Tuesday, December 27, 2011
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Kara Khem, Respublika Tyva - Russia near Mongolian border 6.6 ;Tonga 5.8 - 5.9 ; Japan 5.4 - 5.3 - 5.2 !More info here.
- US to hit debt limit early January: Treasury.(AFP).WASHINGTON — The US government will hit its debt limit in the first week of January, the Treasury Department said on Tuesday, as it pointed to an imminent request for $1.2 trillion increase.The government is expected to come within $100 billion of the current $15.2 trillion ceiling by the end of the year, Treasury Department officials said.That effectively puts lawmakers on notice that they will have until mid-January to oppose a fresh increase.But a reprise of the vicious political debates over the debt ceiling that brought the US to the brink of default over the summer is unlikely.Congress agreed on July 31 to immediately increase the national debt by $400 billion, and then increase it in stages after that when necessary.An increase can only be blocked if both the House of Representatives and the Senate pass measures opposing it.In September the Democratic Party-dominated Senate declined to block a $500 billion increase.But the Republican-controlled House nevertheless passed a resolution symbolically rejecting the ceiling rise.With fiscal rectitude looming large as the 2012 election season gets underway in earnest, the new request to hike the borrowing ceiling could sound the starting gun on a fresh political fight.The Treasury Department said it would have to perform some accounting and managerial acrobatics to make sure the US does not miss payments before the raise comes into effect in mid-January.If opposition to the increase is unsuccessful the limit will be raised to around $16.4 trillion.That is expected to put the issue to bed until late 2012. A new rise in the debt ceiling is not expected to be needed until after the general elections in November.Read the full story here.
- GoDaddy lost 72,354 domains after supporting SOPA legislation.(BLN).Despite a massive Twitter campaign and a blog post that claims “Go Daddy no longer supports SOPA legislation” the company and their CEO have dodged questions about opposing the bill. In essence, they are taking a lesser role by not showing support for the bill. They have not opposed it.This week, they lost around 72,000 domain registrations. At a yearly discounted rate of $6.99 (most registrations are higher), that’s over half a million dollars per year. It is apparently not enough for them to speak out against the bill.How many domains is the company willing to lose before they oppose this abomination of legislation? Do they believe that when they “step back and let others take leadership roles” that we are going to see it as something other than a “duck and cover” public relations move to try to get out of the spotlight and hope someone else takes the brunt of the attacks while they quietly support the bill?Read the full story here.
- Another $845 Mil For Fraud-Infested Welfare Program.(JW).The Obama Administration’s manic spending spree to help “low-income” populations isn’t taking a break for the holidays, this month allocating an additional $845 million to a fraud-infested welfare program that’s already received billions from U.S. taxpayers this year.Incredibly, this particular initiative—known as Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)—is rife with corruption that’s routinely exposed in congressional probes and the media. This hasn’t stopped the Obama Administration from pouring huge sums of money into it, however.Every year the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides “needy” residents around the nation billions of dollars to pay for heating and cooling bills. That’s because the agency considers home energy a public health issue and therefore LIHEAP could help keep families safe and healthy. In fact, the agency encourages people to apply for funds by saying: “If you can’t afford to pay your home energy bill, your home may not be safe and you may be at risk of serious illness or injury,”In late October HHS gave LIHEAP a whopping $1.7 billion to “ensure low-income families are able to meet their heating cost expenses this winter.” When that chunk of change was doled out, the agency said it was for “immediate needs” and that states could also access an “additional $136 million, if needed.”Last week the agency distributed an additional $845 million to help low-income households with energy costs. The goal is to assure that “vulnerable families and seniors” can pay their heating bills and “stay warm during the holiday season and into early 2012,” according to an HHS assistant secretary. The same official says that, even as the economy shows signs of improvement, many Americans are struggling to make ends meet.Under this welfare program the government has actually paid the air conditioning bills for thousands of dead people, convicted felons and federal employees whose salary exceeds the maximum income to qualify for the handouts. In fact, one federal employee admitted requesting “free money” after seeing the “long lines” of applicants. You can’t make this stuff up. The details are included in a congressional report documenting fraud in LIHEAP. Investigators blame lack of oversight for the problems.Read the full story here.
- Monsanto’s GM Corn Linked To Organ Failure in rats.(Disinfo - Huffington Post). Make sure you have a GMO-free Christmas y’all! Katherine Goldstein and Gazelle Emami report on the consequences of genetic engineering of seeds by Monsanto, for Huffington Post: In a study released by the International Journal of Biological Sciences, analyzing the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health, researchers found that agricultural giant Monsanto’s GM corn is linked to organ damage in rats. According to the study, which was summarized by Rady Ananda at Food Freedom, “Three varieties of Monsanto’s GM corn – Mon 863, insecticide-producing Mon 810, and Roundup® herbicide-absorbing NK 603 – were approved for consumption by US, European and several other national food safety authorities.” Monsanto gathered its own crude statistical data after conducting a 90-day study, even though chronic problems can rarely be found after 90 days, and concluded that the corn was safe for consumption. The stamp of approval may have been premature, however. In the conclusion of the IJBS study, researchers wrote: “Effects were mostly concentrated in kidney and liver function, the two major diet detoxification organs, but in detail differed with each GM type. In addition, some effects on heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells were also frequently noted. As there normally exists sex differences in liver and kidney metabolism, the highly statistically significant disturbances in the function of these organs, seen between male and female rats, cannot be dismissed as biologically insignificant as has been proposed by others. We therefore conclude that our data strongly suggests that these GM maize varieties induce a state of hepatorenal toxicity….These substances have never before been an integral part of the human or animal diet and therefore their health consequences for those who consume them, especially over long time periods are currently unknown.” Monsanto has immediately responded to the study, stating that the research is “based on faulty analytical methods and reasoning and do not call into question the safety findings for these products.”Read the full story here.
- Sears to shut up to 120 stores as sales slump.(MarketWatch).Sears Holdings shares down 20% on plan to cull Kmart and Sears locations. Moves signal “deepening problems” and “desperation,” analyst says.At a time when holiday season sales overall have turned out better than expected, Sears Holdings Corp. was an exception: It said Tuesday that it will close 100 to 120 Sears and Kmart stores after disappointing holiday sales.It's stock, having already lost 37% of its value this year, tumbled 20% to $36.61 in early trading, making it the biggest percentage decliner in the S&P 500. One of its key suppliers, Whirlpool Corp. was down 5.6%. The final list of stores to be closed hasn’t yet been determined, Sears said. In a change of strategy, the company said it no longer plans to keep “marginally performing” stores open while it works to improve their performance. Sears, which has more than 4,000 full-line and specialty retail stores in the U.S. and Canada, said it plans to take as much as $2.4 billion of charges in the fourth quarter on asset write downs and other items. The move come as the Hoffman Estates, Ill., company said that comparable sales in the eight weeks through Dec. 25 fell 5.2%, including a 4.4% drop at the Kmart discount chain and a 6% decline at the Sears department-store chain. In contrast, the National Retail Federation earlier this month raised its industry holiday forecast to a 3.8% increase from a 2.8% gain. declining profit and lower sales “point to deepening problems at this struggling chain and renew worries about Sears’s survivability,” said Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter, who rates the stock underperform. “The moves announced by Sears point to desperation. Unfortunately for Sears, with (adjusted pre-tax profit) down to about 10% of its five-year peak, one wonders if vendors begin to worry about their own exposure.”Read the full story here.
