Sunday, January 8, 2012
If there was any doubt about Al Jazeera's sympathies and lack of neutrality, it was effectively laid to rest with the channel's coverage of the release of Samir Kuntar. Kuntar had savagely murdered two Israelis in 1979, including a 4-year old girl, and had been jailed in Israel since then. On his 2008 release in an Israel-Hezbollah deal, Al Jazeera Arabic threw him a party: "Brother Samir, we wish to celebrate your birthday with you," crowed the station's Beirut bureau chief, hailing Kuntar as a "pan-Arab hero."
The Two Faces of Al Jazeera.(MEForum).By Oren Kessler.
One of the principal beneficiaries of the Arab uprisings has been Al Jazeera television. Viewers are praising the English and Arabic channels' comprehensive coverage of the revolts while the Obama administration continues to court the network as part of its signature foreign policy goal of improving ties with the Arab and Muslim worlds.
On August 1, 2011, Al Jazeera English (AJE) began broadcasting to two million cable subscribers in New York—the third major U.S. city to carry the station after Houston and Washington, D.C. AJE's gutsy, driven reporting—one commentator aptly commended its "hustle"—has won it friends in high places: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lauded the channel as "real news," and Sen. John McCain (Republican, Ariz.) said he was "very proud" of its handling of the so-called Arab Spring.
Lost in the exuberance is the fact that a vast gulf still separates the channel's English iteration from the original Arabic, which fifteen years after its birth continues to inflame Arab resentments in its promotion of anti-Americanism, Sunni sectarianism and, in recent years, Islamism.
As AJE debuts in New York, many viewers who do not speak Arabic will presume the station to be a direct or approximate translation of its parent network in Qatar. But to appreciate what Al Jazeera English is, it is critical to remember just what it is not—even a remote likeness of its Arabic-speaking progenitor.
In his 2004 state of the union address, President George W. Bush singled out Al Jazeera as a source of "hateful propaganda" in the Arab world, and then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld blasted its war coverage as "propaganda," "inexcusably biased," and "vicious."
Over the past decade, however, Al Jazeera's sectarian impulse has been moving ever closer to garden-variety Sunni Islamism, a shift dramatic enough to catch the attention even of the liberal bulwark The Nation. In 2007, the weekly's Kristen Gillespie wrote that 9/11 "brought a new anti-imperialist and, many argue, a pro-Sunni Islamist bent to the network ... The field reports are overwhelmingly negative with violent footage played over and over, highlighting Arab defeat and humiliation. And there's a clear underlying message: that the way out of this spiral is political Islam."
"[I]t doesn't take much viewing of the channel to discern a dual message," Gillespie wrote. "Sunni religious figures are almost always treated deferentially as voices of authority on almost any issue, and Arab governments as useless stooges of the United States and Israel."
In the words of Alberto Fernandez, then-director for press and public diplomacy in the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, "We see the unconditional support of Islamic movements, no matter where they are: Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan. … How things are covered, the prominence of things, what words are used—sometimes you do see that very clear Islamist subtext."
In 2002, Al Jazeera Arabic promoted Wadah Khanfar—a reporter from the West Bank town of Jenin widely believed to have close Muslim Brotherhood ties—from Iraq bureau chief to managing director. Three years later Khanfar was promoted to director general of the overall Al Jazeera network, overseeing both language channels. On both occasions, he replaced relatively secular-minded journalists.
Gillespie spoke with nine active and former employees who described Khanfar as an Islamist. "Everyone is complaining about the new trend now—that the liberals, the secular types, the Arab nationalists are getting downsized, and the Islamic position is dominating the newsroom," said a former Baghdad correspondent. "From the first day of the Wadah Khanfar era, there was a dramatic change, especially because of him selecting assistants who are hard-line Islamists," added AJA's former Washington bureau chief Hafez al-Mirazi, who resigned a year after Khanfar's arrival to protest the station's "Islamist drift."
For his part, Khanfar has dismissed the idea that his perspective was in any way at odds with those of the channel's viewers. "Islam is more of a factor now in the influential political and social spheres of the Arab world, and the network's coverage reflects that," he said. "Maybe you have more Islamic voices [on AJA] because of the political reality on the ground." Judea Pearl put the channel's agenda more plainly: "I have no doubt that, today, Al Jazeera is the most powerful voice of the Muslim Brotherhood."
The Obama State Department overturned the Bush administration's refusal to grant Khanfar a visa, and in 2009, he met with State, Pentagon, and White House officials before embarking on a speaking tour that included the New America Foundation, Council on Foreign Relations, and Middle East Institute.
Khanfar resigned as director general in September of this year, following the release of WikiLeaks cables showing he had met with U.S. officials and agreed to tone down Iraq war coverage Washington deemed inflammatory. The choice of Khanfar's replacement—an oil executive who belongs to the ruling al-Thani dynasty—is yet another sign that despite U.S. pressure to privatize, Qatar intends to keep Al Jazeera a wholly-owned family business.
Given its Islamist sympathies, it is unsurprising that the network sides heavily with Hamas in its rivalry with the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA). "In Arabic, it's unmistakable—Al Jazeera is not just pro-Palestinian, but pro-Hamas," the Israeli spokesman said. The New York Times—which has pushed for AJE's inclusion on U.S. cable—has conceded that there is "little doubt" the Arabic channel portrays Hamas more favorably than its rivals.
Polls show a remarkable 53 percent of Palestinians use Al Jazeera as their primary news source with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya a distant second at 13 percent. The way AJA covers any prospective Israeli-Palestinian agreement will fundamentally shape how such a deal is viewed—and whether it is accepted—by the Palestinian public.
When in 2009 Mahmoud Abbas agreed to defer a U.N. Human Rights Council discussion of the notorious Goldstone report on that year's Gaza offensive, Al Jazeera censured the PA president for his "capitulation" to Israeli and Western demands. The resulting public outcry nearly resulted in Abbas's resignation.
Early this year, the network published the "Palestine Papers"—a leak of 1,700 files encompassing a decade's worth of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations—prompting commentators across the Arab world to denounce the PA leadership for supposedly agreeing to wide-ranging concessions toward Israel. "The fact is that Al Jazeera has never done the same against Hamas, and that Hamas has never complained about Al Jazeera's coverage," the Israeli spokesman said. "It's always the Palestinian Authority that complains."
On Al Jazeera Arabic, anti-Israel sentiment tends to bleed indistinguishably into anti-Semitism. Erik Nisbet, a scholar of Arabic media at Ohio State University, said the channel's treatment of extremists would be roughly akin to a U.S. network giving airtime to the Ku Klux Klan. American channels, he said, "would report on them, but they are not going to do in-depth interviews or invite them to be on mainstream talk shows, and let them say anything they want, but Al Jazeera does." According to Nisbet, there is "no doubt" that anti-Semitism is woven into the very fabric of AJA's reporting.
After 9/11, AJA presenters repeated, unchallenged, a report that Jews had been tipped off not to report to work at the World Trade Center that morning. Contributors running the clerical, jihadist, and guerrilla gamut blamed Jews for the attacks and urged the United States to "get rid" of its own. The summer before, an episode of The Opposite Direction was dedicated to the question, "Is Zionism Worse than Nazism?" Of the 12,000 viewers who called in, 85 percent answered in the affirmative, 11 percent saw both as equally bad, and 2.7 percent ventured that Nazism was worse.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, host of Al Jazeera's most popular program, Shari'a and Life, regularly froths about the insidious character of Shiites, Americans, and especially Jews. "Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people. Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one," he said on air in 2009. Elsewhere, Qaradawi praised Hitler's treatment of the Jews ("even though they exaggerated the issue") but stressed the führer's regret at not finishing the job.
