- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity in Chile 5.3 ! More info here.
- Japan : For the most accurate info on the nuclear disaster go to : Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog.Here.
- Israel evacuates embassy in Jordan ahead of protests.(JPost).Israel evacuated its embassy in Jordan Wednesday evening, hours before a Facebook organized march under the banner (in Arabic) of "No Zionist embassy on Jordanian territory."Unlike in Egypt, where diplomats lived with their families, in Amman the Israeli delegation serves without their families, and comes home for weekends. The decision came just days after the 13-hour rampage at the Israeli embassy in Cairo, during which six security guards locked themselves behind a steel door while mobs ransacked the embassy.Egyptian commandos rescued those six security guards from the Cairo embassy, as protesters broke into archives and threw documents from the building's windows into the street below where demonstrators were celebrating.The government has said that Israel would respect the peace treaty with Egypt, and was determined to return its envoy as soon as possible.Read the full story here.
- Erdogan's beloved IHH Delivers Aid to Somali Terrorist Group.(IP).Two Turkish aid workers were arrested Monday near the Somalia capital of Mogadishu after meeting with a U.S.-designated terrorist organization during a humanitarian aid mission to the region."The Turkish aid workers were arrested because they did not coordinate with our national security. They met with al Shabaab without clearance or approval from government security," a government humanitarian coordinator told Reuters.The pair was released following talks between Turkey's ambassador to Somalia, President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and the Horn of Africa country's chief of intelligence. One of the workers is an emergency aid official working with the Hamas-tied Turkish charity IHH.An IHH official who declined to be named dismissed the incident as "normal, because of the security situation there."The Turks were arrested after delivering food and supplies to an area outside Mogadishu known as KM 50, where thousands of Somalis are living in refugee camps. KM 50 is controlled by al-Shabaab, the Somali militant group tied to al-Qaida and fighting to overthrow the Somali government.This was the first aid group to visit the region controlled by al-Shabaab, which has banned aid agencies from operating in areas they control. The group arrived at the refugee camp on Monday, and a Turkish delegate said they were warmly welcomed by al-Shabaab officials in the region. The official added that the group will deliver aid to other regions controlled by the terrorist group.Sheikh Hassan Abu Ayman, a member of al-Shabaab's committee for drought, said the Turkish men reached them to deliver humanitarian aid and food to the famine-hit Somalis.An IHH-sponsored humanitarian aid ship named "Gazze" arrived in Mogadishu on Monday, and was welcomed by the IHH aid teams in the region. IHH also intends to dispatch the Mavi Marmara ship, the site of the controversial May 2010 Gaza flotilla clash, on a humanitarian mission to Somalia.Hmmmmm......."By their fruits you will know them"?Read the full story here.
- Palestinians back off UN Security Council statehood bid.(Debka).The tempest which Israel had tensely anticipated for September in the wake of a Palestinian bid for unilateral UN recognition of their state looks like fizzling out before it begins as a result of a massive US campaign to avert it, backed by Saudi Arabia, Europe and Egypt.Early Wednesday, Sept. 14, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas decided crucially not to submit his application to the UN Security Council. He also notified Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and European Union foreign executive Catherine Ashton in Cairo that he was considering watering down his application to the UN General Assembly – possibly by dropping the "state within 1967 borders" provision from the text.Abbas said he would make his final decision known in a public address from Ramallah Friday, Sept 16 before flying to New York to join world leaders at the UN General Assembly's 66th session which began Tuesday.But first, he meets Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair in Amman for a conversation which debkafile's exclusive sources term critical, because Blair will hand him a document termed by senior Washington sources "an outline" of a new format designed to oil Palestinian wheels into unlocking the long-stalled Palestinian dialogue with Israel.This outline has been endorsed by Washington, the EU and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. It is now subject to acceptance by Israel and the Palestinians. Moscow has not yet indicated whether it approves the document or wants changes.By Wednesday morning, the Israeli government had not yet received a copy. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has no doubt that he will be called upon for concessions extreme enough to lure the Palestinian leader back to the table. Blair is expected to deliver the document to Netanyahu some time Thursday after Abbas has seen it. To tie up the ends, senior White House envoys, Dennis Ross and David Hale, are due back in Jerusalem and Ramallah Wednesday.During his visit to Cairo, Mahmoud Abbas was sternly warned by Saud al Faisal, Ashton and Egyptian leaders of the grave consequences awaiting the Palestinians if he forced the UN to exercise its veto against their statehood at the UN Security Council. US President Barack Obama Tuesday made it crystal clear that he "objects very strongly" to the Palestinian statehood motion as "counterproductive" and "a distraction from solving problems that can only be addressed through negotiations."US sources report that the US President has refused to talk to Abbas for the past eight months owing to his refusal to join Israel for direct peace talks. He was advised by the Europeans, the Saudis and Egyptians this week that the US presidential boycott would almost certainly extend to fellow Palestinian leaders and US financial aid. The Palestinian Authority would thus be placed under American sanctions. However, if he withdrew his statehood bid from the Security Council and accepted the new position paper, Obama would consider restoring communications.Tuesday, Sept. 13, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "The path to creating an independent Palestinian state lies through direct talks between Ramallah and Jerusalem – not New York," she said. Early Wednesday, the General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar reported that the Palestinians had not yet submitted their request to the General Assembly. It would therefore not come up for debate before October.debkafile's sources report that while Mahmoud Abbas appears to have been hassled into a partial climb-down from his original plan to bypass talks with Israel by gaining UN approval of Palestinian statehood, he may not have caved in completely. Neither is it clear whether Netanyahu will swallow the new blueprint Tony Blair is about to dish up.Hmmmm.....Considering the source is Debka there's a possibility that the 'news' is not completely trustworthy, still i posted it seeing that the independent posted it also.Read the full story here.
- Erdogan's 'Dangerous Macho Posturing'.EU Politicians Slam Turkey's Anti-Israel Course.(Spiegel).Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not only using his tour of several Arab states for self-promotion, but for verbal attacks against Israel as well. "No one can play with Turkey or Turkish honor," Erdogan said in Cairo on Tuesday. Israel lost Turkey as a strategic partner after the Israeli military attack on the humanitarian aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip in May 2010.During the Arab Spring, Erdogan has presented himself as a new power, a model leader and a "rising star" with "near pop-star status" in the region, as the New York Times has described the Turkish leader. His multi-day trip to Egypt, Tunisia and Libya is meant to strengthen his role in the region.However, Erdogan has also linked his solidarity with the Arab world to a strident anti-Israel foreign policy. Indeed, the political battle lines between Turkey and Israel have been intensifying in recent weeks:
■Erdogan expelled senior Israeli diplomats in early September. If the tension between the two countries wasn't thick enough already, this step only served to escalate the dispute between them.
