- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation indonesia 5.6 - 5.3 ; Papua New guinea 5.3 - 5.2!More info here.
- Statement by the President on the Celebration of Coptic Christmas.(CL).Michelle and I wish Coptic Orthodox Christians in the United States and around the world a blessed and joyous Christmas. On this special day, we give thanks for the extraordinary contributions that Coptic Christians have made to the United States. I want to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to work for the protection of Christian and other religious minorities around the world. As events in Egypt and elsewhere have illustrated, and as history repeatedly reminds us, freedom of religion, the protection of people of all faiths, and the ability to worship as you choose are critical to a peaceful, inclusive and thriving society. In this Christmas season, we join our Coptic brothers and sisters around the globe in prayers for peace.Hmmmm......“I want to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to work for the protection of Christian and other religious minorities” hmmmm….’Christians and other religious minorities’so who’s the majority religion according to
CaliphPresident Obama?Read the full story here.
- Obama’s ‘Court-Packing’ Moment?(Cato).By Mark A. Calabria.Although Franklin Roosevelt did go on to win another term after his court-packing debacle in 1937, his support dramatically declined after the incident. Whereas his 1936 election came with the support of 62% of voters, his 1940 was down to 55% (granted, still a “landslide by modern standards). And while it wouldn’t be until 1946 that Republicans would take the Senate, the 1938 mid-terms did cost the Democrats five Senate seats. The point of all this? Constitutional overreach comes at a cost, and in a nation split roughly evenly on Red/Blue ideological lines, that coust could make all the difference.While it is still too early to tell, President Obama’s recent “recess” appointments have the potential to erode his support among independents, many of whom actually care about the Constitution. While the National Journal‘s Shane Goldmacher is pondering why Republicans even want to take on this fight, it really should be the White House questioning whether it is worth it. When Ron Paul says, “The president is not a dictator or a king who can simply ignore the Constitution whenever he feels frustrated by the system of checks and balances,” this is something that anyone can understand, even former law professors.A few things to remember about FDR’s court-packing scheme. First, unlike Obama’s recent appointments, FDR’s plot was actually constitutional, but still struck at the checks and balances behind the Constitution. FDR also painted his plan as a way to rein in an out-of-touch, conservative Court that, in his view, protected “big business” (sounds a little familiar). Despite FDR’s massive popularity at the time, and the unpopularity of both Republicans and the Court, the plan still cost him.It is also worth remembering that court-packing initially had some support. From its announcement in February until about April, Gallup showed a steady support of around 45%. In fact, support never fell below 30% before the plan was shelved. Goes to show no matter how offensive, there will also be some blind partisans to support any scheme.By now most of the public has already made up their mind about “who is the bigger front for Wall Street,” so yes this maneuver will energize the base some. But it is unlikely to change anyone’s mind about Republicans and Wall Street. What it does do, however, is further raise issues about Obama’s commitment to and understanding of the Constitution. When the Obama campaign says, “He’ll work with Congress when he can, but if they refuse to act—he will,” it really displays either a deep misunderstanding or outright contempt for the separation of powers inherent in our system. If Obama doesn’t place any value upon that notion, perhaps the American public will.Read the full story here.
- Obama: The Mask is Off.(AT).The mask is fully off. Barack Obama is the most corrupt, power-mad president in this nation's illustrious history. By his actions in bypassing Congress and making appointments that should be subject to Senate approval while the Senate is still in session and innumerable extra-constitutional actions since he became president, he is following in the footsteps of the despots who dominated the 20th century.In late September of 2008, it became clear to me that Barack Obama would be elected president. Based on his background, education, motivation, and indoctrination, I saw a man who could single-handedly destroy the country and someone with no respect for the history, the Constitution, or the people of the United States. The specter of a megalomaniac who was a stranger to the truth and would or say or do anything to achieve or retain power overcame me. In Barack Obama and his fellow travelers, I saw what I feared the most since I came to this country: a person and a political mindset that would, if allowed, spell the end of the noblest experiment in the history of mankind.It was at that point that I wrote my first article for American Thinker in an attempt to warn the people of America that the result of the 2008 election would be critical to the nation's survival. This was the first column I had written since my college days over 40+ years before, and I am eternally grateful to AT for publishing it and giving me a forum to speak to the American people.I had to survive a war that was precipitated by those who were initially elected by the people in a democratic fashion. Yet once in power, they began to systematically usurp and overthrow the rule of law. Their lust for power led them to shred any written constitution or traditions as they systematically imposed new regulations, laws, and executive orders geared primarily to centralize authority in the government as individual rights and liberties were extinguished. In due course, they and their cronies became the government, as the people were powerless to stop them.The people of Germany, the most advanced society in continental Europe, or Italy in the first four years of the 1930s, would have found it incredible to imagine what became of those countries by 1945. They would not think it even remotely possible. The history of the United States and its traditions of liberty and individual freedom should be a bulwark against the successful emergence of people like Obama and his cronies. Yet why are the media, or the opposition party, or the members of Congress or the judiciary not shouting from the highest hilltop and taking action to stop these power-grabs? Has this country enjoyed peace and prosperity so long that everyone is jaded and preoccupied with him- or herself, or in a self-induced stupor either ignoring what's happening or saying that these unconstitutional steps are minor? Is it because Obama happens to have black skin and everyone is too intimidated by political correctness to speak? Or is it as it was in Germany, Italy, and Russia among many -- a belief that the worst could never happen here?I have seen and experienced the worst that man can offer, I am not intimidated, and I will say without reservation that Barack Obama and his cronies have the same mindset in their tactical approach, philosophy, and lust for power that was extant in Benito Mussolini and the Fascists in the early days of their regime. If the apologists for those in power in Washington want to vilify me for that comparison, so be it.To the American people, it is far beyond time to wake up to who this man in the White House is and what his ambitions are. As for the Republicans in the Congress or running for office, the task is upon your shoulders to stop Barack Obama in his tracks before he goes any farther. It is time to do your sworn duty to preserve and protect the country. And for the Democrats who are so blinded by party loyalty that they would sell their country for the proverbial thirty pieces of silver, the long-term difficulties and potential downfall of the greatest nation on earth will be your legacy.Read the full story here.