When in July 2008, four days before his forty-sixth birthday, Kuntar was released in an Israel-Hezbollah deal, Al Jazeera Arabic threw him a party. "Brother Samir, we wish to celebrate your birthday with you," said Ghassan Ben Jeddo, the station's Beirut bureau chief, playing master of ceremonies. "You deserve even more than this," he said, hailing Kuntar—pudgy and bemused in a mock military uniform—as a "pan-Arab hero."
While a live band tooted a martial medley, food servers rolled out a cake adorned with images of terrorist leaders including Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah. Handing Kuntar a scimitar to cut a piece, Ben Jeddo gushed, "This is the sword of the Arabs, Samir."
Israel threatened to boycott the channel unless it apologized, and AJA's director general penned a letter admitting "elements of the program violated Al Jazeera's code of ethics" and saying he had ordered steps be taken to ensure a similar incident was not repeated. AJA's deputy editor later clarified that the channel had not actually apologized.
"The gentleman involved was fully reprimanded, and he no longer works for us," Al Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey said this summer. "Clearly, that was taken very seriously. That is not the channel I run. I would not have run that … Action was taken immediately after the show was aired."
It is unclear which "gentleman" received the reprimand. Ben Jeddo stayed on as Beirut bureau chief until this year when he resigned to protest the network's hard-hitting if belated coverage of the Syrian crackdown. "The channel ended a dream of objectivity and professionalism after Al Jazeera stopped being a media source and became an operations room for incitement and mobilization," he wrote in his resignation letter with apparent seriousness.
In English, Al Jazeera's coverage of the event was only marginally better. In the lead-up to Kuntar's release, AJE aired a segment from his home village of Abieh in which reporter Zeina Khodr described Nahariya, a city within Israel's sovereign borders, as a "settlement." After introducing Kuntar by his full name, she named him seven times by his first name and not once by his last. Nowhere did she mention the brutality with which Kuntar's victims were murdered
On Kuntar's release, Lebanon-based reporter Rula Amin effused that "in his hometown, Samir Kuntar is received as a freedom fighter, and he was received with a festive ceremony. A hero, even to those who were not even born when he went to prison." Amin apparently found it more remarkable that Kuntar's admirers included young people than that an entire village, country, and region should lionize a child murderer.
"A display of unity in Abieh," she concluded, "may be the start of reconciliation between Hezbollah and Walid Jumblatt," the Lebanese Druze leader. As Amin would have it, the crux of the story is not the inverted morals of Kuntar's reception but the prospect of that reception serving as a catalyst for Lebanese reconciliation.
"In 2007, I was still hoping that Al Jazeera will become a force for good," he recalled earlier this year. "Unfortunately, the opposite has happened. Al Jazeera's popularity and general acceptance in the West has emboldened its management to take an even harder anti-Western stance."
"Today, we have much deeper concerns with Al Jazeera—it is no longer a clash with journalistic standards but a clash with the norms of civilized society," Pearl wrote. "Our charming infant is smashing windows now and poisoning pets in the neighborhood—a slap on the wrist is perhaps way overdue."Hmmmm......The RED line Huma Weiner a.k.a. Huma Abedin her brother named Hassan Abedin, Huma's brother listed as a fellow and partners with a number of Muslim Brotherhood members on the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS), including al-Qaeda associate, Omar Naseef and the notorious Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi.How deep is the Obama 'Admin' infiltrated by the muslim Brotherhood?Read the full story here.
Oren Kessler is Middle East affairs correspondent for The Jerusalem Post.
Actor Brad Pitt was in “respectful awe” when he visited President Obama in the Oval Office in March 2009, Jodi Kantor reports in “The Obamas.”Though the star is so confident in his public life, he “barely said a thing, and he seemed overcome by meeting the president,” Kantor says.Obama later chastised Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser, for talking too much during the meeting, but Jarrett said she was just trying to help Pitt feel more comfortable.Pitt’s reaction to meeting with the president in the Oval Office was similar to how others responded. Entering the office through a narrow hallway “sometimes did strange things to people,” Kantor writes. Visitors’ voices sounded strange because of the room’s curved walls, former deputy press secretary Bill Burton said. Some, like Pitt, responded with near silence, while others “babbled” or began to cry. Older African-Americans were particularly moved to see Obama in the office.Hmmmmmm.................Compare the above to this Man.Read the full story here.
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation China 5.1!More info here.
- Chart of the Week: Defense Spending Throughout U.S. History.(Heritage).President Obama visited the Pentagon on Thursday to outline his plan for gutting our nation’s military. Obama’s vision makes America more vulnerable to foreign threats and leaves our armed forces less able to provide for the common defense.As we’ve previously illustrated, Obama has proposed significant reductions to the Pentagon’s budget. This week’s chart shows how sharply defense spending has dropped as a percentage of the total federal budget — currently well below its historical average despite ongoing operations overseas. The chart also debunks the myth that our Founding Fathers were isolationists.During his Pentagon visit, Obama claimed the country is safer today than when he took office. Heritage’s James Carafano, writing in the New York Post, called Obama’s assertion “laughable.”Not only is the world not a safer place than when Obama came into office, the strategy his Pentagon has produced to deal with today’s challenges may well make it far worse. Let me translate the Pentagon report into English: The administration is going to gut the Army and Marine Corps, while hitting the Navy and Air Force less (for now). The “strategy” basically says, We have a four-legged stool; we’re going to cut off two legs.For more information on defense spending and how the Budget Control Act of 2011 will impact our nation’s military, Heritage produced a fact sheet that outlines what cuts to expect in the future.Hmmmm.....If he really wanted to destroy America as a superpower would he do anything different?Read and see the full story here.
- Soldiers on Lockdown After 'Sensitive' Military Equipment is Stolen from Washington Base.(Fox).FORT LEWIS, Wash – More than 100 soldiers were on lockdown Sunday after "sensitive" military equipment was stolen from a base in Fort Lewis, Wash.The soldiers were put on lockdown Wednesday after items such as scopes, night vision goggles and range finders went missing from Joint Base Lewis-McChord over the holidays, myFOXSpokane.com reported.Lewis-McChord spokesman Matt Hinkle said Saturday that the army was carrying out a criminal investigation into the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division after the "sensitive" items went missing, The News Tribune reported."They'll be on base until the items are found," Hinkle, who estimated the company contained about 100- 200 soldiers, said. "This is the unit's property that's come up missing.""We're going to continue to conduct this investigation as thoroughly as possible," I Corps spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield added. "We will get to the bottom of this matter."Officials are offering a $10,000 reward for the return of the equipment.Hmmmm........for night vision goggles $10.000 reward?Read the full story here.
- Obama Seeks Pay Hike For Federal Workers While Gutting Hundreds of Thousands From U.S. Military.(WP).The White House will propose a 0.5 percent pay increase for civilian federal employees as part of its 2013 budget proposal, according to two senior administration officials familiar with the plans.The modest across-the-board pay jump would be the first increase for federal workers since before a two-year freeze began in late 2010. Raises for within-grade step increases and promotions have continued during the freeze.The proposal, which requires congressional approval, differs from Republican plans supported by lawmakers and presidential candidates that would freeze basic pay rates for one more year. Some of those plans also call for denying within-grade raises. In recent weeks, GOP lawmakers have called for extending the pay freeze as a way to pay for a payroll tax extension.But, “a permanent pay freeze is not an acceptable policy,” one of the senior administration officials said Friday. “While modest, a 0.5 percent increase reflects the belt-tightening we must do in these difficult times.”The officials were unauthorized to speak publicly on the matter, but said that the White House notified agency budget offices about the decision Friday morning so that agencies could complete their 2013 budget requests.The White House is expected to formally unveil its fiscal 2013 budget proposal in early February. No decision has been made yet on a potential pay raise for uniformed military personnel, the officials said, though lawmakers and federal worker unions traditionally push to ensure pay parity between civilian and military personnel. Pay parity was the standard practice for many years before 2009.Read the full story here.
