Sunday, December 18, 2011
The REAL Christmas Spirit - Boy, 6, uses $1,000 prize money to buy sick children early Christmas presents.
- Boy, 6, uses $1,000 prize money to buy sick children early Christmas presents.(DailyMail).A boy who won $1,000 spent all the money buying gifts for children in hospital.Aiden Moe, six, delivered more than 100 'Pillow Pet' toys to families at the Ronald McDonald House in Sioux Falls, South Dakota this weekend. The house accommodates families who have children in local hospitals.Aiden received the special pillow shaped like an animal when he was a patient at Brookings Hospital and liked it so much he wanted other sick children to have one.Aiden's mother, JaMae Moe, told local station KSFY-TV that she's happy her son wants to give back to others. She said: 'It makes me feel like I raised him well.'The Moes live in Bryant, 110 miles northwest of Sioux Falls.Since 1983, more than 6,000 families who have children in hospital in South Dakota have been able to stay nearby at the Ronald McDonald house.Read the full story here.
"Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes."
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Japan 5.0 !More info here.
- Obama’s $4 Million Hawaii Vacation.(Heritage).President Obama had hoped to be in Hawaii today for the start of his 17-day Christmas vacation. Instead, he’s stuck in Washington until Congress finishes its work for the year. But in the Aloha State, residents are already abuzz about the first family’s trip — and its high price tag.Figures obtained by Hawaii Reporter reveal the trip is expected to run taxpayers about $4 million. It has already cost taxpayers about $100,000 extra just so first lady Michelle Obama and the president’s daughters, Sasha and Malia, could leave Friday before the president, according to White House Dossier.Hawaii Reporter’s comprehensive breakdown uses government data to calculate travel, housing, hotel and local costs. Hawaii Reporter research shows the total cost for the President’s visit for taxpayers far exceeded $1.5 million in 2010 — but is even more costly this year because he extended his vacation by three days and the cost for Air Force One travel has jumped since last assessed in 2000. In addition, Hawaii Reporter was able to obtain more specifics about the executive expenditures.The total cost (based on what is known) for the 17-day vacation roundtrip vacation to Hawaii for the President, his family and staff has climbed to more than $4 million.White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked about the vacation’s cost at a briefing last week. He dodged questions about Michelle Obama’s desire to travel separately from the president.Hmmm...."We feel your pain"?Read the full story here.
- Senior MP: Oil Sanction against Iran Means Closure of Strait of Hormuz.(Fars).TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian lawmaker warned the western countries against the consequences of banning Iran's oil sales, saying that Tehran will not allow even a single barrel of oil to pass through the Strait of Hormuz if the West boycotts Iranian crude supplies. "According to the international laws, including Paragraph 4 of Article 14 of the Geneva Convention, in case Iranian oil is sanctioned, we will not allow even a single barrel of oil to pass through to reach the hostile countries," Isa Jafari told FNA on Sunday. He reiterated that enemies, specially the US, should know that the Strait of Hormuz which is the world's energy bottleneck is controlled by Iran and based on their own estimates by 2020 a daily volume of over 35 million barrels of oil will pass through this waterway. The US, Israel and Britain are pressuring the European Union to ban oil imports from Iran while many EU member states are on the verge of bankruptcy and cannot tolerate any higher oil prices. In relevant remarks earlier this week, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi had also dismissed oil sanctions against Iran by the EU and other western countries, saying the world is in dire need of Iranian oil supplies. "Imposing sanctions on Iranian oil is not a wise move, and the market would pay a high price for it," Qassemi said, explaining that there will be no replacement for Iranian oil in the market. "I believe Iranian oil has a unique place in the market, and in terms of its volume and quality there is no replacement for it." Despite recent talk about imposing sanctions on Iranian oil, European Union members have failed to reach a consensus in this regard. With some EU members heavily dependent on Iranian oil, a European boycott of Iran's energy sector looks impossible. While there has been mention of Saudi Arabia selling more crude oil in the possible absence of Iranian oil, Qassemi indicated that "the Saudi Oil Minister has completely rejected such an approach." Qassemi said his Saudi counterpart has vowed that if the western, specially the European, states ban Iranian oil imports, Riyadh would not replace Tehran as their source of crude supplies. Read the full story here.
- House GOP Revolts Over Senate Payroll Tax Bill.(BigGovernment).WASHINGTON (AP) – House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday that he opposes a Senate-approved bill that extends a payroll tax cut and jobless benefits for just two months and said congressional bargainers need to write a new version that would last an entire year.As if to suggest other changes he would like in the legislation, the Ohio Republican mentioned a provision that would block Obama administration anti-pollution rules and “reasonable reductions in spending” that were in a House-passed version of the payroll tax bill that the Senate ignored.Boehner’s comments came a day after House Republicans used a conference call to complain bitterly about the Senate bill, putting House passage in serious jeopardy.House Republicans dislike the Senate bill for many reasons, including its lack of what they consider real spending cuts and its removal of restrictions on Obama administration rules. Others are unhappy about extending unemployment benefits or oppose cutting the payroll tax, which is used to finance the Social Security system.“It’s pretty clear I and our members oppose the Senate bill,” Boehner said on “Meet the Press” on NBC. He added, “I believe two months is just kicking the can down the road.”House leaders have scheduled a vote on the bill for Monday.The bill would force President Barack Obama to make a decision in the next two months on whether to build the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The president had initially said he would postpone a decision on the 1,700-mile-long pipeline until after next year’s elections and threatened to kill the payroll tax bill if it included the pipeline provision. But he backed off this week as the Senate payroll compromise took shape.Republicans strongly support the pipeline, which is supposed to pump oil from Alberta, Canada, to Texas, for the thousands of jobs it is expected to create. Unions favor the plan but environmentalists oppose it, forcing Obama to choose between two Democratic constituencies.The Senate bill says Obama can reject the pipeline only if he decides building it would not be in the national interest.Hmmmm......Merry Christmas?Read the full story here.
- Egypt’s richest Library set on Fire.(DPNews).CAIRO- The 213-year-old Egyptian maps and historical manuscripts -- described as "irreplaceable" -- were destroyed after a library in Cairo was set ablaze during the clashes, Egyptian officials said Sunday. A fire that engulfed the building of the historic Egyptian Scientific Institute on Saturday morning has been extinguished. The extent of the damage has not yet been determined. The fire started on the lower floors of the building, which is on Qasr al-Aini Street in central Cairo, but later reached the higher floors. The firemen, who arrived very late at the site, could not initially control the fire. State news agency MENA said that firemen eventually managed to control it, but state TV reported that the fire damaged the whole building and all of its collections. The building is adjacent to the Shura Council building, and both MENA and state TV accused protesters of throwing a Molotov cocktail at the institute. Eyewitnesses were reported to have seen protesters throwing a Molotov cocktail at stone-throwing soldiers at the Shura Council building, but the projectile missed the intended target and instead landed in the Egyptian Scientific Institute. The website of Youm7 newspaper alleged that a protester was set on fire after trying to set the building on fire. No other source confirmed this news. Hmmm....."Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen." ("That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also.") ~ Heinrich Heine.Read the full story here.
- Russian Oil rig sinks, more than 50 feared dead.(Yahoo).MOSCOW (Reuters) - A drilling rig with 67 crew on board capsized and sank off Russia's far eastern island of Sakhalin on Sunday while being towed through a winter storm, leaving more than 50 dead or missing in the icy Sea of Okhotsk.Emergency officials said the crew of an icebreaker and tugboat rescued 14 workers alive from the jack-up rig, the 'Kolskaya', which was operated by a Russian offshore exploration firm. They recovered four bodies from the water."The Kolskaya keeled to its side ... and sank within 20 minutes. The depth of the water at the site is 1,042 metres (3,400 feet)," Russia's federal water transport agency said on its website.Four of the survivors, suffering from hypothermia, were airlifted by helicopter to land and taken to hospital after the disaster struck at 12:45 p.m. (0145 GMT).The rest of the crew were missing, 200 km (125 miles) off the coast of remote Sakhalin island. The water temperature was one degree Celsius (33.8 Fahrenheit), giving survivors around 30 minutes before freezing to death, according to maritime and rescue websites.Three rescue craft, as well as helicopters, were sent to scour the waters for survivors from the rig owned by Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka (AMNGR), a unit of state-owned Zarubezhneft."There is no ecological danger. The vessel was carrying the minimum amount of fuel as it was being tugged by two craft," said a spokesman for AMNGR.The incident was a blow to efforts by Russia, the world's largest energy producer, to step up offshore oil and gas exploration to stave off a long-term decline in onshore production.The jack-up rig, which has three support legs that can be extended to the ocean floor while its hull floats on the surface, was heading from Kamchatka to Sakhalin when it overturned in stormy conditions with a swell of up to 6 metres."(President) Dmitry Medvedev has ordered all necessary assistance be provided to the victims of the drilling platform accident and has ordered a probe into the circumstances of the loss of the platform," the Kremlin said. The Emergencies Ministry said it would work through Sunday night.Winter often lasts 220-240 days in the waters off Sakhalin, where the main companies operating are ExxonMobil, Gazprom, and Royal Dutch Shell. They produce oil and gas, sometimes in icebound conditions, for export largely to Asian markets.Sakhalin-2, in which Shell and Mitsui also have stakes, produces 10 million tonnes per year of liquefied natural gas at Russia's only LNG plant in the port of Prigorodnoye for export to Asia, much of it to Japan.Read the full story here.
