Wednesday, November 30, 2011
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Philipines 5.9 - 6.0 ; Tonga 5.2 ; Turkey 5.0 ; Peru 5.0 !More info here.
- Japan : For the most accurate info on the nuclear disaster go to : Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog.Here.
- Britain Orders Immediate Closure of Iranian Embassy in London.(Fox).LONDON – Britain's foreign secretary William Hague said Wednesday that the UK was ordering the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London and that Britain was closing down its embassy in Tehran."We require the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London and for staff to leave the country," Hague told British lawmakers in a statement to parliament.Hague added that Iranian diplomats "must leave the United Kingdom within the next 48 hours."The closure follows the storming of the British Embassy in Tehran on Tuesday by hardline student protesters. All UK staff have now left Iranian soil, Hague confirmed.Hague said Britain's move to close the Iranian embassy did not amount to the complete severing of diplomatic ties between the two countries.He said despite Tuesday's attack, continued diplomatic communications between UK and Iran remained "desirable," but warned that the attack on Britain's embassy would not be tolerated."Such a flagrant breach of international responsibilities will not be tolerated," he said.Hmmm.....l'histoire se répète.Read the full story here.
- Update:Fars has pointed to Tehran's response, "The Foreign Ministry will declare soon that all UK diplomats will be expelled from Iran within hours."here.
- Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leader Hails Iranian Students for Raiding British Embassy.(FNA). TEHRAN - A senior leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement praised the Iranian university students for their courageous occupation of the British embassy in Tehran, saying that it is natural for any given country to expel its enemies."It is natural for the Iranian nation, with the students at the top of them, to rise to clean this arrogant dirt from their country's soil," Ahmad al-Modallel told FNA on Wednesday. His remarks alluded to the thousands of angry university students who raided and occupied the British embassy in Tehran Tuesday night in protest at London's hostile policies against Iran. Modallel also blamed the British government for the homelessness and miseries of the Palestinian nation, and reiterated that given the arrogant and criminal actions taken by London, occupation of the British embassy by the Iranian people, as a freedom-seeking nation, and their demand for the expulsion of British diplomats from their country are not at all surprising. The Iranian students move came after the Iranian legislators in an open session of the parliament on Sunday approved the bill of a law on downgrading relations with Britain with 179 yes votes, 4 oppositions and 11 abstentions. The 4 oppositions demanded a full cut of ties with London.The Iranian students complained that lowering ties with Britain is not enough and Tehran's relations with "the old cunning fox" should be cut totally. Hmmm....Don't you love those 'Palestinian peace partners'?Read the full story here.
- UK expels Iranian ambassador and France has now announced the withdrawal of its ambassador from Tehran.(Ynet).Britain will expel all Iranian diplomats stationed in London following the storming of its embassy in Tehran on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary William Hague announced Wednesday. Iranian diplomats of all levels were give 48 hours to leave Britain.Hague told the British Parliament that Iranian ambassadors across Europe have been summoned to receive strong protests over the raid."They cannot expect to have a functioning embassy here," he said, adding that despite the move, the UK was still "not severing ties with Iran entirely." Still, relations between London and Tehran have now been downgraded to the lowest level. Iran foreign ministry slammed the decision as "hasty," adding that Tehran "holds Britain responsible for security of its diplomatic properties in the UK… Iran will take further appropriate action against Britain," the Iranian state TV said.Earlier Wednesday, London announced it was closing down its embassy in Iran and withdrawing all British diplomats stationed in the Islamic Republic. Shortly after, Hague ordered the immediate closure of the Iranian Embassy in London, effectively expelling all diplomatic staff. Iran's parliament had previously voted to reduce diplomatic ties with the UK. Tuesday's attack, which saw hundreds of protesters storm the British embassy followed Britain's decision to impose further sanctions on Iran over its adamant refusal to suspend its nuclear program. Paris strongly condemned the raid and has summoned Iran's current senior envoy to the French capital over the incident. French Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bernard Valero indicated that the Iranian Charge d'Affaires Amir Miri has been called in to the Ministry and was told that France "very firmly condemns the attack and unacceptable pillage" at the British mission. France said on Wednesday it was recalling its ambassador from Iran for consultations.Germany also summoned the Iranian ambassador to Berlin over the storming of the British embassy in Tehran, saying Iran was bound under international law to protect foreign missions. "I gave the order today for the Iranian ambassador to be summoned to the Foreign Ministry," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters after talks with his Greek counterpart Stavros Dimas.Germany has also recalled its ambassador from Iran for consultations, as have Italy and The Netherlands. Following recent events, britain may support an embargo on Iranian oil imports following, a diplomatic source said. "Now that the UK has downgraded diplomatic relations with Iran, it will support increased sanctions...and would likely go ahead with those sanctions unilaterally or with France and Germany," he said. Former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband urges condemnations of Iran not to lead to a "drumbeat of war". William Hague says the UK is not advocating military action in Iran.Hmmmm..........."CHANGE"?Read the full story here.
