- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Chile 5.4 - 5.3 ; Greece 5.3!More info here.
- Japan : For the most accurate info on the nuclear disaster go to : Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog.Here.
- Canary Islands - El Hierro earthquake and volcano eruption – Update 21. here , Live webcams here and here.
- Egypt LiveBlog: Déjà Vu All Over Again . Here.
- Barack Obama, Emperor of Insolvency.(DougRoss).The lede in today's coverage of the U.S. deficit struggle ("Obama reopens debate on US stimulus") at the Financial Times is troubling on two fronts.Barack Obama sought to reignite the debate over an economic stimulus package on Tuesday, demanding that a bitterly divided Congress pass an extension of payroll tax cuts before the end of the year.“We still have to give the economy the jolt that it needs,” the US president said on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, a day after a bipartisan committee failed to agree on a $1,200bn deficit reduction package. He added he would do “everything in his power, with or without Congress”. Consider:
• Fact: the "payroll tax cuts" simply accelerate the collapse of the Social Security system
• And what kind of president talks about operating "without Congress"?
Our beloved Dictator-in-Chief knows that America is insolvent, that Social Security is headed for collapse, and that Obamacare simply hastens the implosion. Hmmm.....Now read the following 'Flashback'.Read the full story here.
- 'Flashback' - Why he's really Destroying America: Cloward-Piven Government.(AT).It is time to cast aside all remaining doubt. President Obama is not trying to lead America forward to recovery, prosperity and strength. Quite the opposite, in fact.In September of last year(2008), American Thinker published my article, Barack Obama and the Strategy of Manufactured Crisis. Part of a series, it connected then-presidential candidate Barack Obama to individuals and organizations practicing a malevolent strategy for destroying our economy and our system of government. Since then, the story of that strategy has found its way across the blogosphere, onto the airwaves of radio stations across the country, the Glenn Beck television show, Bill O'Reilly, and now Mark Levin.The methodology is known as the Cloward-Piven Strategy, and we can all be grateful to David Horowitz and his Discover the Networks for originally exposing and explaining it to us. He describes it as: The strategy of forcing political change through orchestrated crisis. The "Cloward-Piven Strategy" seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven were two lifelong members of Democratic Socialists of America who taught sociology at Columbia University (Piven later went on to City University of New York). In a May 1966 Nation magazine article titled "The Weight of the Poor," they outlined their strategy, proposing to use grassroots radical organizations to push ever more strident demands for public services at all levels of government. The result, they predicted, would be "a profound financial and political crisis" that would unleash "powerful forces ... for major economic reform at the national level."They implemented the strategy by creating a succession of radical organizations, most notable among them the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), with the help of veteran organizer Wade Rathke. Their crowning achievement was the "Motor Voter" act, signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993 with Cloward and Piven standing behind him.As we now know, ACORN was one of the chief drivers of high-risk mortgage lending that eventually led to the financial crisis. But the Motor Voter law was another component of the strategy. It created vast vulnerabilities in our electoral system, which ACORN then exploited.ACORN's vote registration scandals throughout the U.S. are predictable fallout. The Motor Voter law has also been used to open another vulnerability in the system: the registration of vast numbers of illegal aliens, who then reliably vote Democrat. Herein lies the real reason Democrats are so anxious for open borders, security be damned.It should be clear to anyone with a mind and two eyes that this president and this Congress do not have our interests at heart. They are implementing this strategy on an unprecedented scale by flooding America with a tidal wave of poisonous initiatives, orders, regulations, and laws. As Rahm Emmanuel said, "A crisis is a terrible thing to waste."The real goal of "health care" legislation, the real goal of "cap-and-trade," and the real goal of the "stimulus" is to rip the guts out of our private economy and transfer wide swaths of it over to the government to control. Do not be deluded by the propaganda. These initiatives are vehicles for change. They are not goals in and of themselves except in their ability to deliver power. They and will make matters much worse, for that is their design. This time, in addition to overwhelming the government with demands for services, Obama and the Democrats are overwhelming political opposition to their plans with a flood of apocalyptic legislation. Their ultimate goal is to leave us so discouraged, demoralized, and exhausted that we throw our hands up in defeat. As Charles Rangel* said, "the middle class will be too distracted to fight."These people are our enemies. They don't use guns, yet, but they are just as dangerous, determined, and duplicitous as the communists we faced in the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, and bush wars across the globe, and the Nazis we faced in World War II.It is time we fully internalized and digested this fact, with all its ugly ramifications. These people have violated countless laws and could be prosecuted, had we the political power. Not only are their policies unconstitutional, but deliberately so -- the goal being to make the Constitution irrelevant. Their spending is off the charts and will drive us into hyperinflation, but it could be rescinded, had we the political power. These policies are toxic, but they could be stopped and reversed, had we the political power. Their ideologies are poisonous, but they could be exposed for what they are, with long jail sentences as an object lesson, had we the political power. Every single citizen who cares about this country should be spending every minute of his or her spare time lobbying, organizing, writing, and planning. Fight every initiative they launch. It is all destructive. If we are to root out this evil, it is critical that in 2010 we elect competent, principled leaders willing to defend our Constitution and our country. Otherwise, the malevolent cabal that occupies the government today will become too entrenched.After that, all bets are off.Hmmm.....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.
- "CHANGE" - Turkey Day Inflation: Thanksgiving Dinner Up 13% Over Last Year.(SHTF).A new report from the American Farm Bureau Federation says that Thanksgiving dinner will cost Americans 13% more this year than it did in 2010, yet another indicator that price inflation with respect to necessities like food and energy is not a transitory phenomenon.The retail cost of menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings increased about 13 percent this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.AFBF’s 26th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.20, a $5.73 price increase from last year’s average of $43.47.In addition, “the era of grocers holding the line on retail food cost increases is basically over,” Anderson explained. “Retailers are being more aggressive about passing on higher costs for shipping, processing and storing food to consumers, although turkeys may still be featured in special sales and promotions close to Thanksgiving.A total of 141 volunteer shoppers from 35 states participated in this year’s survey. Farm Bureau’s survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.Hmmm....My guess not many will be thankfull for the "Obama Change".Read the full story here.