- Former AG Meese: Obama’s ‘Recess’ Appointments Are a ‘Constitutional Abuse of a High Order’.(BigGovernment).In a Washington Post editorial Thursday, Edwin Meese, the former U.S. Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan, and Todd Gaziano, Director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, wrote that President Obama’s unilateral appointment of three individuals to the National Labor Relations Board, and of Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, while the Senate was not in recess, is a “breathtaking violation of the separation of powers and the duty of comity that the executive owes to Congress.”The authors asserted: …never before has a president purported to make a “recess” appointment when the Senate is demonstrably not in recess. That is a constitutional abuse of a high order.The beauty of this editorial is that Mr. Meese and Mr. Gaziano provide instruction to handle this rogue president who continues to thumb his nose at the Constitution. They continue: President Obama’s flagrant violation of the Constitution not only will damage relations with Congress for years to come but will ultimately weaken the office of the presidency. There eventually may be litigation over the illegal appointments, but it will be a failure of government if the political branches do not resolve this injustice before a court rules…Congressional leaders of both parties must vigorously (though thoughtfully) defend their prerogatives. Senators could filibuster all presidential nominations, as Sen. Robert C. Byrd did in 1985 over a lesser recess appointment issue, until Obama rescinds these wrongful appointments. The House or Senate could condition all “must-pass” legislation for the remainder of 2012 on an agreement to rescind these appointments. The House also could require the attorney general to produce legal justification and testify at oversight hearings.The authors conclude: If Congress does not resist, the injury is not just to its branch but ultimately to the people.As if we were not already aware, “Congress” includes Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who, naturally, praised the president for trampling over her branch of government. Regarding Mr. Obama’s power grab, Mrs. Pelosi said, “…we’re glad that the president took the lead, went out there, it was bold and made the appointments.” (Translation: How else can I get the things I want since I’m no longer Speaker?)But, “Congress” also includes Speaker John Boehner, whose response to the bird he was just flipped was that the president’s action is “bad for jobs.” Mr. Boehner said, “This action goes beyond the President’s authority, and I expect the courts will find the appointment to be illegitimate.” So that’s it? Just file a lawsuit and get back to the business of the day? No defense of the Constitution, of the separation of powers? No conditions placed on future legislation? No talk of impeachment?Hmmmm.......Whatever happened to the "To protect and uphold the Constitution" part?Read the full story here.
- Obama escalates appointments crisis, claims Cordray has full powers without Senate approval.(DailyCaller).President Barack Obama today escalated his claimed power to appoint top officials by announcing that his financial-sector appointee also has authority that is legally reserved only for an official who has been confirmed by the Senate.The 2010 law that established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau includes a section that says many of the bureau’s new powers are to be held by the secretary of the Treasury “until the Director of the Bureau is confirmed by the Senate.”Obam’s Jan. 3. claim to have appointed Cordray appears to violate the Constitution and is a grab for increased presidential power, say many constitutional lawyers.But his new Jan. 6 claim about Cordray’s powers goes even further by contradicting the plain language of the 2010 law that created the bureau.Section 1066 of the law says many of the bureau’s new powers are activated once the Senate confirms a director. Those extra powers include the authority to write regulations for non-bank firms, such as payday lenders.Obama also said Friday that Cordray’s new authority include those powers.“Now that Richard [Cordray] is your director, you can finally exercise the full power that this agency has been given to protect consumers under the law,” Obama said in a Dec. 6 visit to the CFPB. “Now that he’s here, irresponsible debt collectors and payday lenders, independent mortgage services and loan providers, they’re all bound by the same rules as everyone else.”Obama’s declarations have “now escalated to arrogance on steroids,” said Roger Pilon, the founder and director of the Cato Institute’s constitutional studies center. Congress makes laws and the White House executes them, said Pilon, and Obama’s constitutional and legal claims “are a direct attack on the [Constitution’s] separation of powers principle.”The Constitution, he said, curbs the president’s power by requiring him to win Senate approval for his top appointments. That, he said, “is a check on unbridled executive power.”White House officials declined to answer The Daily Caller’s question about Obama’s claim to have confirmed — and not just recess-appointed — Cordray.Instead, a White House official reiterated the unchallenged fact that a person can serve as director of the bureau after a proper recess appointment.“The CFPB’s authorizing statute does not limit the President’s ability to exercise his constitutional power to appoint a Director during a recess,” said a statement from White House spokesman Eric Schultz. “The CFPB statute, like other statutes, makes clear that the Director is a presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed position, but it does not preclude a recess-appointed Director from serving.Schultz declined to address the question of whether Obama can declared Cordray to be confirmed.In a break from routine, White House officials did not hold a press conference today. The next conference will likely be held in three days.During former president George W. Bush’s term in office, liberals heavily criticized him for saying the presidency affords America’s chief executive the authority to direct the nation’s foreign affairs without the agreement of the Congress. These controversies revolved around the idea of a “unitary executive,” which progressives said was a power grab.However, “here we’re dealing with domestic issues where the president has far less independent power than in foreign affairs,” said Pilon.This controversy created by Obama’s decisions, he said, is “a constitutional problem right from the start.”Hmmm........I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes. ~ Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776.Read the full story here.