- Iranian Navy Equips Naval Vessels with Anti-Ship Cruise Missile.(Fars).Speaking to FNA, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari stated that Qader missile with a range of 200km is "one of the strongest and most precise naval missiles" of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The commander added that a large number of such missiles have already been delivered to the Iranian naval combat units. Sayyari stated that the Iranian Navy is now using Qader as a coast-to-sea and surface-to-surface missile, and noted that the cruise missile can be mounted onto different types of choppers as well. Late in September, the Iranian Defense Ministry supplied large numbers of Qader missiles to the naval forces of the Army and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) to boost Iran's naval power. The Iranian defense minister said at the time that Qader is an anti-ship cruise missile with a range of 200km and enjoys a short launch time and is able to hit all naval vessels, including frigates and warships, as well as onshore enemy targets. Also on November 21, the Iranian Defense Ministry supplied a large number of highly advanced coast-to-sea cruise missiles to the Army's naval forces. The move came on the verge of the National Navy Day on November 28.Iran's naval power has even been acknowledged by foes. In a Sep. 11, 2008 report, the Washington Institute for the Near East Policy said that in the two decades since the Iraqi imposed war on Iran, the Islamic Republic has excelled in naval capabilities and is able to wage unique asymmetric warfare against larger naval forces. According to the report, Iran's Navy has been transformed into a highly motivated, well-equipped, and well-financed force and is effectively in control of the world's oil lifeline, the Strait of Hormuz.Hmmmm.....Oil $300/Barrel?Read the full story here.
- Welcome to the post-racial presidency: Obama 2012 campaign will 'abandon the white working class'.(DougRoss).The New York Times offers the highlights of the newly revised presidential reelection strategy:...preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class......All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up [of a] substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic......A top priority of the less affluent wing of today’s left alliance is the strengthening of the safety net, including health care, food stamps, infant nutrition and unemployment compensation. These voters generally take the brunt of recessions and are most in need of government assistance to survive...How very far he has fallen since his keynote address at the 2004 Democrat National Convention....even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us — the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of “anything goes.” Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.In other words, someone is preparing to divide us -- a spin master, a negative ad peddler who embraces the politics of "anything goes" -- and is willing to do anything to retain power.Read the full story here.
- Sheriff Joe: If I Prove Obama was Born in Kenya, What Will be Done About It?(Floydreports).By Susanne Eovaldi.“I want to see the microfiche,” Sheriff Joe Arpaio told a packed East Orlando Tea Party audience last week. In explaining his Birther Posse activities, he said his group of 60 retired cops and attorneys should have a report for him as early as January or February, because they are searching around the clock to discover where the president was really born.Delivering a keynote speech to his rapt listeners, Arpaio said the 1961 microfiche holds the key to determining if Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii or Kenya. “Twins were born before Barack Obama, and now we have to see if he was born the next day.” But Sheriff Joe said he won’t be taking any bets on his posse getting the microfilm. He expressed consternation that the regular media are just not talking about the Obama birth issue, although it is on people’s minds all across the country.Arpaio, who has 50 years of law enforcement experience, said proudly, “I serve the public; the public is my boss.” When a group of Arizona Tea Party members came to him to do something about the Birther issue, he agreed to look into the situation. But in a more veiled question, Arpaio asked if he and his cold case posse can prove Obama was not born in Hawaii the day after the Nordyke twins, “What will be done about it?”Clearly, the problem of Barack Obama’s birth authentication was primary in the minds of Sheriff Joe’s audience, but the next big topic they wanted him to talk about was illegal immigration. He called the electric fence that covers some parts of the southern border a joke easily breached by Mexican drug dealers. “They’re not cartels; they’re really international drug traffickers.” the Arizona lawman said. He explained the long term damage being done to the United States from failure to secure our borders and stop illegal immigration.Our economy, our law enforcement, our diplomatic relations, our political process, and the American basic sense of fairness are all being damaged by allowing illegals to take jobs of U.S.citizens.“This false identification is a very serious crime,” he said. Some reports are putting the illegal immigration figures as being the highest ever in our country’s history.When compared to the 50-plus million American babies aborted since Roe v. Wade was signed into law, we have to weep from what progressive Democrat governance has done to our proud nation. Why are so many liberal agencies investigating Sheriff Joe, but at the same time not investigating obvious Constitutional infractions? He said it well when he said, “Let’s work together and get back operational control of our country, and help clean up this mess.”Read the full story here.
- Audio: Eric Holder Loses his Cool over Fast and Furious.(BN).After leaving the stage at the White House, Attorney General Eric Holder was approached by Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro about the rising number of congressmen who are calling for Holder's resignation over Operation Fast and Furious. Holder angrily shot back that the Caller is responsible and that the resignation calls are 'not organic.It may be safe to say that Holder is getting a bit testy about his upcoming appearance in front of the House Judiciary Committee on December 8th. That hearing will be a must-watch as Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa is on that committee, along with Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who have both been bulldogs on this scandal.Read and hear the full story here.
- "They eat horses don't they?"Obama Legalizes Horse Slaughter.(IOC).On the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, Barack Obama broke a campaign pledge and signed a bill legalizing the slaughter of American horses for human consumption.Congress banned the slaughter of horses in 2006 by withholding funding for inspectors. A handful of Congressmen removed the amendment from a mandatory spending bill that arrived on the president’s desk just before Thanksgiving.Obama quietly signed the bill on November 18, despite having promised to maintain the ban at all costs during the 2008 campaign. Asked in a questionnaire, “Will you support legislation…to institute a permanent ban on horse slaughter and exports of horses for human consumption,” Obama simply responded, “Yes.”Horse slaughter plants are now planned in at least eight states, including Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Georgia.Already more than 100,000 American horses are slaughtered each year,
including 10,000 Thoroughbreds.Horses are regularly administered drugs that are unsafe for human consumption. For example, equine pain is often treated with Phenylbutazone (or “bute”), a carcinogen the FDA banned for human use after observing regular “toxic reactions,” such as “blood dyscrasias, including aplastic anemia, leukopenia, agranulocytosis, thrombocytopenia, and deaths.”Nonetheless, horse meat is considered a delicacy in France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and Belgium.Read the full story here.
