Wednesday, September 14, 2011
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity in Chile 5.3 ! More info here.
- Japan : For the most accurate info on the nuclear disaster go to : Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog.Here.
- Israel evacuates embassy in Jordan ahead of protests.(JPost).Israel evacuated its embassy in Jordan Wednesday evening, hours before a Facebook organized march under the banner (in Arabic) of "No Zionist embassy on Jordanian territory."Unlike in Egypt, where diplomats lived with their families, in Amman the Israeli delegation serves without their families, and comes home for weekends. The decision came just days after the 13-hour rampage at the Israeli embassy in Cairo, during which six security guards locked themselves behind a steel door while mobs ransacked the embassy.Egyptian commandos rescued those six security guards from the Cairo embassy, as protesters broke into archives and threw documents from the building's windows into the street below where demonstrators were celebrating.The government has said that Israel would respect the peace treaty with Egypt, and was determined to return its envoy as soon as possible.Read the full story here.
- Erdogan's beloved IHH Delivers Aid to Somali Terrorist Group.(IP).Two Turkish aid workers were arrested Monday near the Somalia capital of Mogadishu after meeting with a U.S.-designated terrorist organization during a humanitarian aid mission to the region."The Turkish aid workers were arrested because they did not coordinate with our national security. They met with al Shabaab without clearance or approval from government security," a government humanitarian coordinator told Reuters.The pair was released following talks between Turkey's ambassador to Somalia, President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and the Horn of Africa country's chief of intelligence. One of the workers is an emergency aid official working with the Hamas-tied Turkish charity IHH.An IHH official who declined to be named dismissed the incident as "normal, because of the security situation there."The Turks were arrested after delivering food and supplies to an area outside Mogadishu known as KM 50, where thousands of Somalis are living in refugee camps. KM 50 is controlled by al-Shabaab, the Somali militant group tied to al-Qaida and fighting to overthrow the Somali government.This was the first aid group to visit the region controlled by al-Shabaab, which has banned aid agencies from operating in areas they control. The group arrived at the refugee camp on Monday, and a Turkish delegate said they were warmly welcomed by al-Shabaab officials in the region. The official added that the group will deliver aid to other regions controlled by the terrorist group.Sheikh Hassan Abu Ayman, a member of al-Shabaab's committee for drought, said the Turkish men reached them to deliver humanitarian aid and food to the famine-hit Somalis.An IHH-sponsored humanitarian aid ship named "Gazze" arrived in Mogadishu on Monday, and was welcomed by the IHH aid teams in the region. IHH also intends to dispatch the Mavi Marmara ship, the site of the controversial May 2010 Gaza flotilla clash, on a humanitarian mission to Somalia.Hmmmmm......."By their fruits you will know them"?Read the full story here.
- Palestinians back off UN Security Council statehood bid.(Debka).The tempest which Israel had tensely anticipated for September in the wake of a Palestinian bid for unilateral UN recognition of their state looks like fizzling out before it begins as a result of a massive US campaign to avert it, backed by Saudi Arabia, Europe and Egypt.Early Wednesday, Sept. 14, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas decided crucially not to submit his application to the UN Security Council. He also notified Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and European Union foreign executive Catherine Ashton in Cairo that he was considering watering down his application to the UN General Assembly – possibly by dropping the "state within 1967 borders" provision from the text.Abbas said he would make his final decision known in a public address from Ramallah Friday, Sept 16 before flying to New York to join world leaders at the UN General Assembly's 66th session which began Tuesday.But first, he meets Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair in Amman for a conversation which debkafile's exclusive sources term critical, because Blair will hand him a document termed by senior Washington sources "an outline" of a new format designed to oil Palestinian wheels into unlocking the long-stalled Palestinian dialogue with Israel.This outline has been endorsed by Washington, the EU and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. It is now subject to acceptance by Israel and the Palestinians. Moscow has not yet indicated whether it approves the document or wants changes.By Wednesday morning, the Israeli government had not yet received a copy. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has no doubt that he will be called upon for concessions extreme enough to lure the Palestinian leader back to the table. Blair is expected to deliver the document to Netanyahu some time Thursday after Abbas has seen it. To tie up the ends, senior White House envoys, Dennis Ross and David Hale, are due back in Jerusalem and Ramallah Wednesday.During his visit to Cairo, Mahmoud Abbas was sternly warned by Saud al Faisal, Ashton and Egyptian leaders of the grave consequences awaiting the Palestinians if he forced the UN to exercise its veto against their statehood at the UN Security Council. US President Barack Obama Tuesday made it crystal clear that he "objects very strongly" to the Palestinian statehood motion as "counterproductive" and "a distraction from solving problems that can only be addressed through negotiations."US sources report that the US President has refused to talk to Abbas for the past eight months owing to his refusal to join Israel for direct peace talks. He was advised by the Europeans, the Saudis and Egyptians this week that the US presidential boycott would almost certainly extend to fellow Palestinian leaders and US financial aid. The Palestinian Authority would thus be placed under American sanctions. However, if he withdrew his statehood bid from the Security Council and accepted the new position paper, Obama would consider restoring communications.Tuesday, Sept. 13, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "The path to creating an independent Palestinian state lies through direct talks between Ramallah and Jerusalem – not New York," she said. Early Wednesday, the General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar reported that the Palestinians had not yet submitted their request to the General Assembly. It would therefore not come up for debate before October.debkafile's sources report that while Mahmoud Abbas appears to have been hassled into a partial climb-down from his original plan to bypass talks with Israel by gaining UN approval of Palestinian statehood, he may not have caved in completely. Neither is it clear whether Netanyahu will swallow the new blueprint Tony Blair is about to dish up.Hmmmm.....Considering the source is Debka there's a possibility that the 'news' is not completely trustworthy, still i posted it seeing that the independent posted it also.Read the full story here.
- Erdogan's 'Dangerous Macho Posturing'.EU Politicians Slam Turkey's Anti-Israel Course.(Spiegel).Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not only using his tour of several Arab states for self-promotion, but for verbal attacks against Israel as well. "No one can play with Turkey or Turkish honor," Erdogan said in Cairo on Tuesday. Israel lost Turkey as a strategic partner after the Israeli military attack on the humanitarian aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip in May 2010.During the Arab Spring, Erdogan has presented himself as a new power, a model leader and a "rising star" with "near pop-star status" in the region, as the New York Times has described the Turkish leader. His multi-day trip to Egypt, Tunisia and Libya is meant to strengthen his role in the region.However, Erdogan has also linked his solidarity with the Arab world to a strident anti-Israel foreign policy. Indeed, the political battle lines between Turkey and Israel have been intensifying in recent weeks:
■Erdogan expelled senior Israeli diplomats in early September. If the tension between the two countries wasn't thick enough already, this step only served to escalate the dispute between them.
■Ankara halted its military cooperation with Israel and announced an increased Turkish military presence in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. All trade ties with Israel are currently frozen and Erdogan is threatening "further sanctions."
■At the same time, Erdogan is presenting himself more and more as an advocate for the Palestinians. More than once, he has vociferously considered visiting the Gaza Strip, a move Israel would regard as an affront.
■Erdogan doesn't shy away from verbal attacks, either. On Monday, he said Israel had behaved like a "spoiled child" and accused Israel of supporting "state terror." He described Israel's military action against last year's flotilla to Gaza as a "cause for war."
The conflict could also put Ankara's relationship with the European Union to the test. The dispute over the deadly military raid on the Gaza flotilla, which left nine Turkish activists dead, could grow into a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and the EU. Indeed, among high-profile politicians in the European Parliament, criticism of Erdogan is growing.Elmar Brok, the foreign policy spokesman for the parliamentary group of the conservative Christian Democrats in the European Parliament, said he is skeptical of Turkey's efforts to establish itself as a regional power within the Arab world. He said Erdogan is seeking to transform it into a regional power similar to the status it held "earlier with the Ottoman Empire." He said Ankara isn't pursuing the goal of EU membership and that "it is using the conflict with Israel in order to gain credibility in the region," Brok told SPIEGEL ONLINE.Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a member of the European Parliament with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) said he also viewed the shift in foreign policy course by the Turkish government as a sign that Ankara's EU ambitions are waning. Turkey, as a secular democracy, may be a role model for the countries currently undergoing a phase of transformation, the FDP party group leader in Brussels told SPIEGEL ONLINE, "but Ankara can in no way be allowed to link the reorientation of its foreign policy with anti-Western sentiment." Lamsbdorff has accused the Erdogan government of using "gunboat rhetoric" in its statements about Israel. The Turkish government's aggressive policy course against Israel, he said, shows that the country currently has "no interest" in pushing forward EU accession talks. "With a strident anti-Israel course, it isn't making any friends in Europe" right now, Lambsdorff said. Hmmmm......Keep Turkey out of the European union and get them out of NATO.Read the full story here.
- ‘Jew Or Not Jew’ I-Phone App Provokes Outrage In France.(BigPeace).The app available in France is called “Juif ou pas Juif” (Jew or not Jew) and promises to reveal who is Jewish. ”All the information is already available online,” says creator Johann Levy, who lives in Marseille and is himself, Jewish. ”I’m just compiling it all.” The app costs 79 euro cents and has provoked outrage.“I don’t know if its irresponsible, but it’s incredibly dangerous,” said Alain Jakubowicz, president of Licra, a French anti-semitism group.Hmmmm......what's next?Tattooed numbers?Read the full story here.
- Beijing as the Euro's Savior -Europe and China Bound by Mutual Fears.(Spiegel).By Stefan Schultz. A few years ago, critics from the United States and Europe gave their trading partner China a less-than-favorable name: In an insulting bit of latent racism, they dubbed the emerging superpower a "yellow peril." They warned of an army of Chinese minimum wage laborers, who would destroy entire industries in the West -- and with them millions of jobs. They also warned of growing political influence from the East, which could ultimately even lead to an erosion of human rights.In recent months, the critics have gone quiet -- because they have far more important problems to worry about. Problems with many zeros on the end. At around $15.2 trillion (€11.1 trillion), the US government's debt at the end of 2012 could be as high as the amount of money the country generates in a year.In Europe, the debt prognosis is hardly any better. Italy: €1.9 trillion (approximately 120 percent of annual economic output); Greece: €472 billion (150 percent). The debt clocks of America and the euro countries are ticking relentlessly, and the slogan "Money rules the world" is being given a new meaning. In record time, it seems the current global balance of power is shifting -- in favor of China.On Monday, the US government fired an urgent warning towards Europe. The euro crisis threatens global growth, President Barack Obama said. "As long as this crisis is not solved, we will continue to see weaknesses in the global economy." But America itself is alarmingly high in debt; Obama's exhortation seems like cheap campaign rhetoric, a maneuver to divert attention away from his own serious problems.China currently appears in quite a different light: The country has foreign exchange reserves of $3.2 trillion. The government is holding around a quarter of that in euro securities, mostly government bonds, said Daniel Gros of the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels. According to the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper, China has more than tripled its financial commitment in Europe since 2007, and this trend is growing. His country was ready to "extend a helping hand" and to invest more in European countries and the US, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Wednesday. China has already bought Greek and Portuguese government bonds, and, according to a report by London's Financial Times this week, debt-ridden Italy has recently wooed Chinese sovereign wealth fund CIC for money. America can only warn, while China promises salvation: This is the new creed of the global debt crisis. The supposed "yellow peril" has positioned itself as a "white knight" which promises not to leave its trading partners in Europe and America in the lurch.In return, however, Beijing is demanding a high price -- the Chinese government wants more political prestige and more political power:
■Prime Minister Wen has called for more access to American markets, saying the US should be more open for Chinese investors. If China invests more in US companies, new jobs would also be created, he argues. As conciliatory as that sounds, however, the words are poison for President Obama given that high unemployement in the US could ultimately scupper his chances for re-election.
■Wen is also demanding that the US lift restrictions on the export of high technology products to China. This would allow America to increase exports and improve its trade deficit. So far, US companies have held back from such a policy for fear their technology would be copied by potential Chinese competiters.
