Thursday, November 24, 2011
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Japan 6.2 - 5.9; Fiji 5.1!More info here.
- Japan : For the most accurate info on the nuclear disaster go to : Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog.Here.
- Canary Islands - El Hierro earthquake and volcano eruption – Update 21. here , Live webcams here and here.
- Egypt LiveBlog: Déjà Vu All Over Again . Here.
- Obama's Thanksgiving Proclamation Strikingly Different From Predecessors'.(TownHall).By JanetM.LaRue.Psychiatrist Karl Menninger, founder of the Menninger Clinic, raised the question, “Whatever became of sin?” in his 1973 book title. There was a time when U.S. presidents made certain that our sin didn’t fade from our national conscience. Not this year.The Huffington Post reviewed the Thanksgiving Proclamations of 26 U.S. Presidents from Washington to Barack Obama, and concluded that they’re “strikingly the same”: "Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor..."With these words, written by George Washington in 1789, an American holiday tradition was born. Ever since, in times of peace and prosperity, war and want, American Presidents have offered gratitude to God while calling on all Americans to gather in humble praise. Though the language of thanks has changed in the past 222 years, the content of these presidential prayers remains strikingly the same.Many presidential proclamations are strikingly similar in their expressions of humility, thanksgiving, dependence, confession, repentance, supplication and praise to “Almighty God, “the Sovereign of the Universe,” “great and glorious Being,” “great Lord and Ruler of Nations,” “Father of Mercies,” “Redeemer of the World,” “Supreme Being,” “Most High God,” “Great Mediator and Redeemer,” “Author of All Good,” “Great Sovereign of the Universe,” “Almighty Father,” “Divine Majesty, “Holy Spirit,” “Most High God,” “Beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe,” “Giver of Good.” Every proclamation concludes with the same phrase used in the U.S. Constitution: “In the year of our Lord.”But something is missing from this year’s message out of the Obama White House. It’s the mention of sin and the need for repentance.Contrary to the theologians at HuffPost, and except for concluding with “in the year of our Lord,” Obama’s five paragraph proclamation is strikingly dissimilar:
- Obama’s first graph praises the Wampanoag tribe for aiding the Pilgrims and gives thanks to “all American Indians and Alaska Natives … the First Americans.”
- In his second graph, Obama recalls that Washington “praised a generous and knowing God” and that Lincoln “looked to the divine to protect those who had known the worst of civil war” in his.
- In his third graph, Obama recalls that “we have lifted our hearts by giving humble thanks for the blessings” without mentioning God. Obama rightly thanks our military for their sacrifice.
- In the fourth graph, Obama expresses thanks first “to each other” and then “to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives. Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the year to come.” Rather than Scripture or Heaven, we get Hollywood, as in “Pay It Forward.”
- In the fifth graph, Obama calls us to “give thanks for all we have received in the past year, to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own,” again without mentioning God. Obama offers no high praises to Almighty God, no reminders of His unique attributes, which naturally lead sinners to repent and seek His forgiveness. The Obama storehouse of soaring rhetoric, inspiration and hope is barren.Whatever became of sin?The One who has blessed and sustained us from our beginning reminds us: “Righteousness exalts a nation; but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Proverbs 14:34.Read the full story here.
- Islamotopia: The Muslim Brotherhood's Idea of Democracy.(Azure).By Uriya Shavit.Why liberty can't withstand the political rule of the Koran. How can the West deal with the very tangible threat that Arab societies will be taken over by Islamist movements? If it confronts them, it will only confirm the Brotherhood’s claim that the West conspires to undermine the religious identity of the Muslim world and seize control of it. If, however, the West sits on its hands, the nascent liberal camp will be doomed. This is the cruel and all-too-familiar Gordian knot of Arab democracy, in which the West is entangled as both liberator and conqueror, the solution and the problem.Yet, however convoluted the knot may be, Western decision makers must not ignore the astonishing truth revealed during the previous year: Forces within Arab society yearn for genuine democracy, and understand that the Western form of government embodies a formula for human success and political stability. For democracy to strike real and lasting roots in the Arab world, the United States and its allies must free themselves of the influence of multi-cultural and post-colonial theories and determine—first for themselves, and then for others—the distinction between truly enlightened regimes and their imitators. It is obvious that the West cannot coerce any electorate to vote against a traditionalist regime based on Islamic law. At the very least, however, it must make plain what it holds to be the essence of democracy, why the political ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood are incompatible with it, and, thus, why it cannot offer economic or diplomatic support to Arab states that follow the path of political Islam. The West needs to explain, to all who are willing to listen, that the conflict is not between the secular and the religious, the West and the East, the Christians and the Muslims. It is, quite simply, a clash between freedom and tyranny.Hmmm.....A MUST READ!Read the full story here.
- Arabs give Syria a day to allow monitors; rebel army calls for air strikes on targets.(AlArabiya).The Arab League has given Syria a day to sign a protocol allowing monitors into the country or the regional body will press ahead with plans to impose economic sanctions, Egypt’s envoy to the League said on Thursday as Free Syrian Army called for foreign air strikes on “strategic targets” in Syria. The sanctions could include a suspension of commercial flights to Syria and a halt to dealings with its central bank, the envoy, Afifi Abdul Wahab, told reporters in Cairo, according to Reuters, as Syrian activists told Al Arabiya that as many as 27 civilians were killed by the gunfire of security forces on Thursday.“Tomorrow is the deadline for Syria to sign. If they don’t sign, the economic and social council (of ministers) will meet on Saturday to discuss economic sanctions,” he said adding that if Syria did not sign foreign ministers would meet again on Sunday to review the proposed sanctions.One Arab government representative at the League said measures which the 22-member organization might consider on Thursday included imposing a travel ban on Syrian officials, freezing bank transfers or funds in Arab states related to Assad’s government and stopping Arab projects in Syria. “There are many ideas and suggestions for sanctions that can be imposed on the Syrian regime,” the official, who asked not to be identified’ told Reuters.The United States and the European Union have already imposed sanctions on senior Syrian officials, its oil sector and several state businesses. An EU official said on Wednesday the bloc was considering fresh financial sanctions.Meanwhile, Free Syrian Army chief Riyadh al-Asaad on Thursday called for foreign air strikes on “strategic targets” in Syria as part of a drive to topple the regime, in a telephone interview with AFP. “We are not in favor of the entry of foreign troops as was the case in Iraq but we want the international community to give us logistical support,” said FSA chief Colonel Asaad, who is based across the border in Turkey.“We also want international protection, the establishment of a no-fly zone, a buffer zone and strikes on certain strategic targets considered as crucial by the regime,” he said.In contrast, the leader of the main Syrian opposition group in exile said after talks in Paris on Wednesday that his organization does not want to see rebels launch armed attacks on President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.Amid fears of the deadly anti-regime protests in Syria since mid-March turning into civil war, Burhan Ghaliun of the Syrian National Council said the FSA should try to avoid direct confrontation with regime troops.“We would like this army to carry out defensive actions to protect those who have left the (regime's) army and peaceful demonstrations, but not take on offensive actions against the army,” he said.Meanwhile, France said on Thursday it will seek Arab support for a humanitarian corridor in Syria, the first time a major power pushed for international intervention in the eight-month uprising against President Assad. Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who first floated the proposal for humanitarian intervention on Wednesday, gave more details of the plan and said he would propose it to a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers gathering in Cairo to discuss Syria.Iraq’s foreign minister said Damascus had accepted a plan to send monitors to Syria, seen as a last-ditch attempt to avert Arab League sanctions. There was no immediate confirmation from Syria, according to Reuters.This week, the prime minister of regional heavyweight Turkey - a NATO member with the military wherewithal to mount a cross-border operation - compared Assad to Hitler, Mussolini and Qaddafi, and called on him to quit.Juppe said international monitors should be sent to protect civilians, with or without Assad’s permission. He insisted the proposal fell short of a military intervention, but acknowledged that humanitarian convoys would need armed protection. "There are two possible ways: That the international community, Arab League and the United Nations can get the regime to allow these humanitarian corridors," he told French radio on Thursday. "But if that isn't the case we'd have to look at other solutions ... with international observers,"Asked if humanitarian convoys would need military protection, he said: “Of course... by international observers, but there is no question of military intervention in Syria.”He added that he had spoken to partners at the United Nations and U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and would speak later on Thursday to the Arab League. On Wednesday Juppe also embraced the exiled opposition Syrian National Council as a legitimate group that France sought to work with.Syria’s bloodshed could pitch the Muslim world into “the darkness of the Middle Ages,” Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Wednesday. A day earlier, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan criticized the “cowardice” of Assad, once a close ally, for turning guns on his own people.Erdogan spoke of the fate of defeated dictators from Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini to Muammar Gaddafi, who was lynched by a mob last month at the end of an uprising that ultimately won the support of the West and Arab League states.Read the full story here.
- Homeland Security-linked CELL Terrorizes Americans.(TheNewAmerican).By AlexNewman.A non-profit organization that receives taxpayer funding and works closely with the Department of Homeland Security is under fire for promoting unjustified terror and fear among the public about terrorism, claiming that Americans should be suspicious even of their best friends and neighbors.Known as The Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (The CELL), the organization produces propaganda designed to hype the threat of terrorism and persuade citizens that they can join the terror-war, too. It includes, among other ventures, a full-scale museum exhibit entitled “Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere: Understanding the Threat of Terrorism” that presents terror as one of the gravest dangers facing humanity today.“If this sounds like an expensive, museum-size example of America's paranoia, that's because it is,” noted a piece from The Economist by Alexander Ewing. “Indeed, the exhibition includes a Rand Corporation expert who notes that the probability of an American being killed in a terror attack is about one in a million, compared to one-in-7,000 or -8,000 chance of being killed in a car accident.” In recent years the group has been assailed by critics for controversial videos produced with taxpayer money. In late 2009, “The CELL” released a short DHS-funded film — "Recognizing the Eight Signs of Terrorism" (still shot pictured above) — that portrayed owning firearms, buying gold, paying in cash, and donating to obscure charities as suspicious behavior that should be reported."Anyone can become a victim of terrorism, anytime, anywhere," says the narrator, football star John Elway. "Suspicious surveillance activity may include … drawing diagrams, making notes, using vision enhancing devices [binoculars]" and other seemingly innocuous activities. Making large cash transactions, using an alias, keeping weapons in the garage, and making “suspicious” statements should all be considered potential indicators of terrorist intentions and promptly called in, the video explains. “The success of defending our community’s safety depends upon our shared commitment,” Elway says after repeatedly urging viewers to contact authorities.“The Cell is dedicated to spreading disturbing state propaganda and fear," noted a blogger at DailyPaul.com, citing some of the more absurd points in the organization’s terror video. “The film displays gold coins next to explosives, implying gold coins are used as tools of terrorism.”Now the Denver-based “CELL” has a new scheme to spread fear and “awareness” of terrorism — a traveling terror course for citizens and businesses with over two hours of information on terror and how to fight it. But critics are calling the group’s newest plot, known as the Community Awareness Program (CAP), another Orwellian exercise in fear-mongering.The class is described on the group‘s website as follows: “Developed by The Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (The CELL) and the Colorado Information Analysis Center (CIAC), the CAP is an interactive curriculum, taught by Colorado public safety professionals, that provides citizens with the basic tools needed to recognize and help prevent terrorist and criminal activity in their hometowns.”But while the courses are supposedly designed to “empower” regular citizens to join in the terror war — mostly by spying on fellow Americans and reporting them to authorities — statements made by The CELL leaders are raising concerns. “It's not going to be the person that you think it's going to be," a bureaucrat dealing with transportation security named Diana Woodson, who also teaches the class, told the Denver Post. "He's your best neighbor, your best pal. It doesn't always look like the bad guy; it can be someone unassuming.”The CELL boss Melanie Pearlman refuses to ride the subway and is reluctant to enter tall buildings, yet insists that she is not paranoid. And in an interview with the Post she explained why her organization and its various initiatives are needed: all of the countless government agencies promoting terror fears were failing to spread the hysteria in the same way."You had different groups — FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency], UASI [Urban Areas Security Initiative], the CERT — different state and city agencies going out and espousing the same message, but the message was nuanced and inconsistent," she said. "So we brought all of those folks around the same table to make sure we met all their respective requirements in developing this program."Critics were still unimpressed, however. And after the Post article promoting the CAP scheme was published, commentators unleashed a new wave of criticism and ridicule aimed at the ominously named CELL.“The fact that American citizens are being taught by shadowy non-profit groups tied at the hip with Homeland Security that their best friend or closest neighbor could be a terrorist is another illustration of how the terrorists have won,” noted analyst and author Paul Joseph Watson. “Thanks to the federal government, we live in a society driven by fear and paranoia, with huge amounts of money being wasted on programs like this.”As The New American and other publications have documented extensively, Homeland Security has become increasingly aggressive in its efforts to paint ordinary Americans — particularly right-of-center citizens and veterans — as a potential terror threat. But its reports and propaganda films, often using preposterous sources including known spoof websites, have generated a great deal of opposition and even calls for Homeland Security boss Janet Napolitano’s resignation.Earlier this year DHS was embroiled in a scandal over a propaganda video it made portraying nearly every “terrorist” as a regular-looking light-skinned American. The film was part of its “See Something, Say Something” campaign encouraging citizens to spy on and report each other to authorities.Instead of ending the terror-promoting propaganda, however, the Obama administration and Napolitano’s bureaucracy have taken it to a whole new level in recent months. The “See Something, Say Something” snitch program, with films already playing at Wal-Marts nationwide, will now be rolled out in hotels across America.“Not using a credit card to settle a hotel bill is suspicious behavior,” the propaganda film’s narrator claims after an actor raises eyebrows for asking to pay his tab in cash. The rest of the video is similarly disturbing.Meanwhile, a congressional report released this month said DHS’s Transportation Security Administration had consumed $60 billion so far — and American air travel is not any safer than it was before September 11, 2001. At the same time, the Obama administration is embroiled in a growing scandal for illegally providing guns to Mexican drug cartels. Analysts said that while the federal government’s efforts to instill terror in Americans might appear comical or even ludicrous at first glance, the trend should be taken very seriously. Nearly all brutal dictatorships have waged similar campaigns to encourage irrational suspicion and wanton “snitching” prior to unleashing horrors upon the citizenry. Read the full story here.