- Hero Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer Sues Defense Giant After Sniper Scope Fight.(Wired).Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer is perhaps this country’s best-recognized war hero, a man who risked his life over and over again to save his buddies from a Taliban ambush. That’s why he’s the only living Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor — the nation’s highest award for valor — for his actions in Afghanistan or Iraq. It’s undoubtedly one reason why the defense giant BAE Systems hired Meyer after he left the Corps.Then, BAE considered selling high-tech sniper rifle scopes to the Pakistani military. Meyer objected, given Islamabad’s um, unambiguous relationship with the terrorists and militants based in Pakistan. Then he quit. Suddenly, Meyer’s former bosses at BAE started calling the war hero “mentally unstable” and a drunk.That’s according to a lawsuit Meyer filed against BAE, which alleges that the defense behemoth blocked the retired Marine from getting a job with a competitor by slandering his character.Things started to unravel earlier this year, BAE sought to sell advanced thermal optic scopes to the Pakistanis for their sniper rifles. That’s 100 percent legal, thanks to the U.S. government’s decade-long decision to sell the Pakistanis billions of dollars’ worth of military gear, in the hope of cementing Islamabad’s commitment to fighting terrorism. But BAE employee Meyer questioned whether the sale was responsible.“We are taking the best gear, the best technology on the market to date and giving it to guys known to stab us in the back,” Meyer wrote to his supervisor, according to the Wall Street Journal‘s Julian Barnes, who obtained Meyer’s lawsuit.It might be added that Meyer’s tour near the border with Pakistan might have given him a particular sensitivity to the risks associated with arming the Pakistani military. The U.S. commander in charge of eastern Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, recently told reporters that those alleged U.S. allies help insurgents rocket U.S. troops on the border. It would seem that Meyer hasn’t stopped trying to save U.S. troops in danger.BAE now has a massive P.R. problem on its hands — the latest of many. For years, officials in Britain and in America have investigated the firm on bribery and corruption charges. In 2010, the company agreed to pay a $400 million fine for violating arms control restrictions, and lying to federal officials about the BAE’s actions. That was followed up by an additional $48 million fine in 2011.Spokespeople declined to comment on the lawsuit to the Journal. But the company, which makes everything from anti-ship microwave guns to stealthy killer drones to freaky invisibility cloaks for tanks, risks calling a war hero an exaggerator or a liar in defending itself. Good luck with that oneRead the full story here.
- Preparing for the Worst. The High Price of Abandoning the Euro.In depth analysis.(Spiegel).By David Böcking. There is mounting speculation that the euro zone will break apart, or even that the single currency will be abandoned altogether. It often sounds as if such scenarios wouldn't be so bad for Germany. In fact the consequences would be catastrophic for Europe and for its largest economy. The warning signs are mounting, and fresh news is adding to the gloom every day. Britain's financial watchdog has instructed banks to brace for a possible break-up of the euro zone. British currency trader CLS Bank is reportedly conducting stress tests to prepare for this worst-case scenario. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski made a dramatic appeal to Germany on Monday to prevent a collapse of the currency union, saying: "We are standing on the edge of a precipice."German investors are jettisoning derivatives on a large scale because they have lost confidence in the instruments. For the first time, it appears, people across Europe regard the downfall of the euro as a real possibility. Is it really for the first time, though? In fact, scenarios for the euro's breakup are older than the currency itself. At the end of 1998, Harvard Law School Professor Hal Scott published a paper called "When the Euro Falls Apart." He put the chances of the euro failing at around 10 percent. Today, that's a real prospect. According to Mark Cliffe, the chief economist of ING Bank, "even the most ardent euro admirer must concede that the probability of countries leaving or the breakup of the euro zone is no longer zero."The economist Nouriel Roubini, known as "Dr. Doom" because he predicted the 2008 financial crisis, recently put the likelihood of the euro zone collapsing at 45 percent. But such expert forecasts sound abstract to most people. What would be the concrete consequences and costs of a euro apocalypse -- for Europe and for Germany? Here's an assessment.Read the full story here.
- Al-Shabab Bans U.N., Western Aid Organizations Due To Their 'Illicit Activities'.(Memri).On November 30, 2011, the Somali Al-Qaeda-affiliated group Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen released a statement on the Al-Fida jihadi forum about its decision to ban 16 organizations working in the country, due to alleged "illicit activities."Hmmm.....My guess the Turkish I.H.H. is still welcome?Read the full story here.