■Far-reaching demands have also been made of Europe by Wen: European Union countries, he argues, should at last recognize the world's second largest economy as a market economy. He is hoping for a "breakthrough" to happen as soon as the next EU-China Summit on Oct. 25 in the Chinese city of Tianjin.
The demands are not all new -- but China is pushing them with increasing intensity. This is especially shown by the discussion about the recognition of China as a market economy. This would happen automatically in 2016, but for China that is not fast enough, as such a recognition would at a stroke reduce many barriers to trade. In particular, direct investment in Europe would become much easier.Until now, the debate has been going in just one direction: To recognize China as a market economy sooner, Europe has demanded major concessions on human rights and the protection of intellectual property. China is now turning the tables: Much-needed support during the euro crisis will be available, it says -- if Europeans recognize China as having a market economy.Europe must not be intimidated, however, because it is China's most important trading partner after the US. "The crisis in the euro zone is also hurting China," said Eberhard Sandschneider of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP). "Not only because Beijing is holding a large amount of European debt securities, but also because the country wants to expand into Europe." In addition, Beijing has consistently stressed that the US dollar should be replaced as the key currency by a triumvirate of dollar, euro and Chinese yuan -- and therefore China wants to support Europe.Thus, Europe's negotiating position is not all that terrible; it has more political leverage than it would appear at first. Not the least of which is the fact that the continent's ominous weaknesses act as a means of putting pressure on China; it might not be an over-exaggeration to say there is a certain balance of horror. If one fails, both fail. Nevertheless, Europe will have to get used to the fact that China will be increasingly negotiating using the methods of the industrialized Western nations; that is to say, it will use its growing economic clout more and more as a political weapon."The behavior of the Chinese government in the euro crisis has become a whole lot more confident," said Sandschneider. "This is the new reality with which Europe and America must deal with constructively."Read the full story here.
- Congressional Investigator: More Solar Bankruptcies to Come.(Heritage).A top congressional investigator said on Tuesday that he believes more companies that benefitted from the stimulus bill’s renewable energy loan guarantee program will go bankrupt before all allotted funds are spent.The program, which guaranteed a $535 million loan to Solyndra before the company declared bankruptcy last week, still has $8-10 billion in authorized funding that has yet to be spent. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said he had called on the administration to hold off on awarding more loan guarantees from the program.“The question is: how many Solyndras are out there?” Stearns said. “I’m convinced based upon what I’ve seen on this kind of industry and solar panel, that there’s more that are going to go bankrupt, and I think the president’s unwise to continue this idea of funding through taxpayer money industries that are not viable.”Stearns would not reveal which companies he thought are at risk, saying he would save that information for his panel’s Wednesday hearing on the Solyndra bankruptcy. “I’ve called upon the president not to award any more money for this kind of venture, and to return the money to the Treasury rather than put it out the door,” he added.Stearns’s hearing will examine two aspects of alleged corruption in Solyndra’s loan guarantee award, he said. The panel will examine both the possibility that political factors played a p[art in the award – a major investor in the company is also a large Obama donor – and the apparent lack of oversight by the White House Office of Management and Budget and other federal officials.OMB’s director will testify at the hearing Wednesday, as will the Energy Department official who supervised the loan program. Stearns said the committee had agreed to postpone the testimony of Solyndra’s CEO and CFO in exchange for agreements that they would not “plead the fifth” and refuse to answer questions when they eventually do appear before the committee.Hmmmm.....Can we start impeachment procedures now?Read the full story here.
- Because Solyndra Was Such a Smashing Success, Obama Hands Out a $1.2 Billion Taxpayer Loan To Another Solar Company.(LA Times) — The U.S. Energy Department hopes that a new solar energy project will result in about 900 construction and permanent operations jobs.Energy Secretary Steven Chu said today that his department had finalized a $1.2-billion loan guarantee to Mojave Solar for the development of the Mojave Solar Project. When complete, the 250-megawatt solar generation project in San Bernardino County will increase the nation’s currently installed concentrating solar power capacity by approximately 50%.Abengoa Solar Inc., the project sponsor, is the source of the estimate on construction and permanent operations jobs.“Investments in solar generation facilities like the Mojave Solar Project are critical to our effort to create good, clean energy jobs in America and compete with countries like China in the global clean energy race,” Chu said. “This project will supply local utilities with energy, help drive down the cost of solar power and fund more than 900 American jobs, all at minimal risk to the taxpayer.”. . . Federal agents recently executed a search warrant at the Northern California headquarters of solar panel manufacturer Solyndra Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection last week despite receiving $535 million in federal stimulus loan guarantees.Hmmmm.........Congressional Investigator: "I’ve called upon the president not to award any more money for this kind of venture, and to return the money to the Treasury rather than put it out the door."Read the full story here.
- Gore-Backed “Green” Car Company Gets $529 Million Taxpayer Loan From Obama Administration.(WSJ).Washington — A tiny car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore has just gotten a $529 million U.S. government loan to help build a hybrid sports car in Finland that will sell for about $89,000. The award this week to California startup Fisker Automotive Inc. follows a $465 million government loan to Tesla Motors Inc., purveyors of a $109,000 British-built electric Roadster. Tesla is a California startup focusing on all-electric vehicles, with a number of celebrity endorsements that is backed by investors that have contributed to Democratic campaigns.The awards to Fisker and Tesla have prompted concern from companies that have had their bids for loans rejected, and criticism from groups that question why vehicles aimed at the wealthiest customers are getting loans subsidized by taxpayers.“This is not for average Americans,” said Leslie Paige, a spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste, an anti-tax group in Washington. “This is for people to put something in their driveway that is a conversation piece. It’s status symbol thing.”DOE officials spent months working with Fisker on its application, touring its Irvine, Calif., and Pontiac, Mich., facilities and test-driving prototypes.Matt Rogers, who oversees the department’s loan programs as a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, said Fisker was awarded the loan after a “detailed technical review” that concluded the company could eventually deliver a highly fuel-efficient hybrid car to a mass audience. Fisker said most of its DOE loan will be used to finance U.S. production of a $40,000 family sedan that has yet to be designed.Hmmm.....Thugocracy in it's natural habitat?Read the full story here.
- Obama's Israel policy seen as factor that cost him House seat.(YNet).Did President Obama's positions on Israel cost him a seat in the House? The Republicans have scored an upset victory in a House race that started as a contest to replace New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, who was forced to step down following a sex-texting scandal, but became a referendum on US President Barack Obama's policies.Retired media executive and political novice Bob Turner defeated Democratic state Assemblyman David Weprin on Tuesday in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Weiner, a seven-term Democrat who resigned in June. With more than 80% of precincts reporting, Turner had 54% of the vote to Weprin's 46% in unofficial results.According to the New York Times, Turner took advantage of the discontent among the Jewish community with Obama’s policy toward Israel and his handling of the Middle East peace process. Former Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, endorsed Turner in July as a way to "send a message" to Obama on his policies toward Israel. And Weprin was challenged on his support of a proposed Islamic center and mosque near the World Trade Center site, in lower Manhattan.The heavily Democratic district, which spans parts of Queens and Brooklyn and is 40% Jewish, had never sent a Republican to the House. The race was supposed to be an easy win for Democrats, who have a 3-1 ratio registration advantage in the district.Several voters who spoke to the New York Times said that the Israel issue was a major factor in their decision to support Turner, who repeatedly criticized Obama on Israel. Turner, a 70-year-old Catholic, vowed to push back on Obama's policies if elected. He received help from prominent Republicans including former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose much-praised stewardship of the city after the September 11 terror attacks was recalled during their 10th anniversary, last weekend.The emergence of Israel as an issue was a surprise, the Times reported, because Weprin is an observant Jew and strong supporter of Israel.Orthodox Jews, who tend to be conservative on social issues, expressed anger over Weprin's vote in the state Assembly to legalize gay marriage. In July, New York became one of six states to recognize same-sex nuptials.Read the full story here.
- Ignorance Or Malice? Why Are Obama and Union Bosses Working to Destroy Companies and Jobs?(BigGovernment).The question needs to be asked: Is it ignorance or malice? There was a time after the subprime mortgage meltdown when, if sound decisions on policy and financial initiatives had occurred, the American economy may not have been hobbled as badly, its credit rating might not have been downgraded, the recession might have been curtailed and so many Americans might not have been so negatively affected. However, rather than helping a recovery by letting the quasi-free market adjust, contract and expand again, at almost every turn, Barack Obama and the union appointees and crony capitalists within his administration are, whether out of malice or ignorance, seemingly doing everything they can to destroy an already fragile economy. It’s really no longer a question of ”if,” but “why.”
In 2008, Barack Obama was caught on camera explaining his redistributionist desire to spread the wealth around. At the time, in classic Saul Alinsky fashion, Obama’s union pushers tried deflecting the issue by the stomping on the reputation of ‘Joe the Plumber,’ the man who asked Obama an innocent question.
Now, 18 months after his first stimulus failed, Barack Obama has cynically proposed spending another one-half a trillion dollars (paid for by redistributing the wealth of the not-so -wealthy. Even pundits realize it is a “nakedly political” plan to paint his political opponents as ‘radical.’ However, even with the politicization apparent, policies of Obama and his union cronies go beyond the typical ‘tax and spend’ stereotype afforded to Keynesian liberals.
Unfortunately, from coast to coast, the Obama Misery Index (OMI) is leaving almost no sector untouched. From the seemingly politically-motivated raid in Nashville on legendary (and non-union) guitar-maker Gibson to the EPA killing 500 jobs in Texas, the attacks on America’s job creators are not only disturbing, they are alarming. Is it ignorance or malice?
In addition to the union appointees at Obama’s National Labor Relations Board attacking Boeing (and the potential long-term spillover effects across the economy), as well as its assault on Right-to-Work States, the NLRB’s new mandate to require all private-sector employers with two or more workers to post union notices, coupled with its proposal for ambush elections and the recent micro-union ruling, is causing more and more businesses to spend resources in preparing to be attacked by unions than creating jobs. Is it ignorance or malice?
In another example, in June, the Department of Labor issued a stunning ruling that a private construction project must pay “prevailing wages” (i.e., union wages) on a $700 million project under the Davis Bacon Act because it is on land leased by the federal government.According to the Washington Post, this could raise the project by $20 million or more.Whatever the law’s merits, it has been pretty well settled that Davis-Bacon applies only to structures funded, owned or occupied by the U.S. or District governments, as its plain language suggests.Now, with the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen, that understanding has been upset. A Labor Department regulator has ruled that Davis-Bacon covers the CityCenter DC project, a $700 million private-sector complex under construction downtown at the site of the former convention center. The decision is astonishing, both because it is such a stretch legally and because of its implications — which range from a financial hit for the District to higher costs for development across the country.While the bureacrat at the Department of Labor expects the District of Columbia to pick up the tab for the increased costs, that may not be of any comfort since, ultimately, it is the taxpayers who will pay the price.Never mind that the District’s actual control over construction amounts to little more than the usual regulatory oversight, or that long-term leasing of municipal land is a common economic development tool not previously thought to convert office-retail complexes into public works. Never mind that Ms. Leppink’s expansive reasoning could apply to all future commercial redevelopment of land belonging to the District or to the federal government anywhere.From the the beginning, Barack Obama had claimed he wanted to transform America. His primary pushers—union bosses—have long wanted to change the America’s economy to more of a statist nation. Unfortunately, while many voters hoped Mr. Obama’s election would change things for the better, it is quite clear that the opposite has occurred. As a result, America will be poorer for generations as a result while union cronies control large portions of the federal government.While it is true Mr. Obama inherited a mess, he and his administration are making it exponentially worse.The question is: Is it ignorance or malice?Hmmmm....“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776.Read the full story here.
- Record Number Americans, Or 46.3 Million, Lived In Poverty Last Year; 49.9 Million Without Health Insurance.(BlacklistedNews).Source: Zero Hedge. The US Census Bureau has released its annual Income (not so much), Poverty (much) and Health Insurance Coverage report for 2010. The full thing is below but the highlights are as follows: i) Real median household income in the United States in 2010 was $49,445, a 2.3 percent decline from the 2009 median. ii) The nation's official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009 ? the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. There were 46.2 million people in poverty in 2010, up from 43.6 million in 2009 ? the fourth consecutive annual increase and the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published; and iii) The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 49.0 million in 2009 to 49.9 million in 2010, while the percentage without coverage ?16.3 percent - was not statistically different from the rate in 2009. Breaking it down by ethnicity, living in poverty were 27.4% of all blacks, and 26.6% of all Hispanics. White, non Hispanics and Asians were doing better at 9.9% and 12.1% respectively.Read the full story here.