- New Congressional Directive Restricts Muslim Brotherhood Groups’ Access to FBI.(BigPeace).Early in 2009 the FBI publicly severed all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood front group the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), following the conviction of Hamas fundraisers associated with the Holy Land Foundation (HLF). CAIR was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the plot, the largest terrorism funding trial in U.S. history. Despite this, PJ Media national security and terrorism correspondent Patrick Poole reported last April that FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni continued to meet with CAIR officials, shirking the FBI’s specific ban.Now, Mr. Poole has broken a story that the Congress has included new restrictions on CAIR and other Muslim Brotherhood fronts in the continuing budget resolution President Obama signed last week.Under Division B, Title II of the bill, is the following provision: Liaison partnerships- The conferees support the FBI’s policy prohibiting any formal non-investigative cooperation with unindicted co-conspirators in terrorism cases. The conferees expect the FBI to insist on full compliance with this policy by FBI field offices and to report to the Committees on Appropriations regarding any violation of the policy.This provision seeks to expand the FBI ban beyond CAIR to include other HLF unindicted coconspirators such as the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT).Poole observes: What impact this new legislation will have remains to be seen, but it is clearly intended to roll back the Obama administration’s penchant for relying on groups identified by government prosecutors as fronts for designated terrorist organizations as partners for “outreach.” Congressional officials expressed skepticism that the new legislation would permanently stop the schizophrenic government policy of engaging groups and individuals that the government itself has said are tied to terrorist groups, but it puts the Obama administration on notice that the days of the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” outreach policies are drawing to a close.Read Poole’s exposé in its entirety at PJ Media. The Muslim Brotherhood’s growth in America has expanded greatly since the 1990s, with their stated goal “that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ’sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands.” The Muslim Brotherhood’s plan to impose Shariah and censorship in America reaches into our media, our government, our military and law enforcement, our textbooks and our colleges. Anyone who openly opposes the Muslim Brotherhood – that would be well over 200 million Americans, according to polls – has been labeled an “islamophobe” by the leftwing media.
Enough is enough. Americans across the nation have started pushing back against the Muslim Brotherhood’s trademark intimidation and threats. The Center for Security Policy is tracking these efforts to expose and to eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence over how we talk and think, how we govern ourselves and enforce our laws, and how we make our own plans for our children’s future of freedom under the Constitution, not enslavement under Shariah law. We call it The Rollback.Read the full story here.
- The Obama Administration has abruptly sealed court Records Of Border Patrol’s Murder.(JW).The Obama Administration has abruptly sealed court records containing alarming details of how Mexican drug smugglers murdered a U.S. Border patrol agent with a gun connected to a failed federal experiment that allowed firearms to be smuggled into Mexico.This means information will now be kept from the public as well as the media. Could this be a cover-up on the part of the “most transparent” administration in history? After all, the rifle used to kill the federal agent (Brian Terry) last December in Arizona’s Peck Canyon was part of the now infamous Operation Fast and Furious. Conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the disastrous scheme allowed guns to be smuggled into Mexico so they could eventually be traced to drug cartels.Instead, federal law enforcement officers lost track of more than 1,000 guns which have been used in numerous crimes. In Terry’s case, five illegal immigrants armed with at least two semi-automatic assault rifles were hunting for U.S. Border Patrol agents near a desert watering hole just north of the Arizona-Mexico border when a firefight erupted and Terry got hit.We know this only because Washington D.C.’s conservative newspaper got ahold of the court documents before the government suddenly made them off limits. The now-sealed federal grand jury indictment tells the frightening story of how Terry was gunned down by Mexican drug smugglers patrolling the rugged desert with the intent to “intentionally and forcibly assault” Border Patrol agents. You can see why the administration wants to keep this information from the public and the media, considering the smugglers were essentially armed by the U.S. government. Truth is, no one will know the reason for the confiscation of public court records in this case because the judge’s decision to seal it was also sealed, according to the news story. That means the public or media won’t have access to any new or old evidence, filings, rulings or arguments.A number of high-ranking Border Patrol officials are questioning how the case is being handled. For instance, they wonder why the defendant (Manuel Osorio-Arellanes) hasn’t been tried even though it’s been almost a year since Terry’s murder. They also have concerns about the lack of transparency in the investigation, not to mention the recent sealing of the court case.Osorio-Arellanes is charged with second-degree murder. The four other drug smugglers fled the scene and their names were blacked out in the indictment. In 2006 Osorio-Arellanes had been convicted in Phoenix of felony aggravated assault and in 2010 he was twice detained for being in the U.S. illegally.During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this month to address the flawed gun-tracking program, Attorney General Eric Holder said it’s not fair to assume that mistakes in Operation Fast and Furious led to Terry’s death. Holder also expressed regret to the federal agent’s family, saying that he can only imagine their pain.Hmmm.......Thugocracy in it's natural habitat.Read the full story here.
- Russian navy “Admiral Kuznetsov” class aircraft carrier nears Cyprus drilling zone.(FamagustaGazette).THE “Admiral Kuznetsov” class aircraft carrier is currently off the coast of Malta and heading for eastern Mediterranean from their base in the Barents Sea.Informed sources have said that the Russian navy and Israeli military will hold joint exercises next week close to Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone. The exercises are slated to begin on the 28th November and last a week.Commentators say that Russia is determined to send the message that they have invested interests in the region and will secure them.It is understood that the aircraft carrier is carrying 24-fixed wing planes and a number of helicopters. It has also been reported in the press that the Russian navy may request to use port facilities at Limassol.The radio report also claimed that three Russian destroyers are currently anchored off the Syrian coast. Russia's naval supply and maintenance site near Syria's Mediterranean port of Tartus will be modernized to accommodate heavy warships after 2012, the Russian Navy chief said earlier this week."Tartus will be developed as a naval base. The first stage of development and modernization will be completed in 2012," Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky said, adding it could then serve as a base for guided-missile cruisers and even aircraft carriers.The Soviet-era facility is operated under a 1971 agreement by Russian personnel.Russian relations with Cyprus are at their best in many years. Last month, the Russian Ambassador to Cyprus Vyacheslav Shumskiy said that Moscow fully supports the sovereign right of Cyprus to exploit its natural resources.“Our position is absolutely clear , and we were among the first countries to comment on that, and we totally support the sovereign right of the Cypriot people for exploitation of natural resources , this is totally in accordance with the international law and with the EU regulations, so there is no doubt about that”, he noted.Invited to comment on Turkish threats against Cyprus, he said that Turkey’s position is not “very wise”.Read the full story here.
- As predicted, Arab League and Turkey reportedly plan no-fly zone over Syria with U.S. logistical support.(BlacklistedNews).By Madison Ruppert,Editor of End the Lie. Al Bawaba revealed that anonymous “Senior European sources” said that America will provide logistical support for Arab fighter jets and possibly Turkish warplanes in an effort to implement a no-fly zone over Syrian airspace.This would come after the Arab League, who has already booted Syria, will issue a decision calling for the protection of civilians in Syria, as was the case with the UN’s resolution to “protect” civilians in Libya.It appears that the Arab League is opting to spearhead this effort because of Russian and Chinese opposition in the United Nations Security Council.However, this would not change the real fact that Russia is wholly opposed to any foreign intervention in Syria whatsoever, as evidenced by their move to send warships into Syrian waters.Unfortunately it seems that some Syrians are actually ignorant enough to call for a no-fly zone themselves.One can only assume that they have been solely consuming the whitewashed Western establishment news which glossed over the massive civilian deaths in Libya as a result of NATO “protecting” them.The unnamed senior European sources told the Kuwaiti al Rai daily that the no-fly zone will also include a total ban on movement of the Syrian government’s military vehicles.Claiming that this would be aimed at curbing the movements of Bashar al-Assad’s forces, they will restrict the movement of all tanks, personnel carriers and artillery.They claim that the no-fly zone and ban on the movement of military vehicles will cripple the Assad government’s ability to bomb cities and could paralyze the Syrian government forces “in less than 24 hours.”Al Rai also reports that the Turkish General Staff’s leadership said that they would not launch an invasion into Syria in order to establish a so-called “buffer zone” which Riad al As’ad, the leader of the Free Syrian Army has previously called for.The Turks have apparently ruled out such an option and informed all of the parties involved with the evolving Syrian imbroglio that they will not be launching such a “buffer zone” mission to protect fleeing civilians for reasons which are not yet clear.The Syrian National Council, or SNC, which was created in the mold of the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) has explicitly voiced full support for the Free Syrian Army, which amounts to nothing short of an armed terrorist group.The looming issue is that the countries involved could bring the wrath of countries like Russia and China on their heads for intervening in Syria, and as Assad has previously said, it could very well lead to an “earthquake” in the region if the West intervenes.Israeli news outlet YNet News said that the plan is already complete and that it will not only restrict the movement of the Syrian military but also follow Assad’s Presidential Palace, military command and intelligence activities. These countries making such a decision to intervene in Syria while knowing that it very well could spark a larger conflict with Russia and perhaps China is beyond any and all reason.The United States entering into such a conflict without so much as consulting our so-called representatives is similarly nonsensical and in typical fashion, an affront to everything America was founded upon.If the plan materializes, which it looks like it will, if al Rai’s reporting is accurate, the Obama administration will likely use the same ridiculous justification they used in the case of Libya, claiming that it does not amount to “hostilities” under the War Powers Act.During last night’s foreign policy debate the Republican candidate Rick Perry supported a no-fly zone over Syria, despite the considerable threats that would arise if we were to assist in such an operation.Then again, given that Rick Perry can’t even remember his own platform; I don’t expect him to grasp even the most simple of foreign policy matters.What is even more worrisome is that Russia and China might not be the only ones involved in opposing intervention in Syria.Indeed in mid-August the spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast, warned against any Western intervention in Syria.“The events in Syria are its internal affair and there is no justification for any foreign intervention as it can only create many problems,” Mehmanparast said during a press conference.“Western leaders, especially Americans, are used to interfering in the internal affairs of countries and using any pretext to march with their military forces and occupy the country,” he correctly pointed out.He said that any American intervention in Syria will only serve to stoke the “public hatred” of the United States throughout the Middle East, which is likely the case, even if Washington falls back on the claim that they are only playing a support role just like they did in the case of Libya.Mehmanparast said that neighboring nations should held in “bringing stability to the region and resolving, through appropriate channels, the problems between the Syrian government and people who have claims,” which seems like a much more logical solution than supporting foreign intervention that will undoubtedly leave countless civilians dead as a result.Furthermore, an adviser to the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Iran sees Arab nations “meddling” in Syria to enact regime change and replace Assad with a government that is “submissive” to Israel, according to Bloomberg.The top Iranian human rights official, Mohammad Javad Larijani, said that the Arab League’s condemnation of Syria didn’t stem from any concern for human rights, seeing as a “good number” of the Arab League nations are guilty of human rights violations themselves.I find this analysis to be quite accurate, although to be fair Iran isn’t a saintly nation itself when it comes to human rights.Larijani also made another quite bold statement in saying, “Our position is that all the hands should be cut off from this kind of interference,” adding, “Iran’s future relations with Syria will be as strong as they are now.”The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, claimed in testimony before Congress, “Syria is essential to the extremely negative role that Iran has been able to play in the region. Take Hezbollah. The transit routes for the arms to Hezbollah are via Syria. The facilitation that Iran gives to Hezbollah to undermine the state of Lebanon, to put Israel at risk, to basically destabilize the region, it comes via Syria. Syria is basically Iran’s only friend.”As per usual, it comes out to the surface that one of the major driving forces behind the intervention is Israel, as any nation in the region that isn’t wholly subservient to Israel is immediately marked for regime change.Feltman also alleges that Iran is helping Syria repress the “demonstrations” as he puts it, when in reality they are actually armed gangs of terrorists attacking government forces and buildings.Mohammad Esmail Kowsari, the Deputy Chairman of the Iranian Majlis (Parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Committee also issued a grave warning to the United States should Washington decide to play a role in openly intervening in Syria.Kowsair said that American meddling would cost us dearly and that instead of meddling in Syrian domestic affairs Washington should focus on the demands of the Occupy Wall Street protesters at home.“Continued foreign intervention in Syria will only make the Syrian nation more united,” Kowsari said.Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also condemned the Western interference in domestic conflicts throughout the world, saying that such actions would push afflicted regions and the entire system of international relations into total chaos.Lavrov pointed out that economic and political reforms should be achieved through peaceful and inclusive negotiations that are broad in scope and include all social groups and political parties.Unfortunately, the Syrian opposition has declared that they will not have any discussions with Assad whatsoever, just like the Libyan opposition said about Gaddafi.Read the full story here.