■Ankara halted its military cooperation with Israel and announced an increased Turkish military presence in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. All trade ties with Israel are currently frozen and Erdogan is threatening "further sanctions."
■At the same time, Erdogan is presenting himself more and more as an advocate for the Palestinians. More than once, he has vociferously considered visiting the Gaza Strip, a move Israel would regard as an affront.
■Erdogan doesn't shy away from verbal attacks, either. On Monday, he said Israel had behaved like a "spoiled child" and accused Israel of supporting "state terror." He described Israel's military action against last year's flotilla to Gaza as a "cause for war."
The conflict could also put Ankara's relationship with the European Union to the test. The dispute over the deadly military raid on the Gaza flotilla, which left nine Turkish activists dead, could grow into a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and the EU. Indeed, among high-profile politicians in the European Parliament, criticism of Erdogan is growing.Elmar Brok, the foreign policy spokesman for the parliamentary group of the conservative Christian Democrats in the European Parliament, said he is skeptical of Turkey's efforts to establish itself as a regional power within the Arab world. He said Erdogan is seeking to transform it into a regional power similar to the status it held "earlier with the Ottoman Empire." He said Ankara isn't pursuing the goal of EU membership and that "it is using the conflict with Israel in order to gain credibility in the region," Brok told SPIEGEL ONLINE.Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a member of the European Parliament with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) said he also viewed the shift in foreign policy course by the Turkish government as a sign that Ankara's EU ambitions are waning. Turkey, as a secular democracy, may be a role model for the countries currently undergoing a phase of transformation, the FDP party group leader in Brussels told SPIEGEL ONLINE, "but Ankara can in no way be allowed to link the reorientation of its foreign policy with anti-Western sentiment." Lamsbdorff has accused the Erdogan government of using "gunboat rhetoric" in its statements about Israel. The Turkish government's aggressive policy course against Israel, he said, shows that the country currently has "no interest" in pushing forward EU accession talks. "With a strident anti-Israel course, it isn't making any friends in Europe" right now, Lambsdorff said. Hmmmm......Keep Turkey out of the European union and get them out of NATO.Read the full story here.
- ‘Jew Or Not Jew’ I-Phone App Provokes Outrage In France.(BigPeace).The app available in France is called “Juif ou pas Juif” (Jew or not Jew) and promises to reveal who is Jewish. ”All the information is already available online,” says creator Johann Levy, who lives in Marseille and is himself, Jewish. ”I’m just compiling it all.” The app costs 79 euro cents and has provoked outrage.“I don’t know if its irresponsible, but it’s incredibly dangerous,” said Alain Jakubowicz, president of Licra, a French anti-semitism group.Hmmmm......what's next?Tattooed numbers?Read the full story here.
- Beijing as the Euro's Savior -Europe and China Bound by Mutual Fears.(Spiegel).By Stefan Schultz. A few years ago, critics from the United States and Europe gave their trading partner China a less-than-favorable name: In an insulting bit of latent racism, they dubbed the emerging superpower a "yellow peril." They warned of an army of Chinese minimum wage laborers, who would destroy entire industries in the West -- and with them millions of jobs. They also warned of growing political influence from the East, which could ultimately even lead to an erosion of human rights.In recent months, the critics have gone quiet -- because they have far more important problems to worry about. Problems with many zeros on the end. At around $15.2 trillion (€11.1 trillion), the US government's debt at the end of 2012 could be as high as the amount of money the country generates in a year.In Europe, the debt prognosis is hardly any better. Italy: €1.9 trillion (approximately 120 percent of annual economic output); Greece: €472 billion (150 percent). The debt clocks of America and the euro countries are ticking relentlessly, and the slogan "Money rules the world" is being given a new meaning. In record time, it seems the current global balance of power is shifting -- in favor of China.On Monday, the US government fired an urgent warning towards Europe. The euro crisis threatens global growth, President Barack Obama said. "As long as this crisis is not solved, we will continue to see weaknesses in the global economy." But America itself is alarmingly high in debt; Obama's exhortation seems like cheap campaign rhetoric, a maneuver to divert attention away from his own serious problems.China currently appears in quite a different light: The country has foreign exchange reserves of $3.2 trillion. The government is holding around a quarter of that in euro securities, mostly government bonds, said Daniel Gros of the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels. According to the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper, China has more than tripled its financial commitment in Europe since 2007, and this trend is growing. His country was ready to "extend a helping hand" and to invest more in European countries and the US, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Wednesday. China has already bought Greek and Portuguese government bonds, and, according to a report by London's Financial Times this week, debt-ridden Italy has recently wooed Chinese sovereign wealth fund CIC for money. America can only warn, while China promises salvation: This is the new creed of the global debt crisis. The supposed "yellow peril" has positioned itself as a "white knight" which promises not to leave its trading partners in Europe and America in the lurch.In return, however, Beijing is demanding a high price -- the Chinese government wants more political prestige and more political power:
■Prime Minister Wen has called for more access to American markets, saying the US should be more open for Chinese investors. If China invests more in US companies, new jobs would also be created, he argues. As conciliatory as that sounds, however, the words are poison for President Obama given that high unemployement in the US could ultimately scupper his chances for re-election.
■Wen is also demanding that the US lift restrictions on the export of high technology products to China. This would allow America to increase exports and improve its trade deficit. So far, US companies have held back from such a policy for fear their technology would be copied by potential Chinese competiters.
■Far-reaching demands have also been made of Europe by Wen: European Union countries, he argues, should at last recognize the world's second largest economy as a market economy. He is hoping for a "breakthrough" to happen as soon as the next EU-China Summit on Oct. 25 in the Chinese city of Tianjin.
The demands are not all new -- but China is pushing them with increasing intensity. This is especially shown by the discussion about the recognition of China as a market economy. This would happen automatically in 2016, but for China that is not fast enough, as such a recognition would at a stroke reduce many barriers to trade. In particular, direct investment in Europe would become much easier.Until now, the debate has been going in just one direction: To recognize China as a market economy sooner, Europe has demanded major concessions on human rights and the protection of intellectual property. China is now turning the tables: Much-needed support during the euro crisis will be available, it says -- if Europeans recognize China as having a market economy.Europe must not be intimidated, however, because it is China's most important trading partner after the US. "The crisis in the euro zone is also hurting China," said Eberhard Sandschneider of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP). "Not only because Beijing is holding a large amount of European debt securities, but also because the country wants to expand into Europe." In addition, Beijing has consistently stressed that the US dollar should be replaced as the key currency by a triumvirate of dollar, euro and Chinese yuan -- and therefore China wants to support Europe.Thus, Europe's negotiating position is not all that terrible; it has more political leverage than it would appear at first. Not the least of which is the fact that the continent's ominous weaknesses act as a means of putting pressure on China; it might not be an over-exaggeration to say there is a certain balance of horror. If one fails, both fail. Nevertheless, Europe will have to get used to the fact that China will be increasingly negotiating using the methods of the industrialized Western nations; that is to say, it will use its growing economic clout more and more as a political weapon."The behavior of the Chinese government in the euro crisis has become a whole lot more confident," said Sandschneider. "This is the new reality with which Europe and America must deal with constructively."Read the full story here.
