Thursday, October 13, 2011
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity Indonesia 6.1 and 5.3 United States ! More info here.
- Japan : For the most accurate info on the nuclear disaster go to : Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog.Here.
- Solyndra funder Kaiser paid zero taxes for years.(WashingtonExaminer).By Mark Tapscott.Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser has been in the headlines in recent months thanks to his role as a major investor in Solyndra LLC, the now-bankrupt California solar panel maker hailed by President Obama as a model for America's "clean energy future."Congress is investigating why the Obama administration gave Solyndra a $535 million loan guarantee despite multiple warnings from career bureaucrats and private sector investment experts that the company was a poor risk, lacked a realistic business model and was likely to go bankrupt as a result.Other investigations are being conducted by the FBI and the Treasury Department's Inspector-General, and the issue is likely to remain on the public mind throughout the 2012 presidential campaign as Republicans claim Solyndra's failure demonstrates that government "cannot pick winners and losers in the marketplace."Because Kaiser was a campaign "bundler" - an individual who collects contributions to a candidate from others that are then simultaneously given to the candidate - who raised about $250,000 for Obama during the 2008 campaign, congressional Republicans and media analysts have speculated that the Solyndra loan guarantee was nothing more than using tax dollars to reward a political supporter.But the Solyndra scandal is far from Kaiser's first brush with political controversy. As the Sunlight Foundation's Bill Allison reports today, Kaiser has become extraordinarily wealthy by taking advantage of the federal tax code in ways that some tax experts - including the IRS - believe to be illegal.in 1997, the IRS rejected the Waterford losses, Allison reports, saying "losses resulting from acquisitions made to evade or avoid income tax are prohibited." Kaiser challenged the IRS in court and ultimately settled with the tax agency for $3.7 million, or 15 cents on the dollar.Taking advantage of tax loopholes is, of course, legal, and Kaiser is far from unique among wealthy investors in doing so. Even so, critics across the political spectrum to point such cases as evidence the tax code encourages evasion, influence peddling and other forms of political corruption.Allison is a veteran newspaper investigative reporter who first examined Kaiser in a 2001 book co-written with Charles Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity, entitled "The cheating of America." For more on Kaiser, go here on the Sunlight web site.Read the full story here.
- Obama’s Christian problem - White House overlooks Christian persecution while pandering to Islam.(WashingtonTimes).The Obama administration has been obsessed with Muslim outreach and recently tried to mend fences with the Jewish community. Given the state of the world, however, the White House ought to be focused on helping the world’s oppressed Christians.The United States has been wary to intervene in matters affecting Christians in the Middle East for fear of validating terrorist narratives that the West is engaged in a new crusade against Islam. The result of this passive policy has been to allow Islamic extremists increasingly to dominate the debate, often with tragic consequences.On Sunday in Egypt, a clash between Coptic Christians and the military left at least 25 dead. Copts are the largest religious minority in Egypt, representing about 10 percent of the population. Attacks on the Copts have increased since former President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster. That the military was involved in this incident was a signal that matters are taking a turn for the worse. The White House issued a lukewarm condemnation noting that President Obama is “deeply concerned about the violence in Egypt” and that “as the Egyptian people shape their future, the United States continues to believe that the rights of minorities - including Copts - must be respected.” In other words, the U.S. government will do nothing about the massacre of Christians.Smaller Christian communities face even greater challenges. The world awaits definitive news about Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who faced execution for apostasy after converting to Christianity from Islam. Sayed Mussa, an Afghan Red Cross worker who converted to Christianity, faced the death penalty. He was freed earlier this year after his case gained international attention but went immediately into hiding due to the public climate of hostility.According to the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report, the last Christian church in Afghanistan has been destroyed. The 500 to 8,000 Afghan Christians who wish to worship publicly can attend services at military bases, Provincial Reconstruction Team facilities and the Italian embassy, but there are obvious risks involved. State’s report says, “the U.S. government regularly discusses religious freedom with [Afghan] government officials as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.” Considering all the aid America has given Afghanistan over the last decade, the State Department should do more than just talk.Domestically, Mr. Obama faces a skeptical Christian majority going into the 2012 election. According to Gallup, the president is lauded by the Islamic-American community, with 80 percent approval, but Muslims are a fraction of a percent of the population and an insignificant electoral base. Among major Christian groups, Catholics gave 50 percent approval, Protestants (representing over half the U.S. population) 37 percent, and Mormons 25 percent.Those who are more devout give Mr. Obama lower marks than those for whom religion is unimportant. According to the most recent Gallup data, Mr. Obama has 43 percent approval of those who attend church “seldom or never,” which is 2 points above that survey’s national average. Among those who attend church weekly, his approval rate is 34 percent, seven points below average. It’s no mystery why America’s Christian faithful have little faith in Mr. Obama.Hmmmmm...........If it looks like a duck , walks like a duck and quacks like a duck .....chances are it's a duck.Read the full story here.
- Saudi Arabia weighs response to alleged Iran plot; U.S. eyes more Tehran sanctions.(AlArabiya).Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it was weighing its response to an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate its ambassador in Washington that has increased tensions between OPEC’s two top oil producers as the United States was considering further sanctions against Iran’s central bank.Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, on a visit to Austria, said the kingdom would have a “measured response” to the alleged plot. Iran called the accusations a fabrication designed to hurt its relations with its neighbors, Reuters reported.“We hold them (Iran) accountable for any action they take against us,” Prince Saud said in Vienna, where he was discussing opening a religious dialogue centre. “Any action they take against us will have a measured response from Saudi Arabia.”Prince Saud said this was not the first time Iran had been suspected of similar acts, and condemned Tehran for trying to meddle in the affairs of Arab states. Asked what actions Saudi Arabia might take, he said: “We have to wait and see.” U.S. authorities said on Tuesday they had uncovered a plot by two Iranian men linked to Tehran’s security agencies to hire a hit man to kill ambassador Adel al-Jubeir with a bomb planted in a restaurant. One man, Manssor Arbabsiar, was arrested last month while the other is believed to be in Iran.Some Iran experts were skeptical, saying they could not see the motive for such a plot. Iran has in the past assassinated its own dissidents abroad, but an attempt to kill an ambassador of another country would be a highly unusual departure.Iran has denied the charges and expressed outrage, saying the allegations threaten stability in the Gulf -- where Saudi Arabia and Iran, the biggest regional powers, are fierce rivals and Washington has a huge military presence.U.S. President Barack Obama spoke on Wednesday to Saudi King Abdullah about the alleged plot, the White House said.“The president and the king agreed that this plot represents a flagrant violation of fundamental international norms, ethics, and law,” the White House said in a statement issued by press secretary Jay Carney.Earlier Carney told reporters: “We’re responding very concretely with actions we know will have an impact on Iran and will make clear this kind of behavior is unacceptable and will further isolate Iran.”A senior Treasury Department official said Thursday that the United States is considering further sanctions against Iran’s central bank in response to the alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil.In prepared testimony, sanctions czar David Cohen said that additional sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran were on the table and that the country is now facing unprecedented levels of financial and commercial isolation, AFP reported.“I can assure the committee, as Secretary (Timothy) Geithner said in his letter of August 29, ‘All options to increase the financial pressure on Iran are on the table, including the possibility of imposing additional sanctions against’” Iran’s central bank.Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami warned that officials in his country must avoid doing anything that might prompt action against Iran by western powers, saying “I am worried, as pretexts for campaigns against Iran are multiplying by the day.” His comments were carried by the Iranian opposition website Rahesabz.net. Khatami has criticized Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for rhetoric that has fueled tensions with western countries.In Britain, Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament the alleged plot “would appear to constitute a major escalation in Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism outside its borders.”“We are in close touch with the United States’ authorities and will work to agree an international response along with the United States, the rest of the European Union and Saudi Arabia,” he said, according to Reuters.Saudi Arabia has also accused Iran of fomenting violence in its own Eastern Province, where the kingdom’s Shiite minority is concentrated.In a particularly strong-worded statement, Saudi Arabia’s official SPA news agency quoted an un-named official source as condemning what it called “the outrageous and heinous” assassination plot and said the kingdom.“The kingdom, for its part, is considering decisive measures and steps it would take in this regard to stop these criminal actions and to decisively confront any attempt to undermine the stability of the kingdom, threaten its security and spread sedition among its people,” the statement said.On Wednesday, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former chief of Saudi intelligence, said there was overwhelming evidence of Iranian official involvement in the plot.Iran’s parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, called the charges an American fabrication.“America wants to divert attention from problems it faces in the Middle East, but the Americans cannot stop the wave of Islamic awakening by using such excuses,” Larijani said in an open session of parliament.Prince Saud said all information Saudi Arabia has indicates that Tehran was responsible.“It is not the first time Iran has done something like this in order to mix itself up in Arab affairs,” Prince Saud said, adding that a similar attempt was made in Kuwait, where a group suspected of planning an attack was arrested.“Iran must understand there is only way for international cooperation between countries -- and this is through the respect and adherence to international laws and people's rights.”The alleged plot was revealed shortly before Saudi Arabia said King Abdullah, believed to be 88, would in coming days undergo surgery in Riyadh for a back problem.Read the full story here.