- Run for the hills the 'Mother of All Tsunamis' is coming!German 1 year Yields go NEGATIVE again as Euro Prepares to Crumble.(Shenandoah).By John Galt.Despite the popular belief that the Euro will survive there is ample evidence that the ultra-wealthy and many banks believe otherwise. The examples below are just of the German 1 year yield and the Euroswiss 3 month which both have displayed negative yields at various points in their recent trading history but more so recently as all faith in the ECB has evaporated. Bankers and wealthy investors do not pay central banks to hold their cash unless there was fear of an imminent collapse or crisis. The billions of Dollars and Euros it takes to drive yields to zero or negative is somewhat large and an indication that there is extreme doubt in the current structure of the European Monetary Union. Just as a heads up and point of reference, the U.S. 1 and 3 month Treasury Bill yield has been trading between -0.02% and 0.01% for some time now as well.If the super wealthy and banksters are preparing for a collapse, shouldn’t everyone else also?Read the full story here.
- Mr. President: Why Refuse to Answer Whether the Justice Department Issued a Legal Opinion?(Heritage).President Obama thinks he merely stretched his powers under the Constitution in making so-called recess appointments for three members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III and counsel Todd Gaziano made clear in their Washington Post editorial of January 6, 2012, that the President violated the Constitution with the purported appointments.The President takes an oath before God to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Most Presidents, before they take an action that — like the purported Obama recess appointments — will test the outer limit of their powers under the Constitution, seek the advice of the Attorney General. Indeed, Congress has passed a law (28 U.S.C. 511) that requires the Attorney General to give the President legal advice upon request: “The Attorney General shall give his advice and opinion on questions of law when required by the President.” That statute helps carry out the Constitutional provision that the President “may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices.”A prudent President would have sought the advice of the Attorney General on whether the so-called recess appointments were within the President’s constitutional power. But, when asked in a White House Press Briefing on January 5, 2012, whether the Department of Justice had provided a legal opinion to the President in advance of the recess appointments, the President’s press secretary would not say. Even if the White House is going to take the position that it will not release the contents of a legal opinion rendered by the Department of Justice on the ground that the contents are legally privileged from disclosure, it is odd that the White House would refuse to confirm or deny whether such a Department of Justice legal opinion even exists.It is reasonable that people are asking the White House whether a Department of Justice legal opinion was issued before the President made the purported recess appointments. The question of the existence or not of such a legal memo has a bearing on the judgment of the President. If such a Department of Justice memo exists, then at least the country knows that the President demonstrated at least some measure of prudence and thought in testing the outer limits of the Constitution by seeking in advance legal advice from the country’s chief legal officer. If, however, no such memo exists, then the country knows that the President was less prudent and thoughtful and did not bother with legal advice from the Attorney General. The degree of prudence and thoughtfulness of a President in performing his duties is a legitimate subject of public interest — especially for a President asking the people to re-elect him.Clients are not bound to follow the advice of their lawyers. Indeed, the Constitution commands the President himself to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” But a wise client seeks the advice of his lawyer before taking a big risk. And a prudent and thoughtful President seeks the legal advice of the Attorney General before testing the outer limits of the constitutional powers of the presidency.So, Mr. President, did the Department of Justice issue a legal opinion in relation to your purported recess appointments to the NLRB and the CPFB before you made them?Read the full story here.
- Hamas Chief: “Islamic Spring”; Brotherhood Chief: Caliphate Soon; Western Media: Islamists Moderate, Israel Bad.(PJM).By BarryRubin.A 27-year-old American-Israeli law school student decides he’s going to go to Egypt and talk to Egyptians. He gets arrested by the authorities there as a spy, then is released in the prisoner exchange. He then brags that the mere charm of his magical persuasion convinced a hardened Muslim Brotherhood cadre not to be anti-Israel any more. So there’s nothing to worry about!That’s worth a Washington Post op-ed, but the Muslim Brotherhood’s leader calling for an Islamic state and a caliphate isn’t?At least the New York Times reported the statement of Ismail Haniya (whom it calls “the Hamas prime minister of Gaza”) on his official state visit to Turkey: The Arab Spring is turning into an Islamic spring. (Note: Turkey’s government, President Obama’s favorite Middle East regime and his main regional advisor, is part of that radical Islamist bloc.)Haniya knows it. We know it. Why don’t Western governments, mass media, and “experts” understand what this means? It doesn’t mean a springtime for “Islam” as a “religion of peace,” but a springtime for political Islamism as being in power — imposing a very anti-Western, anti-Christian, anti-American, and radically intolerant interpretation of Islam on their countries.In his official weekly message published on the official Brotherhood website, Muhammad al-Badi — official leader of what is officially the biggest political party and parliamentary vote-getter in Egypt — said that the Brotherhood will now begin the “long-term plan for the reform of all aspects of people’s lives.”(Note: Why didn’t Barack and Michelle think of that phrase first?)And soon, the Brotherhood’s supreme guide also explains, the caliphate will be restored. I don’t believe him, but the fact that he thinks so is significant. Why is the caliphate important? Well, one reason is that the caliph can supposedly declare an international jihad in which every Muslim must fight. I don’t believe that will happen either, and it didn’t work out well when the German-backed Ottoman caliph tried it in World War One. But it does convey something about the Brotherhood’s plans for the future.To my knowledge, that statement by the supreme guide — an actual leader of hundreds of thousands of people backed by almost half of all Egyptians — has not been reported in any Western mass media outlet.Al-Badi’s own formula is that Egypt will be “a just country” under “just rule,” which means his interpretation of Sharia. This brand of social justice includes death to converts from Islam, and the whole long list of such things.Did I mention that almost half of all Egyptians voted for the Muslim Brotherhood, and that almost half of those who didn’t voted for an even more radical Islamist party?Who would you expect the Western media to believe and publicize: the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme guide, who disagrees with them about the nature of his own organization; or a student with no achievements whatsoever who agrees with the Western media?What better proof could there be that we are being fed propaganda, and not news?Want more proof? David Gerstman has been monitoring relevant New York Times op-eds for the last six months. His methodology is quite fair and reasonable. And here is his conclusion:
Anti-Israel op-eds: 38
Pro-Israel op-eds: 7
And this includes four op-eds supporting a Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence — even though that would violate every agreement made in the much-beloved “peace process” — and not a single one opposing it.We are no longer talking about a “slant” in media coverage. They have fallen over entirely, either onto their knees or flat on their face.Hmmmm.........."I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."Read the full story here.
