Wednesday, August 24, 2011
At a speech last year about how his administration would help small businesses, President Obama’s secret handshake style was caught on camera.
While it’s a little surprising to see him engage in such a stylish, choreographed, and “fly” handshake with a an old white guy in spectacles.Any freemason care to comment?
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity in Peru : 6.8 -Epicenter located 67 km (41.63 miles) SE of Contamana, Departmento de Loreto; The US 5.8 and 5.9 Virginia and Europe Sweden 5.1! More info here.
- Japan : For the most accurate info on the nuclear disaster go to : Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog.Here.
- Maps of East Coast Earthquake.(DougRoss).A major earthquake centered near Washington, D.C. occurred around 2pm ET today. The U.S. Geological Survey stated that it received over "10,000 reports of felt shaking ... from more than 3400 zip codes all over the eastern United States." A magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck the National Capital Area on Tuesday, August 23, at 1:51p.m. (EDT), causing moderate shaking and potentially significant damage, and was felt throughout Northern Virginia and neighboring areas. No casualties are expected.Meanwhile, a 5.3 magnitude quake also struck Colorado Monday night, about 180 miles south of Denver...
Read and see the full story here.
- Outrage As Bloomberg Bans Clergy From 9/11 Ceremony.(AnneColetta)Religious leaders are calling on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to reverse course and offer clergy a role in the ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.Rudy Washington, a deputy mayor in former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s administration, said he’s outraged. Mr. Washington organized an interfaith ceremony at Yankee Stadium shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.“This is America, and to have a memorial service where there’s no prayer, this appears to be insanity to me,” said Mr. Washington, who has suffered severe medical problems connected to the time he spent at Ground Zero. ..
Did Bloomberg forget this?
Mychal F. Judge, OFM (born Robert Emmet Judge on May 11, 1933; died September 11, 2001) was a Roman Catholic priest of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor, Chaplain of the Fire Department of New York, and the first recorded victim of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Upon hearing the news that the World Trade Center had been hit, Father Judge rushed to the site. He was met by the Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, who asked him to pray for the city and its victims. Judge administered the Last Rites to some lying on the streets, then entered the lobby of the World Trade Center North Tower, where an emergency command post was organized. There he continued offering aid and prayers for the rescuers, the injured and dead.When the South Tower collapsed at 9:59 AM, debris went flying through the North Tower lobby, killing many inside, including Judge. At the moment he was struck in the head and killed, Judge was repeatedly praying aloud, “Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this!”, according to Judge’s biographer and New York Daily News columnist Michael Daly.
Shortly after his death, an NYPD lieutenant, who had also been buried in the collapse, found Judge’s body and assisted by two firemen and two civilian bystanders carried it out of the North Tower lobby to nearby St Peter’s Church. This event was captured in the documentary film 9/11, shot by Jules and Gedeon Naudet. Shannon Stapleton, photographer from Reuters, photographed Judge’s body being carried out of the rubble by five men. It became one of the most famous images related to 9/11. The Philadelphia Weekly reports the photograph is considered an American Pietà.Judge’s body was formally identified by NYPDDetectiveSteven McDonald, a long-time friend of the priest. The coroner found that Judge died of “blunt force trauma to the head.”Mychal Judge’s body bag was labeled “Victim 0001,” recognized as the first official victim of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Former President Bill Clinton was among the 3,000 people who attended his funeral, held on September 15 at St Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan. It was presided over by Cardinal Edward Egan. President Clinton said that Judge’s death was “a special loss. We should live his life as an example of what has to prevail.”And has Bloomberg forgotten all the other clergy that ministered to the dying and the survivors?Hmmmm......."The War on Christianity".Read the full story here.
- Qaddafi’s old ally Russia cautious on Libya rebel recognition.(AlArabiya).President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday said Russia would recognize the Libyan rebels if they “unite the country” while warning that the Kremlin’s old ally Muammar Qaddafi still retained influence.In his first public comments on Libya since the rebels swiftly stormed its capital, Medvedev tread a cautious line between recognizing the change of power in Tripoli and breaking Moscow’s historic ties to the old regime.“Despite the successes of the rebels, Qaddafi and his supporters still have a certain influence and military potential. We want them to sit down at the negotiating table and reach agreements on future peace,” Medvedev said.He added that Moscow will only establish full diplomatic relations with the rebels “if they have the energy and possibilities to unite the country for a new democratic beginning.”Russia was one of the strongest international critics of the NATO-led campaign against its military trading partner and now stands to lose a $4-billion weapons market it first developed in the 1980s.The two sides’ energy ties were also at risk with the fall of Qaddafi--all factors in Russia’s decision to keep an embassy open in Tripoli and only recognize the rebels as a negotiating partner at formal peace talks.Russia did not join the global chorus for Qaddafi’s ouster until after the start of the NATO offensive and now insists it is up to the people surrounding the veteran leader and the opposition to come up with a new government.Medvedev warned starkly on Wednesday that it may well be premature for the rebels to be proclaiming victory or for other nations to be establishing formal ties with the opposition's National Transitional Council (NTC).The situation in Libya remained “what it was before... in essence, there are two powers in the country,” said Medvedev during a rare summit meeting in Siberia with North Korea’s reclusive leader Kim Jong-Il.“Russia has a careful position and we are watching how events develop,” the Kremlin chief added.Medvedev’s comments appear to take a step back from a foreign ministry statement issued on Monday in which Russia predicted an imminent fall of Qaddafi.“The dramatic turn of events in the Libyan conflict appears to testify to an imminent shift of power in this country to the rebel forces,” the ministry said in its Monday statement.Russia also issued a separate statement at the time calling on the rebels to respect the personal safety of both Qaddafi’s old supporters and the Russian embassy in Tripoli.The Kremlin’s African envoy Mikhail Margelov, who failed to convince Qaddafi to leave during a June visit to Tripoli, has also predicted a spell of unrest and mentioned the possibility of the country following the experience of Iraq.Medvedev said that Moscow wanted Libya to remain an integral and sovereign state that “retains friendly relations with other countries.”Hmmmmm......He doesn't play Golf.....he plays ball!Read the full story here.
- IAEA official warns of Libya “dirty bomb” material.(AlArabiya).A research center near Tripoli stocks uranium and other material that could be used to make a nuclear “dirty bomb” and Libya’s rebels will need to secure it, a former senior U.N. inspector said on Wednesday. Seeking to mend ties with the West, Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi agreed in 2003 to abandon efforts to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons – a move that brought him in from the cold and helped end decades of isolation.Olli Heinonen, head of nuclear safeguards inspections worldwide for the UN atomic watchdog until mid-2010 and now at Harvard University, said Libya’s uranium enrichment program was subsequently taken apart.Sensitive material and documentation ranging from nuclear weapons design information to centrifuge components were also confiscated, Heinonen said in an online commentary.Libya’s highly-enriched uranium, which was used to fuel the Tajoura research reactor on Tripoli’s outskirts, took longer to remove but the last consignment of spent fuel was flown out of Libya in late 2009.But “nuclear security concerns still linger,” said Heinonen, a former deputy director general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).Tajoura continues to stock large quantities of radioisotopes, radioactive waste and low-enriched uranium fuel after three decades of nuclear research and radioisotope production, he said.While we can be thankful that the highly enriched uranium stocks are no longer in Libya, the remaining material in Tajoura could, if it ended up in the wrong hands, be used as ingredients for dirty bombs. The situation at Tajoura today is unclear.”A so-called dirty bomb can combine conventional explosives such as dynamite with radioactive material.Experts describe the threat of a crude fissile nuclear bomb, which is technically difficult to manufacture and requires hard-to-obtain bomb-grade uranium or plutonium, as a “low probability, high consequence act” – unlikely but with the potential to cause large-scale harm to life and property.On the other hand, a “dirty bomb,” where conventional explosives are used to disperse radiation from a radioactive source, is a “high probability, low consequence act” with more potential to terrorize than cause large loss of life.Hmmmm......Al-qaida ........Nuclear waste......"Dirty Bomb".Read the full story here.
- The Mineral, VA earthquake of August 23, 2011 – Best in depth explanation yet!(AGUBlog).This afternoon, I finished with classes, and packed up my bag, and headed out into the bright afternoon sunlight to head home and work from there. Just in front of my building, I ran into one of my star pupils, Victoria, and had a conversation with her. I’m really glad that I ran into her, because if I hadn’t I might have been in my car at the moment the earthquake hit. Instead, Victoria and I wrapped up our conversation and then I felt a weird vibration come up my legs (through the soles of my sneakers) from the concrete walkway (P waves). I asked her, “Do you feel that?” and crouched down. She answered “Yes,” right as we wobbled side to side a bit (S waves) and then suddenly the whole campus started shaking (surface waves). Trees were swaying, and leaves rustling, and plate glass windows on the English building were undulating like water. No glass broke, but the outpouring of students and faculty from the buildings was immediate. There was only one student freaked out and crying that I saw. Everyone else was wide-eyed with wonder. As you can imagine, they had a lot of questions for the geology professors on the scene. It didn’t take long until the geology “fan club” students and geology professors Shelley Jaye and Chris Khourey joined me in front of the science building. We all engaged with the discombobulated populace and answered their questions, augmented by my iPad’s access to Twitter and the USGS website on the event.
The earthquake turned out to be nothing like the last quake I felt on campus: it was much larger (magnitude 5.8, upgraded to 5.9, downgraded to 5.8 again, as opposed to 2.1 last time) and it was much further away (72 miles, as opposed to 1 km last time). Its epicenter (the spot on the Earth’s surface directly above the spot where the rock moved), was located near Mineral, Virginia (appropriately enough). It was apparently the state’s most powerful quake since 1897.I took a copy of the simplified geologic map of Virginia produced by Chuck Bailey of William and Mary, and overlay it onto Google Earth, and you can see that the epicenter (which is practically the hypocenter, given how very shallow this quake occurred!) is squarely in the middle of the Piedmont province, a zone of mashed-up and recrystallized oceanic rocks that got scraped off a subducted slab of oceanic lithosphere and added to North America in a “Pacific Northwest” style event hundreds of millions of years ago.It Looks as if the Spotsylvania and Lakeside Faults are the suspects.Read the full story here.
