Friday, June 17, 2011
Posted by Will at 8:27 AM
- Syria Live Blog - June 17. Here .(Al-Jazeera).
- Libya Live Blog - June 17. Here (Al-Jazeera).
- Yemen Live Blog - June 17. Here. (Al-Jazeera).
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity in Japan today 5.1 ,increased activity in Turkey! More info here.
- Japan - Latest official Situation Update No. 131.Source : Here .
- Japan : For the most accurate info on the nuclear disaster go to : Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog.Here.
- Europe - Latest official Situation Update on E-Coli epidemic - 55 Source.
- Greenspan: The 'almost certain' Greece default could cause US double-dip.(FTAdviser).In an interview with Bloomberg Mr Greenspan said the "chances of Greece not defaulting are very small". His comments came as Greece’s prime minister George Papandreou's failed to win support for more austerity measures to help address its debt problems. Mr Greenspan told Bloomberg the chances of Greece defaulting are now "so high that you almost have to say there’s no way out," which could put pressure on some US banks. He argued Greece's debt crisis had the potential to push the US into another recession, as without it the probability of a recession "is quite low". "There's no momentum in the system that suggests to me that we are about to go into a double-dip," he said. Mr Greenspan said the US's debt issue is becoming "horrendously dangerous" and said that he doubts lawmakers have another year or two to solve it. He added that the US recovery is being hindered by apprehension among businesses over the long term outlook, and claimed there is nothing more for the Fed policymakers to do. His comments come as traders feared Greece could become Europe's "Lehman's moment". Neil Mackinnon, an economist at VTB Capital in London and a former Treasury official, told the Daily Telegraph: "The probability of a eurozone Lehman moment is increasing. The markets have moved from simply pricing in a high probability of a Greek debt default to looking at a scenario of it becoming disorderly and of contagion spreading to other economies like Portugal, like Ireland, and maybe Spain, Italy and Belgium."Read the full story here.
- You Will buy my Electric cars!!Obama regime Objects to Alaska Oil and Gas Development Bill.(NYTimes).The Obama administration today said a proposal from House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) to expedite oil and gas leasing and energy infrastructure permitting in an Alaska reserve could force federal regulators to flout environmental laws and includes a costly, redundant resource assessment.Mike Pool, deputy director of the Bureau of Land Management, also announced the agency will hold lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve, known as NPR-A, in December 2011 and each year after, making good on the administration's mid-May promise to expedite development in the 23-million-acre reserve. But he emphasized that his agency, which oversees 191 lease tracts covering 1.6 million acres, has all the tools it needs to facilitate development of oil in the reserve while balancing protections for wildlife habitat and subsistence users. He said the bill's requirement to hold lease sales in the areas most likely to produce commercial oil and gas and set permitting deadlines could undermine the agency's public land management process, including the National Environmental Policy Act. "Systematically over time we have been responsible to conduct and make available leasing in NPR-A," Pool said, adding that his agency has no pending backlog of rights of ways or other projects. "There's no delay in permitting and processing as it involves BLM responsibilities in NPR-A." Another Interior official testified that there is no reason to reassess or update the U.S. Geological Survey's most recent assessment of oil and gas resources in the reserve, as called for by Hastings' bill. The most recent survey found about half a billion barrels of economically recoverable oil at prices near current levels. "I think we have everything in place and we have demonstrated that over time," Pool said. "We currently have all the regulations and the authorities we need." But Republicans on the committee and witnesses including Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), an Alaska resources commissioner and an oil and gas industry official said Hasting's "National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Access Act" would give companies a crucial timeline for drilling and infrastructure permits if they choose to pursue leases. "We have a permitting problem, we don't have a leasing problem," Murkowski said, pointing to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to deny a bridge proposal by ConocoPhillips to access its lease in NPR-A. The decision was remanded late last year by the agency's Pacific Division. The Army Corp said it is waiting to receive more information from the company on the "logistical probability of directional drilling" for a project that would involve a pipeline underneath the Colville River and a "roadless" drill site. No timeline has been set to issue a decision on the remanded permit. "Producing oil and natural gas in the NPR-A is pointless if there's no way to get it out of there," said Hastings, fresh off a trip last week to NPR-A with Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R). "The real problem is the federal government's blocking and delaying of permits for necessary roads, bridges and pipelines needed to transport the energy out of the NPR-A." A committee spokesman added after the hearing that Interior's leasing decision today suggests the Obama administration is responding to the panel's hearings. "However, if Interior paid attention to our NPR-A Access Act hearing, they would have learned that simply issuing lease sales does not solve the problem of producing oil in the NPR-A and transporting it for use," added Spencer Pederson.Hmmmm......Dictatorship or Democracy.Read the full story here.