- A Run On The Global Banking System—How Close Are We?(BLN).Source: Gonzalo Lira.Nine weeks after its bankruptcy, the general public still hasn’t quite realized the implications of the MF Global scandal.My own sense is, this is the first tremor of the earthquake that’s coming to the global financial system. And how the central banks and financial regulators treated the “Systemically Important Financial Institutions” that had exposure to MF Global—to the detriment of the ordinary, blameless customer who got royally ripped off in its bankruptcy—is both the template of how the next financial crisis will be handled, and an accelerator that will make the next crisis happen that much sooner.So first off, what happened with MF Global?Simple: It went bankrupt—because it made bad bets on European sovereign debt, by way of leveraging positions 100-to-1. Yeah, I know: Stupid. Anyway, they went bankrupt—which in and of itself is no big deal. It’s not as if it’s the first time in history that a brokerage firm has gone bust. But to me, the big deal in this case was the way the bankruptcy was handled. Now there are several extremely serious aspects to the MF Global case: Specifically, how their customers were shut out of their brokerage accounts for over a week following the bankruptcy, which made it impossible for those customers to sell out of their positions, and thus caused them to lose serious money; and of course how MF Global was more adept than Mandrake the Magician at making money disappear—about $1 billion, in fact, which still hasn’t turned up. These are quite serious issues which merit prolonged discussion, investigation, prosecution, and ultimately jailtime. But for now, I want to discuss one narrow aspect of the MF Global bankruptcy: How authorities (mis)handled the bankruptcy—either willfully or out of incompetence—which allowed customer’s money to be stolen so as to make JPMorgan whole. From this one issue, it seems clear to me that we can infer what will happen when the next financial crisis hits in the nearterm future. Brokerage firms hold clients’ money in what are known as segregated accounts. This is the money that brokerage firms hold for when a customer makes a trade. If a brokerage firm goes bankrupt, these monies are never touched—because they never belonged to the firm, and thus are not part of its assets. Think of segregated accounts as if they were the content in a safety deposit box: The bank owns the vault—but it doesn’t own the content of the safety deposit boxes inside the vault. If the bank goes broke, the customers who stored their jewelry and pornographic diaries in the safe deposit boxes don’t lose a thing. The bank is just a steward of those assets—just as a brokerage firm is the steward of those customers’ segregated accounts. But when MF Global went bankrupt, these segregated accounts—that is, the content of those safe deposit boxes—were taken away from their rightful owners—that is, MF Global’s customers—and then used to pay off other creditors: That is, JPMorgan. (The mechanics of how this was done are interesting, but insanely complicated, and ultimately not relevant to this discussion. To grossly simplify, MF Global pledged customer assets to JPMorgan, in a process known as rehypothecation—customer assets which MF Global did not have a right to. Needless to say, JPMorgan covered its ass legally. Ethically? Morally? Black as night.)This was seriously wrong—and this is the source of the scandal: Rather than being treated as a bankruptcy of a commodities brokerage firm under subchapter IV of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy law, MF Global was treated as an equities firm (subchapter III) for the purposes of its bankruptcy. Why does this difference of a single subchapter matter? Because in a brokerage firm bankruptcy, the customers get their money first—because after all, it’s theirs—while in an equities firm bankruptcy, the customers are at the end of the line. In the case of MF Global, what should have happened was for all the customers to get their money first. Then everyone else—including JPMorgan—would have picked over the remaining scraps. And the monies MF Global had already pledged to JPMorgan? They call it clawback for a reason.The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which handled the bankruptcy, should have done this—but instead, the Merc was more concerned with making JPMorgan whole than with protecting the money that rightfully belonged to MF Global’s 40,000 customers. Thus these 40,000 MF Global customers had their money stolen—there’s no polite way to characterize what happened. And this theft was not carried out by MF Global—it was carried out by the authorities who were charged with handling the firm’s bankruptcy. These 40,000 customers were not Big Money types—they were farmers who had accounts to hedge their crops, individuals owning gold (like Gerald Celente—here’s his account of what happened to him)——in short, ordinary investors. Ordinary people—and they got screwed by the regulators, for the sake of protecting JPMorgan and other big fry who had exposure to MF Global. That, in a nutshell, is what happened. Now, what does this mean?It means that nobody’s money is safe. It means that regulators care more about protecting the so-called “Systemically Important Financial Institutions” than about protecting Ordinary Joe investors. It means that, when crunchtime comes, central banks and government regulators will allow SIFI’s to get better, and let the Ordinary Joes get fucked. So far, so evil—but here comes the really troubling part: It is an open secret that there are more paper-assets than there are actual assets. The markets are essentially playing musical chairs—and praying that the music never stops. Because if it ever does—that is, if there is ever a panic, where everyone decides that they want their actual asset instead of just a slip of paper—the system would crash. And unlike with fiat currency, where a central bank can print all the liquidity it wants, you can’t print up gold bullion. You can’t print up a silo of grain. You can’t print up a tankerful of oil. Now, question: When is there ever a panic? When is there ever a run on a financial system? Answer: When enough participants no longer trust the system. It is the classic definition of a tipping point. It’s not that all of the participants lose faith in the system or institution. It’s not even when most of the participants lose faith: Rather, it’s when a mere some of the participants decide they no longer trust the system that a run is triggered. And though this is completely subjective on my part—backed by no statistics except scattered anecdotal evidence—but it seems to me that MF Global has shoved us a lot closer to this theoretical run on the system. As I write this, a lot of investors whom I know personally—who are sophisticated, wealthy, and not at all the paranoid type—are quietly pulling their money out of all brokerage firms, all banks, all equity firms. They are quietly trading out of their paper assets and going into the actual, physical asset. Note that they’re not trading into the asset—they’re simply exchanging their paper-asset for the real thing. Why? MF Global. “Because of MF Global, the integrity of the system has disappeared,” said a good friend of mine, Tuur Demester, who runs Macrotrends, a Dutch newsletter out of Brugge. “The banks are insolvent, the governments are insolvent, and all that’s left is for the people to realize what’s going on—and that will start a panic.”He hit it on the head: Some of the more sophisticated people—like Tuur, like some of my acquaintances, (like myself, frankly)—have realized that the MF Global scandal means that there is no safety for any paper investment: The integrity of the systems has been completely shattered. If in the face of one medium-sized brokerage firm going under, the regulators will openly allow ordinary people to be ripped off for the sake of protecting the so-called “Systemically Important Financial Institutions”—in this case JPMorgan—what will happen if there is a system-wide run? What if two or three MF Globals happen simultaneously?Will they protect the citizens’ money? Or will they protect the “Systemically Important Financial Institutions”?I think we know the answer.Read the full story here.
- Hmmmm:Did Obama sell defective Bunker-Busters to Israel....and if so, then was it on purpose?(AstuteBlogger).By ReliaPundit.Israel ordered its first batch of the GBU-28 in 2005 and reportedly received them a year later. In 2007 it asked the Pentagon for another batch of bombs but the delivery was delayed due to concern in Washington that Israel planned to use the bunker buster bomb to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, some of which are located in fortified bunkers. In September, Newsweek reported that the Obama administration had recently decided to authorize the delivery of 55 GBU-28 bombs as part of an aid package aimed at improving ties with Jerusalem. ... On Friday, the US Justice Department announced that it had reached a settlement with Kaman Corp. which allegedly substituted a fuse in four lots of fuses made for the bombs. Under the settlement, Kaman Corp. will pay the government $4.75 million. The US government alleged in its lawsuit against the company that the installation of defective fuses could lead to the premature detonation of the bomb and cause accidental misfires.IT WOULD SEEM THAT OBAMA AND HOLDER KNEW THAT THESE BOMBS WERE DEFECTIVE BECAUSE THEY HAD A LAWSUIT AGAINST THE MANUFACTURER.AND IT WOULD SEEM THAT ISRAEL JUST FOUND OUT ABOUT THIS.THIS MEANS THAT OBAMA AND HOLDER DELIBERATELY DID NOT TELL ISRAEL.EITHER THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF GROSS NEGLIGENCE OR A DELIBERATE ATTEMPT TO SABOTAGE THE IAF AND ISRAEL'S ABILITY TO EFFECTIVELY ATTACK IRAN'S NUKE PROGRAM.Although Israel has been buying bunker busters since 2006, the contractor who apparently installed defective fuses started working for the US government in September 2010.Hmmm......“I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”Read the full story here.
- Dr. Mohamed Saad Katatni, Secretary General of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP),encourages Zakat Without Interfering in its Regulation.(IW).Dr. Mohamed Saad Katatni, Secretary General of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), stated that Zakat is an obligatory duty for the rich Muslims to pay, and a right for the poor, to be distributed in ‘Sharia-prescribed’ lawful channels.Dr. Katatni added that the party does not interfere in the means and mechanisms of organizing and regulating Zakat, because they are not of FJP responsibilities as a party, and that these were up to parliament and governments to come, after extensive discussion within the community in order to achieve the noble purposes of Sharia laws and rules.Katatni stressed that the party is currently working in accordance with its platform to encourage financially-capable Muslims to pay out Zakat in aspects defined in Sharia.Hmmmm......Mubarak......The good old days?Read the full story here.
- Iran warns could stop oil flow if sanctions -IRNA.(Reuters). Iran's first vice-president warned on Tuesday that if foreign sanctions are imposed on its oil exports, the flow of crude will be stopped from the crucial Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf, the country's official news agency reported."If they (the West) imposes sanctions on Iran's oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz," IRNA quoted Mohammad Reza Rahimi as saying. Read the full story here.