- Ground Zero of Canadian tragedy, mouldy mattresses and icy floors in shacks where toddlers live on native reserve.(Yahoo).ATTAWAPISKAT, Ont. - Politicians, journalists, bureaucrats and Red Cross aid workers swooped into this reserve west of James Bay to see what a spiralling aboriginal housing crisis looks like in 2011.The problem is in plain sight everywhere.In a one-room, tented shack where Lisa Kiokee-Linklater is watching television with her two toddlers, two mattresses lie on the floor. Each mattress is a bed for three. Mould is creeping across one mattress even though Kiokee-Linklater just bought it last summer. The mattress cost her $1,000.There is no running water, no bathroom and cold comes through the uninsulated floor. There is little room for her four children to play. The broiling cast-iron wood stove that takes up one corner of the room represents a burn hazard and eliminates the notion of the rambunctious play that is the norm for most young kids.Moving into the tent was Kiokee-Linklater's choice. It seemed a step up from her previous home next door, where she shared a single bathroom with 20 other people until it became too much for her and her growing family."It's kind of better, yeah," she said, keeping a watchful eye on a son as he ate spaghetti with his fingers. "But during the winter, it's hard. I cut back on the baths because it is so cold."Among the outsiders who flew into the Cree community on Tuesday were interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel and Charlie Angus, the local NDP MP."It's really terrible that in Canada we have people in tents and shacks when it's minus 15," Turmel said after touring the town and meeting several families.There is little new in the plight of the people of Attawapiskat. Aboriginal leaders will tell you there are similar crises on reserves in northern Manitoba and northern Saskatchewan. Until this week, few people paid attention to this community's call for help. But after a campaign by Angus and local officials, including letters, news conferences and a video posted to YouTube, people took notice.The Assembly of First Nations estimates that reserves need about 80,000 new homes across the country. Already about 45 per cent of First Nations housing stock is sub-standard but often people live in condemned houses because they have nowhere else to go.Roseanne Fireman used to live in a condemned Attawapiskat house until she moved out. Her brother and young children still live in the structure, despite a ceiling ruined by an electrical fire. The living room floor is pocked with holes and kitchen floor has turned spongy with moisture.At one point, seven families crammed together in the three-bedroom house.It's a typical pattern. Houses are built, families move in and grow so quickly that soon they are overflowing the home.Spence is constantly seeking new solutions for the homeless."They should have a place where they are comfortable and safe," she said. "They need running water and heat."About 100 people are living in two construction trailers once used as residences for an employee camp at the nearby DeBeers diamond mine.The people of Attawapiskat are angry about living conditions, but don't agree on how they arrived at this point and why federal money has not stretched to cover needs. Some blame Ottawa, some blame the province and some blame their own leaders.Turmel said the response from Harper and Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has been unacceptable because Ottawa points fingers at the band rather than looking at its own practices to ensure adequate funding."What I would like is Mr. Harper and Mr. Duncan to come here and see them," she said. "They might not have the same answer."Hmmm......Why is it so hard all over the world to give 'Native people' theirs?Read the full story here.
- Iran’s Obligations, And Ours.(ElliotAbrams).The decision of the Iranian regime to attack the British Embassy in Tehran is a subject I address here, in The Weekly Standard. Briefly, I argue that the United States should back President Sarkozy’s proposal of last week for sanctions against Iran’s central bank and for a cut-off of Iran’s oil exports.President Obama’s reaction to the looting of the Embassy is pathetically weak. He said today that “for rioters, essentially, to be able to overrun the embassy and set it on fire is an indication that the Iranian government is not taking its international obligations seriously.”Not taking its international obligations seriously? A regime that is the greatest state sponsor of terrorism in the world? That continues to defy UN Security Council and IAEA resolution after resolution? That supplied IEDs to kill countless Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan?If that is the strongest language he can muster, President Obama is not taking his own obligations seriously. After all, we are but weeks from the Iranian effort to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington—for which the regime paid absolutely no price. His mild response suggests they will likewise pay no price—or at least none involving the United States—for this latest abuse. The ayatollahs must wonder why anyone seriously expects them to abandon their nuclear program when they appear free to kill Americans, undertake terrorist plots in our capital, and now—in a striking reminder of how they entered the scene, with the 1979 hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran—attack embassies without evoking anything from Washington.The Iranian regime returned those hostages on the day Ronald Reagan took office. There’s a lesson here in Iran reacts to strength, and how it reacts to weakness.Hmmmm......Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. ~ Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865) .Read the full story here.
- Retired Russian admiral admits Kremlin’s Mediterranean naval task force no match for US 6th Fleet, but makes veiled reference to nuclear war if Russian warships attacked.(WOTIW).The Admiral Kuznetsov is carrying some of Russia’s most advanced fighter aircraft, including eight Sukhoi Su-33 all-weather fighters, two Kamov Ka-27 anti-submarine helicopters and several factory-new Mig-29K fighters, which are destined for the Indian Air Force but will be “tested” by Russian pilots. Unlike the US Navy’s “floating runways,” Russia’s sole aircraft carrier is also a heavily armed cruiser with 12 long-range anti-ship Granit cruise missiles, a Kinzhal six-gun short-range surface-to-air missile system, eight Kashtan close-in air defense gun-missile systems, and two UDAV-1 anti-submarine systems.In addition to Syria, explained Admiral Viktor Kravchenko, former Chief of the Russian Federation’s Naval Staff, to Izvestia, the aircraft carrier and its escort ships will make ports of call in Italy, Cyprus, and Lebanon. Forty years ago, the Soviet Navy required its own maintenance facility in the region, which prompted negotiations with Syria leading to the establishment of the Tartus base in 1971. At present, some 600 military and civilian personnel in the employ of the Russian Defense Ministry work at Tartus, where they mainly service vessels of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Since the Cold War, the Admiral Kuznetsov has twice visited the Syrian port, once in 1995 and again in 2007.Lamenting Russia’s inability to prevent the deposing of Moscow ally Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi in October, Kravchenko added: “The presence of a military force other than NATO’s is very useful for this region, because it will prevent the outbreak of an armed conflict. The Soviet Union created a special naval squadron to deter Western military forces in the Mediterranean Sea.”In an indirect warning to Washington that appears to have gone unnoticed by the shopping mall regime, Admiral Kravchenko remarked to Izvestia: “Of course, the Russian naval forces in the Mediterranean will be incommensurate with those of the US 6th Fleet, which includes one or two aircraft carriers and several escort ships. But today, no one talks about possible military clashes, since an attack on any Russian ship would be regarded as a declaration of war with all the consequences.” Kravchenko’s last statement is clearly a veiled reference to nuclear war, since Soviet/ Russian military doctrine has for decades held this to be a winnable option in any showdown with America. Moreover, since the USA has had no credible civil defense for nearly 20 years, it is very likely that should NATO forces challenge the Russian naval cordon protecting Syria’s embattled Ba’athist regime, Moscow could very well respond with a strategic missile barrage against North America.No word has been yet published in open sources concerning the Admiral Kuznetsov’s arrival in Syrian territorial waters nor its scheduled work-out with the IDF.Read the full story here.