- Report: Russia Sent Syria Super-Advanced S-300 Missiles.(INN).Russian warships that have reached waters off Syria in recent days were carrying, among other things, Russian technical advisors who will help the Syrians set up an array of S-300 missiles Damascus has received in recent weeks, a report in the London-based Arabic language Al Quds-Al Arabi said Thursday. Citing sources in Syria and Russia, the paper said that Moscow sees a Western attack on Syria as a “red line” that it will not tolerate.Despite the mounting opposition in the West and even in the Arab world against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad for his assaults on protesters seeking to unseat him as leader of the country, Russia maintains its support for Assad, the report said. Russian and Syria military officials are working together to maintain Assad's rule, and to deflect a possible attack by NATO or the U.S and EU.Along with the missiles, the report says that Russia has installed advanced radar systems in all key Syrian military and industrial installations. The radar system also covers areas north and south of Syria, where it will be able to detect movement of troops or aircraft towards the Syrian border. The radar targets include much of Israel, as well as the Incirlik military base in Turkey, which is used by NATO.The S-300 system is regarded as one of the most potent anti-aircraft missile systems available. The system's radar is able to simultaneously track up to 100 targets while engaging up to 12. Deployment time for the S-300 is five minutes, and they have a very long life span, with no maintenance needed.Russia had attempted to sell the system to Iran, but that sale was cancelled due to pressure by the U.S. and Israel, with Russia returning Iran's deposit. According to the report, the Iranians paid for Syria's S-300 missile system. It is not known if some of the missiles have reached Iran as well.Hmmmm.....Paid by Iran but placed in Syria?Read the full story here.
- Obama Administration Approving Only 35 Percent of Gulf Drilling Plans.(Heritage).A new report from a New Orleans-based group reveals that the Obama administration is approving just 35 percent of the oil drilling plans for the Gulf of Mexico so far this year. It is also taking an average of 115 days — nearly four months — to secure approval from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.Those numbers contrast sharply from previous years. This historical average is a 73.4% approval rate. The approval time has nearly doubled; the historical average is 61 days for the government to approve plans.For plans that require drilling activity, the numbers are even worse. New regulations require all deepwater drilling plans to undergo an environmental assessment process. Those plans have an average approval time of 222 days or more than seven months.The data were included in the latest release of the Gulf Permit Index from Greater New Orleans Inc. It has monitored this trend since last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The delays have continued for more than 18 months later.Greater New Orleans Inc. reported:
Drilling permits don’t fare much better under the Obama administration either. One sign of hope might be a recent uptick in shallow-water permits. Deep-water permit issuance continues to lag the monthly average observed in the year prior to the oil spill. Only 5.0 deep-water permits are being issued per month since September 2011, representing a 0.8-permit — or a 14% — monthly reduction from the average of 5.8 permits per month. This number also represents a 2.0-permit — or a 29% — reduction from the historical average of 7.0 permits per month over the past three years.Shallow-water permit issuance is rising above the historical average. Since September 2011, 8.3 shallow-water permits, on average, were issued. That number represents an increase of 1.2 permits — or 31% — from the monthly average of 7.1 permits per month observed in the year prior to the oil spill. However, this number represents a 6.4-permit — or a 44% — reduction from the historical average of 14.7 permits per month over the past three years.The slowdown of activity in the Gulf of Mexico is having an impact beyond Louisiana, where one deepwater rig can create 700 jobs locally. Lack of production harms employment across America. It also strips much-needed revenue from the federal government, according to Nick Loris, an energy expert at Heritage.“Allowing access for exploration and creating an efficient regulatory process that allows energy projects to move forward in a timely manner will not only increase revenue through more royalties, leases, and rent,” Loris recently wrote, “it will also create jobs and help lower energy prices in the process.”Hmmm.....If he really wanted to destroy America would he do anything different?A.K.A. ...Cloward-Piven Government. Read the full story here.
- Egypt’s police use sexual violence as weapon against female activists.(BikyaMasr).CAIRO: As a disturbing account of sexual violence against award-winning Egyptian-American writer Mona el-Tahawy flooded in Thursday morning, many in Egypt are reminded of the countless sexual-based crimes suffered by women at the hands of Egyptian state authorities over the last year.“5 or 6 surrounded me, groped and prodded my breasts, grabbed my genital area and I lost count how many hands tried to get into my trousers,” el-Tahawy detailed on her official Twitter account Thursday morning, describing the crimes she suffered at the hands of Egypt police the night before.Reports of sexual violence against female demonstrators have littered the news in Cairo, where sexual harassment and violence is a distinct societal problem.An Amnesty International report published in March documented reports of female activists in Egypt who were beaten, given electric shocks, and subjected to strip searches, all while being photographed by male soldiers.They women were then forced to submit to “virginity checks” and threatened with prostitution charges.The statement from the UK-based human rights group added that this sort of treatment is torture when forced upon individuals.One activist, Samira Ibrahim, along with seven other women submitted a formal complaint about the sexual abuse they suffered in military detention last March.They women were abused and subjected to forced virginity tests, as documented in the Amnesty International report.Military prosecutors, however, have come forward to deny that they sexually abused the women, who were arrested at a demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on March 9, under accusations that they were attempting to attack Egyptian army officers.“The military prosecution has no prisons,” said the head of Egypt’s military prosecution, Hamdy Bedein, denying the charges completely.However, in May, an unnamed Egyptian general told CNN that the tests were indeed conducted. Surprisingly, he attempted to defend them.“The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine,” the general said in the interview.“These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and (drugs). We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place. None of them were (virgins).”According to a 2008 study published by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR), 60 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women are harassed on a daily basis.Read the full story here.
- Cross removed at U.S. base in Afghanistan.(Politico).A large cross that had been prominently displayed outside a chapel on an isolated military base in northern Afghanistan was taken down last week, prompting outrage from some American service members stationed there.“We are here away from our families, and the chapel is the one place that feels like home,” a service member at Camp Marmal told POLITICO. “With the cross on the outside, it is a constant reminder for all of us that Jesus is here for us.”“Not having it there is really upsetting,” added another. “I walk by the chapel daily on the way to chow and the gym, and seeing the cross is a daily reminder of my faith and what Jesus accomplished for me. It is daily inspiration and motivation for me to acknowledge my faith and stay on the right path.”Camp Marmal is a German base that hosts NATO forces. The interfaith chapel in question is supervised by the U.S. Army.The soldiers said they found great comfort in the chapel — and the cross visible outside. “Sometimes the Church and the ability to openly express religious views ultimately gets people through the deployments over here,” one told POLITICO by email.The service member said he asked the base chaplain, a military officer, what had happened to the cross. “I had to take it down,” said the chaplain, according to the solider, without further explanation.Pentagon spokesperson Commander William Speaks confirmed the cross was removed and told POLITICO, “The removal was, in fact, in accordance with Army regulations” and pointed out that the Army chaplain manual prohibits permanent display of religious symbols.“Distinctive religious symbols, such as crosses… will not be affixed or displayed permanently on the chapel interior, exterior or grounds,” reads the manual.Speaks said the cross had been up since mid-October; the service members said it was longer.The two characterized the removal of the cross as an attack on their religion and noted that there had been no complaints from Muslims — there are two mosques on the base — or Jews, who had recently conducted a service in the chapel without incident.“I really don’t understand why Christians are always attacked. If it was a crescent moon on top of a mosque, it would never be taken down,” said an Army serviceman.“We would just like to know where the line is. The chaplains wear different religious symbols on their uniforms depending on which religion they are. Is that the next thing to be targeted?” added a second service member.Hmmm....Commander In chief "“I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”.Read the full story here.
- Bully Turkey to EU on Cuprus: “Half-Country” To Lead a “Miserable” Union.(KTG).Turkey cannot hide its anger over that Cyprus will take over the EU’s rotating presidency in July 2012. And every once in a while, Ankaras uses all possible chances to express its disapproval. This time it was Turkish president Abdullah Gul who expressed his anger in a delirium: “Greek Cyprus was made an EU member by violating all the standard procedures without seeing the process through to the end, meaning that now, when it takes over the EU’s rotating presidency in July of next year, it will be a “half-country” leading a “miserable” union, President Abdullah Gül said on his official visit to London this week.Speaking to journalists from Turkey in London, where he is on an official visit, Gül said Turkey will protest Cyprus serving as president of the rotating EU in July 2012.Gül noted that talks between the EU and Turkey have been stalled for a long time, saying that almost all of the negotiation chapters have been frozen and that there is little possibility to open any of them at this time. “We have said that this hurts the EU’s reputation greatly. This might greatly discredit the EU starting in the first half of 2012. Can you imagine? The Greek Cypriot administration joined the EU, violating all the principles of the union, in a half-done manner, in an incomplete way. This was their first example of violating the principles of this family. And now, this half-country, this incomplete nation, will serve as EU president. You have such a union, but the presidency will be that of half a country. It will be half a country leading a miserable union,” Gül told Turkish journalists, using the word “miserable” in English, and adding that he has said the same words to EU officials.Gül said Turkey would not participate in any meetings to be chaired by Cyprus but has no problems with continuing to work with the commission. (Today’s Zaman)PS: How can you join a club if you don’t agree with its rules and you don’t accept all its members?Hmmm.....The Mediterranean is mine...all mine!Read the full story here.
- 'Strike fallout can never be as bad as nuclear Iran'.(DocsTalk).By Yaakov Lappin.Former Mossad head Danny Yatom says Israel can't afford to wonder if Tehran "will go crazy and throw a bomb on us."Striking Iran’s nuclear sites, no matter how destructive, can never be as bad for Israel as an Iran armed with nuclear weapons, former Mossad chief Danny Yatom said on Wednesday at a security conference at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. Yatom took up a position that is diametrically opposed to that of another former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, who sparked significant controversy by stating earlier this year that an attack on Iran would be a foolish move that would lead to a war with an unknown outcome.“There is a big argument over whether to attack Iran or not,” Yatom said. “The argument is legitimate. Some say Israel will pay a high price, no matter who does the attacking.”“As difficult a price it may be, and even if those predicting apocalyptic results are correct – and I don’t think they are – this is still not as bad as the threat of an Iranian nuclear bomb,” he argued.Israel can’t afford to find itself in the position of having “to wake up every morning and ask, ‘Will they go crazy and throw a bomb on us or not?’” Yatom said, adding that “the damage that an Iranian nuclear bomb can cause is so great.”It was impossible to stake the nation’s security on predictions by those who claim a nuclear Iran can be deterred, and that the Iranian regime would not launch a nuclear attack, he said.Yatom acknowledged that rocket attacks would likely ensue from Lebanon and Gaza following a strike, but added that Israel’s response would be “so painful and crushing that rockets will come to an end.”“Civilian facilities and infrastructures in Lebanon and Gaza will be hit. Innocent civilians could be hurt.But the barrage of rockets will no longer be falling over our heads,” he added.The world did not have much time left to act on Iran, the former Mossad head warned, adding that “there is an evaluation that they crossed the red line.They have the knowledge to make the bomb. All that is needed now is the decision to do it... The world has a year, probably less.”He also doubted that sanctions would be effective.Addressing the option of targeting Iran with covert operations, Yatom said that whether or not Israel was linked to such acts, they “won’t stop Iran. They either will have the bomb or not. I think force will have to be used. I don’t think Israel should lead. This is a world problem... [But] should the world stand on the sidelines, Israel will be fully entitled to use its natural right to self-defense.”Hmmm......."Pour les vaincre, messieurs, il nous faut de l'audace, et encore de l'audace, et toujours de l'audace".Read the full story here.