- David Plouffe: Obama on side of Occupy Wall Street protesters.(Politico).The White House wants to make it clear that President Barack Obama is on the same side as the Occupy Wall Street protesters – and that Republicans are not.“If you’re concerned about Wall Street and our financial system, the president is standing on the side of consumers and the middle class,” Obama’s senior adviser David Plouffe said on “Good Morning America” Tuesday morning when asked about the demonstrations. “And a lot of these Republicans are basically saying, ‘You know what? Let’s go back to the same policies that led to the great recession in the first place’.”Plouffe warned that “most Republicans in Congress” as well as “all of the Republicans on the stage tonight in New Hampshire” – the GOP presidential candidates who will participate in a Washington Post/Bloomberg debate Tuesday – want to simply “unwind Wall Street Reform.”Taking the same message to the “The Early Show,” Plouffe also argued that before the Obama administration’s financial reforms kicked in, ”Wall Street was able to write too many of its own rules.”“Taxpayers won’t be on the hook for a bailout any more, we’ll be more transparent,” he said. “Consumers will be protected on hidden fees on mortgages and credit cards.”“The president stands squarely with the middle class in terms of trying to protect consumers and make sure that happened doesn’t happen again,” Plouffe added.Hmmmm.........'Obama's army'standing side by side?Read the full story here.
- Jackson, Jr: Obama should ‘declare a national emergency,’ add jobs with ‘extra-constitutional’ action.(DailyCaller).Illinois Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. told The Daily Caller on Wednesday that congressional opposition to the American Jobs Act is akin to the Confederate “states in rebellion.”Jackson called for full government employment of the 15 million unemployed and said that Obama should “declare a national emergency” and take “extra-constitutional” action “administratively” — without the approval of Congress — to tackle unemployment.“I hope the president continues to exercise extraordinary constitutional means, based on the history of Congresses that have been in rebellion in the past,” Jackson said. “He’s looking administratively for ways to advance the causes of the American people, because this Congress is completely dysfunctional.”“President Obama tends to idealize — and rightfully so — Abraham Lincoln, who looked at states in rebellion and he made a judgment that the government of the United States, while the states are in rebellion, still had an obligation to function,” Jackson told TheDC at his Capitol Hill office on Wednesday.“On several occasions now, we’ve seen … the Congress is in rebellion, determined, as Abraham Lincoln said, to wreck or ruin at all costs. I believe … in the direct hiring of 15 million unemployed Americans at $40,000 a head, some more than $40,000, some less than $40,000 — that’s a $600 billion stimulus. It could be a five-year program. For another $104 billion, we bailout all of the states … for another $100 billion, we bailout all of the cities,” he said.Jackson added that his $804 billion stimulus plan is the only way to solve the unemployment crisis. “I support the jobs plan. I support the president’s re-election. I support Barack Obama,” he said. “But at this hour, we need a plan that meets the size and scope of the problem to put the American people to work.”“We’ve got to go further. I support what [Obama] does. Clearly, Republicans are not going to be for it but if the administration can handle administratively what can be done, we should pursue it. And if there are extra-constitutional opportunities that allow the president administratively to put the people to work, he should pursue every single one of them,” Jackson suggested.President Obama’s jobs bill was defeated in the Democratic-controlled Senate on Tuesday and has not been voted on in the Republican-controlled House.Hmmmm.......The 'king' doesn't get his way, now democratic vote is a 'rebellion'?Read the full story here.
- Democrat Strategies Right Out Of V.I. Lenin Playbook.(Investors).By SvetlanaKunin.Vladimir Lenin, leader of the socialist revolution in Russia, published multiple tutorials for like-minded revolutionaries around the world. Someone in the Obama administration must be familiar with his writings. Socialist minds think alike.In the "Children's Maladies of the Left in Communism/Results of the Popular Conversation About Marxists Strategy and Tactics" (V.I. Lenin, 1920), Lenin wrote on the critical importance of timing: "To accept the fight, when it is beneficial to your opponent, is a crime; and leaders of the revolutionary class who cannot maneuver, manipulate and compromise to avoid obvious defeat are useless."According to Lenin's rule, it is strategically appropriate for President Obama to halt all policies that are inconvenient to his election. That's why regulations like the EPA ozone plan, which would impose tremendous regulatory burdens on manufacturing in the USA, and the full-blown implementation of ObamaCare, will wait until after the presidential election of 2012.Lenin also wrote on the importance of taking advantage of every available disagreement among opponents: "To win over a stronger opponent requires tremendous effort, the necessity of very careful, skillful use of any little crack among the opponents ... requires the use of every available case to gain an ally — even if temporary, weak, unreliable or conditional."It is interesting to observe how the avalanche of attacks against the Tea Party activists by mainstream media, liberal commentators and other Democratic Party representatives makes some Republicans uncomfortable with the Tea Party. Conservatives should realize that there is no time for old-fashioned political rituals when the transformation of the country is under way.On using a society's democratic conventions to make that society weak, while increasing the power of the central government, Lenin wrote: "Participation in the bourgeois-democratic parliament not only doesn't hurt the revolutionary proletariat, but makes it easier to prove to the uninformed masses that this kind of parliamentary governing should be destroyed, helps in the success of distractions and helps in the elimination of the bourgeois parliaments."Lenin was talking about the British system of government, but his main point was on the strategy of replacing democratic system of governing with centralized power.The theme of "broken government" is popular among liberals — so much so that the governor of North Carolina, Bev Perdue, recently said: "I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won't hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover."Peter Orszag, former director of President Obama's Office of Management and Budget, wrote an article titled "Too Much of a Good Thing — Why We Need Less Democracy." Top mainstream Democrats such as Purdue and Orszag are in alignment with Lenin's teachings.But while propaganda, deception and manipulation work on people, they do not work on economies. In 1920 Lenin forecast that the full transformation of the Russian society into the prosperous communist state would be completed by 1930-1940. By 1930, after the destruction of private manufacturing and the collectivization of the agriculture, the country was facing famine and hunger.After Lenin's death in 1924, Stalin continued centralizing power and silencing opposition. By 1937, travel outside the USSR was strictly regulated. People were locked inside the country, surrounded by government-controlled propaganda.After Stalin's death in 1953, the next party leader, Nikita Khrushchev, declared that by 1980 the foundation of the communism in the USSR would be built. At the XXII summit of the Communist Party of the USSR in October 1961 he announced: "This generation of Soviet people will live in the communist society." By 1990, Soviets witnessed their economy, managed by government bureaucrats, collapse.The disoriented "Occupy Wall Street" protesters, looking for a society where the government takes care of citizens and redistributes wealth, would find such a society in the USSR. Since that society collapsed, they can now look to North Korea or Cuba as the natural endpoint they're agitating for.In an Aug. 8 speech, Obama said: "For all of the challenges we face, we continue to have the best universities, some of the most productive workers, the most innovative companies, the most adventurous entrepreneurs on Earth."What sets us apart is that we've always not just had the capacity, but also the will to act — the determination to shape our future; the willingness in our democracy to work out our differences in a sensible way and to move forward, not just for this generation but for the next generation."There are plenty of countries around the globe with the capacity and will to act. There were plenty of capable and willing people in the USSR determined to shape their future. Many of them were trying to immigrate to the USA.What sets the United States apart are its founding principles, based on the concept of individual liberty and the protection of the private property. "The best universities, some of the most productive workers, the most innovative companies, the most adventurous entrepreneurs on Earth" that Obama mentioned are the result of these principles.The fawning media, the divorced-from-reality professors, the crony capitalists and the power-hungry individuals do not set this country apart from any other. What does make the United States unique is the phenomenon of the Tea Party: freedom-loving people, rising against government interference into their lives.It is no wonder that those who would like to transform this country despise Tea Party activists. Intentionally or not, the ideology of today's Democrats is closer to Lenin's writings than to the founding documents of this country.Hmmmm.....History can repeat itself, and it will. Again and again, until you learn the lesson that life needs to teach you..Read the full story here.