- 'UK sends most powerful vessel HMS Daring to Gulf'.(JPost).The UK is sending its most powerful naval vessel to the Gulf to counter any potential Iranian attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz, the Daily Telegraph reported Friday. The ship, a Type 45 destroyer named HMS Daring, will depart from Portsmouth on Wednesday and is set to arrive in the Gulf by the end of January. It is capable of shooting down "any missile in Iran's armory," according to the Telegraph.The report came just two days after Defense Secretary Philip Hammond declared that his country would take military action against Iran if it carries out its threat to block the Strait of Hormuz. While on a visit in Washington DC. Hammond warned that any attempt by Iran to close the Strait would be "illegal and unsuccessful", adding that the Royal Navy would participate in efforts to ensure the free flow of traffic in the waterway.“Our joint naval presence in the Arabian Gulf, something our regional partners appreciate, is key to keeping the Straits of Hormuz open for international trade,” Hammond stated.“Disruption to the flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz would threaten regional and global economic growth,” he said, arguing that “it is in all our interests that the arteries of global trade are kept free, open and running.”The UK ship being sent to the Gulf carries the world's most sophisticated naval radar, capable of tracking multiple incoming threats from missiles to fighter jets, the Telegraph reported. The 8,000 ton destroyer will carry 48 Sea Viper anti-air missile systems, capable of intercepting fighters as well as sea-skimming missiles. It will also host a Lynx helicopter capable of carrying Sea Skua anti-ship missiles, according to the Telegraph.The British daily cited UK Naval commanders who said that the ship's deployment will send a significant message to the Iranians because of its firepower and "world-beating" technology. A British Ministry of Defense spokesman was quoted by the Telegraph as saying that "while the newly operational Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring is more capable than earlier ships, her deployment East of Suez has been long planned, is entirely routine and replaces a frigate on station." In late December, Iran threatened to block the strait if sanctions are imposed on its crude-oil exports. Europe and the United States have stepped up sanctions the Islamic republic in recent weeks in an attempt to force it to abandon its nuclear program. The Western action has already hit Iran's rial currency, which fell by 40 percent against the dollar in the past month. It recently recovered 20% of its value through intervention by Iran's Central Bank.Western powers are discussing other contingency plans for a potential Iranian closure of the strait, including one to tap a record volume of oil from emergency stockpiles to replace what would be lost if in case of an Iranian closure. It is estimated that the proposal, which would release up to 14 million barrels per day (bpd) of government-owned oil stored in the United States, Europe, Japan and other importers, could be sustained during the first month of any coordinated action.Iran recently concluded a ten-day naval drill, during which it test fired two long-range missiles. Iran said that it was using the test to display its resolve in countering any attack by enemies such as Israel or the United States. Revolutionary Guards Corps will hold new naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz in February, an Iranian military commander was quoted as saying.Read the full story here.
- Why Is an Anti-American Islamist Obama's Favorite Middle East Leader?(DocsTalk).By BarryRubin.For the first time in forty years, Israel is not the American president’s favorite Middle Eastern ally. Instead, that role is played by Turkey’s government.This would not be such a bad thing if we were talking about the “old” Turkey, the secular republic. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama’s favorite advisor among the regional leaders is Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Pretend all you want but Obama really dislikes—hates?—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and truth be told Netanyahu has done nothing to deserve that treatment.The fundamental problem with Erdogan is despite being embraced by the United States, he is an enemy of the United States, the West more generally, and Israel. He is on the side of radical, anti-American Islamists who want to wipe Israel off the map. So angry and passionate is Erdogan’s loathing of Israel that the leader of the opposition mockingly but pointedly asked if the prime minister wanted to go to war with the Jewish state. In contrast, the list of Erdogan’s dearest friends includes Hamas, Hizballah, Iran, the repressive Sudanese dictatorship, and Syria (formerly the regime there; now the Islamist portions of the opposition). Erdogan would like to be good buddies with the Muslim Brotherhood forces in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, though they are suspicious of him.Erdogan’s record at home and abroad shows what he and his regime are all about. Indeed, what is truly bizarre about Obama’s judgment is that Erdogan has done nothing so beneficial to the United States and a number of things detrimental to it:
- Iraq war: Whatever you think of the Iraq war, the refusal of the Turkish government to deliver on their promise to let U.S. troops cross into northern Iraq in 2003 was unfriendly and many American officials and members of Congress were outraged at the time.
- Israel policy: Erdogan has gone to an extreme in attacking Israel and sabotaging any possibility of conciliation. His government sponsored the Gaza flotilla knowing that a lot of the Turkish participants were violent Islamists who wanted to stage a confrontation.
