Friday, December 30, 2011
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Indonesia 5.5 - 5.4 ; Peru 5.1 !More info here.
- Mazel Tov - The JEWS did it !Israeli man gives birth.(Ynet).Transgender man makes history, becomes first Israeli male to give birth Thursday.Yuval Topper, 24, an Israeli transgender man, gave birth at the Sheba Medical Center Thursday evening. Topper is the first Israeli transgender man to become pregnant and give birth. He underwent a sex change operation some three years ago. Topper's contractions began Thursday evening while traveling en route to Jerusalem. As result of heavy traffic, he and his partner decided to head to the Sheba medical center, near Tel Aviv. "We preferred to go to Hadassah Mount Scopus, a hospital where we received excellent treatment in the past, but we were forced to head to Sheba as result of the birth's quick progress," Topper said. "The staff at the hospital treated us with dignity and consideration." The Sheba medical center declined to comment on the report. Topper shocked medical staff in central Israel a few months ago after walking into an emergency room and informing doctors that he underwent a sex change operation and is pregnant. “Everyone was in shock,” said a patient at the hospital who was in the emergency room when Topper walked in. “He looked like a man in every way and insisted that medical staff address him as a male.”Hmmm..."I knew it it's a Zionist plot".Read the full story here.
- Headway in U.S.-Taliban Peace Talks on Afghanistan "The Release of Maulawi Khairkhah, Noorullah Noori, Maulawi Wasiq, Mohammad Nabi Khosti, Haji Wali Mohammad and Mullah Fazlullah, Taliban's Chief of Staff, from Guantanamo Bay Prison will Be Proposed".(Memri)."There are possibilities that the release of Maulawi Khairkhah, Noorullah Noori, Maulawi Wasiq, Mohammad Nabi Khosti, Haji Wali Mohammad and Mullah Fazlullah, Taliban's chief of staff, from Guantanamo Bay prison will be proposed."'I think that the talks have progressed to some level. The talks that have been held in Qatar would be good to save Afghanistan from problems. Whether the Taliban office is in Qatar, Saudi Arabia or Turkey, I think it would make no difference,' Sayed Akbar Agha said."There are some reports that [the] U.S. has been negotiating with [the] Taliban over the past ten months in Doha and Germany."Earlier reports had said that Maulawi Khairkhah, Noorullah Noori, Maulawi Wasiq, Mohammad Nabi Khosti, Haji Wali Mohammad and Mullah Fazlullah are reportedly among those to be released from the Guantanamo Bay.""Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently expressed anger over [the U.S.-led move for] the Taliban office in Qatar because of the fact the ... Afghan government had not been consulted. "President Karzai even recalled the Afghan ambassador from Doha because the government had no information that [any] talks had been held between the U.S. and the Taliban."Meanwhile, some of the Afghan political parties believe that unless the government has a clear definition of the anti-government armed groups, holding talks with them will be of no use."The political parties warn that the international community and the Afghan government must [not] give the Taliban privileges ahead of time. 'I think if members of international community or the Afghan government give anti-government armed groups privileges ahead of time, it will not lead to positive results,' Dr. Abullah Abdullah, Head of the Leading Council of the newly formed National Coalition, said."The political parties also believe that the U.S. has made efforts to open a Taliban office outside Afghanistan, so that it can lead the Afghan peace talks itself.""Afghanistan would welcome a Taliban office in any Islamic country on the condition that the Afghans lead the talks, President Karzai's Office said on Tuesday [December 27, 2011]. The Afghan government had earlier said it could agree to a Taliban office opening in Saudi Arabia or Turkey."It is said that the government has changed its stance after the Afghan High Peace Council [which is tasked by the Karzai government to hold peace talks with the Taliban and other armed groups] supported the idea to open a Taliban office in Qatar."The High Peace Council recently said it welcomed a Taliban office in any Islamic country. The Taliban office in Qatar turned into a controversial issue recently. The Afghan government had earlier opposed opening a Taliban office in Qatar and even called the Afghan ambassador, Khaled Ahmad Zakari, to Kabul."But the Office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai now says that it has been decided that a Taliban office in any Islamic country would be welcomed. 'Recently it has been decided that a Taliban office in any Islamic country would be welcomed, but on the condition that they are opened in consultation with the Afghan government and the High Peace Council,' Hamid Elmi, deputy spokesman of President Karzai, said."Meanwhile, the High Peace Council has said that it has sent an 11-article letter to different sources and countries about how peace talks should be held with the Taliban. The Council says one of the main conditions for peace talks that the Afghan government has stressed is that the Taliban must respect the Afghan constitution as well as the achievements gained during the last ten years.""The Afghan High Peace Council on ... [December 29, 2011] announced that seven Taliban leaders have taken their families to Qatar while no official letters from either Qatar or [the] U.S. have been received by the council [regarding peace negotiations with the Taliban or setting up a Taliban political office in Qatar]."After the [Karzai] government agreed with [a proposal for] a Taliban liaison office in Qatar, the practical process has started in Qatar, The council's international advisor said. The Afghan government has agreed to opening an office for [the] Taliban in Qatar on condition that the negotiation process is led by Afghans."The council says that it hasn't received details about the Taliban leaders who have gone to Qatar. 'We have heard through the media about it, but we haven't received any official letter from [the] U.S., Qatar or the Taliban,' Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, international advisor of the Afghan High Peace Council, said. 'We don't know their names and [the names of their] family members. We have heard that six to seven Taliban leaders and their families have gone there.'"Meanwhile, the High Peace Council has put in some conditions for talks with the Taliban. But it says it hasn't received any response from the Taliban in this regard. 'We set our conditions, we are waiting for Taliban's response,' Mr. Qasimi added."The High Peace Council emphasises on Afghan leadership of the negotiation which is well respected by international community."11 Conditions Outlined for Peace Talks with the Taliban "The conditions [outlined by the High Peace Council] are:
- - The office should only be used for negotiations.
- - The office should be in Afghanistan if the situation suits, if not in one of the Islamic countries preferably in Saudi Arabia or Turkey.
- - First arrangements should be made without intervention of the host country.
- - War should be stopped in Afghanistan before the start of negotiations.
- - Armed oppositions should cut all their ties with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks.
- - The achievements of last decade should remain unhurt.
- - Afghan constitution must be respected.
- - The sovereignty of Afghanistan must be recognized.
- - Pakistan must support peace negotiations because the bases of the armed oppositions are there.
- - Elected an[d] powerful representatives from both sides should continue the negotiations.
- - None of the third parties can interfere without consultation with Afghanistan."Hmmmm......Where's the role of Congress in all this?Read the full story here.
- Roboski victims lied to rest .DTK co-chair Ahmet Türk "If this is not a genocide what is it ?" (Firat).The funeral have taken place of the 35 civilians, most of them under 18, slaughtered by Turkish warplanes on 28 December near the village of Roboski. Most of the victims were from the village of Gülyazı and were members of the same family. BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and DTK co-chair Ahmet Türk delivered a speech at the funeral. "If this is not a genocide what is it ?" asked Türk while Demirtaş pointed the finger at the Turkish media and their ongoing smear campaign of the Kurdish people. Read and see the full story here.
- Syria forces fire ‘nail bombs’ as death toll mounts; hundreds of thousands demonstrate.(AlArabiya).As many as 32 people have been shot dead by the Syrian security forces, Al Arabiya reported citing Syrian activists at the Local Coordination Committees. The dead people were mostly in Hama, Daria, Mudamiya in Damascus, Deraa, Telkakh and Baalaba in Homs. More than 100,000 protesters performed a sit-in in Douma as the Arab observers toured the city, Syrian activists said.Huge protests were organized in most of the Syrian cities after the activists called for a “Friday of Marching to the Freedom Squares.”Syrian forces were accused of firing nail bombs Friday to disperse protesters as tens of thousands of people flooded streets across the country to make their voices heard to Arab monitors, according to AFP.Protesters called for the ouster and prosecution of President Bashar al-Assad, whose autocratic regime has been blamed for the deaths of more than 5,000 people since pro-reform protests erupted in March.“This Friday is different from any other Friday. It is a transformative step. People are eager to reach the monitors and tell them about their suffering,” activist Abu Hisham in Hama told Reuters.Activists urged monitors, who started this week a mission to implement an Arab League peace plan, to protect civilians from the regime’s wrath.“We urge you to make a clear distinction between the assassin and the victim,” activists of the Syrian Revolution 2011 said in a statement posted on their Facebook page.“Our revolution which was launched nine months ago is peaceful,” they said.Heavy clashes, meanwhile, broke out between Syrian security forces and army defectors in the Damascus suburb of Douma on Friday, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.Huge demonstrations rocked northwestern Idlib province and Douma, a Damascus suburb where protesters clashed with security forces who fired “nail bombs” to disperse them, said the Observatory.At least 24 protesters were hurt when security forces fired “nail bombs to disperse tens of thousands of demonstrators in Douma,” the watchdog said, adding that the protesters “hurled stones” in retaliation.“An activist in the city told the Observatory that he was hurt by shrapnel from those bombs,” the Britain-based group said in a statement received by AFP in Nicosia.The reported use of nail bombs could not be independently verified.In Douma, security forces also fired “stun grenades and tear gas” at protesters as 60,000-70,000 demonstrators headed to city hall, where Arab League observers visited the previous day.It was the “biggest ever demonstration” in the restive suburb since March, it added.Further north in Idlib province, which borders Turkey, more than 250,000 protesters took the streets in various locations, the Observatory reported.Protests also took place in Homs, which activists have dubbed the “martyr” city as hundreds have died there in a government crackdown on dissent over the past few months.In the Damascus neighborhood of al-Kadam, security forces fired live rounds of ammunition at worshippers who emerged from midday prayers apparently to prevent them from joining the protests, said the Observatory.Protests in Aleppo, Syria’s second city in the north and economic hub, was “brutally” crushed by regime loyalists, it added.The Observatory’s Rami Abdul Rahman told AFP activists are determined to make their voices heard to the monitors despite the bloody crackdown which activists say has killed more than 100 people since monitors arrived Monday.Read the full story here.
- Butterball 'Halal' Turkey Raid: Factory Farm Hit By County Sheriffs After Undercover Video Reveals Cruelty.(Huffingtonpost).County sheriffs in North Carolina raided a Butterball turkey raising facility this morning to investigate claims of animal cruelty, after the animal rights group Mercy For Animals released a video depicting what they are calling serious animal abuse.Butterball officials released a statement indicating that the company was complying with the officials and has a strict policy against animal cruelty. If that's the case, there could be trouble ahead for more than a few employees. The video shows multiple turkey handlers kicking, throwing and dragging birds around the Butterball farm. It also features images of sad-looking turkeys marred by disfiguring, likely painful, ulcers and sores, not to mention missing feathers. It's by no means inconceivable that the location in the video might face the kind of repercussions that egg producer Sparboe Farms felt at the hands of McDonald's and Target after its own history of animal cruelty was revealed. The timing of the release date seems a little strange. Mercy For Animals might have had a bigger impact if they'd circulated the video in advance of the Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey buying seasons. That might have encouraged customers to move away from factory farmed turkeys in favor of pricier -- but often more humanely raised -- heritage turkeys. But better late than never.Here's the undercover video. A warning: the following depicts animal cruelty, so some images may be disturbing, especially to young viewers.Read and see the full story here.