- Obama places the US military under UN control.(IsraelMatzav).In response to a bipartisan resolution from Congress accusing him of violating the US War Powers act (which prohibits the President from making extensive commitments of American troops without Congressional approval - Congress having the power to 'declare war' under the constitution), President Obama has essentially claimed that the United Nations has the power to make war on the United States' behalf. Yesterday the President gave his response. He sent a 30+ page report (embedded below) justifying continued military involvement U.S. military involvement is “legitimated” by the UN Security Council – saying that therefore no congressional authorization is needed.U.S. forces are playing a constrained and supporting role in a multinational coalition, whose operations are both legitimated by and limited to the terms of a United Nations Security Council Resolution that authorizes the use of force solely to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under attack or threat of attack and to enforce a no-fly zone and an arms embargo.A major problem with that argument is that the Constitution's provisions regarding the United States use of military force mentions Congress, but it doesn't mention the United Nations as having the right to legitimize the use of American forces.Funny - I don't recall the United Nations being mentioned in the US constitution.This has some very serious implications in lots of other areas. For example, a UN action to 'protect' the 'Palestinians.Hmmmmm.....Still thinking Obama won't impose his way on Israel?Read the full story here.
- Texans, You Have One More Shot At Anti-TSA Bill.(SHTF).After making national headlines last month the Texas anti-TSA legislation that aimed to prevent intrusive touching by agents of the Federal government through criminal prosecution under Texas State law went down in flames once the Department of Justice stepped in and threatened a no-fly zone over the state.The outcry from Texans, as well as the rest of the nation, was apparently heard by legislators, and Texas may get another shot: It’s now up to Texas Gov. Rick Perry to rescue the nation’s travelers from the indignity of x-rated airport screening at the hands of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). On Tuesday, a state House of Representatives committee is scheduled to consider revised legislation holding blue-gloved bureaucrats criminally liable for grabbing the private parts of passengers without probable cause or consent. For the measure to proceed further, however, Mr. Perry would have to formally add it to the list of bills considered during the special session now under way. State Rep. David P. Simpson, the bill’s author, believes that ought to be the natural thing to do for Mr. Perry, author of the book, “Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington.” Mr. Simpson’s legislation merely clarifies that federal agents do not have a blank check to violate the Lone Star State’s criminal statutes while acting without explicit orders from Congress – no such orders exist. “This is not nullification,” Mr. Simpson explained to The Washington Times. “There is no federal law we’re contravening. We’re seeking to protect the citizens of Texas from an overreach – literally – of a federal bureaucracy that’s gone wild.”TSA is so brazen that the most perverted aspect of the job has become a selling point used in advertisements: “A career where x-ray vision and federal benefits come standard – become a Transportation Security Officer.”So, just in case Mr. Perry doesn’t feel that the People’s intentions on this matter are overwhelmingly represented, we urge Texans (and even out of staters) to contact Governor Perry’s office about what you think.Call, email, spread the word to friends. If Texas fails on this issue, so too does the nation. If Texas can stop the TSA, other states will fall in line, and the proposed “no fly zone” threatened by the Federal government can then be bypassed, as states that do not submit to TSA procedures may respond by creating “free fly zones” accessible from select non-grope airports (this is just one solution that might work).This isn’t just about groping at airports. This is about preserving the 4th amendment of the United States Constitution: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.Passage of this legislation can set a precedent that leads to further nullification of unjust, unconstitutional and flat-out illegal federal laws.Read the full story here.