- Congressional Investigator: More Solar Bankruptcies to Come.(Heritage).A top congressional investigator said on Tuesday that he believes more companies that benefitted from the stimulus bill’s renewable energy loan guarantee program will go bankrupt before all allotted funds are spent.The program, which guaranteed a $535 million loan to Solyndra before the company declared bankruptcy last week, still has $8-10 billion in authorized funding that has yet to be spent. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said he had called on the administration to hold off on awarding more loan guarantees from the program.“The question is: how many Solyndras are out there?” Stearns said. “I’m convinced based upon what I’ve seen on this kind of industry and solar panel, that there’s more that are going to go bankrupt, and I think the president’s unwise to continue this idea of funding through taxpayer money industries that are not viable.”Stearns would not reveal which companies he thought are at risk, saying he would save that information for his panel’s Wednesday hearing on the Solyndra bankruptcy. “I’ve called upon the president not to award any more money for this kind of venture, and to return the money to the Treasury rather than put it out the door,” he added.Stearns’s hearing will examine two aspects of alleged corruption in Solyndra’s loan guarantee award, he said. The panel will examine both the possibility that political factors played a p[art in the award – a major investor in the company is also a large Obama donor – and the apparent lack of oversight by the White House Office of Management and Budget and other federal officials.OMB’s director will testify at the hearing Wednesday, as will the Energy Department official who supervised the loan program. Stearns said the committee had agreed to postpone the testimony of Solyndra’s CEO and CFO in exchange for agreements that they would not “plead the fifth” and refuse to answer questions when they eventually do appear before the committee.Hmmmm.....Can we start impeachment procedures now?Read the full story here.
- Because Solyndra Was Such a Smashing Success, Obama Hands Out a $1.2 Billion Taxpayer Loan To Another Solar Company.(LA Times) — The U.S. Energy Department hopes that a new solar energy project will result in about 900 construction and permanent operations jobs.Energy Secretary Steven Chu said today that his department had finalized a $1.2-billion loan guarantee to Mojave Solar for the development of the Mojave Solar Project. When complete, the 250-megawatt solar generation project in San Bernardino County will increase the nation’s currently installed concentrating solar power capacity by approximately 50%.Abengoa Solar Inc., the project sponsor, is the source of the estimate on construction and permanent operations jobs.“Investments in solar generation facilities like the Mojave Solar Project are critical to our effort to create good, clean energy jobs in America and compete with countries like China in the global clean energy race,” Chu said. “This project will supply local utilities with energy, help drive down the cost of solar power and fund more than 900 American jobs, all at minimal risk to the taxpayer.”. . . Federal agents recently executed a search warrant at the Northern California headquarters of solar panel manufacturer Solyndra Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection last week despite receiving $535 million in federal stimulus loan guarantees.Hmmmm.........Congressional Investigator: "I’ve called upon the president not to award any more money for this kind of venture, and to return the money to the Treasury rather than put it out the door."Read the full story here.
- Gore-Backed “Green” Car Company Gets $529 Million Taxpayer Loan From Obama Administration.(WSJ).Washington — A tiny car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore has just gotten a $529 million U.S. government loan to help build a hybrid sports car in Finland that will sell for about $89,000. The award this week to California startup Fisker Automotive Inc. follows a $465 million government loan to Tesla Motors Inc., purveyors of a $109,000 British-built electric Roadster. Tesla is a California startup focusing on all-electric vehicles, with a number of celebrity endorsements that is backed by investors that have contributed to Democratic campaigns.The awards to Fisker and Tesla have prompted concern from companies that have had their bids for loans rejected, and criticism from groups that question why vehicles aimed at the wealthiest customers are getting loans subsidized by taxpayers.“This is not for average Americans,” said Leslie Paige, a spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste, an anti-tax group in Washington. “This is for people to put something in their driveway that is a conversation piece. It’s status symbol thing.”DOE officials spent months working with Fisker on its application, touring its Irvine, Calif., and Pontiac, Mich., facilities and test-driving prototypes.Matt Rogers, who oversees the department’s loan programs as a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, said Fisker was awarded the loan after a “detailed technical review” that concluded the company could eventually deliver a highly fuel-efficient hybrid car to a mass audience. Fisker said most of its DOE loan will be used to finance U.S. production of a $40,000 family sedan that has yet to be designed.Hmmm.....Thugocracy in it's natural habitat?Read the full story here.
- Obama's Israel policy seen as factor that cost him House seat.(YNet).Did President Obama's positions on Israel cost him a seat in the House? The Republicans have scored an upset victory in a House race that started as a contest to replace New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, who was forced to step down following a sex-texting scandal, but became a referendum on US President Barack Obama's policies.Retired media executive and political novice Bob Turner defeated Democratic state Assemblyman David Weprin on Tuesday in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Weiner, a seven-term Democrat who resigned in June. With more than 80% of precincts reporting, Turner had 54% of the vote to Weprin's 46% in unofficial results.According to the New York Times, Turner took advantage of the discontent among the Jewish community with Obama’s policy toward Israel and his handling of the Middle East peace process. Former Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, endorsed Turner in July as a way to "send a message" to Obama on his policies toward Israel. And Weprin was challenged on his support of a proposed Islamic center and mosque near the World Trade Center site, in lower Manhattan.The heavily Democratic district, which spans parts of Queens and Brooklyn and is 40% Jewish, had never sent a Republican to the House. The race was supposed to be an easy win for Democrats, who have a 3-1 ratio registration advantage in the district.Several voters who spoke to the New York Times said that the Israel issue was a major factor in their decision to support Turner, who repeatedly criticized Obama on Israel. Turner, a 70-year-old Catholic, vowed to push back on Obama's policies if elected. He received help from prominent Republicans including former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose much-praised stewardship of the city after the September 11 terror attacks was recalled during their 10th anniversary, last weekend.The emergence of Israel as an issue was a surprise, the Times reported, because Weprin is an observant Jew and strong supporter of Israel.Orthodox Jews, who tend to be conservative on social issues, expressed anger over Weprin's vote in the state Assembly to legalize gay marriage. In July, New York became one of six states to recognize same-sex nuptials.Read the full story here.