- ElBaradei: US Seeking Hard to Stop New Egypt from Annulling Camp David Treaty.(Fars).Mohamed ElBaradei, a prominent Egyptian political figure and the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency, cautioned that the US is doing whatever it can within its possibilities to stop the revolutionary Egypt from annulling Camp David Accord specially now that Islamist parties are coming to power in Egypt.Speaking to FNA, pro-reform leader and Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei said that the future of the Camp David Accord has been the focus of meetings between Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and Washington. "The negotiations were completely secrete and confidential," ElBaradei said. "What the supreme military council said was that the talks were about bilateral and mutual relations, but I believe that Americans wanted to ensure that the deals signed between Egypt and Israel will remain intact if Islamists ascend to power," ElBaradei stated. The two main Islamic parties in the Egypt, which won majority of votes in the recent parliamentary elections in the country, have voiced their opposition to Cairo-Tel Aviv ties. Speaking to FNA in Cairo on Saturday, spokesman of the Salafi al-Nour party rejected reports about a meeting between the party's leaders and Israel's ambassador to Egypt, and described the reports as smear campaign to defame the Islamist party. "Al-Nour party can in no way ignore the Arab nations and Arab world's rights and the restoration of these rights is an unchangeable principle of the party," Nader Bakar said. "Al-Nour is against the establishment of any relations with the Zionist regime," he stated. The spokesman underlined that his party would certainly strive to change the Camp David Accord in the interests of Egyptian nation. The Salafi al-Nour is among the two main Islamist parties that won a majority of votes in both the first the second rounds of Egypt's parliamentary. It has won 20% of ballots. Early in December, a senior member of the Egyptian Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimun (Muslim Brotherhood) party underlined the necessity for revising Camp David Accord between Cairo and Tel Aviv, describing the pact as "cruel". "It is natural that after the victory of the revolution many things and issues should be studied and dealt with," Kamal al-Halbawi told FNA at the time. "Hence, the issue of revising the Camp David Accord will also be in the list of the top priorities of (Egypt's new) officials to be studied in its appropriate time," he added. Also, former Egyptian Ambassador to the Palestinian territories Gamal Mazloum had told FNA that Egypt should take action to boost its forces in the Sinai Desert and make a formal request to correct and modify the Camp David Accord. Since the Zionist regime has several times breached the Camp David Accord, Egypt should use its power and increase its military presence in the Sinai Desert if the Israeli regime rejects a willing modification of Camp David, he said in October. Another leading Egyptian political activist had also underlined the necessity of revisions in the Camp David Accord between Cairo and Tel Aviv, stressing that the deal is no more valid. "Camp David has been annulled and has no more credit and value," member of Egypt's National Association for Change George Ishaq told FNA in Cairo in September. Hmmm...As i said before "You don't give them a bridgehead in the Sinai".Read the full story here.
- Jerusalem Mufti Warns about Israel's Expansive Judaization Measures in Jerusalem City.(Fars).The Mufti of Al Quds, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, blasted Israel for its claim on Quds city, and warned about the judaization of the holy city by the Zionist regime. "The Zionist regime's decision to announce Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish government is the result of the Zionists' racist prejudice," Sheikh Akrameh Sabri told FNA on Tuesday. He underlined the responsibility of the Arab and Islamic governments for preventing the implementation of such dangerous decisions, and said, "We want them not to leave us alone." Sabri stressed that the Zionist regime is misusing the opportunity created by the Islamic Awakening uprisings in the Middle-Eastern and North African countries to promote its plots for Judaizing the Quds city, building more settlements and destroying the houses of the Palestinians while Arab states are busy with their own internal problems. In light of the Arab and Muslim world's passive stance, the Zionist regime takes any action it wants very freely and breaks sanctuaries and Judaizes the Quds city without being questioned by the international community. Palestinian officials had also earlier warned that the Israeli Quds municipality continued to Judaize East Quds (Jerusalem) through the renaming of Arab street names and monuments in the city. As part of what the municipality calls "infrastructure restoration and area development", authorities fenced off areas around the city's historic Damascus Gate to do name and landscape changes as part of the Judaizing of the city.Read the full story here.
- China Insolvency Wave Begins As Nation's Biggest Provincial Borrowers "Defer" Loan Payments.(Zerohedge).Remember, back in the day, when a bankruptcy was simply called a bankruptcy? Naturally, this was well before ISDA came on the scene and footnoted the living feces out of everything by claiming that a bankruptcy is never a bankruptcy, as long as the creditors agree to 99.999% losses at gunpoint, with electrodes strapped to their testicles, submerged in a tank full of rabid piranhas, it they just sign a piece of paper (preferably in their own blood) saying the vaseline-free gang abuse was consensual. Well, now we learn that as the global insolvency wave finally moves to China, a bankruptcy is now called something even less scary: "deferred loan payments" (and also explains why suddenly Japan is going to have to bail China out and buy its bonds, because somehow when China fails, it is the turn of the country that started the whole deflationary collapse to step to the plate). After all, who in their right mind would want to scare the public that the entire world is now broke. Certainly not SWIFT. And certainly not that paragon of 8%+ annual growth, where no matter how many layers of lipstick are applied, the piggyness of it all is shining through ever more acutely. Because here are the facts, from China Daily, and they speaks for themselves: "China's biggest provincial borrowers are deferring payment on their loans just two months after the country's regulator said some local government companies would be allowed to do so....Hunan Provincial Expressway Construction Group is delaying payment on 3.11 billion yuan in interest, documents governing the securities show this month. Guangdong Provincial Communications Group Co, the second-largest debtor, is following suit. So are two others among the biggest 11 debtors, for a total of 30.16 billion yuan, according to bond prospectuses from 55 local authorities that have raised money in capital markets since the beginning of November." So not even two months in and companies are already becoming serial defaulters, pardon, "loan payment deferrers?" And China is supposed to bail out the world? Ironically, in a world in which can kicking is now an art form, China will show everyone just how it is done, by effectively upturning the capital structure and saying that paying interest is, well, optional. In the immortal words of the comrade from Georgia, "no coupon, no problem."Hmmmm.....'Comrade' Obama we want our money back?Read the full story here.
- Putin will take 'revenge' on Russia's protesters in bid to cling to power, claims senior former aide.(DailyMail).Vladimir Putin will take 'revenge' on Russia's protesters in the New Year with a major crackdown including a state of emergency in a desperate bid to cling to power, predicted a former senior aide to the Russian strongman.In a doomsday scenario, key opposition leaders could be assassinated or there may be attacks blamed on terrorists, warned Andrei Illarionov. These horrors would be pretexts for a tough clampdown which could include the muzzling of the media, a ban on protests, and even the March presidential election being cancelled altogether.He even warned that Russia could become embroiled in a military conflict ahead of elections, to change the public mood and serve as an excuse to curb the wave of recent street protests which are fuelling antipathy towards strongman Putin who has led the country for a dozen years as president or in his current role as prime minister. These extraordinary and alarming forecasts come from a man who as senior economic adviser was at Putin's side during his first term as president, and knows him well. He claimed recent concessions from the Kremlin represent a 'smokescreen' and warned: 'The authorities are busy provoking and discrediting, including the rally organisers, but the most important thing is that they are getting ready for revenge.'The authorities are seriously preparing to take a sharp U-turn, away from so-called 'liberalisation’ and 'democratisation'. It will happen very soon.' He predicted a New Year 'provocation' that would eclipse the current opposition show of strength that has appeared to paralyse the Russian elite and raised questions about Putin’s ability to return to the Kremlin presidency in March.'It is absolutely clear that among the long list of the actions there are various ones, such as 'accidents', terrorist attacks, some international 'initiatives’ to restore the quasi-Soviet Union - and the all internal questions fade into insignificance compared to conflicts which involve Russian army,' said Illarionov in a radio interview.'These give additional reasons to introduce a state of emergency, which naturally go hand in hand with silencing the media.'This kind of thing has been organised so often in different countries, including ours, that it would be extremely unwise and short-sighted to exclude such scenarios from the list of future possibilities. We simply have to bare these in mind.' He claimed that Putin's real support was no more than 36 per cent which would make it impossible for him to win outright in March without ballot rigging on a far larger scale than alleged in recent parliamentary polls won by the strongman’s party. 'My guess is that the authorities will opt for any falsifications so that there is no second round, and possibly no voting at all,' he said. Russia now faced 'extreme danger' linked to a presidential election that 'is too risky for Putin', he said.Last night there was a new protest after opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov, from an extreme-left wing group, was re-arrested and sentenced to a new stint in jail. There are now concerns for his health as he vowed to continue a hunger strike. Former chess world champion Garry Kasparov told him: 'Please start eating - and next year we’ll drink together at the funeral of Putin's regime.' Another anti-Putin leader warned the authorities 'do everything possible to bring riots to Moscow streets'. Illarionov served Putin for five years to 2005 when he quit saying Russia had 'stopped being free and democratic'. He is now a senior researcher at the Cato Institute in Washington.Read the full story here.