- Vaclav Havel, Dissident Playwright Who Led Czechoslovakia, Dead at 75.(NYT).Vaclav Havel, the writer and dissident whose eloquent dissections of Communist rule helped to destroy it in revolutions that brought down the Berlin Wall and swept Havel himself into power, died on Sunday. He was 75.His assistant, Sabina Tancevova, said that Mr. Havel died at his country house in northern Bohemia. A Czech embassy spokesman in Paris, Michal Dvorak, said in a statement that Mr. Havel, a heavy smoker for decades who almost died during surgery for lung cancer in 1996, had been suffering from severe respiratory ailments since last spring. A shy yet resilient, unfailingly polite but dogged man who articulated the power of the powerless, Mr. Havel spent five years in and out of Communist prisons, lived for two decades under close secret-police surveillance and endured the suppression of his plays and essays. He served 14 years as president, wrote 19 plays, inspired a film and a rap song and remained one of his generation’s most seductively nonconformist writers. All the while, he came to personify the soul of the Czech nation. His moral authority and his moving use of the Czech language cast him as the dominant figure during Prague street demonstrations in 1989 and as the chief behind-the-scenes negotiator who brought about the peaceful transfer of power known as the Velvet Revolution, a revolt so smooth that it took just weeks to complete, without a single bullet fired. He was chosen as democratic Czechoslovakia’s first president — a role he insisted was more duty than aspiration — and after the country split in January 1993, he became president of the Czech Republic. He linked the country firmly to the west, clearing the way for the Czech Republic to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1999 and the European Union five years later. Both as a dissident and as a national leader, Mr. Havel impressed the West as one of the most important political thinkers in Central Europe. Political ideas, not economics, interested him. His country, widely considered to have made a smooth transition from Communism to market democracy, came in for his devastating critique in December 1997, when he attacked corruption and the sell-off of government-run industries in a thinly veiled barb at his political nemesis, the longtime prime minister — and now president — Vaclav Klaus. Expressing disdain for what had happened to Czech society under Mr. Klaus — an ally of convenience in the days of the 1989 revolution — Mr. Havel told parliament that a “post-Communist morass” had allowed “the most immoral people” to achieve financial success at the expense of others. Mr. Klaus, a right-wing maverick who espouses the untrammeled capitalism Mr. Havel disliked, succeeded Mr. Havel as president in 2003. On Sunday, Mr. Klaus paid tribute to Mr. Havel, calling him “the symbol of the new era of the Czech state.” While many in the West worshiped Mr. Havel — President Bill Clinton once compared him to Gandhi — in his native country he was regarded with deep affection but also ambivalence, and even scorn. His slogan during the revolution that truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred was mocked by foes, who accused him of naïveté. Read the full story here.
- Don’t Be Fooled: The Horrible Anti-Internet Bill Is NOT Being Shelved Until Next Year.(Washingtonsblog).The Committee Members Who Support SOPA Sneakily Changed the Hearing Date to December 21st, Trying to Trick the American People Into Thinking It Was Over Until After the Holidays So We Won’t Fight Back!News reports initially said that the despicable anti-Internet bill – SOPA – has been delayed until next year. As Huffington Post notes:
After two days of debate, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) abruptly halted a key hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act, postponing a Committee vote on the bill until 2012. The move marks a win for hordes of internet activists who oppose the bill, but gives lawmakers another opportunity to juice deep-pocketed corporations for campaign contributions.“This is a huge victory for everyone who uses the Internet — and proof that millions of people speaking out can still make a difference in a Congress usually run by corporate lobbyists,” said Aaron Swartz, co-founder of Reddit and Demand Progress, an organization that has staunchly opposed the bills for months.“It is good news,” said Sherwin Sie, deputy legal director Public Knowledge, a non-profit group opposing the bill. “The last thing you want is to get something like this rushed through at the last minute while people are trying to do something else. That’s been the message of SOPA opponents throughout. What’s the big rush?”
But Tech Dirt gives the following update:
Update…. Or not. Despite the fact that Congress was supposed to be out of session until the end of January, the Judiciary Committee has just announced plans to come back to continue the markup this coming Wednesday. This is rather unusual and totally unnecessary. But it shows just how desperate Hollywood is to pass this bill as quickly as possible, before the momentum of opposition builds up even further.Hmmmm.....Every Bill in the past that was bad for the American people had been passed during the Christmas period......Be warned!Read the full story here.
- It’s Time to “Occupy the Dream:” African-American Faith Community Joins Forces with Occupy Wall Street – First Day of Action on MLK Day, Jan 16 at Federal Reserve Banks.(WB).Members of the African-American faith community have joined forces with Occupy Wall Street to launch a new campaign for economic justice inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Faithful to its philosophical origin, the “Occupy the Dream” coalition has called for a National Day of Action on Martin Luther King Day – Monday, January 16, 2012 – when they will “Occupy the Federal Reserve,” in multiple cities nationwide, focusing attention on the gross injustice visited upon the 99% by the financial elite. This will be the first of many actions leading up to a mass gathering in Washington D.C., to be held April 4 – 7, when millions will unite in celebration of the life and legacy of Dr King.Hmmmm......Play the Race card?Read and see the full story here.
- Full-Speed Ahead for Obama-Sanctioned ‘Taliban Embassy’ in Qatar.(BigPeace).Qatar: host to the US military, al-Jazeera, the Muslim Brotherhood– and now, the world’s first Taliban embassy– at the behest of the Obama administration.On his Facebook page, Big Peace contributor Walid Phares brought my attention to a report in the Pakistani website The Nation that Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, the premier of US ally Qatar, is prepared to open an embassy for the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”– otherwise known as the Taliban. He said, “A solution in Afghanistan requires the participation of the Taliban in a way that must be decided by the Afghans.”An office of the self-styled Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan would be the first internationally recognized representation for the Taliban since it was ousted from power by the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001…. Western diplomats have said it is hoped the opening of a Taliban office would push forward the prospect of talks intended to reconcile insurgents with the Afghan government and end the decade-long war.This story was first reported around the time of the 9/11 anniversary and it’s not a surprise that Obama himself downplayed the news. As The Australian wrote in September: THE US has given its blessing for the Taliban to be brought in from the cold with a critical step towards reconciliation as the world paused to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. "Washington has endorsed plans for the Islamist network to open political headquarters in the gulf state of Qatar by the end of the year. The move has been devised so the West can begin formal peace talks with the Taliban."In addition to being home to In his post, Dr. Phares reminds us that Qatar is the address of al-Jazeera, the Muslim Brotherhood’s most influential figure, Yusef al-Qaradawi, his website OnIslam.net and his popular al-Jazeera tv show, “Shariah and Life”: The Qatari regime, funding power behind al Jazeera, which expresses [the] Muslim Brotherhood agenda, is calling for the recognition of the Taliban and will be opening an embassy for the Taliban regime. It was reported that the US Administration has encouraged Qatar to engage in this direction. Note that the United States is at war with the Taliban and considers it as a terrorist organization. Taliban and their allies of al Qaeda have killed thousands of US civilians and military.”Read the full story here.