- Islamists claim lead in Egypt’s vote count; 80 people injured in Cairo violence (Video).(AlArabiya).Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood on Wednesday claimed the lead in the first stage of the country’s first parliamentary elections since Hosni Mubarak's fall.The movement’s Freedom and Justice Party said initial results showed its coalition ahead, followed by parties belonging to the hardline Islamist Salafi movements, then a coalition of secular movements in third.The Muslim Brotherhood said the parliament that emerges from Egypt’s landmark elections should form a government, setting the stage for possible confrontation between Islamists and the ruling generals who have only just named a new prime minister as the Tahrir sit-in protest against the military council entered its 12th day on Wednesday. The results of the first phase of the three-stage poll which could bring the Muslim Brotherhood closer to power were due to start coming out on Wednesday, but the military council which took over from ousted President Hosni Mubarak has yet to step aside.Millions of voters went to the polls in a mostly peaceful two-day vote, though the calm was shattered on Tuesday night when nearly 80 people were wounded in violence focused around a Cairo sit-in protest by activists demanding an end to army rule, according to Reuters.According to the independent daily al-Shorouk, in Cairo “the first signs show the Freedom and Justice Party with 47 percent of the votes, and 22 percent for the Egyptian bloc,” a coalition of secular parties.The election for Egypt’s lower house is due to conclude in early January but early results were expected to trickle out on Wednesday after a high turnout and only minor infringements were reported.The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing established earlier this year, said Egypt’s new parliament should form the government.“A government that is not based on a parliamentary majority cannot conduct its work in practice,” FJP head Mohammed Mursi told reporters during a tour of polling stations in the working-class district of Shubra in Cairo.“Therefore we see that it is natural that the parliamentary majority in the coming parliament will be the one that forms the government,” said Mursi, adding:“We see that it is better for it to be a coalition government built on a majority coalition in the parliament.”In one of the military’s first reactions to the election’s first phase, General Ismail Atman, a ruling army council member, was quoted by al-Shorouk newspaper as saying the poll showed the irrelevance of the Tahrir Square protest.Tantawi “expressed his happiness at the way the process was carried out and the high turnout, especially among women and the young,” said Itman.Read the full story here.
- Report - In Wake of Arab Spring, Deadlock in Peace Process, Jordan Thaws Relations with Hamas.(Memri).By L. Barkan.From the report: "Contacts between Jordan and Hamas in the recent months are expected to lead to a renewal of the official relations between them, which were severed 12 years ago. In 1999, less than one year after the death of King Hussein and the crowning of his son Abdallah II, the Jordanian regime decided to end some eight years of Hamas activity in Jordan and expelled the Hamas officials, headed by Khaled Mash'al, from the country. The officials first moved to Qatar and later settled in Damascus, from which they direct the movement's political activity today."The Hamas-Jordan rapprochement is the result of the upheavals in the Middle East: Hamas is seeking an alternative to Syria, where its political bureau is currently located, due to the unrest in that country; in addition, it hopes that relations with Jordan will strengthen it in the regional and inter-Palestinian arenas. Jordan, for its part, hopes to quell the wave of protests that is threatening its stability by appeasing the Islamic opposition in the country and by cooperating with the Islamic movement that is gaining strength throughout the region. At the same time, it too is seeking to improve its regional standing, through involvement in the Palestinian issue."The thaw between Jordan and Hamas is expected to have far-reaching ramifications for the Palestinian, Jordanian and regional arenas. In the Palestinian arena, it could strengthen the Islamic movement, including among Israeli Arabs, at the expense of the secular forces; so too in Jordan. In the regional arena, this development could create a strategic territorial continuum of regimes sympathetic to the Islamic movement in general and to the Muslim Brotherhood in particular: from Turkey though Syria (where the regime is gradually buckling), to Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza and also Israel, and finally to Egypt. "This report will review the background of the Hamas-Jordan contacts and their development, the forces mediating between the sides, and Jordan's and Hamas' respective expectations from the thaw in relations."Read the full story here.
- Ex-intel chief: Iran has enough material for 4-5 nukes.(YNet).Iran currently possesses enough materials to produce four to five nuclear bombs, former IDF Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin warned Tuesday.Yadlin, who retired from the army about a year ago, said that in case of an Israeli-Iranian flare-up, "there will be international elements that restrain it."Upon assuming the post of head of the Institute for National Security Studies, the former IDF general said that "should Iran declare that it possesses nukes, Israel will have more options at its disposal and won't be alone. We should maintain open channels with those possessing military capabilities that are better than Israel's."Turning his attention to the so-called secret war against Israel, Yadlin said "things are happening in Iran that are being blamed on the United States and Israel. These things apparently aim to cause delays in the Iranian program.""A nuclear Iran is an existential threat, but I’m not saying that once they have nukes they will attack Israel," he said.As to possible Iranian retaliation for an Israeli strike, Yadlin dismissed Iran's threat to fire 150,000 missiles at Israel."There are no 150,000 missiles, and there is a difference between short-range rockets and long-range ones," he said. "Most of them are inaccurate and their chances of hitting the targets they were aimed at aren't high." Read the full story here.