- John Esposito’s Deceptions on ‘Islamophobia’.(FrontPageMag).By Hasan Mahmud.In most cases, a patient won’t even realize, let alone resist, when a doctor betrays him.I am a Muslim. I believe that accepting our (Muslims’) share in creating “Islamophobia” in the West will help eliminate it. Dr. John Esposito’s recent article in the Huffington Post, “Islamophobia: A threat to American Values?” puts the entire blame on Western “media commentators, hard-line Christian Zionists and politicians.” He even neglects to mention the huge contribution Muslim societies have had on the issue. Esposito ignores that in our global village the West is regularly flooded by violence coming from Muslim societies; violence which is perpetrated in the name of Islam while citing Quranic verses and the Prophet’s examples. The list is long. Here are some examples:
- A Sharia court stoned to death a gang-raped girl, who was a minor at the time.
- A Sharia court flogged another girl to death for having an affair.
- Punishing raped girls/women by Sharia courts is continuing.
- Wife-beating is openly preached.
- Child-marriage is openly preached.
- “No rape in marriage” is openly preached.
- Female genital mutilation (FGM) is supported by many clergics including some of Al Azhar University.
- Women are instantly divorced – there is no maintenance in such cases.
- A woman appealed to a Sharia court to order her husband to beat her not every day but once a week.
- Sharia-police (Hisba) are invading people’s lives.
- The persecution of Muslims with different ideas is reaching a frightening level.
- Non-Muslims are arrested for carrying their holy books.
- The persecution of non-Muslims is continuous and reaching a disturbing level.
- Hate preaching against non-Muslims in media is common.
- Indoctrination of children with such hate is open and alarming.
- School syllabi are full of hatred directed at “The Other.”
- Non-Muslim places of worship are destroyed regularly.
- Lying and deceiving are supported.
- Civil rights are violently suppressed by “Islamic” governments — often by hanging.
With such phenomena and experience, what else does Dr. Esposito expect from the West except “Islamophobia”? He also blames the West for resisting the Ground Zero Mosque. I wish he knew how many Muslims around the world are opposed to the proposed Islamic center, not because we don’t want mosques, but because before its construction, the notion of the center created “fitna” (division) and violently divided the whole nation.Esposito is also utterly wrong to state: “Today, opposition to mosque construction with claims that all mosques are ‘monuments to terrorism’ and ‘house embedded cells’ in locations from NYC and Staten Island, to Tennessee and California, has become not just a local but a national political issue.” I wish he knew that only last month a new mosque, Baitul Gaffar, was constructed in New York without a shadow of resistance, or how many euros European governments are pouring into the construct of new mosques. By the way, women were barred from attending the opening ceremony of Baitul Gaffar (House of Creator) in New York.Throughout his article, Esposito, a respected scholar, uses mini-exceptions as general examples. Despite overwhelming support for Muslims among politicians, he cites a few bad apples. For instance, Esposito says, “Politicians use fear of Islam as a political football.” He also states that “Justice Kagan is being accused of being ‘Justice Sharia.’” Accused? Knowing about widespread violence sanctioned by Sharia law, as the dean of Harvard Law School, Justice Kagan tried “to promote a deep appreciation of Islamic law” with the blessing of Saudi money. If such a person is not “Justice Sharia,” who is? Aren’t there Islamists trying to establish Sharia courts in the USA? Yes, the blueprint of American Sharia courts was created as early as 1993 by TAM, The American Muslims. Plus, who is breeding the home grown terrorists? Are they Western media commentators, hard-line Christian Zionists and politicians?I wish Esposito mentioned the hate-tsunami against Jews and the West that roars in the media and throughout the pulpits of the Muslim world, constantly in Himalayan magnitude. One cartoon against our Prophet (SA) caused chaos to break loose, but during my long years in the Middle East, I saw many dozens of worse cartoons in the media about Jews and their holy book. No government contained that, nor was there a sane Muslim voice against these cartoons.Esposito also states that “all Muslims have been reduced to stereotypes of Islam against the West, Islam’s war with modernity, and Muslim rage, extremism, fanaticism, and terrorism” and “all leaders of that [American] society look at all Muslims with suspicion and prejudice.” These are hyperbolic overstatements. I am a Muslim; I live in Canada and often travel to the US – there is a general sense of concern, but in general, Muslims are doing well, living well and are treated well. The overwhelming support and protection of Muslims by common North Americans and churches after 9/11 is on record, but is sadly overlooked.Yes, “We all [governments, policymakers, the media, educational institutions, religious and corporate leaders] have a critical role to play in countering the voices of hate, the exclusionary theologies and ideologies.” Esposito should give the same advice to the leaders of Muslims world.Once again, in our global village, the West is continuously bombarded by the news of serious violence from the Muslim world against women, non-Muslims and Muslims of different Islamic ideas, in the name of Islam.This is the main reason for “Islamophobia” — and a logical one.About Hasan Mahmud :Hasan Mahmud is a member of the advisory board of the World Muslims Congress.Read the full story here.
- Cuba to drill six oil wells off Florida coast.(DocsTalk).By Mark Tapscott.President Obama and his Interior Secretary Ken Salazar have all but shut down the U.S. oil and natural gas industry drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, but foreign powers like China, Cuba and Venezuela aren't hesitating to move in to take advantage of America's bureaucratic paralysis.Global Post reports preparations are moving forward for six wells in an area off the Florida coast in which U.S. experts have estimated could contain five billion barrels of oil. The Cubans are moving to tap into this potential energy bonanza with extensive aid from China, which built the massive drilling rig, and Hugo Chavez' Venezuela, which is providing drilling and production expertise.A Spanish firm, Repsol, with partners in Norway's Statoil and Italy's Saipem, will oversee the operation. Not by coincidence, the latest data on U.S. drilling activity shows a continuing decline in the number of rigs in operation. The Washington Post reports this morning that another 10 units stopped operating, leaving a total of 1,958. Most of the newly idled rigs are in Texas.HAVANA, Cuba — Somewhere between here and China, a hulking, hungry oil rig dubbed “Scarabeo 9” is making its way across the oceans, preparing to put a very controversial hole deep in the Gulf of Mexico.To nervous Floridians, even its name suggests “scare,” or “scar.” It will puncture the sea floor in Cuban-controlled waters just 60 miles off the Florida Keys, not far from a protected coastline where offshore drilling is banned under U.S. law.Having conducted test wells in the area before, Spanish energy company Repsol and its partners are now bringing the Chinese-built Scarabeo 9 to a site off Cuba’s northwest coast, where it aims to drill as soon as November at a depth of more than 5,500 feet, deeper than the blown-out well that spewed 5 million barrels of crude into the Gulf last summer.That disaster has added to anxiety about Cuba’s exploration efforts, but it has also intensified calls for U.S. officials to engage the Castro government on spill prevention and contingency plans.A high-level delegation of U.S. oil-spill experts traveled to Havana this week to meet with Cuban officials. It has urged the Obama administration to cooperate with the Castro government on a joint-response plan that could avert environmental catastrophe for both countries.The delegation included William Reilly, co-chair of the presidential commission that investigated last year’s spill at the Deepwater Horizon rig, at the well known as Macondo.“The fact that Cuba is about to drill six wells in the next two years, some of them very deep, deeper than Macondo, in places we wouldn’t allow it if it were in our waters … you better believe that the United States has an important interest in that,” Reilly said.“The Cubans have never regulated this industry, they don’t have familiarity with it, but they are doing things to get ready for it,” he added. “We want to make sure the Cubans have got the lessons we learned, and get a sense of what they do need — that the U.S., in its own interest — would help them get.”Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), a long-time Castro foe, criticized the delegation’s visit, saying it gave “credibility” to Cuba’s attempt to become “the oil tycoons of the Caribbean.” Other lawmakers have also urged retaliatory measures against Repsol.But experts say with Cuba moving forward, the U.S. should help them do so as safely as possible. Some of the industry’s leading safety-equipment providers and cleanup contractors are nearby along the Gulf Coast, but the U.S. trade embargo bars them from doing business with the island.In recent months, Cuban authorities have given minimal information about their drilling plans, but the U.S. delegation gave new details into the project.The fact that the drilling rig was built in China should not raise concerns, said delegation member Lee Hunt, president of the Houston-based International Association of Drilling Contractors, a trade group. As many six other rigs already working safely in the Gulf of Mexico were built in the same Chinese shipyard, Hunt said.“It has the latest generation of equipment,” said Hunt.American trade sanctions against Cuba prohibited the use of more than 10 percent U.S. technology in the rig’s construction, but Hunt said the Norwegian-designed platform will have an American-made blowout-prevention system that is more advanced than the one which failed on the Deepwater Horizon.While Cuban oil officials will manage and regulate the operations, the engineers and crews doing the actually drilling will be composed of experienced international oil workers, said Hunt. An Italian firm, Saipem, will be operating the rig, and Repsol’s partners include Statoil, a Norwegian company that he and others praise as a world leader in safe deepwater drilling.When asked how closely U.S. oil companies were following Cuba’s drilling plans — and if they might be angling behind the scenes for access to its waters — members of the delegation said it would depend on the size of the find.If the deposits hold close to 20 billion barrels, as Cuban geologists claim, that would probably attract some interest, said delegation member Richard Sears, a former vice president and deepwater drilling specialist at Royal Dutch Shell.For now, though, Sears said, U.S. firms will likely prefer to work in parts of the world with proven hydrocarbon reserves and fewer political hurdles than Cuba. “The challenge for any company is how you allocate resources,” he said.“Do I want to fight political and public-relations battles?” said Sears. “Or do I put my resources into other parts of the Gulf of Mexico where I have well-established leases?”Hmmmm.....If he really wanted to destroy America's economy would he do anything different?Read the full story here.