- Israel's Contingency Plan - An Alternative to the Palestinian Authority.(DocsTalk).Exposé: Israel's Plan to Replace the Palestinian Authority.(translation from Makor Rishon by Jameel @ The Muqata Blog)By Ariel Kahane, Makor Rishon Newspaper: The first exposure of Israel's contingency plan to replace the Palestinian Authority.Under this plan, supported by some of the government's ministers, Israel will establish an autonomy or Arab autonomous regions in Judea and Samaria, in response to unilateral moves by the PA which breach existing agreements.Possibilities [of breaching agreements] include [the PA] setting up a joint government with Hamas, or returning to the track of unilateral declaration, as threatened by the PA in September. The linchpin of the plan is based on Hebron's Sheikh Mukhtar Abu-Khader al-Jabri, who had long challenged the PA and even controls security forces. In recent years, al-Jabari cultivated his contacts with Israeli officials, including settlers. In this context, three months ago, he participated in a secret meeting in Tel Aviv which discussed the possibility of alternative forces that could replace the PA. The meeting was held at the home of former minister Rafi Eitan, who has longstanding ties with al-Jabari clan and other independent forces in Judea and Samaria. Also in attendance were Cabinet Minister Yisrael Katz, a representative of the General Security Service, historians, experts in Palestinian society and figures close to al-Jabari.At the meeting, Al-Jabri presented details of his worldview that rejects the establishment of a Palestinian State -- he outlined his support for the establishment of an autonomous region which would rely on the State of Israel, and would be free of terrorism. He clarified that he, his staff and especially the Palestinian population are interested in improving their financial situation which greatly deteriorated due to PA policy. As an example, he noted that the PA completely destroyed the Hebron-area marble industry, many of whom made their living from it in the Hebron mountain area, by taxing marble exports. He clarified that in addition to him, there are other area leaders that support his approach against the PA, if they knew that Israel would agree to cooperate with them. "I am not your collaborator. I am not Antoine Lahad or Bashir Gemayel, but I need to know if we act together, you will agree to recognize us and cooperate." To this end he asked that Israel will agree to issue identity cards to him and the rest of the population.At this stage of the meeting, he passed the ball to the Minister Katz, who is considered close to Netanyahu. Those present at the meeting imply that Katz was represented Netanyahu's position. Katz made it clear that he would not in any way grant Israeli citizenship to residents because it contradicts the basis of the Zionist idea. However, he noted that in the event that the PA violated the agreements, Israel would be liberated from them. And so "if there will be a unilateral move, we will evaluate recognizing them."Later in the session, other aspects of the idea were discussed. 'Makor Rishon' learned that details about the meeting were transferred to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the GSS and the National Security Council. A senior official in Jerusalem revealed that at one point the idea started to wane under heavy pressure and explicit threats by PA to al-Jabari. With the process slowdown at United Nations [of unilateral statehood], options for alternatives are now off the table. However, the developments over the last days which show a serious effort by Abu Mazen to establish a joint government with Hamas, raises anew the need to examine alternatives to the PA. "If Abbas goes to Hamas, we can definitely establish an autonomy," the senior official said.Minister Katz yesterday confirmed the information and expressed support for the idea. He said that "if there is a change in the current situation and the PA will break the dishes, I'll lead an Israeli initiative to recognize the autonomy of this kind. This seems a correct and realistic response."In the context of "internal Palestinian unity", there is a significant meeting in Cairo taking place today between PA Chairman and Fatah member, Mahmoud Abbas, and the head of Hamas, Khaled Meshal. Abbas would like to establish a joint government with Hamas, but is under heavy pressure by the Americans and Europeans. European Union Ambassador to Israel, Andrew Standley, stressed yesterday that the EU "stands with its full weight on the demand that Hamas will fulfill the Quartet's conditions" (recognizing Israel, abandoning terrorism and recognition of agreements between Israel and the PA). He made it clear that any other publication [of an alternative EU policy] is a "fabrication", as he put it. At the same time the U.S. gave Abbas a clear threat that if he establishes a unified government with Hamas, he would lose the budgetary and political support of Washington. This was made very clear to him yesterday by deputy U.S. secretary of state, William Burns.Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman made it clear yesterday that "if a Hamas and Fatah unity government is established, and it does not sharply and clearly, without reservations or vague statement, agree to the Quartet's conditions -- Israel will not recognize it, nor conduct any dialogue nor transfer it one shekel." Lieberman said that "PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, is trying to place lots of pressure on the international community - so that Israel will transfer money to the PA and at the same time he is working energetically to establish a government with Hamas -- which does not recognize the requirements of the international community to stop terror and respect the agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinians, and continues to call for Israel's destruction. Israel will not transfer funds to those interested in its destruction, and if Abu-Mazan wants to be a partner of Hamas, it is clear that he is not a partner for peace."Read the full story here.
- Yishai calls for Israeli presence in Joseph's Tomb.(YNet).Some 1,500 worshippers led by Interior Minister Eli Yishai arrived at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus on Wednesday night. The visit was coordinated with the IDF and the police. "It's a huge privilege to be here," Yishai said. "Joseph's Tomb belongs to us. Of course we should resume full presence in Joseph's Tomb. The current situation is a blunt violation of the Oslo Accords and that must be fixed. "Police arrested 13 Israelis who entered Nablus illegally including three who are under restraining orders. They were turned over for questioning. A Palestinian who hurled stones at an IDF force was also arrested.Minister Yishai said, "The visit here is important and I hope the impairments will be corrected. The answer to the Palestinian Authority is to act according to what we believe in." Leaving the compound, the interior minister also addressed the issue of settlement construction. "Building permits are the right answer to the many violations of agreements by the Palestinian Authority but that's not enough," he said.Asked about the issue of women soldiers' singing, he said: "If we want haredim to serve in the army we must find a way to allow them to serve and at the same time maintain their beliefs and way of life." Since the second intifada, Joseph's Tomb has been under Palestinian control. The IDF allows organized groups to visit the site at nights. However, some breslov hassidic groups arrive at the compound without coordinating their visits. The passing year has seen recurring clashes between Israeli worshippers and Palestinians with IDF forces caught in the middle. Last April, 24-year-old Joseph Ben-Livnat was shot to death by Palestinian officers in an incident at the site. Read the full story here.
- In Egypt, Official Campaign against Foreign Funding of Civil Society Organizations Sparks Controversy, Crisis with U.S..(Memri).A debate is raging in Egypt over foreign funding provided to civil society organizations, especially by the U.S. Egypt's interim government, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which is facing criticism from many civil organizations for its management of the country's affairs, has tried to challenge the legitimacy of these organizations by criticizing their sources of funding, claiming that foreign funding constitutes interference in Egypt' s affairs and a threat to its stability. The government press adopted the SCAF's line, as did most other civil and political forces in Egypt. In fact, there seems to be a consensus in the country against foreign funding, which has oiled the wheels of the SCAF's campaign against the civil organizations. Egypt's Minister of Social Solidarity Gouda 'Abd Al-Khaleq announced the establishment of a committee under his chairmanship that will reassess Egypt's Associations and Foundations Law, especially the clauses on funding from abroad. A report ordered by the Justice Ministry stated that the funding provided by foreign countries – Arab and other – to organizations and individuals in the past six months amounted to one billion Egyptian liras (roughly $167 million). Reports have it that, as part of the investigation into foreign aid, the heads of several associations were called in for questioning, and Egypt's banks were asked to submit information on the accounts of 28 Egyptian and foreign associations suspected of providing or accepting illegal foreign funding. In response, 39 social organizations submitted a request to Prime Minister 'Essam Sharaf to change the Associations and Foundations Law such that social organizations would operate with transparency but independently.The issue has also caused a crisis in Egypt-U.S. relations, after Egypt claimed that aid to civil organizations contravened Egyptian law and international legal norms.[The debate in the Egyptian press has focused on American aid, but there have also been reports of organizations funded by the Gulf states. For example, Deputy Justice Minister 'Omar Al-Sharif accused four associations, two of them Coptic and one of them Salafi, of receiving money from Qatar. The Salafi association admitted to receiving funds from this country, as well as from the UAE and Kuwait, but stated that the sums were much lower than reported; the Coptic Evangelical Organization – one of the Coptic associations accused by Al-Sharif – denied the allegation. Criticism was also heard, especially from Shi'ites and liberals, regarding Salafi figures and groups that are funded by Saudi Arabia. The Saudi ambassador to Egypt denied the claim. Egyptian liberal playwright 'Ali Salem wrote in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that the policy of aiding defenders of democracy and freedom was useless and belonged to the Cold War era. He called on organizations to rely only on Egyptian funding sources, saying that those who received foreign aid were likely to be suspected of "unpatriotic" tendencies and of promoting a foreign agenda.The Muslim Brotherhood likewise associated foreign aid with the Mubarak regime, which had "obeyed every directive of the American administration." In an announcement, the movement mentioned that, during a visit to Cairo, U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson had asked Egypt to cease its investigations into the foreign aid issue, a request they called flagrant and contemptible intervention in Egypt's domestic affairs. The announcement said further that receiving American funding "is forbidden, corrupts political life, and disgraces" the recipients.There were a few who expressed a different opinion. Hafez Abu Sa'ada, secretary-general of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights and a member of Egypt's National Council for Human Rights, expressed puzzlement at the ban on foreign aid, saying it had been a common phenomenon prior to the January 25 revolution. He said that he did not understand the reason for the prohibition, considering that the aid was transferred openly and in a supervised manner. Similar statements were made by George Ishaq, a member of the National Association for Change, which was founded by former IAEA director general and current presidential candidate Mohammed Elbaradei.Sa'd Al-Din Ibrahim, head of the Ibn Khaldoun Center for Development Studies, said that foreign funding was anchored in law, and called on the SCAF to expose its own foreign funds, as well as those provided to the Salafis, warning against the Salafis' hijacking the revolution. Coptic activist Magdi Khalil also wrote that he failed to see the problem with foreign aid. Referring to Al-Rawini's allegations against the April 6 Youth that its members had trained in Serbia, he said that, if true, this was "a credit to the movement, because it used peaceful means to bring about a great revolution, which the whole world has praised."The foreign funding issue triggered tension between Egypt and the U.S., which the Egyptian press described as a crisis of "unprecedented" proportions (though the sides also stressed that their relations were "strategic"). The disagreement centered mainly on the procedure of transferring funds to civil society organizations, with the U.S. favoring direct contact with the organizations and Egypt demanding that all aid pass through the government. One reflection of the crisis was the recall from Egypt of James Bever, director of USAID, only 10 months after his appointment. According the daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Bever left after an Egyptian senior official impeded USAID's activities. The U.S. administration expressed great concern over Egypt's hostility, which American officials blamed on the Egyptian authorities, while the SCAF remained silent on the issue of Egypt-U.S. relations.The daily Al-Ahram said that the U.S. had violated understandings between the two countries when it announced that, following the revolution, $150 million of the aid to Egypt would be used to support democracy there by funding associations, both registered and unregistered. The daily Al-Shurouq reported that the U.S. had offered to disclose the names of the Egyptian organizations that received funding, on the condition that Egypt would not harm them. Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation Faiza Abu Al-Naga said that the U.S. did, in fact, submit to the Egyptian government a list of 26 organizations that had received funds in the amount of $53 million. She stressed, however, that the disclosure of their names did not justify their act of accepting foreign aid. The daily Al-Misriyoun reported that, according to the agreement between the two countries, the U.S. would continue to provide aid to civil organizations, but would report all such aid to the Egyptian authorities.The Egyptian government press's opposition to foreign aid was also manifest in articles attacking the U.S. and questioning its motives. Mohsen Hassanin, editor of the weekly October, wrote that the hatred for the U.S. stemmed from its clear inclination in favor of Israel at the expense of the Arab countries: "The spokeswoman for the American State Department forgot, or pretended to forget, that Egyptian public opinion, and Arab public opinion in general, need no 'warming up' in order to hate the U.S., which blindly favors Israel at the expense of the legitimate Arab rights, and overlooks [Israel's] ugly crimes against the Palestinians, as well as [Israel's] intervention in the affairs of many Arab countries, including Egypt. This is enough to arouse rage and hatred among every patriot against the American administration and its agents...."Muhammad 'Ali Ibrahim, former editor of the government daily Al-Gumhouriyya, questioned the motives behind the U.S. funding of Egyptian organizations. He suggested that, in return for this aid, the U.S. expected the civil organizations to oversee Egypt's next elections and then question the results, so as to generate anarchy and confusion. He said that Egypt's civil society wanted to achieve "free and independent" democracy, as opposed to what the U.S. tried to advance in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Ukraine, Georgia, and other countries, which he said "suffered from dictatorships [and] then suffered from democratic anarchy." He called on Egypt's civil organizations to renounce American aid – just as the Egyptian government had renounced aid from the IMF and the World Bank – and thus avoid falling into "the trap [the U.S. set] for Egypt's pure revolution."Hmmmm....For a minute i thought hearing Grand Ayatollah Khomeini?Read the full story here.