- Ignorance Or Malice? Why Are Obama and Union Bosses Working to Destroy Companies and Jobs?(BigGovernment).The question needs to be asked: Is it ignorance or malice? There was a time after the subprime mortgage meltdown when, if sound decisions on policy and financial initiatives had occurred, the American economy may not have been hobbled as badly, its credit rating might not have been downgraded, the recession might have been curtailed and so many Americans might not have been so negatively affected. However, rather than helping a recovery by letting the quasi-free market adjust, contract and expand again, at almost every turn, Barack Obama and the union appointees and crony capitalists within his administration are, whether out of malice or ignorance, seemingly doing everything they can to destroy an already fragile economy. It’s really no longer a question of ”if,” but “why.”
In 2008, Barack Obama was caught on camera explaining his redistributionist desire to spread the wealth around. At the time, in classic Saul Alinsky fashion, Obama’s union pushers tried deflecting the issue by the stomping on the reputation of ‘Joe the Plumber,’ the man who asked Obama an innocent question.
Now, 18 months after his first stimulus failed, Barack Obama has cynically proposed spending another one-half a trillion dollars (paid for by redistributing the wealth of the not-so -wealthy. Even pundits realize it is a “nakedly political” plan to paint his political opponents as ‘radical.’ However, even with the politicization apparent, policies of Obama and his union cronies go beyond the typical ‘tax and spend’ stereotype afforded to Keynesian liberals.
Unfortunately, from coast to coast, the Obama Misery Index (OMI) is leaving almost no sector untouched. From the seemingly politically-motivated raid in Nashville on legendary (and non-union) guitar-maker Gibson to the EPA killing 500 jobs in Texas, the attacks on America’s job creators are not only disturbing, they are alarming. Is it ignorance or malice?
In addition to the union appointees at Obama’s National Labor Relations Board attacking Boeing (and the potential long-term spillover effects across the economy), as well as its assault on Right-to-Work States, the NLRB’s new mandate to require all private-sector employers with two or more workers to post union notices, coupled with its proposal for ambush elections and the recent micro-union ruling, is causing more and more businesses to spend resources in preparing to be attacked by unions than creating jobs. Is it ignorance or malice?
In another example, in June, the Department of Labor issued a stunning ruling that a private construction project must pay “prevailing wages” (i.e., union wages) on a $700 million project under the Davis Bacon Act because it is on land leased by the federal government.According to the Washington Post, this could raise the project by $20 million or more.Whatever the law’s merits, it has been pretty well settled that Davis-Bacon applies only to structures funded, owned or occupied by the U.S. or District governments, as its plain language suggests.Now, with the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen, that understanding has been upset. A Labor Department regulator has ruled that Davis-Bacon covers the CityCenter DC project, a $700 million private-sector complex under construction downtown at the site of the former convention center. The decision is astonishing, both because it is such a stretch legally and because of its implications — which range from a financial hit for the District to higher costs for development across the country.While the bureacrat at the Department of Labor expects the District of Columbia to pick up the tab for the increased costs, that may not be of any comfort since, ultimately, it is the taxpayers who will pay the price.Never mind that the District’s actual control over construction amounts to little more than the usual regulatory oversight, or that long-term leasing of municipal land is a common economic development tool not previously thought to convert office-retail complexes into public works. Never mind that Ms. Leppink’s expansive reasoning could apply to all future commercial redevelopment of land belonging to the District or to the federal government anywhere.From the the beginning, Barack Obama had claimed he wanted to transform America. His primary pushers—union bosses—have long wanted to change the America’s economy to more of a statist nation. Unfortunately, while many voters hoped Mr. Obama’s election would change things for the better, it is quite clear that the opposite has occurred. As a result, America will be poorer for generations as a result while union cronies control large portions of the federal government.While it is true Mr. Obama inherited a mess, he and his administration are making it exponentially worse.The question is: Is it ignorance or malice?Hmmmm....“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776.Read the full story here.
- Record Number Americans, Or 46.3 Million, Lived In Poverty Last Year; 49.9 Million Without Health Insurance.(BlacklistedNews).Source: Zero Hedge. The US Census Bureau has released its annual Income (not so much), Poverty (much) and Health Insurance Coverage report for 2010. The full thing is below but the highlights are as follows: i) Real median household income in the United States in 2010 was $49,445, a 2.3 percent decline from the 2009 median. ii) The nation's official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009 ? the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. There were 46.2 million people in poverty in 2010, up from 43.6 million in 2009 ? the fourth consecutive annual increase and the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published; and iii) The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 49.0 million in 2009 to 49.9 million in 2010, while the percentage without coverage ?16.3 percent - was not statistically different from the rate in 2009. Breaking it down by ethnicity, living in poverty were 27.4% of all blacks, and 26.6% of all Hispanics. White, non Hispanics and Asians were doing better at 9.9% and 12.1% respectively.Read the full story here.
- John Esposito’s Deceptions on ‘Islamophobia’.(FrontPageMag).By Hasan Mahmud.In most cases, a patient won’t even realize, let alone resist, when a doctor betrays him.I am a Muslim. I believe that accepting our (Muslims’) share in creating “Islamophobia” in the West will help eliminate it. Dr. John Esposito’s recent article in the Huffington Post, “Islamophobia: A threat to American Values?” puts the entire blame on Western “media commentators, hard-line Christian Zionists and politicians.” He even neglects to mention the huge contribution Muslim societies have had on the issue. Esposito ignores that in our global village the West is regularly flooded by violence coming from Muslim societies; violence which is perpetrated in the name of Islam while citing Quranic verses and the Prophet’s examples. The list is long. Here are some examples:
- A Sharia court stoned to death a gang-raped girl, who was a minor at the time.
- A Sharia court flogged another girl to death for having an affair.
- Punishing raped girls/women by Sharia courts is continuing.
- Wife-beating is openly preached.
- Child-marriage is openly preached.
- “No rape in marriage” is openly preached.
- Female genital mutilation (FGM) is supported by many clergics including some of Al Azhar University.
- Women are instantly divorced – there is no maintenance in such cases.
- A woman appealed to a Sharia court to order her husband to beat her not every day but once a week.
- Sharia-police (Hisba) are invading people’s lives.
- The persecution of Muslims with different ideas is reaching a frightening level.
- Non-Muslims are arrested for carrying their holy books.
- The persecution of non-Muslims is continuous and reaching a disturbing level.
- Hate preaching against non-Muslims in media is common.
- Indoctrination of children with such hate is open and alarming.
- School syllabi are full of hatred directed at “The Other.”
- Non-Muslim places of worship are destroyed regularly.
- Lying and deceiving are supported.
- Civil rights are violently suppressed by “Islamic” governments — often by hanging.