- Turkey, Israel clash over gas drilling.(JPost).ANKARA - Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Wednesday Israeli and Cypriot energy exploration in the Mediterranean was illegal, agreement should first be reached with all relevant parties, and resources should be equally shared.Turkey and Cyprus are in dispute over the energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean and Texas-based Noble Energy started drilling in September a Cypriot offshore block abutting another block controlled by Israel.The Foreign Ministry shot back at the Turkish accusation, telling The Jerusalem Post that, "Israel strictly abides by international law." "If Turkey wants to lay claim to Israeli resources then it should do so through the UN and not through the media," the ministry spokesperson said.Turkey is the only government to recognize the breakaway northern Cyprus, run by a Turkish Cypriot administration, as a separate state, though it backs reunification talks. In September, Turkey began exploring for gas in an offshore zone where Cyprus had started drilling the previous week.Israel is also drilling nearby, and the issue has emerged as a further bone of contention between Turkey and the Jewish state. Long Israel's rare Middle East ally, Ankara has downgraded ties over Israel's refusal to apologize for a deadly raid last year on a Turkish aid flotilla.The question of who has the right to tap deposits in a region holding the world's biggest natural gas find of the past decade has added urgency to efforts to settle the conflict over Cyprus, divided since 1974 into Greek and Turkish enclaves.Israel has gradually boosted naval patrols around its east Mediterranean natural gas fields for fear of guerrilla attacks and as the maritime rivalry with Turkey deepens, an Israeli official said on Monday.Missile boats have stepped up missions around the Tamar and Leviathan gas platforms over the past year, as well as coordination with private security firms contracted by the US-Israeli exploration consortium, the official said."We have replicated the arrangements already in place at Yam Tethys," the official said, referring to another Israeli gas field 40 km (25 miles) off southern Ashkelon port, near the waters of the Palestinian territory Gaza.Tamar and Leviathan, in which Israel sees a potential pipeline to energy independence, are around twice and three times as far out to sea, respectively. That challenges Israel's small navy, which is more accustomed to close coastal patrols.The Israeli military's newspaper Bamahane said the navy was undergoing expansion including the appointment of a commodore to handle the induction of two more German-made submarines and address "the new need to protect the drilling rigs."Hmmm...... The Mediterranean is mine All Mine?Read the full story here.
- Unholy Alliance: Egypt's Military And The Muslim Brotherhood.(Huffingtonpost).By Amb. Marc Ginsberg.Despite protestations of its purported political neutrality Egypt's besieged military leadership has been secretly funneling financial, food, and security support to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and its allied Salafist parties in the run up to next week's parliamentary elections. The assistance takes the form of "walk around" money, clothing and food giveaways secretly funneled to the coffers of the Brotherhood's front party -- the Freedom and Justice Party, the Construction and Development Party, as well as to allied Salafist Parties, including Al Nour, Al-Asalah, Al-Fadilah, Al Islah and others -- in a bid to buy votes and provide Islamist parties a military supported upper hand in the upcoming parliamentary elections.. The military leadership has not only channeled financial support to the Islamists, it has also secretly collaborated with Salafists who have attacked Copts throughout Egypt in a show of support for more punitive discriminatory acts against Egypt's Coptic minority to curry further favor with Salafists. Hundreds of Copts were attacked by unknown assailants en route to Cairo's Tahrir Square on November 18th the second night of demonstrations this month while security forces stood by. This latest attack comes in the wake of October's attack by the army which used live fire and drove military vehicles into a crowd of Copts protesting a rash of attacks on Copts and Coptic churches, killing 25 innocent protestors. According to information obtained from a reliable European military intelligence source with whom I met in Turkey a few days ago, an emissary of The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) met secretly with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist oriented political movements last April to establish local political "action committee" bank accounts to funnel an underground supply chain of financial and commodity support to local Islamist political organizations throughout Egypt outside the prying eyes of Cairo-based media. Hundreds of local Islamist political organization chapters throughout Egypt have been buying votes courtesy of military provided financial and food handouts.While it is impossible to determine the exact extent of the financial, clothing and food transfers, I was told by a prominent Egyptian journalist who is trying to uncover the magnitude of the payouts that it amounts to "millions of dollars." The military is not the sole source of funds to Islamists parties, which are also receiving funds from Egyptian businessmen trying to buy favor with the likely winners of Egypt's parliamentary elections, and charitable donations from wealthy Saudis. The SCAF's surreptitious political maneuvering favoring Islamists over more secular political movements is based on one simple equation -- the military is determined to prevent secularists from gaining a parliamentary majority which would likely impair its insatiable appetite for controlling Egypt's national budget and its own extensive business operations. It is determined to prevent a civilian government from interfering with its cherished prerogatives. Moreover, the vast majority of Egypt's rank and file soldiers come from more rural, conservative parts of Egypt, where support for Islamic parties is most pronounced. The SCAF is betting that its considerable support for Islamists will translate into long term loyalty among Egypt's post revolutionary conscripts as an insurance policy against potential efforts to interfere with the military's jealously guarded prerogatives.The outbreak of unrest throughout Cairo in recent days orchestrated largely by Egypt's more secular, liberal-oriented political supporters has clearly shocked the SCAF. Anger at Egypt's military rulers reached a boiling point when, in addition to delaying reforms and presidential elections, the SCAF-controlled constitution drafting committee (with a wink and nod from Islamist members of the drafting committee) unveiled a draft two weeks ago exempting the military and its budget from civilian oversight over the strenuous objections of secular political parties. In fact, Field Marshal Tantawi's determination to press ahead with parliamentary elections next week as originally planned despite the violence and unrest throughout the country reflects, in part, the military leadership's fear that prolonging the parliamentary campaigning will reveal the extent of the SCAF's slush fund operations and its interference on behalf of Islamist parties.Hmmm......Could be the birth of an Iran like government, it's first steps in it's infancy.Read the full story here.