- Boehner says House could move to cut off funding for Libya.(TheHill).Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday said the Obama administration failed to answer all his questions about the U.S. mission in Libya and raised the possibility that the House would move to cut off funding for the operation.In response to demands from the House, the administration released a 32-page report arguing that the Libya mission does not need congressional authorization because the U.S. military engagement there doesn’t amount to “hostilities.” Boehner said that explanation doesn't fly with him.“The White House says there are no hostilities taking place, yet we’ve got drone attacks under way, we’re spending $10 million a day, [and] part of the mission is to drop bombs on [Libyan dictator Moammar] Gadhafi's compound,” Boehner said. “That doesn’t pass the straight-face test, in my view, that we’re not in the midst of hostilities.”The Speaker said the White House did not answer one of his questions — outlined in a letter he sent this week — as to whether the Office of Legal Counsel, an advisory entity within the Justice Department, agrees with its analysis of the 1973 War Powers Resolution. He said he wanted an answer to that query by Friday.White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the president "absolutely respects" Congress's desire to be consulted on Libya, but Carney said that the report should suffice."I don't anticipate further elucidation of our legal reasoning because I think it was quite clear," Carney said.Boehner said the House was considering its options to exert authority over the administration and that next week the chamber “may be prepared to move on those options.”The “ultimate option,” Boehner said, is that “Congress has the power of the purse” and could cut off funding for the mission. “Certainly that is an option as well,” he said.Actually forcing the president’s hand could be difficult, however, because any House-passed funding restriction would have to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate and be signed by Obama himself. And any Libya-related amendment would likely be attached to an appropriations bill that may not move through the Senate for months.Carney said that the administration provided Congress with an "accurate and sound legal analysis." But noting the long history of debate over the resolution, Carney said the White House does not "expect everybody to agree." And with Boehner talking about Congress's authority to defund the mission, Carney again warned about Congress "sending mixed messages" that could harm a mission that is showing progress."Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a former Speaker, offered her support for Obama's interpretation of the War Powers Resolution at a Thursday press conference. "The limited nature of this engagement allows the president to go forward," Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol. "I'm satisfied that the president has the authority he needs to go ahead."If we had boots on the ground … then that's a different story," Pelosi added. "I don't think they should stop the support that they're giving to NATO to stop the humanitarian disaster."The White House report met fierce opposition Wednesday from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who spearheaded a bipartisan lawsuit contending Obama violated both the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution in Libya. "The White House claim that the war is not war is not a legal argument," Kucinich said in a statement. "It is a political argument."Boehner called on the president to explain anew to the American people “why we are there, what the mission is and what our goals are, and how do we exit this.”Hmmmm.....We are there because the Arab league and the UN asked us, has nothing to with Congressional approval.Read the full story here.
- DoJ Judge: It's OK to Fire a Good Man for Doing a Good Deed.(Cis).This is a story of how a good man who blew the whistle on his own employer for immigration law violations was fired, and how a federal hearing officer said that was OK. Here are the facts and the law.
Fact #1. Daniel Cavazos, Jr. had worked for Wanxiang America Corp., a Chinese-owned auto parts manufacturer, apparently in the Middle West; he told the warehouse supervisor that he was planning to tell federal authorities that the firm was hiring illegal aliens. He was fired.
Fact #2. There is, within the U.S. Department of Justice's Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) a small quasi-judicial operation called the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO); it deals with, among other things, discrimination on the basis of citizenship and retaliation for helping to enforce the law.