With such phenomena and experience, what else does Dr. Esposito expect from the West except “Islamophobia”? He also blames the West for resisting the Ground Zero Mosque. I wish he knew how many Muslims around the world are opposed to the proposed Islamic center, not because we don’t want mosques, but because before its construction, the notion of the center created “fitna” (division) and violently divided the whole nation.Esposito is also utterly wrong to state: “Today, opposition to mosque construction with claims that all mosques are ‘monuments to terrorism’ and ‘house embedded cells’ in locations from NYC and Staten Island, to Tennessee and California, has become not just a local but a national political issue.” I wish he knew that only last month a new mosque, Baitul Gaffar, was constructed in New York without a shadow of resistance, or how many euros European governments are pouring into the construct of new mosques. By the way, women were barred from attending the opening ceremony of Baitul Gaffar (House of Creator) in New York.Throughout his article, Esposito, a respected scholar, uses mini-exceptions as general examples. Despite overwhelming support for Muslims among politicians, he cites a few bad apples. For instance, Esposito says, “Politicians use fear of Islam as a political football.” He also states that “Justice Kagan is being accused of being ‘Justice Sharia.’” Accused? Knowing about widespread violence sanctioned by Sharia law, as the dean of Harvard Law School, Justice Kagan tried “to promote a deep appreciation of Islamic law” with the blessing of Saudi money. If such a person is not “Justice Sharia,” who is? Aren’t there Islamists trying to establish Sharia courts in the USA? Yes, the blueprint of American Sharia courts was created as early as 1993 by TAM, The American Muslims. Plus, who is breeding the home grown terrorists? Are they Western media commentators, hard-line Christian Zionists and politicians?I wish Esposito mentioned the hate-tsunami against Jews and the West that roars in the media and throughout the pulpits of the Muslim world, constantly in Himalayan magnitude. One cartoon against our Prophet (SA) caused chaos to break loose, but during my long years in the Middle East, I saw many dozens of worse cartoons in the media about Jews and their holy book. No government contained that, nor was there a sane Muslim voice against these cartoons.Esposito also states that “all Muslims have been reduced to stereotypes of Islam against the West, Islam’s war with modernity, and Muslim rage, extremism, fanaticism, and terrorism” and “all leaders of that [American] society look at all Muslims with suspicion and prejudice.” These are hyperbolic overstatements. I am a Muslim; I live in Canada and often travel to the US – there is a general sense of concern, but in general, Muslims are doing well, living well and are treated well. The overwhelming support and protection of Muslims by common North Americans and churches after 9/11 is on record, but is sadly overlooked.Yes, “We all [governments, policymakers, the media, educational institutions, religious and corporate leaders] have a critical role to play in countering the voices of hate, the exclusionary theologies and ideologies.” Esposito should give the same advice to the leaders of Muslims world.Once again, in our global village, the West is continuously bombarded by the news of serious violence from the Muslim world against women, non-Muslims and Muslims of different Islamic ideas, in the name of Islam.This is the main reason for “Islamophobia” — and a logical one.About Hasan Mahmud :Hasan Mahmud is a member of the advisory board of the World Muslims Congress.Read the full story here.
- Cuba to drill six oil wells off Florida coast.(DocsTalk).By Mark Tapscott.President Obama and his Interior Secretary Ken Salazar have all but shut down the U.S. oil and natural gas industry drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, but foreign powers like China, Cuba and Venezuela aren't hesitating to move in to take advantage of America's bureaucratic paralysis.Global Post reports preparations are moving forward for six wells in an area off the Florida coast in which U.S. experts have estimated could contain five billion barrels of oil. The Cubans are moving to tap into this potential energy bonanza with extensive aid from China, which built the massive drilling rig, and Hugo Chavez' Venezuela, which is providing drilling and production expertise.A Spanish firm, Repsol, with partners in Norway's Statoil and Italy's Saipem, will oversee the operation. Not by coincidence, the latest data on U.S. drilling activity shows a continuing decline in the number of rigs in operation. The Washington Post reports this morning that another 10 units stopped operating, leaving a total of 1,958. Most of the newly idled rigs are in Texas.HAVANA, Cuba — Somewhere between here and China, a hulking, hungry oil rig dubbed “Scarabeo 9” is making its way across the oceans, preparing to put a very controversial hole deep in the Gulf of Mexico.To nervous Floridians, even its name suggests “scare,” or “scar.” It will puncture the sea floor in Cuban-controlled waters just 60 miles off the Florida Keys, not far from a protected coastline where offshore drilling is banned under U.S. law.Having conducted test wells in the area before, Spanish energy company Repsol and its partners are now bringing the Chinese-built Scarabeo 9 to a site off Cuba’s northwest coast, where it aims to drill as soon as November at a depth of more than 5,500 feet, deeper than the blown-out well that spewed 5 million barrels of crude into the Gulf last summer.That disaster has added to anxiety about Cuba’s exploration efforts, but it has also intensified calls for U.S. officials to engage the Castro government on spill prevention and contingency plans.A high-level delegation of U.S. oil-spill experts traveled to Havana this week to meet with Cuban officials. It has urged the Obama administration to cooperate with the Castro government on a joint-response plan that could avert environmental catastrophe for both countries.The delegation included William Reilly, co-chair of the presidential commission that investigated last year’s spill at the Deepwater Horizon rig, at the well known as Macondo.“The fact that Cuba is about to drill six wells in the next two years, some of them very deep, deeper than Macondo, in places we wouldn’t allow it if it were in our waters … you better believe that the United States has an important interest in that,” Reilly said.“The Cubans have never regulated this industry, they don’t have familiarity with it, but they are doing things to get ready for it,” he added. “We want to make sure the Cubans have got the lessons we learned, and get a sense of what they do need — that the U.S., in its own interest — would help them get.”Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), a long-time Castro foe, criticized the delegation’s visit, saying it gave “credibility” to Cuba’s attempt to become “the oil tycoons of the Caribbean.” Other lawmakers have also urged retaliatory measures against Repsol.But experts say with Cuba moving forward, the U.S. should help them do so as safely as possible. Some of the industry’s leading safety-equipment providers and cleanup contractors are nearby along the Gulf Coast, but the U.S. trade embargo bars them from doing business with the island.In recent months, Cuban authorities have given minimal information about their drilling plans, but the U.S. delegation gave new details into the project.The fact that the drilling rig was built in China should not raise concerns, said delegation member Lee Hunt, president of the Houston-based International Association of Drilling Contractors, a trade group. As many six other rigs already working safely in the Gulf of Mexico were built in the same Chinese shipyard, Hunt said.“It has the latest generation of equipment,” said Hunt.American trade sanctions against Cuba prohibited the use of more than 10 percent U.S. technology in the rig’s construction, but Hunt said the Norwegian-designed platform will have an American-made blowout-prevention system that is more advanced than the one which failed on the Deepwater Horizon.While Cuban oil officials will manage and regulate the operations, the engineers and crews doing the actually drilling will be composed of experienced international oil workers, said Hunt. An Italian firm, Saipem, will be operating the rig, and Repsol’s partners include Statoil, a Norwegian company that he and others praise as a world leader in safe deepwater drilling.When asked how closely U.S. oil companies were following Cuba’s drilling plans — and if they might be angling behind the scenes for access to its waters — members of the delegation said it would depend on the size of the find.If the deposits hold close to 20 billion barrels, as Cuban geologists claim, that would probably attract some interest, said delegation member Richard Sears, a former vice president and deepwater drilling specialist at Royal Dutch Shell.For now, though, Sears said, U.S. firms will likely prefer to work in parts of the world with proven hydrocarbon reserves and fewer political hurdles than Cuba. “The challenge for any company is how you allocate resources,” he said.“Do I want to fight political and public-relations battles?” said Sears. “Or do I put my resources into other parts of the Gulf of Mexico where I have well-established leases?”Hmmmm.....If he really wanted to destroy America's economy would he do anything different?Read the full story here.