- US Congress may restrict aid to Egypt- Camp David Peace Accords with Israel condition to receiving further aid .(BikyaMasr).CAIRO: The United States Congress may restrict aid to Egypt, as part of a $53.3 billion bill set to restructure US foreign aid.As a state of political chaos unravels through Egypt’s post-Mubarak transition to democratic rule, Congress has moved to reconsider the $1.3 billion in security service funding it gives to the Egyptian military annually.Under the terms of the bill, $250 million in US economic assistance for Egypt would also be blocked for review.The funds would be released when the secretary of state assures Congress that Egypt is obeying the 1979 Camp David Peace Accords with Israel, and supporting a transition to a civilian-led government in Egypt by “implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association and religion and due process of law.”“In a difficult economic and political climate, this bill meets our national security needs and global responsibilities while implementing tough restrictions and requirements on recipients of US assistance,” said Rep. Nita Lowey.The Republican-backed bill was passed in the House of Representatives on Friday, and will be up for a Senate vote this weekend. It comes amid efforts to cut the United State’s budget deficit, as Republicans push to reduce overseas spending.The United States government has given Egypt an average of $2 billion in aid since 1979, the majority of which goes to the Egyptian military.In 2010, $1.3 billion went to the Egyptian forces. Another $1.9 million was allocated to help train the Egyptian military and bolster long-term cooperation between the United States and Egypt.The Obama administration requested the same amount of assistance for the 2011 fiscal year.The bill under debate devotes $3.1 billion in security assistance for United State’s ally Israel. It also restructures US foreign aid for Pakistan and the Palestinian Authority.Meanwhile, political violence in Egypt continues, as the military wages an attack on anti-government protesters for the third consecutive day, leaving at least 10 dead and nearly 400 injured, according to official Ministry of Health death tolls.Hmmmm.....Finally some common sense.Read the full story here.
- Bollywood actress Veena Malik reported missing after nude FHM photo scandal.(Mirror).There were fears today for the wellbeing of Bollywood actress Veena Malik after she was reported missing by her manager.The controversial Pakistani model and actress, who is suing FHM magazine after she claimed they doctored photos to make her look nude, has not been seen since yesterday morning.She had complained of feeling depressed, but also was the subject of death threats over the photos.Her manager Pratiek Mehta said he received a text from Malik saying she was ill and depressed.Mr Mehta said she had been filming a movie called Mumbai 125 Kilometers at Goregaon and was last seen leaving in a car after shooting had finished.He added: "I have been trying to reach her since yesterday, but have failed. I have approached the officials at Bandra police station and have sought help in finding the whereabouts of Veena."However, the police at Bandra said she had not officially been reported as a missing person..The film’s director Hemant Madhukar said: "Veena left after the pack-up yesterday (Friday) morning. In the afternoon, I received an SMS from her where she apologised for not being able to concentrate on the shooting, stating that she was disturbed."I called her immediately, but her number was not reachable. I have not been able to get in touch with her since.”Last week Malik was reported to have said the stress of the controversy had aged her 10 years.Referring to FHM India, the 33-year-old said: “I feel completely cheated. They've added 10 years to my age.”Malik, who appeared on Bigg Boss, the Indian version of Big Brother, created controversy earlier this month when FHM India published a nude picture of her on its cover.Read the full story here.
- Update - Missing Veena Malik wearing Burka secretly reaches Pakistan.(Timesofindia).According to sources, she arrived back for visa renewal to Lahore via Wagha border, where her friend Ashmit Patel had come to drop her. She had mysteriously disappeared from Mumbai where she was shooting for a film.Actress was in the heat of a storm for posing nude in the Indian edition of FHM magazine with only an ISI tattoo on her arm.She alleged that the magazine airbrushed out the thong she was wearing during the shoot.Sources said that she walked into Pakistan from the Wagah border on Friday, where some of her friends picked her up and left for an unknown destination, The Nation reported.She had come to India on a 45 days visa, which was about to expire and a couple of days back she was asked by the authorities to get the visa renewed.Her arrival in Pakistan went unnoticed because she was wearing a burqa and her passport carried her real name Zahida.Earlier, A missing person's case has been registered at the Bandra police station in Mumbai. Her manager Prateek said, "Even if she was planning to go home, Veena would have told me. I got a call from her at 5.30am on Friday, but I couldn't speak to her. Post that I haven't been able to speak to her." But a source close to Veena is skeptical. "Really? I have no clue about this. From what I know she is in Mumbai." Sohail Rashid, Veena's manager in Pakistan, said, "Post the nude photo shoot incident, I too received abusive messages.Read the full story here.More here.
- Serious human rights violations committed by Egypt’s army.(Bikyamasr).More evidence has emerged documenting the ongoing crimes of Egypt's military.CAIRO: The Egyptian military has committed serious human rights crimes and violations against protesters, as more documentation of the violence emerges on social networking websites, showing video footage of harsh and excessive use of force against the protesters, including women and elderly people.Women have been beaten and stripped of their clothes, assaulted and threatened with rape prior to being detained.Activists say the military is escalating their violence and attacks. The number of missing people is increasing, as the death toll reached 10 on Saturday evening and the count of injured nears 400, according to official estimates from the Egyptian Ministry of Health.One woman in particular was seen in a video receiving a grave beaten by many soldiers. Her shirt snapped open, publicly reveling her skin and bra. She and a companion were running from the troops when she fell. Her companion tried to help her but received an equal beating. She was beaten with heavy wooden batons, and the soldiers in the video were seen kicking her in the chest. One soldier slammed his heavy army boots with tremendous power on the woman, who seemed to have passed out.The still image of the woman, bear chested in her bra and laying on the ground while a soldiers foot remains in the air, heading to her body, made headlines on Egypt’s press on Sunday and gave talk shows hosts and their guests much to talk about on Saturday night. Egyptians woke up to an unpopular fact– the military is not good for us. Newspapers like al-Tahrir enlarged the image, putting it as the headline of its front page.The military and the prime minister said the image is not real, calling it “Photoshopped.” Activists responded by releasing the whole video that shows the full reality of the beating.Another video showed an elderly woman with gray hair being dragged by four soldiers, with no consideration for her age. She was man handled and dragged from her clothes by the young soldiers.Other clips show military officers using live ammunition on protesters, while the other soldiers ran after their prey. Activists said many women were arrested and kept in the Egyptian cabinet building on the street of the sit-in.Since, the military had the street rebuilt in a matter of hours, paving the ground again and fixing the sidewalks, making it hard to imagine how much of a mess it was less than 14 hours ago.The soldiers were also featured setting the protesters’ tents on fire, tearing them apart with their own hands in anger.The violence erupted after a man was kidnapped from the sit-in in front of the Magles al-Sha’b building in downtown Cairo. He returned, badly injured and almost deformed by the beating he suffered at the hands of the soliders.Other protesters were angered at the attack, especially as rumors of kidnappings circulated over the last week. Some people remain missing.The military spilled gasoline on the sit-in’s tents and set it ablaze. Protesters who were trying to flee the fire were beaten badly and chased in the surrounding streets.The military was filmed on roof tops of buildings throwing large pieces of rocks and marble at the protesters below. Eyewitnesses reported that the army used Molotov cocktail bottles, fire crackers and water hoses on the protests.Ghada Kamal Ahmed Abdel Khaleq, an activist with the April 6 Youth Movement, gave her testimony of what happened to her while she was in detention in a video.She said she was trying to rest as the military attacked the street. As she looked back at the running wave of soldiers, she spotted a women being hit by soldiers. Abdel Khaleq stopped and ran back to “relive her from some of the batons– I thought I could lay on her”, she said, but she was not given a chance. She was surrounded with soldiers, who were not shy about using their batons on a woman. She received many hits on her head, cracking her skull open, necessitating stitches.After the beating, she was taken inside the Cabinet building to talk to the officers. One officer, who identified himself with a fake name, wanted her for himself.She said he pushed back the soldiers and told her he recognize her from the street and that she was insulting them. “I will show you how much of a man I am tonight, you are mine” he told the bleeding woman.“Dying is okay, we go out knowing that could happen, but for a woman to be threatened by rape and sexual violence, that is much harder,” she said.Women have repeatedly reported being molested, kicked and hit in sensitive areas and groped by soldiers who see it as a chance.Abdel Kahleq was rescued by a doctor who came inside to take away those who were in need of immediate medical help. He choose to take the women first. Abdel Kahleq says there were about 8 women there, some injured. She had to whisper to the doctor to communicate to him that the officer wanted to keep her overnight. She was taken out after the doctor insisted that she had to join the other women in the clinic.As Abdel Kahleq was leaving, the officer told her he will shoot her if he sees her again outside in the street.Other videos and testimonies continue to emerge, a clear picture is forming of what really went on during the clashes.Read the full story here.