Fact #3. Cavazos filed a complaint with OCAHO saying that his employer had fired him in retaliation for his whistle-blowing, but his case was dismissed in a decision by Administrative Law Judge Ellen K. Thomas.
The Law. ALJ Thomas did not dispute Cavazos' statement of facts, but ruled, according to a report in Interpreter Releases (May 23, 2011), the immigration bar's trade paper, as follows: She explained that the unlawful employment of aliens is a violation of INA § 274A, the right of individuals to file written complaints respecting the hiring of unauthorized aliens . . . is expressly set out in INA § 274A(e)(1)(A), and the procedures for so doing are set out in 8 CFR § 274a9(a) to (b). On the other hand, INA § 274B is a provision that prohibits discrimination of the basis of citizenship status or national origin, and INA § 274B(a)(5) prohibits retaliation only for engaging in activity specifically protected by INA § 274B . . .
As I read it Cavazos lost his case because he orally declared his intention of blowing the whistle, rather than doing so in writing.Though I am not a lawyer, I would argue that the ALJ was remiss for not paying attention to the intent of the law, as opposed to the letter of the law. I would also fault the law itself for its narrow wording, but neither concept will do Cavazos much good.Were he to turn a blind eye the next time he saw the federal law being violated, I would not blame him one little bit.Read the full story here.
- God gets the last laugh: Oil shale in Israel but not in Judea, Samaria and Gaza .(IsraelMatzav).You know how I occasionally post the Golda Meir quip about how Moses brought us to the one land in the area without oil, and that it's now proving not to be true? Well, here's more evidence that God is getting the last laugh.The World Energy Council has determined that about 30 miles southwest of Jerusalem, in the Shfela Basin, there are oil shale deposits with the potential to yield 250 billion barrels of oil. This represents the world’s third-largest quantity of oil shale behind the US and China. Oilprice.com notes that both those countries would consume almost all their own production, so Israel could conceivably become the world’s largest exporter of shale oil.The map to the left is from the US Geological Survey. The red stars represent oil shale deposits, which as you can see are scattered across sovereign Israel and Jordan. None were detected in the West Bank or Gaza.That's as much oil as Saudi Arabia's proven reserves.Read the full story here.
- AP source: Drone base set for Persian Gulf region.(AP).The United States is building a secret CIA air base in the Persian Gulf region to target terrorists in Yemen, preparing for the possibility that an anti-American faction may take over Yemen and ban U.S. forces from hunting a lethal al-Qaida faction there, The Associated Press has learned.The anti-al-Qaida effort in Yemen is being run by the Joint Special Operations Command, the top U.S. military counterterrorism outfit, and the CIA provides intelligence support. JSOC forces have been allowed by the Yemeni government to conduct limited strikes there since 2009 and have recently allowed expanded strikes by U.S. armed drones and even war planes against al-Qaida targets who are taking advantage of civil unrest to grab power and territory in the Gulf country.The new CIA base provides a backstop, if al-Qaida or other anti-American rebel forces gain control, one senior U.S. official explained. The White House has already increased the numbers of CIA officers in Yemen, in anticipation of that possibility. And it has stepped up the schedule to construct the base, from a two-year timetable to a rushed eight months.The Associated Press has withheld the exact location at the request of U.S. officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because portions of the military and CIA missions in Yemen are classified.Drones like Reapers and Predators are unmanned aircraft that can be flown from remote locations and hover over a target before firing a missile. Yemeni officials have indicated their preference toward drones, versus allowing U.S. counterterror strike teams on Yemeni soil, saying they are less apt to incense the local population.The planned CIA base suggests a long-term U.S. commitment to fighting al-Qaida in the region, along the lines of the model used in Pakistan, where CIA drones hunt militants with tacit, though not public, Pakistani