- Medvedev: Russia may target U.S. missile defense sites.(HurriyetDaily).President Dmitry Medvedev says Russia will aim its missiles at the U.S. missile defense sites in Europe if Washington fails to address Russian concerns on its missile defense plans.Medvedev said that Russia will deploy missiles in its westernmost Kaliningrad region and other areas if Russia and NATO fail to reach a deal on the U.S.-led missile defense plans.He also said in a televised statement Wednesday that Moscow may opt out of the New Start arms control deal with the United States and halt other arms control talks if the U.S. proceeds with its plans to deploy its missile shield in Europe.Russia considers the U.S. shield as a threat to its nuclear forces.Hmmm....Don't you feel safe with Obama in 'control'?Read the full story here.
- Obama Admin Bans US Aircraft Maker, Favors Non-US Firm with Ties to Iran on Light Aircraft Project.(PJM).Late Thursday the Obama administration abruptly knocked Kansas aircraft maker Hawker Beechcraft out of contention for a $1 billion project to make a fleet of lightweight counterinsurgency aircraft for the Air Force. Hawker Beechcraft is, understandably, disturbed and asking questions.
The Air Force has notified Hawker Beechcraft Corp. that its Beechcraft AT-6 has been excluded from competition to build a light attack aircraft, a contract worth nearly $1 billion, the company said.
The company had hoped to its AT-6, an armed version of its T-6 trainer, would be chosen for the Light Air Support Counter Insurgency aircraft for the Afghanistan National Army Corps. The chosen aircraft also would be used as a light attack armed reconnaissance aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.
The piston planes are designed for counterinsurgency, close air support, armed overwatch and homeland security, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/ud7FDM).
Hawker Beechcraft officials said in a news release that they were “confounded and troubled” by the Air Force’s decision. The company said it is asking the Air Force for an explanation and will explore all options.
Hawker Beechcraft said it had been working with the Air Force for two years and had invested more than $100 million to meet the Air Force’s requirements for the plane. It noted that the Beechcraft AT-6 had been found capable of meeting the requirements in a demonstration program led by the Air National Guard.
“We have followed the Air Force’s guidance close, and based on what we have seen, we continue to believe that we submitted the most capable, affordable and sustainable light attack aircraft,” the company said.
The company has said that winning the contract would have kept its T-6 production line running after 2015. About 1,400 employees in 20 states – including 800 at Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita – work on the AT-6 and T-6 programs for Beechcraft and its U.S. suppliers and partners.So that’s another 1,400 American jobs lost. And it gets worse. By knocking Hawker Beechcraft out, the Pentagon has limited the “competition” to one company, a company that is not only not an American manufacturer, it’s a government-owned entity with ties to our enemies. The company is Embraer, which is controlled by the government of Brazil and has close ties to the government of Iran, as Timothy Lee wrote for the Tatler on Nov. 10.Why is the administration making a decision to exclude an American manufacturer in favor of a maker with such a history? This is the Obama administration’s second billion-dollar giveaway to the Brazilian government in 2011; the first was its outrageous offshore oil loan guarantee decision in March. The two decisions siphon more than $2 billion and more than 21,000 jobs out of the US economy. Of the two, putting a foreign manufacturer with ties to our enemies in charge of a project to build anti-terror weaponry may be the most disturbing. And this is the Obama administration’s second major decision against an American aircraft manufacturer, the first being the NLRB’s unprecedented lawsuit against Boeing and its South Carolina Dreamliner plant. Both states impacted — Kansas and South Carolina — are right-to-work states. And then there’s this president’s sustained rhetorical war against corporate jet owners. Somebody has to make those jets, and Hawker Beechcraft is among the manufacturers indirectly targeted.Hmmm......Thugocracy in it's natural element, "You're either with me or against me".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.
- Arab States, Turkey, U.S. Plan ‘No-Fly Zone’ Over Syria.(Cryptogon).Senior European sources said that Arab jet fighters, and possibly Turkish warplanes, backed by American logistic support will implement a no fly zone in Syria’s skies, after the Arab League will issue a decision, under its Charter, calling for the protection of Syrian civilians.The sources told Kuwait’s al Rai daily that the no fly ban will include a ban on the movement of Syrian military vehicles, including tanks, personnel carriers and artillery, adding that this move would aim at curbing the movement of Assad forces, and cripple their ability to bomb cities. The European sources said the no fly ban might lead to the paralysis of the Syrian regime forces “in less than 24 hours.”Read the full story here.
- Aircraft Carrier CVN-77 Parks Next Door To Syria Just As US Urges Americans To Leave Country "Immediately".(BlacklistedNews).Yesterday we reported that the Arab League (with European and US support) are preparing to institute a no fly zone over Syria. Today, we get an escalation which confirms we may be on the edge. Just out from CBS: "The U.S. Embassy in Damascus urged its citizens in Syria to depart "immediately," and Turkey's foreign ministry urged Turkish pilgrims to opt for flights to return home from Saudi Arabia to avoid traveling through Syria." But probably the most damning evidence that the "western world" is about to do the unthinkable and invade Syria, and in the process force Iran to retaliate, is the weekly naval update from Stratfor, which always has some very interesting if always controversial view on geopolitics, where we find that for the first time in many months, CVN 77 George H.W. Bush has left its traditional theater of operations just off the Straits of Hormuz, a critical choke point, where it traditionally accompanies the Stennis, and has parked... right next to Syria.