- Obama’s New Anti-Terrorist Group: Islamist and Pro-Terrorist Turkish Regime Annointed as Co-Leader; Israel, Left Out.(BarryRubin).Every time I strongly criticize the Obama Administration’s foreign policy, there are those who think calling this president’s policy incredibly disastrous is an exaggeration. Within a few hours, however, this government proves my criticism to be accurate by still another astonishingly damaging, wrong-headed action . Here is the latest example.Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced the establishment of a new Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). According to the statement, this initiative is the main activity in the administration’s effort to organize a framework for the international counterterrorism effort. In other words, it is very important.But when I read the announcement, I can’t help but think: there goes another several hundred million dollars. Is this group actually going to do something that cannot be done by existing organizations? Is the best way to fight terrorism to create new bureaucracies with office space, high-paid staff, international travel, more useless documents, and expensive conferences?The statement explains the purpose of this new organization:“To address the evolving terrorist threat…by helping frontline countries and affected regions acquire the means to deal with threats they face. It is based on a recognition that the U.S. alone cannot eliminate every terrorist or terrorist organization. Rather, the international community must come together to assist countries as they work to confront the terrorist threat.”The language is, of course, that of Obama Administration multilateralism. Yet what is the motive of a country to help eliminate terrorists? Self-interest because those countries or their interests are being attacked by those groups. And when do they not do so? When they support the terrorists’ aims. Thus, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan are not going to be allies in the battle against Hamas, Hizballah, and radical Islamist groups generally. Will more American-sponsored training increase Pakistan’s effectiveness when corruption and political policy makes its military protect, even help, al-Qaida?In as much as the plan for the group expresses any real-world purpose, it is to help the countries most targeted by terrorism. There are 30 founding members. Most of them—I’d say two-thirds—face no serious terrorist threat today. The Middle East members include Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.Switzerland is a member; Pakistan and India, despite the former’s sponsoring terrorism against the latter, are members; Israel is not. Remember that not only is the country in the world most threatened by terrorism but also the one with the most experience and greatest expertise in fighting terrorism. Of course, the eight Arab states—along with founders Indonesia and Pakistan—would not participate in programs alongside Israel. But this problem could easily have been managed in a number of ways, as it has been done before in many such groups, for example by creating regional sub-sections. Finally, among the new organization’s plans is the “first-ever multilateral training and research center focused on countering violent extremism, which would be based in the Gulf region.” Note that by siting it in the Gulf region, as opposed to all of the other places it could have been done, ensures that no Israeli will ever be an instructor or a student there. The center easily could have been put in the territory of more than twenty other non-Arab members. But there’s more. The United States is not leading this new organization alone. It has a co-director. That co-director is Turkey.Certainly, Turkey has faced terrorism in the past. While one has great sympathy for it in that battle, the Turkish government has also used methods involving death squads and human rights’ violations far worse than those methods condemned loudly by the United States when done by other countries.Unfortunately, too, the Turkish regime is now is a major supporter of such terrorist groups as Hamas and Hizballah. In addition, the Turkish government is closely aligned with the IHH, an Islamist terrorist group which the Turkish government backed in the Gaza Flotilla in order to create an international crisis.At the very moment when the U.S. government is making the Turkish government its partner in fighting terrorism, that same government is turning Turkey into a dictatorship. Every day, military officers are being arrested on ridiculous charges. Freedom is steadily contracting.On the international level, the Obama Administration is rewarding a government that opposed U.S.-backed sanctions on Iran and stabbed the U.S. government in the back by trying to push a separate deal with Iran to subvert the sanctions effort. And it is also rewarding the Ankara government by making it the U.S.-appointed mediator over the future of Syria, despite the fact that the Turkish regime is favoring a future Islamist government in Damascus, as Syrian oppositionists complain bitterly.The “Turkish model,” which the U.S. government often champions for the Arabic-speaking world, means in reality the creation of Islamist, anti-Western, regimes that at home seek to transform their societies at home into Islamist dictatorships and their foreign policies into supporting terrorist groups, fighting Israel, and undermining other U.S. allies. This is not, to say the least, a brilliant idea.But what transforms this from the absurd and bizarre to the truly dangerous is the fact that the U.S. government is once again raising the status of Turkey at a time when its prime minister is openly talking of war with Israel and acting in a more reckless, shortsighted manner than any Turkish government has since 1914.As a matter of history, that government mistakenly entered World War One on the German side. Within four years the result was the Armenian massacres, total defeat, the loss of the country’s empire, horrendous disease and death that wiped out twenty percent of Anatolia’s population, and the occupation by foreign armies of large parts of Turkey.Reacting to this experience, Kemal Ataturk, who founded the republic, wisely expounded the dictum that directed Turkey’s foreign policy for eight decades: peace at home; peace abroad. That is no longer the guiding concept of the Islamist regime’s foreign policy.Hmmmm......"By their fruits you will know them".Read the full story here.
- Iranian judiciary denies decision taken on freeing U.S. hikers.(AlArabiya).Iran’s judiciary said on Wednesday that no decision has been taken on releasing two US hikers convicted of spying, a day after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the duo would be released soon.“While denying ... release of two Americans accused of espionage, the public relations of the judiciary announces that the request of the lawyer to post bail and free them is being studied by the case’s judge,” a statement posted on the judiciary website said. “Any information in this regard will be issued by the judiciary and any release of information from other sources is not valid,” it added.Ahmadinejad told The Washington Post on Tuesday that Tehran would soon release Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, convicted of spying but who claimed to have accidentally strayed into the country, “in a couple of days so they will be able to return home.”“The two Americans are going to stay in prison for a bit longer. Reports of their imminent release are wrong, “Iran’s English-language Press TV quoted a judiciary official as saying.In a separate interview with U.S. network NBC News, Ahmadinejad said the duo -- whose jailing has further strained already difficult relations between Washington and Tehran -- would be released “in two days.”However, their lawyer Masoud Shafii told AFP on Wednesday that he was waiting for a judge authorizing the posting of bail for the two hikers.“Nothing has changed since I was informed by the court (on Tuesday) of their decision to change the detention to posting bail of the 5$00,000,” Shafii said.“There are two judges who have to sign the decision for me to start the process of actually posting bail. I am waiting for one the judges who has still not signed ... if he does not sign the decision by the end the working day, 3:00 pm (1130 GMT) it will postponed to Saturday,” the lawyer said.“I have already informed the families and the Swiss embassy,” he added. The Swiss embassy deals with U.S.-related affairs as Washington and Tehran have had no diplomatic relations since the aftermath of the Islamic revolution of 1979.Ahmadinejad’s comments drew an optimistic response from the families of the hikers, who were each sentenced to eight years in jail last month on charges of espionage and illegal entry.“While we do not have further details at this time, we are overjoyed by the positive news reports from Iran,” said a statement issued by the families.“Shane and Josh’s freedom means more to us than anything and it’s a huge relief to read that they are going to be released,” the statement said.“We’re grateful to everyone who has supported us and looking forward to our reunion with Shane and Josh. We hope to say more when they are finally back in our arms.”A guarded U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “We have followed this very closely and we are encouraged by what the Iranian government has said today.” She added: “We obviously hope that we will see a positive outcome from what appears to be a decision by the government.”The pair were arrested in July 2009 near Iran’s border with Iraq, where they say they were hiking in the mountains as tourists, along with a third American, Sarah Shourd.Bauer and Fattal were convicted last month and share a cell in Tehran’s Evin prison. Shourd was allowed to go home after being freed on $500,000 bail in September 2010, paid through Oman, a U.S. Gulf ally that maintains relations with Iran.Read the full story here.
- Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood criticizes Erdogan’s call for a secular state.(AlArabiya).Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call on Egyptians to adopt a secular constitution has created a kind of controversy, just hours before his scheduled meeting with the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest political group, on Wednesday. Erdogan noted that secularism does not mean renouncing religion. “A secular state respects all religions,” Erdogan said in an interview with an Egyptian private satellite TV channel prior to his visit to Egypt.“Do not be wary of secularism. I hope there will be a secular state in Egypt,” Erdogan said. He stressed that people have the right to choose whether or not to be religious, adding that he is a Muslim prime minister for a secular state.Dr Mahmoud Ghuzlan, the spokesman of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, considered Erdogan’s comments as interference in Egypt’s local affairs. Ghuzlan was quoted by an Egyptian newspaper as saying that the experiments of other countries should not be cloned. “Turkey’s conditions imposed on it to deal with the secular concept,” he said.Erdogan said Egypt needs to meet some requirements for establishing a modern state, including better management of human resources, more attention to education, improved management of financial resources and eliminating corruption.The idea of adopting a secular system for Egypt has fueled controversy between the country’s liberal and Islamist powers since the Jan. 25 revolution.Liberal and secular groups fear an Islamist takeover of the parliament through the upcoming elections scheduled for November. They fear such a takeover would give Islamists control over the drafting of the constitution.Read the full story here.
- Turkish PM sets out on mission to become leader of Arab world.(Independent).The Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, arrived in Egypt yesterday at the start of a three-nation tour as Turkey toughens its stance towards Israel and seeks to become the predominant power among Muslim states in the Middle East and North Africa.After Egypt, Mr Erdogan will visit Tunisia and Libya to show Turkey's support for both countries after the overthrow of long-standing police states in the Arab Spring. Turkey's strong, democratic and mildly Islamic regime makes it a model for new governments in all three countries.Mr Erdogan's assertive and critical attitude towards Israel, until recently a close ally of Turkey, makes him attractive to the Arab world. In Cairo, the burning down of the Israeli embassy last weekend was the latest incident marking the hostility at street level between post-Mubarak Egyptians and Israel.At the same time, the perception among Arab states that President Barack Obama has failed to help the Palestinians, while lending Israel his total support, has diminished US popularity and influence in the region. Mr Erdogan said in an interview before leaving for Cairo that he had seen "grounds for war" against Israel last year after nine Turks had been killed by Israeli commandos on the Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara bound for Gaza, but had "decided to act with patience". He hinted that in future the Turkish navy would protect any Turkish aid flotilla going to Gaza."Turkey will get most of what it wants if it does not overplay its hand," said one commentator. Turkey has already imposed sanctions on Israel in retaliation for the aid-boat raid, but according to his aides Mr Erdogan appears to have abandoned, for the moment, his declared long-term intention to visit Gaza.Turkey has benefited from the Arab Spring because it is likely to be in tune with new democratic governments, even when it had good relations with their predecessors. The country can also move to fill a vacuum since most of the more powerful Arab states, such as Egypt and Syria, are weaker than they were before their governments were overthrown. Iraq has never recovered from the rule of Saddam Hussein and the violence that followed. In sharp contrast to Iran, Turkey has few serious enemies. It has sought to mediate over Iran's nuclear programme between the Iranian government, which it regards with suspicion, and the US and Europeans. The two countries also have a common foe in the shape of festering Kurdish insurgencies which engage in persistent guerrilla attacks. An attack by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas in Hakkani Province in eastern Turkey overnight killed five people, including two security men.The PKK has killed about 50 Turkish security personnel in recent weeks since it ended its ceasefire earlier in the year. Although Mr Erdogan has brought the Turkish army under
Islamiccivilian control, his government does not want to look weak in any confrontation with the PKK. It is putting pressure on the Iraqi Kurdish President, Massoud Barzani, to isolate the PKK from its mountain strongholds inside Iraq. Mr Barzani, who would like Turkey as a counter-balance to Baghdad, has demanded in recent days that the PKK and the Kurdish guerrilla movement in Iran give up armed resistance. Turkey has been playing an increasingly influential role in Iraqi politics because it is able to mediate between different parties, sects and ethnic groups. It also plays a growing commercial role: Turkish companies have even won contracts to collect the rubbish in Baghdad and Basra. In Syria, Mr Erdogan has criticised President Bashar al-Assad's repression of protests, probably calculating that his regime is not going to survive, at least in its present form. Similarly in Libya, Turkey was at first slow to break with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, but when it did so, it advanced $300m to the rebels at a time when they were short of money. Turkey was heavily involved in construction in Libya.Overall, the isolation of Israel, the democratic uprisings in the Arab world, the weakness of the Arab states, and the diminished strength of the US in the region have all worked to Turkey's advantage. Its influence is growing throughout the region but it is a long way from being in control of events.Hmmmm......Caliph Erdogan versus Caliph Ahmadinejad?Can't decide which is worse.Read the full story here.
- No US drones for Turkey until armed threat on Israel lifted.(Debka).The Obama administration has turned down a Turkish request for drones or for the deployment of US Predators at Turkish bases until Ankara stops threatening Israel with armed attack, debkafile's military and Washington sources report. Turkey has no functioning unmanned aerial vehicles at present. The "technical problems" grounding the Herons Israel sold Ankara have crippled the Turkish army's campaign against the Kurdish PKK rebels – both in northern Iraq and in southeast Turkey.In recent days, therefore, the rebels have stepped up their raids on Turkish territory, killing nine people including army and police personnel.Israeli officialdom and military chiefs are doing their utmost to keep the lid on the spiraling Turkish-Israel confrontation, claiming that a military clash is not imminent because the US, NATO and Europe won't let it happen. Turkey is after all a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. However, debkafile's military sources report, the confrontation has already broken surface. Despite Western efforts to contain the rising tension, the armed conflict has quietly begun.Our sources confirm that the Ankara press report of three Turkish frigates bound for the eastern Mediteranean to challenge and disarm Israel warships outside its 12-mile territorial waters was deliberately leaked by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's office to coincide with his trip to Cairo.Israeli officials are making every effort to conceal the arrival of the frigates opposite Israeli waters, while Washington, the NATO command in Brussels try to dissuade Turkey from carrying out its threat to disable the weapons of Israel naval vessels.They fear that a firefight would drive the Israel-Turkish crisis into uncharted waters.Since Saturday, Sept. 10, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been in direct touch with Erdogan and warned him that a military clash by a NATO member with the Israeli Navy would have grave consequences for Turkey's future military ties with the US and the alliance. Our sources explain that the denial of advanced US intelligence technology on the heels of its cutoff from Israel would present the Turkish army with serious operational, intelligence and high-tech difficulties.These difficulties are already hobbling Ankara's counterinsurgency campaign against the PKK at a critical juncture.Read the full story here.