- Occupy Wall Street March On Millionaires Homes Actually Organized And Run By Obama Supporting Unions.(TheIntelHub).As the Occupy Wall Street protests have grown and evolved we have seen a major change in overall direction coming from the most vocal supporters.While many still claim that this is not a political movement, the unfortunate fact is that everyday we see more and more evidence that the establishment left has, at least in part, co opted the movement.Yesterday’s so called Millionaires March has drawn major media attention around the world, with support popping up in places that most wouldn’t think would support protesters targeting the financial district.Linette Lopez, writing for the Business Insider, revealed that the real powers behind the march were numerous extreme leftist organizations with open socialist and communist ties.
Now here’s who they are specifically:
Those are some pretty established New York groups that span across the state, and they have some powerful people behind them.
- The Working Families Party
- New York Communities for Change
- Strong Economy For All Coalition
- Community Voices Heard
So we have super leftist organizations running large scale protests for the Occupy Wall Street protesters yet we are supposed to believe that this is not a political movement?
While it is clear that these organizations do not speak for ALL the protesters, a growing majority are seemingly falling in line with groups who openly support one of Wall Streets biggest supporters, President Barack Obama.
The Working Families Party, for example, complete with its strong communist ties, supported Obama in 2008 presidential race. The Working Families Party is composed of people heavily connected to ACORN, Citizen Action, Democratic Socialists of America, and the Long Island Progressive Coalition.
When you couple this with the fact that the official Occupy Wall Street livestream is full of heavy handed moderators who rule with an iron fist, banning ANYONE who talks about the protesters political connections or super elitists such as George Soros, a clear picture emerges.
This leaders of this so called leaderless movement, while supposedly representing the 99%, are in fact establishment leftists themselves who will do anything in their power to silence the growing opposition to the numerous organizations that have embedded themselves inside the movement.
While The Intel Hub has supported the protesters heavily in the past and still supports their right to protest, we cannot continue to ignore the fact this this movement is being taken over and, in some cases, run by communists, socialists, and the establishment left.Read the full story here.
- Obama for America Emails Demand Donors Get ‘Fired Up’ or Shamed for Non-Contribution.(BigGovernment).One year out from the next election, the President’s 2012 reelection coffers are failing to fill up at a fast enough rate to meet the quarterly bilking quota. Thus the situation demands a new tactic to prod, embarrass and shame former contributors into making the same mistake they made last time by sending money to reelect a man who, if truth be told, most people wish would retire.One thing Obama has never had a problem doing was finding a way to guilt people out of money. In fact, money grubbing appears to be the President’s singular forte.With that in mind, the Obama reelection campaign has come up with a way to mortify people into contributing – sending emails that threaten to expose traitorous former patrons to neighborhood drones who remain faithful.Initially, the Obama 2012 fundraising effort commenced with a $5 Dinner with Barack raffle. After that idea failed to sell, the concept morphed into a “fired-up” first lady cheerleading supporters into coughing up cash by hawking raffle tickets for the discounted price of $3.Apparently, that creative tactic hasn’t worked either, because America’s socialist-leaning anti-capitalist president is now hoping to finance his reelection by injecting a perverse form of — dare I say, competition — into the fundraising effort by “ever-so-gently sham[ing] supporters into donating.”Even if the effort ends up failing, the concept is a good one, because the method could have an effect on baby boomers who grew up way before being first in a competition was considered mean-spirited and guilt and humiliation still held sway over the insecure.With that in mind, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina came up with an “Everyone else has done it, so what’s your problem?” approach to fundraising. On Obama’s behalf, Mr. Messina is encouraging potential supporters “to chip in, by pointing out how many of their neighbors had already done so.” Let’s just say it’s a community-minded “Keeping up with the Joneses” fundraising endeavor.According to a New York recipient who hadn’t yet contributed, an email of shame was dispatched which pointed out the following: “Here’s something you don’t have in common with 15,049 other supporters of this movement who tell us they live in New York, NY.”Maybe the next email can say “Hey Charlie, since you’re the only cheapskate on the block, when we send out the Non-Contributor Hall of Shame flyer next week we’ve decided to feature your picture on the cover. One email sent to Grayslake, IL noted that 160 people had “stepped up for the president.” In other words, step up the giving, or prepare to be publicly stepped on.Former Bush campaign worker Brad Blakeman, who worked on the 2000 campaign and served in the Bush White House, commented that he’s “never seen a fundraising pitch quite like it — and there’s a reason for that.” Blakeman feels that this style of fundraising borders on coercion because it intimates that if a person doesn’t contribute to Obama, somehow their neighbors are going to be alerted to private donation information. In other words, it’s a pioneering effort in strong-arming via email.Let’s face it, what disgruntled Obama 2008 voter living in Ithaca – New York’s most liberal town – while dragging the recycling bin to the curb or adjusting their solar panels, would want to chance hearing their name broadcast over a mobile loudspeaker identifying them as the sole Obama campaign non-contributor in town?Hmmmmm......Sounds more like 1933 Germany tactics.Read the full story here.
- Obama Administration: Feds Can Tell Church Who Its Ministers Will Be.(CNSNews).In yet another stunning attack on freedom of religion, President Barack Obama’s Justice Department asked the Supreme Court last week to give the federal government the power to tell a church who its ministers will be.The case involves a former teacher at Lutheran school, who along with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is pushing a claim that a Lutheran congregation should be forced to restore her ministry position.Americans United for Separation of Church and State and American Atheists, Inc. have filed briefs siding with the Obama administration against the church. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, and the American Center for Law and Justice are among those who have filed briefs supporting the Lutherans.Kruger contended this did not mean the government could order the Catholic Church to ordain female priests. But, even then, according to her argument, it would be a matter of the government weighing "the relative public and private interests at stake."What is at stake is the First Amendment and the religious freedom of all Americans.Read the full story here.
- Concentrated Radiation Hot Spots Discovered In Tokyo, Yokohama .(WSJ)--Tokyo -Japanese researchers have discovered high levels of radioactive material in concentrated areas in Tokyo and Yokohama, more than 241 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, as increasingly thorough tests provide a more disturbing picture of just how far contamination has spread and accumulated after the March disaster. In Tokyo, a sidewalk in Setagaya Ward in the western part of the city recorded radiation levels of 2.707 microsieverts per hour, about 50 times higher than another location in Setagaya where the ward regularly monitors radiation levels. "What's puzzling is that the levels detected on other parts of the same sidewalk were very low," said Ken Hatanaka, head of the ward's section in charge of radiation monitoring said. The ward is currently consulting experts to figure out what to do with the highly contaminated spot, Hatanaka added, noting rain water and sediments containing radioactive fallout may have been more likely to accumulate in such spots. In Yokohama, the local government said last month that it detected 40,200 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram of sediments collected from one part of a roadside ditch. By comparison, the Japanese government has banned cultivation of rice in fields found to have more than 5,000 becquerels of cesium per kilogram of soil.Hmmmm.......Exactly the same kind of hotspots were detected after the Chernobyl explosion in parts of Ukraine and Belarus.As i said before exactly following the Chernobyl script.Read the full story here.
- Bioterrorism Report Card: U.S. Is Unprepared.(Vinienco).The United States remains largely unprepared for a large-scale bioterrorism attack or deadly disease outbreak, according to the WMD Terrorism Research Center.The findings are in a report card released Wednesday, which gave the country 15 failing grades in categories ranging from detection to medical countermeasures.The report card gave 15 F’s, 15 D’s and no A’s in its assessment of current bio-defense capabilities in the United States.The bipartisan center, headed by former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida, and former Sen. Jim Talent, R-Missouri, did find improvements since the 9-11 2001 attacks, but its analysis suggests the nation’s readiness to respond to various levels of biological disasters remains a work in progress.In a news release accompanying the report card, the Center said, “In the past decade the United States government has spent more than $65 billion on bio-defense, and yet it has done so without an end-to-end, strategic assessment of the nation’s bio-response capabilities.”The bio-response report card gave the United States failing grades when it came to detection, medical countermeasures, dispensing, medical management and environmental clean-up in a contagious large scale and global crisis.“America does not yet have adequate bio-response capability to meet fundamental expectations during a large-scale biological event,” said Graham.However, the report card suggests the country’s ability to detect a small-scale attack and effectively communicate about it is improving. The Center gave the United States largely B’s and C’s in the category of communication.One of the big concerns facing the United States is how quickly the country might react if terrorists launched an attack with biological weapons. “I think they’d have a psychological effect and potentially a huge effect in terms of human life,” said Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, in a recent CNN interview.Federal funding for public health departments dropped 15 percent in the last year and despite improved collaboration, hospitals still have limited capability to ramp up personnel and beds.“Most major hospitals in this country are operating at 80, 90, 95 percent capacity on any given day, and I would think they would be sorely challenged to deal with hundreds, much less thousands or tens of thousands of casualties. And a circus tent in a parking lot is not going to make up the difference,” said Dr. Arthur Kellerman with the RAND Corporation.The report points out “advances in biotechnology have now enabled a small team of individuals with college-level training to create biological weapons.”The WMD Center recommends the United States needs to focus on improving response capabilities. The report card cites among its priorities leadership that sets clear priorities, mobilizing response planning and investment in science.Hmmmm........Read the full story here.