- Iran: The Erdogan’s regime tried to sabotage sanctions against Iran in 2010. He has repeatedly defended Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and denied that Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons. While there have been some bilateral disagreements—the Turkish decision to allow in NATO installations to watch Iran and backing different sides in Syria, the two countries remain quite close and Erdogan is currently visiting Iran.
- Lebanon and Palestinians: In opposition to U.S. policy, Erdogan backs radical, openly antisemitic Islamist terrorist groups, Hamas and Hizballah. The leader of the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip has just been received as a hero by Erdogan.
- Syria: While Turkey opposes the continuation of the Asad regime in Syria, this is not out of a love of democracy but rather due to support for a Sunni Islamist takeover there. When Obama gave Erdogan the task of organizing a Syrian opposition leadership, the Turkish regime packed that leadership with Islamists.
- Worldview: Erdogan’s foreign minister wrote a book in Turkish explaining the regime’s strategy of aligning with the Islamic world against the West. This is clearly what Erdogan has been doing. The bonus, however, is that he has been able to pretend otherwise and thus act without any real cost or pressure from the West. On the contrary, he can tell Turkish voter that Obama loves him.
- Then there’s Erdogan’s domestic policy which grows worse with each day: increasing repression; massive arrests without trial; trumped-up phony charges of terrorism and treason; intimidation of the media; constitutional changes that give him control over all institutions including the courts. The very real fear and despair within Turkey is generally not reported in the West.Now the former army chief of staff, retired General Ilker Basbug, has been humiliated and will be put on trial for allegedly trying to overthrow the regime. One thing that's never explained is that if the hundreds of officers who have been arrested were working to stage a coup how come in ten years not the tiniest action was ever actually taken? Meanwhile, journalists are on trial for alleged terrorism and other crimes.Wait a minute! Maybe that's what the "Turkish model," which the Obama Administration wants to spread to the Arabic-speaking world, is: an elected government that makes itself into a dictatorship. Talk to almost any Turk, at least to those who aren’t regime supporters, and they’ll tell you that the only explanation they can figure out is a conspiracy in which the United States wants an Islamist regime in Turkey to prove its sympathy for Islam and possibly affect such groups elsewhere. One thing that the regime has done very well—or, at least, benefitted from conditions—is regarding the economy. Despite recent claims that Turkey’s economy is in trouble, the country seems to be flourishing.Soner Cagaptay, a frequent critic of the regime, describes Turkey as in an unprecedented “sense of global confidence” not seen for centuries; a “Eurasian China;” a country whose economy grew a record 8.2 percent in the third quarter of 2011. Since 2002, he continues the economy has nearly tripled in size. Its trade is shifting from Europe to Islamic countries. As one journalist put it: "After suffering through eight coalition governments and four economic crises, the Turkish people have welcomed ten years of a stable…government even if it has meant entrenched single-party rule"Cagaptay argues that to continue this economic success the Turkish government must avoid “a belligerent foreign policy.” But that’s a bit misleading. Turkey can have a radical, pro-Islamist foreign policy that is objectively anti-Western at little cost. It just has to avoid getting involved directly in wars, which it can easily do.Now with the Turkish army broken, Erdogan needs merely complete his control of the courts to be able to do whatever he pleases within the country.And with Obama following Erdogan’s advice and trying to help spread the “Turkish model”—electing radical Islamist regimes that will be repressive at home and backing radicals abroad—things look bright for Erdogan as he steadily consolidates control.Read the full story here.
- Tensions rise between Turkish military and government.(BikyaMasr).Istanbul (dpa) – The arrest and detention in the early hours of Friday morning of the former head of Turkey’s military, General Ilker Basbug, signals an increase in tensions between the government and the military that looks certain to escalate further.Basbug was arrested and interrogated for seven hours regarding allegations that he conspired as head of a secret organization to overthrow by force the elected government of the Turkish Republic, before being imprisoned pending further questioning.The arrest stems from a three year investigation into the “Ergenekon” organization. Prosecutors allege the group brought together serving and former senior military officers and civilian officials in a plot to overthrow the moderate Islamist government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.The Ergenekon investigation has to date seen the arrest and charging of around 400 suspects, including 58 generals and admirals currently serving in the Turkish military, as well as dozens of intellectuals, academics, former and serving civil servants, and journalists.It has been strongly supported by the government and by many secular Turks who share no ideological or religious platform with Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), and who believe the military and its associates have a case to answer.But it has also been heavily criticized by Turkey’s military and many secular Turks who regard it as a witch hunt against the military. The institution has traditionally guaranteed the secular nature of the Turkish republic in the face of what some Turks regard as the “creeping Islamization” of the country.Many more though, fear that while the investigation may have begun in earnest, it has strayed beyond the limits of its scope and now threatens to undermine the very democratic process it was initiated to protect.They criticize both the lack of clarity over what is being investigated and the length of time the cases are taking to resolve.In court for the first time last week after 11 months in jail, investigative journalist Ahmet Sik commented: “We don’t even know what we are accused of; the indictment doesn’t specify a crime.”With numerous trials related to the Ergenekon probe still ongoing, hundreds imprisoned and arrests still being made, tensions have been running high.Basbug’s arrest comes little over a week after Turkish planes bombed a convoy of civilians smuggling cigarettes and diesel fuel into Turkey from Iraq, killing 35.While Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan expressed shock and grief at the killings and promised a full investigation, the military managed only a statement to the effect that it was acting on “intelligence” that the group were terrorists intent on attacking targets inside Turkey.The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is recognized as a terrorist group by both the United States and the European Union, has for over two decades launched such attacks from bases in the autonomous Kurdish region of Northern Iraq.However those killed were not terrorists but smugglers – many, of them also members of the “Village Guards,” a state-run militia which guards against PKK activity in the region.While neither the government nor the military has directly blamed the other side for the mistake which led to the killings, the respected Taraf newspaper has published unsourced claims that the intelligence supplied to the military came from Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT).As a body which reports to the Prime Ministry, MIT has no direct connections with the military, and it has strenuously denied the allegations.“MIT shared no intelligence on groups, locations, numbers, dates or routes that may have been related to the deaths of the 35 citizens,” the organization said in a written statement.However the implications of the allegations appear clear: namely that a disagreement exists as to whether the faulty “intelligence” came from the military, or from sources controlled by the government.Who exactly is responsible for the killings will hopefully emerge from the promised official investigation.But given the record to date of the Ergenekon investigation, few are betting that it can be completed either as swiftly or as openly as the tragic events would seem to require – or without further inflaming tensions between the government and the military.Hmmmm.....Once again i dare to ask "Did a U.S. Drone give the info that led to the deadly strike?Read the full story here.