government approval. Its construction also indicates a possible shift in the internal debate in the administration over whether U.S. special operations forces should continue to lead the fight in Yemen, U.S. officials said.With al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula essentially in control of large swathes of Yemeni territory, the Yemeni government now hopes U.S. targeting will remove some of the enemies threatening the Saleh regime. That new target-at-will attitude was reinforced after the attempt on Saleh's life, both U.S. and Yemeni officials say.The U.S. forces are also taking advantage of the fact that more al-Qaida operatives are exposing themselves as they move from their hideouts across the country to command troops challenging the Saleh regime.That has led to the arrests of al-Qaida operatives by Yemeni forces, guided by U.S. intelligence intercepts, and those operatives are talking under joint U.S.-Yemeni interrogation, providing key information on al-Qaida operations and locations, U.S. officials said.That in turn led to the best opportunity in more than a year to hit U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in early May. A host of technical difficulties meant three separate attempts, by two types of unmanned armed drone-craft and war planes all failed, prompting some grousing among intelligence agencies that CIA-led strikes might net better results.But the CIA has neither the drones nor the personnel to take the lead in the operation at present, two officials say.Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden had long urged al-Qaida not to directly challenge Saleh but to keep Yemen as a haven from which to launch attacks against the United States, while AQAP leaders argued that they should overthrow with Yemeni government. A record of that debate between bin Laden and the Yemeni al-Qaida leadership was found among the records at the compound in Pakistan where bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces May 2.Bin Laden warned the Yemeni offshoot that its leaders would be targeted more aggressively and easily if they tried to take power, just as they are now, the officials said.Read the full story here.
- Why Google Earth Can’t Show You Israel.(MMNW).Since Google launched its Google Earth feature in 2005, the company has become a worldwide leader in providing high-resolution satellite imagery. In 2010, Google Earth allowed the world to see the extent of the destruction in post-earthquake Haiti. This year, Google released similar images after Japan’s deadly tsunami and earthquake. With just one click, Google can bring the world—and a better understanding of far-away events—to your computer.There is one entire country, however, that Google Earth won’t show you: Israel.That’s because, in 1997, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, one section of which is titled, “Prohibition on collection and release of detailed satellite imagery relating to Israel.” The amendment, known as the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment, calls for a federal agency, the NOAA’s Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs, to regulate the dissemination of zoomed-in images of Israel.Source.
- Controversy Intensifying Over Disappearance Of $6.6B Airlifted By U.S. To Iraq.(Memri).Under the Oil-for-Food Program, managed by the United Nations, a surplus of oil revenues, estimated at $6.6 billion, were kept in Iraq's account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. A year after the occupation of Iraq, the Bush administration airlifted the entire amount of $6.6 billion in plastic crates by U.S. military transport aircrafts, the C-130, to be kept under U.S. control in a secret location in one of the Saddam palaces basements. From May 28, 2004-June 28, 2004 the money disappeared. At the time, the Coalition Provisional Authority, comprising mainly of U.S. officials, maintained that the money was distributed to Iraqi officials to carry out development and service activities. However, no record was kept as to how such a vast amount of money was allocated and who the recipients were. Congressman Waxman expressed his surprise that the U.S. would airlift 336 tons of cash to a war zone. Commentators are beginning to claim that this was one of the biggest thefts in the history of the United States. Iraq plans to sue the U.S. for reimbursement of the large sum of money that was unaccounted for.Read the full story here.
