Monday, January 9, 2012
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Solomon islands 6.6 ; Tonga 5.4!More info here.
- Report: Obama to name Jack Lew an Orthodox Jew to be his chief of staff.(JTA).WASHINGTON (JTA) -- President Obama reportedly will name Jack Lew to be his chief of staff.Lew, an Orthodox Jew, will replace William Daley, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday.Lew is currently the director of the Office of Management and Budget, a Cabinet-level position and a post he also filled during the Clinton administration.He was previously Obama's deputy secretary of state.Daley is leaving after just over a year on the job; he replaced Rahm Emanuel, who left the White House to run successfully for Chicago's mayor.Lew, like Emanuel, has close Jewish community ties.There had been speculation in the organized Jewish community about whether Obama would fill a top spot with someone close to the Jewish community after the departure last month of Dennis Ross, who had been Obama's top Iran policy adviser.Hmmmm......God knows he needs those Jewish votes.Read the full story here.
- Man thought to be an Islamic extremist in custody after shootout with police in Alabama City.(GadsdenTimes).By Lisa Rogers.A man thought to be an Islamic extremist is believed to have shot the windows out of at least two businesses in Alabama City early Sunday to lure police officers to the area and engage them in a shootout.Luis Ibarra-Hernandez, 21, from Albertville, was charged today with attempted murder, according to a news release from the Gadsden Police Department.“After the man was taken into custody, he reported that he knew he must do something extreme to draw attention to Islam and himself, so he planned to shoot police officers,” Gadsden Police Capt. Regina May said.Gadsden police officers responded to alarm calls for glass breakage after doors were shot out about 1:30 a.m. Sunday at AutoZone and Rainbow Food Mart near the intersection of 27th Street and West Meighan Boulevard.While investigating the broken doors and determining they were shot out, officers heard gunfire and spotted a man near the old CVS building. The man knew he had been seen and ran toward the Cathedral of Praise Church parking lot, then started firing rounds at the officers.The man continued to run through several blocks and at one point was in the Dwight Baptist Church parking lot. Shots were fired over about six blocks, and at least eight officers were shot at, before officers talked the man into dropping his weapon. Read the full story here.
- Developing story ! - Maricopa County Deputy Shot and Killed: Fast and Furious Gun?(BN).It looks like a comment from a Doug Ross reader has drawn attention to a horrible and potentially, very explosive development involving the shooting death of a Maricopa County sheriff's deputy. If officer William Cole was slain with a gun placed into the hands of bad guys by ATF's Operation Fast & Furious, Sheriff Joe Arpaio is likely to be front and center very quickly and his anger will be on full display.Via AZ Central: A veteran Maricopa County sheriff's deputy slain by a gunman early Sunday responding to a call at an Anthem strip-mall was just hours away from finishing his final night shift before switching to daytime duties.
Flags hung at half-staff across the state all day Sunday to honor Deputy William Coleman, 50, a 20-year veteran officer with two young children, and the first Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputy slain in the line of duty since 1995.His killer, who "came out shooting" when approached in his van by deputies in a parking lot just before dawn, was killed in an exchange of gunfire with two other deputies.Here is the comment posted to Doug Ross' blog:
I would like to comment on the shooting of a Maricopa Deputy Sheriff Sunday morning 4am, north of Phoenix, AZ. The no comment policy of the AZ Central newspaper prevents readers from expressing thier views and suspicions on this tragic event. The 50 year old father of 2, died when his body armor was penetrated by an AK 47 bullet. Eric Holder and the DOJ are holding their breath that this weapon is not connected to Gunwalker's Fast and Furious. Real OLD MEDIA is dying, but real scandals are ongoing. That is my tie-in to your article. Censure me if you must.Hmmm.....What would be the Odds?Read the full story here.