- 40 Hard Questions That The American People Should Be Asking Right Now.(BLN).By Michael Snyder. If you spend much time watching the mainstream news, then you know how incredibly vapid it can be. It is amazing how they can spend so much time saying next to nothing. There seems to be a huge reluctance to tackle the tough issues and the hard questions. Perhaps I should be thankful for this, because if the mainstream media was doing their job properly, there would not be a need for the alternative media. Once upon a time, the mainstream media had a virtual monopoly on the dissemination of news in the United States, but that has changed. Thankfully, the Internet in the United States is free and open (at least for now) and people that are hungry for the truth can go searching for it. Today, an increasing number of Americans want to understand why our economy is dying and why our national debt is skyrocketing. An increasing number of Americans are deeply frustrated with what is going on in Washington D.C. and they are alarmed that we seem to get closer to becoming a totalitarian police state with each passing year. People want real answers about our foreign policy, about our corrupt politicians, about our corrupt financial system, about our shocking moral decline and about the increasing instability that we are seeing all over the world, and they are not getting those answers from the mainstream media.If the mainstream media will not do it, then those of us in the alternative media will be glad to tackle the tough issues. The following are 40 hard questions that the American people should be asking right now….
1. If Iran tries to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, what will that do to the price of oil and what will that do to the global economy?
2. If Iran tries to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, will the United States respond by launching a military strike on Iran?
3. Why is the Federal Reserve bailing out Europe? And why are so few members of Congress objecting to this?
4. The U.S. dollar has lost well over 95 percent of its value since the Federal Reserve was created, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was created and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has a track record of incompetence that is absolutely mind blowing. So what possible justification is there for allowing the Federal Reserve to continue to issue our currency and run our economy?
5. Why does the euro keep dropping like a rock? Is this a sign that Europe is heading for a major recession?
6. Why are European banks parking record-setting amounts of cash at the European Central Bank? Is this evidence that banks don’t want to lend to one another and that we are on the verge of a massive credit crunch?
7. If the European financial system is going to be just fine, then why is the UK government preparing feverishly for the collapse of the euro?
8. What did the head of the IMF mean when she recently said that we could soon see conditions “reminiscent of the 1930s depression“?Read the full story here.
- The Obama administration is considering transferring of senior Taliban prisoner in perilous peace bid.(Reuters).The Obama administration is considering transferring to Afghan custody a senior Taliban official suspected of major human rights abuses as part of a long-shot bid to improve the prospects of a peace deal in Afghanistan, Reuters has learned.The potential hand-over of Mohammed Fazl, a 'high-risk detainee' held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison since early 2002, has set off alarms on Capitol Hill and among some U.S. intelligence officials.As a senior commander of the Taliban army, Fazl is alleged to be responsible for the killing of thousands of Afghanistan's minority Shi'ite Muslims between 1998 and 2001.According to U.S. military documents made public by WikiLeaks, he was also on the scene of a November 2001 prison riot that killed CIA operative Johnny Micheal Spann, the first American who died in combat in the Afghan war. There is no evidence, however, that Fazl played any direct role in Spann's death.Senior U.S. officials have said their 10-month-long effort to set up substantive negotiations between the weak government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban has reached a make-or-break moment. Reuters reported earlier this month that they are proposing an exchange of "confidence-building measures," including the transfer of five detainees from Guantanamo and the establishment of a Taliban office outside of Afghanistan.Now Reuters has learned from U.S. government sources the identity of one of the five detainees in question.The detainees, the officials emphasized, would not be set free, but remain in some sort of further custody. It is unclear precisely what conditions they would be held under.In response to inquiries by Reuters, a senior administration official said that the release of Fazl and four other Taliban members had been requested by the Afghan government and Taliban representatives as far back as 2005.The debate surrounding the White House's consideration of high-profile prisoners such as Fazl illustrates the delicate course it must tread both at home and abroad as it seeks to move the nascent peace process ahead. One U.S. intelligence official said there had been intense bipartisan opposition in Congress to the proposed transfer."I can tell you that the hair on the back of my neck went up when they walked in with this a month. ago, and there's been very, very strong letters fired off to the administration," the official said on condition of anonymity.The senior administration official confirmed that the White House has received letters from lawmakers on the issue. "We will not characterize classified Congressional correspondence, but what is clear is the President's order to us to continue to discuss these important matters with Congress," the official said.Even supporters of a controversial deal with the Taliban - a fundamentalist group that refers to Americans as infidels and which is still killing U.S., NATO and Afghan soldiers on the battlefield - say the odds of striking an accord are slim.Obama is expected to soon sign into law a defense authorization bill whose provisions would broaden the military's power over terrorist detainees and require the Pentagon to certify in most cases that certain security conditions will be met before Guantanamo prisoners can be sent home.The mere idea of such a transfer is already raising hackles on Capitol Hill, where one key senator last week cautioned the administration against negotiating with "terrorists."Senator Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said such detainees would "likely continue to pose a threat to the United States" even once they were transferred.Hmmmmm.......Radical Sheikh a Key Mediator in U.S.-Taliban Talks calls for significant American commitments, including "the release of prisoners still held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay."Can we start impeachment now?Read the full story here.
- Related: Mrs. Weiner (Huma Abedin), the Deputy Chief of Staff to Hillary Clinton has a brother named Hassan Abedin who works at Oxford University.What is significant is that Oxford University, which has long been infiltrated by Islamists who founded the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS), has Huma's brother listed as a fellow and partners with a number of Muslim Brotherhood members on the Board, including al-Qaeda associate, Omar Naseef and the notorious Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi; both have been listed as OCIS Trustees.Naseef continues to serve as Board Chairman.In 2009, Qaradawi's role within Oxford and the Muslim Brotherhood was championed by the notorious Sheikh Rached Ghannouchi of Al-Nahda – a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate now active in Tunisia. OCIS has even presented an award for great scholarly achievement to Brotherhood member Shaykh Abd Al-Fattah Abu Gudda, whose personal history goes back to the Brotherhood's founder, Hasan al-Banna.(Even the Sunday Times acknowledges that the cradle of Islamic Jihad – Al-Azhar University – actively attempts to establish links with OCIS, where Huma's brother serves.)Hillary Clinton who signed a document less than one month prior to her trip to Saudi Arabia with Huma that lifted the ban on Tariq Ramadan, allowing him entry into the United States. Ramadan is the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hasan al-Banna and has ties to Islamic terrorist groups.Huma Abedin's charm, family connections and access to highly sensitive State secrets as admitted by Hillary herself, can have significant consequences. What absolutely must be known is if this circle of public servants was made aware of all these ties to potential enemies of the State.Source.
- Can the 2nd Amendment Survive Four More Years of Obama? (Don’t Bet on It).(BigGovernment).A politician is described as a “lame duck” once he or she has been defeated or announced their retirement, and is simply finishing out the remainder of their term in office. And even after Nov. elections are over and a large number of Senate and House members are voted out, the lame duck Senators and House members are usually just that – lame. But occasionally, they are fierce because the defeated office holder is bitter and has approximately two months to wreak havoc with his or her vote before leaving DC. When this happens, ideologues will use the time where they’re completely accountable to voters to score points for their side. We saw this after the Nov. 2010 elections when defeated Senators and House members banded together in late Dec. to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” so homosexuals could serve openly in the military. Yet as bad as this is, the opportunities for a lame duck office holder to attack our freedom grows exponentially when said office holder is in the White House, and when he’s an ideologue who hates private gun ownership, the right to self defense, and the 2nd Amendment.And this brings us to a crucial point. Namely, that if Obama wins re-election in 2012, he will be awarded four years of lame duck status in which to do anything and everything he wants to lessen our ability to own and use guns. He knows he won’t have to answer for it because he will not be running for re-election in 2016.What would four years of a lame duck President Obama mean for gun owners? The only way to know is to gauge it by the things Obama has done already. In 1995, when pursuing a state level office in Illinois, Obama “endorsed a complete ban on all handguns.” At that time, he also expressed his support for waiting periods for handgun purchases. A “waiting period” is a set period of time, usually 5 to 10 days, which has to elapse between the time an individual buys a gun and is actually allowed to take it home. In other words, customer “X” would pay for a gun on Monday of this week, but would not be allowed to pick it up at the store until Monday of next week. (The foolishness of this scenario is evident when one considers what that waiting period might mean for a female who is being threatened by a violent criminal or sexual predator. She would have to buy her gun then spend the next week, the “waiting period,” hoping the criminal or predator would be willing to wait a week before attacking as well.)As a state senator in Illinois, Obama supported a ban on the use of handguns for self defense: he literally supported laws that made it a crime to use a gun to defend yourself even if you did so in your own home. He also supported Illinois H.B. 2579, which prohibited law-abiding individuals from purchasing more than one gun a month; he opposed laws that permitted law-abiding citizens to carry firearms for self-defense (i.e., he opposed concealed carry permits); he supported a ban on “junk guns” (cheaper guns that poor people could actually afford to buy and use for self defense). And as a U.S. Senator, Obama supported the reintroduction of the assault weapons ban, a ban on high capacity magazines, and he voted with Ted Kennedy on ammunition bans (that included hunting ammunition).Add to these things Obama’s assurances to his ardent followers that he’s working “under the radar” to pass more gun control and four years of lame duck status for him should make every gun owner nervous as a cat.While I don’t pretend to know what working for more gun control “under the radar” means, I do know that there’s no limit to the damage that can be done by a man who hates guns, freedom, and the constitution as much as Obama does. (Especially if he knows he doesn’t have to answer to voters again.)Read the full story here.
- TSA Got Everything It Wanted for Christmas.(Cryptogon)."It looks like Congress' recent jabs at TSA were just posturing after all. Last Friday, President Obama signed a spending act passed by both houses of Congress. The act gives TSA a $7.85 billion budget increase for 2012 and includes funding for 12 additional multi-modal Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams and 140 new behavior detection officers. It even includes funding for 250 shiny new body scanners, which was originally cut from the funding bill last May."Read the full story here.
- NSTIC, Google and SEO: Google is now a credentialed provider of Trusted Identities for the federal government.(SearchengineWatch). In case you missed it, Google is now a credentialed provider of Trusted Identities for the federal government. This means that the NSTIC, or National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, framework now has federally recognized and certified identity providers.But who are these providers exactly, what is the NSTIC and how does this affect the users in matters of privacy, anonymity or even SEO? The link has a video that helps easily explains what it means to be working with the #NSTIC and how these issues are addressed, or not addressed by the NSTIC Framework.There are a lot of reasons to watch of course. However, because everyone is wondering why so many changes are happening in search and social. Changes such as SSL secure keyword referrer data, and if you do not know about the new Identity Market, if you haven't made yourself familiar with the tenets of the NSTIC and the Identity Ecosystem, you might miss that this is more likely part of a much larger plan at Google, PayPal, Facebook and the like.So watch THE VIDEO, learn about the Identity Ecosystem. There are companies already set to go, marketplaces ready to run, and credentialed providers such as Google, PayPal and Equifax who have already started implementation procedures. It can't be ignored because it already exists; they might just hoping maybe you don't notice, well at least not yet.Read the full story here.