- 'IHH will not take part in upcoming Gaza flotilla'.(JPost).Report: Turkish NGO pulls out of aid flotilla for "technical reasons".Turkish NGO IHH will not participate in the upcoming Turkish aid flotilla to Gaza, AFP reported on Friday.The message was relayed to AFP by Dror Feiler, an Israeli-Swedish artist who participated in last year's flotilla, who said that the cancellation was due to "technical reasons."A flotilla organizer told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the second Gaza flotilla will set sail in late June even without the IHH's support.Speaking from Greece, Free Gaza member and International Solidarity Movement co-founder Adam Shapiro said the “Turkish participation is obviously something that we want to have as part of the overall flotilla but if tomorrow they decide to postpone [their participation] then we will continue.”Shapiro said all of the other ships taking part in the flotilla are still finishing their preparations and are planning to set sail at the end of the month regardless of a report in the Turkish press on Wednesday that humanitarian relief foundation IHH is considering dropping out of the flotilla to concentrate on the Syrian refugee issue in southern Turkey.Shapiro said that as opposed to reports that as many as 25 ships would take part in the flotilla, there are only 10 that are scheduled to sail later this month, with around 300 activists from dozens of countries taking part.Meanwhile, Wednesday, the Israel Navy held a large-scale exercise to prepare its forces for the operation to stop the flotilla.The exercise involved naval commandos from Flotilla 13 - better known as the Shayetet - as well as other naval units and special forces from throughout the defense establishment, who were being included in the operation as part of the lessons learned from the botched raid on the Mavi Marmara Turkish passenger ship last May.The Israeli navy is under orders from the government to enforce the Israeli sea blockade over Gaza, which officials have said is crucial for preventing the flow of arms to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.Shapiro said the final departure date for the flotilla is not known but they are planning to meet in international waters in the eastern Mediterranean at the end of the month and head towards Gaza.Read the full story here.
- New ‘Armenian genocide’ bill looming in US Congress.(HurriyetDaily).Pro-Armenian lawmakers have introduced a fresh congressional resolution calling on the United States to recognize World War I-era deaths of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as “genocide,” a top U.S. Armenian group said late Tuesday.“The Armenian genocide resolution, introduced by Congressman Robert Dold, a Republican from Illinois, and Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, calls upon the president to recognize the Armenian genocide and encourages the U.S. government to apply the lessons of this tragedy to prevent future crimes against humanity,” the Armenian National Committee of America, or ANCA, said in a statement about the measure introduced in the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the U.S. Congress.“This measure, identical to H.R. 252 during the previous session of Congress, has been adopted by the Foreign Affairs Committee four times over the past 11 years, but has yet to reach the floor for an up-or-down vote of the full U.S. House of Representatives,” ANCA said.Pro-Armenian lawmakers tried to hold a House floor vote on the previous resolution in December, days before the last Congress expired, but were not successful in their effort.Separately, a bipartisan group of U.S. legislators is set to introduce another resolution urging Turkey “to fully respect the right of Christians to practice their faith in freedom, including through the rightful return of confiscated churches” to Armenians, Greeks, Syriacs and other Christian communities, ANCA reported.The “return of churches” resolution, spearheaded by senior House Foreign Affairs Committee member Ed Royce, a Republican from California, and the panel’s ranking Democrat, Howard Berman, also from California, “calls upon the government of Turkey to honor its international obligations to end all forms of religious persecution and to protect the rights and religious freedoms of Christians. The measure specifically calls upon Turkey to return confiscated Christian church properties,” ANCA said.“We want to thank Congressmen Royce, Berman, Dold and Schiff for their leadership in working toward a truthful and just resolution of the Armenian genocide,” said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian.“Conditions in Turkey have deteriorated with violent hate crimes increasingly linked to religion,” Royce said. “My resolution urges Turkey to protect its vulnerable religious minorities. They should be able to freely practice, worship and study their faith without fear of discrimination or violence. We expect Turkey to make good on its obligation to provide this protection.”Added Berman: “By expropriating church properties, harassing worshippers and refusing to grant full legal status to some Christian groups, Turkey has failed to fulfill its obligation as a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which requires ‘freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.’ Turkey must end its deeply disturbing practice of religious discrimination, cease all restrictions on gatherings for religious prayer and education and return stolen church property.”Armenia claims up to 1.5 million Armenians were systematically killed in 1915 under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey denies this, saying that any deaths were the result of civil strife that erupted when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia. Ankara also rejects claims that Turkey persecutes Christians.The Armenian Assembly of America, or AAA, another large U.S. Armenian group, also welcomed the new efforts by the U.S. lawmakers. “We remain deeply troubled by the ongoing trend in Turkey and its treatment of Christian communities within the country,” said AAA board member Van Krikorian.Hmmmmm.......Erdogan "Muslims don't commit Genocide"Read the full story here.