- UK - Muslims outraged at police advert featuring cute puppy sitting in policeman's hat.(DailyMail).A postcard featuring a cute puppy sitting in a policeman's hat advertising a Scottish police force's new telephone number has sparked outrage from Muslims. Tayside Police's new non-emergency phone number has prompted complaints from members of the Islamic community.The choice of image on the Tayside Police cards - a black dog sitting in a police officer's hat - has now been raised with Chief Constable John Vine.The advert has upset Muslims because dogs are considered ritually unclean and has sparked such anger that some shopkeepers in Dundee have refused to display the advert.Dundee councillor Mohammed Asif said: 'My concern was that it's not welcomed by all communities, with the dog on the cards. 'It was probably a waste of resources going to these communities.'They (the police) should have understood. Since then, the police have explained that it was an oversight on their part, and that if they'd seen it was going to cause upset they wouldn't have done it.' Councillor Asif, who is a member of the Tayside Joint Police Board, said that the force had a diversity adviser and was generally very aware of such issues.He raised the matter with Mr Vine at a meeting of the board.The chief constable said he was unaware of the concerns and that the force had not sought to cause any upset but added he would look into the matter.Councillor Asif said: 'People who have shops just won't put up the postcard. But the police have said to me that it was simply an oversight and they did not seek to offend or upset.'Cards featuring police dog-in-training Rebel have been distributed to communities throughout the area to advertise the single number point of contact for non-emergency calls to the police.Rebel has proved a popular recruit for Tayside Police after coming through the very first Lothian and Borders Police dog-breeding programme in February. One of seven German Shepherd pups born in early December, he has now completed his course of inoculations, and is free to venture out onto the streets of Tayside.A spokesman for Tayside Police said: 'Trainee police dog Rebel has proved extremely popular with children and adults since being introduced to the public, aged six weeks old, as Tayside Police's newest canine recruit.'His incredible world-wide popularity - he has attracted record visitor numbers to our website - led us to believe Rebel could play a starring role in the promotion of our non-emergency number.'We did not seek advice from the force's diversity adviser prior to publishing and distributing the postcards. That was an oversight and we apologise for any offence caused.'Hmmm........Read the full story here.
- Saudi Security Forces Arrest 42 Ethiopian Christians For Praying.(Persecution).Washington, D.C. (December 17, 2011) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Saudi security forces arrested 42 Ethiopian Christians at a prayer gathering in Jeddah on Thursday. The location of the detained Christians is unknown.On December 15, Saudi police and security officers raided an evening prayer meeting at the home of an Ethiopian Christian in the Al-Safa district of Jeddah. Those attending the service were reportedly beaten and threatened before being arrested.Security officials broke [into] the house and captured… beat and threatened them for death… They divided the men and the women and they are torturing them [in prison],” an Ethiopian and Eritrean Christian immigrant community living in Europe wrote in an urgent appeal for help to the ambassadors of European embassies in Riyadh on Friday.Saudi Arabian officials have arrested Christians in the past but it is unprecedented for them to arrest 42 Christians at one time,” a church leader in Jeddah, who asked not to be named for security reasons, told ICC. “We are particularly concerned about the children of the detained Christians.”Two Ethiopian fellowships in Saudi Arabia informed ICC that they will temporarily postpone services until the situation calms. Christians in Saudi Arabia, most of who enter the country as foreign workers, are not allowed to practice their faith openly. Saudi police have been known to raid private worship gatherings in homes, arrest and deport congregants, and confiscate Christian materials, including Bibles.Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Though not permitting a single church building where Christians can worship in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi government goes even further to assault the religious freedoms of its citizens and foreign workers by hunting for and arresting Christians who attend services in the privacy of their own homes. As a signatory to the UN Convention against Torture, we urge Saudi Arabia to end the abuse that the Ethiopian Christians have reportedly suffered in prison and to ensure their immediate release.Hmmmm....."Islamophobia".... anyone?Read the full story here.
- A financial Dunkirk: Britain draws up plans to rescue expats if Spain and Portugal are hit by financial oblivion.(DailyMail).Evacuation plans for British expats stranded in Spain and Portugal if their banking systems collapse are being drawn up by the Foreign Office.The contingency plans are being put in place to help thousands of Britons if they were unable to get to their money in the event of a catastrophic banking collapse in two of the most vulnerable eurozone economies.Around one million British expats live in Spain, particularly around Marbella and Malaga, and some 50,000 in Portugal.The Foreign Office is concerned that those who have invested savings in their adopted countries would face losing their homes if banks called in loans and they were unable to access money.Last week ratings agency Standard and Poor's downgraded 10 Spanish banks, including Banco Popular.Among options being considered for a 'nightmare scenario' include sending planes, ships and coaches to evacuate expats - some through Gibraltar.Small loans could also be made available to stranded Britons and pressure would be exerted on the Spanish and Portuguese governments to allow access to funds to pay for everyday essentials.Both countries have a deposit guarantee, like the UK, which means depositors are covered for up to €100,000.But in the event of a collapse, most banks would limit withdrawals.Many expats have retired to the south of Spain on fixed incomes, having used their savings to buy villas and apartments.A senior Foreign Office source told The Sunday Times: 'The nuclear scenario would be having thousands of Brits stranded at the airports in Spain and Portugal with no way to get money from the cash dispenser and no way to get home.'Who would be blamed for this? The Foreign Office.'We are looking at how we can help evacuate them if the banks in Spain and Portugal collapse, getting people cash, things like that, sending planes.'Expats could face losing their villas and apartments because they were unable to afford mortgage payments or withdraw enough cash as banks tried to stop money leaving the country.They could also lose savings if banks in either country collapsed.Jeremy Cook, chief economist at World First - foreign currency exchange specialists - told the newspaper: 'Countries have individual safeguards on deposits but for people with large deposits in a bank it would be difficult to say whether all that money would be protected.'Read the full story here.
- Highly Toxic Mercury Present in Processed Foods, Yet FDA Does Nothing.(BlacklistedNews).By Anthony Gucciardi - Activist Post.Why has the FDA ignored the fact that mercury, an element that is highly toxic in all forms, was found in a large number of brand-name processed foods?Specifically, the mercury content was found to be contained in high-fructose corn syrup, which also reportedly contains genetically modified ingredients.Instead of addressing this major public health concern, the FDA is focusing their time on crushing beneficial supplements through ridiculous NDI regulations that threaten the entire infrastructure of the nutraceuticals industry.Researchers from two U.S. studies reported that about half of tested samples of high-fructose corn syrup contained mercury. Mercury was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products which listed high-fructose corn syrup as the first-or-second-highest labeled ingredient.Following the report, organizations like the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy called on the FDA for immediate action: ‘Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply,”’the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies, said in a prepared statement.Americans Consumed Over 37 Pounds of Mercury-Laden HFCS in 2008. Mercury is toxic in any dosage, but the information becomes even more alarming when you consider the fact that the average American consumed 37.8 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup in 2008! If this is not explosive enough on its own, remember the fact that this is but one source of mercury exposure. CFL light bulbs, mercury-contaminated seafood, and some dental fillings are a few sources of mercury exposure that affect millions of individuals.The ubiquitous nature of high-fructose corn syrup in processed food products makes it difficult to avoid if you are on a junk food diet that is devoid of essential nutrients. Unfortunately, a large number of people worldwide subscribe to this nutritional program while in the dark regarding the true effects that such a diet can have on the human body. Until the FDA decides to step in (which simply will not happen unless activists make enough noise), protecting yourself and your family against HFCS is your priority. If you eat 100% organic food items, or grow your own organic food, you will not have to worry about toxic high-fructose corn syrup.It’s time to tell the FDA to focus on the real issues, like toxic elements in our food supply — not health-promoting supplements that have improved lives and boosted immune systems.Read the full story here.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Type "Let it snow" and get it yourself: beautiful SNOW!
Google presents this year a really cool Easteregg. It freezes the whole Google Search Resultpage and lets you draw anyting.
You can search on Google.com, using the Keywords "Let it snow"
Automatically the Snowflakes and the Ice crystals appear
Hmmm.....And a Very Merry Christmas to All !
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Chile 5.2 !More info here.