- Muslims upset by NYPD to boycott mayor’s breakfast.(AlArabiya).Several Muslim leaders have declined invitations to the mayor’s annual year-end interfaith breakfast, saying they’re upset at police department efforts to infiltrate mosques and spy on Muslim neighborhoods.The imams and activists said in a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg that they’re disturbed at his response to a series of stories by The Associated Press detailing New York Police Department intelligence-gathering programs that monitored Muslim groups, businesses and houses of worship.Bloomberg has defended the NYPD, saying last week it doesn’t take religion into account in its policing.Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser acknowledged Wednesday that about a dozen people turned down the breakfast invitation. But he said “a couple dozen” more said they plan to attend.“Mayor Bloomberg, the extent of these civil rights violations is astonishing, yet instead of calling for accountability and the rule of law, you have thus far defended the NYPD's misconduct,” wrote Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid of The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood. “We, on the other hand, believe that such measures threaten the rights of all Americans, and deepen mistrust between our communities and law enforcement.”He added: “We are deeply disturbed that to date we have only heard your words of strong support for these troubling policies and violations of our rights. We are equally disturbed by Commissioner (Raymond) Kelly’s denials of what we know to be true as verified by the leaked documents.”The Muslim leaders said they appreciate the mayor’s staunch support a year ago during an uproar over a planned Islamic center near the World Trade Center site. But they said they were disappointed by what he said after the AP stories since August about the police department’s efforts to infiltrate Muslim neighborhoods and mosques with aggressive programs designed by a CIA officer who worked with the department after the Sept. 11 attacks. The stories disclosed that a team of 16 police officers speaking at least five languages was assigned to use census information and government databases to map ethnic neighborhoods in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.Documents reviewed by the AP revealed that undercover police officers known as rakers visited local businesses such as Islamic bookstores and cafes, chatting up store owners to determine their ethnicities and gauge their views. They played cricket and eavesdropped in ethnic cafes and clubs.The AP stories also revealed that one of the CIA’s most experienced clandestine operatives began working inside the police department in July as the special assistant to the deputy commissioner of intelligence.The CIA is prohibited from spying domestically. Its unusual partnership with the NYPD has troubled top lawmakers and prompted an internal investigation.Bloomberg in October defended the arrangement, saying it was necessary in a dangerous world.“There are people trying to kill us,” he said. “And if the CIA can help us I’m all for getting any information they have and then letting the police department use it as - if it's appropriate to protect you and to protect me.”In the letter, Abdur-Rashid noted that Muslims comprise at least 10 percent of the city’s population. He said the Muslims leaders were seeking a meeting with the mayor to discuss the issues raised by the reports.“We believe it is unequivocally wrong and fundamentally misguided to invest law enforcement resources in religious or racial profiling, rather than investigating suspicious activity,” he said. “We seek your clear, unambiguous, public support for the rights and privacy of all New Yorkers, including Muslims; and a condemnation of all policies that profile and target communities and community groups solely based on their religion or the color of their skin.”Read the full story here.
- Washington to sell F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, deal to boost U.S. economy.Meanwhile Pres kills of Hawker Beechcraft.(AlArabiya).The White House said on Thursday a $29.4 billion deal to sell Boeing-made F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia’s air force would support more than 50,000 U.S. jobs and give the American economy a $3.5 billion annual boost. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the government to government deal included production of 84 new aircraft and upgrades to 70 existing aircraft as well as munitions, spare parts, training, maintenance and logistics.“This agreement reinforces the strong and enduring relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a strong Saudi defense capability as a key component to regional security,” Earnest said in a statement from Hawaii, according to Reuters. He quoted unidentified experts as saying that the deal would support more than 50,000 American jobs, at a time of high unemployment, and provide $3.5 billion in annual impact to the U.S. economy, according to AFP.Hmmmmmm......So supporting American jobs is the reason, so why did Obama Admin Ban US Aircraft Maker Hawker Beechcraft, Favors Non-US Firm with Ties to Iran on Light Aircraft Project?About 1,400 employees in 20 states will loose their job.Something smells real bad here.Read the full story here.
- 'Stuxnet virus used on Iran was 1 of 5 cyberbombs'.(Ynet).The Stuxnet virus that last year damaged Iran's nuclear program was likely one of at least five cyber weapons developed on a single platform whose roots trace back to 2007, according to new research from Russian computer security firm Kaspersky Lab.Security experts widely believe that the United States and Israel were behind Stuxnet, though the two nations have officially declined to comment on the matter. A Pentagon spokesman on Wednesday declined comment on Kaspersky's research, which did not address who was behind Stuxnet. Stuxnet has already been linked to another virus, the Duqu data-stealing trojan, but Kaspersky's research suggests the cyber weapons program that targeted Iran may be far more sophisticated than previously known. Kaspersky's director of global research and analysis, Costin Raiu, told Reuters on Wednesday that his team has gathered evidence that shows the same platform that was used to build Stuxnet and Duqu was also used to create at least three other pieces of malware. Raiu said the platform is comprised of a group of compatible software modules designed to fit together, each with different functions. Its developers can build new cyber weapons by simply adding and removing modules. "It's like a Lego set. You can assemble the components into anything: a robot or a house or a tank," he said. Kaspersky named the platform "Tilded" because many of the files in Duqu and Stuxnet have names beginning with the tilde symbol "~" and the letter "d."Researchers with Kaspersky have not found any new types of malware built on the Tilded platform, Raiu said, but they are fairly certain that they exist because shared components of Stuxnet and Duqu appear to be searching for their kin. When a machine becomes infected with Duqu or Stuxnet, the shared components on the platform search for two unique registry keys on the PC linked to Duqu and Stuxnet that are then used to load the main piece of malware onto the computer, he said. Kaspersky recently discovered new shared components that search for at least three other unique registry keys, which suggests that the developers of Stuxnet and Duqu also built at least three other pieces of malware using the same platform, he added.Those modules handle tasks including delivering the malware to a PC, installing it, communicating with its operators, stealing data and replicating itself.Makers of anti-virus software including Kaspersky, US firm Symantec Corp and Japan's Trend Micro Inc have already incorporated technology into their products to protect computers from getting infected with Stuxnet and Duqu. Yet it would be relatively easy for the developers of those highly sophisticated viruses to create other weapons that can evade detection by those anti-virus programs by the modules in the Tilded platform, he said. Kaspersky believes that Tilded traces back to at least 2007 because specific code installed by Duqu was compiled from a device running a Windows operating system on August 31, 2007.Read the full story here.
- Hamas Tweets For Jihad and Martyrdom, For Expelling and Killing Jews, and For Conquering Jerusalem – Another U.S.-Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization Served By Using Twitter.(Memri).Read the full story here.
- The World's Worst Human Rights Observer.(FP).As Arab League monitors work to expose President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown, the head of the mission is a Sudanese general accused of creating the fearsome "janjaweed," which was responsible for the worst atrocities during the Darfur genocide.For the first time in Syria's nine-month-old uprising, there are witnesses to President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown, which according to the United Nations has claimed more than 5,000 lives. Arab League observers arrived in the country on Dec. 26, and traveled to the city of Homs -- the epicenter of the revolt, where the daily death toll regularly runs into the dozens, according to activist groups -- on Dec. 27. Thousands of people took to the streets to protest against Assad upon the observers' arrival, while activists said Syrian tanks withdrew from the streets only hours before the Arab League team entered the city."I am going to Homs," insisted Sudanese Gen. Mohammad Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, the head of the Arab League observer mission, telling reporters that so far the Assad regime had been "very cooperative."But Dabi may be the unlikeliest leader of a humanitarian mission the world has ever seen. He is a staunch loyalist of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity for his government's policies in Darfur. And Dabi's own record in the restive Sudanese region, where he stands accused of presiding over the creation of the feared Arab militias known as the "janjaweed," is enough to make any human rights activist blanch.abi's involvement in Darfur began in 1999, four years before the region would explode in the violence that Secretary of State Colin Powell labeled as "genocide." Darfur was descending into war between the Arab and Masalit communities -- the same fault line that would widen into a bloodier interethnic war in a few years' time. As the situation escalated out of control, Bashir sent Dabi to Darfur to restore order.Read the full story here.
- Related - Arab League in Syria;A Mission of Amateurs.(Spiegel).Just as their mission begins, Arab League observers are already in danger of losing their credibility in Syria. Their comments about the situation in the opposition stronghold of Homs seemed dismissive to the insurgents. And that's not the only mistake already made during the important visit.The information emerging about the visit of Arab League observers to Syria is alarming -- but not because they plan to pointedly pursue the accusations against the regime of President Bashar Assad. Instead, it's because the first statements made by its leader, Sudanese Lt. Gen. Mustafa al-Dabi, are scandalous. Speaking in the insurgent stronghold of Homs, he said that some areas looked "a bit of a mess," but otherwise he'd seen "nothing frightening" While Dabi also said the mission to Syria would require more time, the fatal aspect of his statement is that it sounds dismissive, even if perhaps that's not how it was meant, even if the observers didn't witness a massacre that day, and even if he was trying to acknowledge the regime's promised withdrawal of the military from the area. His statements set off alarm bells for parts of the Syrian opposition. They fear that Assad will be whitewashed, or that the regime in Damascus will be able to lead the observers only to places where no human rights violations are apparent. It seems inconceivable that the Arab League has praised Dabi for his diplomatic experience. This is exactly the kind of situation where making light of things should be avoided. There are also other indications that the Arab League emissaries have been unprofessional. News agency Reuters quoted a Homs resident on Wednesday as saying that observers declined to investigate a hard-hit district of the city without the accompaniment of a Syrian military official. If that's true, the Arab League, on the first day of its mission, has made a mockery of its central demand -- free, unfettered access to the entire country. If the emissaries fear the public, they're in the wrong place. That's even more the case if they're worried about spoiling things with the Syrian army. Officially, the Arab League has taken a hard line against President Assad, threatening him with sanctions. After weeks of tricky maneuvering, he finally let observers into the country, a place where serious estimates put the number of civilians killed at some 5,000, and where thousands of opposition members are thought to be imprisoned.The Arab League, long considered a paper tiger rather than a powerful body, had appeared to be empowered. But its first mistake was putting a controversial former Sudanese general in charge of the mission. He is suspected of looking the other way during the mass murders and expulsions that took place in the crisis region of Darfur. The Arab League is in danger of instantly squandering its newfound capital -- and of looking like overwhelmed amateurs. Bashar Assad and his clique are shrewd. While the president's troops massacred civilians, he appeared several times on state television, promising dialogue and reform with a smile. If the Arab League officials don't quickly and convincingly make clear that they are seeking to expose the truth, that they distrust this regime, that they insist on moving around independently, that they are listening to those affected by the brutal crackdown, and that they are unbiased, then the mission is useless. In that case, valuable time will be wasted that could have been better spent applying more international pressure or pushing for hard sanctions.Read the full story here.
- Syria’s opposition calls for head monitor’s exit; Russia reassured by ‘calm’ situation.(AlArabiya).Syria’s opposition has called for the removal of the Sudanese general heading the Arab League mission on a fact finding mission in Syria because he held key security positions in the regime of President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted on international charges of committing genocide in Darfur. But Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the comments from Arab League observers in Syria sent to check whether government forces have halted violence against protesters showed that the situation in the country was “reassuring.”“Judging by the public statements made by the chief of the mission al-Dabi, who in the first of his visits went to the city of Homs...the situation seems to be reassuring,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.The ministry said that Moscow was counting on the team’s “professionalism and impartiality.”Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi when started his Syria visits in Homs said that the situation was “calm” and not frightening despite sniper gunfire and the sight of deserted armored vehicles on the streets.The controversy swirling around al-Dabi raises troubling questions about whether Arab League member states, with some of the world’s poorest human rights records, were fit for the mission to monitor compliance with a plan to end to the crackdown on political opponents by security forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.The Syrian opposition has branded the League’s mission a farce, citing the ongoing violence against anti-government protesters across the country even as the monitors worked on the ground. Arab League officials said the mandate of the monitors was not to intervene to stop the violence but to observe and report back to the group’s secretary general.The 60 Arab League monitors who began work Tuesday are the first that Syria has allowed in during the nine-month uprising. They are supposed to be ensuring the regime is complying with terms of the League’s plan to end its crackdown. The United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed in the uprising since it began in March.The Arab League plan requires Assad’s regime to remove security forces and heavy weapons from city streets, start talks with opposition leaders, free political prisoners and allow human rights workers and journalists into the country.Syrian opposition groups have been critical of the mission, saying it gives Assad cover for his crackdown.Amnesty International said Dabi led Bashir’s military intelligence service until August 1995, when he was appointed head of external security in Sudan. “During the early 1990s, the military intelligence in Sudan was responsible for the arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, and torture or other ill-treatment of numerous people in Sudan,” it said in a statement.“The Arab League’s decision to appoint as the head of the observer mission a Sudanese general on whose watch severe human rights violations were committed in Sudan risks undermining the League's efforts so far and seriously calls into question the mission’s credibility,” Amnesty said.Haytham Manna, a prominent Paris-based dissident, urged the Arab League to replace Dabi or reduce his authority.“We know his history and his shallow experience in the area,” he said.Another opposition activist, Omar Idilbi of the Local Coordination Committees, described Dabi as a “senior officer with an oppressive regime that is known to repress opposition,” adding that there are fears he might not be neutral.De Waal, who interviewed Dabi for a book on Darfur he co-authored in 2008, said the Sudanese served in 1999 as Bashir’s representative for western Darfur, where serious fighting had broken out related to intertribal tensions and Darfur's frustration with the Khartoum government.“Dabi brought the situation under control with a show of force, including stationing military helicopters in the state capital and using them to intimidate the rebels. Many were arrested during his tenure, and thousands of refugees fled to Chad.”The Darfur rebels, according to de Waal, said Dabi’s time in the area was “the beginning of the organization of the Janjaweed,” the name given to pro-government militiamen blamed for many of the atrocities committed against Darfurians.Dabi argued at the time that it was necessary to show a firm hand in the face of dissent, de Waal said.“It is striking that although he had retired from the army at that point, Dabi insisted he be allowed to wear a military uniform on his mission, on the grounds that this would ensure that he was respected,” De Waal said.Read the full story here.