- Hamas is No Peace Partner for Israel.(DocsTalk).By Neil Snyder.In an article for Hudson New York titled "Hamas and Fatah: The Unity Government That Isn't - and Won't Be," Khaled Abu Toameh explained that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad are in the enviable position of living in the West Bank out of harm's way as it were from Gaza where Hamas is in control. Under Hamas' despotic rule, Gaza has become a powder keg that is waiting to explode. Hamas' government is corrupt; the people of Gaza suffer daily under Hamas' brutal tactics that are reminiscent of the Dark Ages; and Hamas continues to lob missiles into Israel while its leaders try to regain complete control of the Palestinian government in the West Bank and Gaza.As recent talks leading up to the hoped for unity government between Hamas and Fatah collapsed, Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal told AFT that "Hamas is looking to focus its energies on popular resistance without giving up its right to wage armed struggle against Israel." That says it all. Hamas was, is, and hopes to remain Israel's avowed enemy. Hamas and its sponsors in the Muslim Brotherhood are totally committed to Israel's annihilation. That should surprise no one since the Hamas Charter calls for armed struggle against Israel and for Israel's elimination.While the Hamas-Fatah unity government talks evaporate into thin air, Egypt is in the throes of a so called "democratic election" that the Muslim Brothers are expected to win handily. Ordinary Gazans anxiously await Egypt's election results fearing that under even stricter Islamist rule living conditions in Gaza will become unbearable as Hamas and its Egyptian Muslim Brothers join hands in their quest to rid the Middle East of all vestiges of Israel's presence. They believe that they will end up being the big losers and that the winners will be the corrupt warlords in Hamas who dominate their lives.Since Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, weapons of all sorts have been pouring into Gaza through tunnels under the border crossing with Egypt. Following the collapse of Muammar Kaddafi's regime in Libya, high-tech weapons including "advanced Russian surface-to-air missiles plundered from Libyan arsenals" have made their way into Hamas' hands thus forcing Israel to speed up implementation of an airliner anti-missile defense system that's designed to protect planes flying into an out of nearby Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. When Egypt's Muslim Brothers and Hamas unite, the world will finally realize what the Arab Spring has become. It may have started out as a popular uprising in Tunisia, but radical Islamists understood the movement correctly and quickly seized control of it in every Arab Muslim country where brutalized citizens dared to raise their heads.Ironically, as Khaled Abu Toameh points out in his article, the West Bank is the safest place for Palestinians to be as Islamists take control of countries bordering Israel. They are safe there because the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) patrols the region, and they "know that the day Israel withdraws from the West Bank, Hamas will become so strong that it will seize control of the area in a matter of days or weeks." That's the story that the mainstream media refuses to tell, and it's the story that useful idiots around the world refuse to recognize as they pour resources into Gaza -- resources that are used primarily to acquire weapons and line the pockets of Hamas strongmen.Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily. His latest book is titled If You Voted for Obama in 2008 to Prove You're Not a Racist, You Need to Vote for Someone Else in 2012 to Prove You're Not an Idiot.Read the full story here.
- China's nuclear arsenal could be up to FORTY times bigger than previously thought.(DailyMail).A group of students have discovered China's nuclear arsenal may be many times larger than estimates suggest after three years of painstaking researching through restricted documents.Led by a former top Pentagon official, the students at Georgetown University, in Washington DC, have scrutinised satellite imagery, translated Chinese military documents and filtered through thousands of online files.The focus of their extensive research has been the thousands of miles of underground tunnels dug by the Second Artillery Corps to hide China's missile arsenal.In those tunnels, the students have managed to draw up a picture of the sheer scale of China's nuclear capabilities - thought to be far greater than the 80 to 400 warheads the country was widely assumed to have.The 363-page study has already sparked a congressional hearing and has been viewed by top Pentagon officials.One Defense Department strategist told the Washington Post: 'It's not quite a bombshell, but those thoughts and estimates are being checked against what people think they know based on classified information.'Critics have questioned the study's use of internet research, including a fictional TV show about Chinese artillery soldiers, and fuelled concerns it could encourage nations to maintain nuclear arsenals as a deterrent.The students' professor, Phillip A. Karber, was a former Cold War strategist who reported directly to the secretary of defense.Three years ago, he was working on a committee for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency aimed at countering weapons of mass destruction.After the massive earthquake which struck the Sichuan province in 2008, news reports showed that thousands of radiation technicians were rushing to the region and images of collapsed hills led to speculation of the existence of an extensive tunnel network.It was then that Mr Karber enlisted the first students from his class at Georgetown to start looking into China's nuclear weapons - using military journals, news reports, photos and forums.Students spent hours scanning pages which could then be converted into Chinese characters and eventually translated.After three years of graft, they had created a searchable database of more than 1.4million words on the secretive tunnel system.Among their findings, they were able to establish a rough guide of the location of the tunnels and the types of missiles inside them.They were also able to work out how the missiles were transported, including the possible existence of a 'missile train' and modified railway carriages used to carry the weapons.Mr Karber told the newspaper: 'I don't have the slightest idea how many nuclear weapons China really has, but neither does anyone else in the arms-control community.'That's the problem with China - no one really knows except them.'In 2009, the Chinese military admitted the existence of the network of tunnels - 3,000 miles of them - including underground bunkers capable of withstanding nuclear attacks.For years, the Chinese government has insisted it maintains a small stockpile of warheads for 'minimum deterrence'.But the group of students say that number could in fact be as many as 3,000.Gregory Kulacki, a China nuclear analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the Washington Post: 'The fact that they're building tunnels could actually reinforce the exact opposite.'With more tunnels and a better chance of survivability, they may think they don't need as many warheads to strike back.Read the full story here.