- Feds Create Jobs For “Low-Income, Disconnected Youth” at a $ 1.5 Billion taxpayer cost.(JW).Keeping with the big government mentality, various federal agencies are creating thousands of positions to meet the goals set by a new Obama initiative to find jobs for “low-income and disconnected youth.”Announced by the president this week, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Summer Jobs 2012 is being promoted as a private-federal partnership in which a quarter of a million unemployed, low-income youths will enter the workforce. Several major companies already operate similar programs though the DOL seems to indicate that they were inspired by this novel plan.After all, the administration is touting it as a “new call-to-action for businesses, nonprofits and government to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth.” The goal is to create 250,000 summer jobs for the disenfranchised youth, ages 16 to 24. An internet tool will soon be launched where the job-seekers can access openings and connect with participating employers.Obama’s Labor Secretary, former California Congresswoman Hilda Solis, hinted that minorities will be heavily targeted, pointing out that “minority youth have had an especially difficult time funding summer employment.” To back this up Solis offered the following statistics; the unemployment rate for African-American youth last summer was 31% and for Latinos it was 20%. That means 900,000 African-American youth and 820,000 Latino youth didn’t work, according to the secretary’s figures. This is being presented by the administration as a crisis that requires government intervention. So far three federal agencies have committed to create a combined 19,424 jobs for the low-income, disconnected minority youth. The Department of the Interior, which manages the country’s national parks, will lead the way with 12,000 positions in various wildlife refuges, environmental restoration projects and tribal lands.The Department of Agriculture will offer 7,100 low-income youth—referred to as “our future leaders”—with “valuable work experience” and the Department of Health and Human Services will chip in 324 jobs. Recalling her upbringing in a blue-collar Los Angeles neighborhood, Solis credits these sorts of summer youth jobs for setting her on a course that led her to a president’s cabinet.Since making it to the prestigious post, Solis has launched a number of controversial programs, including a division with a 1,000 field investigators to protect illegal immigrants in the U.S. workforce. Her agency has also dedicated tens of millions of dollars to questionable initiatives that provide “meaningful job training” for low-income juvenile delinquents and “high-risk” adults, safety training for “low-literacy Latinos” and to promote collective bargaining in Vietnam. Last month, Judicial Watch uncovered a scandal behind the DOL’s wasteful, bilingual smartphone app to help hourly workers “stand up for their rights” and file complaints against employers. To create the app, the agency awarded a noncompetitive contract— intended for socially and economically disadvantaged businesses—to former DOL official who owns a profitable company called Cascades Technologies Inc.Hmmmm........Buying the youth their votes with taxpayer money.Read the full story here.
- Turkey Gets It, Acquires F-35s. Obama Administration Doesn’t.(Heritage).The Turkish government understands what the Obama Administration does not: Acquiring the American-made F-35 fighter jet is the most effective way to claim supremacy of the skies.Yesterday, Turkey’s Defense Industry Implementation Committee announced the purchase of two Lockheed Martin F-35s. Turkey had put its F-35 order on hold in March over concerns of technology sharing and cost. However, the recent announcement suggests that Turkey is preparing itself for the increasing challenges that its neighborhood poses.It’s unfortunate that the Obama Administration has failed to register the message. In addition to canceling production of the F-22, a stealth fighter jet built to ensure U.S. supremacy over any battlefield, the Administration has reduced production of the F-35, which American taxpayers have invested $50 billion in. As the first aircraft in history with a 360-degree view and the ability to see over 800 miles with integrated combat systems, the F-35 is a marvel of modern engineering.In a time of austerity, critics of F-35 production argue that the jet is too expensive. Yet what they disregard is that the cost of plane decreases as production and sale of jets to allies increases. As part of the international F-35 consortium, British Defense Minister Phillip Hammond expressed concern over the cuts to the program yesterday, citing the likelihood that costs of the jet will increase if there is reduced production.Rather than limiting production of the F-35 and cancelling its brother, the F-22, the Obama Administration should invest in the potential these jets offer to U.S. air capabilities and to our allies. Gutting the defense budget makes Americans and our allies less safe. A first step to remedying this is to take the F-22 and F-35 off the chopping block.Read the full story here.