- Pakistan - Woman murders husband because he had planned to marry another woman without her permission, then tries to cook his body parts.(Emirates24/7).Pakistani police on Thursday arrested a woman who had killed her husband and was attempting to cook his body parts after he planned to marry another woman without her permission.The police arrested Zainab Bibi, 32, and her nephew Zaheer, 22, in the Shah Faisal colony of Pakistan's southern megacity Karachi, and recovered the bowl of flesh she planned to cook, said police chief for the area Nadeem Baig."They killed Ahmed Abbas, Zainab's husband, and chopped his body into pieces and were about to cook the flesh in a bowl," he told AFP, adding that the knife with which they killed the man had been recovered.Television networks showed gruesome footage of the human flesh in a bowl ready for the stove.A neighbour had alerted the police and investigations were ongoing, said Baig."There could be two factors behind her intention to cook the husband. One is to destroy the evidence and the other could be her immense hatred against him," over his plan to marry another woman, he said.According to family law in the Islamic country, a man has to get permission from his first wife before his second marriage, but the law is rarely observed.Hmmm.....The silence of the casserole?Read the full story here.
- Newly found ancient coins overturned widely held beliefs about the origins of Jerusalem's Western Wall.(AD).Israeli archaeologists on Wednesday said they had found ancient coins that overturned widely held beliefs about the origins of Jerusalem's Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest sites.Newly found coins underneath Jerusalem's Western Wall could change the accepted belief about the construction of one of the world's most sacred sites two millennia ago, Israeli archaeologists said Wednesday.The man usually credited with building the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary is Herod, a Jewish ruler who died in 4 B.C. Herod's monumental compound replaced and expanded a much older Jewish temple complex on the same site.But archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority now say diggers have found coins underneath the massive foundation stones of the compound's Western Wall that were stamped by a Roman proconsul 20 years after Herod's death. That indicates that Herod did not build the wall - part of which is venerated as Judaism's holiest prayer site - and that construction was not close to being complete when he died."The find changes the way we see the construction, and shows it lasted for longer than we originally thought," said the dig's co-director, Eli Shukron.The four bronze coins were stamped around 17 A.D. by the Roman official Valerius Gratus. He preceded Pontius Pilate of the New Testament story as Rome's representative in Jerusalem, according to Ronny Reich of Haifa University, one of the two archaeologists in charge of the dig.The coins were found inside a ritual bath that predated construction of the renovated Temple Mount complex and which was filled in to support the new walls, Reich said.They show that construction of the Western Wall had not even begun at the time of Herod's death. Instead, it was likely completed only generations later by one of his descendants.The coins confirm a contemporary account by Josephus Flavius, a Jewish general who became a Roman historian. Writing after a Jewish revolt against Rome and the destruction of the Temple by legionnaires in 70 A.D., he recounted that work on the Temple Mount had been completed only by King Agrippa II, Herod's great-grandson, two decades before the entire compound was destroyed.Scholars have long been familiar with Josephus' account, but the find is nonetheless important because it offers the "first clear-cut archaeological evidence that part of the enclosure wall was not built by Herod," said archaeologist Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University, who was not involved in the dig.Josephus also wrote that the end of construction left 18,000 workmen unemployed in Jerusalem. Some historians have linked this to discontent that eventually erupted in the Jewish revolt.The compound, controlled since 1967 by Israel, now houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the golden-capped Muslim shrine known as the Dome of the Rock. The fact that the compound is holy both to Jews and Muslims makes it one of the world's most sensitive religious sites.The dig in which the coins were discovered cleared a Roman-era drainage tunnel that begins at the biblical Pool of Siloam, one of the city's original water sources, and terminates with a climb up a ladder out onto a 2,000-year-old street inside Jerusalem's Old City. The tunnel runs by the foundation stones of the compound's western wall, where the coins were found.The drainage tunnel was excavated as part of the dig at the City of David, which is perhaps Israel's richest archaeological excavation and its most contentious.The dig is being carried out inside the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, and is funded by a group associated with the Israeli settlement movement that opposes any division of the city as part of a future peace deal.The excavation of the tunnel has also yielded a Roman sword, oil lamps, pots and coins that scholars believe are likely debris from an attempt by Jewish rebels to hide in the underground passage as they fled from the Roman soldiers.Read the full story here.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Chile 5.4 - 5.3 ; Greece 5.3!More info here.
- Japan : For the most accurate info on the nuclear disaster go to : Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog.Here.
- Canary Islands - El Hierro earthquake and volcano eruption – Update 21. here , Live webcams here and here.
- Egypt LiveBlog: Déjà Vu All Over Again . Here.
- Barack Obama, Emperor of Insolvency.(DougRoss).The lede in today's coverage of the U.S. deficit struggle ("Obama reopens debate on US stimulus") at the Financial Times is troubling on two fronts.Barack Obama sought to reignite the debate over an economic stimulus package on Tuesday, demanding that a bitterly divided Congress pass an extension of payroll tax cuts before the end of the year.“We still have to give the economy the jolt that it needs,” the US president said on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, a day after a bipartisan committee failed to agree on a $1,200bn deficit reduction package. He added he would do “everything in his power, with or without Congress”. Consider:
• Fact: the "payroll tax cuts" simply accelerate the collapse of the Social Security system
• And what kind of president talks about operating "without Congress"?
Our beloved Dictator-in-Chief knows that America is insolvent, that Social Security is headed for collapse, and that Obamacare simply hastens the implosion. Hmmm.....Now read the following 'Flashback'.Read the full story here.
- 'Flashback' - Why he's really Destroying America: Cloward-Piven Government.(AT).It is time to cast aside all remaining doubt. President Obama is not trying to lead America forward to recovery, prosperity and strength. Quite the opposite, in fact.In September of last year(2008), American Thinker published my article, Barack Obama and the Strategy of Manufactured Crisis. Part of a series, it connected then-presidential candidate Barack Obama to individuals and organizations practicing a malevolent strategy for destroying our economy and our system of government. Since then, the story of that strategy has found its way across the blogosphere, onto the airwaves of radio stations across the country, the Glenn Beck television show, Bill O'Reilly, and now Mark Levin.The methodology is known as the Cloward-Piven Strategy, and we can all be grateful to David Horowitz and his Discover the Networks for originally exposing and explaining it to us. He describes it as: The strategy of forcing political change through orchestrated crisis. The "Cloward-Piven Strategy" seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven were two lifelong members of Democratic Socialists of America who taught sociology at Columbia University (Piven later went on to City University of New York). In a May 1966 Nation magazine article titled "The Weight of the Poor," they outlined their strategy, proposing to use grassroots radical organizations to push ever more strident demands for public services at all levels of government. The result, they predicted, would be "a profound financial and political crisis" that would unleash "powerful forces ... for major economic reform at the national level."They implemented the strategy by creating a succession of radical organizations, most notable among them the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), with the help of veteran organizer Wade Rathke. Their crowning achievement was the "Motor Voter" act, signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993 with Cloward and Piven standing behind him.As we now know, ACORN was one of the chief drivers of high-risk mortgage lending that eventually led to the financial crisis. But the Motor Voter law was another component of the strategy. It created vast vulnerabilities in our electoral system, which ACORN then exploited.ACORN's vote registration scandals throughout the U.S. are predictable fallout. The Motor Voter law has also been used to open another vulnerability in the system: the registration of vast numbers of illegal aliens, who then reliably vote Democrat. Herein lies the real reason Democrats are so anxious for open borders, security be damned.It should be clear to anyone with a mind and two eyes that this president and this Congress do not have our interests at heart. They are implementing this strategy on an unprecedented scale by flooding America with a tidal wave of poisonous initiatives, orders, regulations, and laws. As Rahm Emmanuel said, "A crisis is a terrible thing to waste."The real goal of "health care" legislation, the real goal of "cap-and-trade," and the real goal of the "stimulus" is to rip the guts out of our private economy and transfer wide swaths of it over to the government to control. Do not be deluded by the propaganda. These initiatives are vehicles for change. They are not goals in and of themselves except in their ability to deliver power. They and will make matters much worse, for that is their design. This time, in addition to overwhelming the government with demands for services, Obama and the Democrats are overwhelming political opposition to their plans with a flood of apocalyptic legislation. Their ultimate goal is to leave us so discouraged, demoralized, and exhausted that we throw our hands up in defeat. As Charles Rangel* said, "the middle class will be too distracted to fight."These people are our enemies. They don't use guns, yet, but they are just as dangerous, determined, and duplicitous as the communists we faced in the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, and bush wars across the globe, and the Nazis we faced in World War II.It is time we fully internalized and digested this fact, with all its ugly ramifications. These people have violated countless laws and could be prosecuted, had we the political power. Not only are their policies unconstitutional, but deliberately so -- the goal being to make the Constitution irrelevant. Their spending is off the charts and will drive us into hyperinflation, but it could be rescinded, had we the political power. These policies are toxic, but they could be stopped and reversed, had we the political power. Their ideologies are poisonous, but they could be exposed for what they are, with long jail sentences as an object lesson, had we the political power. Every single citizen who cares about this country should be spending every minute of his or her spare time lobbying, organizing, writing, and planning. Fight every initiative they launch. It is all destructive. If we are to root out this evil, it is critical that in 2010 we elect competent, principled leaders willing to defend our Constitution and our country. Otherwise, the malevolent cabal that occupies the government today will become too entrenched.After that, all bets are off.Hmmm.....I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes. ~ Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776.Read the full story here.
- "CHANGE" - Turkey Day Inflation: Thanksgiving Dinner Up 13% Over Last Year.(SHTF).A new report from the American Farm Bureau Federation says that Thanksgiving dinner will cost Americans 13% more this year than it did in 2010, yet another indicator that price inflation with respect to necessities like food and energy is not a transitory phenomenon.The retail cost of menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings increased about 13 percent this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.AFBF’s 26th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.20, a $5.73 price increase from last year’s average of $43.47.In addition, “the era of grocers holding the line on retail food cost increases is basically over,” Anderson explained. “Retailers are being more aggressive about passing on higher costs for shipping, processing and storing food to consumers, although turkeys may still be featured in special sales and promotions close to Thanksgiving.A total of 141 volunteer shoppers from 35 states participated in this year’s survey. Farm Bureau’s survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.Hmmm....My guess not many will be thankfull for the "Obama Change".Read the full story here.
- Turkey, Israel clash over gas drilling.(JPost).ANKARA - Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Wednesday Israeli and Cypriot energy exploration in the Mediterranean was illegal, agreement should first be reached with all relevant parties, and resources should be equally shared.Turkey and Cyprus are in dispute over the energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean and Texas-based Noble Energy started drilling in September a Cypriot offshore block abutting another block controlled by Israel.The Foreign Ministry shot back at the Turkish accusation, telling The Jerusalem Post that, "Israel strictly abides by international law." "If Turkey wants to lay claim to Israeli resources then it should do so through the UN and not through the media," the ministry spokesperson said.Turkey is the only government to recognize the breakaway northern Cyprus, run by a Turkish Cypriot administration, as a separate state, though it backs reunification talks. In September, Turkey began exploring for gas in an offshore zone where Cyprus had started drilling the previous week.Israel is also drilling nearby, and the issue has emerged as a further bone of contention between Turkey and the Jewish state. Long Israel's rare Middle East ally, Ankara has downgraded ties over Israel's refusal to apologize for a deadly raid last year on a Turkish aid flotilla.The question of who has the right to tap deposits in a region holding the world's biggest natural gas find of the past decade has added urgency to efforts to settle the conflict over Cyprus, divided since 1974 into Greek and Turkish enclaves.Israel has gradually boosted naval patrols around its east Mediterranean natural gas fields for fear of guerrilla attacks and as the maritime rivalry with Turkey deepens, an Israeli official said on Monday.Missile boats have stepped up missions around the Tamar and Leviathan gas platforms over the past year, as well as coordination with private security firms contracted by the US-Israeli exploration consortium, the official said."We have replicated the arrangements already in place at Yam Tethys," the official said, referring to another Israeli gas field 40 km (25 miles) off southern Ashkelon port, near the waters of the Palestinian territory Gaza.Tamar and Leviathan, in which Israel sees a potential pipeline to energy independence, are around twice and three times as far out to sea, respectively. That challenges Israel's small navy, which is more accustomed to close coastal patrols.The Israeli military's newspaper Bamahane said the navy was undergoing expansion including the appointment of a commodore to handle the induction of two more German-made submarines and address "the new need to protect the drilling rigs."Hmmm...... The Mediterranean is mine All Mine?Read the full story here.