- Obama’s New Anti-Terrorist Group: Islamist and Pro-Terrorist Turkish Regime Annointed as Co-Leader; Israel, Left Out.(BarryRubin).Every time I strongly criticize the Obama Administration’s foreign policy, there are those who think calling this president’s policy incredibly disastrous is an exaggeration. Within a few hours, however, this government proves my criticism to be accurate by still another astonishingly damaging, wrong-headed action . Here is the latest example.Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced the establishment of a new Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). According to the statement, this initiative is the main activity in the administration’s effort to organize a framework for the international counterterrorism effort. In other words, it is very important.But when I read the announcement, I can’t help but think: there goes another several hundred million dollars. Is this group actually going to do something that cannot be done by existing organizations? Is the best way to fight terrorism to create new bureaucracies with office space, high-paid staff, international travel, more useless documents, and expensive conferences?The statement explains the purpose of this new organization:“To address the evolving terrorist threat…by helping frontline countries and affected regions acquire the means to deal with threats they face. It is based on a recognition that the U.S. alone cannot eliminate every terrorist or terrorist organization. Rather, the international community must come together to assist countries as they work to confront the terrorist threat.”The language is, of course, that of Obama Administration multilateralism. Yet what is the motive of a country to help eliminate terrorists? Self-interest because those countries or their interests are being attacked by those groups. And when do they not do so? When they support the terrorists’ aims. Thus, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan are not going to be allies in the battle against Hamas, Hizballah, and radical Islamist groups generally. Will more American-sponsored training increase Pakistan’s effectiveness when corruption and political policy makes its military protect, even help, al-Qaida?In as much as the plan for the group expresses any real-world purpose, it is to help the countries most targeted by terrorism. There are 30 founding members. Most of them—I’d say two-thirds—face no serious terrorist threat today. The Middle East members include Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.Switzerland is a member; Pakistan and India, despite the former’s sponsoring terrorism against the latter, are members; Israel is not. Remember that not only is the country in the world most threatened by terrorism but also the one with the most experience and greatest expertise in fighting terrorism. Of course, the eight Arab states—along with founders Indonesia and Pakistan—would not participate in programs alongside Israel. But this problem could easily have been managed in a number of ways, as it has been done before in many such groups, for example by creating regional sub-sections. Finally, among the new organization’s plans is the “first-ever multilateral training and research center focused on countering violent extremism, which would be based in the Gulf region.” Note that by siting it in the Gulf region, as opposed to all of the other places it could have been done, ensures that no Israeli will ever be an instructor or a student there. The center easily could have been put in the territory of more than twenty other non-Arab members. But there’s more. The United States is not leading this new organization alone. It has a co-director. That co-director is Turkey.Certainly, Turkey has faced terrorism in the past. While one has great sympathy for it in that battle, the Turkish government has also used methods involving death squads and human rights’ violations far worse than those methods condemned loudly by the United States when done by other countries.Unfortunately, too, the Turkish regime is now is a major supporter of such terrorist groups as Hamas and Hizballah. In addition, the Turkish government is closely aligned with the IHH, an Islamist terrorist group which the Turkish government backed in the Gaza Flotilla in order to create an international crisis.At the very moment when the U.S. government is making the Turkish government its partner in fighting terrorism, that same government is turning Turkey into a dictatorship. Every day, military officers are being arrested on ridiculous charges. Freedom is steadily contracting.On the international level, the Obama Administration is rewarding a government that opposed U.S.-backed sanctions on Iran and stabbed the U.S. government in the back by trying to push a separate deal with Iran to subvert the sanctions effort. And it is also rewarding the Ankara government by making it the U.S.-appointed mediator over the future of Syria, despite the fact that the Turkish regime is favoring a future Islamist government in Damascus, as Syrian oppositionists complain bitterly.The “Turkish model,” which the U.S. government often champions for the Arabic-speaking world, means in reality the creation of Islamist, anti-Western, regimes that at home seek to transform their societies at home into Islamist dictatorships and their foreign policies into supporting terrorist groups, fighting Israel, and undermining other U.S. allies. This is not, to say the least, a brilliant idea.But what transforms this from the absurd and bizarre to the truly dangerous is the fact that the U.S. government is once again raising the status of Turkey at a time when its prime minister is openly talking of war with Israel and acting in a more reckless, shortsighted manner than any Turkish government has since 1914.As a matter of history, that government mistakenly entered World War One on the German side. Within four years the result was the Armenian massacres, total defeat, the loss of the country’s empire, horrendous disease and death that wiped out twenty percent of Anatolia’s population, and the occupation by foreign armies of large parts of Turkey.Reacting to this experience, Kemal Ataturk, who founded the republic, wisely expounded the dictum that directed Turkey’s foreign policy for eight decades: peace at home; peace abroad. That is no longer the guiding concept of the Islamist regime’s foreign policy.Hmmmm......"By their fruits you will know them".Read the full story here.