- U.S. Official on Propping Up Islamist Democracies.(TIP).Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, stated in a recent editorial for Dar al Hayat, that American officials will work with Islamist parties to prop up emerging Arab democracies."We are less concerned what a political party or organization calls itself than what it does in practice, and we will reach out to those who act according to democratic principles, respect their fellow citizens' rights, and do not use force or violence to impose their views," Feltman explains in the op-ed.The Obama Administration's goal is "to reach out beyond the traditional government and business elites not only to articulate clearly our own goals but to listen to a wide spectrum of views. This includes reaching out to Islamist parties, who now play an important role in the political transformation of many countries in the region."The United States intends to support the new democracies with both governmental aid and private economic investment. Feltman saluted the efforts of major American firms like Pfizer, Marriott, and Microsoft, who have already invested in Tunisia's new Islamist-led democracy. He also discussed the Administration's effort to convince Congress to facilitate job creation in Egypt, academic exchanges between the countries, and to "develop […] 'Enterprise Funds' to foster private-sector development."The commitment of Islamist parties to democracy and human rights remains to be seen. While officials from Tunisia's Al-Nahda party and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood have said all the right things to Western news sources, they have continued to use traditional extremist rhetoric in addresses to their political base. Several Islamist groups also support a policy of gradualism, by incrementally introducing Islamism into local society and building their relationship with other Islamist regimes in the direction of a renewed Islamic empire [Caliphate].Read the full story here.
- Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu says Shiite Crescent could prove to be an opportunity.(TodaysZaman). The rise of a “Shiite Crescent” was interpreted as a threat years ago, but now it could turn into an opportunity if Turkey and Iran enhance their dialogue, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters on his flight back on Thursday from Tehran, where he discussed with Iranian officials ways to stop sectarian conflict in the volatile region.Recalling that the 10th century was the era of the “Shiite Crescent,” a notion that suggests the rise of Shiite dominance in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran resembled the form of a crescent on the world map, Davutoğlu suggested on Thursday that the current trend in the region once again points toward a rise in politics along sectarian lines, but if Iran and Turkey increase their dialogue, the rise could become an opportunity to avert sectarian conflicts in the region.“If relations between Turkey and Iran were at the level they were 10 years ago, a sectarian clash would have already erupted in the region,” Davutoğlu told a group of reporters aboard his plane back to Ankara.Davutoğlu’s comments came following developments in neighboring Syria and Iraq, which seem to be descending into civilian strife along sectarian lines, a development Turkey and Iran both say they are very concerned about. Recent days witnessed bomb attacks in Iraq, which seems to be torn between three main blocs, of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, all of whom vie for more authority in Iraqi politics.Davutoğlu also met in Tehran with influential Shiite politician Muqtada al-Sadr to discuss developments in Iraq, which signal that a political conflict between Sunni and Shiite blocs has the potential of turning into armed chaos. Sadr has suggested in recent weeks that Iraq could opt for early elections to prevent a sectarian crisis from escalating. “Turkey is not only in touch with Sunnis and Kurds in Iraq, but also with Shiites,” Davutoğlu said, explaining that Turkey is in contact with all parties in the Iraqi controversy. “What Sadr pointed out in our talks was the need for the establishment of an administration that would represent all blocs in Iraq and prevention of a divide along sectarian and ethnic lines, which has just emerged out of a dictatorship,” Davutoğlu said in order to stress that Sadr’s opinion was similar to Turkey’s view with regard to the current developments. Diplomatic sources from Ankara also affirmed on Friday that Sadr’s opinion on Iraqi solidarity was “not too far” from that of Turkey’s, since both seek a solution in Iraq that would preserve its territorial unity and establish peace among all blocs.Iraq was challenged by sectarianism in its parliament a day after US troops pulled out of its territory, when Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued an arrest warrant for his vice president and rival, top Sunni politician Tariq al-Hashemi, and asked for the resignation of his Sunni deputy. Fleeing Baghdad, Hashemi suggested the country was on the brink of a sectarian divide, with Maliki trying to consolidate power in the hands of the Shiite sect and sideline the Sunni bloc.Hmmmm......And America believes their missile shield will work when war occurs with Iran?.....Forgetaboutit!Read the full story here.
- Accounts Emerge in South Sudan of 3,000 Deaths in Ethnic Violence.(NYT).By Jeffrey Gettleman.NAIROBI, Kenya — More than 3,000 villagers were massacred in the recent burst of communal violence in South Sudan, local officials said Thursday, with the fledging South Sudanese government, which just won its independence six months ago, seemingly unable to stem the bloodshed.Thousands of armed fighters attacked the town of Pibor.If the death toll is confirmed — United Nations officials and South Sudanese Army officers have yet to do that, saying they were still collecting information from the conflict zone — this would be one of the deadliest clashes in South Sudan in recent memory. In the past two weeks, United Nations aircraft had been tracking an unusually large column of 6,000 to 8,000 heavily armed fighters from the Lou Nuer ethnic group as it advanced toward the town of Pibor, cutting a swath of destruction across the savanna. Pibor is the hometown of the Lou Nuer’s traditional rival, the Murle, and the two groups have been locked in a tit-for-tat cattle rustling feud for years, with the death toll steadily rising each round.According to Joshua Konyi, the commissioner of Pibor County and a Murle, 2,182 women and children and 959 men were killed, 1,293 children were abducted and 375,186 cows were stolen.