- Unholy Alliance: Egypt's Military And The Muslim Brotherhood.(Huffingtonpost).By Amb. Marc Ginsberg.Despite protestations of its purported political neutrality Egypt's besieged military leadership has been secretly funneling financial, food, and security support to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and its allied Salafist parties in the run up to next week's parliamentary elections. The assistance takes the form of "walk around" money, clothing and food giveaways secretly funneled to the coffers of the Brotherhood's front party -- the Freedom and Justice Party, the Construction and Development Party, as well as to allied Salafist Parties, including Al Nour, Al-Asalah, Al-Fadilah, Al Islah and others -- in a bid to buy votes and provide Islamist parties a military supported upper hand in the upcoming parliamentary elections.. The military leadership has not only channeled financial support to the Islamists, it has also secretly collaborated with Salafists who have attacked Copts throughout Egypt in a show of support for more punitive discriminatory acts against Egypt's Coptic minority to curry further favor with Salafists. Hundreds of Copts were attacked by unknown assailants en route to Cairo's Tahrir Square on November 18th the second night of demonstrations this month while security forces stood by. This latest attack comes in the wake of October's attack by the army which used live fire and drove military vehicles into a crowd of Copts protesting a rash of attacks on Copts and Coptic churches, killing 25 innocent protestors. According to information obtained from a reliable European military intelligence source with whom I met in Turkey a few days ago, an emissary of The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) met secretly with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist oriented political movements last April to establish local political "action committee" bank accounts to funnel an underground supply chain of financial and commodity support to local Islamist political organizations throughout Egypt outside the prying eyes of Cairo-based media. Hundreds of local Islamist political organization chapters throughout Egypt have been buying votes courtesy of military provided financial and food handouts.While it is impossible to determine the exact extent of the financial, clothing and food transfers, I was told by a prominent Egyptian journalist who is trying to uncover the magnitude of the payouts that it amounts to "millions of dollars." The military is not the sole source of funds to Islamists parties, which are also receiving funds from Egyptian businessmen trying to buy favor with the likely winners of Egypt's parliamentary elections, and charitable donations from wealthy Saudis. The SCAF's surreptitious political maneuvering favoring Islamists over more secular political movements is based on one simple equation -- the military is determined to prevent secularists from gaining a parliamentary majority which would likely impair its insatiable appetite for controlling Egypt's national budget and its own extensive business operations. It is determined to prevent a civilian government from interfering with its cherished prerogatives. Moreover, the vast majority of Egypt's rank and file soldiers come from more rural, conservative parts of Egypt, where support for Islamic parties is most pronounced. The SCAF is betting that its considerable support for Islamists will translate into long term loyalty among Egypt's post revolutionary conscripts as an insurance policy against potential efforts to interfere with the military's jealously guarded prerogatives.The outbreak of unrest throughout Cairo in recent days orchestrated largely by Egypt's more secular, liberal-oriented political supporters has clearly shocked the SCAF. Anger at Egypt's military rulers reached a boiling point when, in addition to delaying reforms and presidential elections, the SCAF-controlled constitution drafting committee (with a wink and nod from Islamist members of the drafting committee) unveiled a draft two weeks ago exempting the military and its budget from civilian oversight over the strenuous objections of secular political parties. In fact, Field Marshal Tantawi's determination to press ahead with parliamentary elections next week as originally planned despite the violence and unrest throughout the country reflects, in part, the military leadership's fear that prolonging the parliamentary campaigning will reveal the extent of the SCAF's slush fund operations and its interference on behalf of Islamist parties.Hmmm......Could be the birth of an Iran like government, it's first steps in it's infancy.Read the full story here.
- Medvedev: Russia may target U.S. missile defense sites.(HurriyetDaily).President Dmitry Medvedev says Russia will aim its missiles at the U.S. missile defense sites in Europe if Washington fails to address Russian concerns on its missile defense plans.Medvedev said that Russia will deploy missiles in its westernmost Kaliningrad region and other areas if Russia and NATO fail to reach a deal on the U.S.-led missile defense plans.He also said in a televised statement Wednesday that Moscow may opt out of the New Start arms control deal with the United States and halt other arms control talks if the U.S. proceeds with its plans to deploy its missile shield in Europe.Russia considers the U.S. shield as a threat to its nuclear forces.Hmmm....Don't you feel safe with Obama in 'control'?Read the full story here.
- Obama Admin Bans US Aircraft Maker, Favors Non-US Firm with Ties to Iran on Light Aircraft Project.(PJM).Late Thursday the Obama administration abruptly knocked Kansas aircraft maker Hawker Beechcraft out of contention for a $1 billion project to make a fleet of lightweight counterinsurgency aircraft for the Air Force. Hawker Beechcraft is, understandably, disturbed and asking questions.
The Air Force has notified Hawker Beechcraft Corp. that its Beechcraft AT-6 has been excluded from competition to build a light attack aircraft, a contract worth nearly $1 billion, the company said.
The company had hoped to its AT-6, an armed version of its T-6 trainer, would be chosen for the Light Air Support Counter Insurgency aircraft for the Afghanistan National Army Corps. The chosen aircraft also would be used as a light attack armed reconnaissance aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.
The piston planes are designed for counterinsurgency, close air support, armed overwatch and homeland security, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/ud7FDM).
Hawker Beechcraft officials said in a news release that they were “confounded and troubled” by the Air Force’s decision. The company said it is asking the Air Force for an explanation and will explore all options.
Hawker Beechcraft said it had been working with the Air Force for two years and had invested more than $100 million to meet the Air Force’s requirements for the plane. It noted that the Beechcraft AT-6 had been found capable of meeting the requirements in a demonstration program led by the Air National Guard.
“We have followed the Air Force’s guidance close, and based on what we have seen, we continue to believe that we submitted the most capable, affordable and sustainable light attack aircraft,” the company said.
The company has said that winning the contract would have kept its T-6 production line running after 2015. About 1,400 employees in 20 states – including 800 at Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita – work on the AT-6 and T-6 programs for Beechcraft and its U.S. suppliers and partners.So that’s another 1,400 American jobs lost. And it gets worse. By knocking Hawker Beechcraft out, the Pentagon has limited the “competition” to one company, a company that is not only not an American manufacturer, it’s a government-owned entity with ties to our enemies. The company is Embraer, which is controlled by the government of Brazil and has close ties to the government of Iran, as Timothy Lee wrote for the Tatler on Nov. 10.Why is the administration making a decision to exclude an American manufacturer in favor of a maker with such a history? This is the Obama administration’s second billion-dollar giveaway to the Brazilian government in 2011; the first was its outrageous offshore oil loan guarantee decision in March. The two decisions siphon more than $2 billion and more than 21,000 jobs out of the US economy. Of the two, putting a foreign manufacturer with ties to our enemies in charge of a project to build anti-terror weaponry may be the most disturbing. And this is the Obama administration’s second major decision against an American aircraft manufacturer, the first being the NLRB’s unprecedented lawsuit against Boeing and its South Carolina Dreamliner plant. Both states impacted — Kansas and South Carolina — are right-to-work states. And then there’s this president’s sustained rhetorical war against corporate jet owners. Somebody has to make those jets, and Hawker Beechcraft is among the manufacturers indirectly targeted.Hmmm......Thugocracy in it's natural element, "You're either with me or against me".I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes. ~ Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776.Read the full story here.
- Arab States, Turkey, U.S. Plan ‘No-Fly Zone’ Over Syria.(Cryptogon).Senior European sources said that Arab jet fighters, and possibly Turkish warplanes, backed by American logistic support will implement a no fly zone in Syria’s skies, after the Arab League will issue a decision, under its Charter, calling for the protection of Syrian civilians.The sources told Kuwait’s al Rai daily that the no fly ban will include a ban on the movement of Syrian military vehicles, including tanks, personnel carriers and artillery, adding that this move would aim at curbing the movement of Assad forces, and cripple their ability to bomb cities. The European sources said the no fly ban might lead to the paralysis of the Syrian regime forces “in less than 24 hours.”Read the full story here.
- Aircraft Carrier CVN-77 Parks Next Door To Syria Just As US Urges Americans To Leave Country "Immediately".(BlacklistedNews).Yesterday we reported that the Arab League (with European and US support) are preparing to institute a no fly zone over Syria. Today, we get an escalation which confirms we may be on the edge. Just out from CBS: "The U.S. Embassy in Damascus urged its citizens in Syria to depart "immediately," and Turkey's foreign ministry urged Turkish pilgrims to opt for flights to return home from Saudi Arabia to avoid traveling through Syria." But probably the most damning evidence that the "western world" is about to do the unthinkable and invade Syria, and in the process force Iran to retaliate, is the weekly naval update from Stratfor, which always has some very interesting if always controversial view on geopolitics, where we find that for the first time in many months, CVN 77 George H.W. Bush has left its traditional theater of operations just off the Straits of Hormuz, a critical choke point, where it traditionally accompanies the Stennis, and has parked... right next to Syria.
And from CBS: "The U.S. Embassy continues to urge U.S. citizens in Syria to depart immediately while commercial transportation is available," said a statement issued to the American community in Syria Wednesday and posted on the Embassy's website. "The number of airlines serving Syria has decreased significantly since the summer, while many of those airlines remaining have reduced their number of flights."Read the full story here.
- Egypt’s First Free Elections: Situation a Powder Keg, Muslim Brotherhood May Hold the Match.(BigPeace).Violent clashes erupted as protesters demand the Military Council step down and hand over authority to a civilian body. Feeling the revolution has gone sour protestors want to see some change.Arab Spring revolutions have already granted power to Islamists across the Middle East. It made the Muslim Brotherhood the main political force in Tunisia, Egypt, and now in Syria. After years of focusing on charity and social work, the Muslim Brotherhood senses this it the right time to go into politics, and it is acting accordingly.Years of experience gives the radical Muslim Brotherhood an edge. Access to devoted religious crowds is yet another advantage. But as these are the first free elections in Egypt, no one knows how the Egyptians will behave.The people’s frustration from the slow pace of change in Egypt is the burning fuel, and the Brotherhood only had to light one match to blow everything up. The Brotherhood was trying to make one last effort to convince people to go out and vote. The campaign includes evening prayers, a ready crowd, religious fanatic’s chants and marches.But as often happens with volatile situations, you know where you start but not where you’ll end up. It seems the people’s frustrations are so intense these riots have grown out of control.With the military council controlling Egypt, little reform was achieved after the removal of Mubarak. The evident rift between the Military Council and the people of Tahrir Square cannot be ignored. Religious tensions and clashes add to the feeling that the revolution has gone off tracks.As protesters clash with the army representing the Military Council, Tahrir Square returns to revolution chaos again. In an effort to restore calm before the elections the cabinet offered its resignation on Monday to Egypt’s transitional military rulers.Realizing the riots endanger the elections, the Muslim Brotherhood have pulled out of the planned demonstration today, saying in a statement that it did not want to be involved in a protest that might delay the elections and thus the transition to democracy. But this may be too little and too late.The US policy towards the Muslim Brotherhood is highly forgiving. It has recently changed its attitude toward the Islamic group and is also expecting a victory for the Muslim Brotherhood in the upcoming elections. The United States gives $2 billion annually to Egypt in military and economic aid in exchange for its peace treaty with Israel. Will this peace treaty hold once the Muslim Brotherhood is in control?Free elections require stability and calm. Free elections cannot be held with millions protesting and clashing with military forces.Egypt needs to rebuild, and to do that it needs a strong secular governing body. Involving religious and political inspirations will only drive Egypt towards Sharia law and chaos.Sadly it seems that in the first battle between the Military Council and the Islamists, the army has lost. Egyptians may have free democratic elections, but if they choose the Muslim Brotherhood, they will not live in a free democratic state afterwards.Hmmm....."Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty". ~ Plato.Read the full story here.