- The Obamas Subtly Begin to Play Racial Politics.(WhiteHouseDossier).By KeithKoffler.Are you a Republican? Are you a racist? Because if you ask the Obamas, the answer is that you just might be.Ever so subtly, the Obamas – yes, her too – appear to be playing the race card. They are turning this into a “values” election, and one of the values they are suggesting, ever so subtly, that Republicans hold is a distaste for people who aren’t white.Take the remarks made today by President Obama before the administration’s “Forum on American Latino Heritage,” a transparent attempt to placate Latino voters.
I ran for President for the same reason many people came to this country in the first place: Because I believe America should be a place where you can always make it if you try; a place where every child, no matter what they look like, where they come from, should have a chance to succeed.I still believe in that America. I believe we can be that America again. The truth is, the problems we face today were a long time coming and solving them will take time. In a global economy, it will require us to have the best-educated workforce, the strongest commitment to research and innovation, the most reliable communications and transportation networks.But with so many people hurting today, there are things we can do right now to make a difference. There are things we should do right now to put more people back to work and to restore a sense of security and fairness that’s been missing for too long.So that’s why I put forward the American Jobs Act. That’s why I sent Congress a jobs bill made up of the kinds of proposals that, traditionally, Democrats and Republicans have supported. Independent economists who do this for a living have said the American Jobs Act would lead to more growth and nearly 2 million jobs next year. No other jobs plan has that kind of support from actual economists — no plan from Congress, no plan from anybody.But apparently, none of this matters to Republicans in the Senate.
If Obama “believes” in an America where children should have a chance to succeed “no matter what they look like,” and we are no long “that America,” then who changed it? The implication is clear that it happened under George W. Bush.
To use this viewpoint as the set up for Republican opposition to Obama’s jobs legislation completes the thought: We are becoming a racist society in which the color of your skin can hold you back, and Republicans not only are at fault but are resisting Obama’s noble attempt to correct this.That this message was delivered to an Hispanic audience makes it all the more transparent.Mrs. Obama was working of the same script Tuesday night during a fundraiser in Washington.
Who are we? Will we be a country that tells folks who’ve done everything right, but are struggling a little bit — will we tell them, tough luck, you’re on your own? Who are we? Or will we honor that fundamental American belief that I am my brother’s keeper, that I am my sister’s keeper — (applause) — and if one of us is hurting, then all of us are hurting? Who are we? (Applause.)Will we be a country where opportunity is limited to just the few at the top? Or will we give every child — every child — a chance to succeed, no matter where she’s from, or what she looks like, or how much money her parents are? Who are we? That’s what’s at stake here.
Who are we indeed. Are we Republicans, who would deny a child because she is from somewhere else – i.e. a Latina – or because of “what she looks like?” Is that who you are?If you are a Republican, the Obamas think so.Hmmmm.......WhiteHouse insider"They're going to play the race card".......Sounds familiar?Read the full story here.More on the Presidents
- You Know That Your City Has Become A Hellhole When….(TheEconomicCollapse).All across America there are cities and towns that were once prosperous and beautiful that are being transformed into absolute hellholes. The scars left by the long-term economic decline of the United States are getting deeper and more gruesome. The tax base in many areas of the nation has been absolutely devastated as millions of jobs have left this country. Hundreds of cities are drowning in debt and are desperately trying to survive. Last year, city government revenues in the United States fell by another 2.3 percent. That was the fifth year in a row that we have seen a decline. Meanwhile, costs associated with health care, pensions and virtually everything else continue to explode. So what are cities doing to make ends meet? Well, one big trend that we are now witnessing is that many U.S. cities have been getting rid of huge numbers of employees. If you can believe it, 72 percent of all U.S. cities are laying workers off this year. Social services and essential infrastructure programs are also being savagely cut back in many areas of the country. The cold, hard truth is that most of our cities are flat broke and things are going to get even worse in the years ahead.
So how do you know if your own city has become a hellhole?
Well, a few potential “red flags” are posted below….
You know that your city has become a hellhole when most of the street lightsget repossessed because of unpaid electric bills.
You know that your city has become a hellhole when it announces that it will no longer prosecute domestic violence cases in order to save money.
You know that your city has become a hellhole when it simply stops sending out pension checks to retired workers.
You know that your city has become a hellhole when it rips up asphalt roads and replaces them with gravel because gravel is cheaper to maintain.
You know that your city has become a hellhole when it eliminates the entire public bus system.
You know that your city has become a hellhole when nearly half of all the people living there can’t read.
You know that your city has become a hellhole when one out of every ten homes sells for under $10,000.
You know that your city has become a hellhole when you can literally buy a house for one dollar.
You know that your city has become a hellhole when you have hundreds of people living in the tunnels underneath your streets.
You know that your city has become a hellhole when three of your past five mayors have been sent to prison for corruption.
You know that your city has become a hellhole when nearly half of the public schools in the city get shut down because of a lack of money.
You know that your city has become a hellhole when you have dozens of young people rampaging in the streets that are thirsty for revenge and that are armed with bats, pipes and guns.
You know that your city has become a hellhole when it is considered to be one of the 10 most dangerous cities in the world.
You know that your city has become a hellhole when thieves defecate in the back seat after they have broken into your car and taken your things.
You know that your city has become a hellhole when prostitution and drug dealing are two of the only viable businesses that remain in the city.
You know that your city has become a hellhole when the police chief announces that the police department will no longer respond to calls about burglary and identity theft due to very deep budget cuts.
Many of the examples above may seem humorous at first glance, but the truth is that they reveal just how deeply tragic our economic decline really is.
This is one of the reasons why I write about our trade deficit over and over and over. Every single month, tens of billions of dollars more wealth goes out of the United States than enters it. Every single month, we are getting poorer as a nation. Every single month, we lose more jobs and businesses.
Any politician that tells you that he or she can solve our economic problems without fundamentally addressing our horrific trade imbalance is lying to you. That means that there are a whole lot of liars in both political parties.
If the number of good jobs continues to decline, the plight of the average American family is going to continue to get worse. Home sales will continue to hover around record lows. The American people will continue to become increasingly frustrated with the economy.The signs of decline are all around us.Read the full story here.
- Human Rights Organizations Off The Deep End.(EliotAbrams).What does one make of organizations that wish to see George W. Bush behind bars—but have never expressed similar sentiments about Fidel Castro, Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, or Hassan Nasrallah?Those organizations would be Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, which just this week asked Canada to try to prosecute former President Bush “for his role in authorizing the torture of detainees.” They issued their statements now because Mr. Bush is soon to visit Canada again. The HRW press release is entitled “Canada: Don’t Let Bush Get Away With Torture.”The problem, you see, is the abject failure of the Obama Administration, or perhaps more broadly the problem is America: “The US government’s refusal even to investigate Bush’s role in authorizing torture makes it all the more important that Canada take its obligation seriously,” said HRW’s executive director. Of course, Bush is not the only criminal: “Bush attended an unpublicized event in Canada in September, the same month former Vice President Dick Cheney also traveled to Canada. Prior to Cheney’s trip, Human Rights Watch urged the Canadian government to investigate his role in authorizing torture and the CIA secret detention program.” Like Americans, Canadians apparently require tutelage in respect for human rights from these self-appointed consciences of the democratic world.But Amnesty and HRW are outspoken only with respect to certain officials. Bashar al-Assad visited Paris in 2008 and 2009: silence. Putin hit Brussels this year: silence. When in good health Fidel was a world traveler: silence. No calls for prosecution for the many killings such people have ordered. When it comes to enemies of the United States (recall Yasser Arafat as well) there may be an appeal to release a certain prisoner or a demand for more political rights, but there is no call to bar travel or to advance criminal charges. I am aware that heads of state have sovereign immunity, but why do these organizations not call for indictments by the International Criminal Court or at least demand that they be refused entry into decent countries altogether?This is a sad development, for human rights violations are rampant in many countries and principled international human rights organizations are surely needed. What is not needed is the kind of “activism” that tries to bar our former president and vice president (and similarly, Israeli officials) from traveling. This is a travesty of human rights activity, and an insult to democratic countries that live under the rule of law and must defend themselves from war and terror. When “human rights organizations” become merely a part of the trendy international Left, the cause of human rights is deeply damaged.Read the full story here.