- With CIA help, NYPD moves covertly in Muslim areas.(Boston).NEW YORK—In New Brunswick, N.J., a building superintendent opened the door to apartment No. 1076 one balmy Tuesday and discovered an alarming scene: terrorist literature strewn about the table and computer and surveillance equipment set up in the next room.The panicked superintendent dialed 911, sending police and the FBI rushing to the building near Rutgers University on the afternoon of June 2, 2009. What they found in that first-floor apartment, however, was not a terrorist hideout but a command center set up by a secret team of New York Police Department intelligence officers.From that apartment, about an hour outside the department's jurisdiction, the NYPD had been staging undercover operations and conducting surveillance throughout New Jersey. Neither the FBI nor the local police had any idea.Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the NYPD has become one of the country's most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies. A months-long investigation by The Associated Press has revealed that the NYPD operates far outside its borders and targets ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government. And it does so with unprecedented help from the CIA in a partnership that has blurred the bright line between foreign and domestic spying.Neither the city council, which finances the department, nor the federal government, which contributes hundreds of millions of dollars each year, is told exactly what's going on.The department has dispatched teams of undercover officers, known as "rakers," into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They've monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as "mosque crawlers," to monitor sermons, even when there's no evidence of wrongdoing. NYPD officials have scrutinized imams and gathered intelligence on cab drivers and food cart vendors, jobs often done by Muslims.Many of these operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD's intelligence unit.Hmmmm....."To serve and Protect".Read the full story here.
- Analysis Of Twitter Traffic Finds Obama’s Bus Tour With An Unfavorable/Favorable Ratio Of 72%–6%.(TheHill).Obama’s Midwest tour last week prompted more criticism and ridicule than support on Twitter, according to this week’s Hill Hexagon.Regardless of what President Obama and his political advisers had hoped for, the three-state Midwest bus tour last week prompted far more criticism and ridicule than support in Twitter comments, according to this week’s Hill Hexagon.An analysis of Twitter traffic by Crimson Hexagon over the days of the tour showed that 72 percent of the opinions expressed were negative, while 22 percent were neutral and only 6 percent were favorable.Among the negative comments, 21 percent were generally negative toward Obama, 17 percent called it a campaign stunt, 15 percent complained about taxpayers picking up the tab, 12 percent offered derisive names for the tour — similar to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s “Magical Misery Tour” — and 6 percent complained that he was not in Washington working.Read the full story here.
- America would ‘give to bigotry no sanction,’ George Washington wrote in 1790.(RuthFullyyours).The annual reading of George Washington’s letter to the Jews—which took place this weekend at the Touro Synagogue in Newport, R.I.—will echo with extra significance this year, as a campaign is now under way to make the original letter available for public viewing.The campaign was launched earlier this year by the Jewish Daily Forward after the newspaper discovered that Washington’s letter—in which he vowed that the new American government would “give to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance”—is locked away in storage by an owner who is loath to share access with the rest of his countrymen.Neither the Forward nor anyone else is suggesting that the owner, who bought the letter in 1949, is not within his rights. The letter is, after all, private property. But it is also a national treasure, containing one of the greatest statements on religious liberty of all time. And the campaign to give it a public home—so it can be leaned over and read as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are—comes at a time when the free exercise of religion is increasingly constrained around the world.The Pew Research Center found this month that between mid-2006 and mid-2009, restrictions on religious beliefs and practices rose in 23 of the world’s 198 countries, affecting roughly a third of the world’s population. It’s a trend that spans the globe, from Asia through Europe and into the Middle East.That America stands apart can be attributed, at least in part, to the signal Washington sent to the Jews of Newport in the summer of 1790. It was more than a year before ratification of the First Amendment, and the letter stands as a masterpiece of Washington’s craftsmanship in the formulation of freedom.Washington was replying to a greeting sent to him by Moses Seixas, warden of Newport’s Congregation Kahal Kadosh Yeshuat Israel, on the eve of the new president’s visit to the city. Newport’s 300 Jews had generally been well-treated in the pre-revolutionary era, but only up to a point. In a famous case, two of the community’s members, Aaron Lopez and Isaac Elizer, were barred from becoming naturalized citizens of Rhode Island because of their religion. So the community looked with great hope to the new government and to President Washington.Seixas, who referred to his co-religionists as the “children of the Stock of Abraham,” wrote of his community’s gratitude to be able to behold “a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” Washington’s response didn’t disappoint. In 337 words it echoed Seixas’s language and then some, expressing the hope that the Jews “who dwell in this land” would “continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.”Washington closed with an invocation: “May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.” It is a hope that has been resoundingly redeemed in America.Hmmmmm........George Washington’s 1790 Letter To Touro Synagogue.Read the full story here.
- What Really Happened to the National Cathedral in the Quake.(AtlanticWire).Not all of the buildings in D.C. got away unscathed following the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked the east coast Tuesday afternoon. Conflicting reports emerged over whether the Washington Monument was leaning, or not, or if it was leaning to the left, or to the right. In our original earthquake post, we linked to a photo that showed a missing spire from the National Cathedral in Washington. The original reports of the damage were fairly dismissive. Talking Points Memo did a slide show of damage to buildings in the D.C. area, and led with three pictures of tiny pieces of rubble on the front steps. The sarcastic captions read, "See it?" and "Look closely; it's there," and have large red arrows, just in case you miss it. Admittedly, the pictures they have don't show very much. The National Cathedral, which provided these images, has started soliciting donations to help repair the structure of the building. TPM's pictures don't tell the whole story, the real damage is inside.Read and see the full story here.
- Individuals Who Pose A Threat Cleared To Work In Airports.(JudicialWatch).A decade after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history the Homeland Security agency created to protect the nation’s transportation system clears “individuals who pose a threat” to work in “secure” areas of American airports.It may seem like a bad joke but it’s reality at the perpetually inept Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the 55,000-employee monster created after 9/11 to avoid another terrorist attack. Instead the agency that embarrasses innocent citizens with invasive, genital-groping personal searches has been marred by a series of gaffes that have left the country vulnerable amid increasing threats of terrorism.Since its creation the TSA has made headlines for regularly missing guns and bombs during random tests at major U.S. airports, approving background checks for illegal immigrants to work in sensitive areas of busy airports and clearing dozens of illegal aliens to train as pilots just as several of the 9/11 hijackers did. The agency has also seen several agents arrested for official misconduct, including stealing from passengers’ bags at some of the nation’s busiest airports.This month a federal audit reveals that, after nearly a decade, the TSA still can’t guarantee that agents working in “secure” areas of airports don’t pose a risk. That’s because the agency doesn’t always verify the identity of job applicants or even their legal status against a government immigration database. This means that the TSA can’t account for agency employees with access to secure areas of airports, according to a Homeland Security Inspector General report made public a few days ago.Portions of the report have been redacted for security reasons, but the big picture is clear: “The safety of airport workers, passengers, and aircraft is at risk due to the vulnerabilities in the airport operator badging process,” according to the inspector general. Investigators found that only 193 of 280 airports could provide reports of the locations where high-security workers were stationed.The recommendations to fix the problem are almost comical because they simply require common sense. For example, the IG suggests verifying the identity of TSA job applicants, accurately vetting their personal information and requiring airports to conduct criminal record checks for badge holders to assure individuals who commit “disqualifying crimes” are stripped of their access to secure airport areas.While the higher ups at the TSA work to implement these simple procedures, the agency keeps getting enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars to fulfill its mission despite its many failures. President Obama has given the agency more than $3 billion in recovery funds and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants Congress to increase its 2012 budget by $459 million to a whopping $8.1 billion.Hmmmmm.....Another 'Obamination'?Read the full story here
- Obama wants to increase aid to Egypt.(IsraelMatzav).I've pointed out a couple of times the Congress' threats to cut aid to Egypt in the event that it abrogates its treaty with Israel, and possibly even for several lesser offenses. I've also pointed out threats by the Obama administration to veto a budget that conditions aid to Egypt, the 'Palestinian Authority' and others. But what's most amazing is that at a time of economic crisis in the US, President Obama wants to increase aid to Egypt. Read the full story here.
- How to get $12 billion of gold to Venezuela.(Reuters)By FelixSalmon.Ever since the news broke last week that Hugo Chávez wanted to transport 211 tons of physical gold from Europe to Caracas, I’ve been wondering how on earth he possibly intends to do such a thing.There are 99 tons already being held at the Bank of England; according to the FT, the plan is to transfer other gold to the Bank of England from custodians such as Barclays, HSBC, and Standard Chartered; then, once it’s all in one place, um, well, nobody has a clue what might happen. Here’s the best guess from the FT:
Venezuela would need to transport the gold in several trips, traders said, since the high value of gold means it would be impossible to insure a single aircraft carrying 211 tonnes. It could take about 40 shipments to move the gold back to Caracas, traders estimated.“It’s going to be quite a task. Logistically, I’m not sure if the central bank realises the magnitude of the task ahead of them,” said one senior gold banker.I put the ever-resourceful Nick Rizzo on the task, but he came up with little more: the market in physical gold is tiny, and largely comprised of nutcases. The last (and only) known case of this kind of quantity of gold being transported across state lines took place almost exactly 75 years ago, in 1936, when the government of Spain removed 560 tons of gold from Madrid to Moscow as the armies of Francisco Franco approached. Most of the gold was exchanged for Russian weaponry, with the Soviet Union keeping 2.1% of the funds in the form of commissions and brokerage, and an additional 1.2% in the form of transport, deposit, melting, and refining expenses.It’s not much of a precedent, but it’s the only precedent we’ve got; my gut feeling is that Venezuela would be do well to get away with paying 3.3% of the total value of the gold in total expenses. Given that the gold is worth some $12.3 billion, the cost of Chávez’s gesture politics might reasonably be put at $400 million or so.It seems to me that Chávez has four main choices here. He can go the FT’s route, and just fly the gold to Caracas while insuring each shipment for its market value. He can go the Spanish route, and try to transport the gold himself, perhaps making use of the Venezuelan navy. He could attempt the mother of all repo transactions. Or he could get clever.Read the full story here.
- Israeli-Arab Crisis Approaching.(Stratfor).Israel has two strategies in the face of the potential storm. One is a devastating attack on Gaza followed by rotating forces to the north to deal with Hezbollah and intense suppression of an intifada. Dealing with Gaza fast and hard is the key if the intention is to abort the evolution I laid out. But the problem here is that the three-front scenario I laid out is simply a possibility; there is no certainty here. If Israel initiates conflict in Gaza and fails, it risks making a possibility into a certainty — and Israel has not had many stunning victories for several decades. It could also create a crisis for Egypt’s military rulers, not something the Israelis want.Israel also simply could absorb the attacks from Hamas to make Israel appear the victim. But seeking sympathy is not likely to work given how Palestinians have managed to shape global opinion. Moreover, we would expect Hamas to repeat its attacks to the point that Israel no longer could decline combat.War thus benefits Hamas (even if Hamas maintains plausible deniability by having others commit the attacks), a war Hezbollah has good reason to enter at such a stage and that Fatah does not want but could be forced into. Such a war could shift the Egyptian dynamic significantly to Hamas’ advantage, while Iran would certainly want al-Assad to be able to say to Syrians that a war with Israel is no time for a civil war in Syria. Israel would thus find itself fighting three battles simultaneously. The only way to do that is to be intensely aggressive, making moderation strategically difficult.Israel responded modestly compared to the past after the Eilat incident, mounting only limited attacks on Gaza against mostly members of the Palestinian Resistance Committees, an umbrella group known to have links with Hamas. Nevertheless, Hamas has made clear that its de facto truce with Israel was no longer assured. The issue now is what Hamas is prepared to do and whether Hamas supporters, Saudi Arabia in particular, can force them to control anti-Israeli activities in the region. The Saudis want al Assad to fall, and they do not want a radical regime in Egypt. Above all, they do not want Iran’s hand strengthened. But it is never clear how much influence the Saudis or Egyptians have over Hamas. For Hamas, this is emerging as the perfect moment, and it is hard to believe that even the Saudis can restrain them. As for the Israelis, what will happen depends on what others decide — which is the fundamental strategic problem that Israel has.Hmmmm.....I would go for the devastating attack on Gaza,no matter what a very hot Autumn is approaching very quickly.Read the full story here.