- Iran to test long-range missiles in Gulf amid Hormuz row.(BikyaMasr).Tehran (dpa) – Amid a verbal row with the United States over blocking the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil shipping route, Iran proclaimed on Friday that it will start testing long range missiles in the Persian Gulf.“On Saturday morning the Iranian navy will test several of its long-range missiles in the Persian Gulf,” navy deputy commander Admiral Mahmoud Moussavi told Fars news agency.The testing of the missiles is part of ongoing navy manoeuvres in the Persian Gulf and, according to Moussavi, the main and final phase is preparing the navy for confronting the enemy in a warlike situation.The manoeuvre has been overshadowed by a verbal row between Iran and the US over an Iranian threat to close the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, through which 40 percent of the world’s ship-borne crude is passed.The spark for the row was a Tuesday remark by Iranian Vice President Mohammd-Reza Rahimi that, “if Western countries sanctioned Iranian oil, then Iran would not allow one drop of oil to cross the Strait of Hormuz.”Following his remarks, Iranian navy commander Admiral Habibollah Sayari said, although there was currently no necessity for Iran to close the strait, “it would be as easy as drinking a glass of water.”After the US Navy said it would not accept any Iranian disruption of the free flow of goods through Hormuz, Iran continued the war of words with Revolutionary Guard deputy chief Hossein Salami saying that the US was in no position to tell Iran what to do.Salami also called the US “an iceberg which is to be melted by the high degree of the Iranian revolution,” and “a sparrow in the body of a dinosaur.”Neither President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nor the ministries of defence and foreign affairs have so far commented on the issue.The only official comments on the matter came last week, before the exchange of words, from Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, who said that closing the Hormuz has never been on Iran’s agenda.However, he added: “if the region would face a warlike situation, then everything would then become warlike.”Read the full story here.
- Islamic Maldives bans spas and health centers after ‘prostitution’ protests.(Alarabiya).The Maldives has ordered hundreds of luxury hotels to close their spas after protests by an Islamist party which claimed they were a front for prostitution, an official told AFP Friday.The tourism ministry instructed all resort hotels across the nation’s 1,192 tiny coral islands to shut their spas and health centers with immediate effect.The opposition Adhaalath party, a socially conservative movement whose website features an article criticizing “lustful music,” staged protests in the capital Male last week accusing spas of being used as brothels.“An Islamic party has been agitating against spas hoping to embarrass the government,” an official told AFP by telephone, confirming Thursday’s ministry order but asking not to be named. Tourism is a key foreign exchange earner in the Maldives, a popular high-end destination for well-heeled honeymooners where luxury rooms can cost up to $12,000 a day.The Indian Ocean country this year received more than 850,000 tourists, drawn to its secluded islands known for turquoise blue lagoons, flourishing corals and reefs filled with multi-colored fish.But the government bowed to the pressure less than a week after President Mohamed Nasheed called for a “tolerant” form of Islam in his nation of 330,000 people, who by law are all Muslims.He urged Maldivians to reject religious extremism and support the more liberal “traditional form” of Islam that has been practiced in the Maldives for centuries.“I asked you to come here in support of the middle, tolerant path,” Nasheed, who came to power in the country’s first democratic elections in 2008, told ruling party supporters last week.The government move to shut spas will directly affect an opposition leader, Gasim Ibrahim, head of the Jumhoory Party, who owns five, the independent Minivan news website reported.It said they were asked to shut down this week before the government’s blanket ban on Thursday, and the companies had sought court intervention to remain in business. Thursday’s order applied to all spas in the country.Read the full story here.
- Kurdish rebels call for an uprising in Turkey after dozens killed in an air strike.(AlArabiya).The rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Friday urged Kurds in Turkey to stage an “uprising” after an air force raid killed 35 villagers near the Iraq border.“We urge the people of Kurdistan... to react after this massacre and seek a settling of accounts through uprisings,” Bahoz Erdal from the armed wing of the PKK, labeled a terrorist organization by Ankara, said in a statement.Turkey’s ruling party on Thursday said the strike could have been a “blunder” that killed civilians and not Kurdish separatists.“According to initial reports, these people were smugglers and not terrorists,” said Huseyin Celik, vice-president of the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP).“If it turns out to have been a mistake, a blunder, rest assured that this will not be covered up,” he said, adding that it could have been an “operational accident” by the military.Turkey’s military command said it had launched an air raid on PKK militants after a spy drone spotted a group moving toward its sensitive southeastern border under cover of darkness late Wednesday.“The area where this happened is called Sinat-Haftanin, in northern Iraq, where there is no civilian population, and where the terrorist organization has bases,” a military statement said, referring to the outlawed PKK.But the country's main pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) said the planes had bombed villagers from Kurdish majority southeastern Turkey who were smuggling sugar and fuel across the border on mules and donkeys.“It’s clearly a massacre of civilians, of whom the oldest is 20," BDP leader Selahattin Demirtas said in a statement that called on Turkey’s Kurdish population to respond “by democratic means.”The PKK took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives. It is labeled a terrorist organization by Ankara and much of the international community.Clashes between Kurdish rebels and the army have escalated in recent months.The Turkish military launched an operation on militant bases inside northern Iraq in October after a PKK attack killed 24 soldiers in the border town of Cukurca, the army's biggest loss since 1993.Hmmm....Was it a Turkish or an American spydrone that 'spotted' them?Read the full story here.
- Muslims Throw Acid on Bishop Who Opposes Sharia Court.(CompassDirect). (Kampala, Uganda, December 28. — Islamic extremists threw acid on a church leader on Christmas Eve shortly after a seven-day revival at his church, leaving him with severe burns that have blinded one eye and threaten sight in the other.Bishop Umar Mulinde, 37, a sheikh (Islamic teacher) before his conversion to Christianity, was attacked on Saturday night (Dec. 24) outside his Gospel Life Church International building in Namasuba, about 10 kilometers (six miles) outside of Kampala. From his hospital bed in Kampala, he told Compass that he was on his way back to the site for a party with the entire congregation and hundreds of new converts to Christianity when a man who claimed to be a Christian approached him.“I heard him say in a loud voice, ‘Pastor, pastor,’ and as I made a turn and looked at him, he poured the liquid onto my face as others poured more liquid on my back and then fled away shouting, ‘Allahu akbar [God is greater],’” Mulinde said, still visibly traumatized two days after the assault.A neighbor and church members rushed him to a hospital in the Mengo area of Kampala, and he was then transferred to International Hospital Kampala.“I have to continue fighting this pain – it is too much,” Mulinde said. “My entire body is in pain. Most of the night I miss sleep.”His face, neck and arms bore deep black scars from the acid, and his lips were swollen.“The burn caused by the acid is so severe that there is an urgent need for specialized treatment,” said area Christian Musa Baluku Symutsangira. “I suggest that he be flown outside the country as soon as possible; otherwise Mulinde might lose both of his eyes, coupled with the spread of the burns. The burns seemed to spread and go very deep. He might need some plastic surgery.."A doctor told Compass that acid burns cover about 30 percent of his face and has cost him sight in one eye.“We are doing all we can to save his other remaining eye and to contain the acid from spreading to other parts of the body,” the doctor said.Mulinde’s shirt, tie and suit were in tatters after the attack.Mulinde said his father, Id Wasswa, was a local prayer leader or imam.“I was born into a Muslim family, and although I decided to become a Christian, I have been financially assisting many Muslims, as well as my relatives who are Muslims,” he said. “I have been conducting a peaceful evangelism campaign.”Mulinde said Muslim extremists opposed to his conversion from Islam and his outspoken opposition of sharia (Islamic law) courts in Uganda, known in East Africa as Kadhi courts, attacked him. On Oct. 15, area Muslim leaders declared a fatwa against him demanding his death.Muslims fight to enforce sharia law everywhere Islam spreads. In the U.S., groups like CAIR are aggressively fighting all who oppose sharia’s application in the U.S.Read the full story here.
- Turkey - Two brothers kill runaway sister in front of police.(HurriyetDaily).A runaway 21-year-old woman was allegedly stabbed to death by her two brothers in the presence of three police officers Dec. 28 when she returned to her father’s shop to retrieve her belongings. The two brothers, Üzeyir Akçal, 23, and M. Akçal, 16, were arrested by the police in the stabbing of Hacer Akçalı, while five other family members who were initially taken into custody were subsequently released after providing statements.The Adıyaman Governor’s Office also launched administrative and judicial investigations into the three officers who had been entrusted with escorting Hacer Akçalı, who later died in Kahta State Hospital, according to reports. Governor of Adıyaman Ramazan Sodan announced that the three police officers were laid off from their duties.Hacer Akçalı reportedly arrived at the Kahta District Police Headquarters on the afternoon of Dec. 28 and said her family was mistreating her. The prosecutor’s office consequently issued a directive for her to be taken into protection. Hacer Akçalı had fled her home before, but was eventually located in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa; police returned her to her parents on Sept. 17. On Dec. 28, the woman said she had been locked up in a room and subjected to violence after coming back home in September and added that she feared for her life.Meanwhile, nongovernmental organization “We Will Stop the Murdering of Women Platform” issued a press release announcing plans to stage country-wide demonstrations to protest a recent draft bill that will only provide protection from violence to women who are formally engaged, wed or divorced. A clause regarding “those involved in a close relationship” was removed from the motion, effectively excluding women who are subjected to violence by partners with whom they have no legal bonds of marriage. Read the full story here.
- Afghan girl locked in toilet for 5 months: officials.(Yahoo).Afghan police have rescued a teenage girl who was beaten and locked up in a toilet for over five months after she defied her in-laws who tried to force her into prostitution, officials said Tuesday.Sahar Gul, 15, was found in the basement of her husband's house in northeastern Baghlan province late on Monday after her parents reported her disappearance to the police."She was beaten, her fingernails were removed and her arm was broken," district police chief Fazel Rahman told AFP.Three women including the teenager's mother in-law had been arrested in connection with the case but her husband had fled the area, he added.The case highlights how women continue to suffer in Afghanistan despite the billions of dollars of international aid which has poured into the country during the decade-long war."The 15-year-old girl was brought to hospital with severe shock," said Pul-i-Khurmeri hospital chief Dr Gul Mohammad Wardak."She had injuries to her legs and face and the nails on her left had been removed."Sahar Gul was married to her husband seven months ago in the neighbouring province of Badakhshan, but she was brought to Baghlan to live with her husband, said Rahima Zareefi, the provincial head of women affairs.During this time her parents were unable to contact her, she said.The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission logged 1,026 cases of violence against women in the second quarter of 2011 compared with 2,700 cases for the whole of 2010.And according to figures in an Oxfam report in October, 87 percent of Afghan women report having experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage.Sahar Gul's case comes after a woman known as Gulnaz was pardoned and released earlier this month after spending two years in prison for "moral crimes".She was jailed after she reported to police that her cousin's husband had raped her. Gulnaz gave birth to the rapist's child in prison.Last month, the United Nations said that a landmark law aiming to protect women against violence in Afghanistan had been used to prosecute just over 100 cases since being enacted two years ago.Read the full story here.