- Middle East analysts skeptical about motivation of U.S. plot charges against Iran.(AlArabiya).Accusations of an Iranian plot to kill Saudi Arabia’s envoy to Washington highlight the deepening Saudi-Iranian cold war for power in the Gulf, but some Middle East analysts questioned the evidence and timing behind the U.S. announcement.Washington said on Tuesday it had foiled a plot by two men linked to Iran’s security agencies to assassinate Saudi ambassador Adel Jubeir, a close aide to King Abdullah. Iran denied the charge but Saudi Arabia said it would “pay a price”.The accusation follows tensions between U.S.-backed global oil giant Saudi Arabia and Iran over the upheaval sweeping the Arab world, with both countries suspecting each other of inciting unrest against them or their allies.Shiite Iran’s close Arab ally Syria has for six months been battling protests against President Bashar al-Assad, who blames the unrest in his country on foreign-backed armed groups.Sunni Muslim power Saudi Arabia has sent forces to neighboring Bahrain to help put off sustained demonstrations there by majority Shiites -- seen by Riyadh as proxies for Tehran.“There is a secret war going on between the Saudis and Iranians and it does not surprise me that one of its battlegrounds could be the U.S. because of its major role in shaping policy towards the region,” said Mohammad Masri, researcher at Jordan University Centre for Strategic Studies.“The Americans don’t normally fabricate such reports and I suspect all this is tied to Syria ... The Saudis are perceived by Iran as actively involved in changing the Syrian regime.”Even before the Arab uprisings erupted, Saudi concerns over Iran’s nuclear program -- which Tehran insists is for peaceful power generation -- and its influence in post-Saddam Iraq fuelled hostility between the two rivals for power in the oil-producing Gulf region.Riyadh’s antagonism towards Iran was revealed in leaked U.S. cables that quoted Jubeir telling United States diplomats four years ago that the time had come to “confront Iran”.In 2008 Jubeir quoted King Abdullah as telling Washington to "cut off the head of the snake", referring to Iran.But despite the chasm of mistrust between the two powers, analysts questioned whether Tehran would actually take the incendiary step of killing a senior diplomat on U.S. soil.“I am not convinced that Iran would attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in the U.S. There is no political use to it,” said Mohammed Qadri Saeed, strategic expert at Cairo’s al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.Michel Naufal, foreign editor of Lebanon’s al-Mustaqbal newspaper, said he had doubts about the timing of the charges if the United States had been aware of a plot for months.“Why now? Obama was told in June," he said. "I don't think the Iranians have the capabilities to carry this out in Washington," he added.The primary evidence linking Iran to the alleged conspiracy appeared to be that the suspect arrested in the United States had told law enforcement agents that he had been recruited and directed by men he understood to be senior officials of the Quds Force, a covert branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.“The evidence is weak” said Lebanese analyst Nabil Bu Monsef.The United States has led a global effort to isolate Iran and escalate United Nations sanctions in recent years, in response to what Washington and its regional allies including Saudi Arabia and Israel believe is a front for building nuclear weapons.“If the reports are true ... then it shows Iranian desperation,” said Jordan University’s Masri.“(It shows) they have started to feel the heat of regional developments and the more assertive Saudi policy in Syria.”But many Arabs remain skeptical about U.S. motives in a region where few have forgotten the flawed case made by Washington for invading Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003.“Why is the U.S. raising this issue now?” said Walid Moubarak, professor of political science at the Lebanese American University. “Do they need a pretext to do something against the Iranians?”Read the full story here.
- Ex-CIA officer says US may be ‘dangerously wrong’ on alleged Iran plot.(IntelligenceNews).By JosephFitsanakis.Robert Baer, who spent over two decades working for the CIA in the Middle East, has warned that the FBI may be “dangerously wrong” in its assessment that Iran is behind an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. The Obama administration said yesterday that two Iranian agents had been arrested for planning to kill Saudi diplomat Adel al-Jubeir in Washington, DC, with help by members of a Mexican drug cartel. The FBI said that the two Iranians, Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri, were operating on behalf of Iran’s Quds Force, a unit inside the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) specifically tasked with exporting the Iranian Revolution abroad. The arrests prompted a strong reaction from the United States, which said it will impose new punitive measures against the regime in Tehran —a move that is certain to further-ignite tensions between the two countries.But speaking on Australian national radio, Baer said that the alleged assassination plan does not appear to be connected with the IRGC or any other part of Iran’s state apparatus. The operation, as outlined by the FBI, does not fit the “modus operandi” of the Iranian security services, said Baer. The latter are “much better than this [...]. They wouldn’t be sending money through an American bank; they wouldn’t be going to the cartels in Mexico to do this. It’s just not the way they work. I’ve followed them for 30 years and they’re much more careful. They always use a proxy between them and the operation, and in this case they didn’t”. Baer also spoke to the BBC World Service and to The Washington Post, where he is quoted as saying that there is “sloppiness about the case that defies belief”. The former CIA case officer urged the Obama administration to step back, re-examine its case, and avoid “retaliatory attacks [such as bombing] a Quds Force base in Tehran [...], which would lead to a huge escalation”. Instead, he urged Washington to open “direct diplomatic channel with the Iranian regime or risk igniting an uncontrollable war”. Last July, Baer told a Los Angeles radio station that “[t]here is almost near certainty [in Israel] that Netanyahu is planning an attack [on Iran] and it will probably be in September before the vote on a Palestinian state. And he’s also hoping to draw the United States into the conflict”. He later revised his statement, saying that it was a “wide-ranging speculative” comment, and that he had “no inside information to back [his] interpretations”.Hmmm..........Or someone decided that a war with Iran would give better re-election odds?Read the full story here.
- The Iran Terror Plot Crisis: Big Trouble for Obama.(DocsTalk).By BarryRubin.Remember that Hillary Clinton ad about it being the early morning hours and the phone’s ringing in the White House? Well it’s arrived in real life and the phone is—or isn’t—going to be answered by Barack Obama. That doesn’t mean the dramatic announcement of an Iranian plot to attack targets in Washington DC has brought a crisis It’s up to Obama to decide whether or not it is a crisis. And that’s the point.
True, it’s a bizarre story about Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Mexican drug lords. But, after all, the United States was impelled a step toward entering World War One by the Zimmerman Note in which German agents sought to entice Mexico to go to war against the United States. Vice-President Joe Biden has said this is a really serious response. The Saudis, who are famous for keeping a low profile and trying to avoid problems—often through money—are openly livid. They’re basically saying something along the lines of, “We told you so.” They tried and gave up.
Is This Story True?
There are some points that would make one question this whole garish tale. Most important:
–This does not match past Iranian practice. Many “experts” think this is the clincher but precedent is not always a reliable guide. Things change. Be careful on this point.
–Why should some Iranian-American businessman in Texas be a key Iranian agent? It’s called secret agent work for a reason. A sleeper cell should not be obvious. And he did have a relative in the Revolutionary Guards.
–Why didn’t Iran use its own assets? I think this is a stronger argument. The whole thing is amateurish. Even if Iran was going to do this it would have developed these contacts and not immediately entrusted some drug gang official who one of their guys barely knew. Wouldn’t they have preferred to use Middle Easterners and Muslims?
–What was the Iranian goal? Certainly, Iran has been threatening the United States with dire consequences for a while. But why the sudden decision to escalate? Revenge for sanctions? And what was their plan for concealing Iranian involvement if the attack did happen? One can explain such a change but one cannot explain it very well. This raises questions but again is not a definitive answer.
All that’s important is this: If the U.S. government has persuasive evidence then it happened.Might this blow up in the Obama’s Administration’s face?Absolutely yes. If they were fooled by a fabricator, if revealing the case too soon (to stave off criticism of Attorney-General Holder over the gun-smuggling case) damaged the chance of success in uncovering the terrorist network, or if the government’s response is not equal to the crisis they’ve developed, then the Obama Administration will look worse.This whole affair is extremely dangerous for the White House. Any idea that this is an easy win for the administration—see how good we are at protecting America—is dead wrong.I am not arguing and do not believe that they created this plot but this would not be the first time that U.S. officials have been fooled by Iranians with an agenda to fool them.
What Will the Administration Do about it?
The response is fraught with peril. The immediate reaction—we’ll mobilize world opinion!—makes the administration look buffoonish. If this is true it is an act of war by Iran, at least by elements in the Iranian government (you know, the kind of people who could one day give nuclear weapons to terrorists).