- Palestinian Ambassador To U.S. Reiterates Call For a Jew-Free Palestinian State.(TheDC) — During a breakfast briefing hosted by the Christian Science Monitor on Tuesday, Palestinian Ambassador to the United States Maen Rashid Areikat reiterated his call to create a Jew-free Palestinian state.“Well, I personally still believe that as a first step we need to be totally separated, and we can contemplate these issues in the future,” he said when asked by The Daily Caller if he could imagine a Jew being elected mayor of the Palestinian city of Ramallah in a future independent Palestinian state. “But after the experience of 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it will be in the best interests of the two peoples to be separated first.”Last year, Areikat made a similar statement during an interview with Tablet magazine. Asked whether it would be neccessary to transfer and remove “every Jew” from a future Palestinian state, Areikat responded “absolutely.”“I’m not saying to transfer every Jew, I’m saying transfer Jews who, after an agreement with Israel, fall under the jurisdiction of a Palestinian state,” he said then. “I think this is a very necessary step, before we can allow the two states to somehow develop their separate national identities, and then maybe open up the doors for all kinds of cultural, social, political, economic exchanges, that freedom of movement of both citizens of Israelis and Palestinians from one area to another. You know you have to think of the day after.”Hmmmm....."JudenFrei" yup sound like good old Nazi Germany.Read the full story here.
- Greek Cyprus vows to block Turkey-EU energy talks in gas row.(TodaysZaman).EU member Greek Cyprus vowed on Wednesday to keep Turkey's entry talks on hold as long as Ankara challenges the island's rights to launch offshore gas drilling, in an escalating row among east Mediterranean neighbours over hydrocarbon reserves. Rhetoric over ownership of speculated oil and gas deposits has sharpened after a deterioration of relations between Turkey and Israel, the discovery of massive gas fields by Israel and plans by Greek Cyprus to drill as early as next month.Greek Cyprus, an EU member since 2004, has blocked the opening of several negotiating chapters in Turkey-EU entry talks. One of those is energy."The position of Cyprus has not changed. Turkey must make a formal commitment to the EU that it will end its provocations towards the Republic of Cyprus and stop obstructing Cypriot efforts in the field of energy," said Stefanos Stefanou, the Greek Cypriot government spokesman.Stefanou’s remarks came the EU Commission, the 27-nation bloc’s executive arm, has urged the member states for progress in accession talks with Turkey on energy chapter. In a document outlining the EU’s energy policy, the Commission said progress in this area will help advance Turkish-EU cooperation and create a solid legal framework for the transfer of natural gas from eastern suppliers to European markets, Turkey’s semi-official Anatolia news agency reported on Tuesday.Timing of the drilling itself, however, is unrelated to the Cyprus talks and stipulated in contractual obligations between Greek Cyprus and Noble, the US company poised to launch an exploratory drill in one offshore sector southeast of Cyprus around the beginning of October.Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias on Tuesday denounced what he said were Turkish threats and said the island would press ahead with drilling as its sovereign right.Hmmmm......Read the full story here.
- Russia says terrorism will rise if Syrian president falls; E.U. asks Assad to step down.(AlArabiya).Russia warned on Wednesday that “terrorist organizations” may arise in Syria should President Bashar al-Assad’s regime fall under pressure from ongoing protests.“If the Syrian government is unable to hold on to power, there is a high probability that radicals and representatives of terrorist organizations will become entrenched,” AFP reported Interfax quoting a top foreign ministry official as saying.Contrary to the Russian reaction, the European Union on Wednesday asked Assad to resign, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported.Russia has been attracting increasing international anger over its continued support for Syria despite a government crackdown on protests that the United Nations estimates have killed around 2,600 people.Moscow has refused to support Western sanctions against its Soviet-era ally and argues that equal pressure should also be placed on protesters who refuse to engage Assad in direct talks.President Dmitry Medvedev last week also said that some of those taking part in the Syrian demonstration had links to “terrorists.”The foreign ministry’s new challenges and threats department chief Ilya Rogachyov said that Libya could become another safe haven for extremist groups following the fall of Moamer Kadhafi.“Strange things are happening in Libya,” Interfax quoted Rogachyov as saying during a lecture in Russia's second city of Saint Petersburg.“Weapons storages have been burgled and no one knows what happened,” he said. “We can say with a high degree of probability that the weapons fell into the hands of the regional department of Al-Qaeda.”Russia heavily criticized the NATO-led campaign against Qaddafi’s forces after abstaining on a UN vote that authorized the action.Arab League states on Tuesday called for “immediate change” in Syria and an end to the violence after months of a government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters opposed to Assad’s rule. Meanwhile, Syria rejected the league’s statement and described it as "hostile." Read the full story here.
- Maccabi Tel Aviv playing in Turkey.(IsraelMatzav).A lot of people are worried - really worried - about Maccabi Tel Aviv's soccer match (they insist on calling it 'football') in the Istanbul suburb of Besiktas on Thursday evening. The players were met at the airport by 2,500 policemen, the team has hired an additional security company and has asked UEFA - the European Football Federation - to send a representative, and Israeli fans who insisted violating the National Security Council directive by going to the game have been told not to wear the Maccabi yellow and blue to the stadium. Hmmmmm......I think it's a really bad idea to have such a soccer match in Turkey,it might turn out worse than the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.Read the full story here.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity in Papua New Guinea 5.7 and 5.2 in Columbia ! More info here.
- Japan : For the most accurate info on the nuclear disaster go to : Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog.Here.
- Kabul US embassy attack: live - Here.
- "SolyndraGate" - Obama Team Backed $535 Million Solyndra Aid as Auditor Warned on Finances.(Bloomberg).Solyndra LLC’s workers making solar-power panels in a California factory subsidized by U.S. taxpayers showed “the promise of clean energy isn’t just an article of faith,” President Barack Obama said on a visit to the company in May 2010. Two months before Obama’s visit, accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP warned that Solyndra, the recipient of $535 million in federal loan guarantees, had financial troubles deep enough to “raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.” The Obama administration stood by Solyndra through the auditor’s warning, the abandonment of a planned initial public offering and a last-ditch refinancing where taxpayers took a back seat to new investors. That unwavering commitment has come under increasing scrutiny since the company’s travails culminated in its filing for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 6 and a raid on its headquarters by the Federal Bureau of Investigation two days later. “People including our government put blinders on and did not want to believe in the obvious,” Jonathan Dorsheimer, an analyst in Boston for Canaccord Genuity Inc. of Vancouver, said in an interview with Bloomberg Government. “The fact that the government chose Solyndra as their white horse is mind- boggling.Since then, Republicans have pointed to connections between Solyndra and billionaire George Kaiser, an Obama campaign fundraiser. The George Kaiser Family Foundation, a charitable organization based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, holds about 36.7 percent of the company, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Kaiser made 16 visits to the president’s aides since 2009, according to White House visitor logs. “George Kaiser is not an investor in Solyndra and did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. government regarding the loan,” the foundation said in an e-mailed statement on Sept. 1. As Solyndra struggled to stay afloat, it worked to reassure lawmakers. The company spent $480,000 this year to lobby Congress, according to Senate records. Read the full story here.
- Cyprus: Exploratory drilling for gas to begin soon, Turkish warships next?(CNS).NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — U.S. firm Noble Energy will soon begin exploratory drilling to confirm oil and gas deposits beneath the sea bed off Cyprus' southern coast despite Turkey's attempts to prevent such a move, the island's president said on Tuesday.Dimitris Christofias didn't specify a date for the start of drilling which officials have said will begin early next month. Christofias he said surveys have so far shown a "very great possibility" of hydrocarbon deposits inside an 800,000-acre (1,250-square-mile) area that Cyprus has licensed Noble to explore.That area is close to large natural gas fields that Noble has recently discovered in Israeli waters.Christofias says decisions on how the hydrocarbons will be exploited will be made once drilling confirms their quantity and quality.Israeli energy company Delek, which is already working together with the Houston-based Noble Energy Inc., has already proposed a partnership with Cyprus to build a facility on the island for processing and exporting natural gas found in Israeli and Cypriot waters.Cyprus' energy service director, Solon Kassinis told lawmakers last week that natural gas could be pumped via a Noble-built pipeline as early as 2014.Christofias said the Cyprus government has lodged complaints with the United Nations and the European Union against Turkey, which is threatening to deploy its naval forces to deter Cyprus' gas exploration efforts."The navy is for the protection of Turkish national interests," Egemen Bagis, the Turkish minister in charge of EU affairs told CNN-Turk television in an interview on Tuesday.Christofias said Cyprus expects the international community's "robust and effective reaction" in case Turkey commits an "unlawful act."Turkey strongly opposes Cyprus' offshore gas search, saying that it disregards the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots on the divided island. Cyprus was split into a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece.Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, but only the internationally recognized south enjoys membership benefits."Turkey's policy is impermissible and condemnable," said Christofias. "These threats against Cyprus, to prevent drilling and to create a military incident, disturb international justice and create a climate of instability and tension in the already tense eastern Mediterranean."Christofias said Turkish Cypriots could share in the wealth generated by any gas find as part of a reunified island. He said the potential bounty can work as an incentive for achieving a swift accord in U.N. sponsored peace talks, now in their third year.Positive confirmation of sizable gas find would be a boon for Cyprus that is dependent on fossil fuel imports and ease the strain from a financial crisis that has fanned concerns it could be forced to seek a bailout.Read the full story here.
- "HolderGate " Issa: Eric Holder "So Inept He Is Dangerous”.(TheHill).Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said that Attorney General Eric Holder is so “inept that he is dangerous to have as the Attorney General” and that President Obama should consider removing him from office.Issa made the comments on the Laura Ingraham show while commenting about the controversial “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking program.“He doesn’t want to admit that it was felony-stupid,” Issa said of the operation, which was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which allowed assault-type weapons to be illegally purchased and smuggled across the border.The Department of Justice was monitoring the weapons, but they have turned up at crime scenes across Mexico. Two weapons that were sold under the program were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last December.Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson was removed from his position late last month as the result of an investigation pushed by Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. But Issa believes that Attorney General Holder either signed off on the operation or was “willfully ignorant.”“The only way the attorney general didn’t know is that he made sure he didn’t want to know,” Issa said.The congressman said the scandal was “dumber than Iran-Contra,” the program under which senior officials in the Reagan administration secretly sold arms to Iran to fund Nicaraguan rebels. Both arms sales to Iran and funding of the Contras was explicitly prohibited by law, and Reagan national security advisers Oliver North and John Poindexter were convicted of violating the law.“What we need is an admission that it was wrong . . . and then we need assurance that it won’t happen again,” Issa said.For his part, Holder has admitted that the Fast and Furious program “was clearly a flawed enforcement effort,” but denied that he or any of his aides had knowledge of the operation.“The notion that this reaches into the upper levels of the Justice Department is something that at this point I don’t think is supported by the facts and I think once we examine it and once the facts are revealed we’ll see that’s not the case,” Holder said last Wednesday.The Department of Justice has launched an internal investigation to look into the matter, in addition to the one led by Issa.Holder also defended the decision to transfer Melson into the DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy, rather than fire him outright.“Ken has served this department well over the course of some three decades,” Holder said.Hmmmm.....A chip of the presidential block"?Read the full story here.