- Unconvinced by army’s promises, Egypt protesters battle on to end military rule.(AlArabiya).Thousands of protesters rallied Wednesday in Cairo’s Tahrir Square demanding an end to military rule, despite a promise by Egypt’s interim leader to transfer power to an elected president by mid-2012. Less than two hours after the speech by Egypt’s military ruler Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, clashes have erupted again on Mohammed Mahmoud Street, a sign that activists and politician say indicates that the nation’s military rulers are following the former regime’s failed strategy to remain in power. Eyewitnesses and doctors at a makeshift field hospital said there were an invisible substance causing suffocation and inflammation of the eyes. Reports of protesters fainting were widespread, a report carried by Egypt’s al-Masry al-Youm said on Wednesday.One man was killed in clashes early on Wednesday in the second city Alexandria, one of several towns that saw unrest, as protesters continued to battle police around the interior ministry headquarters, close to the central Tahrir Square in Cairo. The death toll from confrontations between protesters and police around Egypt has reached 32, in addition to around 870 others injured, an Al Arabiya correspondent said citing the health ministry.The U.N. human rights chief called Wednesday for an independent probe into the killing of protestors by Egypt's military and security forces. “I urge the Egyptian authorities to end the clearly excessive use of force against protestors in Tahrir square and elsewhere in the country,” said Navi Pillay, adding that “there should be a prompt, impartial and independent investigation, and accountability for those found responsible for the abuses.”“There should be a prompt, impartial and independent investigation, and accountability for those found responsible for the abuses that have taken place should be ensured,” added the U.N. rights chief.Police have been locked in sporadic clashes with protesters demanding the end of military rule, according to AFP.Police have denied using live ammunition but most of the dead in the preceding five days of protest have had bullet wounds, medics say. And demonstrators have shown off cartridge casings they say come from weapons used by the authorities.“We will stay here until the field marshal leaves and a transitional council from the people takes over,” Abdullah Galal, 28, a computer sales manager, told Reuters as people set up tents across the sprawling Tahrir traffic interchange which has become the abiding symbol of this year’s “Arab Spring” revolts.For many Egyptians, trapped in a daily battle to feed themselves and their families, the political demands of some of those they view as young idealists are hard to fathom:“I have lost track of what the demands are,” said Mohammed Sayed, 32, a store clerk in central Cairo as the capital went about its normal business before the start of what protesters had hoped might be a “million man march” on Tuesday.“If you talk to the people in Tahrir, they have no clue,” added Sayed. “I don’t know where the country is headed. I’m worried about my life.”On the square, however, demonstrators believed the army’s reluctance to cede power could see an escalation, as activists tried to complete what some call an “unfinished revolution”: “All they are doing now is forcing people to escalate,” said Mohammed, 23, a financial analyst. “They are leaving. There is no question about that.”“This opens the door for instability.”Using a computer analogy, protester Abdullah Galal said: “There are many viruses in the system. It needs to be cleaned out entirely. We want to delete, reformat and reinstall ... We need to change the regime like they did in Tunisia and Libya.”Read the full story here.
- "You can't fix Stupid"! Obama aide says Iran nuclear effort slowed; Tehran failed to make Iraq ‘client state’.(AlArabiya).President Barack Obama’s top national security aide said early Wednesday a U.S.-led drive to isolate Iran had slowed its nuclear program and that there was still “time, space and means” to persuade Tehran to abandon atomic weapons ambitions.National security adviser Tom Donilon defended Obama’s Iran policy in a wide-ranging speech following criticism by Republican presidential contenders that the administration had not done enough to thwart Tehran's nuclear advances.His remarks may also serve as an appeal to Israel for more time to let Washington’s strategy work. There has been growing speculation about an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear sites since a U.N. nuclear watchdog accused Tehran this month of covert atomic weapons work.“Iran today is fundamentally weaker, more isolated, more vulnerable and badly discredited than ever,” Donilon said at the Brookings Institution think tank a day after the United States, Britain and Canada slapped new sanctions on Iran's energy and financial sectors, according to Reuters.He said that after Iran rejected the Obama’s early diplomatic outreach and continued defying the international community, the United States had worked to ratchet up sanctions, strengthen military ties with Tehran's neighbors and increase it isolation.“The effect of these sanctions has been clear,” Donilon said. “Coupled with mistakes and difficulties in Iran, they have slowed Iran's nuclear efforts ... Not only is it harder for Iran to proceed, it is more expensive.”Despite those claims, Obama - like predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton - has been unable to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear program or come clean on its developments.Analysts said they did not believe the latest punitive steps would be any more effective in dissuading Iran from pursuing its nuclear plans, which Washington and its allies say is a cover for seeking nuclear arms.Though Iran has acknowledged some economic damage, it dismissed the new sanctions, saying they would only boost popular support for a nuclear program it insists is solely for peaceful purposes.The range of unilateral steps planned by Western powers reflects the difficulty of persuading Russia and China not to veto further sanctions at the U.N. Security Council.While the West has been reluctant to deal too harshly with one of the world’s biggest oil producers because of the risk to world markets, Donilon said: “We are certainly not ruling out additional steps against Iran’s banking sector, including the central bank.”He said Washington remained resolute. “Put simply, the Iranian regime has not yet fundamentally altered its behavior, but we have succeeded in slowing its nuclear program,” he said.“The international community has the time, space and means to affect the calculus of Iran's leaders, who must know that they cannot evade or avoid the choice we have laid before them,” Donilon said.Donilon said that Iran has failed to shape Iraq into a “client state” in its own image and will lose one of its few remaining allies as “inevitable” change comes to Syria.Donilon said Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were increasingly headed for confrontation amid fissures developing in the ruling class under the pressure of Western sanctions.“Just as the regime is increasingly isolated and losing its legitimacy at home, Iran is increasingly isolated in the region. The regional balance of power is tipping against Iran,” Donilon said.“Next door, Iran has failed in its effort to shape Iraq into a client state in its own image,” Donilon said, weeks before the last U.S. troops leave Iraq, according to AFP.“In fact, Iraqis are moving in the opposite direction -- building a sovereign, democratic state with a strong aversion to illicit outside interference.”“Iraq and Iran have very different visions of their future.”The United States has repeatedly accused elements of the Iranian government and elite Revolutionary Guards of arming Iraqi factions hostile to Washington’s military presence in Iraq.Donilon also said that Iran had failed in its efforts to intimidate Gulf states, saying Gulf Cooperation Council members were more willing than ever to challenge Tehran.“Iran is basically down to just two principal remaining allies -- the Assad clique in Syria and Hezbollah. And, like Iran, they too are fundamentally at odds with the democratic forces now sweeping the region.”“The handwriting is on the wall. Change is inevitable,” said Donilon, adding the demise of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime would constitute Iran’s “greatest setback in the region” and restack the balance of power.Earlier however, there were new signs of a cracking in the united front against Tehran that has permitted four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions, as Russia also criticized the Western sanctions.Hmmmm......Ooooh look a Unicorn.Read the full story here.
- Panel Rejects Many Obama 'not qualified' Prospects for Judgeships.(NYT).Washington — The American Bar Association has secretly declared a significant number of President Obama’s potential judicial nominees “not qualified,” slowing White House efforts to fill vacant judgeships — and nearly all of the prospects given poor ratings were women or members of an ethnic minority group, according to interviews. The White House has chosen not to nominate any person the bar association deemed unqualified, so the negative ratings have not been made public. But the association’s judicial vetting committee has opposed 14 of the roughly 185 potential nominees the administration asked it to evaluate, according to a person familiar with the matter. The number of Obama prospects deemed “not qualified” already exceeds the total number opposed by the group during the eight-year administrations of Bill Clinton or George W. Bush; the rejection rate is more than three and a half times as high as it was under either of the previous two presidencies, documents and interviews show. That outcome has added a new twist to a long-running friction in the politics of judicial nominations. During recent Republican administrations, conservatives have made political hay of accusing the A.B.A. of bias against conservative potential judges. In 2001, President Bush stopped sending the group names of prospects before he selected them, so the panel instead rated them after their nomination. In 2009, Mr. Obama restored the panel’s role in the pre-nomination selection process, which dates to the Eisenhower administration. In discussions with bar panel leaders, administration officials have expressed growing frustrations with the ratings over the past year and a half, people familiar with those conversations said. In particular, they are said to have questioned whether the panelists — many of whom are litigators — place too much value on courtroom experience at the expense of lawyers who pursued career paths less likely to involve trials, like government lawyers and law professors. In response to questions about the ratings, Mr. Obama’s White House counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, said in a statement that the administration “continues to have a strong working relationship with the A.B.A.” But she also acknowledged disagreements with some of its ratings. “Although we may not agree with all of their ratings,” Ms. Ruemmler said, “we respect and value their historical role in evaluating judicial candidates. The president remains committed to addressing the judicial vacancy crisis with urgency and with qualified candidates who bring a diverse range of experience to the bench.” The chairman since August of the bar association’s vetting committee, Allan J. Joseph, would not confirm any negative ratings but defended the panel’s work as fair-minded and independent. Its members, he said, are all volunteers who, as a matter of public service, put in long hours reading candidates’ writings and conducting confidential interviews about them with dozens of judges and lawyers. “We are not a rubber stamp,” he said. “Our role is to provide the only peer review in the whole process, and we think that is valuable — particularly with a lifetime appointment under consideration.” Mr. Obama has made it a policy goal to diversify the bench in terms of race, gender and life experiences, and the judges he has appointed have been more likely to be women or minorities than any previous president. Of the 14 people opposed by the panel, a person familiar with the ratings said, nine are women — five of whom are white, two black, and two Hispanic. Of the five men, one is white, two are black, and two are Hispanic. Sheldon Goldman, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who studies judicial selection, noted that the panel rated as “qualified” or “well-qualified” many other of Mr. Obama’s female and minority nominees. “Their diversity record is unparalleled,” Mr. Goldman said. “If it were turning out that most of the women and minorities they were sending over to the A.B.A. were getting bounced, then you would have a crisis, but that’s not the case at all.” The bar association is also said to have deemed at least two other potential minority or female judicial nominees as “not qualified,” but upgraded them to “qualified” after the White House asked it to take a second look. To protect the confidentiality of people interviewed about the candidate, the committee often identifies only general categories of concern. According to a person familiar with the ratings, in discussions with the administration, the panel cited concerns about experience for six of the 14 candidates found “not qualified.” It also cited concerns over temperament for five, competence for three, and ethics for three. (Three potential nominees were said to have been criticized as falling short in more than one of those areas.) All but one of the 14 were slated to become district court judges, and — as is traditional — had been recommended for the Obama administration’s consideration by Congress. One had been identified by the administration and was slated for an appeals court. Officials of Mr. Obama’s legal team have met several times with the chairman of the bar association panel over the last year to raise concerns over the number of negative ratings, and have raised the possibility that the panel’s emphasis on trial experience may have a disparate impact on female and minority lawyers because they may have been less likely to become litigators. So far, lawmakers who originally recommended candidates found “not qualified” by the bar association have not criticized the process publicly. But in February 2010, the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, did criticize the association at a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for a district court nominee from his state, Gloria Navarro. At the time, Nevada had no female or Hispanic district court judges. Ms. Navarro, a former public defender and government lawyer, had been endorsed by both Mr. Reid and the state’s Republican senator, John Ensign. But the bar group rated her as merely “qualified”-- and a minority of the vetting panel had voted to rate her “not qualified.” Mr. Reid, who said he thought the association had delivered its tepid rating because she had no prior judicial experience, sharply rejected the notion that Ms. Navarro was not well-qualified, saying that he was upset that Ms. Navarro “is not rated as high as she should be” and arguing that she “has had experience in the real world of government, the real world of law.” In May 2010, the Senate voted 98-0 to confirm her. Hmmm....It's not what...but whom you know?Read the full story here.
- Europe - They mean to take over.(KleinVerzet).This illustration (via; NL) presented without (much) further comment. Caveat emptor!See the full story here.
