Baroness Warsi’s Obsession

Moral equivalence must be one of the overriding curses of our age. Even those who are capable of making moral judgements now often find it easier to make equivalences between sides than to study facts and work out who may be or right or wrong. So whenever any conflict breaks out, much of the world can be relied on – from the United Nations downwards (or upwards) – to call for a cessation of the “cycle of violence.” In Britain last week, there was an especially flamboyant example of this trend, courtesy of the noble Baroness Warsi.

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Morning Briefing – The Telegraph

Good morning. It’s a case of ‘he said, she said’ in the Natasha Bolter and Roger Bird melodrama, with the latter producing a series of demonstrative text messages in a bid to clear his name. “Ukip’s sex scandal: party chief reveals ‘love texts’” is our take.

Mr Bird has been suspended as general secretary pending an investigation, but insists that he and Ms Bolter were in a consensual sexual relationship and much like a teenager in the schoolyard, has the texts to prove it. “There are plenty of emails and text messages between us which shows how it was a consensual relationship with interest on both sides,” he says.

Ms Bolter’s not having any of it though, and says in the Indy that the messages were simply her being “friendly.” “I love u bird and wish u let me look after u. Hope u feel better xx,” said one.

Who to believe? The recruitment of Ms Bolter – a woman from a minority background and a Labour supporter to boot – was a coup for Nigel Farage’s party because it appeared to address various fears around Ukip. The question of Ms Boulter versus Mr Bird – and what Ukip does about it all, one way or another, will either go some way to allaying or confirming those same fears.

I STILL WANT EU

The PM has confirmed his continuing support for Turkey’s EU membership bid, saying that the EU will be “stronger, not weaker” if Turkey’s membership is granted. and saying the UK and Turkey would work “hand in glove” to share vital intelligence regarding anyone involved in terrorism – “Turkey Jihadi No-Go Deal” is The Sun’s splash.

HELP FOR HEROES

The PM has pledged an extra £30 million to support British veterans, Tom Newton Dunn reveals in the Sun. £20 million will go to childcare facilities and the remainder will be used to expand a centre for wounded, traumatised and homeless veterans.

JUNCKER, CLAUDE

Further details of the Luxembourg tax scandal have come to light in today’s Guardian, with Disney, Skype and the Koch brothers among those named. It’s increasing the pressure on Jean-Claude Juncker, with his 2005 comments on “the favourable fiscal environment we’ve created here in Luxembourg” ageing particularly badly.

WHEN GOVE IS GONE

Improvements to English schools have “stalled”, Sir Michael Wilshaw will warn today as he presents Ofsted’s annual report, which is expected to report that 29% of schools are rated as “requiring improvement” or inadequate. Graeme Paton has the story.

ANOTHER FINE MESSINA YOU’VE GOT US INTO

“If you are not on this,” Jim Messina told a Conservative MPs while holding his iPhone aloft, “You’re not in the game.” “He swept me off my feet,” one MP tells Elizabeth Rigby, who profiles Mr Messina in the FT. Labour are less pleased with their guru, that man David Axelrod, Jim Pickard reports. “We haven’t seen hide or hair of him since the summer,” one Shadow Cabinet minister sighs.

COOKING UP CONTROVERSY

Labour’s head of strategy, Greg Cook, concedes that the party would be “highly unlikely” to hold on to power if it tried to form a minority government and would probably be forced into a second general election very quickly unless Labour formed a coalition, Sam Coates reports in the Times. It puts Mr Cook at odds with those in his party, particularly the trade unions, who are opposed to a coalition with other parties.

NAFFED? IS THAT A THING?

Chuka Umunna says he is “not naffed” where David Cameron went to school, that our politics is “too adversarial” and that it was a mistake to ever consider joining the Euro. He’d “never sanction”that now. He made the remarks in conversation with John Rentoul – the full recording is here.

WILL NO-ONE RID ME OF THIS TURBULENT UNION?