And from CBS: "The U.S. Embassy continues to urge U.S. citizens in Syria to depart immediately while commercial transportation is available," said a statement issued to the American community in Syria Wednesday and posted on the Embassy's website. "The number of airlines serving Syria has decreased significantly since the summer, while many of those airlines remaining have reduced their number of flights."Read the full story here.
- Egypt’s First Free Elections: Situation a Powder Keg, Muslim Brotherhood May Hold the Match.(BigPeace).Violent clashes erupted as protesters demand the Military Council step down and hand over authority to a civilian body. Feeling the revolution has gone sour protestors want to see some change.Arab Spring revolutions have already granted power to Islamists across the Middle East. It made the Muslim Brotherhood the main political force in Tunisia, Egypt, and now in Syria. After years of focusing on charity and social work, the Muslim Brotherhood senses this it the right time to go into politics, and it is acting accordingly.Years of experience gives the radical Muslim Brotherhood an edge. Access to devoted religious crowds is yet another advantage. But as these are the first free elections in Egypt, no one knows how the Egyptians will behave.The people’s frustration from the slow pace of change in Egypt is the burning fuel, and the Brotherhood only had to light one match to blow everything up. The Brotherhood was trying to make one last effort to convince people to go out and vote. The campaign includes evening prayers, a ready crowd, religious fanatic’s chants and marches.But as often happens with volatile situations, you know where you start but not where you’ll end up. It seems the people’s frustrations are so intense these riots have grown out of control.With the military council controlling Egypt, little reform was achieved after the removal of Mubarak. The evident rift between the Military Council and the people of Tahrir Square cannot be ignored. Religious tensions and clashes add to the feeling that the revolution has gone off tracks.As protesters clash with the army representing the Military Council, Tahrir Square returns to revolution chaos again. In an effort to restore calm before the elections the cabinet offered its resignation on Monday to Egypt’s transitional military rulers.Realizing the riots endanger the elections, the Muslim Brotherhood have pulled out of the planned demonstration today, saying in a statement that it did not want to be involved in a protest that might delay the elections and thus the transition to democracy. But this may be too little and too late.The US policy towards the Muslim Brotherhood is highly forgiving. It has recently changed its attitude toward the Islamic group and is also expecting a victory for the Muslim Brotherhood in the upcoming elections. The United States gives $2 billion annually to Egypt in military and economic aid in exchange for its peace treaty with Israel. Will this peace treaty hold once the Muslim Brotherhood is in control?Free elections require stability and calm. Free elections cannot be held with millions protesting and clashing with military forces.Egypt needs to rebuild, and to do that it needs a strong secular governing body. Involving religious and political inspirations will only drive Egypt towards Sharia law and chaos.Sadly it seems that in the first battle between the Military Council and the Islamists, the army has lost. Egyptians may have free democratic elections, but if they choose the Muslim Brotherhood, they will not live in a free democratic state afterwards.Hmmm....."Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty". ~ Plato.Read the full story here.
- Unconvinced by army’s promises, Egypt protesters battle on to end military rule.(AlArabiya).Thousands of protesters rallied Wednesday in Cairo’s Tahrir Square demanding an end to military rule, despite a promise by Egypt’s interim leader to transfer power to an elected president by mid-2012. Less than two hours after the speech by Egypt’s military ruler Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, clashes have erupted again on Mohammed Mahmoud Street, a sign that activists and politician say indicates that the nation’s military rulers are following the former regime’s failed strategy to remain in power. Eyewitnesses and doctors at a makeshift field hospital said there were an invisible substance causing suffocation and inflammation of the eyes. Reports of protesters fainting were widespread, a report carried by Egypt’s al-Masry al-Youm said on Wednesday.One man was killed in clashes early on Wednesday in the second city Alexandria, one of several towns that saw unrest, as protesters continued to battle police around the interior ministry headquarters, close to the central Tahrir Square in Cairo. The death toll from confrontations between protesters and police around Egypt has reached 32, in addition to around 870 others injured, an Al Arabiya correspondent said citing the health ministry.The U.N. human rights chief called Wednesday for an independent probe into the killing of protestors by Egypt's military and security forces. “I urge the Egyptian authorities to end the clearly excessive use of force against protestors in Tahrir square and elsewhere in the country,” said Navi Pillay, adding that “there should be a prompt, impartial and independent investigation, and accountability for those found responsible for the abuses.”“There should be a prompt, impartial and independent investigation, and accountability for those found responsible for the abuses that have taken place should be ensured,” added the U.N. rights chief.Police have been locked in sporadic clashes with protesters demanding the end of military rule, according to AFP.Police have denied using live ammunition but most of the dead in the preceding five days of protest have had bullet wounds, medics say. And demonstrators have shown off cartridge casings they say come from weapons used by the authorities.“We will stay here until the field marshal leaves and a transitional council from the people takes over,” Abdullah Galal, 28, a computer sales manager, told Reuters as people set up tents across the sprawling Tahrir traffic interchange which has become the abiding symbol of this year’s “Arab Spring” revolts.For many Egyptians, trapped in a daily battle to feed themselves and their families, the political demands of some of those they view as young idealists are hard to fathom:“I have lost track of what the demands are,” said Mohammed Sayed, 32, a store clerk in central Cairo as the capital went about its normal business before the start of what protesters had hoped might be a “million man march” on Tuesday.“If you talk to the people in Tahrir, they have no clue,” added Sayed. “I don’t know where the country is headed. I’m worried about my life.”On the square, however, demonstrators believed the army’s reluctance to cede power could see an escalation, as activists tried to complete what some call an “unfinished revolution”: “All they are doing now is forcing people to escalate,” said Mohammed, 23, a financial analyst. “They are leaving. There is no question about that.”“This opens the door for instability.”Using a computer analogy, protester Abdullah Galal said: “There are many viruses in the system. It needs to be cleaned out entirely. We want to delete, reformat and reinstall ... We need to change the regime like they did in Tunisia and Libya.”Read the full story here.