- Iranian judiciary denies decision taken on freeing U.S. hikers.(AlArabiya).Iran’s judiciary said on Wednesday that no decision has been taken on releasing two US hikers convicted of spying, a day after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the duo would be released soon.“While denying ... release of two Americans accused of espionage, the public relations of the judiciary announces that the request of the lawyer to post bail and free them is being studied by the case’s judge,” a statement posted on the judiciary website said. “Any information in this regard will be issued by the judiciary and any release of information from other sources is not valid,” it added.Ahmadinejad told The Washington Post on Tuesday that Tehran would soon release Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, convicted of spying but who claimed to have accidentally strayed into the country, “in a couple of days so they will be able to return home.”“The two Americans are going to stay in prison for a bit longer. Reports of their imminent release are wrong, “Iran’s English-language Press TV quoted a judiciary official as saying.In a separate interview with U.S. network NBC News, Ahmadinejad said the duo -- whose jailing has further strained already difficult relations between Washington and Tehran -- would be released “in two days.”However, their lawyer Masoud Shafii told AFP on Wednesday that he was waiting for a judge authorizing the posting of bail for the two hikers.“Nothing has changed since I was informed by the court (on Tuesday) of their decision to change the detention to posting bail of the 5$00,000,” Shafii said.“There are two judges who have to sign the decision for me to start the process of actually posting bail. I am waiting for one the judges who has still not signed ... if he does not sign the decision by the end the working day, 3:00 pm (1130 GMT) it will postponed to Saturday,” the lawyer said.“I have already informed the families and the Swiss embassy,” he added. The Swiss embassy deals with U.S.-related affairs as Washington and Tehran have had no diplomatic relations since the aftermath of the Islamic revolution of 1979.Ahmadinejad’s comments drew an optimistic response from the families of the hikers, who were each sentenced to eight years in jail last month on charges of espionage and illegal entry.“While we do not have further details at this time, we are overjoyed by the positive news reports from Iran,” said a statement issued by the families.“Shane and Josh’s freedom means more to us than anything and it’s a huge relief to read that they are going to be released,” the statement said.“We’re grateful to everyone who has supported us and looking forward to our reunion with Shane and Josh. We hope to say more when they are finally back in our arms.”A guarded U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “We have followed this very closely and we are encouraged by what the Iranian government has said today.” She added: “We obviously hope that we will see a positive outcome from what appears to be a decision by the government.”The pair were arrested in July 2009 near Iran’s border with Iraq, where they say they were hiking in the mountains as tourists, along with a third American, Sarah Shourd.Bauer and Fattal were convicted last month and share a cell in Tehran’s Evin prison. Shourd was allowed to go home after being freed on $500,000 bail in September 2010, paid through Oman, a U.S. Gulf ally that maintains relations with Iran.Read the full story here.
- Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood criticizes Erdogan’s call for a secular state.(AlArabiya).Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call on Egyptians to adopt a secular constitution has created a kind of controversy, just hours before his scheduled meeting with the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest political group, on Wednesday. Erdogan noted that secularism does not mean renouncing religion. “A secular state respects all religions,” Erdogan said in an interview with an Egyptian private satellite TV channel prior to his visit to Egypt.“Do not be wary of secularism. I hope there will be a secular state in Egypt,” Erdogan said. He stressed that people have the right to choose whether or not to be religious, adding that he is a Muslim prime minister for a secular state.Dr Mahmoud Ghuzlan, the spokesman of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, considered Erdogan’s comments as interference in Egypt’s local affairs. Ghuzlan was quoted by an Egyptian newspaper as saying that the experiments of other countries should not be cloned. “Turkey’s conditions imposed on it to deal with the secular concept,” he said.Erdogan said Egypt needs to meet some requirements for establishing a modern state, including better management of human resources, more attention to education, improved management of financial resources and eliminating corruption.The idea of adopting a secular system for Egypt has fueled controversy between the country’s liberal and Islamist powers since the Jan. 25 revolution.Liberal and secular groups fear an Islamist takeover of the parliament through the upcoming elections scheduled for November. They fear such a takeover would give Islamists control over the drafting of the constitution.Read the full story here.
- Turkish PM sets out on mission to become leader of Arab world.(Independent).The Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, arrived in Egypt yesterday at the start of a three-nation tour as Turkey toughens its stance towards Israel and seeks to become the predominant power among Muslim states in the Middle East and North Africa.After Egypt, Mr Erdogan will visit Tunisia and Libya to show Turkey's support for both countries after the overthrow of long-standing police states in the Arab Spring. Turkey's strong, democratic and mildly Islamic regime makes it a model for new governments in all three countries.Mr Erdogan's assertive and critical attitude towards Israel, until recently a close ally of Turkey, makes him attractive to the Arab world. In Cairo, the burning down of the Israeli embassy last weekend was the latest incident marking the hostility at street level between post-Mubarak Egyptians and Israel.At the same time, the perception among Arab states that President Barack Obama has failed to help the Palestinians, while lending Israel his total support, has diminished US popularity and influence in the region. Mr Erdogan said in an interview before leaving for Cairo that he had seen "grounds for war" against Israel last year after nine Turks had been killed by Israeli commandos on the Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara bound for Gaza, but had "decided to act with patience". He hinted that in future the Turkish navy would protect any Turkish aid flotilla going to Gaza."Turkey will get most of what it wants if it does not overplay its hand," said one commentator. Turkey has already imposed sanctions on Israel in retaliation for the aid-boat raid, but according to his aides Mr Erdogan appears to have abandoned, for the moment, his declared long-term intention to visit Gaza.Turkey has benefited from the Arab Spring because it is likely to be in tune with new democratic governments, even when it had good relations with their predecessors. The country can also move to fill a vacuum since most of the more powerful Arab states, such as Egypt and Syria, are weaker than they were before their governments were overthrown. Iraq has never recovered from the rule of Saddam Hussein and the violence that followed. In sharp contrast to Iran, Turkey has few serious enemies. It has sought to mediate over Iran's nuclear programme between the Iranian government, which it regards with suspicion, and the US and Europeans. The two countries also have a common foe in the shape of festering Kurdish insurgencies which engage in persistent guerrilla attacks. An attack by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas in Hakkani Province in eastern Turkey overnight killed five people, including two security men.The PKK has killed about 50 Turkish security personnel in recent weeks since it ended its ceasefire earlier in the year. Although Mr Erdogan has brought the Turkish army under
Islamiccivilian control, his government does not want to look weak in any confrontation with the PKK. It is putting pressure on the Iraqi Kurdish President, Massoud Barzani, to isolate the PKK from its mountain strongholds inside Iraq. Mr Barzani, who would like Turkey as a counter-balance to Baghdad, has demanded in recent days that the PKK and the Kurdish guerrilla movement in Iran give up armed resistance. Turkey has been playing an increasingly influential role in Iraqi politics because it is able to mediate between different parties, sects and ethnic groups. It also plays a growing commercial role: Turkish companies have even won contracts to collect the rubbish in Baghdad and Basra. In Syria, Mr Erdogan has criticised President Bashar al-Assad's repression of protests, probably calculating that his regime is not going to survive, at least in its present form. Similarly in Libya, Turkey was at first slow to break with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, but when it did so, it advanced $300m to the rebels at a time when they were short of money. Turkey was heavily involved in construction in Libya.Overall, the isolation of Israel, the democratic uprisings in the Arab world, the weakness of the Arab states, and the diminished strength of the US in the region have all worked to Turkey's advantage. Its influence is growing throughout the region but it is a long way from being in control of events.Hmmmm......Caliph Erdogan versus Caliph Ahmadinejad?Can't decide which is worse.Read the full story here.