- Turkish court accepts online blasphemy case, ECtHR ruling precedent.(TodaysZaman).A Turkish court has accepted an indictment filed against a man who allegedly insulted Islamic values online by a prosecutor who cited an earlier ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).The lawsuit was filed against A.M.S. over his remarks allegedly insulting Islamic beliefs on Ekşi Sözlük (Sour Times), a website on which contributors share their comments on various issues and incidents in Turkey. In the indictment she prepared over a criminal complaint filed against A.M.S. by an individual, İstanbul prosecutor Nurten Altınok referred to a 1994 decision of the ECtHR in the Otto-Preminger-Institut v. Austria case. The case concerns an application by the Austria-based Otto-Preminger-Institut at the European court over the ban of a movie by the Austrian government in 1985, on the grounds that it insulted the Christian religion.The applicant claimed a violation of their freedom of speech under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides the right to freedom of expression. The court, however, found no violation of the convention and said the interference with the applicant association's freedom of expression was prescribed by law but the seizure and forfeiture of the film were aimed at “the protection of the rights of others” -- namely, the right to respect for one's religious feelings, and at ensuring religious peace. The court assessed the conflicting interests of the exercise of two fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the convention and concluded that the Austrian authorities did not overstep their margin of appreciation.Prosecutor Altınok, who says the suspect went beyond the limits of freedom of speech by ridiculing Muslim prayer rituals and the Islamic belief that the universe was created by God, seeks up to one-and-a-half years in jail for A.M.S., who said in his testimony that he did not intend to commit a crime nor to target a group or individual with his comments.Hmmmm.....Torquemada seen nodding from hell, waiting for the inquisition courts to be re installed.Read the full story here.
- Venezuela ranked top importer of Russian arms.(RN).MOSCOW, Venezuela became the largest importer of Russian arms for ground forces in 2011, the Moscow based Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade (CAWAT) said on Tuesday. Russia delivered a large consignment of arms to Venezuela under contracts signed in 2009 and 2010, CAWAT head Igor Korotchenko said without offering any figures. In 2011, Venezuela bought an unspecified number of T-72B1 tanks, BMP-3M infantry fighting vehicles, BTR-80A armored personnel carriers, Msta-S 152-mm self-propelled howitzers, Nona-SVK 120-mm self-propelled mortars, Grad multiple rocket launchers, and an assortment of other weaponry, he said. Next year Venezuela will launch licensed production of AK-103 assault rifles. Venezuela is followed by India, Kazakhstan, the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, Uganda, Bangladesh, China, Uruguay, and Turkmenistan, which bought 10 T-90S tanks. Russia exports arms and military equipment to over 100 countries.Hmmmm......Venezuela.....Iran .......Hezbollah....take your pick.Read the full story here.
- 'PLO might revoke recognition of Israel'.(YNet).As Fatah and Hamas promote their reconciliation efforts and as signs indicating that the Islamic Jihad may be warming up to the idea of joining the Palestine Liberation Organization become more evident, the Palestinian Authority seems to be taking a harsher stand vis-à-vis Israel. PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said Monday that the PLO may choose to revoke its recognition of Israel "should all other (political) avenues fail."In an interview with the Voice of Palestine radio station, Ashrawi stressed that while the possibility has yet to be discussed by the PLO, it was nonetheless considered as a viable option by the Palestinian leadership. Commenting on contested Israeli policies, she said that first option the Palestinians must exhaust was to file grievances against Israel with international bodies over issues such as settlement expansion.Ashrawi added that the PA must "devise a plan that would bolster the resilience of the residents of east Jerusalem," in view of what she called "Israel's Judaization plans"; and that the PA should pursue legal recourse against Israel on an international level, over its "prolonged violations of international law." She also voices her support for continued peaceful resistance, the likes of the weekly protest rallies in the West Bank against the construction of the security fence. Ashrawi's statement echoed a similar sentiment expressed by Fatah Executive Committee Member Muhammad Ashtiyeh, who last week said: "If Netanyahu insists on treating Tel Aviv and Har Homa the same way, we will treat Ramallah and Jaffa the same." Ashtiyeh protested what he called the "unbalanced" agreement between the PLO and Israel, reiterating the Palestinian demand that Israel recognize the 1967 borders as Palestinian territory.The escalation in the Palestinian may stem from the end of the three-month period given to Israel and the Palestinian Authority by the Quartet to submit it with reports detailing their stance on security and borders.The Palestinians have submitted their demands, but Israel has yet to do so. The final deadline in January 26. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said that the Mideast Quartet is close to failing in bringing Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. He added that other nations should join the mediation efforts, the likes of Brazil, Turkey, China, India and other Western countries.Al-Malki noted that the Palestinian Authority is considering applying to the UN General Assembly as a nonmember state, thus making it easier for the PA to join other international bodies, including the International Court of Justice.Meanwhile. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Monday with members of the Palestinian "Reform and Change" movement, which is affiliated with Hamas. The parties discussed the recent reconciliation meeting between the Palestinian factions. Abbas expressed his satisfaction from the progress made between the factions, saying it will lead to Palestinian elections.Hmmmm......Already starting to sound like Hamas,time that Israel remembers that Only the 'victor' dictates the terms.Read the full story here.
- Iran’s navy ‘warns off’ chopper.(HurriyetDaily).Tehran.The Iranian navy said it warned off a foreign helicopter that had approached the site of a naval drill it is conducting in international waters. A spokesman for the drill, Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Navy Admiral Seyed Mahmoud Mousavi, told state TV the helicopter left the area immediately after the warning Dec. 25. Iran’s navy began the 10-day drill Dec. 24 in waters beyond the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. The naval maneuvers dubbed are due to cover an area stretching from east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden. Mousavi said according to the international rules, the military units of the trans-regional states are not allowed to enter the exercise zone. Meanwhile, a senior Iranian lawmaker said Dec. 26 the ongoing naval war games should be seen as a serious warning to the West. “These war games are a warning to the western countries about the closure of the Strait of Hormuz,” Zohreh Elahian, member of the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told Fars News Agency yesterday.Read the full story here.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul’s foreign policy outlook isn’t so dissimilar to that of President Obama’s long-time pastor and mentor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, says Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane.
On “Fox News Sunday,” Lane made the ideological connection between Paul and Wright, who claimed after the 9/11 attacks that “America’s chickens” had come home to roost.
“Well, I think one of the amazing things that this all shows that this is the Republican Party might be about to crown the winner of the Iowa caucuses, somebody with the foreign policy views of Jeremiah Wright,” Lane said. “Remember that? I mean, Ron Paul goes around blaming the United States for 9/11, etc., etc. So it is obvious he’s not going to be the nominee.”Read the full story here.
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Tonga 5.8 - 5.9 ; Fiji 5.3 !More info here.
- "Merry Christmas" - Obama rewrites rules for online gambling (and announces it at Christmas so no one notices).(DailyMail).The Obama administration cleared the way for states to legalize Internet poker and certain other online betting in a switch that may help them reap billions in tax revenue and spur web-based gambling.A Justice Department opinion dated September and made public on Friday reversed decades of previous policy that included civil and criminal charges against operators of some of the most popular online poker sites.Until now, the department held that online gambling in all forms was illegal under the Wire Act of 1961, which bars wagers via telecommunications that cross state lines or international borders.The new interpretation, by the department's Office of Legal Counsel, said the Wire Act applies only to bets on a 'sporting event or contest,' not to a state's use of the Internet to sell lottery tickets to adults within its borders or abroad, Reuters reports.'The United States Department of Justice has given the online gaming community a big, big present,' said I. Nelson Rose, a gaming law expert at Whittier Law School who consults for governments and the industry.The question at issue was whether proposals by Illinois and New York to use the Internet and out-of-state transaction processors to sell lottery tickets to in-state adults violated the Wire Act.But the department's conclusion would eliminate 'almost every federal anti-gambling law that could apply to gaming that is legal under state laws,' Rose wrote on his blog at www.gamblingandthelaw.com.If a state legalized intra-state games such as poker, as Nevada and the District of Columbia have done, 'there is simply no federal law that could apply' against their operators, he said.The department's opinion, written by Assistant Attorney General Virginia Seitz, said the law's legislative history showed that Congress's overriding goal had been to halt wire communications for sports gambling, notably off-track betting on horse races.Congress also had been concerned about rapid transmission of betting information on baseball, basketball, football and boxing among other sports-related events or contests, she summarized the legislative history as showing.'The ordinary meaning of the phrase "sporting event or contest" does not encompass lotteries,' Seitz wrote. 'Accordingly, we conclude that the proposed lotteries are not within the prohibitions of the Wire Act.'The department expressed no opinion about a provision in the law that lets prosecutors shut down phone lines where interstate or foreign gambling is taking place.Many of the 50 U.S. states may be interested in creating online lotteries to boost tax revenues and help offset the ripple effect of a federal deficit-reduction push.Hmmm.....Thugocracy in it's natural habitat.Read the full story here.
- Obama Administration discovers the Constitution.(OAATL).By David Hardy.Apparently they have a version that allows the Executive to spend unappropriated money if it serves his "constitutional responsibility" to wield power and hire friends.I can't find that clause in my own copy. I just find "No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law." Maybe I've got an outdated version. But I'm sure my copy of the anti deficiency act is up to date. So is the provision making violation a felony.Hmmmm....The following'Comment' says it all: "I believe your analysis of spending without authorization of the House is unconstitutional, or even illegal, but how would these laws be enforced? By the "Justice" Department."Read the full story here.