- "You can't fix Stupid"! Obama aide says Iran nuclear effort slowed; Tehran failed to make Iraq ‘client state’.(AlArabiya).President Barack Obama’s top national security aide said early Wednesday a U.S.-led drive to isolate Iran had slowed its nuclear program and that there was still “time, space and means” to persuade Tehran to abandon atomic weapons ambitions.National security adviser Tom Donilon defended Obama’s Iran policy in a wide-ranging speech following criticism by Republican presidential contenders that the administration had not done enough to thwart Tehran's nuclear advances.His remarks may also serve as an appeal to Israel for more time to let Washington’s strategy work. There has been growing speculation about an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear sites since a U.N. nuclear watchdog accused Tehran this month of covert atomic weapons work.“Iran today is fundamentally weaker, more isolated, more vulnerable and badly discredited than ever,” Donilon said at the Brookings Institution think tank a day after the United States, Britain and Canada slapped new sanctions on Iran's energy and financial sectors, according to Reuters.He said that after Iran rejected the Obama’s early diplomatic outreach and continued defying the international community, the United States had worked to ratchet up sanctions, strengthen military ties with Tehran's neighbors and increase it isolation.“The effect of these sanctions has been clear,” Donilon said. “Coupled with mistakes and difficulties in Iran, they have slowed Iran's nuclear efforts ... Not only is it harder for Iran to proceed, it is more expensive.”Despite those claims, Obama - like predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton - has been unable to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear program or come clean on its developments.Analysts said they did not believe the latest punitive steps would be any more effective in dissuading Iran from pursuing its nuclear plans, which Washington and its allies say is a cover for seeking nuclear arms.Though Iran has acknowledged some economic damage, it dismissed the new sanctions, saying they would only boost popular support for a nuclear program it insists is solely for peaceful purposes.The range of unilateral steps planned by Western powers reflects the difficulty of persuading Russia and China not to veto further sanctions at the U.N. Security Council.While the West has been reluctant to deal too harshly with one of the world’s biggest oil producers because of the risk to world markets, Donilon said: “We are certainly not ruling out additional steps against Iran’s banking sector, including the central bank.”He said Washington remained resolute. “Put simply, the Iranian regime has not yet fundamentally altered its behavior, but we have succeeded in slowing its nuclear program,” he said.“The international community has the time, space and means to affect the calculus of Iran's leaders, who must know that they cannot evade or avoid the choice we have laid before them,” Donilon said.Donilon said that Iran has failed to shape Iraq into a “client state” in its own image and will lose one of its few remaining allies as “inevitable” change comes to Syria.Donilon said Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were increasingly headed for confrontation amid fissures developing in the ruling class under the pressure of Western sanctions.“Just as the regime is increasingly isolated and losing its legitimacy at home, Iran is increasingly isolated in the region. The regional balance of power is tipping against Iran,” Donilon said.“Next door, Iran has failed in its effort to shape Iraq into a client state in its own image,” Donilon said, weeks before the last U.S. troops leave Iraq, according to AFP.“In fact, Iraqis are moving in the opposite direction -- building a sovereign, democratic state with a strong aversion to illicit outside interference.”“Iraq and Iran have very different visions of their future.”The United States has repeatedly accused elements of the Iranian government and elite Revolutionary Guards of arming Iraqi factions hostile to Washington’s military presence in Iraq.Donilon also said that Iran had failed in its efforts to intimidate Gulf states, saying Gulf Cooperation Council members were more willing than ever to challenge Tehran.“Iran is basically down to just two principal remaining allies -- the Assad clique in Syria and Hezbollah. And, like Iran, they too are fundamentally at odds with the democratic forces now sweeping the region.”“The handwriting is on the wall. Change is inevitable,” said Donilon, adding the demise of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime would constitute Iran’s “greatest setback in the region” and restack the balance of power.Earlier however, there were new signs of a cracking in the united front against Tehran that has permitted four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions, as Russia also criticized the Western sanctions.Hmmmm......Ooooh look a Unicorn.Read the full story here.