- Erdoğan cites Iran for expanding Turkish missile program.(HurriyetDaily).Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called on the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) to build missiles with longer ranges after comparing Iran’s missile range to that of Turkey. Erdoğan said he had learned Turkey was only capable of manufacturing missiles with a 150 km range, lagging behind Iran’s missiles that can travel up to 2,500 km despite the country operating under a strict embargo, daily Habertürk reported yesterday. “Iran is manufacturing long-range missiles capable of reaching 2,000 to 2,500 km. Our neighbor can do this. They produce domestic missiles independent from Europe, and they do this despite the embargo. We can do this too. I want this from you,” he said Dec. 27.Hmmmm.....Read the full story here.
- Syria Hiding Detainees from Observers, Human Rights Watch Says.(HNY).Human Rights Watch has accused Syria's regime of hiding hundreds of detainees held in its crackdown on dissent from Arab observers visiting the country to assess implementation of a peace deal."Syrian authorities have transferred perhaps hundreds of detainees to off-limits military sites to hide them from Arab League monitors now in the country," the global watchdog said in a statement late Tuesday. "The Arab League should insist on full access to all Syrian sites used for detention, consistent with its agreement with the Syrian government."On Tuesday, a group of Arab League observers visited the besieged protest hub of Homs in central Syria, where the United Nations estimates more than 5,000 people have been killed in the crackdown since mid-March.The New York-based HRW cited a Syrian security officer in Homs as saying that he received orders from his prison director to assist with irregular detainee transfers. The orders, he said, came after President Bashar al-Assad's government signed an Arab League protocol on ending violence on December 19, giving the observers access to places where detainees might be held."He estimated that on December 21 and 22 approximately 400 to 600 detainees were moved out of his detention facility to other places of detention," HRW said in the statement posted on its Web site."The transfers happened in installments," the unidentified official was quoted as saying. "Some detainees were moved in civilian jeeps and some in cargo trucks. My role was inside the prison, gathering the detainees and putting them in the cars. My orders from the prison director were to move the important detainees out."The officer said officials who accompanied the detainees out of the facility told him they were being taken to a military missile factory in Zaidal, just outside of Homs.Human Rights Watch said his account was corroborated by other witnesses, including a detainee who said that among 150 people being held at one site were people who worked with journalists, defectors, and protesters."Syria has shown it will stop at nothing to undermine independent monitoring of its crackdown," said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East director. "Syria's subterfuge makes it essential for the Arab League to draw clear lines regarding access to detainees, and be willing to speak out when those lines are crossed."The security officer also told HRW that the Syrian government was issuing police identification cards to its military officials, which the rights watchdog said was in violation of the Arab League accord."Dressing soldiers in police uniforms does not meet the Arab League call to withdraw the army," Whitson said. "The Arab League needs to cut through Syrian government deception by pushing for full access to anywhere Syria is holding detainees."Read the full story here.
- 2011: The year that saw the issuing of some of the weirdest fatwas.(AlArabiya).The first mention of the year 2011 would automatically bring to mind revolutions, ousted regimes, and disgruntled people. However, a closer look would reveal that another different feature distinguishes 2011: a whole spat of peculiar fatwas that swept through different countries in the region. One of the weirdest and most controversial fatwas in 2011 was one issued by an Islamist preacher who lives in Europe. According to this preacher, women are prohibited from eating phallic-shaped fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, bananas, and carrots. Touching or consuming those, he argued, are bound to turn women on and make them engage in sinful fantasies.In Morocco, the head of the Moroccan Association for Jurisprudence Research stirred both outrage and controversy when he issued a fatwa allowing Muslim men to have sex with their just-deceased wives under the pretext that nothing in Islam prohibits sex with corpses. This fatwa followed a series of sex-related ones issued by the same cleric.In Somalia, the ultraconservative al-Shabaab al-Mujahedin Movement issued a fatwa during the holy month of Ramadan prohibiting the consumption of sambousak, a triangular pastry stuffed with meat, cheese, or vegetables. The popular snack, they explained, is a symbol of the Trinity in Christianity and is therefore not to be consumed by Muslims.In Egypt, religious edicts were in most cases mixed with politics. Sheikh Amr Sotouhi, head of the Islamic Preaching Committee at al-Azhar, issued in November a fatwa prohibiting fathers from marrying their daughters to members of the formerly ruling National Democratic Party owing to their “corruption.”A similar fatwa was issued by the late Sheikh Emad Effat, shot this month during recent clashes between Egyptian protestors and the army. Effat’s fatwa prohibited Muslims from voting for members of the same disbanded party and cited the same reason: corruption.Mohamed Abdel Hadi, deputy chairman of the Salafi al-Nour Party in the governorate of Dakahliya went as far as saying that the results of the parliamentary elections, in which the party scored an unexpected victory, were mentioned in the holy Quran.The most outrageous fatwa in Egypt was one that came out last June and in which Egyptian preacher Mohamed al-Zoghbi said eating the meat of the jinn is permissible in Islam and left everyone wondering how anyone can get hold of them in the first place, let alone eat their meat.Hmmmm....try putting salt on their tail?Read the full story here.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Rif'at Al-Said, Leader of Egyptian Al-Tagammu' Party: The Christians in Egypt Have Every Right to Be Scared; Some Are Packing Up and Leaving
Interviewer: The Church gave an instruction to vote for [the Egyptian bloc]. So you too have been using religion.
Rif'at Al-Said: I do not believe that the Church, as an institution, which is headed by Patriarch Shinoda, gave such an instruction.
Interviewer: So who gave the instruction?
Rif'at Al-Said: I don't know. It could be that some priests said that people should vote for the [Egyptian] bloc, or else the Muslim Brotherhood might come to power, and start decapitating people. This is due to what happened on the second "Kandahar Friday," when the Muslim Brotherhood formed a very strange pact with the Salafis. Pictures of Bin Laden, the so-called "Man of the Nation," were raised, the flags of the Taliban and a foreign country were hoisted. Attacks against the "Crusaders" began – right in [Al-Tahrir] Square – and the Muslim Brotherhood did not oppose this. So the Christians have every right to be scared…
Interviewer: So you admit some priests instructed the Christians to…
Rif'at Al-Said: I don't admit it because I don't know. I said that it's possible…
Interviewer: I'm talking about the reality.
Rif'at Al-Said: What you and I can both see is that many enlightened Christians voted for the [Egyptian] bloc, while some Christians were afraid to go [to vote], and others are packing up and leaving. Let me reassure you…
Interviewer: You are confirming what we have been hearing a lot, about Christians who are getting ready to leave Egypt…
Rif'at Al-Said: Or have already left. It's true. I'm aware of this. It's only natural. When you consider the history of Egypt, you see the [religious riots] in Al-Zawiya Al-Hamra', for example, which led to a wave of [Coptic] emigration to Australia, America, and Canada. I've heard many people – friends of mine who have nothing to do with politics – saying that they are getting ready to leave – [Egypt]. They are right to do so, because nobody is guaranteeing their safety. There is talk about the jizya poll tax. What nonsense! And they see the "role model" we have right next to us – Hamas. Source Memri.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya Reaffirms Hamas' Commitment to Armed Resistance and Says: We Will Liberate Palestine in Its Entirety, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River
Ismail Haniya: This is the message of Hamas. This is the identity of Hamas. This is the very being of Hamas. Today, Hamas marches along parallel tracks: the track of da'wa and education, the track of resistance and Jihad, and the track of rule and of politics. This is the best response to those who think to themselves, or imagine, that Hamas has withdrawn from the line of resistance, and has withdrawn from the confrontation with this enemy. Today, we say, in a clear and unambiguous fashion: The armed resistance and armed struggle are our strategic choice and our path to liberate the Palestinian land, from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River, and to drive the usurping invaders out of the blessed land of Palestine. The Hamas movement, which was born in the first Intifada, and lived through the second Intifada, with the grace of Allah, and with the help of this people and all its free man, and with the strong-willed resistance factions of the people, will continue to lead one Intifada after the other, until we liberate Palestine in its entirety, Allah willing.
Crowd: Allah Akbar. Allah be praised. Allah Akbar. Allah be praised. Allah Akbar. Allah be praised.
Ismail Haniya: The rally bears the title: "Jerusalem, We Are Coming." Indeed, we are coming. Everything that the enemy is doing in Jerusalem – Judacizing it, establishing settlements in it, destroying the Mughrabi Bridge, closing the Mughrabi Gate, expelling the Palestinian MPs and ministers from Jerusalem, and the excavations [under] the Al-Aqsa Mosque… All these things are futile, and cannot change a thing. Jerusalem belongs to us, not to the oppressors. Jerusalem is Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic. I don't mean only East Jerusalem. Jerusalem in its entirety is the capital of the state of Palestine, Allah willing. Therefore, in an effort to strengthen the bond of the Islamic nation and the capitals of the Arab revolution to Jerusalem and to Al-Aqsa, we issue a call from this place, from the heart of glorious Gaza, from Jerusalem and its environs to establish the "Army of Jerusalem" in the Arab capitals and the capitals of the revolution, in order to take action to liberate Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, Allah willing.
The principles [of Hamas] are definitive and non-negotiable: Palestine means Palestine in its entirety, from the River to the Sea. There will be no concession of a single inch of the land of Palestine. The fact that Hamas, at one stage or another, accepts the goal of gradual liberation – of Gaza, of the West Bank, or of Jerusalem – is not at the expense of our strategic vision with regard to the land of Palestine. We will work with our people with regard to the things upon which we agree politically, and we will exert all our efforts and our power of resistance to achieve this common goal. However, we maintain two conditions – as I am sure do many of our people, as well as the factions of the mujahideen and the resistance: first, that we will not concede a single inch of the land of Palestine, and second, that we will not recognize Israel. Hmmmm.......Obama's 'peacepartners'. Source Memri.
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Fiji 5.2 !More info here.
- Russia submerges nuclear submarine to douse blaze.(Reuters).MURMANSK - Russia said it had won the battle with a raging blaze aboard a nuclear submarine on Friday by submerging the stricken vessel at a navy shipyard after hours of dousing the flames with water from helicopters and tug boats.There was no radiation leak, authorities said.Television pictures showed a giant plume of smoke above the yard in the Murmansk region of northern Russia as over 100 firemen struggled to douse flames which witnesses said rose 10 metres (30 feet) above the Yekaterinburg submarine."The fire has been localised," Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu told officials who were leading the firefighting effort from an emergencies control room in Moscow more than nine hours after the blaze began at 1220 GMT on Thursday.Shoigu's comments indicate the fire was still burning but that efforts to partially sink the submarine at the dock had succeeded in reducing the intensity of the flames.Russia said the nuclear reactor had been shut down and all weapons had been removed from the 167-metre (550 feet) Yekaterinburg, which launched an intercontinental ballistic missile from the Barents Sea at a firing range thousands of miles away in Kamchatka as recently as July."Radiation levels are normal," a spokeswoman for the Emergencies Ministry said. "No one was injured."After hours of trying to put out the flames, officials decided to partially submerge the hull of the 18,200-tonne submarine at the Roslyakovo dock, one of the main dockyards of Russia's northern fleet 1,500 km (900 miles) north of Moscow.Local media reports were vague, but the blaze was believed to have started when wooden scaffolding caught fire during welding repairs to the submarine, which had been hoisted into a dry dock.The submarine can carry 16 ballistic missiles, each with four warheads. Its nuclear reactor was not damaged in the fire and Russian navy submarine reactors are built to withstand enormous shocks and high temperatures."The reactor has been shut down and does not pose any danger," Interfax news agency quoted a source at navy headquarters as saying.Read the full story here.Blaze at Russian nuclear submarine Yekaterinburg; video from the scene here.