“We’ve been counting the bodies,” Mr. Konyi said by telephone from Pibor on Thursday night. “It’s really a genocide. If you come, you will see.”He said Lou Nuer fighters had mercilessly hunted down civilians who were cowering in the bush. Other Murle leaders said hundreds of women had been chased into a river, where they drowned.Earlier this week, United Nations officials had a much lower estimate, describing a death toll “in the tens, if not the hundreds” and saying that several corpses had already been unearthed. United Nations peacekeepers had tried to stop the fighters from storming the town of Pibor, but when it was clear that the peacekeepers and government soldiers were vastly outnumbered, Pibor’s residents were advised to flee. As many as 50,000 people scattered across the area. At first, United Nations officials believed that the early warnings had saved many lives.“At this stage, it’s very difficult to get an accurate picture,” Kouider Zerrouk, a United Nations spokesman in South Sudan, said Thursday. “We’re not in a position to confirm any figures, and we’re in the process of assessing their validity.”The Pibor area is one of the most rugged and isolated parts of South Sudan, surrounded by thick forests and swamps. With thousands of fighters still roaming around and many roads inaccessible, United Nations officials said they would not know the full extent of the violence for several more days.South Sudan’s military spokesman, Col. Philip Aguer, said, “I’m sure many people died.” But the army, like the United Nations, was waiting for more details, he said.“I feel bad,” Colonel Aguer said. Referring to the South Sudanese Army, he continued: “It is regrettable that the SPLA couldn’t stop this. This region is in conflict. This is not the first incident of this kind, and it will not be the last.”The cattle-rustling tradition in this part of South Sudan goes back generations. Both the Murle and the Lou Nuer prize cows and often lionize the young warriors who steal them. Years ago, the warriors clashed with spears. Now, they use AK-47s.Last year, the Lou Nuer attacked several Murle villages, stole cattle and killed hundreds. The Murle responded by attacking several Lou Nuer villages, stealing cattle and killing hundreds. The two groups often abduct women and children during these raids. Church elders tried to intervene, but talks broke down in December. Then the Lou Nuer began amassing a huge force of heavily armed youths. Lou Nuer elders said it was time to wipe out the smaller Murle group, once and for all.In late December, the column of Lou Nuer fighters began marching toward Pibor, burning huts along the way. The United Nations rushed 400 peacekeepers to Pibor, trying to defend the town alongside about 400 South Sudanese government troops.But as Colonel Aguer said, “800 can’t stop 6,000.”When asked why so few soldiers were defending Pibor when it was clear an enormous force of Lou Nuer fighters was headed that way, he replied, “It’s a long story.”Murle leaders say the government essentially abandoned them in their time of need. Thousands of people remain camped out in the bush, “people with no food, no water, and this is my problem to get them help,” said Mr. Konyi, the Pibor commissioner.Their rage vented, the Lou Nuer fighters now appear to be heading home. Mr. Konyi even described Pibor on Thursday night as calm. But others say the next outburst is only a matter of time.“To me, this can’t stop,” said David Ibon, a Murle pastor. “This isn’t just cattle rustling. This is war.”Hmmmm........In 2010, the CIA issued a warning that "over the next five years,...a new mass killing or genocide is most likely to occur in southern Sudan."The Nuer White Army released a statement stating its intention to "wipe out the entire Murle tribe on the face of the earth as the only solution to guarantee long-term security of Nuer’s cattle" and activists, including Minority Rights Group International, warn of genocide in the current Jonglei conflict.Read the full story here.
- Indian Islamist Magazine's Report on Iraq War and American 'Thirst for Human Blood': Obama is 'Currently the World's No.1 Violent Extremist, the World's No. 1 Killer of Children'.(Memri).Following the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq on December 15, 2011, an Islamist weekly magazine in India published a cover-page article titled "Can Bush and Obama Be Tried for Holocaust-Genocide in Iraq?" The magazine, Radiance Viewsweekly, belongs to a group of Islamist publications in India which owe their ideological allegiance to the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, the country's leading religious organization.In the article, the author, Dr. S. Ausaf Saied Vasfi, accuses the U.S. of committing "genocide" against millions of Muslims in Iraq and other Muslim countries and argues that the American "thirst for human blood" will lead the U.S. to attack Iran. Dr. Vasfi states: "The point is - what does the U.S. now propose to do to quench its thirst for human blood? Our thinking - rather the world's thinking - is the next target would be Iran."He adds: "It looks as if the entire Muslim area – West Asia and North Africa – are the primary areas of U.S.'s bloody interest for three reasons: one, because the would-be victims are Muslim, and secondly because there is oil wealth in those areas, and thirdly because this might ensure the security of the transplanted state called Israel, to whose interests the U.S. remains chained….""The U.S., without sufficient legal or moral grounds, devoured 4.6 million in Iraq, 5.6 million in Afghanistan, 1.5 million in Palestine, 2.2 million in Somalia, and 50,000 in Libya. (The figures include war-related deaths.)… The fact [of the Iraq war], invented by Mr. George W. Bush, brings the so-called weapons of mass destruction under sharper focus."Several political commentators and analysts have shed light on the not-so-stale subject. Was the U.S.-Iraq war a mere toxic cocktail of neo-conservative thinking, or an itch for unilateralism, or an essay in forcing the world to adopt the Western thinking and lifestyle or remind the world that the real boss is the United States…?"Today the image of America is not that of a peaceable and peace-loving, broad-minded, large-hearted noble country. The U.S. image is that of a bully, a goon, a thug, or, to be charitable, that of an unreasonable person, capable of manufacturing lies or excuses to have a fight with you, without any rhyme or reason. It is hard to believe that Jefferson and Lincoln were born in the United States [sic]."Not 4,407 but 4,500 American soldiers were killed in the U.S.-led 'Alliance of the Willing' and the Iraqi forces. According to a study of Dr. Gideon Polya, an eminent author and journalist, 'Since 1990, Iraq has suffered 4.6 million war-related deaths, 1.7 million violent deaths, 2.9 million avoidable deaths from war-imposed deprivation, 5-6 million refugees, 2.0 under-5 infant deaths, 90% avoidable and due to egregious U.S. alliance war crimes, in gross violation of the Geneva Convention.'" Read the full story here.