Response A: Do Nothing
Wow, can you see that in the presidential debates in 2012? An enemy chose to attack the very capital city and the Obama Administration could only respond with press releases and Biden growling!
Response B: The “Sunni Strategy”
This really scares me. This Administration is quite capable of saying: Iran is the enemy so what we must do is work with our good Muslim friends, you know the Muslim Brotherhood? We need to win over Hamas and Hizballah from Iran by proving we are nice to them. Oh, and we need to work closely with that wonderful Turkish government, like letting them organize the political succession in Syria!And so on. Do not underestimate the stupidity, incompetence, and ignorance of this Administration regarding the Middle East.
Response C: A United Front against Revolutionary Islamism
The U.S. government takes the lead in organizing and supporting Europe, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, Israel, and Jordan into a cooperative alignment. Back the oppositions in Iran, Turkey, and Lebanon. Punish friends and reward enemies.The point is not to go to war with Iran but to oppose Iranian interests and allies everywhere, including the use of covert operations. Challenge Iranian agents of influence in Lebanon and Iraq. Containment is not just about nuclear weapons for Tehran but about the spreading influence of that regime.That also means the United States must seem like a strong and determined leader. It must have very serious credibility. And it will have to identify revolutionary Islamism as the enemy.Look, this is the Obama Administration we are talking about. I don’t think they can do it. Hopefully, the next president can do so. There better be a next president in sight because there are a lot more crises on the way. As I said at the start, I do not think this is some brilliant maneuver that will end up being to the Obama Administration’s advantage. They have either made a huge mistake that’s going to be exposed or presented themselves with a challenge they cannot meet.Ring! Ring! It’s your telephone, Mr. President.Hmmmm......Time for another vacation?Read the full story here.
- Strategic Notes on the Gilad Shalit Prisoner Exchange.(DocsTalk).By BarryRubin.There are some substantial misunderstandings on the nature of the Gilad Shalit exchange deal. I should stress that the list of those Palestinian prisoners being given in exchange for him has not yet been released. But note the following:
--The number 1000 is impressive but most will be chosen by Israel, meaning they will be prisoners with the lightest sentences an crimes, in other words, people who would have been released anyway during the next year or two.
--Israel rejected Hamas's demand to release those being called "arch-terrorists" who were major organizers of attacks or responsible for a larger loss of life.
--Of the most serious terrorist prisoners only a bit over 96 will be released into the West Bank and 14 to east Jerusalem where they could cause direct trouble for Israel The rest will be sent to the Gaza Strip or deported altogether. Those with lighter sentences who live in the West Bank would have been sent there anyway when their sentences were finished. --Hamas did a politically clever thing by demanding that half of the named prisoners be non-Hamas people. The goal is to make Hamas more popular among Fatah supporters and on the West Bank.
The plan is as follows:
After a 72 hour wait following the issuing of a list of those to be released--to let families of victims to file petitions against it--the minister of justice will signal readiness to carry out the deal Gilad Shalit will arrive in Cairo. At that point, Israel will release about 450 terrorists under heavy sentence.
Of these 450 prisoners:
131 Gaza Strip residents will go there.
163 West Bank residents will be expelled from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip.
40 will be expelled overseas
96 will return to their homes in the West Bank
14 will return to their homes in east Jerusalem
6 Israeli Arabs will be released to their homes.
At this point, Shalit will return to Israel
Then Israel will release 550 prisoners of its choice..
Shalit will be released in Cairo. then can come to Israel. after Shalit arrives. 550 prisoners with lighter sentences, chosen by Israel, will be released.
As I noted earlier, this is a high price--though lower than many think--but the step is seen by most Israelis as a moral imperative even though it certainly can be seen as posing some future danger and rewarding terrorism.Regarding the argument that this will encourage terrorism or kidnapping, however, it should be understood that terrorist groups always conduct the highest possible number of attacks and kidnapping attempt that they can try. The deal will not really have any effect on that, though of course individual terrorists released--especially those going to the West Bank--will pose an additional threat. They will be closely watched and some of them have no doubt been turned into sources of intelligence for Israel.Hmmmmm........I can't help asking myself...would Shalit approve of exchanging him for so many of these potential terrorist and murderers of many other innocent Jews?Read the full story here.
- Egypt: Planes patrol Sinai without Israel's consent.(YNet).Egypt's air force chief said on Thursday that Egyptian warplanes are patrolling Sinai without Israel's consent, despite a 1979 peace treaty limiting Egypt's military presence in the peninsula. "Sinai is our land, and we do not need permission to increase our forces on our land," General Reda Hafiz told the official MENA news agency."Egyptian planes conduct patrols to secure all Egypt's borders, including the eastern border," he said. Parts of Sinai have been restricted to Egyptian troops under the terms of the 1979 treaty, by which Israel agreed to withdraw from the territory. In recent months, however, the Egyptian army has deployed reinforcements with Israeli consent to tackle suspected Islamist militants.The government had approved an increase in Egyptian army deployment to Sinai in August after a series of deadly attacks on the south were blamed on militants operating out of the territory.On August 18, terrorists armed with heavy weapons, guns and explosives launched four attacks in quick succession in southern Israel near the border with Egypt, killing seven people and wounding dozens more.Hmmmmm.....As i said on day one "You don't give them a bridgehead in the Sinai"!Read the full story here.
- Cyprus on the World Stage.By Daniel Pipes.Cyprus, an island near Turkey and Syria of roughly 1.3 million inhabitants, finds itself on the cusp of momentous change. As it belatedly makes its grand debut on the world stage after domestic Greek-Turkish communal issues have consumed its first 51 years of independence, it faces both great opportunity and great danger.That communal problem originated in 1570, when the Ottoman Empire conquered the island and its almost entirely Greek-speaking Orthodox Christian population. Over the next three centuries, immigration from Anatolia created a Turkish-speaking Muslim minority. British rule between 1878 and 1960 left this situation basically unchanged. At the time of Cypriot independence in 1960, Turks constituted one-sixth of the population.Cyprus was hardly the only territory rife with ethnic tensions that London eventually abandoned in frustration – think of India, Iraq, Palestine, and Sudan – but it was the only one where it retained a permanent role for itself and brought in patron states, namely Turkey and Greece, as guarantors of the newly-independent state.This mischievous arrangement heightened tensions between both the two island's two communities and their patron states. Those tensions boiled over in 1974 when Athens attempted to annex the whole of Cyprus and Ankara responded by invading the island, seizing the northern 37 percent of the island's territory. Greek annexation fizzled but the invasion led to the establishment of a nominal "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (TRNC), which is maintained today by some 40,000 troops from the Republic of Turkey. Hundreds of thousands of settlers have since emigrated from Turkey, fundamentally altering the island's demography.Cyprus remained thus for 35 years, divided, deadlocked, and largely ignored by the outside world, until two recent developments upended the island's obscure if unhappy status quo.First, the AK Party came to power in Turkey in 2002 with an aggressive program of regional domination. It initially kept this ambition in check but with a heady electoral success in June 2011, followed immediately by its seizure of political control over the Turkish military, this intent emerged in full blossom. The drive to regional domination takes many forms – from escalating tensions with Israel to the prime minister's triumphal tour of North Africa – but with a specific focus on increasing Turkish power in the eastern Mediterranean. AKP ambitions have thus transformed the Turkish occupation of Cyprus from a sui generis problem into one aspect of a larger issue.Second, the June 2010 discovery of gas and oil reserves ("Leviathan") in Israel's Mediterranean Sea exclusive economic zone, right near the Cypriot EEZ, suddenly made Cyprus a player in the world energy market. Cypriots talk of 300 trillion cubic feet worth US$4 trillion. Such numbers attract covetous gazes, especially from Ankara, which demands (via the TRNC) its share of future gas income. Further, the AKP's escalating anti-Zionism combined with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's strategic ambitions suggest Turkish claims extending to Israeli-controlled waters.In conjunction, these two developments – growing Turkish ambitions and possible gas deposits in the trillions – link Cyprus and Israel in self-defense. Leading Greek Cypriot figures in the government, the media, and business told me during a just-concluded trip to the island about their urgent wish to build economic and security relations with Israel.In the economic realm, a ranking government official proposes five projects: a joint pipeline from the gas fields to Cyprus, followed by a liquidification plant, a methanol plant, a 1,000 megawatt electricity plan, and a strategic reserve, all located in Cyprus. A media tycoon suggests selling the gas reserves to Israel and letting its companies bear responsibility.In the security realm, several interlocutors proposed a full-on alliance with Israel. Cyprus would gain from Israel's much greater military, economic, and diplomatic prowess. Israel, which has already made protective efforts on behalf of Cyprus, would benefit from access to an airbase at Paphos, 185 miles (300 kilometers) from its shore, belonging to a European Union member.Such an alliance would terminate the Cypriot legacy of non-alignment and low-key diplomacy designed to convince governments not to recognize the TRNC, though that strategy, arguably, has not brought it much benefit.In the face of an over-confident and possibly messianic Turkish leadership that increasingly betrays rogue attributes, Washington, Brussels, Athens, and Moscow have important roles to play in encouraging Cypriot-Israeli relations and thereby diminishing the likelihood of AKP-led Turkish aggression.Read the full story here.