- Radical Islamist cleric and longtime Muslim Brotherhood spiritual guide Yusuf al-Qaradawi a Key Mediator in U.S.-Taliban Talks.(IPT).Radical Islamist cleric and longtime Muslim Brotherhood spiritual guide Yusuf al-Qaradawi serves as a "key mediator in secret talks between the U.S. and the Taliban," according to unnamed government sources referenced in a report published late Wednesday in The Hindu.In early December, the report said, "Qaradawi helped draw a road map for a deal between the Taliban and the United States, aimed at giving the superpower a face-saving political settlement ahead of its planned withdrawal from Afghanistan." The United States is expected to begin pulling out of Afghanistan in 2014.The Qaradawi-brokered deal calls for significant American commitments, including "the release of prisoners still held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, the lifting of United Nations sanctions on its leadership and its recognition as a legitimate political group." In return, the Hindu's sources say, the Taliban would be "expected to sever its links to transnational organisations like al-Qaeda, end violence and eventually share power with the Afghan government."If true, the report raises significant questions about American strategy in the talks and the enhancement of a radical cleric's stature.Qaradawi repeatedly has lashed out against Jews, glorifying violence against them and calling for Allah to "count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one." In 2009, he prayed for the chance to kill a Jew before dying. He has readily encouraged suicide bombing as "the greatest of all sorts of Jihad in the Cause of Allah." And, perhaps most troubling when considering the nature of the talks, Qaradawi actively supported the killing of U.S. servicemen and women, writing in 2003:"Those killed fighting the American forces are martyrs given their good intentions since they consider these invading troops an enemy within their territories but without their will…Although they are seen by some as being wrong, those defending against attempts to control Islamic countries have the intention of Jihad and bear a spirit of the defense of their homeland."None of this should come as a surprise to U.S. officials. In September, Wikileaks released U.S. diplomatic cables showing, among other things, the government's awareness of the Doha-based cleric's support for "martyrdom operations" and the Iraqi insurgency.Hmmmm.....How 'deep' has the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrated the 'Obama administration'?Read the full story here.
- MF Global Chief Who Oversaw Missing $1.2 Billion Also Top EPA Financial Adviser.(BigGovernment).The same man who oversaw MF Global’s $1.2 billion in missing funds, Bradley I. Abelow, is also currently listed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website as the current chairman of the EPA’s Financial Advisory Board.From the Washington Times: During two days of recent congressional hearings into how as much as $1.2 billion disappeared from MF Global customer accounts, the chief operating officer of the imploding investment firm responded again and again that he did not know.Yet as the House and Senate interrogated Bradley I. Abelow and other top executives at MF Global Holdings Ltd., lawmakers did not mention Mr. Abelow’s role as a financial adviser for the Environmental Protection Agency, which as of Tuesday listed him as the chairman of its financial advisory board. Even as he finds himself the public face of a bankruptcy and admitted to lawmakers that he had no idea how client funds disappeared, Congress and the administration have voiced no public concern about Mr. Abelow’s role advising the $8.6 billion government agency on its finances.Mr. Abelow also served as former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine’s chief of staff before Mr. Corzine went on to become MF Global’s CEO. Interestingly, current EPA Administrator Lisa Smith also previously served as then-Gov. Corzine’s chief of staff. Whether the Corzine connection played any role in Mr. Abelow’s appointment to the chairmanship of the EPA’s Financial Advisory Board is as yet unclear.Mr. Abelow, who as recently as July 2011 appears to have donated $30,800 in campaign donations to the Democratic National Committee and $5,000 in June to President Barack Obama, said over a dozen times during congressional hearings that he didn’t know how MF Global customers’ funds disappeared under his watch.Still, during a Dec. 13 hearing, Mr. Abelow, whose compensation at MF Global involved a guaranteed $3 million, told the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, that he’s deeply sorry to MF Global’s investors and employees: As the president and chief operating officer of MF Global, I am deeply sorry for the hardship they have all endured…While I know that nothing I say can ease their pain, I hope that through my testimony today, I can help this committee understand what happened at MF Global and how we are attempting to unwind the company in a manner that provides maximum value for all parties.Several unanswered questions remain:
- Why was Mr. Abelow’s role as chairman of the EPA’s Financial Advisory Board never brought up in either of his two appearances before congressional committees this month?
- How did Mr. Abelow win his chairmanship on the EPA’s Financial Advisory Board?
- Did current EPA Administrator Lisa Smith appoint or recommend Mr. Abelow to serve on the EPA’s Financial Advisory Board?The biggest unanswered question for MF Global investors remains: where is the $1.2 billion in missing MF Global funds?Judging from Jon Corzine and Bradley I. Abelow’s testimonies on Capitol Hill, that may be a question that remains unanswered for some time.Hmmmm.........$ 1 Billion needed to reelect Obama?Read the full story here.
- Merry Christmas From Saudi Arabia.(Cyberdissidents).By David Keyes.The following article first appeared on Wall Street Journal. To access, click HERE.If you want a good laugh, read the holiday card sent out by Saudi Ambassador to the United States and public relations genius Adel al-Jubeir. Citing a Quranic verse, he writes "Behold, the angels said: 'O Mary, God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to God.'" Christmas greetings from an ambassador whose government prohibits Christians from worshiping publicly, building churches, wearing crosses or importing Bibles. Invoking the names of Mary and Jesus while representing a government that this year beheaded Amina bint Abdulhalim Nassar and Abdul Hamid Al Fakki for "witchcraft." Saudi Arabia has perfected the art of cognitive dissonance" or, in plain English, hypocrisy. For example, Saudi Education Minister Faisal bin Abdullah bin Mohammed recently spoke at the Saudi-U.S. Business Opportunities Forum in Atlanta. The Saudi Embassy reported that "Prince Faisal characterized the educational system in the Kingdom as a model for the Middle East and North Africa."God help us if that's true. An eighth-grade textbook currently published by the Saudi Education Ministry declares "The Apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews; and the Swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus, the Christians." A ninth-grade textbook echoes "The Jews and the Christians are enemies of the believers, and they cannot approve of Muslims." Six million schoolchildren are indoctrinated with this every year in Saudi Arabia.Had Jesus been born in Saudi Arabia today, he'd likely be imprisoned, flogged or beheaded.Read the full story here.
- In the Post-Mubarak Era, Egyptian Salafi-Jihadis Renew Their Da'wa.(Memri).By: R. Green. Since the toppling of the Mubarak regime, the Egyptian Salafi groups, both mainstream and radical, have undergone major developments. The mainstream Salafis have entered Egypt's political life, winning considerable support in the parliamentary elections. These Salafis were discussed in a previous MEMRI report: Egypt's Islamic Camp, Once Suppressed By Regime, Now Taking Part in Shaping New Egypt – Part IV: For First Time in Egypt, Salafis Running in Elections. The following report will focus solely on the radical Salafis; the Salafi-jihadis.One of the byproducts of the political upheaval in Egypt since the January 25 revolution has been the resurfacing of the country's jihadi movement, formerly suppressed and restrained by the Mubarak regime. The movement's reemergence was made possible by two key factors: first, the mass release of political prisoners, many of whom belong to various Islamist movements, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) and its offshoots; and second, the easing of restraints on free speech. Thanks to these developments, radical clerics and activists, long silenced, resumed preaching Salafi-jihadi ideology in mosques, on websites, and at public events in an attempt to garner support and recruit followers. Like the rest of Egyptian society, the Salafi-jihadis are currently focused on influencing the political future and character of their country. For the time being, the issue of jihad and fighting Islam's enemies is on the back burner, though it is still very much present. In recent written and spoken statements, the Salafi-jihadi clerics have focused mainly on their vision of an Islamic state and on their opposition to all forms of democracy and political participation, including the principles of the modern state and constitution – all of which they consider forms of heresy. They have expounded on these opinions in numerous books, articles, videos, and sermons presenting their opposition to democracy, man-made laws, participation in parliament, and so on. The following document will review the important figures in this movement and the main themes dominating the Salafi-jihadi discourse.Hmmm....A Must read!Read the full story here.
- U.N. “Rights” Protections Trending Toward Abortion, Islamophobia Rules.(Heritage).As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights celebrated a birthday this month, it is worth noting how this document—noble in its original intentions—is often reinterpreted by advocates of a host of issues, resulting in a laundry list of new rights claims and corresponding government responsibilities thrust upon the 193 U.N. member states. Two prime examples of this misuse concern the rights to life and religious liberty, natural rights often sacrificed to any number of social causes.With regard to abortion, the right to life promised to “everyone” in the Universal Declaration (Article 3) is rarely applied to the unborn, while a right to health or an adequate standard of living (Article 25) has been expanded substantially to include a woman’s so-called right to access abortion services. Anand Grover, whose full title is Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Health, has repeatedly made the case that decriminalizing abortion is essential to reducing maternal mortality and achieving women’s right to health. As Special Rapporteur—U.N. lingo for an appointed, and largely unaccountable, expert—Grover recently caused a stir among some member states when he issued a report claiming that legal abortion is tantamount to a human right. The report stated: Criminal laws penalizing and restricting induced abortion are the paradigmatic examples of impermissible barriers to the realization of women’s right to health and must be eliminated…Creation or maintenance of criminal laws with respect to abortion may amount to violations of the obligations of States to respect, protect and fulfil [sic] the right to health. A group of international leaders and experts recently unveiled the San Jose Articles as a tool to counter such efforts to create a new international right to abortion.Concerning religious liberty, Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.Nevertheless, these rights promised to individuals are at the center of a decade-long effort led by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to globalize laws against blasphemy and apostasy that are common in Islamic societies. The Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society recently hosted authors Nina Shea and Paul Marshall for an event to discuss their new book Silenced, in which they document this effort: In 1999, some Muslim-majority states began to argue that the UN must condemn and prohibit what the OIC labels “defamation of religions,” particularly of Islam. They have acknowledged that these “defamation of religions” resolutions are meant primarily to shield Islam and Muslims from criticism. The “defamation” push effectively seeks to redefine human rights in five ways, by:
- Treating religious matters under hate speech bans as if they were akin to racial matters;
- Granting rights to religions themselves rather than to individuals;
- Creating a new right not to be offended in matters of religion;
- Claiming that freedom of religion stands in opposition to freedom of expression;
- Giving an expansive interpretation to the exceptions to the right of freedom of expression. (Silenced, p.206)
In building a case for a ban on the defamation of religions, its advocates paint Muslims collectively as victims of discrimination. In fact, the OIC has an Islamophobia Observatory, which publishes a monthly bulletin chronicling “manifestations of Islamophobia,” mostly in Europe and the United States.All rights claims are not equal, and as the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights is stretched and twisted to encompass ever more social and economic rights claims—sometimes conflicting ones—natural human rights are at risk of becoming endangered.Read the full story here.
- Egypt security forces storm Freedom House, other NGO offices.(BikyaMasr).CAIRO: Egyptian security forces have stormed the offices of a number of local and international NGOs and human rights organizations, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies reported on Thursday.The security forces, dressed in both uniforms and plainclothes, forced their way into the offices of the Arab Center for Independence of Justice and Legal Professions (ACIJP), The Budgetary and Human Rights Observatory, The National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) Cairo and Assiut offices, the International Republic Institute (IRI), Freedom House and Konrad Adenauer.According to the statement from the Cairo institute, the employees of the organizations are now under investigation by the public prosecutor and police are going through their papers, laptops and computers on the scene.Staff members of the six organizations have been warned from using their cell phones, laptops and computers; and are being isolated from contact with the outside world.In essence, they are being held prisoner inside their offices.Additionally, with regards to the ACIJP office at least, “authorities restricted access to the entire building, preventing people from entering or exiting the building.”CIHRS said that the move is part of the ruling military junta’s “campaign” against civil society and human rights groups in Egypt. In recent months, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has accused local NGOs of receiving money from abroad, and have argued to the public that the recent unrest in the country is by “foreign hands.”“The NDI, IRI, and Freedom House have been previously investigated by the ministry of justice on charges of receiving foreign funding, while the Arab Center for the Independence of Justice and Legal Professions has not been yet investigated,” said CIHRS.Investigations of the Budgetary and Human Rights Observatory was due to start on Sunday.“The storming of NGO offices is an unprecedented move in the recent history of Egyptian NGOs. In February 2011, during the 18 days Egyptian revolution, Military Police have stormed the office of Hisham Mubarak Law Center (an Egyptian NGO based in Cairo) and arrested several of its members as well as staff members of other international organizations that were present at the scene,” the statement continued.Read the full story here.