- US think tank group considered close to Obama administration E-mails reveals anti-Semitism.(JPost).A senior employee of the US think tank Center for American Progress (CAP) appears to have admitted in an e-mail sent from his CAP account that a blogger for the policy organization used anti-Semitic language to attack supporters of the Jewish state.CAP advises the Democratic Party on Middle East policy and is an important source of ideas for the Obama administration.The Jerusalem Post last week obtained the first CAP acknowledgment of Jew-hatred stemming from a group of Mideast bloggers affiliated with CAP’s ThinkProgress website.In the e-mail that the Post obtained exclusively from the CAP account of Faiz Shakir, who serves as editor-in-chief of the ThinkProgress.org website and is a vice president at CAP, he wrote, “Yes, I agree ‘Israel Firster’ is terrible, anti-Semitic language. And that’s why that language no longer exists on Zaid’s personal twitter feed, because he also knows and understands the implications.”Zaid Jilani wrote on his Twitter account, where he identifies himself as a “Reporter-Blogger for ThinkProgress,” that “...Obama is still beloved by Israel-firsters and getting lots of their $$.”The e-mail recognizing the anti-Semitism of a CAP blogger was sent from FShakir@americanprogress.org in December.US-Jewish and Israeli NGOs accused a faction of ThinkProgress bloggers that month of stoking modern anti-Semitism. The anti-Israel scandal saw two CAP writers, Jilani and Ali Gharib, issue apologies for asserting that American Jews and a non-Jewish Republican senator serve the interests of the Israeli government over the security of the United States.Speaking with the Post from Washington on Thursday, Shakir declined to comment on the e-mail from his account.He did not respond to a followup Post e-mail sent on Friday.In a lengthy article on Friday on the Daily Beast news website, Ken Gude, the managing director of CAP’s National Security and International Policy Program, denied any anti-Semitism or anti-Israelism at CAP. He told the Daily Beast that the allegations were “wildly unfair” and “flatly untrue.”The Post sent an e-mail to Gude on Friday citing the quote in question from the email that had been sent from Shakir’s account. He did not respond to the Post e-mail or to a follow-up telephone query.Critics accuse CAP of failing to combat rising anti-Israel sentiment among a group of bloggers who write about the Middle East and have created an anti-Jewish state environment at the mainstream policy organization. The e-mail conceding anti-Semitism at ThinkProgress underscores an internal rift at the think tank.In an e-mail to the Post last week, Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, wrote, “The prominence of CAP in the Obama administration has been recognized by news outlets like Time and Bloomberg News, both of which describe the think tank as the president’s ‘Ideas Factory.’ The fact that CAP has staffers who disseminate this kind of virulent, poisonous anti-Israel material points to a serious problem – that there is a strain of hostility toward Israel running through elements of the mainstream Democratic Party.”Matt Duss, director for the Middle East at CAP, compared Israel’s security policies to the racist “segregated South” in the United States. Duss declined to respond to queries about this statement on the ThinkProgress website. The disclosure of the e-mail from Shakir’s account comes after a series of dire developments for CAP’s reputation, culminating in sharp criticism from the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee and the Simon Wiesenthal Center – all of which slammed CAP for promoting hatred of Jews and Israel.Brooks said that “Liberals and Democrats who value their party’s reputation regarding national security and the US-Israel alliance have a lot of work to do. Unfortunately, it appears that elements who would irreparably damage that reputation have a foothold within an important mainstream Democratic institution.”David A. Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council, wrote to the Post that “The words of these individuals [the bloggers] are deeply disturbing, and they were right to apologize for their remarks. However those who have not apologized for their remarks include Rep. Allen West (R-FL), who invoked Joseph Goebbels to attack Democrats in December, and far too many others on the right who have dragged abusive Holocaust rhetoric into our political discourse in recent years.”Harris said, “In truth, neither the Left nor the Right has a monopoly on rhetoric that American Jews rightly find disturbing – although through talk radio, presidential candidates and members of Congress, the Right seems to be trying to corner the market.”Steinberg said “it is highly unfortunate when individuals and organizations play politics with anti-Semitic rhetoric.“Pointing fingers and saying that others are more anti- Semitic is a sad attempt to distract from one’s own errors. This rhetoric adds to the destructive impact, and does nothing to remove this language from the public discourse.”Read the full story here.
- Obama Administration reaches out to Egypt’s Brotherhood 'out of necessity'; Islamists see further parliament gains.(AlArabiya).The United States is reaching out to the Muslim Brotherhood as the group gains political momentum in the parliamentary elections.“It’s clear that they (the Brotherhood) are now the only game in town,” and U.S. officials must talk to them, Marina Ottaway, who heads the Middle East program in Washington for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told AFP.Banned under deposed President Hosni Mubarak, the Brotherhood has emerged as a major political winner from the uprising that toppled him in the form of the well-organized Freedom and Justice Party.During the Mubarak era, Ottoway said that the U.S. administration had essentially “bought” the former president’s “line” that the Brotherhood and its links to Islamist militants were a threat to Egypt’s and the region’s stability, even though it had renounced violence decades ago.“The U.S. essentially backed Mubarak in its repression of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Ottaway said. U.S. officials had also turned down invitations by her think-tank to attend post-2005 meetings with Arab Islamist groups, including Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.“For the U.S. now to reach out to the Muslim Brotherhood is a big step, it’s a step that’s long overdue, but it’s a step that the United States has resisted,” she added. “It’s a huge change and they’re doing it out of necessity.”The Muslim Brotherhood said on Saturday it had won at least 41 percent of the seats in Egypt’s lower house of parliament, with Islamists of various stripes occupying almost two thirds of the assembly so far.The Brotherhood has promised that Egyptians of all persuasions will have their say and, while the strong Islamist performance has alarmed some Egyptians and Western governments that backed Mubarak, it is far from clear whether rival Islamists will cooperate in the new legislature. The Brotherhood’s Democratic Alliance list has won 41 percent of the seats so far, while another list led by the hardline Islamist Nour Party came second with 20 percent of the seats.Hmmmm....“It’s a huge change and they’re doing it out of necessity.”The fact that Huma Wiener's brother sits on the same board as Prominent Muslim Brotherhood theologian Shaikh Yousef al-Qaradawi has NOTHING to do with the policy change?Read the full story here.
- Muslim Brotherhood Denies Obama Administration's Claim That Egypt Will Honor Peace Treaty.(WorldJewishDaily).In another blow to the Obama administration's attempt to reassure its allies that the rise of Islamic parties throughout the Arab world is not a threat, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the victors in recent elections, has denied the administration's claim that it had agreed to honor Egypt's 1978 peace treaty with Israel.The Brotherhood's deputy leader Essam al-Erian,stated on Saturday that the accords "are under the responsibility of the people and state institutions, and it would not be right for anyone to speak on behalf of the Egyptian people... We are not in a position to give assurances."This would appear to be a confirmation of the Brotherhood's intention to put the treaty up for a national referendum, which the treaty would almost certainly lose, meaning that it would have to be renegotiated and/or a state of war would exist between Egypt and the Jewish state. The statement is also a brutal slap in the face of the Obama administration, which had claimed on Thursday that private reassurances had been given by the Brotherhood to the effect that they would honor the treaty.Reaction on the part of the administration to the Arab Spring in general has been haphazard and inconsistent, with Washington trapped between its desire to promote democracy and the increasing sense that the wave of uprisings will not bring democracy but rather Islamic theocracy to power throughout the Middle East.At the moment, however, the most pressing concern is maintaining the Egyptian-Israeli peace, which has been the cornerstone of the peace process and regional stability for over thirty years.At the moment, the prospects are not looking good. As YNet reports,Rashad al-Bayoumi, the Brotherhood's second in command, told Al-Hayat last week that "the Muslim Brotherhood will not recognize Israel under any circumstances and might put the peace treaty with the Jewish state up to a referendum."The Brotherhood, he added, "did not sign the peace accords… We are allowed to ask the people or the elected parliament to express their opinion on the treaty, and [to find out] whether it compromised the people's freedom and sovereignty. We will take the proper legal steps in dealing with the peace deal. To me, it isn't binding at all. The people will express their opinion on the matter."Hmmmm........Which one would you believe or trust - Obama or The Muslim Brotherhood?..........Exactly!Read the full story here.