- Panel Rejects Many Obama 'not qualified' Prospects for Judgeships.(NYT).Washington — The American Bar Association has secretly declared a significant number of President Obama’s potential judicial nominees “not qualified,” slowing White House efforts to fill vacant judgeships — and nearly all of the prospects given poor ratings were women or members of an ethnic minority group, according to interviews. The White House has chosen not to nominate any person the bar association deemed unqualified, so the negative ratings have not been made public. But the association’s judicial vetting committee has opposed 14 of the roughly 185 potential nominees the administration asked it to evaluate, according to a person familiar with the matter. The number of Obama prospects deemed “not qualified” already exceeds the total number opposed by the group during the eight-year administrations of Bill Clinton or George W. Bush; the rejection rate is more than three and a half times as high as it was under either of the previous two presidencies, documents and interviews show. That outcome has added a new twist to a long-running friction in the politics of judicial nominations. During recent Republican administrations, conservatives have made political hay of accusing the A.B.A. of bias against conservative potential judges. In 2001, President Bush stopped sending the group names of prospects before he selected them, so the panel instead rated them after their nomination. In 2009, Mr. Obama restored the panel’s role in the pre-nomination selection process, which dates to the Eisenhower administration. In discussions with bar panel leaders, administration officials have expressed growing frustrations with the ratings over the past year and a half, people familiar with those conversations said. In particular, they are said to have questioned whether the panelists — many of whom are litigators — place too much value on courtroom experience at the expense of lawyers who pursued career paths less likely to involve trials, like government lawyers and law professors. In response to questions about the ratings, Mr. Obama’s White House counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, said in a statement that the administration “continues to have a strong working relationship with the A.B.A.” But she also acknowledged disagreements with some of its ratings. “Although we may not agree with all of their ratings,” Ms. Ruemmler said, “we respect and value their historical role in evaluating judicial candidates. The president remains committed to addressing the judicial vacancy crisis with urgency and with qualified candidates who bring a diverse range of experience to the bench.” The chairman since August of the bar association’s vetting committee, Allan J. Joseph, would not confirm any negative ratings but defended the panel’s work as fair-minded and independent. Its members, he said, are all volunteers who, as a matter of public service, put in long hours reading candidates’ writings and conducting confidential interviews about them with dozens of judges and lawyers. “We are not a rubber stamp,” he said. “Our role is to provide the only peer review in the whole process, and we think that is valuable — particularly with a lifetime appointment under consideration.” Mr. Obama has made it a policy goal to diversify the bench in terms of race, gender and life experiences, and the judges he has appointed have been more likely to be women or minorities than any previous president. Of the 14 people opposed by the panel, a person familiar with the ratings said, nine are women — five of whom are white, two black, and two Hispanic. Of the five men, one is white, two are black, and two are Hispanic. Sheldon Goldman, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who studies judicial selection, noted that the panel rated as “qualified” or “well-qualified” many other of Mr. Obama’s female and minority nominees. “Their diversity record is unparalleled,” Mr. Goldman said. “If it were turning out that most of the women and minorities they were sending over to the A.B.A. were getting bounced, then you would have a crisis, but that’s not the case at all.” The bar association is also said to have deemed at least two other potential minority or female judicial nominees as “not qualified,” but upgraded them to “qualified” after the White House asked it to take a second look. To protect the confidentiality of people interviewed about the candidate, the committee often identifies only general categories of concern. According to a person familiar with the ratings, in discussions with the administration, the panel cited concerns about experience for six of the 14 candidates found “not qualified.” It also cited concerns over temperament for five, competence for three, and ethics for three. (Three potential nominees were said to have been criticized as falling short in more than one of those areas.) All but one of the 14 were slated to become district court judges, and — as is traditional — had been recommended for the Obama administration’s consideration by Congress. One had been identified by the administration and was slated for an appeals court. Officials of Mr. Obama’s legal team have met several times with the chairman of the bar association panel over the last year to raise concerns over the number of negative ratings, and have raised the possibility that the panel’s emphasis on trial experience may have a disparate impact on female and minority lawyers because they may have been less likely to become litigators. So far, lawmakers who originally recommended candidates found “not qualified” by the bar association have not criticized the process publicly. But in February 2010, the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, did criticize the association at a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for a district court nominee from his state, Gloria Navarro. At the time, Nevada had no female or Hispanic district court judges. Ms. Navarro, a former public defender and government lawyer, had been endorsed by both Mr. Reid and the state’s Republican senator, John Ensign. But the bar group rated her as merely “qualified”-- and a minority of the vetting panel had voted to rate her “not qualified.” Mr. Reid, who said he thought the association had delivered its tepid rating because she had no prior judicial experience, sharply rejected the notion that Ms. Navarro was not well-qualified, saying that he was upset that Ms. Navarro “is not rated as high as she should be” and arguing that she “has had experience in the real world of government, the real world of law.” In May 2010, the Senate voted 98-0 to confirm her. Hmmm....It's not what...but whom you know?Read the full story here.
- Europe - They mean to take over.(KleinVerzet).This illustration (via; NL) presented without (much) further comment. Caveat emptor!See the full story here.
- US, Russia and UK back Israel at IAEA Mideast meeting.(YNet).In a boost to Israel, Russia joined the US and Britain on Tuesday in backing the Jewish state's view that the Middle East cannot be turned into a nuclear arms-free zone without progress on regional peace.The three nations – who are charged with registering new members to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty – also blunted Arab efforts to get them involved creating such a zone, telling an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Vienna that was the sole responsibility of countries in the region.The three-nation statement was made at a rare venue – a meeting bringing Israel and the Arab states together for a discussion of how to work toward establishing a Mideast nuclear-arms free zone. While nearly 100 nations attended the forum, it was primarily meant to allow those two opposing camps to exchange views on the issue – one of many dividing Israel from its Arab neighbors. Organizers had warned against high expectations, and an official inside the closed two-day meeting said it ended Friday without bridging the differences. Still the three-nation statement was significant. Russia is traditionally in the Arab corner and Moscow's decision to join Washington and London in the joint statement of support for Israel's view was a rare nod from Moscow recognizing Israel's security concerns."While Nuclear Weapon-Free zones improve the security of the entire international community, they do not exist in isolation from other security factors," said the statement to the closed meeting, which was shared with The Associated Press. Any such zone, it said must see "the states in the region united in their aspiration to provide for strengthened regional stability and security." That dovetails with Israel's view that peace must prevail in the Middle East before it can be made into a nuclear free zone. But it clashes with the Arab position that the two issues are separate. The Arabs say Israel's undeclared nuclear arsenal represents the biggest threat to Mideast peace. But Israel says Iran is the greatest threat to the region through its refusal to heed UN Security Council resolutions demanding it stop activities that could be used to make nuclear weapons and suspected research and development of such capabilities. Tehran denies any interest in such arms. Iran boycotted the meeting. But a decision last year by the 189 members of the Nuclear Nonproliferation treaty to convene a UN-sponsored conference on establishing a Middle East nuclear-free zone in 2012 was an incentive for Israel's Arab neighbors to come to the exploratory Vienna talks.Arab countries and Iran are aware of the potential of using the 2012 UN conference as a platform to pressure Israel to fulfill their long-standing demands: joining the nonproliferation treaty, acknowledging that it has nuclear weapons and allowing IAEA inspectors to probe its atomic activities.Israel is unlikely to do any of that. It remains unclear whether it will even attend the 2012 talks and is at the Vienna meeting only under the stipulation that it remain a nonbinding give-and-take on the issue of nuclear-free zones in general. The three-nation statement also sought to put into context the value of the meeting – which featured presentations on nuclear-free zones elsewhere.It said "zones free of nuclear weapons cannot be created counter to the will of the countries of the region by the efforts of extra-regional powers or international organizations." That was an rebuttal of an Arab push to get powers that are members of the Nonproliferation Treaty involved in creating a Mideast nuclear-free region. Participants said most speakers avoided polemics. But on Monday, Syria – among Israel's bitterest Mideast rivals – used the gathering to accuse Israel of posing a "grave and serious threat" through its undeclared atomic arsenal. Israel, for its part, restated its view: no discussions on a nuclear-free zone without peace in the Middle East."Experience shows that such a process can only be launched when normal, peaceful relations exist in the region, when the threat perception of all regional members is low, and only after basic confidence is established among states of the region," David Danieli, Israel's deputy nuclear chief, said in comments provided to the AP. For now, he said, "political instability, open hostilities, deep mistrust and noncompliance with international obligations are too common in many parts of the Middle East." Read the full story here.