- Obama trimmed with red - Why does he hate the rich but lives like a billionaire in the White House?(CFP).By David Lawrence. When Obama started running for President there was a photo of him where he looked like Lenin. It was even trimmed with red. He morphed with a dictator while he spoke like a pacifistic lamb—baa, humbug.In the early seventies I was in Hungary and saw tanks and portraits of leaders. Obama’s face is a caricature of those cold war icons.Why does Obama always have such ferocious portraits of himself? Why is his chin always up in the air so that his nose angles its disdain at his mere followers? Why does he hate the rich but live like a billionaire in the White House? It’s not his fault. Narcissists try to get away with what they can. And they do when their idiot supporters applaud their bullying indiscretions and support their flirtations with dictatorship.Obama is nothing like Hitler or Lenin. However, strangely, like them he pushed through national health care. Physician heal thyself. President, don’t nationalize health care when the country is against it and it can easily be fused into a destructive instrument to ration care against the elderly and the infirm and the less than perfect. It can also bankrupt the economy.This man has a lot of czars. He doesn’t call himself a czar or he might frighten the people. He’s slippery. He has applied snake oil salesmanship to the future of America. He has greased us up with his urgent need for meaningless change.Obama uses agencies like the EPA to get around congress. He has stolen the balancing power of the other branches of government to reframe the constitution. He has replaced law with executive order. Obama raises taxes on the rich in order to please the desperate middle class. How far has he pushed laborers towards attacking the rich in their homes and stealing their property? How does he dare to raise the taxes on the rich when the government has done nothing but fritter away their money on ludicrous green projects like Solyndra? The government should instead reduce the taxes on businesses so that small businessmen can energize and grow their businesses while hiring new people. Kennedy and Regan improved the economy by lowering taxes.Obama went to war with Libya without Congressional approval. The dictator strikes again. And he let Egypt fall into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. In both cases the balance of power has shifted and Israel, our ally, is endangered. Any Jew who supports Obama is a traitor. Or a fool. Or a coward. Or someone I don’t want to know.Obama intends to give amnesty to illegal aliens. I suppose, as usual, he is trying to garner votes. A country without borders is not a country. It is a pawn of the dictatorial powers that bully it. If you can’t keep foreign elements out you can’t develop the nationality of the citizens that are within. Obama has the emotional temperament of a dictator. Whether he ultimately becomes a monstrous leader remains to be seen. It depends on the people’s resistance. Unfortunately, up until now Obama has been using the Republican Party and the successful as scapegoats. They are his Jews. Don’t forget he was born into the anti-Semitic Moslem religion and that he listened to Reverend Wright’s anti-Jewish lectures for twenty years. Some of this hatred must have washed off on him.I pray to God in abstentia that Obama does not succeed in his big government, totalitarian quest. Or has he already? At least in part.Hmmmm........."Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty". ~ Plato.
Read the full story here.
- Muslim Woman Jameela Barnette Shot and Killed after Attacking Georgia Police.(AM).Georgia--A Muslim woman who had been charged with sending fake weapons and a pig’s foot to two New York lawmakers was killed during a struggle with a cop in Georgia on Sunday, authorities said.Jameela Barnette, 53, of Marietta, was slapped with federal charges last month for sending New York State Sen. Greg Ball (R,C-Patterson) a vial of perfume, a hate-filled letter and a doll of the monkey Curious George wearing two Stars of David.She had also mailed a pig’s foot to Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.) in response to controversial hearings he held in March on the purported radicalization of American Muslims, Politico has reported.A spokesman for Cobb County Police said an armed Barnette was shot to death after officers responded to a panic alarm she activated at her apartment at 11 a.m. Christmas Day.When the cops arrived, Barnette opened the door while wielding a knife and a handgun and assaulted an officer with the blade, the spokesman said.The unnamed officer shot her, killing Barnette at the scene, police said."Despite receiving injuries to his arm, the officer was able to use his service weapon to stop the assault," the spokesman said.The cop was treated for minor injuries to his arm and placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.Police said they did not know why Barnette triggered the alarm.Barnette railed to several media outlets against what she called anti-Muslim congressional hearings last spring. She told a local TV station she sent Ball, who represents Putnam County and parts of Westchester and Dutchess counties, the threatening package because he’s racist toward her faith and supported King’s hearings.“I knew the Jews were behind the hearings,” she told Politico. “A monkey is a representation of who the Jews are.”A judge released Barnette without bail after her arrest in November.Both Ball and King are Catholic.Hmmmmm.......A case of "Jihad bells"?Read the full story here.
- World’s Second And Third Largest Economies To Bypass Dollar, Engage In Direct Currency Trade.(ZeroHedge).To all who still think that in the war of attrition between the USD and the EUR (because contrary to what some have “discovered” only recently, currency wars have been going on for a long, long time and will continue to do so, before morphing into trade and real wars), in which both currencies are doomed, and where the winner takes it all, if only for a few minutes, we bring to your attention the following most recent update out of the Pacific Rim (where incidentally the Shanghai Composite has resumed its relentless track lower with the obvious intention of closing 2011 at its 52 week low) in which we find i) that the dollar’s hegemonic control over the world is ending, and ii) that the mercantilist relationship so long sustained between China and the US, may be shifting and reversing, and in its next metamorphosis will see Japan buying the bonds of… China (although probably not for long – see next post). As Bloomberg reports, “Japan and China will promote direct trading of yen and yuan without using dollars and will encourage the development of a market for the exchange, to cut costs for companies, the Japanese government said. Japan will also apply to buy Chinese bonds next year, the Japanese government said in a statement after a meeting between Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing yesterday.” And before someone blows it off as merely more foreign relations posturing, ““Given the huge size of the trade volume between the Asia’s two biggest economies, this agreement is much more significant than any other pacts China has signed with other nations,” said Ren Xianfang, a Beijing-based economist with IHS Global Insight Ltd.” As for China’s reverse mercantilist move, one which will stun anyone who believes that Yuan is still undervalued, “Finance Minister Jun Azumi said Dec. 20 buying of Chinese bonds would be beneficial for Japan because it would help reveal more information about financial markets in China, the world’s largest holder of foreign currency reserves.” Speaking of, has Albert Edwards gloated yet that given enough time, he always ends up being proven right, in this case about the CNY’s upcoming devaluation?Read the full story here.
- Jewish leaders in Belgium split over libel suit.(JPost).BRUSSELS – A former leader of Belgian Jewry resigned last week from the country’s Jewish board in protest of the board’s decision to honor a prominent politician who has equated Israel with Nazism, and is suing the same Jewish board for libel.Joël Rubinfeld, ex-president of the Umbrella Organization of Jewish Institutions of Belgium (CCOJB), says his resignation was in response to the organization’s decision to host André Flahaut, president of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, as a guest of honor at a gala dinner in September."Honoring Flahaut was inappropriate and absurd in light of his statement and the lawsuit he filed against the CCOJB,” Rubinfeld told The Jerusalem Post.Rubinfeld stepped down as president last year but remained on the board.Rubinfeld’s successor as president, Prof. Maurice Sosnowski, defended the invitation as a means of keeping dialogue open and ending Flahaut’s lawsuit in a compromise.Flahaut sued both the CCOJB and Rubinfeld individually in 2008 for libel, claiming they called him “an anti-Semite.” Rubinfeld had publicly accused Flahaut of “making statements which can encourage anti-Semitism,” in the context of a pro- Palestinian demonstration in Nivelles.Flahaut – a former defense minister and senior Socialist Party official – was filmed there, saying: “I’m determined to fight all extremism, all Nazism, all fascism wherever, whenever they occur. That’s why I’m here.”The demonstration was held in commemoration of Israel’s creation 60 years earlier and featured actors dressed as Israeli soldiers, shouting and loading other actors dressed in Arab garb onto a truck.Rubinfeld had filmed the event and Flahaut’s speech and posted the footage online.According to Sosnowski, the gala invitation was “natural” since Flahaut and the CCOJB are in contact over an end to the lawsuit. Early last year a first circuit court ruled in favour of Flahaut; Rubinfeld and the organization have appealed to the second circuit.Sosnowski told the Post that Flahaut and the organization arrived at an out-of-court compromise, but that Rubinfeld rejected the deal, making it “impossible.”Sosnowski added: “Rubinfeld was right to accuse Flahaut and right to appeal the first circuit’s sentence, but a reasonable compromise is better than a long and uncertain procedure.”The compromise would have Flahaut drop the lawsuit and declare that equating Israel to Nazism is illegitimate and amounts to anti- Semitism.Flahaut has insisted that he had never made such a link – thereby suggesting that Rubinfeld had manipulated the video. The first circuit court ruled the video had indeed been doctored, though all board members reject this.“It’s a good compromise for the Jewish community and an achievement but it’s being blocked by Rubinfeld,” Sosnowski said, adding that a majority of the board supports the settlement. “Rubinfeld wants to turn this affair into a Dreyfus trial that would drag on for a decade and drain the community’s resources.”René de Lathouwer, a board member, said Rubinfeld “was holding the CCOJB hostage.”Rubinfeld, however, insisted on appealing the first circuit ruling “because the issue has become Belgian jurisprudence and free speech. The court must now determine that equating Israel and Nazism is illegitimate. A statement by Flahaut is worthless.”Rubinfeld added that he wanted to resign immediately after the September gala, but stayed on the board “to work out the follow-up in the trial against Flahaut.”Flahaut – who did not respond to requests for a reaction – was documented leading another anti-Israel demonstration in Brussels on January 11, 2009, where some protestors waved signs reading “Jew Nazi,” “Gaza worse than Auschwitz” and “Protocols of Zion, final stage?” Also present were two other Belgian parliamentarians – Isabelle Durant of the Green Party and Françoise Dupuis of the Socialist Party – who both attended the gala along with Flahaut.CCOJB represents some 20,000 French-speaking Belgian Jews. (The Forum of Jewish Organizations – an independent body – represents the equally-sized Flemish Jewish community.) “I have no great sympathy for André Flahaut but there’s little chance of beating him in court. It will make other politicians close ranks with him,” Eli Ringer, honorary FJO chairman, said. “As a youngster Rubinfeld had good intentions to make some changes in the Brussels community but not too much could be achieved by always using force instead of dialogue.”He added: “At the same time, inviting Flahaut to the CCOJB gala while he’s suing the CCOJB wasn’t a good idea. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”Read the full story here.