- Thugocracy - Union Workers Received Nearly 8 Times As Many Obamacare Waivers As Those In The Private Sector.(DailyCaller).Labor unions continued to receive the overwhelming majority of waivers from the president’s health care reform law since the Obama administration tightened application rules last summer.Documents released in a classic Friday afternoon news dump show that labor unions representing 543,812 workers received waivers from President Barack Obama‘s signature legislation since June 17, 2011.By contrast, private employers with a total of 69,813 employees, many of whom work for small businesses, were granted waivers. [...]. By and large, unions backed the health care overhaul, a law from which nearly a half million of their workers are now exempt.Read the full story here.
- Thousands of US troops land in Israel. Aircraft carrier coming soon.(Debka).Thousands of US troops began descending on Israel this week. Senior US military sources told debkafile Friday, Jan. 6 that many would be staying up to the end of the year as part of the US-IDF deployment in readiness for a military engagement with Iran and its possible escalation into a regional conflict. They will be joined by a US aircraft carrier. The warplanes on its decks will fly missions with Israeli Air Force jets. The 9,000 US servicemen gathering in Israel in the coming weeks are mostly airmen, missile interceptor teams, marines, seamen, technicians and intelligence officers.The incoming American soldiers are officially categorized as participants in Austere Challenge 12, the biggest joint US-Israeli war game ever held.The maneuver was originally designated Juniper Stallion 2012. However, the altered name plus the comment heard from the exercise's commander, US Third Air Force Lt. Gen. Frank Gorenc, during his visit two weeks ago, that the coming event is more a "deployment" than an "exercise," confirmed that Washington has expanded its mission. The joint force will now be in place ready for a decision to attack Iran's nuclear installations or any war emergency.Our sources disclose that it was decided at the last minute in Washington and Jerusalem to announce the forthcoming Austere Challenge 12 on Thursday night, Jan. 5, ahead of the bulletin released by Tehran about another Iranian naval exercise at the Strait of Hormuz to take place in February, although its 10-day drill in the same arena only ended Monday, Jan. 2.The early release was decided in consultations among US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the two army chiefs, US Gen. Martin Dempsey and Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz.British Defense Minister Phillip Hammond, on a visit to Washington, was brought into the discussion.The handout circulated to US correspondents from Hammond's talks in the US capital affirmed that Britain stands ready to strike Iran if the Strait of Hormuz is closed.However, that phrase was omitted from the British minister's remarks at a news conference, following a last-minute request from Panetta, signifying the Obama administration's interest of keeping a low profile on plans for attacking Iran.Tehran too is walking a taut tightrope. It is staging military's maneuvers every few days to assuring the Iranian people that its leaders are fully prepared to defend the country against an American or Israeli strike on its national nuclear program. By this stratagem, Iran's ground, sea and air forces are maintained constantly at top war readiness to thwart any surprise attack.The joint US-Israeli drill will test multiple Israeli and US air defense systems against incoming missiles and rockets, according to the official communiqué.Hmmmm....... Calling it not just an “exercise”, but a “deployment”Now, it’s reported that the US military, including the US Navy, will be stationed throughout Israel.While American troops will be stationed in Israel for an unspecified amount of time.Has the Foreign Invasion of Israel Begun? What will happen when Obama gets a second Term?Will he divide Jerusalem?Split up Israel?Read the full story here.
- Flashback - Judaism: An Invasion of Israel? In 2012?INN April 12, 2011.(INN).Negative-seeming events may be the fulfillment of a prophecy that is a harbinger of redemption. Read on for a possible scenario in keeping with current and recent events and Biblical prophecy.Read the full story here.
- Iran: Underground nuclear site near operational.(JPost).Iran's underground uranium enrichment facility will start operations soon, a senior official was quoted by Iranian media on Sunday as saying, a move likely to increase tension between the Islamic state and the West over Tehran's nuclear ambitions."The Fordow nuclear enrichment plant will be operational in the near future ... 20 percent, 3.5 percent and four percent enriched uranium can be produced at this site," said the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, the Kayhan daily reported.Iran has said for months that it is preparing to conduct uranium enrichment at Fordow, a protected site deep inside a mountain near the Shi'ite Muslim holy city of Qom in central Iran.The United States and its allies say Iran is trying to build bombs, but Tehran insists its nuclear program is aimed at generating power.The inauguration of the site could block fresh nuclear talks with major powers aimed at resolving Iran's nuclear row through diplomacy. Iran has called for talks on its nuclear program with the permanent members of the Security Council and Germany (P5+1), which have been stalled for a year.Diplomats told Reuters on Friday that Iran was believed to have begun feeding uranium gas into centrifuges in Fordow in late December as part of final preparations to use the machines for enrichment.Iran is already refining uranium to a fissile purity of 20 percent - far more than the 3.5 percent level usually required to power nuclear energy plants - above ground at another location.Diplomats say it is moving this higher-grade enrichment to Fordow in an apparent bid to better protect the work against any enemy attacks. It also plans to sharply boost output capacity.The United States and Israel, Iran's arch foes, have not ruled out strikes against the Islamic state if diplomacy fails to resolve the dispute.Iran has been hit by four rounds of U.N. sanctions and the United States and the E.U. have imposed increasingly tight economic sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear programme.Iran disclosed the existence of Fordow to the IAEA only in September 2009 after learning that Western intelligence agencies had detected it. Read The full story here.
- Egypt wants new gas deal with Israel, wants increase of 30%.(BikyaMasr).CAIRO: After renegotiating successfully with Jordan, Egypt is looking to do the same with Israel over its controversial natural gas deal.Egypt’s Petroleum Minister Abdullah Ghorab told the state-run al-Ahram newspaper that Cairo has already achieved new and equitable gas export deals with countries in the region and is hopeful that they can renegotiate a new deal with Israel.According to the minister’s office, the price of gas to Israel would rise to between $5-$10 per million metric thermal units (MMBTU) and “under no circumstances would he agree to a price lower than $5.”The announcement comes as activists continue to lash out at the Egyptian military junta over its continuing the deal with Israel that delivers natural gas to the neighboring country at rates well below international standards.Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is currently charged with corruption over the deal.“I think it is about time to change this, especially as the government is losing money from it and we are struggling as a country monetarily,” Ahmed Taha, an activist who has protested numerous times for the deal to be revoked, told Bikyamasr.com in a written statement. “We cannot continue a deal that is not benefiting us as a country,” he added.Ghorab said that Egypt “has succeeded in reaching an agreement to raise gas prices to at least $5 per MMBTU with every country in the region except for one.”Ghorab declined to name which country has not yet signed an agreement with Egypt, but as the ministry has already announced new deals with others, he was likely referring to Israel.“If I am not successful in altering the agreement with this country, I will resign my post,” he added.If the deal goes through, then the price Israel will pay Egypt for gas will be 30 percent higher than the previous price, and the price does not include brokerage fees Israel must pay the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG). Following the regime changes in Egypt, and the public uproar over the price of gas exports, the new Egyptian government was forced to open the existing agreements with countries in the region and to begin negotiations for updated prices.Hmmm......By 2013 Israel will have it's own gas from the Tamar field , i wonder to whom Egypt will sell their gas at that time?Read the full story here.