- Diplomats: EU reaches deal on new Iran sanctions.(Ynet).European Union governments agreed in principle on Tuesday to extend sanctions against Iran by adding some 200 names to a target list of people and entities in an effort to add pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program, diplomats said. The decision will be formally approved at a meeting of EU foreign ministers on December 1, they said. "The silent procedure went through, it's done," said one EU diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. He was referring to a procedure that allows EU governments to reach agreements on various policies. European companies will be banned from doing business with the listed firms and organisations, while officials will be subject to asset freezes and visa bans.EU diplomats can, in theory, tweak the target list during further discussions in the coming days, and the final list of names will be made public after the formal approval.In addition to extending the sanctions list, EU governments are also expected to discuss proposals by France and Britain for further sanctions, such as targeting the Iranian central bank. France also wants to target the oil industry.If agreed, such moves could also be formally approved next week, diplomats have said.France said on Tuesday it was pushing hard to persuade its EU counterparts to move quickly on its proposal.On Monday, the United States, Britain and Canada announced new measures against Iran's energy and financial sectors, in response to a Nov. 8 International Atomic Energy Agency report that presented intelligence suggesting Iran had worked on designing an atomic bomb.Hmmmm....What's the use with an 'open' trade between Turkey and Iran?Read the full story here.
- Turkey again the 'Devil's advocate' says Iran's nuclear ambitions may be about threats it perceives.(TodaysZaman).Turkish President Abdullah Gül has said empathy is required to understand the underlying reasons why Iran is so determined to continue with its suspected nuclear program despite sanctions that have hurt Iran’s economy.“It is important to put oneself in their shoes and see how they perceive threats,” Gül told The Guardian, referring to Israel’s nuclear capability, which it has neither acknowledged nor denied. Gül’s questioning of Iran’s nuclear aspirations came a week after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its most critical report on Iran’s nuclear program, claiming that there is evidence that Iran might be on its way to developing nuclear weapon capability. Gül also said there are different groups and concentrations of power in Iran and that it is impossible to see them as one single authority, without elaborating on what elements he was referring to within the Iranian regime. Turkey spearheaded sustained efforts last year to revive nuclear diplomacy between Western nations and Iran and a year ago it hosted talks regarding Iran’s nuclear program in İstanbul. Turkey’s efforts to bring Iran and Western powers together were at the expense of its image in the West and badly damaged its ties with the US. The Turkish president said that for the sake of peace it is very important that dialogue between Iran and the West progresses in a more frank and transparent way. “When I say transparent I mean Iran, and when I say frank I mean the West,” he explained.Gül added that Turkey is opposed to military options for dealing with the issue amid increasing threats from Israeli officials that it could strike Iran’s nuclear facilities if the Islamic republic does not relinquish its nuclear program. “Looking at the Middle East, one has to have a comprehensive approach [to disarmament],” he added. “A piecemeal approach would not yield the same results.” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said last week that Turkey is against nuclear weapons in the region. “We want a Middle East that is free of nuclear weapons. There are already enough tensions in the region. We believe Iran will behave responsibly,” he said.Hmmmmm.....Turkey is still on Iran's side and want 'business as usual' with Iran......so much for Sanctions that 'bite'.Read the full story here.