- Report: NKorea supplied nuclear software to Iran.(Ynet).North Korea has intensified its cooperation with Iran this year and supplied it with a computer program that could help the Islamic Republic build nuclear weapons, a German newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing western intelligence sources. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung said North Korea had in the spring delivered software, originally developed in the United States, that could simulate neutron flows.Such calculations, linked to identifying a chain reaction, are vital in the construction of reactors and also in the development of nuclear explosives.With the help of the program, Iran could gain important knowledge of how to construct nuclear weapons, reported the newspaper which quoted no individual source. If confirmed, it could add to Western suspicions about Iran's disputed nuclear activities and its links with North Korea, a secretive Asian state whose pursuit of nuclear weapons worries the world. A confidential United Nations report earlier this year said North Korea and Iran appeared to have been regularly exchanging ballistic missile technology in violation of UN sanctions. Iran rejects Western accusations it is seeking to develop atomic arms but its refusal to halt sensitive work has drawn gradually tightening UN and Western sanctions since 2006. The Sueddeutsche said the program, called Monte Carlo N-Particle Extended, or MCNPX 2.6.0., was used widely for civilian purposes but is subject to strict export controls because it can also be used to develop atomic weapons. It is unclear how North Korea got hold of the software.The deal could be part of a comprehensive cooperation between the two states for which Iran has paid more than $100 million, said the Sueddeutsche. The paper also said a delegation from North Korea travelled to Iran in February to train 20 Defense Ministry employees of the defense ministry in the software. The UN nuclear watchdog has voiced growing concern in the last year about possible military links to Tehran's nuclear program, saying it has received new information adding to those concerns. "More information is coming and we are assessing it," Yukiya Amano, director general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency told Reuters last week, without giving detail. For several years, the IAEA has been investigating Western intelligence reports indicating Iran has coordinated efforts to process uranium, test explosives at high altitude and revamp a ballistic missile cone so it could take a atom warhead. Iran rejects the allegations as forged and baseless.Read the full story here.
- IDF investigation shows at least three of the terrorists that perpetrated attack near Eilat were Egyptians.(Ynet).The IDF did everything in its power to prevent Egyptian troops from getting hurt in last Thursday's multiple terror attacks near Eilat, inquiries conducted by both the IDF and the Egyptian army showed. The IDF also found that at least three of the terrorists were Egyptian citizens.Head of the General Staff's Planning Branch Amir Eshel, who traveled to Cairo early this week to present to Egyptian officials the findings of the IDF's initial investigation, even brought photographic evidence to the fact.The evidence shows that contrary to Egyptian media reports, the IDF's attack helicopters avoided hitting Egyptian military vehicles and troops stationed at the border.Videos shot from the aircraft show that the troops intentionally diverted fire from the Egyptian all-terrain vehicles and soldiers towards open areas near the border base, from which the terrorist sniper fire originated. The terrorists, who positioned themselves a few dozen meters from the Egyptian military post, launched an RPG rocket at one of the helicopters, and directed machine gun fire at it.In addition, an examination of the bodies of the terrorists killed by the IDF clearly showed that at least three of them were Egyptian citizens. One was a member of a radical Egyptian group who was tried in the country.He escaped form prison during the first days of the Egyptian revolution, when several Cairo prisons were broken into as hundreds of imprisoned Jihadist terrorists escaped to Sinai. Many had also reached the Gaza Strip and Egypt is demanding that Hamas extradite them. The Egyptian terrorists joined Palestinian operatives from the Popular Resistance Committees and together they perpetrated the coordinated attacks. Israel also has further proof that joint Palestinian-Egyptian terror cells were in Sinai for weeks and were assisted by Bedouins in the region. Also according to the IDF investigation, the Egyptian troops noticed the presence of the terrorists even before the attack was launched, but did nothing about it. Only later that evening did an officer and a few soldiers leave the post, evidently to stop the ongoing sniper fire. The terrorists, who were wearing uniforms similar to those of the Egyptian army, resisted. Possibly at this moment, when the troops and the operatives merged together, the Egyptian soldiers were shot. It remain unclear who fired the deadly shots, as the soldiers' bodies have yet to be autopsied by the Egyptian authorities.In total, five Egyptian soldiers and an officer died in last week's attacks. Three of the five were killed in a suicide bombing in Sinai on Friday night. Israel has photographic evidence that GOC Southern Command Major-General Tal Russo personally ordered the forces fighting on the ground and in the air to be careful not to hit the Egyptian military post and its soldiers. Israel was aware of these facts last week, but decided against releasing them in order to avoid embarrassing the Egyptian army and to dodge a media dispute over the versions of the events.However, the information was submitted to Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which in turn invited an IDF representative, Major-General Eshel, to present the findings in Cairo. Some of the findings were published in an Egyptian newspaper on Wednesday.The Israeli authorities are aware that the Egyptian interim government is under great pressure to sever the diplomatic ties with Israel. One of the primary reasons that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the eight-minister forum decided against ordering an intensive military retaliation against the terrorist movements firing rockets from Gaza on Saturday night was their desire to avoid further damage to the relations with Egypt.It was clear that such an operation can ignite the rage of the Egyptian public and result in further pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood to annul the peace accords with Israel.Netanyahu and Barak, backed by most of the top ministers, decided instead to wait for a window of opportunity that would allow them to eradicate the rocket fire and terror acts from Gaza – after the spirits have calmed down.Moreover, official sources in Egypt told the daily newspaper Al-Shorouk that the Egyptian army has mapped out the tunnel network connecting the Gaza Strip and Sinai ahead of shutting them down. According to the report, bolstered Egyptian forces secured their side of the border in and around Rafah, and vigorously searched individuals crossing the border. Read the full story here.
- "Let him who is no Taliban cast the first stone"?Afghan Villagers Stone a Taliban Commander to Death.(NYTimes).KABUL, Afghanistan — Angry villagers stoned to death a local Taliban commander and his bodyguard in southern Afghanistan Sunday after the militants killed a 60-year-old man accused of aiding the government, Afghan officials said.It was a rare reversal of brutality aimed at the Taliban and, some Afghan officials believe, suggests a growing sense of security in an area where the insurgency has lost ground to NATO forces in the last two years. The stoning happened in the Nawa District of Helmand Province, a verdant agricultural area along the Helmand River Valley, now considered one of the safest places in the volatile south as a result of a heavy influx of American troops and aid dollars. “People won’t tolerate the Taliban’s barbaric actions anymore,” said Dawoud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the governor of Helmand Province. “They will stand against them whenever they are harmed.” The stoning occurred a day after insurgents in the northeastern province of Kunar stoned, hanged and shot two Afghan National Army soldiers returning from leave, Afghan officials said. The attacks were unrelated and happened far away from each other, but they underscored the grisly nature of the insurgency even as NATO officials say overall violence in the country is beginning to show a sustained downward trend for the first time in five years. Read the full story here.
- US envoy in Turkey faces Armenian pressure over false church remarks.(TodaysZaman). Armenian clerics and US Armenian groups have been stepping up pressure on the US ambassador to Turkey after the diplomat said most of the Christian churches functioning prior to 1915 are still operating as churches in Turkey.In a written response to questions submitted to him by US Senator Robert Menendez earlier this month, Francis Ricciardone said a majority of Christian churches operating in the territory of present-day Turkey prior to 1915 are still functioning today, drawing strong reactions from Armenian groups in the US.Last week, in a strongly worded letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Ken Hachikian, the chairman of influential US-based Armenian diaspora organization the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), demanded a retraction, correction and apology for Ambassador Ricciardone's statement covering-up Ottoman and Republican Turkey's systematic destruction of thousands of Christian churches.“We have been troubled by his eagerness to embrace the government of Turkey's false and hateful genocide denial narrative, at lengths beyond even the Administration's longstanding and shameful complicity in Turkey's denials of the Armenian Genocide,” stated Hachikian in his August 15th letter. “His verbal and written responses to questions during his Senate confirmation process, regarding the Armenian Genocide and other issues, ranged from evasive to deeply offensive.”The ANCA also encouraged “concerned citizens to contact Secretary Clinton via the State Department Comment Line to offer their views regarding Ambassador Ricciardone's misstatements.”Faced with pressure, the US envoy on Monday partially backtracked on his earlier remarks. “With your permission, I would appreciate the opportunity to clarify the record. The corrected text should read as follows. Most of the Christian churches functioning prior to 1915 are no longer operating as churches. Christian community contacts in Turkey report that a total of 200-250 churches that date to 1915 and before offer Christian worship services at least once a year. Many churches do not offer services every week due to insufficient clergy or local Christian populations. Some churches of significance operate as museums, others have been converted into mosques or put to other uses. Still others have fallen into disrepair or may have been totally destroyed,” ANCA quoted him as saying in a correction, apparently addressing Senator Menendez.But the Armenian groups in the US say this is not enough and accuse him of artificially inflating the number of currently operating Christian houses of worship in Turkey.“It took Ambassador Ricciardone, with the help of his many State Department colleagues, over a week to submit in writing a patently false misrepresentation about the destruction of Christian churches in Turkey, and another 10 days and a full wave of Senate and citizen pressure for him to finally take half a step back from the most offensive and obviously incorrect aspects of his response,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.“He just keeps digging himself into a deeper hole as an apologist for Ankara. His use of false figures and euphemisms to try to twist his way out of his misrepresentation – while somehow still trying to stick to Turkey's genocide denial narrative – clearly confirms that Ambassador Ricciardone is not the right representative of U.S. values and interests in Turkey.”Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and Archbishop Khajag Barsamian each also issued powerfully worded spiritual messages in response to the ambassador's statement. In an Aug. 15th statement, Archbishop Choloyan stressed that the ambassador's assertion was “so blatantly false that it cannot remain unchallenged.” Hmmmm.....Another example of the Obama administration 'changing' history and scrubbing facts.Read the full story here.