- Hamas leader’s Tunisia visit angers Palestinian officials.(AlArabiya).A visit by Gaza’s Hamas leader has angered the official Palestinian representatives in Tunisia who say they were ignored during the talks with the new government, a Palestinian source said Saturday.Ismail Haniya, prime minister in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, visited Tunis Thursday to meet with the new moderate Islamist-led administration while he was on a tour of the region.But that did not sit well with representatives of the Palestinian Authority led by president Mahmud Abbas.“The Palestinians are furious. Neither the government nor the foreign ministry, nor the (Islamist) Ennahda party informed them of the dates and program of Haniya’s visit, as they should have,” the Palestinian source told AFP.Another source told the Arabic language newspaper Le Maghreb that the lack of communication could hamper reconciliation efforts going on between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah party.Haniya was welcomed with much fanfare on his arrival in Tunis, where he was met by Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and the head of Ennahda, Rached Ghannouchi.Some Tunisian media also questioned the purpose of Haniya’s visit, whether it was to talk with the government or the Islamist party.Questioned by AFP, a government source said the Hamas leader “was invited by Tunisia and by the Ennahda party.”Haniya’s six-country tour marked his first travel abroad since Hamas, seen as terrorist group by Western powers, took power in Gaza in 2007. According to his office it was aimed at raising funds to rebuild Gaza City, devastated by an Israeli offensive three years ago.But the Hamas takeover of Gaza politically divided the Palestinian territories, with Abbas’s Fatah left largely ruling the West Bank and recognized internationally as the official Palestinian authority.In April, following years of bitter rivalry, the two factions signed a reconciliation deal whose implementation has since stalled.Last month, Abbas met Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Cairo and the two agreed on a process that could pave the way for the Islamist group to join a reformed Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and for long-delayed Palestinian elections.Tunis was the headquarters of the exiled PLO under Yasser Arafat before the 1993 Oslo accords with Israel granted Palestinian autonomy in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.Read the full story here.
- Senior US official to visit Ankara for talks.(TZ).US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns is due to visit Ankara tomorrow (Monday) for talks with Turkish officials, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported on Sunday.Citing diplomatic sources, Anatolia said Burns will spend 30 hours in Turkey, having talks with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu.Burns' visit to Ankara comes following Davutoğlu's talks with top Iranian officials in Tehran last week, following which Davutoğlu said talks between Iran and major world powers on Tehran's nuclear program will resume soon. In remarks published in a Japanese newspaper on Sunday, Davutoğlu said both sides have agreed to resume talks soon in Turkey.In addition to Iran, developments in Iraq and Syria are also expected to be discussed during Burns' visit to Turkey.Hmmmm.....Discussing the 'oil waiver' deal ...don't forget to mention the 'reelect obama' fund?Read the full story here.
- Israel - Palestinian nabbed with 11 explosive devices.(YNet).A Palestinian was arrested by Military Police and Border Guard officers Sunday morning at the entrance to a checkpoint in the Jenin area in possession of an improvised gun, a commando knife and 11 explosive devices of different sizes.Three other men suspected of aiding him were also detained. According to suspicions, the four were on their way to carry out a terror attack. The checkpoint has been closed.After being arrested at the entrance to the Salem crossing in the Jenin area, the suspects were taken in for questioning by the security forces. The explosive devices they were carrying were destroyed. The devices were found in the Salem crossing, where Palestinians wait in line for the Jenin Military Court, located nearby. It's unclear whether the court was the target of the attack.A Military Police soldier spotted the four Palestinians trying to enter the checkpoint and wires sticking out of the clothes of one of them. He ordered him to lift up his hands and undress and found three pipe bombs on his body. A search of the Palestinian's bag revealed eight more pipe bombs, a knife and an improvised gun. The four Palestinians were locked in the building and police sappers were dispatched to the area. The other three Palestinians were not carrying anything on their body, but were questioned on suspicion of aiding the man caught with the explosives. A senior officer explained that this was an unusual incident. "Eleven devices is an exceptional amount in one time. We've had incidents this year of three or four devices seized at the same time.Last week, a Border Guard force arrested a Jenin resident on suspicion of planning a stabbing attack in Beersheba. The man was located in a hideout in the southern city and taken in for questioning by the Shin Bet, as was another Palestinian arrested at the Shoket Junction. Hmmmm......Obama's 'peacepartners'.Read the full story here.
- The Geo-Politics of the Strait of Hormuz: Could the U.S. Navy be defeated by Iran in the Persian Gulf?(GR).by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya.U.S. naval strength, which includes the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard, has primacy over all the other navies and maritime forces in the world. Its deep sea or oceanic capabilities are unparalleled and unmatched by any other naval power. Primacy does not mean invincibility. U.S. naval forces in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf are nonetheless vulnerable.Despite its might and shear strength, geography literally works against U.S. naval power in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. The relative narrowness of the Persian Gulf makes it like a channel, at least in a strategic and military context. Figuratively speaking, the aircraft carriers and warships of the U.S. are confined to narrow waters or are closed in within the coastal waters of the Persian Gulf. This is where the Iranian military’s advanced missile capabilities come into play. The Iranian missile and torpedo arsenal would make short work of U.S. naval assets in the waters of the Persian Gulf where U.S. vessels are constricted. This is why the U.S. has been busily erecting a missile shield system in the Persian Gulf amongst the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in the last few years.Even the small Iranian patrol boats in the Persian Gulf, which appear pitiable and insignificant against a U.S. aircraft carrier or destroyer, threaten U.S. warships. Looks can be deceiving; these Iranian patrol boats can easily launch a barrage of missiles that could significantly damage and effectively sink large U.S. warships. Iranian small patrol boats are also hardly detectable and hard to target.Iranian forces could also attack U.S. naval capabilities merely by launching missile attacks from the Iranian mainland on the northern shores of the Persian Gulf. Even in 2008 the Washington Institute for Near East Policy acknowledged the threat from Iran’s mobile coastal missile batteries, anti-ship missiles, and missile-armed small ships. Other Iranian naval assets like aerial drones, hovercraft, mines, diver teams, and mini-submarines could also be used in asymmetrical naval warfare against the U.S. Fifth Fleet. Even the Pentagon’s own war simulations have shown that a war in the Persian Gulf with Iran would spell disaster for the United States and its military. One key example is the Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02) war game in the Persian Gulf, which was conducted from July 24, 2002 to August 15, 2002 and took almost two years to prepare. This mammoth drill was amongst the largest and most expensive war games ever held by the Pentagon. Millennium Challenge 2002 was held shortly after the Pentagon had decided that it would continue the momentum of the war in Afghanistan by targeting Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, and finishing off with the big prize of Iran in a broad military campaign to ensure U.S. primacy in the new millennium.After Millennium Challenge 2002 was finished, the war game was "officially" presented as a simulation of a war against Iraq under the rule of President Saddam Hussein, but in actuality these war games pertained to Iran. The U.S. had already made assessments for the upcoming Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Moreover, Iraq had no naval capabilities that would merit such large-scale use of the U.S. Navy.Millennium Challenge 2002 was conducted to simulate a war with Iran, which was codenamed “Red” and referred to an unknown Middle Eastern rogue enemy state in the Persian Gulf. Other than Iran, no other country could meet the perimeters and characteristics of “Red” and its military forces, from the patrol boats to the motorcycle units. The war simulation took place because Washington was planning on attacking Iran soon after invading Iraq in 2003.The scenario in the 2002 war game started with the U.S., codenamed “Blue,” giving Iran a one-day ultimatum to surrender in the year 2007. The war game’s date of 2007 would chronologically correspond to U.S. plans to attack Iran after the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006, which was to extend, according to military plans, into a broader war against Syria. too. The war against Lebanon, however, did not go as planned and the U.S. and Israel realized that if Hezbollah could challenge them in Lebanon then an expanded war with Syria and Iran would be a disaster.In Millennium Challenge 2002’s war scenario, Iran would react to U.S. aggression by launching a massive barrage of missiles that would overwhelm the U.S. and destroy sixteen U.S. naval vessels – an aircraft carrier, ten cruisers, and five amphibious ships. It is estimated that if this had happened in real war theater context, more than 20,000 U.S. servicemen would have been killed in the first day following the attack. Next, Iran would send its small patrol boats – the ones that look insignificant in comparison to the U.S.S. John C. Stennis and other large U.S. warships – to overwhelm the remainder of the Pentagon’s naval forces in the Persian Gulf, which would result in the damaging and sinking of most of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and the defeat of the United States. After the U.S. defeat, the war games were started over again, but “Red” (Iran had to operate under the assumption of handicaps and shortcomings, so that U.S. forces would be allowed to emerge victorious from the drill. This outcome of the war games obviated the fact that the U.S. would have been overwhelmed in the context of a real conventional war with Iran in the Persian Gulf.Hence, the formidable naval power of Washington is handicapped both by geography as well Iranian military capabilities when it comes to fighting in the Persian Gulf or even in much of the Gulf of Oman. Without open waters, like in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. will have to fight under significantly reduced response times and, more importantly, will not be able to fight from a stand-off (militarily safe) distance. Thus, entire tool boxes of U.S. naval defensive systems, which were designed for combat in open waters using stand-off ranges, are rendered unpractical in the Persian Gulf.Hmmmm.......Whoever sold Iran Bladerunner 51, the British-built speedboat hailed among the fastest in the world was a moron.Since 2002's war game Iran has been modernising and expanding it's weapons arsenal.Read the full story here.