- Obama Administration gives up on detained American journalist Joseph Mayton in Egypt.(Bikyamasr).CAIRO: US Embassy officials refuse to assist detained American journalist, citing security and diplomatic concerns.The American Embassy in Cairo, in communication with detained American journalist and Bikya Masr Editor-in-Chief Joseph Mayton, reported that they cannot help in retrieving Mayton from Egyptian military detention, citing security and diplomatic concerns.“The military has spoke on two specific times to embassy officials, telling them that I can leave when the come and get me,” said Mayton, speaking to Bikyamasr.com staff on Saturday evening.“For two reasons they will not send someone to come get me. First, they say that there is a security situation in the area. Second, they told me that there is a tense diplomatic situation between the US government and the Egyptian security forces,” Mayton explained.“They said they will not send someone until a US security officer gives them the ok. They told me that they are looking at other solutions,” he continued.Meanwhile, the Hungarian embassy has sent a representative to retrieve Mark Fodor, a Hungarian citizen who was also detained today in the Cabinet building.Mayton, who was covering the ongoing violence in Cairo, was assaulted by the military police around 9:30 AM on Saturday morning after a group of citizens surrounded him, questioning why he was there.He was brought to the Cabinet building, where he has been detained for the past 11 hours.American embassy officials say that they will try to arrange for Mayton’s release on Sunday morning.Hmmm.......In Obama's world American citizens don't seem to count much?Read the full story here.
- Bail-out Bombshell: Fed "Emergency" Bank Rescue Totaled $29 Trillion Over Three Years.(BlacklistedNews).Source:Alternet.While the 99% suffered hardship, a new study shows that the Fed propped up buddies in the banking industry and a vast shadow banking system far beyond what anyone has guessed.Speculation about the the Fed’s actions during the financial crisis has made headlines on and off again over the last several years. The latest drama occurred on November 27 when Bloomberg published an article, “Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion Undisclosed to Congress," which gives an account of the news agency’s struggle to bring to light the details of the Fed’s emergency programs. Bloomberg throws out some very large numbers, revealing that as of March 2009, the Fed lent, spent, or committed $7.77 trillion worth of aid to the financial system and that banks used the low interest rates charged on these loans to make an estimated $13 billion in income. On December 6, the Fed struck back, issuing a four page unsigned memo intended to correct recent “egregious errors and mistakes” found in various reports of its emergency lending facilities. The Fed argues that the “total credit outstanding under liquidity programs was never more than about $1.5 trillion.” While Bloomberg wasn’t mentioned explicitly in the Fed memo, it was fairly clear to whom the response was directed. The following day Bloomberg defended its reporting, and the Wall Street Journal’s David Wessel came to the Fed’s defense, characterizing Bloomberg’s methodology as a “great story,” but ultimately not “true.” All this may sound like controversy, but it’s little more than a tempest in a teacup.Here’s the hurricane: In reality, no less than $29.616 trillion is the total emergency assistance provided by the Fed to foreign and domestic entities during the Global Financial Crisis. Let’s repeat that: $29 trillion. This astounding number is over twice U.S. gross domestic product, the nominal value of all goods and services produced for the year 2010. This is the total of the bailout as calculated by Nicola Matthews and myself as part of the Ford Foundation project, A Research And Policy Dialogue Project On Improving Governance Of The Government Safety Net In Financial Crisis. We will be presenting the results of our analysis in a series of papers published by the Levy Economics Institute, the first of which, “29,000,000,000,000: A Detailed Look at the Fed’s Bailout by Funding Facility and Recipient,” is already available here. The results we have calculated are presented below, and it is important to note that the totals are cumulative and in billions of U.S. dollars. (The numbers in parentheses indicate amounts still outstanding as of November 10, 2011).Read the full story here.
- The Gospel According To Wright.(AmericanSpectator).By Charles C. Johnson.In 2008 America elected a president whose pastor for 20 years preached anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, advocated bizarre pseudo-scientific racial ideas, opposed interracial marriage, praised communist dictatorships, denounced black "assimilation," and taught Afrocentric feel-good nonsense to schoolchildren. When Americans discovered the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's views during the 2008 campaign, they rightly wondered if Barack Obama, like his pastor, really believed that HIV/AIDS was created by the American government to kill black people. Even to this day, no one knows for sure whether Obama shares the views of Wright, whom the Chicago Sun-Times once described as Obama's "close confidant."Candidate Obama tried to dismiss his support for Wright, telling Charlie Gibson of ABC News, "It's as if we took the five dumbest things that I ever said or you ever said…in our lives and compressed them, and put them out there, you know, I think that people's reaction, would be understandably upset." And rightly so. In sermon after sermon, Wright's radical black nationalist ideas were clearly and emphatically stated. They were not an aberration, but the focal point of Pastor Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where Obama was an active member for 20 years.Nor has Wright renounced any of his anti-Americanism. In a sermon last September 16 marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11 entitled, "The Day of Jerusalem's Fall," Wright seemed to celebrate white America's comeuppance. "We bombed Hiroshima. We bombed Nagasaki. And we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon--and we never batted an eye!" Wright preached. "We supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black south Africans and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards." He closed, invoking Malcolm X's statement about the assassination of J.F.K, "America's chickens! Coming home! To roost!" White America, he was saying, had gotten its just deserts.Candidate Obama tried to distance himself from Wright's more damning comments. But, crucially, he didn't disown the pastor himself. In fact, in his rise to political fame, he had made Wright's sermons his own, drawing on Wright's "Audacity to Hope" sermon and appropriating its theme for his political coming-out speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004. He even borrowed the sermon's title for his second autobiography, The Audacity of Hope, in a bid to get Wright and other black churches to support his candidacy.The question is why Barack Obama, raised without any faith at all, chose one of the most incendiary preachers in Black America to preach the word of God to him. Wright became, in Obama's words, "like family to me. [Wright] strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children." Obama told a group of ministers in June 2007 that Wright helped "introduce me to my Christian faith." But what, exactly, is Barack Obama's faith? Just as important, what is Jeremiah Wright's?Read the full story here.
- Outrage over West's Goebbels remark (Obama likening the U.S. to Nazi Germany on NPR remains in memory hole, however).(DougRoss).Please consider this report from The Hill: Dems call on Rep. West to apologize for Joseph Goebbels comparison. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) landed in hot water on Friday for his remarks the previous day comparing the Democrats’ proficiency in getting out their message to the notorious head of the Nazi Party’s propaganda department under Hitler.“If Joseph Goebbels was around, he’d be very proud of the Democrat Party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine,” West said Thursday... “Shame on him,” tweeted Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.). “Rep. West needs to apologize now for insulting the memories of the millions who lost their lives during the Holocaust.”Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) also called on West to apologize.Curiously, these Democrat hacks were utterly silent when then-candidate Barack Obama was revealed to have compared the United States to Nazi Germany during an NPR interview.None other than Charles (or the "Chuckster", as he prefers to be known) Johnson of LGF -- then in the patriotic phase of his career -- discovered Obama tarring America as a fascist regime.The audio recording of Barack Obama espousing his socialist philosophy of “redistribution of wealth” is all over the internet and Fox News today (although the other media outlets are ignoring it), but there’s another disturbing section on that tape that has so far escaped notice.The link to the audio is here: Chicago Public Radio - Audio Library: Odyssey.At about 15:30, Obama compares what was going on in the United States during the time of Brown vs. the Board of Education to ... Nazi Germany. Yes, really. Here’s the quote:“...just to take a, sort of a realist perspective...there’s a lot of change going on outside of the Court, um, that, that judges essentially have to take judicial notice of. I mean you’ve got World War II, you’ve got uh, uh, uh, the doctrines of Nazism, that, that we are fighting against, that start looking uncomfortably similar to what we have going on, back here at home.”There you have it. America is close to electing a President that compares his own country to Nazi Germany.Countdown to media analysis of Obama's egregious statements in: 3... 2... never.Read the full story here.