- 50 NGOs demand Massoud Barzani stop Kurdistan’s bombardment by Turkey, Iran.(EKurds).ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — About 50 Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have demanded the President of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani, to exert efforts to stop the Turkish and Iranian bombardment of the border villages in Iraqi Kurdistan, according to a Presidential statement issued in Erbil Province.“The Kurdistan Region’s President, Massoud Barzani, had received a delegation representing the Civil Society Organizations, including 50 NGOs, that demanded he immediately request a cease and desist of the Iranian and Turkish bombardment of Kurdistan’s border areas,” the statement, as was received by Aswat al-Iraq news agency, reported. It stressed that the delegation “had presented a coverage of the goals and activities of the campaign, acting in a civilized manner, to launch pressure on Iran and Turkey, to stop their military offensives on the border areas of Kurdistan, calling on its President to exert efforts to stop those offensives.”On his part, Barzani had “condemned the Iranian and Turkish bombardment of the border areas of Kurdistan Region,” confirming that “his Presidency had continued to exert efforts, through political, diplomatic channels and through Regional and International Organizations, to stop the bombardment of the border areas.”The Iranian bombardment of Iraqi Kurdistan’s border areas had continued since more than 2 months, whilst the Turkish bombardment entered its 2nd week, killing and injuring many civilians and causing damage for dozens of houses and agricultural fields.Turkish airstrikes forced a large numbers of Iraqi Kurdish citizens of those areas to desert their home villages,including an air raid that killed 7 Kurdish civilians in a village north of Kurdistan’s Sulaimaniyah city on Sunday. Read the full story here.
- Tripartite committee to find solution to end Turkish airstrikes.(Firat).Iraq, Turkey and the United States have agreed to create a tripartite committee to find a solution that will see the end of the Turkish air strikes and satisfy Turkey that the PKK will not find a heaven in Iraq, a member of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee said today. Sami al-Askari told AKnews that the committee was agreed upon after initial meetings between the tree sides. "Iraq wants a diplomatic solution to the Turkish shelling because it is the only way forward. Iraq's role in the Committee will focus on helping the United States and Turkey to provide support to reveal the hideouts of PKK in Iraqi territory,” he said."The parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee hopes that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will have wider role in addressing external problems and speed up resolving them with regional countries."The Government and the President of the Kurdistan region condemned the Turkish shelling and called for it to stop "immediately" as it was "inconsistent with international norms" but the Iraqi government has not taken a position in this regard.Turkish planes and artillery have hit 352 sites within Iraqi Kurdistan since Wednesday. The Turkish government says the attacks are aimed at destroying the PKK bases in the mountains, but civilians have also paid the price, with seven deaths and many displaced.Read the full story here.
- Iraq condemns Turkey for air raids on PKK targets.(TodaysZaman).Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said on Tuesday that his government condemns both the Turkish and Iranian attacks along the border, The Associated Press reported on Tuesday.Turkey's military said on Tuesday that air strikes on suspected Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq this week have killed an estimated 90 to 100 terrorists and warned that it would press ahead with offensives against the terrorist group both inside Turkey and across the border.The Iranian government also has been shelling the PKK and PJAK targets along its section of the border."The government condemns and denounces all attacks and violations of the sovereignty of Iraq by neighboring countries," Zebari, who is also an ethnic Kurd, said. "We do not believe that this is the best way of solving this issue."Despite speaking about the sovereignty of Iraq, Zebari is also a staunch supporter of US invasion of Iraq. He repeatedly stressed last year that the US must stay in Iraq.In the past, the Kurdish and central Iraqi governments have been reluctant to criticize Turkey for such airstrikes. Turkey is one of Iraq's main trading partners, and even some people in the Kurdish region do not support the PKK’s violent struggle.But some Kurds have been angry that their government hasn't taken a strong stance against the Turkish incursion, which they consider an infringement on Iraqi sovereignty."Both the stances of the Kurdish regional administration and Baghdad governments is weak and far from firm. (Prime Minister Nouri) al-Maliki's government is too weak to stand against Turkey," said Saman Ahmed who participated in recent protest in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah against the airstrikes.Turkey's military on Tuesday insisted that all targets were carefully pinpointed through repeated reconnaissance flights before being hit."Targets hits were determined following detailed analyses that were verified several times and were included on the list of targets only after it was established with certainty that they were not areas inhabited by civilians," it said.The military also said in a statement posted on its website that than 80 separatists were injured in six days of cross-border air raids that began Aug. 17, hours after eight soldiers and a government-paid village guard were killed in an ambush by the PKK near the border with Iraq."According to initial information obtained, between 90 and 100 terrorists were rendered ineffective, more than 80 wounded terrorists were moved to hospitals or villages, and contact with a high number of terrorists was cut," the military said. "Rendered ineffective" is a term used by the military to refer to PKK members killed.The PKK has denied any losses, insisting that areas hit by the Turkish warplanes were long-abandoned bases. The PKK said Tuesday that the military's claim of the number of deaths was a "baseless fabrication.""By giving these false numbers, the Turkish army commanders are trying to raise the spirits of their soldiers and to create more pretexts to continue their war against civilians," PKK spokesman Ahmet Deniz said.Iraqi Kurdish authorities have reported that seven civilians, including children, were killed while trying to escape the raids.The PKK, considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, is fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict since 1984.Read the full story here.
- Kurdistan - Fifth day of action by peace mothers in Şırnak.(Firat).On Tuesday the human shield protests against Turkey's ongoing air bombing of the Federal Kurdistan Region of Iraq have entered their fourth day in the area between Deri Davetiya and Deri Berkur in Uludere, a region of Şırnak.During the protest on Monday night, three people fell ill, however soldiers did not allow ambulances to reach the ill demonstrators. Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Nursel Aydogan went to a village to obtain medical assistance, but Turkish soldiers blocked the road.Despite the all interference and hardships, the Peace Mothers Initiative continues to protest the operations.BDP deputies Nursel Aydogan and Emine Ayna came to the demonstration area to support the Peace Mothers. Soldiers established a check point in Ortasu Village where they are preventing food and medical equipment from coming in or out of the area.The Peace Mothers Initiative are trying to block the Army from performing operations. Kurdish youth also took control of Turkish Army transition points along the roads to the mountains. Soldiers are now implementing identity control in the area.Despite all the hardships and operations in the Kurdistan Federal Region, demonstrators have not given up. They have been making their Ramadan iftar meals in the protest area with food distributed at sunset. Protest activities continue into the night with tea and panel discussions about upcoming events and the air-strikes in the Kandil Mountains.Read the full story here.
- Why ‘free Kurdistan’ might not be free.(TodaysZaman)By Mustafa Akyol.Some of the foreign observers who follow Turkey’s endless conflict with the PKK, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, wonder why there is such a big deal at all. “Why don’t you give these guys their Kurdistan,” one of them asked me recently. “So that they might be happy, and leave you alone.”Well, if only things were that simple. If only Turkey could give several provinces in its pre-dominantly Kurdish southeast to the would-be founders of a “free Kurdistan,” and find peace of mind. As someone who values human lives more than national borders, I would happily support such a peaceful partition.Hmmm.........But things are not that simple!Read the full story here.
- Kurdistan's Turkey Problem.(EKurds).By Behar.The Turkish government has been employing the use of airstrikes against suspected PKK rebels in Iraqi Kurdistan, a move that has been referred to as “… contrary to all international norms and humanitarian concepts,” by Fouad Masoum, head of the Kurdistan bloc in parliament, in an article first posted by Reuters. He goes on to state that,“Turkey is not able to target armed groups that attack their troops but takes out its anger on innocent people.”In fact, the article goes on to state that a Turkish rocket had targeted a civilian vehicle carrying 3 men, 2 women and 2 children but that initially the bodies had been charred so badly that not even their sexes could be determined.No reports yet from Turkey as to how successful these raids have been.This comes along the heels of a prolonged period of somewhat sustained diplomatic and economic ties between the Kurdistan region and Turkey, and it goes without saying that the Kurdish people are far more reliant on Turkish businesses and goods than Turkey is on the Kurdistan region to simply cut off ties—even temporarily—in response to the attacks. It also goes without saying that in the supposedly unified country of Iraq, the Iraqi central government has done next to nothing both in response to the Turkish airstrikes or the Iranian ones, as the Iranians too have supposedly been targeting PJAK rebels as their excuse for violating Iraqi sovereignty. (PJAK is an offshoot of the PKK in Iran) Recent reports over the past two months indicate that the Iranians have also been building inside Iraqi Kurdistan, and that the Kurdistan Regional Government has been left to fend for itself.
In an effort to promote Iraqi unity and this notion that southern Kurdistan is truly part of a greater Iraq, shouldn’t the central government in Baghdad take a more active stance against BOTH of its neighbors for blatantly crossing its borders over and over again for days at a time? If anything, their inability—or perhaps unwillingness—to do anything sends a clear message to the Kurds that when it comes to their land, they are in fact utterly alone in its defense.And what does one make of these airstrikes by a NATO member that so blatantly violates international norms and shows a complete disregard for both territorial sovereignty and the loss of civilian life? Turkey would say it is simply in response to a terrorist attack by the PKK against one of its military bases which resulted in the deaths of 7 Turkish servicemen, and thus it has a right to pursue these terrorists regardless of where their safe havens may be—even in Iraqi Kurdistan. The PKK would respond that it made its declaration to end its ceasefire well known when the recent Turkish parliamentary elections resulted in somewhat of a debacle when it came to the handling of the Kurdish result. Initially the Kurdish political party, the BDP, was able to secure a significantly larger portion of seats than it had before, but those seats were ultimately taken back when Kurdish parliamentarians who were elected were either not released when they were imprisoned prior to the elections or imprisoned afterwards. (Most of them had been imprisoned on political grounds, citing that they were sympathizers with the PKK, which is a common charge often used by the Turkish government against Kurdish activists, not unlike the charge by Iran against peaceful Kurdish activists as being a “muhareb”, or enemy of the state.) Rather than replace those parliamentarians with additional BDP members, the Turkish parliament chose instead to replace them with members of the AK Party, the Turkish President and Prime Minister’s political party. These events only added fuel to the PKK argument that the peaceful and democratic method clearly had not worked and that violence was necessary.One can’t help but wonder how much more of a benefit it would have been to the Turkish government if it had simply embraced the initial outcome of the elections so that both the members of the BDP and Kurds living in Turkey could finally feel as though the years of Turkish oppression and violence, and the subsequent violence that emerged with the creation of the PKK, were over and that a new democratic wave of both transparency and inclusiveness that has been overtaking much of the middle east pertained to them as well. Instead, the Turkish government has foolishly given credence to the PKK cause and has risked its alliance with the KRG. The tragedy here is that there would be no room for the violence of the PKK in that region had democratic values and practices truly been embraced. Whatever sympathy a Kurd in Turkey made have had for the PKK would diminish in the long term as the very soap box that the PKK stands on proclaims that it simply wants equality and the basic human rights and freedoms that all people have the right to demand from their governments.I’m certainly not advocating that they’re justified in their methods—I condemn acts of terror in all of its forms-but there would be no room for their violent rhetoric had Kurds truly been welcomed into the democratic process without fear of being labeled as “PKK sympathizers” from the moment they spoke up for their desire for equal rights. These airstrikes serve no one’s interests—not the Turkish government’s interests,whose actions show the millions of Kurds that exist within its borders that there is no place for them in Turkey as Kurds, or the Kurdistan Region whose territorial sovereignty it violated, or even the billions of dollars at risk in both country’s economies. Other than a bit of muscle flexing, this latest round of airstrikes against Kurdish civilians will do little to solve the underlying reason for the Kurdish-Turkish conflict in the first place: the TRUE implementation of democratic values that imposes on its government the embracing of equality and human rights for every single one of its citizens, regardless of religion, gender, or ethnic background. If Turkey wants to solve its so-called Kurdish problem, perhaps it should take a page from the books of the countries that currently surround the Kurdistan region: Bombing the Kurds out of existence isn’t going to work. Neither is gassing them. Neither is torturing them. You’ll make more money and solve a lot of your problems if you learn to play nice. I won’t hold my breath on that one though…“In Turkey on Sunday, police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse Kurdish protesters who tried to march to a main square in Istanbul to denounce the Turkish raids. In the capital, Ankara, demonstrators marched to protest the PKK.” – Al Jazeera.