- Fogel family murderer gets 5 life sentences.(Ynet).The Samaria Military Court on Tuesday sentenced Hakim Awad, 18, who was convicted in the murder of five members of the Fogel family in Itamar last March, to five consecutive life sentences and another five years in prison - a total of 130 years behind bars. Hakim and his cousin Amjad brutally murdered Ehud Fogel, 36, Ruth Fogel, 35, 11-year-old Yoav, 4-year-old Elad and 2-month-old Hadas.During the court hearing, Awad claimed that Israeli security forces tied up and killed two men from his village. "I am 18 and in my teenage years. Not any young man of this age thinks about murder, only a Palestinian man whose land was taken. This is what the state does to me every day. When I want to leave my village I have to undergo a search which always involves beatings." As he left the court he motioned the V sign for Victory with his fingers. The judges asked Awad, who confessed to the murder last month, to refrain from discussing politics and instead talk about himself. "I am a person like you, I have no mental condition, I never had a serious illness. My only illness is the Israeli occupation." He replied negatively when asked if he regrets his actions.At one point during the hearing, one of the prosecutors presented a letter written by Yohai, Ruth Fogel's brother as well as a letter from Elad's nanny. "The children were murdered while screaming and fighting for their lives. It's hard to imagine a situation where the person standing before you is wrestling with a 4-year-old or an 11-year-old who were murdered. The two-month-old baby's only crime was that she cried. A helpless infant murdered by stabs to the head is a murder that is difficult to put into words." The prosecutor said, "At the end of the day when one considers the murder and its consequences, a life sentence is still a light punishment. This event elevated the murder to an extreme level. It's not an explosive where the terrorist does not know his victims. Here the hands of the murderers are covered in blood." He called on the judges not to consider the fact that Awad was underage at the time of the murder and to disregard any arguments for rehabilitation. "The defendant, in his actions, distanced himself from human company and acted on an malicious and satanic ideology deserving of the punishment the prosecution is demanding," he said. Defense Attorney Raed Erda claimed that the occupation was the cause of the murder. He noted that the Supreme Court had ruled that murders committed inside the territories are considered acts of war. "The prosecutor mentioned that the murder of a baby is a cruel and harsh act but all murders are harsh – no matter whether it's of a baby, a young person or an adult. We're all human beings and our blood is the same. No blood is more red than another."Erda enraged the judges when he claimed that the defendant was as much a victim as the Fogel family was. "When you build a Jewish community among dozens of Arab communities and do not provide it with the necessary security you can expect this to happen. "Houses are being built on their lands, there's no work, no education, the occupation is pushing people from all directions and a boy like the defendant goes out and does things like this without realizing their consequences." Major Lieberman noted that the option of a death sentence was never considered, as Awad was underage when he committed the crime. He mentioned that Hakim's accomplice, Amjad Awad, murdered three of the five victims with his bare hands and helped the defendant murder Elad and Ruth after he was unsuccessful in killing them himself. The trial of Amjad Awad is still ongoing and he has yet to be convicted. The judge noted that Hakim was a fully fledged partner to the crime and had hid the weapons after the act and tried to cover his marks.Read the full story here.
- Maryland Muslim Convert Hopes To ‘Chop Off Judges Head’ and 'Kill the President'.(Vinienco).On Sept. 14 of last year, a federal judge received a one-page letter that read, in part, “BOOM see how easy this was, next time you wont be so lucky ERM Family ANTHRAX!!”According to the indictment, the letter also said: “I just hope Allah grants me the opportunity to be the one who chops off your head,” and the words “die die die!!!” followed by the sentence “If I ever get out I promise you I’m coming after you.”The letter wasn’t signed but the FBI quickly found Willie Ray Bryant’s prints on it. The 41-year-old was in prison in Cumberland; the judge had presided over one of his previous trials in state court. According to on-line records, the judge had overseen a case in which Bryant pleaded guilty to a handgun charge in 2001 and sentenced him to five years in prison.The FBI also said they found “the letter also bore imprints of letters and numbers appearing to partially match Bryant’s mother’s name and phone number,” according to federal prosecutors.The Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement:
“After the FBI determined the sender’s identity from Bryant’s fingerprints, a message was sent to Maryland Corrections officials to monitor Bryant’s use of the mail. Shortly thereafter, corrections officials intercepted a letter Bryant had addressed to President Obama excoriating the President for turning his back on Islam and threatening to kill the President. Bryant signed the letter and included his state prisoner number.”He faces 10 years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 9.Read the full story here.
- Obama's politicization of jobs bill.(Politico).By Keith Koffler. It’s hard to keep from laughing when President Barack Obama insists that Republicans put party and politics aside and pass his new “jobs” plan. The president’s own approach has been so nakedly political that it consigns his demand to absurdity.The proof that this is politics — and not policy — accumulates by the day.In what sector of fantasyland can legislation paid for with $467 billion in new taxes – as announced by the White House Monday - pass the GOP-controlled House? The president is practically begging Republicans to reject his initiative — so he can blame them next year for failing to take action to improve the economy.The problem for the White House is that George W. Bush’s presidency has begun to recede too far into the mists of time for Obama to continue blaming his predecessor for the current economic mess. He needs a new culprit — and he wants voters to finger congressional Republicans.The tax increase “pay for” is only the latest piece of evidence of Obama’s political intent. Exhibits A and B were presented into evidence even before Obama gave his speech Thursday to a Joint Session of Congress, where he announced the plan.Republicans can be forgiven for wondering why they are being asked to put aside politics even as Obama is jetting around to three of the most critical battleground states.If the idea is to pressure Republicans to pass the bill, why not just go to Texas?Obama’s Richmond appearance put him in House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s district, a clear political jab at the man who fought him over deficit reduction this summer – and whose support is critical if Obama were actually intent on passing new legislation.The Democratic National Committee is also using the jobs plan to campaign for the president. It has produced TV ads supposedly designed to pressure lawmakers to pass Obama’s legislation. But the spots don’t target specific lawmakers — and they’re running exclusively in swing states and Washington.The DNC has also thrown up a website describing the proposal and outlining how it will benefit key groups that Obama needs in 2012 — including women, Latinos, African-Americans and low income families.Both the DNC website and the campaign outreach include efforts to pad their email lists, a critical element of the reelection strategy.Obama Monday was already drawing fractious political lines, accusing Republicans of politicizing his proposal by citing an unnamed GOP aide, who was quoted saying it would be bad politically for Republicans to cooperate.That Obama would cling to the opinion of one unnamed Republican aide makes it clear the president is desperate for evidence showing that Republicans don’t want to work with him.The hypocrisy of demanding that Republicans avoid politics, while he wallows in it with such exuberance is stunning. It begs the question of whether Republicans can trust this president enough to work with him on anything.Hmmmm...."By their fruits you will know them".Read the full story here.
- EPA regulation forces closure of Texas energy facilities, eliminates 500 jobs.(DailyCaller).Texas energy company Luminant announced on Monday new burdensome Environmental Protection Agency regulations are forcing it to close several facilities, which will result in about 500 job losses.The company will be idling — stopping the usage of — two energy generating units. It will also cease extracting lignite from three different Texas mines.The EPA regulation Luminant cites as too burdensome is the new Cross-State Air Pollution rule, which requires Texas power generators to make “dramatic reductions” in emissions beginning on January 1, 2012.“We have hundreds of employees who have spent their entire professional careers at Luminant and its predecessor companies,” Luminant CEO David Campbell said in a statement. “At every step of this process, we have tried to minimize these impacts, and it truly saddens me that we are being compelled to take the actions we’ve announced today. We have filed suit to try to avoid these consequences.”The company said it has been trying to meet the new standards, but won’t be able to do so without closing down several facilities and eliminating 500 jobs.As always, Luminant is committed to complying fully with EPA regulations,” Campbell said. “We have spent the last two months identifying all possible options to meet the requirements of this new rule, and we are launching a significant investment program to reduce emissions across our facilities.”“However, meeting this unrealistic deadline also forces us to take steps that will idle facilities and result in the loss of jobs,” Campbell adds.Hmmmm.......Obamanomics in action.Read the full story here.
- Gunmen 'kill five children' in attack on Pakistan bus.(BBC).Gunmen have ambushed a school bus near the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar, killing at least five children, police say.The driver was also killed and 19 other children were wounded in the attack in Matani town about 20km (12 miles) south of Peshawar, police said. The area is close to Pakistan's volatile tribal areas where Taliban militants are active.But so far no group has said it carried out the attack.Matani has been targeted before. In June, six people were killed in a bomb blast at a bus stop in the town.The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says that Matani has been the scene of a struggle between the Taliban and a local tribal volunteer force battling to prevent militants from entering the area. This is the first time a school bus has been targeted, our correspondent says. However, militants have attacked civilian targets to punish residents in the area for not supporting them.The bus is thought to belong to a private school in Matani and was taking children back to a village after lessons. One report said that those who were killed were aged between nine and 14."First a rocket was fired but it didn't hit. Then gunmen opened fire," said Sahibzada Sajjad, police deputy superintendent in Peshawar.Police also said that it was not clear whether the gunmen had arrived by car or were on foot. They escaped from the scene after the shooting.Read the full story here.
- Nato's 'Ally' Erdogan"We believe Western countries do not have a right to Libyan oil".(AlArabiya).Erdogan concerned about Syrian civil war, wants to deepen ties with Egypt.Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was concerned Syria could slip into civil war and that he wanted to deepen Ankara’s ties with Egypt, in an interview published by an Egyptian newspaper on Tuesday during a visit to Cairo.“I fear that matters will end in civil war between the Alawites and the Sunnis,” Erdogan told the al-Shorouk newspaper in an interview that marked the start of his visit to Egypt.Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has sent tanks and troops to quell months of protests against his rule, is from the minority Alawite Muslim sect. Most Syrians are Sunni Muslims.Erdogan, who is on a tour of Arab states to boost his country’s influence in the region, said he wanted to build a strategic partnership with Egypt, the most populous Arab country, and that wanted to enhance economic and other ties.“If the Arab world has several doors, then no doubt Egypt is its most important one,” Erdogan said.Egypt has long viewed itself as a leading voice in the Arab world but Turkey's influence has risen steadily with its growing economic might and its assertive policy in the region, notably towards Israel, which has drawn praise from many Arabs.In part of the interview published by al-Shorouk a day earlier, Erdogan said Israel had “not fully grasped the reality of changes that happened in the Arab world.”Ankara expelled the Israeli ambassador in a feud over an Israeli raid last year that killed nine Turks on a flotilla bound for the Palestinian enclave of Gaza. Israel has said it would not apologize, which Turkey has demanded.“Israel refused even to listen to voices of reason in the West that realized the reality of the changes in the region and called for it to apologize to Turkey to what it did to (Turkey's) sons that it killed,” he said.Turkey has also engaged with its neighbor Iran, which is embroiled in a standoff with the West over its nuclear ambitions. Iran is also a close ally of Syria’s.“I think that Turkey has a role in correcting the Iranian discourse (regarding Syria).”He added that Turkey had been in contact with Tehran and told Iran about the “serious consequences” of the continuation of the use of force by Iran’s ally Syria.Erdogan has talks in Tunisia on Wednesday and is then expected to hold meetings on Thursday in Libya, where NATO air strikes that were launched to protect civilians helped rebels unseat long-time leader Muammar Qaddafi.Erdogan said Libyans should decide the country’s fate.“Firstly, we are against international intervention in Libya. Secondly, we believe Western countries do not have a right to Libyan oil, but it belongs to its people,” he told the newspaper.Hmmmm......Nato's 'Ally'.Read the full story here.
- More Evidence of Economic Recovery: Bank of America Will Eliminate 30,000 Jobs, Largest Cut by a U.S. Company This Year.(AP).Bank of America is slashing 30,000 jobs as part of an effort to reverse a crisis of confidence among investors. It’s the largest single job reduction by a U.S. company this year.What CEO Brian Moynihan is trying to do is nothing less than save the nation’s largest bank. Investors have cut the bank’s market value by half this year. The bank is facing huge liabilities over soured mortgage investments and concerns over whether it has enough capital to withstand more financial shocks.The cuts, which affect Bank of America’s consumer businesses, represent 10 percent of the Charlotte, N.C. bank’s work force. The bank said it hopes the cuts and other measures will result in $5 billion in annual savings by 2014. The bank has already cut 6,000 jobs this year. The bank also said it would look for cost savings at its other businesses in a six-month review that will begin next month.“It’s as if someone has hit the panic button,” said Bert Ely, president of banking consultant Ely and Co.Read the full story here.