- 3 NATO troops killed by roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan; Our 'friends' the Taliban claim responsibility.(WFP).KABUL, Afghanistan — Three NATO service members have been killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan, the alliance said Wednesday. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the target was a U.S. military convoy.NATO’s statement said that the deaths occurred Tuesday, but provided no further details about the incident or the nationalities of the troops.The Taliban said the attack took place in Paktiya province, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Kabul.The latest deaths bring December's toll of foreign troops killed in Afghanistan to 23, for a total of 539 deaths so far this year. The yearly tally is considerably lower than for 2010, when more than 700 troops died. The number of wounded has remained high, dipping only slightly from last year's total of more than 5,000 service members.Also Tuesday, a community council leader in the Musa Qala district of restive Helmand province was shot and killed by insurgents along with his 20-year-old son and two-year-old grandson, the governor's office said.A statement from the office said the attack occurred late in the evening, as council leader Adbdul Baqi was heading home from his office. There were no further details.Hmmmm....Biden: "Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy". Read the full story here.
- Who Is Going to Bail Out China?(BigGovernment).China is suffering a brutal economic “hard landing” as the pay-back for their massive Keynesian stimulus spending to revive economy growth after the 2008 credit crisis. China’s stimulus bought two years of economic boom, but the cost of this instant gratification was unleashing venomous run-away inflation that forced the central government to hammer the economy this year. Touted by most Wall Street analysts as the world’s engine of growth, we now learn that regional Chinese governments are so cash-strapped they are refusing to make interest and principal payments on their bond debt. Given the state integration of banks and the economy, if Chinese local governments are unable to pay their debts, who will bail-out China’s economy?China Daily reported this morning: “China’s biggest provincial borrowers are deferring payment on loans just two months after the country’s regulator said some local government companies would be allowed to do so.” After the economy shrank by 8% during the 2008 worldwide credit crunch; Chinese authorities responded with epic spending of borrowed money. Adjusted for the differences in size of economies, the China stimulus was twice the size and happened in half the time for the U.S. stimulus programs. But now that the world’s economies have again stalled and the European sovereign debt crisis is about to spark a deflationary spiral, the cash-flow of China heavily indebted provincial governments has evaporated.China’s Zhou Mubing, Vice-Chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, announced in October the first Chinese national audit determined local governments had $1.7 trillion dollars in debt. Given China has 1/3 of the GDP as the United States, Chinese provincial government debt is twice the debt load of U.S. state and local governments. More than half this debt was issued in the last three years and Chinese state-owned-banks hold 79% of the debt.Given the severity provincial government cash-flow deficits; “Mubing announced so-called local financing vehicles that meet collateral requirements can have a one-time extension on their loans.” According to public disclosure documents, Hunan Provincial Expressway Construction Group, China’s largest provincial debtor, delayed payments of $490.5 million in interest; Guangdong Provincial Communications Group, Gansu Provincial Highway Aviation Tourism Investment Group Co and Sichuan Railway Investment Group Co that owe $31.7 billion, plan to “defer” $5.4 billion in interest payments this year; and bond prospectuses from 55 local authorities that raised money in capital markets since the November state they too do not intend to pay $4.8 billion in interest on newly issued bonds. In the U.S., such across the board action would be called defaults! American borrowers claiming negative cash-flow always have the right to try to negotiate “amend, extend, and pretend” with creditors; but this normally results in lenders gaining more collateral and operational control over the borrowers. But for China’s state-owned-banks, it would be hard to take more control from China’s state-owned-enterprises.Prior to this morning’s news, the outlook for the China banking sector seemed bright. Standard & Poors (S and P) on November 30th upgraded the credit ratings on Bank of China and China Construction Bank Corporation; while downgrading the U.S. banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York Mellon and Wells Fargo. The payment freeze may be legal under Chinese law, but it will seriously curb future bank lending. As Patrick Chovanec, a professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing stated; “When companies start to roll over debt they’re not retiring debt, and banks aren’t retrieving their capital, so you’re crowding out new lending”…“This is a problem that’s going to start to bite next year.”Most Americans have no clue that China had one of history’s worst banking crises in the mid-1990s. After relaxing banking regulations in 1992 and 1993, China state-owned-banks diverted funds earmarked for agriculture and other development projects into real estate and the stock market speculation. According to the Asia Times, between 1985 and 1993 the number of state-owned-bank branches jumped from 60,785 to 143,796; total deposits expanded from $51.6 billion to $277.7 billion; and total loans vaulted from $67.9 billion to $298.9 billion. Ultimately, 2/3 of China bank loans became non-performing and between one-third (by Chinese bank officials count) and one-half (by rating agencies’ count) of the loans were written off.Once again China’s banks have financed massive real estate and stock market bubbles that are imploding. The Shanghai Stock Index is down 36.5% this year and Beijing home prices dropped by 35% in November. Speculative lending shenanigans cost China’s state-owned-banks hundreds of billions of dollars in the 1990s. It took world record growth and ten years to pay for the losses. China’s bank loans are ten times larger today and the speculative losses could be in the trillions of dollars. Where will China find the growth and the time to bail-out these losses?Read the full story here.
- Obama Administration to move ahead with $11 billion arms deal with Baghdad, despite concerns about Maliki.(AlArabiya).The arms deal between Iraq and the United States will go through despite concerns that the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is attempting to further consolidate his power and abandon the American-backed power-sharing government, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.The deal – nearly $11 billion worth of arms and training for the Iraqi military, according to The New York Times – includes advanced fighter jets and tanks, some of which have already been delivered, and is on despite al-Maliki’s failure to continue with an agreement that would have limited his ability to marginalize the Sunnis and change the military force into a more of a sectarian force.In 2010, the U.S. and Iraq signed an agreement that required the Sunni bloc in parliament to have a say in who runs the defense and interior ministries. But despite Maliki’s pledge, the ministries remain under his control. “It is very risky to arm a sectarian army,” Rafe al-Essawi, the country’s finance minister and a leading Sunni politician, told the newspaper. “It is very risky with all the sacrifices we’ve made, with all the budget to be spent, with all the support of America — at the end of the day, the result will be a formal militia army,” al-Essawi added.Like any other U.S. arms deals in the Middle East, the Iraqi-U.S. deal is to counter the Iranian threat, but according to the newspaper, “there are also fears that the move could backfire if the Baghdad government ultimately aligns more closely with the Shiite theocracy in Tehran than with Washington.”Joost Hiltermann, the International Crisis Group’s deputy program director for the Middle East, told the newspaper that “Washington took the decision to build up Iraq as a counterweight to Iran through close military cooperation and the sale of major weapon systems.”But Hiltermann added that “Maliki has shown a troubling inclination toward enhancing his control over the country’s institutions without accepting any significant checks and balances.”F-16 fighter jets, M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, cannons and armored personnel carriers are among the items that will be received by the Iraqis.The newspaper said that the Iraqis have also received body armor, helmets, ammunition trailers and sport utility vehicles, which critics say can be used by domestic security services to help Maliki consolidate power.Hmmmm......Hussein wishing Merry christmas to Iran?Read the full story here.
- Video - The Story Behind Osama Bin Laden Assassination and the Pakistan Double Game.(Shoebat).The story behind how Osama Bin Laden was taken down and the treachery of Pakistan.Read and see the full story here.
- Turkish bank comfortable about Iran money transactions.(HurriyetDaily).Turkey’s state-run bank Halkbank has signaled the continuation of the lender’s role in payment of the debts from India to Iran, the bank’s general manager told Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. It emphasized that all the bank’s operations were in line with international banking rules.“As long as there would be no international regulation against [transactions], we will continue to do what is legitimate,” said Süleyman Aslan, general manager of Halkbank, at a press meeting in Istanbul. India’s state-run Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals concluded a successful test payment in euros through Turkey’s Halkbank for Iranian crude oil, in an effort to end a U.S.-created impasse which has seen the refiners build up over $5 billion in debts, according to a report by Reuters in August.“I can neither say yes we are making the transactions, or no we do not make them regarding the Indian debt,” Aslan said. “I do not find commenting on it appropriate.” He said the lender cares about the sensitivity of the issue related to the sanctions against Turkey’s eastern neighbor. “Both the U.S. and the EU have sanctions against Iran,” he said. “But we are not a bank operating in those countries…the limitations to the international banks and the banks operating in such countries are different.”Aslan said the bank obeys international banking rules as well as the United Nations’ sanctions against Iran. Noting that Halkbank already has a branch in Tehran, Aslan said Turkey also makes its transactions in return for the oil and gas purchases from Iran through the lender. “One way or another, we have to make these transactions. We cannot carry the money in trucks to Iran,” Aslan said. He said the bank would consider its position regarding international transactions only if the international community bans any purchase of oil and gas from Turkey’s eastern neighbor. Responding to a question as to whether the bank had been pressured to halt transactions to Iran by the United States, Aslan said there has been no pressure from the U.S. side.Halkbank had refused to open an account for an Indian oil company Bharat Petroleum (BPCL) because the company wanted to use the account to make oil payments to Iran. Since last year, India has been looking for a way to make payments to Iran, India’s second largest oil supplier, international media reported Dec.16. Aslan declined to answer questions around the issue. Hmmmm......"Aslan said there has been no pressure from the U.S. side", For Obama's buddy Erdogan 'Sanctions that benefit'?Read the full story here.
- I’m sure the mufti was joking.(HurriyetDaily).Did you read it? The mufti of the northwestern district of Keşan, Süleyman Yeniçeri, has criticized New Year celebrations. As a matter of fact, it is quite an outdated discourse. We have heard enough of “This is a Christian tradition; it does not suit a Muslim.” Nobody cares much anyway.What made me laugh the most were these words of Yeniçeri: “It is not known if Santa Claus really lived. They speak of a place and say he lived there, but it is actually a character invented by the Christian world. Santa Claus enters homes through chimneys and windows, yet he would have entered homes through the door if he was a decent person. We enter homes through doors. The Quran tells us to enter homes through doors. Why would he enter through the chimney?”As I said, I laughed hard first although later I was sorry. Somebody who is giving religious advice to society thought Santa Claus was real and did not know his entrance through the chimney symbolizes prosperity in Western traditions, or that he is a mythical figure and entertainment for children. On the contrary, he took Santa seriously and assumed him to be a “suspicious man who enters through the chimney.” I really do not want to believe the mufti of Keşan made this speech seriously. I’m sure he was joking when he said this. Hmmm....Would he know the names of the reindeers that pull santa's sleigh?Read the full story here.