If you can’t even allow your people to peacefully assemble…or participate in elections…or freely speak and write about what’s on their mind…and whilst systematically oppressing and torturing them and their innocent brethren in neighboring countries you decide that it’s alright to violate another country’s sovereignty because YOU claim you’ve been the target of a terrorist attack…exactly who gets to hold you accountable?Read the full story here.
- Remember the Taliban and the Buddha of Bamiyan statues?Egyptian Islamists: Cover Pharaoh Statues! Ban Bathing Suits On Beaches!(Memri). In a tourism conference in Egypt on August 22, Islamists called to set religious principles for tourism in the country.A Salafi official called to cover the faces of the pharaoh statues with wax since they are considered idols; the Muslim Brotherhood suggested banning bathing suits on public beaches for modesty reasons.Tourism organizations rejected the demands and filed a complaint against extremist Islamists, claiming that they are harming the future of Egyptian tourism and creating a religious regime.Hmmmm.....My guess the 3.57 Billion $ Obama pledged to Egypt will 'cover' a lot?Read the full story here
- Iran Plans To Close Or Divert All Rivers Heading Downstream To Iraq Due To Severe Drought.(Memri).Iran has informed Iraqi of its decision to close or divert all rivers and effluents heading downstream toward Iraq because of a severe shortage of water caused by draught. A spokesman for Al-Iraqiya said that Iran is waging an economic and security war against Iraq by denying water to Iraq and by shelling its border in the north. Iraq has been reluctant to use a key economic card against Iran. That is the trade between the two countries is approaching $10 billion annually but it is primarily a one-way trade from Iran to Iraq. Water conflicts between the two countries go back many decades. The conflict over Shat-al-Arab River which separates the two countries may have been one of the reasons that triggered the Iraq-Iran war in 1990-1998. Moreover, in recent years, farmers in the southern province of Basra have complained about increased water salinity because of Iran's refusal to stop the flow of drainage water in the provincial waterways. A secret report submitted to the Iraqi government with satellite photographs showed that the drainage water is getting close to the giant Majnoon oil field. Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi has urged President Talabani to intervene with Iran to stop directing the drainage water toward Shat-al-Arab. Iran has resorted to a new tactic to discourage Iraq from invoking the economic card. It simply threatens to seek huge reparations. Iran claims it will be eligible for reparations just as Kuwait was granted that right by the UN Security Council. [Realistically, Iran stands no chance of a similar Council resolution in its favor. But Iran appears determined to systematically destroy Iraqi agriculture to keep the country dependent on Iranian food products.] Read the full story here.
- Iraq: Hizbullah Brigades Warn Of Decisive Battle With U.S. Forces, Government Ignores.(Memri).Hizbullah Brigades, an armed Shi'ite group that operates at border areas close to Iran announced that they "have completed preparations for a decisive and conclusive encounter with the U.S. forces," warning of "deceit and stalling of withdrawal." The threat was extended to Iraqi politicians who will agree to keep U.S. forces in Iraq after the official withdrawal date at the end of this year. Despite the fact that the same Brigades have issued a warning recently to use ground-to-ground missiles against a proposed new port in Kuwait (the Mubarak Port), the Iraqi government has so far turned a blind eye on the threats by Hizbullah because the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi armed forces, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, is said to be reluctant to clash with the group that is trained, armed and financed by Iran's Revolutionary Guards to avoid Iran's anger.Hmmmm......Keep '
Hidingleading from behind'?Read the full story here.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
In Homs, Syria, on Monday, the UN came to meet with local officials. Here's a video of the UN inspectors leaving as hundreds of Syrians surround their cars shouting anti-Assad slogans.
According to what I read on Twitter, as soon as the UN was gone, the Syrian army opened fire on the protesters. Source : IsraelMatzav.
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity in India 5.1 - The US (Colorado) 5.2 and Virginia 5.9 ! More info here.
- Japan : For the most accurate info on the nuclear disaster go to : Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog.Here.
- U.S. Uses Global Warming to Lay Claim to 200,000 Square Miles of Arctic Waters.(BlacklistedNews).The upside of global warming and the melting of the polar icecap is that the United States may be able to significantly expand its territorial interests at sea.But that’s assuming other countries near the Arctic Ocean go along with America’s attempted grab.According to the U.S. Navy, Washington is seriously thinking about using the Alaska coastline to claim about 200,000 square miles of territorial and exclusive economic zone waters. With large untapped reserves of oil and gas lying beneath the (not-for-long) frozen waters, plus the potential for new commercial shipping lanes, U.S. officials want to stake as big a claim as possible in the changing region, which, according to the Navy, could be ice-free during the summer months within 25 years.But so do the other seven nations whose territory borders on the Arctic; the members of the Arctic Council are the U.S., Russia, Canada, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark, which represents Greenland.Longtime ally Canada poses one barrier to expanded American interests involving the Northwest Passage. Canadian leaders say it’s in their territorial waters, while the U.S. contends it is an international waterway.Hmmmm......Since when being an ally has stopped Obama from throwing you under the bus?Read the full story here.
- "I Have A Debt To China?" - Martin Luther King memorial made in China.(Telegraph). It is perhaps a fitting tribute to racial co-operation. However, the decision to outsource to China the carving of a new national memorial to Martin Luther King has raised eyebrows in the United States.The 30ft-tall statue, which forms the centrepiece of a $120 million (£73 million), four-acre memorial to Dr King, opened to the public on Monday on the National Mall in Washington. It is the only memorial on the Mall that does not honour a president or fallen soldiers.Standing in the shadow of the Washington Monument, the statue shows Dr King emerging from a mountain of Chinese granite with his arms crossed and is called The Stone of Hope.However, there has been controversy over the choice of Lei Yixin, a 57-year-old master sculptor from Changsha in Hunan province, to carry out the work. Critics have openly asked why a black, or at least an American, artist was not chosen and even remarked that Dr King appears slightly Asian in Mr Lei's rendering.Mr Lei, who has in the past carved two statues of Mao Tse-tung, one of which stands in the former garden of Mao Anqing, the Chinese leader's son, carried out almost all of the work in Changsha.More than 150 granite blocks, weighing some 1,600 tons, were then shipped from Xiamen to the port of Baltimore, and reassembled by a team of 100 workmen, including ten Chinese stone masons brought over specifically for the project.Dr King's son, Martin Luther King III, has defended the outsourcing. "I have seen probably 50 sculptures of my dad, and I would say 47 of them are not good reflections," he said, to USA Today."This particular artist: he has done a good job."However, Ed Dwight, a sculptor in Denver, said Dr King would be "turning over in his grave" if he knew his likeness had been conceived by someone living under a Communist regime."He would rise up from his grave and walk into their offices and go, 'How dare you?'"Mr Lei was chosen after the memorial's fund-raisers observed him at work at a stone carver's symposium in Minnesota. Amid the criticism, the architects in charge of the project said that they had visited Mr Lei's studio in Changsha to find he had already carved several versions of the work.He has also prepared a bronze bust of Barack Obama which he intends to gift to the president.The new memorial is next to the Lincoln Memorial, on whose steps Dr King delivered his "I have a dream" speech in 1963, a defining moment in the American Civil Rights movement. The statue will be officially dedicated on Sunday, the anniversary of the speech, but the park has opened in advance to visitors. Around 400,000 people are expected in the run-up to Sunday's event.The statue, meanwhile, will be 11ft taller than the statues in the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. It is unclear how much money was saved by making it in China.Hmmmm......."I Have A Debt To China?"Read the full story here.
- White House Insider: The Obama Plan – Part Three.(NewsFlavor)."The president doesn’t like the Oval Office much – he’s made that point repeatedly to more than a few at the White House. He prefers to be upstairs, no suit. No shoes. No joke —"
Insider: (Pauses)… As far as it takes. We’re preparing for it. I sure as hell hope America is too. Like I told you…this election coming up…Brutal.
Ulsterman: What do you mean by we – we are preparing for it? And are you actually saying that Barack Obama would push for race riots to somehow win a presidential election? That sounds…far fetched. Even for this administration.
Insider: Does it? How so? You need to take step back and see more of what has been happening in this country. It’s why this thing went from a concern about the party to a serious concern about the country. Why aren’t you seeing that?
Ulsterman: Just explain – the race rioting. I don’t see how that would help Obama get re-elected. It doesn’t…I just don’t see how that would work. In fact it seems like just the opposite. If we go from economic chaos to…whatever one would call it – racial chaos…that doesn’t help Obama. So yeah – I don’t see what you are saying there.