- Russian naval flotilla docks in Syria: state media.(AlArabiya).A large Russian naval flotilla led by an aircraft carrier has docked in the Syrian port of Tartus in what Damascus state media hailed on Sunday as a show of solidarity by close ally Moscow.The six-day port call by the carrier group in the Mediterranean port where Russia has a recently expanded naval base is intended to boost ties at a time when President Bashar al-Assad’s government is under mounting Western and Arab pressure over its bloody crackdown on dissent, the Syrian press said.“The port call is aimed at bringing the two countries closer together and strengthening their ties of friendship,” the official SANA news agency quoted a Russian naval officer it named as Yakushin Vladimir Anatolievich as saying.“The commanders of the Russian naval vessels docked in Tartus took turns to express their solidarity with the Syrian people,” the news agency added.The governor of Tartus province, Atef al-Nadaf, paid tribute to the “honorable position adopted by Russia which has stood by the Syrian people.”The Al-Watan newspaper, which is privately owned but close to the government, reported last week that the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was escorted by a large flotilla including submarines.Despite strong Western criticism, Russia has stood by its Cold War ally in the face of a mounting international outcry over the death toll from security force efforts to crush nearly 10 months of anti-government protests.In October, Moscow joined Beijing in vetoing a Western-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution that would have threatened Damascus with “targeted measures” if it failed to rein in its security forces.Read the full story here.
- Jamaica 'to cut ties with British monarchy'.(AlYazeera).Jamaica's new prime minister has said that it is time for her country to cut ties with the British monarchy and declare itself an independent republic.Speaking at her inaugural address on Friday, Portia Simpson Miller, said her government would "initiate the process of detachment from the monarchy", establishing a republic with a president as head of state, and breaking off links with the former colonial power.Jamaica is a constitutional parliamentary democracy and also a Commonwealth realm."I love the Queen. She's a beautiful lady and apart from being a beautiful lady a wise lady and a wonderful lady. But I think time come," Simpson Miller said.Currently under Jamaica's constitution, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state, and the prime minister is formally appointed by the governor-general, who represents the queen.The announcement comes ahead of celebrations to mark 50 years of the country's independence from the UK.Simpson Miller, taking over for her second term as prime minister, won a landslide victory in an election last week that largely pivoted on public discontent with Jamaica's ailing economy and massive debt.The unemployment rate currently stands at about 13 per cent, up from under 10 per cent in 2007, when the centre-right Jamaica Labour Party, the previous ruling party, won power. Its public debt stands at $18.6bn of gross domestic product."In the short and medium term, we will use all state resources to stimulate employment through the Jamaica Emergency Employment Program," Simpson Miller said after taking the oath of office. "We will do so in a transparent and non-partisan manner."Nearly half of all Jamaicans (43 per cent) live under the poverty line of $2.50 per day, according to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report.Reaching a new agreement with the IMF on Jamaica's debt is one of the new government's top priorities, Omar Davies, the official in charge of the transition, told reporters on Wednesday.New talks with the global lender are set to begin on Monday, with Jamaica represented by Peter Phillips, the country's new finance minister. Phillips has held several cabinet posts in previous administrations.In the December 28 election, Simpson Miller's People's National Party secured 41 seats, two-thirds of the total, in the House of Representatives.She succeeds Andrew Holness, 39, the youngest-ever prime minister of the country.Read and see (video) the full story here.
Egyptian Cleric Yousuf Al-Badri Calls upon Sunnis and Shiites to Unite and Says: "The Nuclear Bombs of Iran and Pakistan Should Be Bombs against Israel"
Yousuf Al-Badri: Today, the Islamic nation must unite against the dangers that surround it - Iran, the Sunni East... the Sunni Maghreb, and all the Islamic states must unite.
The nuclear bombs of Iran and Pakistan should be bombs against Israel. We shall chant, like we chanted in Tehran: "Death to Israel. Death to America." We must stand united, because the Sunnis and the Shiites are the two wings of Islam. Anybody who tries to sow discord in this nation is a sinner, sinner, sinner. Hmmmm......Don't you love Obama's 'Arab Spring'?Source Memri.
- India to ask for waivers on new U.S. sanctions on Tehran;Iran state firm says it owes no oil to Italy.(AlArabiya).India to ask for waivers:
India will ask for waivers on new U.S. sanctions on Iran as it seeks to minimize the impact of curbs on oil imports from Tehran, the Times Of India reported on Saturday, without identifying a source for its report.India’s National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon met the U.S. ambassador in New Delhi, Peter Burleigh, on Friday, the newspaper reported. Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai is expected to discuss the matter further when he travels to Washington.Spokesman for India’s Foreign Office and the U.S. embassy were not available for comment.U.S. President Barack Obama last month signed into law new sanctions against financial institutions dealing with Iran's central bank, the main conduit for the country’s oil revenues.The latest sanctions ̶ part of U.S. effort to reduce Iran’s oil revenue and force the country to abandon its suspected nuclear weapons program ̶ have pushed up global crude prices.Brent crude prices gained more than 5 percent last week on anxiety over Iran and potential supply disruptions.India is the No. 2 customer for Iran’s oil after China.