- Canada fears rise of forces ‘worse than Mubarak’ in Egypt.(AlArabiya).Canada is concerned that forces worse than deposed strongman Hosni Mubarak could rise to power in a newly democratic Egypt, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in an interview.“There are obviously forces who want democracy and progressive change (in Egypt), but there are clearly some forces that would want something that's probably worse than what we had before,” he said in a taped interview with CTV News to be aired Monday.“So we’ve always been a little bit hesitant on Egypt,” he said, according to AFP.Harper was not specific about which forces concerned him.But liberals have warned about the rise of groups that advocate a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam that could lead to a more conservative and overtly religious new parliament.Liberals and Islamists have also united to condemn the military’s handling of the transition to democracy that lead deadly clashes.Mubarak is currently facing a murder trial before an Egyptian court and may get the death sentence if found complicit in the killings of some 850 people who died during 18 days of protest that ousted him from power in February.Harper said he has spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Israel’s security amid the sweeping changes shaping its ally and neighbor.“I’ve spoken to Prime Minister Netanyahu and yes, we are concerned,” Harper said.“The peace between Israel and Egypt for the past several decades has been of immense benefit to both countries and to the region. And anything that I think threatens that would not be good.”The Canadian prime minister went on to say that the first free elections in Egypt held this year was a “pretty positive thing.”“But at the same time, there’s been riots, there’s been persecution of minorities, in particular Coptic Christians and others, and this is a big concern,” he concluded.Many Egyptians believe the army is no longer fit to manage security on the ground and carry out difficult reforms at a time of political and economic crisis.On Friday, thousands rallied in Cairo and other cities to demand the army give up power and to vent anger after 17 people were killed in recent protests where troops beat and clubbed women and men even as they lay on the ground, according to Reuters.Protests continue daily in Tahrir Square. Several hundred protesters have set up camp there. Some are demanding the army bring forward the presidential vote to as early as Jan. 25, the first anniversary of the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.Others, worrying that 10 months after Mubarak’s downfall Egypt remains in disarray, protested on Friday to end protests so order can be restored and the economy revitalized.Analysts say a speedy transfer could play into the hands of military by boosting the chances of presidential candidates with close ties to the army.Read the full story here.
- MKs call for state to recognize Armenian genocide.(JPost).Knesset members from all sides of the political spectrum called for the government to officially recognize the Armenian genocide, marking the first time the issue was discussed in an open Knesset meeting.The Knesset Education Committee meeting was initiated after MK Arye Eldad (National Union) proposed a bill to mark the Armenian genocide annually, which was then turned into a motion for the agenda after Eldad realized the coalition would not allow the legislation to pass. The meeting also addressed a similar motion put forward by MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz), making Armenian genocide one of the few topics agreed upon by the Knesset factions farthest to the political left and right.The discussion took place a week after France’s lower house of parliament moved to criminalize Armenian-genocide denial, leading to a diplomatic crisis between Paris and Ankara.Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said that those who fight Holocaust denial must not ignore the tragedies of other nations, and it is a moral imperative that Israel remember the Armenian genocide. Rivlin said that he made a motion to the agenda on the matter in 1989, but until Monday, it was not discussed openly in the Knesset, due to political and diplomatic reasons. He added that the issue was moved from the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, where it was discussed behind closed doors, to the Education Committee, with the press present, so that “morals and values” could be discussed.Gal-On said the meeting was an “exciting moment,” bringing to fruition the efforts of many former and current Meretz MKs over the years.She called for government ministries to stop using the Armenian genocide as a tool in Israeli foreign policy. Although Gal-On said that Israel must not allow “tense” relations with Turkey to deteriorate, she added that relations with Turkey should be separate from this issue.“This is the first time we can really discuss this and not sweep it under the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s rug: A million and a half Armenians were murdered in the beginning of World War I,” Eldad said. “Who remembers them today? We must talk about it, so no one in the world thinks [genocide] can be committed again.”Eldad accused the government of hypocrisy, saying that at first, the matter wasn’t publicly addressed because relations with Turkey were strong, and now the same policy stands for the opposite reason.Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said that he is embarrassed that the Knesset has yet to fulfill its “basic responsibility” in recognizing the Armenian genocide.He said “a wall has been broken” in that the Education Committee discussion was taking place openly, but that progress still needs to be made.Elkin also mentioned that in 1939, Hitler cited the fact that Europe ignored the Armenian genocide to justify his actions.At the same time, Foreign Ministry representatives in the meeting said that it would be irresponsible to make any official declarations on the matter.The ministry never denied the Armenian genocide, the representatives explained, but the issue has become political, and Israel prefers not to be involved, especially because Turkey and Armenia have been holding an open dialog on the facts and opinions surrounding it.In addition, only 21 countries have officially recognized the Armenian genocide, according to the Foreign Ministry, and it would be unfair to declare all those who haven’t immoral.“We can’t disconnect ourselves from reality. The Islamic world is getting more and more extreme,” MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) said, echoing the Foreign Ministry’s stance. “We have to improve our relationship with Turkey; it’s a matter of survival, even if it has a painful price.”Schneller suggested that the Knesset declare that according to human and Jewish morality, genocide is unacceptable no matter where it takes place, be it Armenia, Rwanda or Cambodia. He added that specific discussion of the Armenian genocide would be irresponsible.In addition, two representatives of the Israel-Azerbaijan International Association (AZIZ), denied that genocide took place, saying that Armenians took the side of Turkey’s enemies and were a “fifth column” in Turkey.In addition, AZIZ spokesman Arye Gut said that thousands of Azerbaijanis were killed in war with Armenia, and that Armenia occupies land Azerbaijan’s land. The two countries fought a war following World War I, and another war from 1988-1994.Gut told the committee to keep in mind that Turkey helped Jews after the Spanish Inquisition and during the Holocaust, and that there are only 300 Jews in Armenia, while 30,000 live in Azerbaijan.He called for the government not to make any official statements, and wait for decisions to be made in an international, academic forum.No vote took place at the end of the meeting, and Knesset Education Committee chairman Alex Miller (Israel Beiteinu) said that more open discussions of the Armenian genocide will take place.Read the full story here.
- U.S. has incurred about $400 million in annual costs, or about $1 million a day, assisting Turkey in its fight against terrorism.(HurriyetDaily).Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu says a high-level agreement was reached between Turkey and the United States in 2007 on intelligence services.The United States is covering the cost of intelligence-sharing in Turkey’s fight against terror, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said over the weekend.A high-level agreement was reached between the two countries in 2007, and the flow of intelligence has been uninterrupted and instantaneous ever since, said Davutoğlu. “Turkey does not have any economic responsibilities in this support provided by the United States,” said Davutoğlu in response to a question submitted to Parliament by Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Secretary-General İsmet Büyükataman.“These capabilities from the United States’ own inventory assigned exclusively to the fight against the PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] are significant, and the intelligence provided by the unmanned aerial vehicle’s are valuable to our fight,” said Davutoğlu.U.S. Ambassador to Ankara Francis J. Ricciardone said last May that the U.S. had incurred about $400 million in annual costs, or about $1 million a day, assisting Turkey in its fight against terrorism.Real-time intelligence sharing between the U.S. and Turkey in order to supply critical information about terrorist movements to the Turkish military was formally agreed upon by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and then-U.S. President George W. Bush in 2007.The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.Hmmmm....What's $ 400 Million among friends?Read the full story here.