Insider: (Leans back – folds arms across chest) You and too many goddamn Americans don’t see it so don’t feel so bad. You know, other world leaders see it. Putin. Sarkozy. Merkel. Harper…Barack Obama is incapable of anything remotely resembling leadership, but he is also quite capable of the kind of dangerous arrogance that the very worst leaders in history possessed. (Pauses) Look, let me try and paint a picture for you – a clearer picture of what Obama really is. If you were to step into the White House and see the man at work, or whatever the hell it is he calls it. It’s not the same as what some of his own people are calling it – I know that for certain. The jokes, the sneers that go on behind the president’s back. You want to see that picture? The real Barack Obama? Maybe then you might understand what the man is capable of – really capable of.
Ulsterman: Go ahead.
Insider: I’m at my desk here right? We’re sitting here having this conversation. How about we take a look at what the president would look like in the same situation? Walk into that room – that office of his on the 2nd floor. He spends less and less time downstairs – that’s Daley’s world now. The president doesn’t like the Oval Office much – he’s made that point repeatedly to more than a few at the White House. He prefers to be upstairs, no suit. No shoes. No joke —
Ulsterman: (Interrupts) —Shoes?
Insider: Yeah – shoes. President Obama, when he is in his de facto office upstairs – the one that is closer to Jarrett’s own office, and a short hop over to the residence, he spends his time there often in shorts, or sweats, a t-shirt, and those sandal things…flip-flops. There is a large screen television in there and that’s where hours of his time are spent when he is actually at the White House. Day in and day out. The First Lady rules the residence, and the president heads over to his 2nd floor West Wing study. Starting around last spring, he started to take regular briefings in there. And the instructions that went out on those briefings to the president were that they were to be most importantly – brief. Anything more than about 15 minutes is unacceptable to Obama. Read the full story here.
- Obama to Rally Detroit Unions on Labor Day.(NewZeal).President Obama will be hobknobbing with socialist labor leaders Richard Trumka and Bob King, in Detroit, on Labor Day.President Barack Obama will visit Detroit on Labor Day for the annual celebration of workers, the White House said today.From The Detroit News.Obama will be joined by national AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, United Auto Workers President Bob King, Teamsters President James P. Hoffa and Service Employees International President Mary Kay Henry, officials said.Because of security concerns, Obama isn’t expected to march in the annual Detroit Labor Day parade, but will address union members afterward…White House spokesman Josh Earnest confirmed the president’s planned trip…Hoffa said unions are eager to support Obama, who is to announce a new jobs effort after Labor Day.“We’re frustrated – like he is frustrated,” Hoffa said, complaining that Republicans in Congress have blocked much of Obama’s agenda.Hoffa called for more infrastructure spending to get people back to work, and said union members would work to get the “crazies” — identified by Hoffa as some Republicans — voted out of Congress.The Labor Day rally in Detroit will help Obama “rally his base,” Hoffa said.Labor unions made Detroit a blighted city.Obama is rapidly turning the US into a blighted country.How appropriate that Obama should stand shoulder to shoulder with his fellow lords of destruction.Hmmmm........National Socialist Workers on the March with their 'leader'....where did we hear this before?Ah yes they were known as NAZIS.Read the full story here.
- Ground Zero Mosque man robbed us: insurer.(NYPost).The self-proclaimed leading moneyman behind the Ground Zero mosque ran a $5.1 million insurance scam that cashed in on car-accident injuries, a lawsuit alleges. Hisham Elzanaty, 52, ran the "highly developed and sophisticated kickback scheme" for years, Allstate Insurance claims in a federal suit on Long Island. The scheme routinely submitted inflated medical bills to Allstate and involved illegal fee-splitting, court papers say. Allstate claimed that Elzanaty fraudulently incorporated medical professional corporations in The Bronx -- which were then used to bill the company for care of patients involved in wrecks. The operations were fraudulent because Elzanaty is not a licensed medical professional, as required by law, court papers say. Elzanaty did not return requests for comment.Read the full story here.
- US: Aid to Egypt conditional on peace with Israel.(JPost).Kay Granger tells ‘Post’ that level of Muslim Brotherhood involvement in new Egyptian government will impact US assistance, if PA goes through with UN statehood bid $500m. of US aid will be suspended. Washington’s $2 billion in annual aid to Egypt will be cut off if Cairo backs out of the peace treaty with Israel, Congresswoman Kay Granger – whose job as chairwoman of the US House appropriations foreign operations subcommittee means she literally writes America’s annual foreign aid bill – told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. “The United States aid to Egypt is predicated on the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, and so the relationship between Egypt and Israel is extremely important,” the eight-term Republican from Texas said in an interview. “As an appropriator I have two concerns: One thing is the continuing relationship between Egypt and Israel, and the other thing of course is what government we will be dealing with in Egypt, and what position the Muslim Brotherhood will play in this government.” Granger, here among a delegation of 25 Republican congressmen sponsored by the American Israel Educational Foundation, a charitable organization affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said she is on record as saying that “if the treaty between Egypt and Israel is not continued, our financial support will not continue.”Everyone, she said, assumed the Muslim Brotherhood would have some role and some participation in the next Egyptian government, but what will impact the level of US assistance will be the level of its governmental control.She said all of this has been made clear to the Egyptians, and that at a meeting in March with transition head Field Marshal Muhammad Hussein Tantawi, the first thing she asked was whether the treaty with Israel would be honored.“The answer was yes,” she said.Read the full story here.
- UN’s Ban says Assad broke pledge to halt violence as death toll in Syria hits 2,200.(AlArabiya).UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday it was “troubling” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had not kept a promise to end military and police operations against protesters, as the UN rights chief said more than 2,200 people have died in the Syrian regime’s crackdown. Assad had told Ban in a telephone conversation last Wednesday that the operations against the pro-democracy demonstrators had stopped.“It’s troubling that he has not kept his words,” Ban told reporters, according to Reuters. “I sincerely hope that he heeds ... all (the) international community’s appeals and calls.”The UN rights body, meanwhile, held an emergency meeting on Monday to press Assad to end a deadly crackdown on dissent, a day after he scoffed at Western calls to quit.More than 2,200 people have died in the Syrian regime’s crackdown, UN rights chief Navi Pillay told the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva that was expected to condemn the bloodshed.“The gravity of on-going violations and the brutal attacks against the peaceful protesters in that country demand your continued attention,” he said, according to AFP.Assad on Sunday night rejected calls by US President Barack Obama and other world leaders to step down even as the regime of another autocratic Arab ruler, Libyan leader Muamer Qaddafi, was crumbling.The UN Human Rights Council met to consider a draft resolution deploring the “indiscriminate attacks” on Syrian demonstrators and seeking an end to the violence, a copy said.The text seen by AFP also underscores the need to send independent investigators to probe the government's crackdown on protesters.“As of today, over 2,200 people have been killed since mass protests began in mid-March, with more than 350 people reportedly killed across Syria since the beginning of Ramadan,” on August 1, said Pillay.The UN had previously estimated a death toll of 2,000.There was more bloodshed on Monday as five people were killed, including three shot dead by security forces who opened fire on protesters at a rally in Homs as a UN fact-finding team visited the central Syrian city.The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which reported the killings said several people were also wounded in Homs.The crowds took to the streets when they heard the UN mission was in town, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP by telephone, apparently to make their voices heard.“Three people were killed and several wounded when some shabiha (pro-regime militiamen) and members of the security forces opened fire,” he said. Before dawn on Monday, two other people were killed in Hama, also central Syria.The mission, which arrived Saturday for a five-day visit, began its work the next day in Damascus to assess humanitarian needs, officials said, and while the team was in the suburb of Douma protesters rallied against Assad.Despite global pressure mounting against his regime, Assad told state television late Sunday he would not quit power as demanded by world leaders.“While withholding comment, we tell them that their words are worthless,” Assad said in an interview.“Such remarks should not be made about a president who was chosen by the Syrian people and who was not put in office by the West, a president who was not made in the United States.”Assad, who has insisted his forces are battling “armed gangs” determined to sow chaos in his country, said “successes on the security front” had been made to allow for political reforms to go ahead.“The situation is now more reassuring,” he said, adding however that reforms would only come when security has been sealed. “A political solution can not be put in place if security is not preserved.”Assad said local elections would be held in December, to be followed by parliamentary polls in February after a new law on political parties comes into effect this week.On Monday, he signed a decree setting a commission--chaired by the prime minister and comprising a magistrate and two lawyers--tasked with legalizing political parties.On August 4, the embattled president signed a decree authorizing the creation of political parties alongside the ruling Baath party which has monopolized power for nearly five decades.Assad said Syria will reform at its own pace, ruling out bowing to Western demands.“When they speak of reforms, Western colonialist countries mean that we must give them everything they want, that we abandon resistance, that we abandon our rights.”“They shouldn’t even dream of it,” he said in his fourth television appearance since the start of the pro-democracy demonstrations on March 15.As he spoke Libyan rebels swept through large swathes of Tripoli, where two sons of strongman Qaddafi were arrested, while the veteran Libyan leader's whereabouts remained a mystery.Prominent Syrian opposition leader Fayez Sara said developments in Libya would have a “positive impact” on Syria but stressed that “the pulse of the street” was different in Damascus.The Syrian opposition has vowed to bring down Assad’s regime without foreign intervention.On Monday, the authorities released leading human rights activist Abdel Karim Rihawi, 11 days after he was detained, his lawyer said. Rights groups say more than 10,000 people have been put behind bars since mid-March.Read the full story here.
- China paper warns of impact from euro crisis "Black Death".(Reuters).BEIJING - The "Black Death" of debt crisis across the euro zone will hurt China by sapping demand for exports, although Beijing's relatively small holdings of euro assets will limit any damage to foreign exchange reserves, the nation's top official newspaper said on Monday.The bleak diagnosis for the euro's prospects appeared in the overseas edition of the People's Daily, the top newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party, in a commentary by a former central bank official and an economist for the state-owned China Development Bank.The commentary in the People's Daily does not reflect a definitive view from China's top leaders, but it suggests the euro zone's successive crises have stirred anxiety and debate in Beijing about the impact on China."The euro debt crisis has now been going for nearly two years since the end of 2009, and the sovereign debt crisis has spread like the Black Death of the fourteenth century across the euro zone countries," said the commentary, referring to the rodent-borne pandemic that devastated Europe.The commentary came days before French President Nicolas Sarkozy is due to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing for impromptu talks that will probably focus on the recent turbulence in global financial markets."The spread of the euro debt crisis will not have as large an impact on our country's foreign exchange reserves as the U.S. sovereign debt downgrade, because euro assets make up far less of our country's foreign exchange reserves than the dollar," added the authors, Zhang Zhixiang, a former head of the People's Bank of China international department, and Zhang Chao, an economist for the China Development Bank."But the euro debt crisis will lead to a decline in real demand that will have a far-reaching impact on our country's real economy," they wrote.Read the full story here.