- US hikers to be freed ‘in two days’: Iranian President Ahmadinejad.(HurriyetDaily).Two American men sentenced in Iran last month to eight years in prison on spying charges will be freed in two days , Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has told a U.S. television network.Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were arrested in July 2009 near Iran's border with Iraq, where they say they were hiking in the mountains. A third American, Sarah Shourd, was freed in September 2010 and returned home.The U.S. network NBC, which interviewed Ahmadinejad in Iran, said in a Twitter message that the Iranian president had told it Bauer and Fattal would be released in two days. The interview was due to air later on Tuesday on NBC's Today show.Bauer, Fattal and Shourd say they were hiking in the mountains of northern Iraq and, if they crossed the unmarked border into Iran, it was by mistake.Shourd was freed on $500,000 bail. Bauer and Fattal were convicted at a trial held behind closed doors and share a cell in Tehran's Evin prison.Their supporters say evidence against them has never been made public, and that the sentence came as a shock after hopes for their release had been boosted by positive comments from Iran's foreign minister.U.S President Barack Obama has denied that the Americans, who were working in the Middle East when they decided to hike in the scenic mountains of Iraq, had any link to U.S. intelligence.The affair has heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington, which severed diplomatic ties after the storming of the U.S. embassy in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.Tehran’s prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi has confirmed that in late August that Iran had sentenced two American hikers to eight years in prison each. The verdict was expected to further raise tension between Washington and Tehran at a time when the animosity between the two has deepened under the presidency of Ahmadinejad. U.S. have vehemently denied Tehran’s charge that the three were spies and has called on Iran to release them. The lawyer for the three Americans, Masoud Shafii, had repeatedly expressed hope for the release of his clients after Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi had said on Aug. 6 that he hoped the trial would lead to their “freedom.” Shourd, a teacher, writer and women's rights activist, met Bauer, a fluent Arabic-speaking freelance journalist, while helping to organise demonstrations in the US against the war in Iraq. The two moved to Damascus together in 2008. Fattal, who grew up in Pennsylvania, is an environmentalist and teacher. He travelled in 2009 to Damascus, where he met Shourd and Bauer.Read the full story here.
- Insider Report: Obama Administration Intends to Unionize U.S. Military with Executive Order.(NewsFlavor).A longtime Wall Street insider shares their personal views about President Barack Obama – including shocking details of a meeting that left many in attendance wondering what, if anything, the president understands about the American economy – as well as Barack Obama’s desire to unionize the American military.With Mr. Obama spending much of his time over the last three years placating unions, it is not that far of a stretch to consider this report as a real possibility. As is pointed out in the interview, this is an extremely grave and dangerous situation. A unionized military would become beholden not to the US Constitution or the American people, but rather, to the union bosses in charge of the new military “workers’ parties” that will undoubtedly spring up as a result.
Ulsterman: Stop right there. Did you just say that the Obama administration wants to unionize the American military?Hmmmm.......President Obama, yet again, seems to be living up to his promise that he intends to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.”Read the full story here.
- Al Qaeda marked 10th anniversary of 9/11 with hour-long video featuring new leader and unreleased footage of Bin Laden.(DailyMail).Al Qaeda has marked the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks with an hour-long video released on jihadist websites, an intelligence monitoring service has revealed. U.S.-based Site Monitoring Services said the video featured an audio speech by the new leader, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, as well as previously unreleased footage of former leader Osama bin Laden.The 62-minute video, called The Dawn of Imminent Victory, was posted on jihadist forums yesterday. Zawahiri is shown in a still photo.U.S. intelligence officials say Zawahiri tops their hit list after the killing of bin Laden by Navy Seals in Pakistan in May.The country was on high alert over the weekend over what officials described as a credible but unconfirmed terror threat on Washington or New York.Zawahiri is quoted as saying he hoped the 'Arab Spring' protest movements that have overthrown leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya would establish what he called true Islam.Al Qaeda, which called for the violent overthrow of secular Arab governments, lost a great deal of relevance as a result of the political upheaval across the Middle East and North Africa.In the video, Bin Laden is said to warn Americans against 'falling as slaves' to the control of major corporations.Read the full story here.
- Nato headquarters and US embassy under attack in Kabul.(Telegraph).Blasts and gunfire echoed through the city, as the Taliban said several attackers armed with rocket-propelled grenades and suicide vests were targeting government buildings near the embassy district.At least six loud explosions were interspersed with gunfire around the middle of the day. Television pictures from near the attack showed a burned out minivan, a bicycle lying in the middle of the street and people running away.Police and other security officials blocked roads around the US embassy and other diplomatic missions, and said the attack had happened at a nearby square."There are several armed attackers in Abdul Haq Square," said Mohammad Zahir, head of Kabul's Crime Investigation Unit.Several Taliban attackers armed with rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47s and suicide vests have taken up positions in Kabul, near the embassy district, to attack government buildings, a spokesman for the insurgents said."The primary targets of the attackers are the intelligence agency building and a ministry," Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by phone.He said he could not comment on how many attackers there were while the operation was going on.Western military sources also said that Nato's International Security Assistance Force headquarters was under attack.Read the full story here.
- Report: Turkish warplanes now able to fire at Israeli targets.(YNet).Turkey has developed a new radar system for its US-made F-16 fighter jets that will allow them to fire at Israeli targets, Ankara's Star Gazete reported on Tuesday. The orders to modify the system reportedly came directly from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office. The new radar system – Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) – is a defensive command and control system developed by Turkey's Military Electronics Industry (ASELSAN) for the nation's air force and navy. It is slated to replace a similar US version which is in use today.The US system is comprised of lists of "friends" and "foes." The system's settings are designed to prevent pilot error as well, to an extent, disabling the ability to fire at "friendly" targets even by mistake. The US system identified Israel as a 'friend,' thus preventing Turkish fighter jets from firing at them automatically. The new system, however, allows Turkey control the "friend or foe" list independently.The Turkish IFF system is scheduled to be mounted on all Turkish fighter jets, military vessels and submarines in the near future. The move, whose timing coincides with a prolonged period of unprecedented diplomatic tensions between Ankara and Jerusalem, has received extensive media coverage in Iran, as well. According to foreign media sources, the IAF has a fleet of 1,964 aircraft, including 689 advanced assault helicopters and F-15 and F-16 fighter jets.Israel's aerial superiority will soon receive a significant boost, in the form of the US-made F-35 fighter jet. The Turkish Air Force is said to have a fleet of "just" 1,940 aircrafts, including F-16s and F-4 Phantoms, as well as 874 assault helicopters.Like Israel, Turkey has also been promised the F-35. It is slated to receive it by 2015.Hmmmm....."Off course we realise this means even before the Marmara crisis Turkey was planning to attack Israel, given that it took two years to develop the new system."All these 'hostile' actions are against the NATO Charter....Get Turkey out of NATO NOW!Read the full story here.
- Poll: Most Canadians Believe Islam Irreconcilable with West.(MontrealGazette).A majority of Canadians believes conflict between Western nations and the Muslim world is “irreconcilable,” according to a new national survey that revealed a strong strain of pessimism in the country leading up to Sunday’s 10th anniversary commemorations of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.The survey of 1,500 Canadians, conducted over three days last week for the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies, showed 56 per cent of respondents see Western and Muslim societies locked in an unending ideological struggle, while about 33 per cent — just one-third of the population — held out hope that the conflict will eventually be overcome.Another 11 per cent of those polled didn’t answer the question.ACS executive director Jack Jedwab said the finding has “serious ramifications” for Canadian policies aimed at bridging divides between cultures, which are based on the premise that citizens believe significant progress in mending such religious and cultural conflicts is achievable.The dark view expressed in the survey “contradicts a fundamental idea in multicultural democracies like ours, that conflicts between societies can be resolved through dialogue and negotiation,” said Jedwab. “This is also a key element in multiculturalism, where Canada is often seen elsewhere in the world as a model in conflict resolution.”He adds: “If a majority of Canadians feel it is irreconcilable, what does this imply for the various projects and programs in place that aim to bridge gaps?”The online survey, carried out Sept. 6 to 8 by the firm Leger Marketing, is considered accurate to within 2.9 percentage points 19 times out of 20.The results also confirm the findings of other recent surveys highlighting Canadians’ ongoing anxiety about the state of security in the post-9/11 world and their deep doubts about whether the long and bloody war in Afghanistan has done much to thwart the threat of terrorism.In fact, 65 per cent of respondents in the ACS survey said they don’t believe the world is safer from terrorists today than it was 10 years ago. And 70 per cent of those surveyed said they don’t believe the war in Afghanistan has reduced the chances of terrorist attacks.Jedwab said the “pessimistic feeling” about what the war has accomplished is likely linked to the “widespread hopelessness” about the prospects for ever resolving the deep-rooted, “ideological” conflict between Muslim and Western societies.Many Canadians have come to believe “nothing will work” to end that conflict, said Jedwab, adding that this grim state of mind will require more scrutiny to fully understand and more carefully crafted public policies to rebuild a sense of optimism about the future of global relations.The survey did offer one notable “ray of hope,” Jedwab suggested, pointing to a result showing that a slight majority of Canadians (52 per cent) believe it would be wrong for airport security officials to do “extra checks” of “passengers who appear to be of Muslim background.”While 39 per cent of respondents were open to that kind of profiling, Jedwab interpreted the majority’s rejection of the practice as a sign that most Canadians realize such infringements “would make the purportedly irreconcilable conflict even deeper if the enshrined principles of our rights charters are to be disregarded.”Read the full story here.
- Winning the Battle Against Al-Qaeda, Losing the War Against Jihad.(MEF).By Raymond Ibrahim.So long as the West focuses on names and faces in the so-called "war on terror"—as opposed to focusing on ideas and motivations—so long will it possibly win battles, even as it slowly loses the war.As we approach the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, we win another battle with the recent slaying of al-Qaeda's number 2. According to the Associated Press, "U.S. and Pakistani officials said Saturday that al-Qaida's second-in-command, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, has been killed in Pakistan, delivering another big blow to a terrorist group that the U.S. believes to be on the verge of defeat."Splendid news. However, some context:
Before Osama bin Laden, the face of al-Qaeda, was killed, it made sense to announce, by way of prelude, the killing of various al-Qaeda members, such as Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, Abu Ayub al-Masri , Abu Laith al-Libi, the notorious Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and any number of other "Abus" (and "Ibns"); it also made sense to exult, even if with hyperbolic headlines—"al-Qaeda receives devastating blow"—by way of saying the noose is tightening around bin Laden, who was next.However, with the killing of bin Laden—the snakes head, the face of terror, the heart of al-Qaeda—it is becoming a bit redundant for the administration to continue boasting over the killing of yet one more al-Qaeda member; just as it is redundant to continue asserting that al-Qaeda is on the "verge of defeat."After all, any number of analysts insisted that with the killing of bin Laden, al-Qaeda was as good as dead, thereby implying that whether this or that member gets killed is irrelevant. Peter Bergen, for example, declared that "Killing bin Laden is the end of the war on terror. We can just sort of announce that right now…. It's time to move on."