- Pakistan - Christian Asia Bibi Tortured and Beaten Unconscious by Jail Official.(Vinienco).Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC have expressed grave concern on safety of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, sentenced to death on accusations of blasphemy, now waiting for her appeal in Lahore High Court against her conviction in Central Jail Sheikhupura, Punjab province of Pakistan.It was reported in national Pakistani media that one jail official attacked and tortured Asia Bibi in her high security cell and she became unconscious.There have been cases of killing of blasphemy accused Christians in Sialkot, Lahore and Karachi jails which were declared suicides by authorities and it was already feared by PCC that Asia Bibi can be also killed in jail.The Islamists and tools of banned Islamic terrorists are acting openly in Punjab province of Pakistan and ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz PML (N) is hostage of such Jihadi elements being their vote bank.It is on record that Islamists who burnt 7 Christians alive in city of Gojra walked free from courts because Law Minister of Punjab was voted by that outfit members.One Islamist body guard of Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer opened fire on his boss and martyred him in capital city of Pakistan in 2011, because he met Asia Bibi in jail and favored pardon for her from President of Pakistan.Asia Bibi was arrested on accusations of defiling name of Prophet Mohammad when working in fields with Muslim women on touching drinking water pot and arguments on it.In Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Christians cannot eat in restaurants or roadside vendors in same utensils in which Muslims dine due to hate on religion.Nazir Bhatti said that it is very surprising that Judges of Lahore High Court are so fearful of Jihadi Muslims that they are not fixing any date to hear appeal of Asia Bibi in her conviction to death on blasphemy.“If Judiciary of Pakistan is reluctant to hear appeal of Asia Bibi on fear of Islamists then Pakistan must be declared a failed state by UN” said Nazir Bhatti. Dr. Nazir Bhatti, urged President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari to adopt necessary measures to safe Asia Bibi in jail and punish jail officer who attacked and tortured her.PCC also demands Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan to hear appeal of Asia Bibi against her conviction in fabricated blasphemy charges.Read the full story here.
- More executions in Iran, four people punished with amputation.(Persian2English).Iran Human Rights, October 12: Four men were publicly hanged in the town of Khomeini Shahr, in central Iran, early this morning.According to the state-run Iranian news agency ISNA, the men were identified as Abbas (24), Rajab Ali (23), Asghar (20), and Mansour (25). They were convicted of rape. The executions took place in the “Behesht” (paradise) park of Khomeini Shahr this morning.All the individuals were arrested in connection with the rape of several women in a garden outside Khomeini Shahr earlier this summer. A total of 15 people have been accused in this case and four of them have not been arrested yet.Quoting the Isfahan Prosecutor, Hamshahri Online wrote: “The individuals publicly hanged today were also sentenced to 74 lashes. The flogging sentences were implemented in the prison yesterday.”Iran Human Rights (IHR) strongly condemned today’s public executions. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson of IHR said, “These barbaric executions are used as a tool to spread fear among the people…So far, more than 340 people have been executed in Iran, according the official sources in 2011. We have observed a dramatic increase in the number of public executions. We urge the international community to condemn these executions and put sustainable pressure on the Iranian authorities.” He added, “Through inhumane punishments, the Iranian authorities promote a culture of brutality. They are responsible for the increasing violence in the Iranian society.”Iran Human Rights, October 8: One prisoner was executed and four other prisoners were punished with amputation of the limbs in Isfahan prison on October 8th.According to the Iranian news agency ILNA, a 67-year-old prisoner, identified as “Ahmad” and known as “the old fox” in the Iranian media, was hanged in the Isfahan central prison. The prisoner was convicted of raping 37 women, according to the official Iranian reports.Quoting Mohammad Reza Habibi, the public and revolutionary prosecutor of Isfahan, ILNA reported that, along with the execution of the 67-year-old man, four other unidentified prisoners, who were sentenced to “Hadd” for robbery, were punished based on Sharia law today. According to Habibi, these prisoners were sentenced to execution for various robbery cases. The report did not provide details on the punishments.Article 201 of the Iranian Islamic Penal Code says: “The Hadd for theft, for the person’s first offence, is cutting off the four fingers of the right hand, leaving the thumb and palm of the hand. The Hadd for the person’s second offence is cutting off the left foot, leaving the fingers of the foot to the ankle intact. The Hadd for the third offence is the thief shall be sentenced to prison for life. And, the Hadd for the fourth offence, when the person commits theft in prison, is death by hanging”.Read the full story here.
- Militant Muslim organisation member kidnapped Christian girl, 12, beaten until she converted to Islam and raped for eight months.(DailyMail).A 12-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped and repeatedly raped for eight months in Pakistan by a man who then falsified marriage documents with her, it was claimed today.The girl was lured on a shopping trip in Lahore by a friend, before she was driven 120 miles to Tandianwalla and raped by the friend's uncle in January this year.Two days later, she was forced to sign papers consenting to marriage with the man and beaten for refusing to convert from Christianity to Islam.She was then held against her will for eight months, before managing to escape and contact her family.The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has said the rapists have not been arrested because of their affiliation with a militant Muslim organisation - the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.It claims the police have refused to order a medical check-up on the girl, and have warned her parents that it would be better for them to hand over the girl to her 'legal' husband or a criminal case would be filed against them.An investigation into the kidnapping found the girl's father reported her disappearance in January and made complaints against her abductors, but police took no action for eight months.Last month, the girl - who has not been named for legal reasons - called her family from Tandianwalla and told them she had been abducted, but had escaped and was hiding at a bus stop.The girl's parents travelled to the town and rescued her, before taking her to a local magistrate to give a statement.The rapists then contacted the police through their religious group and produced a marriage certificate that claimed to show one of them was married to the 12-year-old.As a result of their complaint, the Christian family has gone into hiding as members of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba are searching for them.The group claims the girl is pregnant, but her mother has denied this is true.The AHRC said that police never asked the religious group how a 12-year-old could be married. The legal age for marriage in Pakistan in 16.It claims the Punjab provincial government is patronising banned militant organisations.The British Pakistani Christian Association has launched a petition calling on the Pakistani government to investigate the attack.For more information, visit http://britishpakistanichristian.blogspot.com.Read the full story here.
- Pakistan - 15-Year-Old Hindu Girl Drugged, Kidnapped and Forced to Embrace Islam.(Vinienco).When 15-year-old Poonam Wasu — a Hindu girl from birth — left her house with friends on the afternoon of October 6, she could never have in her wildest dreams imagined that she would be drugged, only to wake up hours later as a married Muslim woman named Razia.Although there are no official figures as cases of forced conversions and marriages are often hushed up, organizations like the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan believe that a large number of women had been abducted and forced to change their religion. Perhaps an even more distressing fact is that in many such instances, these women are sold to prostitution rings and as a result, lose all contact with their families.But unlike the other women who chose to remain quiet after being threatened with dire consequences, Poonam broke the silence and took matters to court. Hailing from Lyari — where locals claim that as many as sixteen women have been abducted and forced to marry — Razia remains undaunted by the threats.Talking about the fateful day that changed her life forever, this lean-framed girl recalls that she left her house with two friends named Saiba and Shazia, who asked her to apply some Mehndhi to relatives at a wedding. After she reached the house and sipped at the tea served to her, the rest was a blank.“After drinking it, I fell unconscious. I don’t remember what happened after that. All I know is that when I woke up, I was a woman who has accepted Islam and performed a Nikkah with my friend’s brother, Raza Hussain, who I had never even spoken to before.”Poonam added that she had known both the sisters for several months as one of them attended the same school as one of her siblings. Also, they would visit the same beauty parlor that Poonam would sometimes work for. “I never thought these two girls would do something like this. Both of them were so nice to me,” said the distressed teenager.While Poonam was being drugged and forced to marry after changing her religion, back at her house, the hours ticked by and her family naturally became worried. “When it turned dark and my niece did not return, we went to her friend’s house, only to find that the door had been locked.”The teenager’s family had registered FIR 166/2011, under section 365 at the Chakiwara police station and the law enforcers conducted a raid and recovered the abducted girl, who according to her aunt was drowsy and stumbled as she walked.Showing the blue-inked print on her thumb, Poonam says that although the conversion certificate and the Nikkahnama have her imprints, she was unaware of what was happening with her. “Why would I put a thumb print on the documents when I can write my name in both Urdu and English?” she asked. “I was unconscious when my prints were taken. Neither have I changed my religion, nor have I married anyone.”And that is exactly what she told the District Court South during the hearing of her case. She now hopes that the court will rule in her favor and yearns to be reunited with her family.Taking notice of the incident, the Sindh Vice Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Amarnath Motumal, said, “Most of the time, criminals involved in kidnapping and forced conversion are influential and wealthy. Consequently, the victim is warned of dire consequences if she dares raise her voice.Therefore, many cases go unreported and other times, the families surrender. But Poonam is very brave and despite threats to her family that the teenager would be killed, she has decided to fight for her rights.”The same stance is reiterated by Poonam. “My so-called husband should be severely punished. Why do people do such things? Thank God I was saved in the nick of time as I came to know later that my kidnappers were planning to shift me to another location. If they succeeded, I would have never seen my family again.”Read the full story here.