- Obama Administration, evidently to appease Muslims May Free Hezbollah Terrorist.(JW).A renowned Hezbollah terrorist in U.S. military custody for murdering five American soldiers in Iraq may soon be released by the Obama Administration, evidently to appease Muslims.The perplexing story was reported recently by a mainstream newspaper that portrays the case as a “dilemma” for the president as American troops prepare to exit Iraq. The Lebanese militant, Ali Mussa Daqduq, has been in U.S. military custody in Iraq since 2007 for his involvement in a carefully orchestrated plot that killed, kidnapped and tortured American military officers.The incident took place in a city called Karbala, south of Baghdad in early 2007. Around a dozen terrorists dressed in U.S. military uniforms opened fire on Americans after approaching a camp in five sports utility vehicles resembling U.S. transports. One U.S. soldier died at the scene and four others were kidnapped, tortured and executed. Daqduq, a Hezbollah commander, was the mastermind.But the Obama Administration can’t decide what to do with him. The president doesn’t want to violate Iraq’s sovereignty by removing Daqduq from the country when the U.S. withdraws at the end of the month. If Iraq is gracious enough to grant the U.S. permission to remove the terrorist so that he can be tried, this presents yet another huge dilemma for Obama.Taking Daqduq to the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo Cuba, which houses other high-value terrorists, is out of the question because the facility is an anathema in the Middle East, according to the newspaper that broke the story. Furthermore, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki would not approve the “unacceptable” Guantanamo option.What to do with this Islamic terrorist who murdered members of our military? Incredibly, releasing him seems to be a very realistic option, according to various news reports. One mainstream outlet says that Daqduq may soon go free,without facing trial. This has outraged some members of Congress who offer the administration a reasonable solution.During a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, one senator insisted Daqduq should go to Guantanamo to be tried before a military commission. Releasing him to the Iraqis would be like letting him go and trying him in a U.S. civilian court would be disastrous, the lawmaker pointed out. The administration already tested that brilliant idea when it proposed trying 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Manhattan.The Guantanamo option is clearly the most sensible. Last month Judicial Watch was approved by the Department of Defense (DOD) to observe the arraignment of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the al-Qaeda terrorist charged with orchestrating the 2000 attack on the Navy destroyer USS Cole. JW witnessed a deep commitment to justice by military lawyers as well as al-Nashiri’s topnotch capital defense attorney. Read JW’s Guantanamo coverage here.Hmmmm..........Read the full story here.
- US turns over Hezbollah prisoner to Iraqi government.(TheHill).The U.S. handed over a Hezbollah prisoner suspected of being involved in the deaths of five U.S. soldiers to the Iraqi government Friday, as U.S. troops prepare to leave the country, the White House said.The Obama administration had been pushing Iraq to allow the U.S. to keep Ali Musa Daqduq in U.S. custody, and President Obama discussed it with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki when he visited the White House Monday, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said.But the Iraqi government wouldn’t agree to let the U.S. taking Daqduq out of Iraq, and the U.S. legally had to transfer him to Iraqi custody under the security agreement negotiated by the Bush administration in 2008, Vietor said.The decision to hand the last prisoner in U.S. custody over to the Iraqis was blasted by Republicans and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) Friday, who had wanted him transferred to Guantánamo Bay for a military tribunal.A statement from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Lieberman and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called the move “disgraceful.” “Coming on the heels of the Administration's failure to maintain a small American military presence in Iraq to support the fragile peace there, this failure to keep a committed murderer of Americans in U.S. custody sends exactly the wrong message to our allies and enemies in the region,” the statement said.Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: “Given Iraq’s history of releasing detainees, I expect it is only a matter of time before this terrorist will be back on the battlefield.”Vietor said that the administration did not want to send any more detainees to Guantanamo, and the U.S. had discussed transferring him to a U.S. military commission.“The president has been clear that he believes it’s in our national security interest to close the detention facility of Guantanamo Bay, not add to the population,” Vietor said.Vietor said the Iraqis have given assurances to the administration that Daqduq will be tried for his crimes.Daqduq is accused of organizing a 2007 raid in Karbala, Iraq, where five U.S. soldiers were killed. Under the security agreement with Iraq, the U.S. must return all prisoners to Iraqi custody as it leaves the country. The U.S. marked the end of the Iraq war Thursday and is in the process of withdrawing the final troops from the country by the end of the month.Hmmmmm.....Anyone still doubting why an ex Iranian guard commander was at the WhiteHouse?Iran.....Hezbollah....Hellooooooo?Read the full story here.
- Canadian Imam Compares Canada to Nazi Germany.(Zaman).Calgary - A local Muslim leader who came under fire for comparing the situation Jews faced in Nazi Germany with that of Muslims in Canada today is hoping to meet the Calgary Jewish Community Council to clear the air.“I have asked for a meeting, and after the meeting, I’m going to comment,” said Imam Syed Soharwardy. “I just don’t want any misunderstanding that people are trying to create.”Imam Soharwardy, president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, was sounding off on Ottawa’s new policy barring individuals from donning niqabs or face veils while taking their oath of citizenship.“Muslims are going through that situation right now where the Jews faced before the Holocaust,” hey told CTV earlier this week.Related - Niqab is not an issue.Barbara Kay: New niqab law puts Canadian values first.“Because intimidation of their faith, badmouthing about their faith, badmouthing about their book, badmouthing about their beliefs - that was going on in Germany before the Holocaust. The same thing is happening now about Muslims,” he said.Judy Shapiro, community relations director with the Calgary Jewish Community Council, said she understood that the Imam was disagreeing with federal government policy.“But there is no comparison between what Canadian Muslims are facing today and what the Jews faced in Germany before the Holocaust,” Ms. Shapiro said.“Not only is such a statement factually wrong, but it’s insensitive, at the very least, not only to the Jewish community, but to all Canadians. To equate Canadians to Nazis is totally unwarranted.”Ms. Shapiro said no meeting has been set up, but if it does happen, it will be private.Read the full story here.
- US Clears Iraqi Airspace For Israeli Strike On Iran.(Matzav).The U.S. military’s fast-approaching Dec. 31 exit from Iraq, which has no way to defend its airspace, puts Israel in a better place strategically to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.Iraq has yet to assemble a force of jet fighters, and since the shortest route for Israeli strike fighters to Iran is through Iraqi airspace, observers conclude that the U.S. exit makes the Jewish state’s mission planning a lot easier.Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said the Iraqi military will maintain radars to monitor the country’s airspace, but it has not taken possession of American F-16s to guard that space.“The country has a capable and improving capability to see the airspace, a viable system to provide command and control, but no system to defeat incoming air threats until it gets either the F-16s or ground-based systems or, optimally, some of both,” Gen. Buchanan told The Washington Times.Iraq made the first payment in September for 18 F-16s that will not arrive until next fall at the earliest. This means Israel would have a theoretical window of about 12 months if it wants to fly over Iraq unimpeded by theIraqi air force.Retired Air ForceGen. Thomas McInerney, who advocates a U.S. strategic bombing raid to destroy Iran’s nuclear sites, agreed that Iraq’s open airspace would make it easier for an Israeli mission.“Yes, it will be,” he said. “However, it will be much easier for Iranian forces to get to Israel through Iraq via land and air.”Gen. McInerney said he thinks there is a good chance that Iran, stretched economically by Western sanctions and fearing threats from Israel, will launch a war against the Jewish state through Iraq.“Our departing Iraq will be a huge strategic mistake,” he said of the Dec. 31 deadline for all U.S. forces to leave.Iraq’s ruling Shiite majority has historic ties to Iran’s dominant Shiite society, but Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has warned Tehran against meddling in his country’s politics.Unknown is the role of U.S. jet fighters stationed outside Iraq but within striking distance from Navy carriers in the Persian Gulf, or possibly Kuwait.“I would hope we would jump to defend Iraqi airspace,” said James Carafano, a military analyst at the Heritage Foundation. “These are the kinds of contingency plans that ought to be put in place.”Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, like his predecessor, Robert M. Gates, has downplayed the impact that an airstrike might have on Iran’s quest for an atomic bomb. The Islamic republic has denied that it is trying to make a nuclear weapon.Read the full story here.
- Leftists Delay Justice, Cop-Killer Gets Death Reprieve.(JW).Pliant courts and a powerful leftist movement delayed justice long enough to get a convicted cop-murderer a death-penalty reprieve more than a decade after his lengthy appeals process had already been exhausted.The outrageous case involves a member of the radical Black Panthers, Mumia Abu-Jamal, who murdered a police officer (Daniel Faulkner) in Philadelphia three decades ago. Abu-Jamal, who claims to be the victim of a racist legal system, was sentenced to death by the jury that convicted him in 1982. After losing multiple appeals and being rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court twice, Abu-Jamal finally got his official reprieve this week.Prosecutors in Philadelphia officially abandoned their decades-long pursuit of execution for the cop-killer, leaving him to rot in jail for the rest of his life. In 2001, two years after Abu-Jamal had exhausted a lengthy appeals process, a Philadelphia federal judge (William Yohn) threw out the death sentence citing problems with the jury instructions and verdict form in the trial.Judge Yohn, appointed by the first President Bush in 1991, said jurors should have been able to consider mitigating circumstances during sentencing even if they did not unanimously agree that those circumstances even existed. Then he ordered prosecutors to, either conduct a new sentencing hearing, or instead sentence Abu-Jamal to life imprisonment since the conviction itself was never questioned.Decades have passed, many of the witnesses are either dead or unreachable so Philadelphia’s District Attorney decided not to proceed with a new sentencing hearing. “There has never been a doubt in my mind that Mumia Abu-Jamal shot and killed Officer Faulkner, and I believe the appropriate sentence was handed down in 1982,” said Philly D.A. Seth Williams, who happens to be black.He points out that every reviewing court has ruled that Abu-Jamal’s trial was fair and the verdict of guilt sound. The evidence was overwhelming and the mixed-race jury didn’t take long to reach a verdict for the 1981 murder. Three credible eyewitnesses testified that Abu Jamal was the killer. The bullet in the officer’s brain came from Abu Jamal’s gun, which had five empty cartridges when investigators found it. Court documents, testimony and other relevant facts about the case are available on a website created in the officer’s memory.From prison Abu-Jamal has been a hero to a powerful leftwing movement—including journalists— that has fought for his release. His backers include famous Hollywood celebrities and well-known activists and civil rights groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Amnesty International. President Obama’s ousted “Green Czar” (Van Jones) is also among the vocal Abu-Jamal supporters.Reacting to this week’s reprieve, a San Francisco-based group (appropriately called Prison Radio) that claims Abu-Jamal is a political prisoner insists he be freed, asserting that he’s innocent. To make its case the group includes a statement from the great South African activist (Desmond Tutu) who earned international accolades for opposing apartheid. Because life in prison is yet another form of death sentence, Tutu says, justice will not be served. “Based on even a minimal following of international human rights standards, Mumia must now be released,” Tutu said.Read the full story here.