- "The War on Christianity" - Egypt’s Islamic Research Center wants Christian TV off air.(BikyaMasr).CAIRO: Egypt’s Islamic Research Center, led by Sheikh of al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb, is demanding that United States Christian television station al-Karma of insulting Islam and inciting religious violence in the country.The offshoot of the Sunni Islamic world’s leading religious institution has also demanded that it be taken off air over what it described as “offensive” material directed at Muslims, daily al-Ahram newspaper reported on Thursday.The Karma television channel is broadcasted into Egypt by the country’s state-run NileSat, thus making a potential case against the channel easier to ultimately remove the channel from Egyptian households.The channel, however, is not among the most watched in Egypt, even among the Christian population.“I have never heard of it, so maybe it isn’t really a big thing, but if al-Azhar is trying to attack it then who knows,” said Noha Fahmy, a young Coptic Christian woman living in Cairo. “To be honest, the more these kind of lawsuits happen the more divisions it will create,” she told Bikyamasr.com.The Christian community in Egypt, predominantly Coptic Christian, account for some 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million population and have long demanded better treatment and an end to what they have called “marginalization” by the majority Muslim population.On October 9, thousands of Christians took to the streets in Cairo after a series of church attacks in the south of the country demanding greater rights. The military opened fire on the protesters and ran them over with armored vehicles outside the state television building in what has become known as the “Maspero Massacre.At least 27 people were killed in the violence, which the military claims was not done by their soldiers, despite video online showing the opposite.Read the full story here.
- 'If necessary – IDF ready for Gaza op'.(YNet).Three years have passed since Operation Cast Lead and the IDF says that the operational goals set in 2009 have been largely achieved.Tuesday saw the IAF target an Islamic Jihad terror cell in Gaza, which Military Intelligence defined as a "ticking bomb" and top IDF officials told Ynet on Wednesday that Hamas knew a strike against the cell was unavoidable.Hamas is changing, becoming somewhat more restrained, a senior source told Ynet. Colonel Tal Hermoni, commander of the Gaza Division's South Brigade explained: "We took a calculate risk yesterday – even Hamas understood that this was a cell gearing to carry out a terror attack."As for the possibility that the IDF will launch another wide-scale ground campaign in Gaza – which IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz said in the past was a viable option should an escalation be noted in the southern sector – Hermoni said that the IDF is ready to meet the challenge. "The reality today is different than it was three years ago. Operation Cast Lead achieved its goals and the sector is relatively calmer today. The other side reacts (to strikes), but in a measured, calculated way. If the cracks noted in the lull widen we are ready to launch another operation, different and more diverse than Cast Lead, to renew deterrence. "The decision really is in the other side's hands. If they don’t stop the rocket fire and prevent terror cells from leaving to Egypt so to cross into Israel, we'll launch a Gaza operation – and it will be a painful one." As for Hamas' tactics against Israel, Hermoni said that "the tunnels allow (terrorists) to reach us faster. They're digging tunnels on a daily basis, but we are employing intelligence to locate them. They're also getting ready for more abduction attempts." One of the biggest threats the IDF has to deal with in Gaza Strip is the growing use of anti-tank weapons, which the military said has been significantly reduced due to the successful use of the Windbreaker defense system – an active armored shield protection system installed on IDF tanks. The IDF also noted that many of the terror groups' attempts to deploy explosives and roadside bombs along the Gaza security forces have failed. The Gaza Division, Hermoni added, is constantly observing the actions of Hamas' "Rafah Brigade," which has some 2,000 combatants and its very own anti-tank warfare unit. "They've become semi-military, even though they are still a terror group. They have reconnaissance and intelligence units and a defensive dogma based on Soviet doctrines," he said. Gaza's terror groups, he added, "Aim to use attrition warfare, to destabilize Israel's international legitimacy and the home front. "They train every day and hold various maneuvers, but naturally, the IDF's abilities surpass theirs," he concluded.Hmmm......
Victory belongs to the most persevering. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte.Read the full story here.
- Israel and South Sudan strengthen cooperation in oil and military.(Stratrisks).Southern Sudan and Israel strengthen cooperation. Salva Kiir, President of the newborn African state independent of Khartoum in July this year, made a lightning visit to the Middle East, accompanied by his ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs. Salva Kiir met in Jerusalem Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of diplomacy Lieberman, Defense Minister Barak and was also received by President Shimon Peres.During the ’meeting between Kiir and Netanyahu has talked of cooperation in the fields of technology, industry, water development and the search for a solution to the issue of immigrants coming to Israel from the African country. Netanyahu asked Sava Kiir to take back as many as possible. Israel will embark on planes headed south. A mission of Israeli cooperation will come soon in Juba.The backdrop of the official agenda of the talks, there are Israeli President Salva Kiir of Sudan’s oil routes and military strategy of containment of Islamist forces operating in the Horn of Africa , like the somali shebaab, involving African countries allied with the U.S. such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda. The independent South Sudan is in the same array of interests. Not surprisingly, the visit of Salva Kiir in Israel was preceded by the Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, to which Netanyahu would secure a military effort to counter the jihadist insurgency in Somalia, in recent months has also affected Kenya. And it is in Lamu, Kenya, which is expected to bring in oil from Juba with an ambitious project that would deviate the routes of Sudanese oil from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, cutting off Khartoum.Israel does not maintain diplomatic relations with Sudan’s General Omar al-Bashir, on which hangs an international arrest warrant the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity for massacres committed in Darfur by the Janjaweed militias loyal to his regime. Israel accuses Sudan of providing military and logistical support to Islamic militants active in the Middle East.According to a report confirmed by the New York Times, in the spring of 2009 with the Star of David planes bombed the Sudan to hit a convoy of arms coming from ‘ Iran and destined for Gaza. The Israeli government has never admitted the attack.The friendship between Israel and South Sudan is standing. When Salva Kiir has received in recent days, Shimon Peres recalled an initial meeting with the leaders of the southern Sudanese regions in the ’60s. At the time the current Israeli president was deputy defense minister. The military support of Israel to rebel against the north south Sudan has intensified in the ’80s after the rise of al-Bashir to power with a coup. The SPLM, now in power in Juba, a revolutionary movement was breakaway in the fight against Khartoum. The South Sudan is predominantly Christian and animist-is historically opposed to the Arab-Muslim north of the country. But the question of ethnic-religious economic and strategic interests lies for control of resources, primarily oil.Israel and South Sudan have more in common now than in the past and not just economic . If the state’s youngest world seeks investment to support the development and management of oil wells on which she sits, but that still depend on Khartoum for the export of crude oil, Israel, never so isolated in the Middle East is looking for allies. The loss of a strategic partner such as Hosni Mubarak and the prospect of a statement of the Islamist forces in Egypt makes the need to counteract the block of military and economic interests of which it forms part of Khartoum, and that goes straight to Tehran, more pressing than ever to Netanyahu.Not surprisingly, the visit of Salva Kiir in Israel has provoked an immediate outcry in Sudan . According to Sudan Tribune, citing the Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Al Obeid Marawih “the diplomatic meetings (between Salva Kiir and the Israelis), impacts on the interests of Sudan and its national security, especially in light of the fact that Israel and the His lobbying constitute a significant part of the international campaign to foment conflict in the western region of Darfur. ”Israel was among the first to recognize the independence of Southern Sudan . During the celebrations for the birth of the African State, in addition to the local flag, waving the Star of David. ”I am very excited to see in Israel the Promised Land and walking, and like me they are Sudanese. Without your help we would not be where we are. You have fought alongside us to create the Southern Sudan and we are ready to learn from your experience, “said Salva Kiir during his visit to Israel.Hmmmm......I can hear it clearly now "It's a Zionist plot".lolRead the full story here.
- Indonesian maid gang raped by seven men in Saudi Arabia.(BikyaMasr).DUBAI: An Indonesian maid was kidnapped and gang raped in Saudi Arabia by 7 men, a local newspaper reported.The Sabq daily newspaper said that the 23-year-old maid allegedly accepted an offer to have sex with two men, but then the men phoned their friends, who arrived and took turns raping the young woman.The crime took place between Mekka and the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, where the men had brought large amounts of liquor and the maid with them to an apartment.The newspaper reported that after the first two men had raped the woman, they phoned the five friends and invited them over for “food and sex.”“The seven then forced the maid into the car and took her to a deserted area, where they took turns in raping her savagely,” the newspaper said.“After finishing, they beat her up and dumped her near the road late night before driving away…a police patrol in the early hours of morning found the maid walking aimlessly as she looked exhausted and battered,” the report continued.Police are currently searching the area for the men.It is not the first time foreign maids have been raped in the ultra-conservative kingdom. Dozens of reports of employers raping their workers have streamed in over recent years, which has left Indonesia’s government putting an end to Saudi households recruiting women from the country.Read the full story here.
- Kenyan gay men become sex slaves in Arab Gulf. (BikyaMasr).DUBAI: Being gay in the Middle East is taboo. Crackdowns in Arab countries against homosexuals is common and swift, with many countries employing the death penalty against convicted homosexuals.Now, a new report published by Identity, a gay magazine in Kenya, reveals that gay Kenyan men are being trafficked into the Gulf as sex slaves for the wealthy.The report alleges that gay and bisexual men are lured from university campuses – particularly from Kenyatta University – with promises of high-paying jobs and then transported to labor as sex workers for men in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.According to the magazine, due to Kenya’s soaring unemployment rate, the men are easily fooled into this trap.The publication interviewed one Kenyan victim who was promised a job in Qatar but ended up suffering sexual abuse.Qatar specifically, has no laws against human trafficking, which has made cracking down on the practice nearly impossible.“Qatar is a transit and destination country for men and women subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor and, to a much lesser extent, forced prostitution,” the US State Department stated in a recent report.“Men and women from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Sudan, Thailand, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and China voluntarily travel to Qatar as laborers and domestic servants, but some subsequently face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude. These conditions include threats of serious physical or financial harm; job switching; the withholding of pay; charging workers for benefits for which the employer is responsible; restrictions on freedom of movement, including the confiscation of passports and travel documents and the withholding of exit permits; arbitrary detention; threats of legal action and deportation; false charges; and physical, mental, and sexual abuse.”In the Emirates, while being openly gay is illegal, the community has blossomed in recent years. Mark, a gay Canadian man, told Bikyamasr.com that “the community has increased dramatically and people are more willing, and accepting, of the LGBT community here.”But he said the report that Kenyan men are being used as sex slaves is “not surprising.”“We have seen a lot of the elite and super wealthy want to be gay, but that would go against their traditions, so instead they often marry and then hire or do this kind of thing, to have their real desires met. It is a problem of society not opening up to the gay lifestyle and forcing it to the background,” he argued.Read the full story here.
- Canada to send live export cattle to United Arab Emirates.(BikyaMasr).Canada announced this month that they would begin live exports to the United Arab Emirates as part of an effort to bolster trade between the two countries. The move has been met with anger by animal rights advocates, who argue live export is cruel and inhumane.Canada’s agriculture ministry, however, believes the economic merits will outweigh the homegrown anger over the move.The ministry says that live cattle exported to the UAE will provide some $40 million in sales, bolstering the sector, which is home to some of the country’s strongest lobbyists.“This announcement instantly provides new export opportunities for Canadian producers, and is a significant step toward regaining access to other key markets in the region,” said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.“Our Government’s top priority remains the economy, and this new market access is good news for our hard working farmers across the country.”But animal rights advocates plan to protest the move in Ottawa in the near future. They told Bikyamasr.com that the live export trade “should be abolished now and put an end to the abhorrent animal abuses that take place in the industry.”Mary Youkles, a Ottawa resident who told Bikyamasr.com that she plans to use social media to create a campaign against the move, believes that the live export trade is one of the worst endeavors in modern technology.“So many animals are crammed onto these boats and many die along the way, which are then just dumped into the ocean as if they are meaningless. It is disgusting and for our government to get involved in this is wrong,” she said.But Canadian government officials disagree.“This is great news for Canadian cattle exporters, and yet another example of how our government’s commitment to opening new markets for Canadian businesses and workers is getting results,” said Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway.“The UAE’s announcement advances our bilateral commercial relations, and will help our overall efforts to build on our economic and trade ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council region as a whole.”The industry itself is promoting the move as a means of boosting Canada’s international trade.“We are pleased to have regained access to the UAE market,” said Rick McRonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Livestock Genetics Association. “This is good news for exporters who have been waiting to pursue this opportunity.”Read the full story here.