- Iran extends oil deal with Turkey for 2012 despite sanctions.(TodaysZaman).Iran said on Saturday it has extended its crude export contract with Turkey for 2012, state-run English Language Press TV reported, suggesting it aims to trade via Turkey to circumvent tight sanctions imposed over its disputed nuclear program.Turkey has said it is complying with the sanctions, after trying unsuccessfully to mediate between Iran and the international community."The National Iranian Oil Co. has renewed its crude export contracts with a number of Turkish oil companies ... by the end of 2012," Press TV said in the report.The report said Turkey was a potential market for the export of Iranian crude to Europe, and predicted the Islamic state's crude exports to Turkey would rise by a third in 2012."In 2011, Turkey's oil purchases from Iran was 150,000 barrels per day which is expected to rise to 200,000 barrels in 2012."The European Union is considering a ban - already in place in the United States - on imports of Iranian oil, although diplomats and traders say awareness is growing in the EU that such a ban could damage the bloc's economy without doing much to undercut Iran.Iran warned that any move to block its oil exports would more than double crude prices.The West suspects Iran's nuclear programme might be aimed at making atomic bombs, while Tehran denies this and says its nuclear development is entirely for peaceful ends.Many foreign companies with capital and modern technology have been forced to pull out from the country's lucrative energy sector because of the international sanctions.Hmmmm.....Sanctions that
'bite'benefit Obama buddy Turkey, can NATO trust Turkey......?Read the full story here.
- Netherlands party challenges Turkey's NATO membership: report.(Hurriyetdaily).The Netherlands' third largest political party urged the country's Foreign Affairs and Defense ministries last week to reconsider Turkey's NATO membership, the Jerusalem Post reported.Head of the Dutch Party for Freedom, Geert Wilders, and the party's Middle East expert, MP Wim Kortenoeven, accused Turkey of abandoning its allies Israel and France, the report said. The Turkish government had implemented sanctions on France immediately after the French Parliament voted Dec. 22 in favor of a bill penalizing the denial of the events in 1915 as genocide.France and Holland were regarded as being among the leading countries in the NATO military alliance by the Jerusalem Post. Kortenoeven reportedly told the Jerusalem Post that "Turkey had a short but disturbing history of abandoning its allies" and "it could be a lethal mistake to entrust them with the custody of a crucial element of new Western/European defence system against nuclear rogue states such as Iran and Pakistan."The party's military spokesperson also posed questions to the ministries regarding Turkey's reliability as a NATO partner, the article said.The article mentioned a statement by Radio Netherlands Worldwide in which it said that it was unlikely for Netherlands or Germany to follow the French example and pass resolutions against Turkey.“Both countries have large Turkish communities. No one will be keen to offend them with a ban. But it would be good to put a bit more pressure on Turkey. It’s always good to take an honest look at your history,” Lariss van den Heri, professor of international law at Leiden University was quoted as saying.Hmmmm.....Hear, hear!Read the full story here.
- PM Netanyahu: Israel won't negotiate with PA if Hamas joins gov't.(JPost).Netanyahu says Israel won't let Palestinian state become launching ground for rockets like Gaza, Lebanon; repeats that he's willing to meet Palestinians "anytime, anyplace. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made clear Sunday night that Israel will not engage in any negotiations with the Palestinian Authority if it enters into a unity government with Hamas.Speaking at the annual conference of the heads of Israel's delegations abroad, meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Netanyahu stated that the turmoil in the Middle East must be taken into consideration in any future negotiation with the Palestinians."Progress in the diplomatic process is dependent on Israel preserving and guarding its security needs which are much more difficult given the changes in the region," Netanyahu said.The prime minister said that Israel is "not prepared to allow a Palestinian state to turn into Gaza or Lebanon," meaning a territory from which thousands of rockets are launched into Israel.He stated that although it was not a pre-condition for peace talks, Palestinians would eventually "have to accept Israel as the national home of the Jewish people."Netanyahu repeated his refrain that he is "willing to meet with the Palestinians anyplace anytime."Speaking at the conference earlier on Sunday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that, with the Middle East in turmoil, now is not the time to think that a peace agreement with the Palestinians can be reached any time soon.Hmmmm.....Perhaps "when crows wear stiletto heels"?Read the full story here.
- Arab League monitor reported injured in Syria, Calls what is happening A "Genocide" as 25 killed.(BikyaMasr).Beirut (dpa) – A member of the Arab League observer mission to Syria was reported injured Monday in shelling in the central Homs province, activists said, as 25 people were killed in the ongoing conflict.Mustashar Mahgoub was injured in an attack in Baba Amr neighborhood, according to a prominent Syrian activist, who requested anonymity.However, an official at the Arab League denied that any member of the mission in Syria was injured.“Our people managed to take four observers from their Damascus Hotel (Sham Hotel) without the notification of the Syrian government on Sunday night to show them the reality of what is happening inside the neighborhoods of Baba Amr and Khailidyeh,” the activist told dpa.“While we were touring the area the shelling started and he was wounded by the fire of the Syrian security forces,” he added.Mahgoub, in a phone interview with broadcaster Al Arabiya, refused to say how and where he was wounded and it was also not clear whether he was in the restive city of Homs or in Damascus during the call.But he did call the violent clampdown on protests – which the United Nations estimate have killed at least 5,000 people this year – a “genocide.”“This is a regime is taking revenge on its people,” Mahgoub told the channel, adding: “what’s happening in Syria is a genocide.”Around 50 Arab League monitors, headed by Sudanese General Mohammed al-Dabi, began arriving in Syria to start inspecting areas gripped by violence, according to activists.According to an Arab diplomat based in Beirut “preparations were being made for the observers to go to Homs on Tuesday, but due to the current situation, intensive contacts are being made to speed the visit.”Homs, in central Syria, has been a focal point of the government crackdown on anti-government demonstrations.A nine-member advance Arab team arrived in Damascus last week, to prepare for the monitors.The arrival of the observers in Syria is part of a deal agreed to by President Bashar al-Assad’s government with the Arab League last week. It calls for the withdrawal of the Syrian army and militias as well as rebel forces from the streets, the release of detainees and an end to all forms of violence.A total of 150 Arab monitors are due to arrive in Damascus by the end of the month.During the Monday shelling in Homs, at least 25 people were killed, Homs-based activist Omar Homsi told dpa by phone.He said that 21 of them are from the Baba Amr neighborhood, where 20 houses were destroyed.Some 40 others were wounded, most them women and children, he said, adding that most of the injured could not be taken to the hospitals due to the intensity of the shelling.“The situation is frightening and the shelling is the most intense of the last three days,” the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.“The observers must head immediately to the martyrs’ district of Baba Amr to stop the assassinations and meet with the people so that they witness the crimes being perpetrated by the Syrian regime,” the group said.Activists posted gruesome pictures of human remains on the streets inside the Baba Amr neighborhood on their websites.Footage posted online showed the aftermath of the shelling, with bleeding corpses of at least four young men and a woman screaming for help from the international community.Omar Idlibi, a prominent Syrian activist in exile, expressed dismay over the mission of the observers and blamed the Arab League for the delay in their mission.”“Scores of people are being killed in the streets and the Syrian government is still stalling and the Arab League is still not doing anything,” Idlibi said.Read the full story here.