- Out of Control - The Destructive Power of the Financial Markets.(Spiegel). By SPIEGEL Staff. Speculators are betting against the euro, banks are taking incalculable risks and the markets are in turmoil. Three years after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the financial industry has become a threat to the global economy again. Governments missed the chance to regulate the industry, and another crash is just a matter of time.The enemy looks friendly and unpretentious. With his scuffed shoes and thinning gray hair, John Taylor resembles an elderly sociology professor. Books line the dark, floor-to-ceiling wooden shelves in his office in Manhattan, alongside a bust of Theodore Roosevelt and an antique telescope.Taylor is the chairman and CEO of FX Concepts, a hedge fund that specializes in currency speculation. It's the largest hedge fund of its kind worldwide, which is why Taylor is held partly responsible for the crash of the euro. Critics accuse Taylor and others like him of having exacerbated the government crisis in Greece and accelerated the collapse in Ireland. People like Taylor are "like a pack of wolves" that seeks to tear entire countries to pieces, said Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg. For that reason, they should be fought "without mercy," French President Nicolas Sarkozy raged. Andrew Cuomo, the former attorney general and current governor of New York, once likened short-sellers to "looters after a hurricane."The German tabloid newspaper Bild sharply criticized Taylor on its website, writing: "This man is betting against the euro." If that is what he is doing, he is certainly successful. While Greece is threatened with bankruptcy, Taylor is listed among the world's 25 highest-paid hedge fund managers.A well-read man, Taylor likes to philosophize about the Congress of Vienna and the Treaties of Rome. But is this man really out to speculate the euro to death? And does he have Greece on his conscience?Taylor grimaces and sighs. He was expecting these questions. "The big problem is that in some cases these politicians are looking for the easy way out and want to blame somebody else and say speculators are taking Europe apart, taking the euro down and ruining the prosperity of our country," he says, characterizing such charges against hedge fund managers as "nonsense." "My capital isn't the capital of the Rothschilds," he says, insisting that he is working with the "capital of the people," and that his goal is to protect and increase this capital. Taylor points out that no one from any of the German pension funds that invest their money with him has ever called him on the phone to tell him not to bet against the euro.Read the full story here.
- Global Land Grab: Fear of unrest and hunger for profit are sparking massive acquisitions of farmland.By Terry J. Allen.Blacklistednews.A 21st-century land rush is on. Driven by fear and lured by promises of high profits, foreign investors are scooping up vast tracts of farmland in some of the world’s hungriest countries to grow crops for export.As the climate changes and populations shift and grow, billions of people around the globe face shortages of land and water, rising food prices and increasing hunger. Alarm over a future without affordable food and water is sparking unrest in a world already tinder-dried by repression and recession, corruption and mismanagement, boundary disputes and ancient feuds, ethnic tension and religious fundamentalism.World leaders feel the heat. Calling food security concerns “extremely significant,” a 2009 U.N. report noted, “The acquisition of land internationally is one possible strategic choice to address the challenge.”Fortunately for nervous rulers, the strategy of growing food abroad as shelter against the fires of revolution dovetails nicely with the goals of private and public capital. Governments drawing on sovereign wealth funds, and rich investors accessing state subsidies, have negotiated deals to acquire tens of millions of acres of farmland in Africa, South America and South Asia. When they export the food to their home countries, the valuable water used to grow the crops will ride along as a free bonus.The largest investors in foreign croplands hail from China, India and South Korea, along with Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Gulf states. What these countries have in common is that all were shaken financially or politically by the 2007-08 food crisis. And all lack sufficient land or water to ensure that they can feed their populations in the coming years–especially if, as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns, climate change continues to “exacerbate land degradation and water scarcity in many places, and to increase the frequency of extreme weather events affecting harvests.”Read the full story here.
- Who is Anna Hazare?(NDTV).He once contemplated suicide and even wrote a two-page essay on why he wanted to end his life. Anna Hazare was not driven to such a pass by circumstances. He wanted to live no more because he was frustrated with life and wanted an answer to the purpose of human existence.The story goes that one day at the New Delhi Railway Station, he chanced upon a book on Swami Vivekananda. Drawn by Vivekananda's photograph, he is quoted as saying that he read the book and found his answer - that the motive of his life lay in service to his fellow humans.Today, Anna Hazare is the face of India's fight against corruption. He has taken that fight to the corridors of power and challenged the government at the highest level. People, the common man and well-known personalities alike, are supporting him in the hundreds swelling to the thousands.For Anna Hazare, it is another battle. And he has fought quite a few, Including some as a soldier for 15 years in Indian Army. He enlisted after the 1962 Indo-China war when the government exhorted young men to join the Army.In 1978, he took voluntary retirement from the 9th Maratha Battalion and returned home to Ralegaon Siddhi, a village in Maharashtra's drought-prone Ahmadnagar. He was 39 years old.He found farmers back home struggling for survival and their suffering would prompt him to pioneer rainwater conservation that put his little hamlet on the international map as a model village.The villagers revere him. Thakaram Raut, a school teacher in Ralegaon Siddhi says, "Thanks to Anna's agitations, we got a school, we got electricity, we got development schemes for farmers.''Anna Hazare's fight against corruption began here. He fought first against corruption that was blocking growth in rural India. His organization - the Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan (People's movement against Corruption). His tool of protest - hunger strikes. And his prime target - politicians.Maharashtra stalwarts like Sharad Pawar and Bal Thackeray have often called his style of agitation nothing short of "blackmail".But his weapon is potent. In 1995-96, he forced the Sena-BJP government in Maharashtra to drop two corrupt Cabinet Ministers. In 2003, he forced the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state government to set up an investigation against four ministers. In April this year, four days of fasting brought thousands of people out in support of his crusade against corruption. They also made the government realise it could not be dismissive about Anna Hazare and his mass appeal. His relationship with the UPA government continues to be uneasy. The truce of April was short-lived. An exercise to set up a joint committee made up of equal numbers of government representatives and civil society activists, including Anna Hazare came to naught when the two sides failed to agree and drafted two different Lok Pal Bills. The government has brought its version in Parliament and Team Anna is livid. The Gandhian is soldiering on. From one battle to another in his war against corruption. He fought from the front to have Right to Information (RTI) implemented. He is now fighting for the implementation of the Jan Lokpal Bill, the anti-corruption bill drafted by his team of crusaders.This year, more than 30 years after Anna Hazare started his crusade, as the 74-year-old plans a second hunger strike in Delhi against large-scale corruption at the national level. Nothing really has changed except the scale of his battle.Read the full story here.
- Political source: We cannot rush into war.(Ynet).Jerusalem is struggling to explain what has been criticized at its lax response to the escalation in southern Israel over the weekend.A senior political source told Ynet on Monday that, "You cannot rush into war. It would be a mistake to allow a murderous terror cell to drag us into war in Gaza." The decision to defer any ground operation in the Gaza Strip, he added, stemmed from the need "to make any such decision in a responsible, smart manner. You don't rush into war, nor do you enter it carelessly. "The entire Middle East is boiling over now, and we have to choose our path very carefully," he said. "We have to look at the entire region and decide how it could be affected, and what the consequences may be for us. It would be a mistake to get dragged into a war." Jerusalem sources stressed that despite the armistice the IDF will continue thwarting terror attacks. A political source said that as long as the Gaza groups maintain the lull, Israel "will not instigate an operation in Gaza and will not target tunnels"; further qualifying that "If terror cells are detected, they will be destroyed without qualms. We will not take any chances in that respect." The armistice, another senior source in Jerusalem said, was declared by Hamas unilaterally and without negotiations with Israel, Egypt or the United States. In a statement made earlier Monday, Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu said that Gaza's rulers "have reached an understanding on the ceasefire issue between the factions and Israel. The factions all confirmed that they are committed to the same points that Israel has committed to." The government suffered harsh public criticism over what many have called its lame response to the worst rocket salvo to hit the south since Operation Cast Lead, but according to one Jerusalem source, "at the end of the day it all comes down to the results." The Gaza groups, he noted, were the ones to ask for a ceasefire: "They understood where the wind was blowing. Would I like to see a group that threatens to abduct Israelis getting hit harder? Of course. But the question is, where do you go from there? "One difference between analysts and the prime minister can be described in one word – responsibility. Where would we be, if the PM's only consideration was the math of how many we have killed versus how many they have killed. It is a consideration, but it should never be the only one." Once of the issues discussed over the rocket-riddled weekend was the need to acquire more Iron Dome batteries: "Each additional battery means another city that's at lesser risk."We have to ask whether going into war while cities are unprotected is prudent, but that's not the kind of question you ask when an order is given to strike a terror cell." Any wide scale operation will require meticulous preparation by the IDF, he added: "We will be better prepared for any future war, should it happen. But that doesn’t mean we want war. We just need to be ready, should we need to take action, but a country doesn’t rush into war."Hmmm.......What if every inhabitant of Gaza is a "terror cell"?Read the full story here.
- Syria for PKK: The US-Turkish deal in the region.(EKurd).By Raber Y. Aziz.Turkish fighter planes have started to bombard northern Iraqi Kurdistan Region since Wednesday. So far, they have strike over 250 targets in the mountainous region of Qandil Mountain, Avashin, Khwakurk and Zap and other territories.The latest Turkish strike in Sangasar sub-district, north west of Sulaimaniyah city, left at least six civilians dead who were so charred dismembered by the rocket fire that they couldn't even be identified.All this is happening amid silence of the Iraqi government and their Kurdish authorities in Kurdistan have only "protested" against the attacks that have displaced hundreds of families and damaged villages by releasing a statement calling on the Kurdish separatist group, namely the PJAK and PKK, to not use Kurdish territories to stage cross border attacks against the neighboring countries. The Kurdistan Regional Government KRG and the Iraqi government are too weak to be able to sound a firm attitude towards the Turkish attacks on Kurdish territories. And the international community is also turning a blind eye.Some believe that these attacks by the Turkish military on alleged PKK hideouts in northern Iraq were part of Erdogan's promises in the elections. I believe that Turkey always wanted to attack the northern Iraq, but the US was hindering its designs. And these attacks came only after the US gave Turkey the green light to do so, but this is part of a deal between the countries: Syria for PKK.Turkey was understood as trying to convince Syrian authorities to do reforms because it did not want its long-standing ally to fall - that could open the borders open to Kurdish separatist groups to infiltrate into Turkey. Turkey also opposed US plans to impose more sanctions against Syria.On August 18, as US president Barack Obama called on the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to step down accusing him of "torture and slaughter" against his own people,the Turkish planes bombed targets in northern territories of Kurdistan Region.The same day, Obama ordered to freeze Syrian government assets in the United States, banned U.S. citizens from operating in or investing in Syria and prohibited U.S. imports of Syrian oil products.What is going on here is a US-Turkish deal whereby the US will allow the Turkish forces to stage air strikes against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, in return, Turkey will not oppose US sanctions on Syria and its efforts to bring the Assad regime down.Hmmm......What else did Obama and Erdogan agree on during their weekly 'phonecalls'?........Boycot Israel anyone?Read the full story here.