- No US drones for Turkey until armed threat on Israel lifted.(Debka).The Obama administration has turned down a Turkish request for drones or for the deployment of US Predators at Turkish bases until Ankara stops threatening Israel with armed attack, debkafile's military and Washington sources report. Turkey has no functioning unmanned aerial vehicles at present. The "technical problems" grounding the Herons Israel sold Ankara have crippled the Turkish army's campaign against the Kurdish PKK rebels – both in northern Iraq and in southeast Turkey.In recent days, therefore, the rebels have stepped up their raids on Turkish territory, killing nine people including army and police personnel.Israeli officialdom and military chiefs are doing their utmost to keep the lid on the spiraling Turkish-Israel confrontation, claiming that a military clash is not imminent because the US, NATO and Europe won't let it happen. Turkey is after all a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. However, debkafile's military sources report, the confrontation has already broken surface. Despite Western efforts to contain the rising tension, the armed conflict has quietly begun.Our sources confirm that the Ankara press report of three Turkish frigates bound for the eastern Mediteranean to challenge and disarm Israel warships outside its 12-mile territorial waters was deliberately leaked by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's office to coincide with his trip to Cairo.Israeli officials are making every effort to conceal the arrival of the frigates opposite Israeli waters, while Washington, the NATO command in Brussels try to dissuade Turkey from carrying out its threat to disable the weapons of Israel naval vessels.They fear that a firefight would drive the Israel-Turkish crisis into uncharted waters.Since Saturday, Sept. 10, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been in direct touch with Erdogan and warned him that a military clash by a NATO member with the Israeli Navy would have grave consequences for Turkey's future military ties with the US and the alliance. Our sources explain that the denial of advanced US intelligence technology on the heels of its cutoff from Israel would present the Turkish army with serious operational, intelligence and high-tech difficulties.These difficulties are already hobbling Ankara's counterinsurgency campaign against the PKK at a critical juncture.Read the full story here.
- Palestinian Ambassador To U.S. Reiterates Call For a Jew-Free Palestinian State.(TheDC) — During a breakfast briefing hosted by the Christian Science Monitor on Tuesday, Palestinian Ambassador to the United States Maen Rashid Areikat reiterated his call to create a Jew-free Palestinian state.“Well, I personally still believe that as a first step we need to be totally separated, and we can contemplate these issues in the future,” he said when asked by The Daily Caller if he could imagine a Jew being elected mayor of the Palestinian city of Ramallah in a future independent Palestinian state. “But after the experience of 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it will be in the best interests of the two peoples to be separated first.”Last year, Areikat made a similar statement during an interview with Tablet magazine. Asked whether it would be neccessary to transfer and remove “every Jew” from a future Palestinian state, Areikat responded “absolutely.”“I’m not saying to transfer every Jew, I’m saying transfer Jews who, after an agreement with Israel, fall under the jurisdiction of a Palestinian state,” he said then. “I think this is a very necessary step, before we can allow the two states to somehow develop their separate national identities, and then maybe open up the doors for all kinds of cultural, social, political, economic exchanges, that freedom of movement of both citizens of Israelis and Palestinians from one area to another. You know you have to think of the day after.”Hmmmm....."JudenFrei" yup sound like good old Nazi Germany.Read the full story here.
- Greek Cyprus vows to block Turkey-EU energy talks in gas row.(TodaysZaman).EU member Greek Cyprus vowed on Wednesday to keep Turkey's entry talks on hold as long as Ankara challenges the island's rights to launch offshore gas drilling, in an escalating row among east Mediterranean neighbours over hydrocarbon reserves. Rhetoric over ownership of speculated oil and gas deposits has sharpened after a deterioration of relations between Turkey and Israel, the discovery of massive gas fields by Israel and plans by Greek Cyprus to drill as early as next month.Greek Cyprus, an EU member since 2004, has blocked the opening of several negotiating chapters in Turkey-EU entry talks. One of those is energy."The position of Cyprus has not changed. Turkey must make a formal commitment to the EU that it will end its provocations towards the Republic of Cyprus and stop obstructing Cypriot efforts in the field of energy," said Stefanos Stefanou, the Greek Cypriot government spokesman.Stefanou’s remarks came the EU Commission, the 27-nation bloc’s executive arm, has urged the member states for progress in accession talks with Turkey on energy chapter. In a document outlining the EU’s energy policy, the Commission said progress in this area will help advance Turkish-EU cooperation and create a solid legal framework for the transfer of natural gas from eastern suppliers to European markets, Turkey’s semi-official Anatolia news agency reported on Tuesday.Timing of the drilling itself, however, is unrelated to the Cyprus talks and stipulated in contractual obligations between Greek Cyprus and Noble, the US company poised to launch an exploratory drill in one offshore sector southeast of Cyprus around the beginning of October.Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias on Tuesday denounced what he said were Turkish threats and said the island would press ahead with drilling as its sovereign right.Hmmmm......Read the full story here.
- Russia says terrorism will rise if Syrian president falls; E.U. asks Assad to step down.(AlArabiya).Russia warned on Wednesday that “terrorist organizations” may arise in Syria should President Bashar al-Assad’s regime fall under pressure from ongoing protests.“If the Syrian government is unable to hold on to power, there is a high probability that radicals and representatives of terrorist organizations will become entrenched,” AFP reported Interfax quoting a top foreign ministry official as saying.Contrary to the Russian reaction, the European Union on Wednesday asked Assad to resign, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported.Russia has been attracting increasing international anger over its continued support for Syria despite a government crackdown on protests that the United Nations estimates have killed around 2,600 people.Moscow has refused to support Western sanctions against its Soviet-era ally and argues that equal pressure should also be placed on protesters who refuse to engage Assad in direct talks.President Dmitry Medvedev last week also said that some of those taking part in the Syrian demonstration had links to “terrorists.”The foreign ministry’s new challenges and threats department chief Ilya Rogachyov said that Libya could become another safe haven for extremist groups following the fall of Moamer Kadhafi.“Strange things are happening in Libya,” Interfax quoted Rogachyov as saying during a lecture in Russia's second city of Saint Petersburg.“Weapons storages have been burgled and no one knows what happened,” he said. “We can say with a high degree of probability that the weapons fell into the hands of the regional department of Al-Qaeda.”Russia heavily criticized the NATO-led campaign against Qaddafi’s forces after abstaining on a UN vote that authorized the action.Arab League states on Tuesday called for “immediate change” in Syria and an end to the violence after months of a government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters opposed to Assad’s rule. Meanwhile, Syria rejected the league’s statement and described it as "hostile." Read the full story here.
- Maccabi Tel Aviv playing in Turkey.(IsraelMatzav).A lot of people are worried - really worried - about Maccabi Tel Aviv's soccer match (they insist on calling it 'football') in the Istanbul suburb of Besiktas on Thursday evening. The players were met at the airport by 2,500 policemen, the team has hired an additional security company and has asked UEFA - the European Football Federation - to send a representative, and Israeli fans who insisted violating the National Security Council directive by going to the game have been told not to wear the Maccabi yellow and blue to the stadium. Hmmmmm......I think it's a really bad idea to have such a soccer match in Turkey,it might turn out worse than the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.Read the full story here.