- Related - Head of monitors to Syria says access ‘good so far’; videos show Homs carnage.Tunesian Pres:"Assad has one month to leave peacefully".(AlArabiya).The head of the Arab League’s monitoring mission seeking an end to violent repression in Syria said on Monday he met several government officials who have been cooperative and said access had been unfettered “so far”.Sudanese General Mustafa Daby, who arrived in Damascus on Saturday, is leading a team of observers that will check whether Syria is implementing part of an Arab peace plan requiring it to pull out of civilian areas and put an end to bloodshed.“We are in Damascus now and have started our mission and will head to other cities faster than you think,” Daby told Reuters by telephone. “Our Syrian brothers are cooperating very well and without any restrictions so far.”Daby said the Syrians would be providing transportation for the monitoring mission, a move which may rile the Syrian opposition and spark accusations of censorship.Arab League delegates have said they will try to maintain an element of surprise by only announcing the specific areas they would visit on the same day of their departure.The general said he had already met the foreign minister and his deputy, as well as several officials from the armed forces.He warned those watching the mission not to jump to conclusions about the results of the monitoring mission.“Give us some time, we just got here.”Heavy gunfire killed 23 people in the besieged city of Homs on Monday as newly arriving Arab League observers were urged to head immediately to one of the country’s most serious hot spots.An initial group of 50 observers was to land in Syria later Monday to oversee a deal aimed at ending a bloody crackdown on anti-regime dissent, which has showed no signs of abating since erupting in March.“Rocket fire and heavy machineguns in the Baba Amro quarter killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens,” the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement received by AFP in Nicosia.“The situation is frightening and the shelling is the most intense of the past three days,” it said.Six civilians died in other parts of the central Syrian city, while another three, including a 14-year-old boy, were shot dead when security forces opened fire on a demonstration in Khattab in neighbouring Hama province.A first group of Arab League observers are due in Syria Monday to monitor a deal to end nine months of deadly violence as activists report new deaths in the government’s crackdown on a nine-month uprising. Intensive shelling was reported on Bab Amro in Syria on Monday and as many as 23 people have been killed mostly in Homs, Al Arabiya reported citing Syrian activists.Five days of shelling Bab Amro left 45 people dead and 250 others injured, Syrian activists said.A source at the mission told Reuters that the team will start its mission in Syria by visiting the turbulent city of Homs on Tuesday. “It also will visit the capital Damascus, Hama and Idlib on Tuesday,” the source said.Amateur video shot by anti-government Syrian activists showed carnage in a Homs city street, and locals said they were afraid to leave their homes on Monday as army tanks appeared to fire machineguns and mortars into residential areas.Four bodies of what appeared to be male civilians lay bloodied under fallen power lines in a narrow alleyway of the Bab Amr district, their limbs twisted, heads gashed and brains spilling out.Baba Amr has been one of the hardest hit areas of Homs, a hotbed of revolt since the government began its crackdown on a nine-month-old protest movement seeking President Bashar al-Assad’s removal.“This is Baba Amr, December 26, 2011, and the random shelling is still falling on the neighborhood,” a voice shouted over women’s screams according to a report by Reuters. “These are the martyrs thrown in the streets,” the man’s voice shouted.A third day of heavy gunfire in Syria’s flashpoint city killed at least 20 people, the day before an Arab League monitoring mission is expected there, activists said.The people of Homs are awaiting the arrival of the monitors, who are supposed to determine if Assad is keeping his word by withdrawing the army from civilian areas. “Where are the Arabs? Where is the international community? This is what happened after mortar rockets fell on our neighborhood,” yelled the voice in the video as it panned over a row of crumbling buildings.“These are the destroyed homes. Allahu akbar, allahu akbar! The martyrs are in the streets! We can’t get an ambulance in.”Residents said they were too terrified to venture outside. One described to Reuters a state of siege.“They’ve been doing a few surprise rounds of firing every few hours since early morning,” construction worker Tamir told Reuters by telephone. “I don’t feel hopeful that the Arab League monitors can do anything, they won’t help us at all.”“Every time the firing starts, we run down to the basement and wait for it to stop ... I swear to God that we are all cold and hungry here. There’s not enough food, there's not enough fuel for heating any more. The area is surrounded by soldiers.”Three other video segments said to have been filmed in Homs on Monday morning showed two tanks facing in opposite directions next to an apartment block. One was firing a heavy weapon, possibly a tank-mounted mortar.A third tank, its commander standing up in the sand-bagged turret, maneuvered along the street. There were constant bursts of heavy machinegun fire and the sound of sniper rifles.A third video showing a tank recorded a loud explosion, like the sound of its main gun firing. Finally, after a flash and a loud blast, the screen went white.“If we go out, we have to stay in the alley our house is on. If we move past there we might get shot at,” construction worker Tamir said. "Two people in the neighborhood were just wounded by machineguns.”“We can’t rely on the Arab League. The only one we can turn to is God. We’ve been bearing this for 10 months and they keep giving the government extensions and now finally they brought monitors and then what? More extensions? Until we all die?”The Arab mission is headed by Maj. Gen. Mohammed Mustapha al-Daby. The is scheduled to tour Syrian cities in order to prepare a report, to be referred to the Arab League Secretariat as well as the Syrian government, according to Al Arabiya. The mission is part of an Arab plan endorsed by Syria on Nov. 2 that also calls for the withdrawal of the military from towns and residential districts, a halt to violence against civilians and the release of detainees.But since signing the agreement, the Assad regime has been accused of pressing on with its crackdown on dissent.Meanwhile, Tunisian President Moncef al-Marzouqi called on the Syrian opposition to give the chance for President Bashar al-Assad to leave the country peacefully.In an interview with the London-based Asharq al-Awsat daily, Marzouqi said “they shouldn’t encircle the wounded tiger for the four sides….he should have a way out. He should be frankly told that he has only one month to leave power peacefully.”Marzouqi also said that in case of Assad’s departure, he should not be referred to the International Criminal Court.Read the full story here.
- Imran Khan: "If elected, we’ll create an Islamic welfare state".(DailyTimes).By Asad Farooq. Karachi: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, on Sunday, pledged to make Pakistan an Islamic welfare state if his party came to power, and promised a state where justice would be ensured on grass roots level. Addressing a big convention at a ground adjacent to the Mazar-e-Quaid, the PTI chairman told the crowd he was forming a team to formulate policies, notably aimed at alleiviating poverty “We want to break the begging bowl once and for all”, he said, and make Pakistan a “true Islamic welfare state”. He hit out at President Asif Ali Zardari, claiming his days were numbered and accusing him of policies that encouraged corruption.He said his party would solidify judiciary on priority basis, and promised free of cost justice on people’s doorsteps, adding that all the systems in government departments would be computerised to check corruption. Khan said that he would introduce an exemplary team, which would be honest and capable. He said that party ticket would be granted on merit to only those candidates who will declare their assets. Later, if someone’s assets grow, he/she would be asked to make a declaration. That mechanism, he said, would prevent legislators from getting involved in corruption. The PTI chief further said that corruption prevalent in the country would be eliminated within 90 days of his party’s coming to power, and said it was not a tough task for him. He said that in present situation, the country bears a loss of Rs 3000 million every day. He announced that his party would form a free and fair accountability cell, free of political pressure, and vowed to end political interference in police department. All roads in Karachi near the rally venue were jammed for more than ten hours, an AFP reporter said, and hundreds of thousands of people waved party flags when the former Pakistan cricket captain arrived. “I promised to all you people that we’ll make a new and respectable Pakistan. Join me to achieve this goal,” he told the crowds, full of people waving the green and red flags of his opposition Movement for Justice Party.“I have been an honest cricketer who never fixed a match. I promise you that I’ll never fixed a match either during my political career,” he said, brushing aside speculation his rise had tacit support from the military establishment. Imran Khan said that he will do everything which Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah would have done, and would never beg from foreigners. He said his team would present outstanding and revolutionary policies on all subjects, including local government, foreign, transport, economy, agriculture, and particularly education. He said that a unified educational system was his dream.Hmmmm......."CHANGE"......where have we heard this before?Read the full story here.
- Iranian woman Sakineh Ashtiani to face death by stoning or hanging.(YNet).Authorities in Iran said Sunday they are again moving ahead with plans to execute a woman sentenced to death by stoning on an adultery conviction in a case that sparked an international outcry, but are considering whether to carry out the punishment by hanging instead. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is already behind bars, serving a 10-year sentence on a separate conviction in the murder of her husband. Amid the international outrage her case generated, Iran in July 2010 suspended plans to carry out her death sentence on the adultery conviction.On Sunday, a senior judiciary official said experts were studying whether the punishment of stoning could be changed to hanging."There is no haste. ... We are waiting to see whether we can carry out the execution of a person sentenced to stoning by hanging or not," said Malek Ajdar Sharifi, the head of justice department of East Azerbaijan province, where Ashtiani is jailed."As soon as the result (of the investigation) is obtained, we will carry out the sentence," he said, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.The charge of a married woman having an illicit relationship requires a punishment of stoning, he said.He said judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani ordered a halt to stoning in order to allow Islamic experts to investigate whether the punishment can be altered in Ashtiani's case.Ashtiani was convicted of adultery in 2006 after the murder of her husband.She was later convicted of being an accessory to her husband's murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison.Read the full story here.
Hizbullah and Al-Manar TV: Another State Department-Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations Using Twitter. The Lebanese-based Hizbullah terrorist organization has killed more Americans than any other terrorist organization except for Al-Qaeda; most recently, Hizbullah made headlines on December 16, 2011, when Ali Musa Daqduq, a Hizbullah commander, was handed over from U.S. custody to the Iraqi government. In January 2007, Daqduq orchestrated a raid on American troops, in which Shi'ite militants, in American-style uniforms and carrying forged identity cards, killed five American soldiers in Karbala. One soldier was killed in the raid, and four others were kidnapped and their bodies were later found dumped by a roadside.The U.S. State Department designated Hizbullah a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 11, 2005. The group was previously designated an FTO in 1999, but the designation was rescinded in 2001 after it denounced the 9/11 attacks. Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV was designated a terrorist entity in December 2004 by the U.S. State Department. In 2006, Al-Manar was named a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity by the U.S., which declared that it was "owned or controlled by the Iran-funded Hizbullah terrorist network."On March 23, 2006, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that pursuant to Executive Order 13224, Al-Manar was designated a global terrorist entity. The announcement cited earlier U.S. laws against Al-Manar which it called "the media arm of Hizbullah."In response to the U.S. designation, Al-Manar vowed to continue broadcasting even though its assets were now frozen by the U.S. government. A spokesman insisted that there was "nothing new" and added, "It doesn't change anything, and we will continue our work and will remain broadcasting everywhere in the world, including the U.S."Hmmmm.......Twitter - Terrorists - Taliban all start with T.Read the full story here.