier just telling someone at the VA that he or she is depressed over the loss of a buddy in combat. In none of these situations has the person been found to be a danger to themselves or others. If that was the case than all of the Americans who have suffered from PTSD following the loss of a loved one or from being in a car accident would also have to be disqualified from owning firearms. It would also mean that everyone who has ever been depressed for any reason should be disarmed. In fact, many of the veterans being deprived of their rights have no idea why it is happening.

The answer seems to be it is simply because they are veterans. At the USJF we intend to find the truth by filing a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Veterans Affairs to force them to disclose the criteria they are using to place veterans on the background check list that keeps them from exercising their Second Amendment rights. Then we will take whatever legal steps are necessary to protect our American warriors.

The reality is that Obama will not get all of the gun control measures he wants through Congress, and they wouldn’t be enough for him anyway. He wants a totally disarmed America so there will be no resistance to his plans to rob us of our nation. That means we have to ask who will be next. If you are receiving a Social Security check will you get one of these letters? Will the government declare that you are incompetent because of your age and therefore banned from firearm ownership. It certainly fits in with the philosophy and plans of the Obama administration. It is also certain that our military veterans don’t deserve this and neither do any other Americans.

-- Michael Connelly, J.D.

Executive Director, United States Justice Foundation