Meanwhile, Iran state firm says it owes no oil to Italy:
The state-owned National Iranian Oil Company said on Saturday that it does not owe some $2 billion in oil shipments as claimed by Italy, in remarks that could be aimed at undermining EU unity over banning oil purchases from Iran.Italian oil firm ENI “does not have any specific financial claim on the National Iranian Oil Company,” NIOC’s director of international affairs, Mohsen Qamsari, was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.His comments ran contrary to statements by Italian officials that ENI was receiving oil shipments from NIOC in lieu of an estimated $2 billion (1.6 billion euros) in debts owed by the Iranian firm.Italy is said to have signed up to the proposed EU ban on Iranian oil imports on condition that ENI’s oil-for-debt shipments not be affected.Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti set out that position last week, saying that “the embargo should not include imports that do not give Iran additional financial resources” ̶ implicitly excluding the deliveries to ENI.The European Union is expected to announce the new sanctions on Iran at a foreign ministers’ meeting on January 30.The package was only agreed after assurances were given to EU nations dependent on Iranian oil ̶ notably Italy, Greece and Spain ̶ that they would be able to get oil from alternative sources.Italy’s demand that it keep receiving Iranian oil owed under previous arrangements was also addressed.The European Union is joining the United States in ratcheting up sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, which the West believes masks a drive to develop an atomic weapons capability.Iran, which insists its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes, has said it is “not concerned” by the imminent EU embargo. It says it will easily be able to sell its oil to other markets.The European Union is collectively the second-biggest destination for Iranian oil exports after China, taking in some 450,000 barrels per day.Iranian oil accounted for 15 percent of Spain’s total oil imports, 14 percent of Greece’s and 13 percent of Italy’s, according to EU statistics for 2010.Hmmmm........Sanctions that 'benefit'?If Turkey can do it why not the rest of the world?Read the full story here.
Saturday, January 7, 2012
- DHS Now Issuing Thousands of New Photo ID’s for ‘Voting Purposes’.(GlobalResearch).By Patrick Henningsen. “As a nation, we will do everything in our power to protect our country. As Americans, we will never give in to fear or division. We will be guided by our hopes, our unity, and our deeply held values. That’s who we are as Americans … And we will continue to do everything that we can to keep America safe in the new year and beyond.” - Barrack Obama’s opening address for the Department of Homeland Security 2011 Budget Report.The Orwellian overtones could not be more ominous. Contrary to Obama’s moral decree, America is already ten years into its latest social experiment – making fear and division its premier business.
One of the true hallmarks of any successful police state is a compulsory national ID. On this score, Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security has officially taken up challenge of making sure that no American will be left without one. Tennessee provided the launchpad for this new DHS police state project, but like anything with the DHS, it’s hard to actually pinpoint whose banner it is actually run under.Originally conceived under the Bush Administration in November 2002, supposedly in response to the attacks of September 11, 2011 and the dubious anthrax attacks (both these events have not been proven to be carried out by foreign agents), the DHS along with its stepchild the TSA, have become a bottomless pit of federal and grant money, who’s only achievement to date has been to instigate increased control and monitoring of the US domestic population – bullying its way through the legislative branch at the same time as the USA PATRIOT Act. The new DHS national ID card program was officially rolled out this week in the state of Tennessee. From January 1st, 2012, ID cards are longer optional, they are the law. The new state law requires that all Tennessee citizens must present a federal or state-issued photo ID in order to vote at the polls. The law also requires the DHS to issue photo IDs for voting purposes – at no charge. Residents appear to have given in without any serious fight, giving a new dimension to the state’s lofty moniker as a “Volunteer State”.The program was quietly ushered in earlier in 2011, as reported today by Tennessee journal Clarksville Online: The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security today announced that 9,492 photo IDs had been issued for voting purposes from July 1st through December 31st, 2011. The vast majority (8,989) of those issued were non-photo driver licenses converted into photo driver licenses, while 503 were original photo identification cards.If Tennessee passes another state law making the new ID cards a prerequisite for voting, which the current trajectory of this legislation seems to be aimed towards, then other states could follow suit, making it illegal to cast one’s vote without this new generation DHS Federal ID Card.
Notice here that the DHS has successfully embedded itself as a local franchise in each state – making initiatives like this latest voter ID card in Tennessee look and feel like a localized state program. This ID program is being rolled out under the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. Rather than looking like a federal DHS project, this police state measure effectively delivers a fully federally mechanized ID card scheme – under the perceived banner of a state mandate. Clever. For all intensive purposes, like any other 21st century federal security program, this brave new idea was purposefully constructed around a feeling of national fear and division – the same one that Obama was unknowingly(or knowingly) alluding to in that DHS budget address.The police state and big brother implications of this type of state-sponsored ID roll-out are quite evident. Already, all new US passports issued after 2008 are fitted with an RFID chip inside, allowing authorities to track and trace the movements of any US citizen over borders and through transit depots. It would only be a matter of time before this same feature would be implemented in the DHS national ID card. No doubt also, that some right wing xenophobic tendencies towards illegals can be used by government officials and media in order to sell the benefits of a voter-friendly ID card.“The Iowa caucus is over, and the presidential primary season is in full swing. Tennessee’s presidential primary will be here before you know it, so I strongly encourage anyone who doesn’t already have a valid photo ID to get one as soon as possible,” Said Tennessee’s Secretary of State Tre Hargett.
Tying these mandatory ID cards to voting will ensure that the program sticks, but this latest divisive move in Tennessee should be viewed by citizens of the Volunteer State, and Americans elsewhere too, as a step backwards in terms of rights and liberty.Local liberty organizations around the country should mobilize now, in order to head-off a complete rout by the DHS of the our polling and democratic system. Once their system is in place, it will be near impossible to dismantle. Read the full story here.
- CAIRO: The head of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights says gay marriage is “immoral” and that homosexuality in general is a “disease.” Mohamed Javad Larijani’s comments have sparked outrage among local and international rights groups, who demand a retraction.“The West says that the marriage of homosexuals should be allowed under the human rights charter, however, we think it is sexual immorality and a disease,” Larijani was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.“Why should we see a disease as a way of life, instead of maintaining our views on homosexuality and act accordingly?,” Larijani said during a meeting with German lawmaker Tom Koenigs, who chairs the Committee for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs in the parliament in Berlin.The statements are not new for Iran. The country’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that there “are no homosexuals” in the country, despite films that look into the topic.In Iran, homosexuality is punishable by death, which has strict Islamic laws.“These kind of statements are absolutely ridiculous and do nothing but make Iran the laughing stock of the world,” gay Iranian Hassan Kamal, who lives in the UK, told Bikyamasr.com.Kamal, who has campaigned for greater rights for the LGBT community inside Iran, argued that these statements are made to shock.“The leaders in Iran, know very well that gay people exist in their country, but they want to give the impression of fear to its citizens and reassuring them that gay people are not there and if they are, they will kill them,” he added.International human rights organizations have long called on Tehran to open society to enhancing rights for its population, but Iranian officials have largely remained obstinate to outsider demands.Read the full story here.
- U.S., E.U. Spearhead Islamic Bid To Criminalize Free Speech.(StonegateInstitute).By Soeren Kern.The European Union has offered to host the next meeting of the so-called Istanbul Process, an aggressive effort by Muslim countries to make it an international crime to criticize Islam.
The announcement comes less than one month after the United States hosted its own Istanbul Process conference in Washington, DC.
The Istanbul Process – its explicit aim is to enshrine in international law a global ban on all critical scrutiny of Islam and/or Islamic Sharia law – is being spearheaded by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a bloc of 57 Muslim countries.
Based in Saudi Arabia, the OIC has long pressed the European Union and the United States to impose limits on free speech and expression about Islam.
But the OIC has now redoubled its efforts and is engaged in a determined diplomatic offensive to persuade Western democracies to implement United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution 16/18, which calls on all countries to combat "intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of … religion and belief." (Analysis of the OIC's war on free speech can be found here and here.)