- Turkey’s Democratic Dusk.(Projectsyndicate).By Prof. Dani Rodrik.Cambridge – When questioned recently about a constitutional law professor who was arrested for lecturing at an institute run by the country’s main pro-Kurdish political party, Turkey’s interior minister, Idris Naim Sahin, couldn’t hide his irritation: “I am having a hard time understanding those saying a professor should not be arrested while thousands of other people are being arrested in Turkey.”Presumably, Sahin meant to say that a professor cannot claim special treatment under the law. But his remark inadvertently underscored Turkey’s new reality, in which any perceived opponent of the current regime can be jailed, with or without evidence, for terrorism or other violent acts.Special courts, tasked with prosecuting terrorism and crimes against the state, have been working overtime to produce charges that are often as absurd as they are baseless. For example, journalists have been imprisoned for producing articles and books at the behest of an alleged terrorist organization called “Ergenekon,” whose existence has yet to be confirmed, despite years of investigation. Likewise, military officers have been charged on the basis of blatantly fraudulent – indeed, amateurishly produced – documents containing obvious anachronisms. A senior police commissioner is currently languishing in jail for allegedly collaborating with far-left militants he spent his entire career hunting down. These prosecutions have cast an ever-widening net, ensnaring scores of journalists, authors, and academics, hundreds of military officers, and thousands of Kurdish politicians and activists, among others.Self-censorship has become routine. Media bosses anxious to retain Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s favor have fired many of those journalists who continue to criticize his regime. And government control now extends beyond the media, judiciary, and academia to the worlds of business and sports. Previously autonomous regulatory bodies (such as the competition authority) have been quietly subordinated to the government, with no debate or discussion. Even the Turkish Academy of Sciences has been targeted. A recent decree, widely condemned abroad, allows the government to appoint two-thirds of the Academy’s members, thereby ending even the semblance of scientific independence.Yet, while Erdoğan may appear to be at the pinnacle of power, it is his government’s “Gülenist” allies who have grown increasingly powerful. Members of the transnational Gülen movement – inspired by followers of Fethullah Gülen, a Pennsylvania-based Muslim theologian – are staffing Turkey’s police, judiciary, bureaucracy, and universities. The Gülenist media now set the country’s new ideological tone, producing a steady stream of disinformation in their vocal support of the country’s show trials.These trials are, in fact, often staged to serve Gülenist ends specifically. Prominent detainees, such as the journalist Nedim Sener and police commissioner Hanefi Avci, landed in jail after exposing the wrongdoings of Gülenist police and prosecutors. Editorials in Zaman, the Gülen network’s Turkish-language daily newspaper, no longer mince words: a new Turkey is being created; those who stand in the way are getting what they deserve.Erdoğan has benefited greatly from Gülenist support, yet he detests sharing power and remains suspicious of the movement. Early on, he successfully exploited the Gülenist-supported political trials in order to demonize the opposition. But, as the charges have increased in scope and implausibility, the trials have complicated his relationships with the military, domestic liberals, and outsiders such as foreign media and the European Union. Moreover, individuals close to him and his administration have recently become entangled in the net of judicial manipulation, which suggests that he may be losing control over the police and the special courts.Given that the fight against the common enemy, the secularist old guard, has been decisively won, an eventual break between Erdoğan and the Gülenists is perhaps inevitable. Unfortunately, regardless of which side emerges victorious, the outcome will not be good news for Turkish democracy.It wasn’t long ago that Turkey appeared to be a bright beacon of democracy and moderation in a region accustomed to autocracy and radicalism. Now it looks more like a country heading towards authoritarianism at home and embracing adventurism abroad.It is understandable that Europeans and Americans do not want to offend a regional power. But playing Erdoğan’s game only reinforces his sense of invincibility. It does not advance the cause of democracy in Turkey; nor does it make Turkey a more reliable ally.Read the full story here.
- In New Statement, Al-Qaeda's Top Pakistani Official Ustad Ahmad Farooq Vows To Avenge Killing of Osama Bin Laden.(Memri).In a new statement, Al-Qaeda's top Pakistani official Ustad Ahmad Farooq has vowed to avenge the death of Osama bin Laden and the deaths of other muhajir (immigrants or non-Pakistani) militants who were killed by the Pakistani military.Ustad Ahmad Farooq directs Al-Qaeda's Dawah and Media Department for Pakistan. In recent years, Farooq has mainly delivered scholarly speeches, which have been released through jihadist forums.In the new statement, Farooq warns: "We will avenge the murder of all guests, including Sheikh Osama, who were martyred by the Pakistani Army, the slaves of America."Following is the text of his statement:"Promise of Pakistani Mujahideen to the Muhajireen [Immigrants]"We will avenge the murder of all guests, including Sheikh Osama, who were martyred by the Pakistani Army, the slaves of America."We will avenge all the sobs and cries of the brothers of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [the Taliban's shadow government] which came from the heart of a muhajir brother or sister in the prison of Pakistani intelligence agencies, the slaves of the Crusaders."We will eliminate the burns of every muhajir mother whose child was imprisoned or killed by this army [of Pakistan]."We will cool the eyes of every muhajir sister whose husband was martyred by this characterless army."We will cleanse this soil [Pakistan] of the apostates and their masters and of the presence of Crusaders, and will construct such a Pakistan in reality where every muhajir brother from Arab and Ajam [non-Arab land] can freely...Read the full story here.
- Fatwa Permits Mujahideen to Kidnap, Imprison, and Have Sexual Intercourse with Infidel Women.(Memri).Minbar Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad published a fatwa by Sheikh Abu Humam Al-Athari, a member of its shari'a council, in which he unequivocally permits mujahideen to capture the infidels' women and have sexual intercourse with them, even those who are married.Hmmmm....."Islamophobia Anyone"?Read the full story here.
- Turkey’s Islamist PM Slams Western “Islamophobia,” Says It Should Be “Condemned As Much As Anti-Semitism”.(Tehran Times) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that there is a vicious propaganda campaign against Islam by some Western circles, Press TV’s Ankara correspondent reported.Erdogan was addressing the Second Meeting of Leaders of African Continent Muslim Countries and Societies which opened in Istanbul on Monday.“There are those who use some marginal cases, to equate Islam and Muslims with terrorism, clashes, intolerance and poverty,” Erdogan stated.“A mistake by a member of a religion or society should not be attributed to the religion or society,” he added.“This means that Islamophobia should be condemned as much as racism and anti-Semitism is [condemned],” the Turkish premier stressed.Hmmmm.....Erdogan: “The Minarets are our bayonets, the domes our helmets, the mosques our barracks, and the believers our army.”Doesn't sound worrisome? Read the full story here.