- US, Russia and UK back Israel at IAEA Mideast meeting.(YNet).In a boost to Israel, Russia joined the US and Britain on Tuesday in backing the Jewish state's view that the Middle East cannot be turned into a nuclear arms-free zone without progress on regional peace.The three nations – who are charged with registering new members to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty – also blunted Arab efforts to get them involved creating such a zone, telling an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Vienna that was the sole responsibility of countries in the region.The three-nation statement was made at a rare venue – a meeting bringing Israel and the Arab states together for a discussion of how to work toward establishing a Mideast nuclear-arms free zone. While nearly 100 nations attended the forum, it was primarily meant to allow those two opposing camps to exchange views on the issue – one of many dividing Israel from its Arab neighbors. Organizers had warned against high expectations, and an official inside the closed two-day meeting said it ended Friday without bridging the differences. Still the three-nation statement was significant. Russia is traditionally in the Arab corner and Moscow's decision to join Washington and London in the joint statement of support for Israel's view was a rare nod from Moscow recognizing Israel's security concerns."While Nuclear Weapon-Free zones improve the security of the entire international community, they do not exist in isolation from other security factors," said the statement to the closed meeting, which was shared with The Associated Press. Any such zone, it said must see "the states in the region united in their aspiration to provide for strengthened regional stability and security." That dovetails with Israel's view that peace must prevail in the Middle East before it can be made into a nuclear free zone. But it clashes with the Arab position that the two issues are separate. The Arabs say Israel's undeclared nuclear arsenal represents the biggest threat to Mideast peace. But Israel says Iran is the greatest threat to the region through its refusal to heed UN Security Council resolutions demanding it stop activities that could be used to make nuclear weapons and suspected research and development of such capabilities. Tehran denies any interest in such arms. Iran boycotted the meeting. But a decision last year by the 189 members of the Nuclear Nonproliferation treaty to convene a UN-sponsored conference on establishing a Middle East nuclear-free zone in 2012 was an incentive for Israel's Arab neighbors to come to the exploratory Vienna talks.Arab countries and Iran are aware of the potential of using the 2012 UN conference as a platform to pressure Israel to fulfill their long-standing demands: joining the nonproliferation treaty, acknowledging that it has nuclear weapons and allowing IAEA inspectors to probe its atomic activities.Israel is unlikely to do any of that. It remains unclear whether it will even attend the 2012 talks and is at the Vienna meeting only under the stipulation that it remain a nonbinding give-and-take on the issue of nuclear-free zones in general. The three-nation statement also sought to put into context the value of the meeting – which featured presentations on nuclear-free zones elsewhere.It said "zones free of nuclear weapons cannot be created counter to the will of the countries of the region by the efforts of extra-regional powers or international organizations." That was an rebuttal of an Arab push to get powers that are members of the Nonproliferation Treaty involved in creating a Mideast nuclear-free region. Participants said most speakers avoided polemics. But on Monday, Syria – among Israel's bitterest Mideast rivals – used the gathering to accuse Israel of posing a "grave and serious threat" through its undeclared atomic arsenal. Israel, for its part, restated its view: no discussions on a nuclear-free zone without peace in the Middle East."Experience shows that such a process can only be launched when normal, peaceful relations exist in the region, when the threat perception of all regional members is low, and only after basic confidence is established among states of the region," David Danieli, Israel's deputy nuclear chief, said in comments provided to the AP. For now, he said, "political instability, open hostilities, deep mistrust and noncompliance with international obligations are too common in many parts of the Middle East." Read the full story here.
- Diplomats: EU reaches deal on new Iran sanctions.(Ynet).European Union governments agreed in principle on Tuesday to extend sanctions against Iran by adding some 200 names to a target list of people and entities in an effort to add pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program, diplomats said. The decision will be formally approved at a meeting of EU foreign ministers on December 1, they said. "The silent procedure went through, it's done," said one EU diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. He was referring to a procedure that allows EU governments to reach agreements on various policies. European companies will be banned from doing business with the listed firms and organisations, while officials will be subject to asset freezes and visa bans.EU diplomats can, in theory, tweak the target list during further discussions in the coming days, and the final list of names will be made public after the formal approval.In addition to extending the sanctions list, EU governments are also expected to discuss proposals by France and Britain for further sanctions, such as targeting the Iranian central bank. France also wants to target the oil industry.If agreed, such moves could also be formally approved next week, diplomats have said.France said on Tuesday it was pushing hard to persuade its EU counterparts to move quickly on its proposal.On Monday, the United States, Britain and Canada announced new measures against Iran's energy and financial sectors, in response to a Nov. 8 International Atomic Energy Agency report that presented intelligence suggesting Iran had worked on designing an atomic bomb.Hmmmm....What's the use with an 'open' trade between Turkey and Iran?Read the full story here.
- Turkey again the 'Devil's advocate' says Iran's nuclear ambitions may be about threats it perceives.(TodaysZaman).Turkish President Abdullah Gül has said empathy is required to understand the underlying reasons why Iran is so determined to continue with its suspected nuclear program despite sanctions that have hurt Iran’s economy.“It is important to put oneself in their shoes and see how they perceive threats,” Gül told The Guardian, referring to Israel’s nuclear capability, which it has neither acknowledged nor denied. Gül’s questioning of Iran’s nuclear aspirations came a week after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its most critical report on Iran’s nuclear program, claiming that there is evidence that Iran might be on its way to developing nuclear weapon capability. Gül also said there are different groups and concentrations of power in Iran and that it is impossible to see them as one single authority, without elaborating on what elements he was referring to within the Iranian regime. Turkey spearheaded sustained efforts last year to revive nuclear diplomacy between Western nations and Iran and a year ago it hosted talks regarding Iran’s nuclear program in İstanbul. Turkey’s efforts to bring Iran and Western powers together were at the expense of its image in the West and badly damaged its ties with the US. The Turkish president said that for the sake of peace it is very important that dialogue between Iran and the West progresses in a more frank and transparent way. “When I say transparent I mean Iran, and when I say frank I mean the West,” he explained.Gül added that Turkey is opposed to military options for dealing with the issue amid increasing threats from Israeli officials that it could strike Iran’s nuclear facilities if the Islamic republic does not relinquish its nuclear program. “Looking at the Middle East, one has to have a comprehensive approach [to disarmament],” he added. “A piecemeal approach would not yield the same results.” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said last week that Turkey is against nuclear weapons in the region. “We want a Middle East that is free of nuclear weapons. There are already enough tensions in the region. We believe Iran will behave responsibly,” he said.Hmmmmm.....Turkey is still on Iran's side and want 'business as usual' with Iran......so much for Sanctions that 'bite'.Read the full story here.
- Turkey’s Democratic Dusk.(Projectsyndicate).By Prof. Dani Rodrik.Cambridge – When questioned recently about a constitutional law professor who was arrested for lecturing at an institute run by the country’s main pro-Kurdish political party, Turkey’s interior minister, Idris Naim Sahin, couldn’t hide his irritation: “I am having a hard time understanding those saying a professor should not be arrested while thousands of other people are being arrested in Turkey.”Presumably, Sahin meant to say that a professor cannot claim special treatment under the law. But his remark inadvertently underscored Turkey’s new reality, in which any perceived opponent of the current regime can be jailed, with or without evidence, for terrorism or other violent acts.Special courts, tasked with prosecuting terrorism and crimes against the state, have been working overtime to produce charges that are often as absurd as they are baseless. For example, journalists have been imprisoned for producing articles and books at the behest of an alleged terrorist organization called “Ergenekon,” whose existence has yet to be confirmed, despite years of investigation. Likewise, military officers have been charged on the basis of blatantly fraudulent – indeed, amateurishly produced – documents containing obvious anachronisms. A senior police commissioner is currently languishing in jail for allegedly collaborating with far-left militants he spent his entire career hunting down. These prosecutions have cast an ever-widening net, ensnaring scores of journalists, authors, and academics, hundreds of military officers, and thousands of Kurdish politicians and activists, among others.Self-censorship has become routine. Media bosses anxious to retain Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s favor have fired many of those journalists who continue to criticize his regime. And government control now extends beyond the media, judiciary, and academia to the worlds of business and sports. Previously autonomous regulatory bodies (such as the competition authority) have been quietly subordinated to the government, with no debate or discussion. Even the Turkish Academy of Sciences has been targeted. A recent decree, widely condemned abroad, allows the government to appoint two-thirds of the Academy’s members, thereby ending even the semblance of scientific independence.Yet, while Erdoğan may appear to be at the pinnacle of power, it is his government’s “Gülenist” allies who have grown increasingly powerful. Members of the transnational Gülen movement – inspired by followers of Fethullah Gülen, a Pennsylvania-based Muslim theologian – are staffing Turkey’s police, judiciary, bureaucracy, and universities. The Gülenist media now set the country’s new ideological tone, producing a steady stream of disinformation in their vocal support of the country’s show trials.These trials are, in fact, often staged to serve Gülenist ends specifically. Prominent detainees, such as the journalist Nedim Sener and police commissioner Hanefi Avci, landed in jail after exposing the wrongdoings of Gülenist police and prosecutors. Editorials in Zaman, the Gülen network’s Turkish-language daily newspaper, no longer mince words: a new Turkey is being created; those who stand in the way are getting what they deserve.Erdoğan has benefited greatly from Gülenist support, yet he detests sharing power and remains suspicious of the movement. Early on, he successfully exploited the Gülenist-supported political trials in order to demonize the opposition. But, as the charges have increased in scope and implausibility, the trials have complicated his relationships with the military, domestic liberals, and outsiders such as foreign media and the European Union. Moreover, individuals close to him and his administration have recently become entangled in the net of judicial manipulation, which suggests that he may be losing control over the police and the special courts.Given that the fight against the common enemy, the secularist old guard, has been decisively won, an eventual break between Erdoğan and the Gülenists is perhaps inevitable. Unfortunately, regardless of which side emerges victorious, the outcome will not be good news for Turkish democracy.It wasn’t long ago that Turkey appeared to be a bright beacon of democracy and moderation in a region accustomed to autocracy and radicalism. Now it looks more like a country heading towards authoritarianism at home and embracing adventurism abroad.It is understandable that Europeans and Americans do not want to offend a regional power. But playing Erdoğan’s game only reinforces his sense of invincibility. It does not advance the cause of democracy in Turkey; nor does it make Turkey a more reliable ally.Read the full story here.
- In New Statement, Al-Qaeda's Top Pakistani Official Ustad Ahmad Farooq Vows To Avenge Killing of Osama Bin Laden.(Memri).In a new statement, Al-Qaeda's top Pakistani official Ustad Ahmad Farooq has vowed to avenge the death of Osama bin Laden and the deaths of other muhajir (immigrants or non-Pakistani) militants who were killed by the Pakistani military.Ustad Ahmad Farooq directs Al-Qaeda's Dawah and Media Department for Pakistan. In recent years, Farooq has mainly delivered scholarly speeches, which have been released through jihadist forums.In the new statement, Farooq warns: "We will avenge the murder of all guests, including Sheikh Osama, who were martyred by the Pakistani Army, the slaves of America."Following is the text of his statement:"Promise of Pakistani Mujahideen to the Muhajireen [Immigrants]"We will avenge the murder of all guests, including Sheikh Osama, who were martyred by the Pakistani Army, the slaves of America."We will avenge all the sobs and cries of the brothers of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [the Taliban's shadow government] which came from the heart of a muhajir brother or sister in the prison of Pakistani intelligence agencies, the slaves of the Crusaders."We will eliminate the burns of every muhajir mother whose child was imprisoned or killed by this army [of Pakistan]."We will cool the eyes of every muhajir sister whose husband was martyred by this characterless army."We will cleanse this soil [Pakistan] of the apostates and their masters and of the presence of Crusaders, and will construct such a Pakistan in reality where every muhajir brother from Arab and Ajam [non-Arab land] can freely...Read the full story here.
- Fatwa Permits Mujahideen to Kidnap, Imprison, and Have Sexual Intercourse with Infidel Women.(Memri).Minbar Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad published a fatwa by Sheikh Abu Humam Al-Athari, a member of its shari'a council, in which he unequivocally permits mujahideen to capture the infidels' women and have sexual intercourse with them, even those who are married.Hmmmm....."Islamophobia Anyone"?Read the full story here.
- Turkey’s Islamist PM Slams Western “Islamophobia,” Says It Should Be “Condemned As Much As Anti-Semitism”.(Tehran Times) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that there is a vicious propaganda campaign against Islam by some Western circles, Press TV’s Ankara correspondent reported.Erdogan was addressing the Second Meeting of Leaders of African Continent Muslim Countries and Societies which opened in Istanbul on Monday.“There are those who use some marginal cases, to equate Islam and Muslims with terrorism, clashes, intolerance and poverty,” Erdogan stated.“A mistake by a member of a religion or society should not be attributed to the religion or society,” he added.“This means that Islamophobia should be condemned as much as racism and anti-Semitism is [condemned],” the Turkish premier stressed.Hmmmm.....Erdogan: “The Minarets are our bayonets, the domes our helmets, the mosques our barracks, and the believers our army.”Doesn't sound worrisome? Read the full story here.