More to the point: the administration's inordinate focus and optimism over the killing of the latest al-Qaeda member (one can place past and future names here ___) ultimately exposes its myopic approach—an approach that tries to localize the problem, to give it a face, to treat it as a temporal and tangible entity that can be defeated through arms.The unfortunate fact is that, even if al-Qaeda were totally eradicated tomorrow, the terror threat to the West would hardly recede, since al-Qaeda has never been the source of the threat, but simply one of its manifestations. The AP report obliquely reflects this: "Senior al-Qaida figures have been killed before, only to be replaced," even as the Obama administration is optimistic that "victory" is at hand.To get a better perspective on the overall significance of the latest killing of an al-Qaeda member, consider how at the turn of the 20th century, the Islamic world was rushing to emulate the victorious and confident West—best exemplified by the Ottoman empire itself, the preserver and enforcer of Islam, rejecting its Muslim past and embracing secularism under Ataturk. Today, 100 years later, the Muslim world has largely rejected secularism and is reclaiming its Islamic—including jihadist—heritage, lashing out in a manifold of ways.Consider how many Islamist leaders, organizations, and terrorists have come and gone in the 20th century alone—many killed like bin Laden—only for the conflict between Islam and the West to continue growing by the day.It's in this context that the Obama administration audaciously evokes the word "victory," simply because yet another jihadist has been killed.This, of course, is to be expected, considering the administration, which has a tendency to censor words—and thus knowledge—concerning the nature of the threat, just released a much vaunted policy paper on countering terrorism that never once uses the word "Islam(ism)" or "radical Islam," while myopically fixating on al-Qaeda, one of countless jihadist organizations that seek to subjugate the West.Despite its narrow approach, the administration itself has inadvertently conceded to the existential nature of the threat, as it has begun to acknowledge that lone wolf terrorists—jihadists who have no connection to al-Qaeda other than that they share the same worldview—are a greater threat.As Attorney General Eric Holder put it, "the threat has changed … to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens—raised here, born here, and who for whatever reason, have decided that they are going to become radicalized and take up arms against the nation in which they were born."Note how Holder ignores the most important factor to understanding and ultimately defeating jihadists—their motivation—by dismissing it as "whatever reason." Even so, the administration's acknowledgement of the lone wolf jihad proves one thing: it is doctrinal ideologies floating among Muslims around the world—not just the caves of al-Qaeda—that create terror threats.So when Counterterrorism chief John Brennan says that "Taking him out of commission is huge. There's not another bin Laden out there. I don't know if there's another Atiyah Abd al-Rahman out there"—he can rest assured that while those two are gone, countless are the no-names out to emulate them, in a myriad of ways.To conclude, by all means, target and kill terrorists, singly and collectively, and rejoice over it; but keep in mind that even if al-Qaeda were expunged from existence, while that would be a battle well won, it would not be the end of the war, which has been prosecuted in various forms and frequencies for fourteen centuries, and will not end with the elimination of this or that individual or organization.Raymond Ibrahim, an Islam specialist and author of The Al Qaeda Reader, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.Read the full story here.
- Busload of Shia pilgrims shot dead in Iraq.(Al-Jazeera).Officials say the bodies of at least 22 Shia pilgrims who were shot dead have been found in a remote desert area in western Iraq.The bodies were discovered late on Monday night, hours after the gang of gunmen stopped the bus at a fake security checkpoint and told all the women to get off, according to one security official who interviewed a survivor.An Iraqi army patrol found the deserted women, weeping and wailing, by the side of the highway and brought them to the provincial capital of Ramadi for help.One of the women told officials that there were four gunmen who were dressed in military uniforms and stopped the bus at a fake checkpoint.The gunmen then drove the bus a few kilometres off the main highway between Baghdad and the Jordanian border in Iraq's Sunni-dominated Anbar province.The 22 bodies were found there, about 300km west of Baghdad."Some armed men stopped the bus coming from Syria Monday around 9:30pm (1830GMT), they made the 22 passengers get off the bus and killed them with automatic weapons in the desert region of Noukhair," police general Haider Rzayj told the AFP news agency.Two Iraqi security officials and a political leader from the southern Shia city of Karbala, where the pilgrims were from, confirmed the shooting details, but an interior ministry source put the death toll at 20 men.It was not immediately clear if the caravan was headed to the Sayyida Zainab shrine in Damascus or coming home.Hmmmm....."The religion of peace".Read the full story here.
- Russia Demolishing Historical Cathedral Mosque on 911 is a Muslim Tragedy: Moscow Mufti.(Vinienco).On September 11, 2011, the Russian capital saw the demolition of the historical Moscow cathedral mosque.The workers pulled it down with special machinery while conducting reconstruction of the complex. Albir Krganov, first deputy head of the Central Spiritual Directorate of Muslims, Mufti of Moscow and Central region of Russia, said that the cathedral mosque is leveled to the ground. He was bewildered by the fact that the mosque was pulled down exactly on September 11. “Exactly 10 years after the terrorist act in the USA, Moscow saw its tragedy,” Interfax quotes Krganov as saying.According to Ravil Gainutdin, Chairman of Council of Muftis of Russia, Moskomnasledie, which was reconstructing the mosque, assessed the cathedral mosque as of historical value. Meanwhile, on June 30, 2008 Bureau of Historical and Cultural Advisory Council (IKES) at Moskomnasledie decided to classify the mosque to the buildings of historical value. However, the decision was annulled in 2009. On January 21, 2009, at IKES meeting some attendees, member of Council of Muftis Damir Gizatullin among them, came up for demolition of the building, also due to its 8 degree deviation from the direction to Kaaba.According to Ravil Gainutdin, even during the construction of the mosque at the beginning of the past century there had been a serious deviation from the direction to Mecca.Centralized Islamic religious organizations in Russia, such as the Central Spiritual Directorate of Muslims, the Russian Association of Islamic Consent and others strongly criticized plans to demolish the historic mosque.The Cathedral Mosque was built in 1904 on money of Tatar patron, merchant Salih Erzin. Prior to the Moscow Olympics in 1980 the cathedral mosque already faced demolition threat. But then metropolitan religious leaders and ambassadors from Arab countries saved it. At times, the Indonesian President Ahmed Sukarno (1955), Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1957), Libyan revolution leader Muammar Gaddafi (1969) visited the mosque.Read the full story here.
- Walter Fauntroy Former Congressman, Feared Dead in Libya: ‘I Saw NATO Troops Behead Libyans’.(Afro).Former U.S. Congressman Walter Fauntroy, who recently returned from a self-sanctioned peace mission to Libya, said he went into hiding for about a month in Libya after witnessing horrifying events in Libya's bloody civil war -- a war that Fauntroy claims is backed by European forces.Fauntroy's sudden disappearance prompted rumors and news reports that he had been killed.In an interview inside his Northwest D.C. home last week, the noted civil rights leader, told the Afro that he watched French and Danish troops storm small villages late at night beheading, maiming and killing rebels and loyalists to show them who was in control. "'What the hell' I'm thinking to myself. I'm getting out of here. So I went in hiding," Fauntroy said.The rebels told Fauntroy they had been told by the European forces to stay inside. According to Fauntroy, the European forces would tell the rebels, "'Look at what you did.' In other words, the French and Danish were ordering the bombings and killings, and giving credit to the rebels. "The truth about all this will come out later," Fauntroy said. While in Libya, the former congressman also said he sat down with Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi for a one-on-one conversation. Gaddafi has ruled Libya since 1969, when he seized power in a military coup. Fauntroy said he spoke with Gaddafi in person and that Gaddafi assured him that if he survived these attacks, the mission to unite African countries would continue."Contrary to what is being reported in the press, from what I heard and observed, more than 90 percent of the Libyan people love Gaddafi," Fauntroy said. "We believe the true mission of the attacks on Gaddafi is to prevent all efforts by African leaders to stop the recolonization of Africa." Several months ago, Gaddafi's leadership faced its biggest challenge. In February, a radical protest movement called the Arab Spring spread across Libya. When Gaddafi responded by dispatching military and plainclothes paramilitary to the streets to attack demonstrators, it turned into a civil war with the assistance of NATO and the United Nations.Fauntroy's account could not be immediately verified by the Afro and the U.S. State Department has not substantiated Fauntroy's version of events. Fauntroy was not acting as an official representative of the U.S. in Libya. He returned to Washington, D.C. on Aug. 31.Read the full story here.
- Facebook's Foe -German Minister Urges Government to Quit Facebook.(Spiegel).German Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner has called on her cabinet colleagues to stop using Facebook, reflecting ongoing German concern that the social networking site threatens data privacy."Following an extensive legal probe I think it is essential that we should no longer use the Facebook button on all official government Internet sites under our control," she wrote in a letter seen by SPIEGEL. She sent her request to all government ministries at the end of last week. She added that the ministries should avoid using fan pages, a tool which allows users to access information on an organization. She argued there were "justified legal doubts" about fan pages. She wrote that, "logically enough" her ministry did not have a fan page and did not use the social networking site's "Like" button.Aigner herself quit her Facebook account last year in a high-profile move sparked by her concerns for data privacy .She wrote that government departments and parliamentarians should "set a good example and show that they give a high priority to the protection of personal data."She added that Facebook had to respect German and European laws. Her comments follow moves by the state of Schleswig-Holstein, which last month said it aims to ban the site's "Like" button. Critics argue that the "Like" button could allow advertisers to track users' tastes and consumer choices. Web advocates and bloggers were outraged at the plan, calling it "data protection hysterical."Germany is notably vigilant regarding the Internet's threat to personal privacy. Global giants like Facebook and Google have repeatedly been in the firing line and the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein even managed to ban Google Street View from its region in 2008.Read the full story here.
- World Bank: Palestinian Authority Heading Toward Sharp Financial Crisis.(Memri)A report issued by the World Bank yesterday warns that the Palestinian Authority is heading toward a sharp financial crisis while the report underscores the efforts of the Authority to build the institutions of an independent state. The report attributes the crisis to the slow rate of economic growth and the decline in the level of support for the Authority which has established a positive record in institution building compared with other countries in the region. The Authority's 2011 pro-forma budget was built on the projection of foreign aid valued at $967 million but it has received only $293 million. As a result, the Authority resorted to borrowing from local banks and it was also forced to withhold salaries to employees in the public sector in July.Given the shortfall in the amount of financial support, the Palestinian economy in the West Bank grew by 4% in the first half of this year compared with 8% for the parallel period of last year. The report says that the limitations on the movement of Palestinians imposed by Israel are a key factor in the slow growth of the economy.Hmmmm....The more financial aid they get...the lower their GDP...Go Figure.Read the full story here.
- Belgium And The Breakup Of Nations.(TheBrusselsJournal).After Belgium: The Orderly Split-Up is a rather misleading book. Or perhaps it is better to understand the book differently than its title suggests. Ostensibly, it argues for and catalogs reasons why we must expect the legitimate dissolution and transformation of Belgium into constituent parts based primarily on cultural ethnicity. As such, After Belgium is mostly of interest to European political observers. However, this misses the book’s greater value as a coherent and in-depth discussion about the politics of nationhood altogether, a discussion that transcends any one set of local politics. And it is this latter aspect that recommends the book to larger audiences than would otherwise be the case.After Belgium is the work of Gerolf Annemans and Steven Utsi, members of the Belgian political party Vlaams Belang (trans. Flemish Interest). They present the case that Belgium is essentially a “failed State,” artificial from the beginning, and now suffering the effects of internal contradictions mostly rising from incommensurable ethnic tensions. Tensions that are impossible to reconcile politically, but demand both an orderly and peaceful break-up. From this perspective, the book offers a finely detailed blueprint suggesting a way out.The authors write that they are Flemish nationalists, however at the same time they distance themselves from purely ideological motivations, either political or religious. They are “conservative” (self-described, after the style of Roger Scruton but not Edmund Burke), yet more importantly are they guided by a definition of nationhood derived from a more traditional, classical understanding. That is, one constituted among an indigenous people sharing an organic, common ethnic, linguistic, and cultural background resisting externally imposed artificial constructions — in fine, nationhood opposed to the modern liberal State.A sense of immediacy follows the authors as they point out that the dissolution of Belgium will happen one way or the other. Whether it will be done rationally or revolutionary is the question, simply because Belgian governance is rapidly becoming impossible due to the “sheer ineffectiveness” of the present government. The authors write that together both “Flemings and Walloons will initiate acrimonious divorce proceedings without waiting for permission from the guardians of the failed status quo.” With this inevitability in mind, the book begins its task.Primarily the very existence of Belgium is viewed as unjust in practice, highlighted by current internal political machinations, where even High Court rulings that are favorable to Flanders, instead of being applied, are subject to political quarreling and compromise. Pointing to the core of the current political crisis in Belgium, the authors write:To understand the essentially unjust nature of Belgium, we should recall that the majority of all Council of State and Constitutional Court judgments on communal differences have been decided in Flanders’ favor. One of the most notorious examples was the CC degree of 26 February 2003, which ordered the annulment of the provincial constituencies, in particular Flemish Brabant. This single decision means that every subsequent federal election has been technically unconstitutional and has made the contentious issue of the Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde (BHV) constituency loom large over each incoming administration. The Belgian problem is about unjust structures, not ethnic hatred.” Read the full story here.