- Lebanese Mufti: 'Palestinians are trash', not welcome.(Jpost).Sheikh Qabbani tells visiting Palestinian delegation for refugees, “We’ve hosted you and no longer want you... You will never be victorious."The mufti of Lebanon, Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani, was quoted this week as saying that Palestinians are no longer welcome in his country.He also condemned Palestinians as “trash” and said that he’s not afraid of their weapons.Sheikh Qabbani’s remarks were made during a meeting he held in his office in Beirut with a Palestinian delegation representing refugees and various Palestinian factions in Lebanon.The furious mufti later kicked the Palestinian representatives out of his office.More than 400,000 Palestinians live in Lebanon, most of them in extremely harsh conditions in refugee camps. The meeting was called to discuss Palestinian “assaults” on state-owned and Islamic Wakf lands in Lebanon.“We’ve hosted you and no longer want you,” the mufti told stunned members of the Palestinian delegation.Accusing Palestinians of “usurping” Wakf lands to build houses, Sheikh Qabbani told his visitors: “I will defend Wakf lands even if that costs me all what I have.”Attempts by the Palestinian representatives to calm the mufti further enraged the top religious official, who at one point shouted at them: “You are trash. You [Palestinians] will never be victorious. Nor will your cause. I’m no longer afraid of your weapons.”The Palestinian delegates said they were extremely shocked by the mufti’s abusive language and threats.“He called us trash,” one of them said. “He didn’t even give us time to respond to his allegations.”Samir Abu Afash, Secretary-General of the PLO in Beirut, said he sent a report to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas about the mufti’s remarks.Abbas instructed the Palestinian representatives to refrain from a confrontation with Sheikh Qabbani out of fear that such a move would escalate tensions between the two sides.Former Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora later phoned Fathi Abu al-Aradat to apologize on behalf of the mufti.The mufti lost his temper following complaints that Palestinians living in refuge camps in Lebanon had illegally seized lands belonging to the state and the Islamic Wakf Trust.Sheikh tayseer Tamimi, former head of the PA religious courts, strongly condemned the mufti of Lebanon, saying that his statements were unsuitable for a man of his status.He said that Sheikh Qabbani had a long history of instigating sectarian strife between various communities in Lebanon and demanded that he apologize to all Palestinians.Read the full story here.
- Arabs want 'bride for Shalit'.(Ynet).Disturbing initiative: Palestinians set up Facebook group with sickening photo of chained female soldier held by armed Arab woman.For five years now, Hamas has been holding Gilad Shalit but failed to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the abducted IDF soldier. As it turns out, Gaza radicals are fed up with this failure, yet instead of making do with a more minor release of detainees they prefer to boost the "loot" in their possession.Accordingly, a new Palestinian Facebook group has been launched in recent days titled "The people want a bride for Shalit."The intention behind the slogan is clear: A call for the abduction of an Israeli female solider who will serve as yet another Hamas bargaining chip in a future prisoner swap with the Jewish state. Yet beyond the disturbing message, group organizers resorted to particularly sickening "humor" to further their cause, posting a doctored photograph showing a chained Israeli soldier held by an armed Palestinian woman belonging to Hamas' military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.One group member wrote the following message on Facebook: "We need to abduct a soldier who will become a female Shalit, so they get married and bring us a bunch of Shalits." Next week will mark the five-year anniversary of Gilad Shalit's abduction.Hmmmm.......Obama's 'peacepartners'. Read the full story here.