- House Passes Spending Bill That Bans White House “Czars”.(DetNews).WASHINGTON — The U.S. House approved a $1 trillion spending bill on a 296-121 vote to fund the federal government’s operations through Sept. 30. As part of a compromise struck late Thursday, the funding bill specifically prohibits “czars” related to health care, climate change, the auto industry and urban affairs.The Senate is expected to pass the measure on Saturday.Michigan’s House delegation split 10-5 in favor of the resolution.Opposing the measure were Reps. Thad McCotter, R-Livonia; Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township; Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit; Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland; and Tim Walberg, R-Tipton.But Democrats and Republicans are still debating whether to extend a cut in payroll taxes set to expire Dec. 31, extend emergency unemployment insurance and increase Medicare reimbursement payments to doctors. Republicans are insisting on a provision aimed at speeding approval of a controversial energy pipeline from Canada.House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, praised the vote.“Recognizing the danger our spending-driven debt poses to long-term economic growth, this bill cuts discretionary spending for the second year in a row — a first in modern history — and eliminates several excessive government regulations that threaten job creators,” he said.Read the full story here.
- Unreal: Congressmen Told They Can’t Say “Merry Christmas” In Mail To Constituents.(Washington Examiner).Looks like the PC police have threatened members of the House of Representatives against wishing constituents a “Merry Christmas,” if they want to do so in a mailing paid for with tax dollars.Members who submit official mailings for review by the congressional franking commission that reviews all congressional mail to determine if it can be “franked,” or paid for with tax dollars, are being told that no holiday greetings, including “Merry Christmas,” can be sent in official mail.“I called the commission to ask for clarification and was told no ‘Merry Christmas.’ Also told cannot say ‘Happy New Year’ but can say ‘have a happy new year’ — referencing the time period of a new year, but not the holiday,” said a Hill staffer who requested anonymity.Another Hill staffer told The Washington Examiner that “we were given that advice after submitting” a draft mailing.Read the full story here.
- Why won't Obama say 'victory' to mark end of Iraq war?(WashingtonExaminer).President Obama delivered an important speech yesterday concerning the conclusion of the American war effort in Iraq. He spoke at Fort Bragg, N.C., before an assembly of America's finest military men and women, not a few of whom carried with them wounds suffered in the war. Every American should carefully read and study this Obama speech. Those who do will look in vain for the most important word that can be said about this or any other war.U.S. troops invaded Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 2003. By all accounts, the turning point in the war was the surge, the rapid increase in 2006 of American troop strength and the systematic application of their courage and firepower in an unprecedented strategy of localized engagement that began with the Anbar Awakening.Of the surge, Obama said this yesterday: "We remember the surge and we remember the Awakening -- when the abyss of chaos turned toward the promise of reconciliation. By battling and building block by block in Baghdad, by bringing tribes into the fold and partnering with the Iraqi army and police, you helped turn the tide toward peace."A little further on in his address, Obama observed: "It's harder to end a war than begin one. Indeed, everything that American troops have done in Iraq -- all the fighting and all the dying, the bleeding and the building, and the training and the partnering -- all of it has led to this moment of success. Now, Iraq is not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we're leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people. We're building a new partnership between our nations. And we are ending a war not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home."Those are fine and inspiring words to be sure. But what is more notable is the one word America's commander in chief could not bring himself to say to the assembled troops: Victory. He called the end of the American sacrifice in Iraq a "moment of success." And he called it an "extraordinary achievement." He even called it the fullest "expression of America's support for self-determination than our leaving Iraq to its people."But he didn't call it a victory, even though by his own description, Iraq was, before the arrival of American troops, a land of intense suffering under one of the most cruel and ruthless dictators in history. Today, the people of Iraq are no longer terrorized by their own government; they are instead its masters. If that result does not deserve to be called a victory for America, Obama owes an explanation to the families of the 4,500 Americans who gave their lives to bring it about.Read the full story here.
- Coming Soon: Retroactive Surveillance on Anyone.(NetworkWorld) .As the price of digital storage drops and the technology to tap electronic communication improves, authoritarian governments will soon be able to perform retroactive surveillance on anyone within their borders, according to a Brookings Institute report.These regimes will store every phone call, instant message, email, social media interaction, text message, movements of people and vehicles and public surveillance video and mine it at their leisure, according to “Recording Everything: Digital Storage as an Enabler of Authoritarian Government,” written by John Villaseno, a senior fellow at Brookings and a professor of electrical engineering at UCLA.That will enable shadowing people’s movements and communications that took place before the individuals became suspects, he says.“For example, if an anti-regime demonstrator previously unknown to security services is arrested, it will be possible to go back in time to scrutinize the demonstrator’s phone conversations, automobile travels, and the people he or she met in the months and even years leading up to the arrest,” the report says.“These enormous databases of captured information will create what amounts to a surveillance time machine. … This will fundamentally change the dynamics of dissent, insurgency and revolution,” the report says.Villaseno draws on knowledge gained from recent overthrows of such authoritarian regimes to support his argument that such a scenario is not just possible but likely. He notes that when the government of Libya fell, insurgents found equipment that had captured 30 million to 40 million minutes of phone conversations per month and enabled the government to read activist emails. There have been reports that the government of Syria wants to build communications intercepts as well, he says.In 2015 the cost of storing all the phone calls made in a year by an average person will be less than 2 cents, the report says. By 2020, the cost to store all the phone calls made by everyone over the age of 14 in Iran will be about $100,000, the report says.Hmmmm.....Welcome to the police state.Read the full story here.
- Britain should not be afraid of standing up for Christian values to counter ‘moral collapse’: Cameron.(Alarabiya).Britain is a Christian nation and should not be afraid of standing up for Christian values to help counter the country’s “moral collapse”, Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday.In a rare foray into religion by a British premier, Cameron said “live and let live” had too often become “do what you please” in Britain.The “passive tolerance” of immoral behavior had helped fuel the August riots, excess in the banking industry and home-grown Islamist terror, he said.“We are a Christian country. And we should not be afraid to say so,” Cameron said at an event in Oxford, southern England, to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.“The Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today. Values and morals we should actively stand up and defend.The alternative of moral neutrality should not be an option.”Cameron described himself as a committed but only “vaguely practicing” member of the Church of England, who was “full of doubts” about big theological issues.“We’ve got stand up for our values if we are to confront the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country these past few generations,” he said.“Moral neutrality or passive tolerance just isn’t going to cut it anymore.“Shying away from speaking the truth about behavior, about morality has actually helped to cause some of the social problems.”Cameron said that along with the works of William Shakespeare, the King James Bible was a “high point of the English language”.“The Bible has helped to shape the values which define our country,” he said.“Responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, self-sacrifice, love, pride in working for the common good and honoring the social obligations we have to one another, to our families and our communities – these are the values we treasure.“Yes, they are Christian values. And we should not be afraid to acknowledge that.“But they are also values that speak to us all – to people of every faith and none. And I believe we should all stand up and defend them.”People who say that would be “doing down other faiths” were “profoundly wrong”.Hmmmm........Jesus said "...you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." ~ John 8:32 .Read the full story here.