- Migrants tortured in Sinai camps, held for ransom.(BikyaMasr).CAIRO: On Wednesday November 30, a report by several human right organizations emerged, revealing that hundreds of refugees are tortured by smugglers in the Sinai on their way to Israel.The smugglers are cooperating with Israeli partners, and demand enormous amounts of ransom payments.Some who managed to reach Israel report that they have been the targets of extreme violence.Israel’s Physicians for Human Rights and the Hotline for Migrant Workers, in cooperation with Swedish, US and Italian human rights organizations published a report, calling on the Egyptian and Israeli governments to act against the “torture camps” in the Sinai desert.According to the report, the “refugees are supposed to experience physical abuse, torture, systematic rape and even death, all with the objective to obtain tens of thousands of dollars in ransom money in exchange for their release.”The report called on Egypt, Israel and the international community “to act quickly in order to free the hostages [...] prosecute the smugglers and those that assist them (and) to bring an immediate end to the torture camps and networks of human smuggling.”This is not the first time migrants are citing mistreatment in the Sinai desert. Earlier this year also Hotline for Migrant Workers reported on the subject quoting 60 migrants who suffered torture at the hands of smugglers in the Sinai.“According to some of the testimonies, several victims were either murdered by the traffickers or were starved to death. Some 18 separate testimonies report that during the summer of 2010, 18 men were forced into slave labor, the majority of them building a three-story house for two of the traffickers.The victims report not just physical abuse, but also psychological torture and humiliation. Seven of the victims reported that the traffickers threatened to sell their organs for transplant,” Hotline for Migrant Workers stated.Some have accused Israel of not doing enough to fight against cooperation with human traffickers in Sinai.Last Friday, Eritrean refugees demonstrated in front of the US embassy in Tel Aviv in order to attract attention for the Eritrean asylum seekers who were tortured and raped by Israeli smugglers who took them to the Israeli border.While trying to reach Israel through the Sinai, they were being held captive by smugglers at torture camps in the El-Arish area.According to a report by Physicians for Human Rights- Israel “the smugglers were demanding ransoms of thousands of dollars for the release of each captive.Methods used to apply pressure on the captives’ relatives to pay up include systematic violence and torture of the hostages.”Read the full story here.
- German court to decide if Muslim pupil can pray at school.(HurriyetDaily).A German federal court was to rule Wednesday whether a Muslim pupil has the right to pray according to Islamic rites in school, capping a more than two-year legal battle.The 18-year-old pupil, identified only as Yunus M., insisted on his basic right to religious freedom but school authorities argued the practice endangered the smooth running of the state high school.With about four million Muslims living in Germany, the case has sparked interest after two earlier regional court rulings first found in favour of the boy, only then to be overturned.It began when the pupil, aged 16 at the time and the son of a German Muslim convert, and several other pupils laid down their jackets in the school corridor to pray during a break from class.The principal informed the boy and his parents that praying was not permitted in the grounds of the Berlin high school which has students of about 30 different nationalities and nearly all major religions.She feared for the peaceful running of the school, she said.Yunus M. has argued that because prayer times depend on the rising and setting of the sun, he has no other choice during the winter but to pray around midday while at school.German news weekly Der Spiegel said that the consequences of Wednesday's ruling by the Leipzig-based federal administrative court would be closely watched nationwide."Since Yunus M. kicked off a process which could write legal history," it said in its online edition.Tilman Nagel, an expert in Islam who appeared as a witness at an earlier court hearing, said that postponing midday prayers was considered normal if there was a good reason.He also argued that the Islamic ritual of praying undertaken with other people was very different to the Christian private act of praying, and was thus disruptive in a public space.Germany has grappled with the thorny issue of the integration of its Muslim population since it signed a "guest worker" pact with Turkey 50 years ago.This has sometimes fuelled tensions, with a former central banker publishing a runaway bestseller last year saying Germany was being made "more stupid" by four million purportedly undereducated and unproductive Muslim migrants.Hmmm........"Religion the opium of the people" of course you had the 'opiumwars'.Read the full story here.