- Iran plans to send monkey into space.(NAus).IRAN Iran plans to send a live monkey into space in the summer, the country's top space official said after the launch of the Rassad-1 (Observation-1) satellite, state television reported today. "The Kavoshgar-5 rocket will be launched during the month of Mordad [July 23 to August 23] with a 285-kilogram capsule carrying a monkey to an altitude of 120 kilometers ," according to Hamid Fazeli, the head of Iran's space organization.In February, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled a space capsule designed to carry a live monkey into space along with four new prototypes of home-built satellites the country hopes to launch before March 2012.At the time, Fazeli touted the launch of a large animal into space as the first step toward sending a man into space, which Tehran claims is scheduled for 2020.Iran sent small animals into space - a rat, turtles and worms - aboard its Kavoshgar-3 rocket in 2010.Fazeli also announced plans for the launch in October of the Fajr reconnaissance satellite, with "a life span of a year and a half and to be placed at an altitude of 400 kilometers," the website reported.Yesterday, the Islamic Republic successfully put its Rassad-1 satellite into orbit.Rassad-1, which orbits the Earth 15 times every 24 hours and has a two-month life cycle, will be used to photograph the planet and transmit images, media reports said.Originally scheduled to launch in August 2010, the satellite was built by Malek Ashtar University in Tehran, which is linked to the country's elite Revolutionary Guards.Iran, which first put a satellite into orbit in 2009, has outlined an ambitious space program amid Western concerns.Western powers fear that Iran's space agenda might be linked to developing a ballistic missile capability that could deliver nuclear warheads, but Tehran has repeatedly denied that its contentious nuclear and scientific programs mask military ambitions.Read the full story here.
- Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi: Cellular Phones Expose the Public to Satanic Temptation.In a speech to a group of women, Iranian Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi warned against the easy access to things that corrupt the soul, such as television and cellular phones.He said that they expose the public, especially children, to satanic temptation.Read the full story here.
- African Volcano Affects Saudia.(CrossroadsArabia).The long-dormant Nabro volcano in Eritrea has erupted for the first time in recorded history. Shooting ash clouds kilometers into the air, it is affecting flights in and out of the region. Arab News reports that Saudi Arabian Airlines is having to cancel certain flights into East Africa at the moment. Predictions show the ash cloud—currently moving in a northwest direction—getting caught up in the westerly jet stream and circling back to the east. It is expected to hit Saudi airspace and perhaps reach the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Whether the clouds will be dissipated by then is uncertain and depends on the further activities of the volcano. There’s no immediate linkage between this volcanic eruption and the signs of a pending eruption in Al-Ais, northwestern Saudi Arabia in 2009/10. Both, however, are on the edges of the Red Sea rift valley. Whether this is an indication that the rift is becoming more active or is just a coincidence is up in the air at present.RIYADH: Several flights from Saudi Arabia to different destinations in the Horn of Africa, including Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti, have been canceled or rescheduled after a massive ash cloud entered the skies of Eritrea following a volcanic eruption, said Abdullah Al-Azhar, a spokesman of Saudi Arabian Airlines, here on Monday.He said that the local flights operating to Tabuk and a few other destinations in the Kingdom will also be affected. In fact, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are likely to be affected by the ash. He said that the airline was awaiting an updated advisory about the status of the movement of the ash cloud.“The ash cloud is likely to reach Saudi Arabia by Monday late night or Tuesday early morning,” warned an African airline official, citing predictions by the France-based Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VACC), here Monday. The VACC advisory said that “the ash plume will spread toward the Middle East Monday night and by 6 a.m. on Tuesday. The ash is expected to get caught in a west-to-east jet stream and spread to the skies over parts of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Israel, Jordan, Yemen and Iraq.”Early reports misidentified the Eritrean eruption as taking place at the nearby Dubbi volcano. That confusion was cleared up as weather satellite photos clearly showed which volcano has gone off. If this had happened even 50 years ago, the news would have taken days to reach the world and its identity would still be a question. Read the full story here.