- Justice "Turkish way" - Prisoners despite lack of any evidence.(HurriyetDaily).Two university students who participated in a pro-Kurdish rally in 2009 and have been in prison ever since, despite the prosecutor’s request for their release, plan to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.Baran Nayır and Ali Deniz Kılıç were accused by police of carrying six Molotov cocktails during a protest meeting in Istanbul organized by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP. Fingerprint analysis conducted on the incendiary devices that finally reached the court a year and a half after the incident indicated no resemblance between the prints found on the bombs and those of the two suspects.In its last hearing July 28, the court nonetheless decided to keep Nayır and Kılıç in the Tekirdağ F-Type Prison. The lawyer for the two students, Murat Ato, intends to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights. The next court hearing in Turkey is scheduled for Dec. 20.Nayır and Kılıç were among nine young people apprehended by the police in Istanbul’s Ümraniye district Dec. 6, 2009, during a BDP rally demanding better prison conditions for Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The two students, both members of the Socialist Democracy Party, or SDP, were apprehended as they were breaking off from the crowd to leave the area, having realized the tension was mounting on Kürkçüler Avenue, where the protest was in full swing.A prison term of up to 29 years was subsequently demanded for Nayır and Kılıç, who were charged with “membership in an armed organization” and “carrying hazardous materials.”Two of the other suspects who were apprehended along with Nayır and Kılıç were released during the first trial May 12, 2010, in the 10th Istanbul Court for Serious Crimes.Adem Bulut and Erdinç Yılmaz, the two police officers who signed the official police report indicating that Nayır and Kılıç were in possession of the Molotov cocktails, testified in court during the second trial Oct. 12, 2010.The two officers claimed it was the riot police who had apprehended Nayır and Kılıç, but who found the devices and alleged they belonged to the two students remained unclear.Prosecutor Kasım İlimoğlu requested during the third trial March 17, 2011, that the two suspects be released. While the remaining suspects involved in the protest rally were released, Nayır and Kılıç continued to remain in custody due to “strong doubt” that they had not been involved in the alleged crime.Hmmmm.......If you can arrest Generals and journalists without any proof, how easy is it then to arrest students?Read the full story here.
- Kurds In Europe Protest Turkish Anti-PKK Operations.(Aina).Around 100 Kurds protested The Hague in support of armed Kurdish rebel groups and shouted slogans against Turkish prime minister on Friday.Demonstrators targeted recent Turkish and Iranian military operations against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), shouting slogans like "Killer Erdogan," and "Long live the leader Ocalan," in reference to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.Turkey has carried out dozens of strikes against the PKK in northern Iraq since Wednesday while Iran has stepped up cross-border attacks over the past few weeks against PJAK, an offshoot of the PKK. PKK attacks have killed more than 30 soldiers over the past month.Attacks have been continuing since Wednesday night and Ankara vowed Sunday to continue the cross-border operations until the Kurdish militants are eliminated. PKK attacks have killed more than 30 soldiers in the last month.Aydin Batman, who helped organize the protest in Holland's third-largest city, told Rudaw that he expects more protests in Europe against the Turkish and Iranian operations targeting the PKK."While Turkey criticizes Syria, they are bombing the Kurds," Batman said. "We as patriots living in the Netherlands should definitely not accept this destruction, and genocide [against Kurds]."Mariwan Muhammad, 30, a protestor who is originally from Sulaimani in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, told Rudaw, "Europe and America are against Syria, and Turkey condemns Syria. Why Turkey doesn't help us Kurds? They are playing games with Iran."The protestors planned to demonstrate in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but police banned them from holding a protest.There have been several protests in Europe in the capitals of Sweden, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands organized by associations related to the Confederation of Kurdish Associations in Europe, which Turkey maintains is pro-PKK organization.On August 8, pro-PKK protestors camped out in front of the Dutch Ministry of Justice against Iranian operations targeting PJAK in Iraqi Kurdistan's Qandil mountains.Emrullah Uslu, a Turkish terrorism expert at Yeditepe University in Istanbul, told Rudaw, "it seems that the PKK is trying to mobilize the masses against the operations, and ease the European pressure on the PKK."Hmmmmm.......Erdogan Judge.....Jury....and Executioner?Don't Kurds deserve a trial?Read the full story here.
- Iraq - Police forces in Sulaimani, Kurdistan’s second biggest city, have launched a campaign to locate and close down “prostitution houses”.(Urmiye).Iraqi Kurdistan -- Police forces in Sulaimani, Kurdistan’s second biggest city, have launched a campaign to locate and close down “prostitution houses” following recent media reports that there are around 400 such houses in the city.Lieutenant Iqbal Muhammad of Sulaimani police department told Rudaw that plaincloth police officers monitor certain homes suspected of being prostitution parlors.In late July, the prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Barham Salih, telephoned Sulaimani’s mayor asking him to close down prostitution sites in the city and detain the prostitutes.According to police figures obtained by Rudaw, more than 100 prostitutes have been detained and handed over to the courts since the beginning of this year. Twenty prostitution houses had already been closed down and following the prime minister’s order 28 more houses were closed and around 30 people suspected of involvement in the prostitution business have been arrested.Lt. Muhammad said that most of the detained prostitutes are from other Iraqi cities outside the Kurdistan Region and they have been deported to their cities.Sulaimani police chief, Salar Abdullah, said, “Our problem is that those houses are secret locations. So we need tip-offs from people to locate them.” Abdullah said this police crackdown in the provincial capital may force some of the prostitution rings to go to other towns and cities.A Kurdish prostitute who wanted to be identified as Rishna has been working in the business for nearly four years. “Every (prostitution) ring keeps you for four or five months then hands you over to another ring because that way they can ensure they are not discovered,” she said. Rishna said that she was recently handed over to another prostitution band because her previous boss felt the police noose was tightening around his band.Rishna said that every night she made around $20-$180. However, she said, Arab prostitutes are more expensive and charge their clients more than the Kurdish women.Read the full story here.
- Al-Turki case to be reviewed next week in the US.(ArabNews).RIYADH: Humaidan Al-Turki, a Saudi research student who was convicted in 2006 in the United States of abusing his maid, will come up before a parole committee at Limon Correctional Facility, Colorado, on Monday in a fresh bid to be discharged.Al-Turki was sentenced in August 2006 to 28 years in prison on 12 felony counts of false imprisonment, unlawful sexual contact with his Indonesian housekeeper, theft and criminal extortion.But Al-Turki, on appeal, got his sentence reduced. He received a revised sentence of eight years in February this year, instead of the 28-year imprisonment he was handed by a Colorado court.According to Al-Turki’s family spokesperson Fahd Al-Nassar, the defense team has filed for a parole hearing after Al-Turki had completed half of his sentence.Hmmmm....He wouldn't be by any chance related to Sulaiman Al-Turki Deputy Minister at The Saudi Ministry of Finance?Read the full story here.
- Ahmadinejad unveils new marine missile, torpedo.(AlArabiya).President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled a short range marine missile and a torpedo system Tuesday as Iran marked its annual “Defense Industry Day,” state media reported.“Qader (Able) missile, built by the capable hands of Iranian experts, is a marine cruise missile with a 200 kilometer (120 mile) range, possessing high destructive ability which can be used against coastal targets and warships,” the state television website reported.Ahmadinejad also unveiled a torpedo system called “Valfajr (The Dawn) to be used by submarines.It has a payload of 220 kilograms (485 pounds) and can be used in shallow and deep water, the website said, adding that the unveiling ceremony was held at Malek Ashtar University in Tehran which has close links to the Revolutionary Guards, the elite military force.Both weapons were “successfully tested,” the website said.It quoted Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi as saying that Iran was now “locally” producing the equipment and weapons systems for the navy.Iran has increased in the past two years the development, testing and unveiling of new “indigenous” military equipment, including missiles.These weapons are always accompanied by warnings against any potential aggressor, sometimes explicitly directed at the Islamic republic’s arch foes, Israel and the US forces deployed in the region.Read the full story here.
- Shariah Abolished for Greek Muslims.(GreekReporter).According to an article of the Greek newspaper “Eleftherotypia”, under the scope of reforms in the Greek Family Law, the Shariah will be abolished for Greek Muslims.This Muslim law establishes among others the right of polygamy and gives only to men the right to divorce their wives which constitutes a problem for the women in Thraki, Northern Greece. Even in Turkey, this law was abolished in 1926.In addition, this law does not comply with the Greek constitution which establishes the equality of Greeks regarding the application of the laws and the equality of men and women. The National Committee on the Human Rights considers that the Shariah does not protect minorities but abuses the rights and values of all the Greek Muslims.It is also announced that the family and hereditary relations of all Greek citizens will be regulated by Greek Laws. Thus, the Mufti will only be religious leader of Greek Muslims and will no longer have judicial authorities.Read the full story here.
- Mayan Secrets to Be Revealed by Mexican Government in '2012' Doc.(Reuters).The Mexican government is releasing state-held secrets about the end of the Mayan calendar to the makers of a documentary, "Revelations of the Mayans 2012 and Beyond," TheWrap has learned.The information -- protected for 80 years -- is expected to reveal Mayan beliefs in future catastrophes and wisdom characterized as "shocking," producer Raul Julia-Levy, son of actor Raul Julia, told TheWrap.The end of the Mayan calendar in December 2012 has long given rise to theories and speculation about the end of the world.The agreement will allow Julia-Levy to film in never-before-seen locations."The Mayans used to construct one pyramid over another," tourism minister for the Mexican state of Campeche Luis Augusto Garcia Rosado told TheWrap. "In the site at Calakmul (pictured below right), workers for INAH [the National Institute of Anthropology and History] have discovered rooms inside the pyramid that have never been seen or explored before."And we're letting this documentary film there, to see what has been discovered inside the pyramid." Julia-Levy (above) said he'd been made aware of the secret Mayan information by former Mexican president Vicente Fox -- a friend of his family -- and that it took four years of phone calls to finally get the OK from current president Felipe Calderon."This is very important for humanity, not just for Mexico," said Julia-Levy. "This information has been protected for 80 years, and now it's important for people to understand the series of events that are coming, and the consequences for all of us."At one point, Rosado was quoted in a press release talking about contact between the Mayans and extraterrestrials. That statement has been recalled, and Rosado now paints this as a simpler, more archaeological-oriented documentary"I can just say that the Mexican government is preparing to tell humanity and the world things that are critical for us, for the way we live, for the way we've been handling the planet."Read the full story here.