Resolution 16/18, which was adopted at HRC headquarters in Geneva in March 2011, is widely viewed as a significant step forward in OIC efforts to advance the international legal concept of defaming Islam.
However, the HRC resolution – as well as the OIC-sponsored Resolution 66/167, which was quietly approved by the 193-member UN General Assembly on December 19, 2011 – remains ineffectual as long as it lacks strong support in the West.
The OIC therefore scored a diplomatic coup when the Obama Administration agreed to host a three-day Istanbul Process conference in Washington, DC on December 12-14, 2011. In doing so, the United States gave the OIC the political legitimacy it has been seeking to globalize its initiative to ban criticism of Islam.
Following the Obama Administration's lead, the European Union now wants to get in on the action by hosting the next Istanbul Process summit, tentatively scheduled for July 2012.
Up until now, the European Union has kept the OIC initiative at arms-length. But Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the OIC, says the EU's offer to host the meeting represents a "qualitative shift in action against the phenomenon of Islamophobia," according to the International Islamic News Agency (IINA), the OIC's official news/propaganda organ.
According to the IINA, "The phenomenon of Islamophobia is found in the West in general, but is growing in European countries in particular and in a manner different than that in the US, which had contributed to drafting Resolution 16/18. The new European position represents the beginning of the shift from their previous reserve over the years over the attempts by the OIC to counter 'defamation of religions' in the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations.
The IINA report continues: "Officials in the Cultural Affairs Department of the OIC said that the European Union's offer to host the third meeting (the first was in Istanbul in July and the second in Washington, DC in December) is considered a promising new possibility of solving this problem. The 'Istanbul Process' will have an added momentum by holding the meeting in Europe, which is more affected by the phenomenon of Islamophobia and hostility towards Islam."
The OIC is especially angry over its inability to silence a growing number of democratically elected politicians in Europe who have voiced concerns over the refusal of Muslim immigrants to integrate into their host countries and the consequent establishment of parallel Islamic societies in many parts of Europe.
According to the IINA, "Ihsanoglu said that the growing role of the extreme right in politics in several European countries has become stronger than the capacity of the Organization [OIC], explaining that the extreme right, who [sic] hates Muslims, became leverage in the hands of politicians. He added that the rise of the extreme right through elections has become an issue that cannot be countered, considering the democratic way in which these extremists reach their positions. He pointed out to the referendum held in Switzerland, as an example, which resulted in suspending the construction of minarets there following a vote by the Swiss people."
In other words, the OIC is now seeking the support of non-elected bureaucrats at the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels to enact pan-European hate speech legislation to limit by fiat what 500 million European citizens – including democratically elected politicians – can and cannot say about Islam.
To be sure, many individual European countries that lack First Amendment protections like those in the United States have already enacted hate speech laws that effectively serve as proxies for the all-encompassing blasphemy legislation the OIC is seeking to impose on the European Union as a whole.
In Austria, for example, an appellate court in December 2011 upheld the politically correct conviction of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a Viennese housewife and anti-Jihad activist, for "denigrating religious beliefs" after she gave a series of seminars about the dangers of radical Islam. The ruling showed that while Judaism and Christianity can be disparaged with impunity in postmodern multicultural Austria, speaking the truth about Islam is subject to swift and hefty legal penalties.
Also in Austria, Susanne Winter, an Austrian politician and Member of Parliament, was convicted in January 2009 for the "crime" of saying that "in today's system" the Islamic prophet Mohammed would be considered a "child molester," referring to his marriage to Aisha. Winter was also convicted of "incitement" for saying that Austria faces an "Islamic immigration tsunami." Winters was ordered to pay a fine of €24,000 ($31,000), and received a suspended three-month prison sentence.
In Denmark, Lars Hedegaard, the president of the International Free Press Society, was found guilty by a Danish court in May 2011 of "hate speech" for saying in a taped interview that there was a high incidence of child rape and domestic violence in areas dominated by Muslim culture.
Hedegaard's comments, which called attention to the horrific living conditions of millions of Muslim women, violated Denmark's infamous Article 266b of the penal code, a catch-all provision that Danish elites use to enforce politically correct speech codes. Hedegaard has appealed his conviction to the Danish Supreme Court, where the case is now pending.
Also in Denmark, Jesper Langballe, a Danish politician and Member of Parliament, was found guilty of hate speech in December 2010 for saying that honor killings and sexual abuse take place in Muslim families.
Langballe was denied the opportunity to prove his assertions because under Danish law it is immaterial whether a statement is true or false. All that is needed for a conviction is for someone to feel offended. Langballe was summarily sentenced to pay a fine of 5,000 Danish Kroner ($850) or spend ten days in jail.
In Finland, Jussi Kristian Halla-aho, a politician and well-known political commentator, was taken to court in March 2009 on charges of "incitement against an ethnic group" and "breach of the sanctity of religion" for saying that Islam is a religion of pedophilia. A Helsinki court later dropped the charges of blasphemy but ordered Halla-aho to pay a fine of €330 ($450) for disturbing religious worship. The Finnish public prosecutor, incensed at the court's dismissal of the blasphemy charges, appealed the case to the Finnish Supreme Court, where it is now being reviewed.
In France, novelist Michel Houellebecq was taken to court by Islamic authorities in the French cities of Paris and Lyon for calling Islam "the stupidest religion" and for saying the Koran is "badly written." In court, Houellebecq (pronounced Wellbeck) told the judges that although he had never despised Muslims, he did feel contempt for Islam. He was acquitted in October 2002.
Also in France, Brigitte Bardot, the legendary actress turned animal rights crusader, was convicted in June 2008 for "inciting racial hatred" after demanding that Muslims anaesthetize animals before slaughtering them.
In The Netherlands, Geert Wilders – the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party who had denounced the threat to Western values posed by unassimilated Muslim immigrants – was recently acquitted of five charges of inciting religious hatred against Muslims for comments he made that were critical of Islam. The landmark verdict brought to a close a highly-public, two-year legal odyssey.
Also in The Netherlands, Gregorius Nekschot, the pseudonym of a Dutch cartoonist who is a vocal critic of Islamic female circumcision and often mocks Dutch multiculturalism, was arrested at his home in Amsterdam in May 2008 for drawing cartoons deemed offensive to Muslims. Nekschot (which literally means "shot in the neck," a method used, according to the cartoonist, by "fascists and communists to get rid of their opponents") was released after 30 hours of interrogation by Dutch law enforcement officials.
Nekschot was charged for eight cartoons that "attribute negative qualities to certain groups of people," and, as such, are insulting and constitute the crimes of discrimination and hate according to articles 137c and 137d of the Dutch Penal Code.
In an interview with the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, Nekschot said it was the first time in 800 years in the history of satire in the Netherlands that an artist was put in jail. (That interview has since been removed from the newspaper's website.) Although the case against Nekschot was dismissed in September 2010, he ended his career as a cartoonist on December 31, 2011.
In Italy, the late Oriana Fallaci, a journalist and author, was taken to court for writing that Islam "brings hate instead of love and slavery instead of freedom." In November 2002, a judge in Switzerland, acting on a lawsuit brought by Islamic Center of Geneva, issued an arrest warrant for Fallaci for violations of Article 261 of the Swiss criminal code; the judge asked the Italian government either to prosecute or extradite her. The Italian Justice Ministry rejected this request on the grounds that the Italian Constitution protects freedom of speech.
But in May 2005, the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy (UCOII), linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, filed a lawsuit against Fallaci, charging that "some of the things she said in her book 'The Force of Reason' are offensive to Islam." An Italian judge ordered Fallaci to stand trial in Bergamo on charges of "defaming Islam." Fallaci died of cancer in September 2006, just months after the start of her trial.Read the full story here.
- 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.