- AP Poll: Majority of Americans Want Obama Voted Out of Office.(The Hill) — The majority of Americans believe that President Obama should not win reelection and his job approval stands at a new low, throwing into doubt his chances to earn reelection according to a new AP/GfK poll.More than half of Americans — 52 percent — said that President Obama should be voted out of office, a record high. Only 43 percent says he deserves a second term. Only 44 percent of voters approve of the job Obama has done as president, with 54 percent disapproving.Those numbers are a sharp decline from May, when 53 percent said Obama should be reelected. Only 38 percent of independents are approve of the job the president is doing, and only 39 percent of all voters approve of the job Obama is doing on the economy.Only 26 percent said the United States was headed in the right direction, and less than a third of respondents said they supported the president’s signature health care reform legislation.Read the full story here.
- Update: Nine dead in Cairo as clashes between army and protesters escalate.(BikyaMasr).CAIRO: Egyptian soldiers clashed with protesters for the second consecutive day in downtown Cairo, in an ongoing, violent crackdown on anti-government protests in the area.According estimates from the Egyptian Ministry of Health, at least nine protesters have been killed and 354 have been injured since the violence began in the early hours of Friday morning.Eyewitnesses reported that the army stormed flats surrounding the square where news stations had set up cameras. The army reportedly confiscated the video equipment, destroying it or throwing it down to the street below.In a press statement on Saturday afternoon, Egypt’s newly appointed Prime Minister, Kamal Ganzouri, said that the military did not initiate the attack and only worked to defend itself.He called his government “the revolution’s salvation government,” denying media reports that the army had used live ammunition on protesters.Hundreds of protesters have remained in the square on Saturday afternoon as the army’s violence intensifies.“We are waiting to see what happens next. When people wake up today, they will come and we will not stop this in the face of military,” Amr, a protester with rock in hand, told Bikyamasr.comThe violence began around two in the morning on Friday after an Ultra – a hardcore football fan – was allegedly abducted by security near the nearly three-week old sit-in in front of the Egyptian cabinet building.Rock throwing and clashes ensued and spread through the downtown Cairo area to Tahrir Square, Talaat Harb and Qasr el-Nil.Egypt’s army took power after popular uprisings ousted former President Hosni Mubarak in February.Since, they have become growingly unpopular, as protesters call upon them to immediately transfer power to a civilian-led government.Read the full story here.
- Related - BikyaMasr.com Editor-in-Chief Joseph Mayton detained by Egyptian military.(BikyaMasr).Breaking from Cairo: Bikyamasr.com’s Editor-in-Chief, Joseph Mayton, was detained this morning while covering the escalating clashes between protesters and military personnel outside of Egypt’s Cabinet building.As of the time of writing, Bikyamasr.com staff were in communication with US Embassy officials who are working to obtain Mayton’s immediate release.The clashes between demonstrators and military forces, which began in the early morning of Friday, December 17, have escalated rapidly in the past 12 hours. At least 8 have been confirmed dead, with reports of over 300 injured.Amongst the dead is cleric Emad Effat, a member of the Dar Al-Ifta religious authority. Al-Ahram reports that a funeral march for Effat has begun at Al-Azhar mosque, one the most important religious authorities in Sunni Islam.Egyptian State TV cut its live broadcast of the confrontation around noon on Saturday, as military forces escalated the situation, using lethal force and large numbers to repel protestors.BikyaMasr.com staff will continue to monitor this breaking story while working to assure the release of editor Joseph Mayton.Read the full story here.
- Arab League considers taking its Syria plan to the U.N. but rules out military action.(AlArabiya).An Arab ministerial committee ruled out taking military action against Syria but proposed on Saturday to take an Arab League plan to end the crisis in Syria to the U.N. Security Council, Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani said.The bloc’s foreign ministers will meet in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss the proposal, he said, a day after Russia proposed a surprise draft resolution to the council.“As Russia has gone to the Security Council, a proposal will be presented in the (Arab ministers’) meeting on December 21 that the Arab League goes to the (U.N.) Security Council to present the Arab initiative,” the Qatari premier said.In the same time Syria said that it will delay signing the agreement that will allow an Arab mission of military and civilian observers in the country as part of an Arab League proposal to end the bloodshed there. Meanwhile, an Iraqi team held “positive” talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday in a bid to end the deadlock over an Arab League plan to end nine months of bloodshed, its leader told AFP.“I am on my way to Cairo for a meeting with the Arab League after holding positive talks with President Assad,” National Security Adviser Falah al-Fayadh said.The Iraqi initiative is aimed at opening a dialogue between the opposition and the Syrian government to reach a result that satisfies both sides, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in an interview with AFP on Thursday.“America and Europe are afraid of the phase after Bashar al-Assad. That is why they understand the initiative” from Iraq, Maliki said.The United Nations this week estimated that more than 5,000 people have been killed in the Syrian government’s crackdown on dissent, now in its 10th month.According to the Syrian Revolution Council, about 14 people were killed on Saturday across the country by the fire of the security forces. Shiite-led Iraq has so far shied away from punitive measures against Assad’s Alawite Shiite regime, abstaining from both a vote to suspend Syria from the Arab League, and another to impose sanctions on Damascus.There are fears among officials in Iraq, which has a substantial Sunni minority, that instability in neighboring Sunni-majority Syria could spill over the border.Read the full story here.
- Report: Iran 'blinded' CIA spy satellite.(Ynet).Is Iran in possession of satellite jamming technology? A European intelligence source claimed Iran stunned Western intelligence agencies when it managed to "blind a CIA spy satellite by aiming a laser burst quite accurately," in a never before reported incident.According to an article in The Christian Science Monitor, this unreported incident might suggest that the Iranians have successively gained access to jamming technology, allowing them to track unmanned aerial vehicle navigation capabilities.Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told Fox News on Sunday that such an option is possible."Some reports have said Russia sold (Iran) a very sophisticated jamming system a short time ago. Now, our military says that is not true, it came down because of a malfunction. I certainly hope that's right because if the Russians have provided Iran with sophisticated jamming equipment it means a lot else is at risk too," said Bolton. He added that Congress should be quite concerned if Iran is in possession of jamming technology that can bring down missiles, planes and communications and guidance systems "for a whole range of our weapon systems."An Iranian engineer, trying to decipher the secrets of the CIA drone that was flying over Iranian territory earlier this month, claimed Iranians managed to the craft's frequency, causing it to switch into autopilot mode and land on Iranian territory. The engineer maintained that the drone's Achilles' heel is its global positioning system (GPS). He explained that by jamming the communication the UAV is forced to switch to autopilot, causing it to lose control. According to the engineer, Iran was able to jam communication after accumulating data on other US drones which were shot down in Afganistan. Iranian experts were then able to reprogram the GPS data supposedly directing the US craft to land in Iran.Meanwhile, Iran's foreign minister said on Saturday that his country deliberately delayed its announcement of the capture of an American surveillance drone to test US reaction.Ali Akbar Salehi is quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying Saturday that Iran's armed forces intercepted and brought down the pilotless aircraft without any foreign assistance.On Friday US offcials said they believe the American stealth drone displayed in Iran had crashed and broke into pieces and was put back together by Iranians to make it seem it was not damaged by the crash, reported The Wall Street Journal.Iranian military officials were appeared surveying the unmanned aerial vehicle in video clips published last week, which Tehran claimed was shot down or remotely skyjacked before managing to land the drone intact. However US officials maintained the pilots of the UAV, which was developed by the Air Force but used by the Central Intelligence Agency at the time of the incident, lost control of the drone last week.The officials claimed the drone broke into three pieces, and added the UAV in question is one the most-sophisticated US spy planes available. Now the American intelligence officials are hard at work trying to asses how badly this incident hurt their capabilities in the region. American officials believe the Iranians have managed to reassemble the drone and display it, stirring up a heated discussion among Washington lawmakers who are outraged the sophisticated UAV cannot self destruct in the event that it falls into unwanted hands. Officials also maintained the drone was repainted by Iran in an attempt to hide the damage caused to the UAV. According to them, the actual color of the drone is charcoal-gray and not white, as it appears to be in the video. Tehran's claim that the pilot had lost control of the craft has raised suspicion among US officials. "They did not commandeer it and steer it to the ground," a Washington official stated. "It crashed, and they put it back together to make it look whole, like a puzzle being put back together."Meanwhile, Google CEO Eric Schmidt asserted that Iran has been developing cyber warfare which might endanger the US in the future. “The Iranians are unusually talented in cyber war for some reason we don't fully understand,” Schmidt said in an interview with CNN on Thursday. Read the full story here.