- At Least 45 Christians Killed by Muslims in Plateau State, Nigeria.(Compassdirect).Fulani Muslim herdsmen along with Muslim soldiers have killed at least 45 ethnic Berom Christians in Plateau state in the past week, Christians in this northern-central Nigerian town said.Smaller attacks beginning on Nov. 20, reportedly over allegations by Fulani Muslims of cattle theft, preceded an attack on a Barkin Ladi church on Nov. 23 that killed four Christians, and an assault the next day left 35 Christians dead in Barkin Ladi and nearby Kwok village, according to area Christian leaders. Church attendance was decimated yesterday as thousands of Christians have left the area.“Christians are fleeing the town because we have no guns to fight back,” said one woman in a group of six Christians trying to leave Barkin Ladi. “Muslims have guns, and they have their soldiers fighting for them, so we have no choice but to leave town.”Almost all churches in the town cancelled or held reduced worship services on the first Sunday (Nov. 27) after the crisis was contained, as nearly all area Christians have fled to Jos or have left Plateau state, long hit by ethnic property conflicts fueled by anti-Christian sentiment. In March 2010 ethnic Berom Christians, who live as farmers, suffered attacks from Fulani nomads who graze their cattle on the Beroms’ land, resulting in hundreds of deaths in three villages near Jos. In the attack on Thursday (Nov. 24), the Fulani Muslims were shouting “Allahu Akbar [God is greater],” said farmer Choji Pamjamo, 51.“On Thursday at about 9 a.m., the Muslims’ call to prayer was made at the Izala [Islamic sect] mosque,” Pamjamo said. “And shortly after that, we saw hundreds of armed Muslims invading the town from all directions, attacking and killing Christians. They were shouting ‘Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar,’ as they were burning properties belonging to Christians.”Pamjamo confirmed Christian leaders’ account of an attack on a Church of Christ of Nigeria (COCIN) congregation in the Sabon Layi (Rantya) area of Barkin Ladi the previous night (Nov. 23), saying that among the four Christians killed was Bible teacher Yakubu Pam.David Gyang, 51, an elder at the COCIN Barkin Ladi church, said Muslims set off a religious crisis by attacking Christians at the church site on Wednesday night (Nov. 23) and then launching a major offensive the next morning. David Gyang, 51, an elder at the COCIN Barkin Ladi church, said Muslims set off a religious crisis by attacking Christians at the church site on Wednesday night (Nov. 23) and then launching a major offensive the next morning. “Some of the Christian victims in this attack that I know include a Christian police officer, one Mr. Bulus, who is the station officer of the Barkin Ladi police station,” Gyang said. “He was inside his house on that day, and these Muslims broke the walls of his room and went inside to kill him and his son. A second Christian victim is Solomon Pam. He was attacked and had his hand broken.”Gyang lamented that Muslim soldiers brought to town to restore order joined their fellow Muslims in killing and maiming Christians. “Muslims soldiers took sides with their fellow Muslims and were shooting and killing Christians,” he said. “They also had soldiers guarding mosques in the town, but none was sent to watch over our churches, and that is the reason Muslims were able to burn the Baptist church in the town.”Sources told Compass that along with the 26 Christians killed in Kwok village, nine others were killed in the attack on Barkin Ladi on Thursday (Nov. 24). Compass found that the area attacks on Christians began Nov. 20, the day of the alleged cattle theft, with the killing of three Christians outside Barkin Ladi, and then two Christians in the town were killed on Nov. 21. The next day, a Christian was beheaded behind a popular hotel in Barkin Ladi known as the White House, sources said. The attack on the COCIN church ensued the following evening. Hmmm....."Interfaith dialog in it's natural habitat?"Read the full story here.
- Tunisian secular, Islamist students clash on campus.(AlArabiya).Hundreds of demonstrators calling for women to be allowed to wear the Muslim veil in class clashed with students at a university outside Tunis on Tuesday for the second day running.Protesters wearing the veil and bearded men wearing the Muslim tunic shouted “God Is Great”, facing other students responding “Islamists, Go Home.”The demonstration at the University of Manouba, west of Tunis, came a day after a group of Salafists disrupted classes there, demanding a stop to mixed-sex classes and for female students to wear full-face veils.“A group of Salafists, dressed like Afghans, have been camped in front of my office since early afternoon,” Habib Kazdaghli, the dean of faculty at the University of Manuba, told AFP on Monday.Tutors and union representatives voted at a general assembly on Tuesday to go on strike Thursday in protest at the incidents.Several students and teaching staff said demonstrators were not enrolled at the university, and many were allegedly “agitators” from working-class neighbourhoods near the Manouba campus.“This is not what the revolution was about,” one student said.Two officials of the Islamist Ennahda party which swept to power in October 23 elections were involved in attempts to resolve the crisis.Pro-headscarf demonstrators denied they were Salafists, a fundamentalist branch of Islam, and said they had not asked for mixed-sex classes to be stopped.“We want two things: a prayer room inside the faculty and the right for girls wearing the headscarf to sit exams and attend classes,” said Anis Rezgui, a first-year student. The higher education ministry late Monday condemned the protest.Questioned by AFP, the ministry said that under current provisions students must be identified before they enter the campus for security reasons, which ruled out wearing the headscarf.As post-revolution Tunisia lacks any legislation allowing or banning the headscarf, faculty deans implement a 2005 decision that staff must be able to identify students.“We would like to have politicians’ point of view on what’s going on,” fumed an indignant student.And English teacher Abdennebi Benbeya said the whole protest was “ridiculous.“No one knows these demonstrators, they take advantage of the political void in Tunisia” after the demise of the old regime in January.Tunisia’s Salafists have become more assertive in recent months, following the revolution that ousted a staunchly secular regime along with president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali following mass protests.Visible again on the streets of Tunis and other major cities, their new assertiveness has led to a number of more or less violent clashes.In the eastern city of Sousse earlier this month, some 200 Islamists stormed the university campus after a female student wearing a full face veil was not allowed to enroll.On October 9 in Tunis, a mob of Salafists tried to attack the offices of private Nessma TV station that aired “Persepolis”, a French-Iranian animated film in which God is represented as an old bearded man.“What’s happening is that many good and bad things that had been repressed resurface since the revolution,” said Tahar Chikraoui, history professor and film critic.“We have extremists, manipulators, people who are learning what democracy means. ... And then there is a power vacuum. All this is not really surprising.”Read the full story here.