Rowan Williams has added his name to the list of supporters of the UK’s EU membership, warning that withdrawal from the international body could leave the UK “dangerously dependent” on the City. The former Archbishop of Canterbury says that leaving the EU would be a “deeply regressive” step and that Britain would struggle to offer anything “distinctive” outside of the financial sector.

HARMAN’S HALF HOUR

“The Tories are a party of men for men,” Harriet Harman tells the Guardian, who will face Nick Clegg at the battle of the stand-in leaders this afternoon. Labour, however, are “women and men”.

3 Girls, 3 Wishes

A blonde, a brunette and a redhead are stuck on an island. For years, they live there, and one day they find a magic lamp. They rub it, and sure enough, out comes a genie. The genie says “since I can only give out 3 wishes, you may each have one”

So the brunette goes first, “I have been stuck here for years, I miss my family and my husband and my life, “I just want to go home.” POOF, she is gone.

The redhead makes her wish, “This place sucks, I want to go home too.” POOF, she is gone.

The blonde starts crying uncontrollably.

“What is the matter?” Asks the Genie

“I just wish my friends were here.”

Mahmoud Abbas’s Not So Secret Weapon

Beyond the Cusp

Mahmoud Abbas has a weapon which he utilizes to inflict blunt force trauma bludgeoning Israel before a world that just demands that the violence end, but end without any use of force by Israel. Israel is in the position of a battered spouse who for reason of the expectations of the society surrounding it demands that Israel rehabilitate the abusive spouse and save the troubled relationship. Every time Israel petitions for a divorce the world as the judge orders Israel and its abusive spouse, the Abbas Arab body, to get counselling and make the marriage work. Israel is consistently instructed to find some magic by which to transform the abusive Abbas Arab body into a functional state living side by side with Israel in a harmonious relationship. Mahmoud Abbas as the controlling conscience of the Israeli spouse refuses to give up in the tantrums and violence as Abbas has learned…

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T-SHIRT COMPANY PROSECUTED FOR NOT MAKING ‘GAY’ APPAREL

Christian Patriots

1st Amendment fight as Christians ordered to promote homosexuality

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A Kentucky clothing company that refused to produce T-shirts for a “gay”-pride festival because of the owner’s Christian beliefs is appealing a state Human Rights Commission’s ruling of “unlawful discrimination.”

Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands On Originals in Lexington, has employed and served homosexuals, but he refused a request by the local Gay and Lesbian Services Organization to promote messages that violate his beliefs.

And an attorney defending Adamson said the ramifications could be significant.

“A book editor or ghostwriter could be forced to write a book advocating messages they find contrary to their convictions based on this ruling,” ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jim Campbell said. “The litmus test now seems to be: Does the order arguably implicate a protected class or a protected characteristic? If it does, then the logic of it … would require every business that promotes messages…

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Art Basel ’14: Bikismo creates a mind-boggling metallic mural in Wynwood, Miami

The joy of Puerto Rico aka Bikismo has also landed on the excellent Planet Art Basel located in the galaxy of Miami, Florida.

Painting for the Raw Project at the Jose De Diego Middle School, Bik spent about 4 days working on this metallic pooch made entirely using spray-paint. As usual the Puerto Rican muralist shows his impeccable technique with this stunning piece.

Take a look at the full mural after the break and stick with your friends at StreetArtNews for more updates from North America.

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Guardian ignores key evidence indicating PA minister was NOT killed by IDF assault

What is known at the moment is that a Palestinian minister, Ziad Abu Ein, died today shortly after a confrontation with IDF soldiers during a protest north of Ramallah.  Abu Ein – imprisoned in Israel for his role in a terrorist bombing that killed two Israeli teens, but later released during a prisoner swap – collapsed and was evacuated for medical care, but died before reaching the hospital.

What’s not known is the cause of death, and there is increasing evidence (which we’ll show later in the post) that Abu Ein, who suffered from health problems including diabetes and high blood pressure, may have died of a heart attack.

However, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont naturally all but avoided evidence pointing to the strong possibility that Abu Ein died of natural causes, and instead primarily cited only those sources claiming he died as the result of trauma inflicted by an Israeli soldier.

Here…

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