- Initial Reactions in Iran to Report on Foiling of Iranian Terror Operation in Washington.(Memri).
All time favorite - Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman: It's a U.S.-Zionist Plot. Iran-Saudi Relations Are Based On Mutual Respect.
Iranian Ambassador In Letter To U.N. Secretary-General: This "Evil Plot" Will Have "Detrimental Effects On Peace and Security".
Iranian Majlis Speaker: The Americans Have Started a Children's Game To Divert Public Attention From Its Domestic and Middle East Problems
Majlis Supreme National Security Committee: This "Big Lie" Will Not Extricate the White House From the Wall Street Uprising.
In an interview with the Iranian news agency Fars, Majlis Supreme National Security Committee chairman Ala Al-Din Boroujerdi said, "Without a doubt, this new American-Zionist plot was aimed at diverting public attention from the crisis in which [President] Obama has become entangled – [that is,] the Wall Street popular uprising." He assessed that the White House would not be successful in this attempt, and added, "Iran has never employed such a policy of assassinating individuals – on the contrary, it itself has been the victim of terrorism. Therefore, the claims by American officials are nothing more than a big lie."
Entekhab: The Lack of a Determined, Effective Response Could Lead to a Military Attack Against Iran.
In a reaction published immediately after the news of the affair broke, the Iranian website Entekhab, which is identified with critics of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called the American allegations against Iran "a dangerous and rare scenario." It warned that "if Iranian Foreign Ministry officials do not respond firmly, effectively, and wisely, and if they do not succeed in responding to these ridiculous and silly claims by America and the West, the general atmosphere in the world could pave the way to a limited military attack on Iran."The website also complained about the Iranian Foreign Ministry's passivity in the affair, and warned that if it continued the country could face "almost dreadful risks."Read the full story here.
- Khaled Mash'al Promises to 'Do the Impossible' To Free Remaining Palestinian Prisoners.(Memri).The head of Hamas' Political Bureau, Khaled Mash'al, said that the prisoner swap with Israel would include 1,000 men and 27 women from the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, the 1948 territories, the Golan Heights, and the diaspora, including 315 prisoners with life sentences. Mash'al promised to "do the impossible" to free the remaining prisoners.He thanked Egypt for the difficult negotiations it conducted, and all other elements that assisted, chiefly Qatar, Syria, Turkey, and German mediators, and called on the PA and other factions in and out of Palestine to plan further achievements as part of the national effort to free Palestine and establish a state.Hamas official Ahmed Bahar said that the prisoner swap is a victory to the option of resistance and jihad over the option of arrangements, and points to a new phase of victories over the Zionist entity. Officials in resistance factions and celebrating citizens called to abduct more soldiers.Hmmmmm.........Now they want hundreds of Ghilads?Read the full story here.
- Shocking Athens: School Children Faint Due to Hunger.(KTG).That’s shocking! Primary school children would faint due to hunger in downtown Athens in the year 2011! Primary school teachers union from the districts of Ampelokipi-Erythros-Polygonon close to the centre of athens issued a horrifying statement about the economic situation of the pupils. There are cases of children fainting during the classes due to starvation, the teachers state, and also a case of a jobless parent, father of three, who committed suicide.Speaking to news portal NewsIt, teacher Dimitris Margiolis confirmed not only the shocking news adding that children go to school with holes in their shoes:“Ten days ago we were shocked to learn that a father of three of our pupils committed suicide. He had been jobless for the last 6 months. Recently we learned that even during the last spring, pupils in a secondary school in the Kypseli district fainted and the doctor diagnosed ‘starvation’. We see children coming to school with hole sin their shoes. They have to proper shoes for the gymnastic classes. In school canteens the number of pupils buying something decreases day by day. Some pay on credit… We should set up a network as we did for the children of Iraq, Palestine and Yugoslavia. It is our duty not only to educate children but also to protect them form impoverishment”.The First Association of Teachers of Primary Education of Athens, together with parents and residents of Ampelokipi-Erythros-Polygonon will stage a protest on October 15th 2011, at 11 m at the square of Panormou Metro station to raise awareness of the economic impasse of many families in the times of strict austerity.Read the full story here.
- Turkish prosecutor seeks arrests of 174 Israelis over ship raid.(TodaysZaman).A Turkish prosecutor is seeking the arrest of 174 Israelis allegedly involved in the naval commando raid that killed nine Turks on a ship carrying aid to the Gaza Strip last year, broadcaster CNN Turk reported on Wednesday. Ties between the two regional powers have deteriorated sharply since Israeli naval commandos raided the Mavi Marmara in May 2010. CNN Turk said on its website İstanbul state prosecutor Mehmet Akif Ekinci had written to the Justice Ministry calling for the arrest of those who carried out the raid and those who ordered it. An official contacted by Reuters was not aware of the report and was checking. Turkey has previously said it will seek to prosecute all Israelis responsible for crimes committed during the May 2010 raid.The threat followed a UN report that said Israel's naval blockade of Gaza was legal but that Israel had used unreasonable force in the raid. Both Turkey and Israel disputed some conclusions of the so-called Palmer Report.The names of the Israeli marines involved in the raid have not been released. The prosecutor had previously written to Israel seeking the names of those involved but had received no answer.Turkish-Israeli tensions have continued to escalate since then, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saying last month Turkish warships could be sent to the Eastern Mediterranean at any time and Israel could not do whatever it wants there.Turkey downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel and halted defence trade after the Jewish state confirmed last month it would not apologise for the Mavi Marmara raid. Read the full story here.
- African children abducted for UK blood rituals.(BikyaMasr).The BBC recently obtained official figures from the United Kingdom which shows at least 400 children have been abducted and trafficked to the UK over the past four years. While it is not yet clear how these children are smuggled into the country, the reasons seem to point at African blood rituals, which have gained prominence in the country.By and large African spiritual healers pose no threat, yet there is evidence some of them are involved in the children being trafficked from Africa.The director of Ecpat UK, Christine Beddoe, the role human blood plays in African ‘juju’ rituals is a reason why so many children are smuggled.Ecpat UK is an anti-trafficking charity.“Our experience tells us that traffickers can be anybody. They can be people with power, people with money or people involved in witchcraft,” she explained.“Trafficking can involve witch-doctors and other types of professionals in the community who are using those practices.”The figures cited come from research data compiled by Ecpat Uk, the metropolitan police and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center (CEOP). According to the statistics, 400 African children have been rescued by the British authorities.Many of the rescued children have given testimonies of their ordeal. Once in Britain, many of these children are exposed to violent and degrading treatment. They are often subject to forced extraction of their blood for clients looking for blood rituals.The BBC managed to obtain anonymous interviews with some of the victims who describe their ordeal. One boy told the BBC how a witch doctor would “take your hair and cut your arms, legs, heads and genitals and collect the blood. They say if you speak out I can kill you.”Another victim, a Nigerian girl, said a witchdoctor put a spell on her, preventing her from finding her family in fear that they would die.“They told me I was evil and made bad things happen. I believed it and that this was my punishment and what my life would be,” she was reported to have said.Normally these so-called ‘spiritual healers’ offer ‘life changing’ rituals involving prayer and herbs, yet some engage in the darker side of African blood rituals.According to a report from the US State Department, Uganda is one of the main countries involved in smuggling children to Britain.Roughly 9,000 children have gone missing in Uganda alone over the past four years.Read the full story here.