- Terror-linked CAIR hijacks MLK Jr Day, converts to ‘Muslims Day’.Join forces with "Occupy the dream" movement?(CreepingSharia).Bullying lawmakers into submitting to the less than 1% of Muslims in the state. And a little dawah with CAIR’s whitewashed version of the Koran for dummies. via Muslims Plan Capitol March – Americas – News – OnIslam.net.SEATTLE – Hundreds of Washington State Muslims are planning to march together to the Capitol Building, meet state lawmakers in their offices and urge their legislators to speak out against Islamophobic rhetoric and hate crimes.“This event will provide an opportunity for Muslims from the majority of our state’s legislative districts to learn more about the political process and to meet their elected representatives,” said CAIR-WA Executive Director Arsalan Bukhari.“Legislators should take action during this crucial year to allocate funds to preserve critical services for the most vulnerable in our society.”At the march, planned as part of the annual event, “Washington State Muslims Day at the Capitol,” some 400 Washington state Muslims are scheduled to meet with dozens of their elected representatives.Organized by the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the event, to be held January 16, is one of the largest of its kind in the nation.It is designed to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his defense of civil rights through positive civic engagement.Muslim voters attending the event will represent 33 of the 49 state legislative districts.Participants will urge legislators to take action on other issues, including preserving critical public programs and having a balanced approach to the state budget.They will present legislators and their staff with a copy of the English translation of the Quran, Islam’s holy text.While CAIR hijacks MLK Jr. Day, it’s important to note that Islam sanctions slavery and in Africa Muslims are waging a vicious, violent jihad against black Africans.If you live in Washington, Contact Your Elected Officials en masse and tell them not to pander to Islamists like terror-linked CAIR and consider forming a counter procession next Monday.Hmmmm......It’s Time to “Occupy the Dream:” African-American Faith Community Joins Forces with Occupy Wall Street – First Day of Action on MLK Day, Jan 16 at Federal Reserve Banks.What would be the odds of Obama approving this?Read the full story here.
- The Top 5 Reasons Obama Must Be Removed as Commander-in-Chief.(AT).By Stella Paul.Obama recently signed a mysterious new law that proclaims all American soil is a "battleground," thereby allowing the president to indefinitely detain any American citizen without charges. Critics fear Obama will use his fun new unconstitutional powers to make his political enemies disappear, but that may not be necessary. The way things are going, most patriotic Americans will soon be six feet under, felled by apoplectic strokes brought on by reading the latest outrage committed by our "Commander in Chief." He may not have a limit to what he'll inflict; but our collective blood pressure may have a limit to what we can bear.With each passing hour, the question becomes not if America can survive a second term, but whether we can survive another day. It's not just the $15 trillion in debt, the Muslim Brotherhood in the catbird seat, and our bleeding open border. It's the never-ending deliberate assaults against our safety and security laughingly committed by the cold-eyed man with the nuclear code.Here are the top 5 reasons Obama must be removed as Commander-in-Chief. Please read them while seated.
ONE - LightSquared : If we had an actual media, you should be able to wake up an average fourth grader at 3 AM and ask, "Who's General William Shelton?" and the fourth grader would chirpily recite: "He's the Air Force Commander who was pressured by the White House to change his testimony about LightSquared."The facts are not in dispute. A four-star general has testified to Congress that he was pressured by the White House to alter his testimony to make it friendlier to a broadband company backed by a major Democratic donor. The problem with LightSquared's new wireless project is that it could disrupt all military communications and GPS. But what worth has the entire capacity of the military's communication system against the pleadings of LightSquared's biggest investor, Philip Falcone, who shovels cash to Obama?
TWO- Fast and Furious: No matter how many times you hear the facts they never get less sickening or bizarre. The United States Department of Justice deliberately ran thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels, which then used them to commit at least 11 violent crimes in the US and 200 violent crimes in Mexico. A Fast and Furious gun was used to murder U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and possibly U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata.ATF Agent Vince Cefalu was fired for whistleblowing about this surreal horror show. Attorney General Eric Holder perjured himself to Congress, pretending he knew nothing about it. And newly released emails confirm that the motivation for supplying weapons to Mexico's most violent criminals was to use the ensuing chaos to enact stricter gun control laws here.Not content to unleash murder and mayhem, the Department of Justice also went into the money-laundering racket, washing clean millions of dollars for Mexico's drug cartels. Your tax dollars at work! And while this evil madness was raging, Obama conducted a hysterical campaign against Sarah Palin for using an image of a target on her website.
THREE - Giving Top-Secret Technology to Our Enemies: Last week brought word that Obama is planning to share U.S. missile defense secrets with Russia, over the strenuous objections of security officials who say it could devastate the effectiveness of our entire defense system. They also fear Russia will share our secrets with China, Iran and North Korea.Remember how Obama's Mommy and Daddy met in Russian class? If only they could see their little boy now. Obama also gave a freebie of our most classified intelligence to Iran, refusing all three options to destroy a downed U.S. drone. Instead, he let the mullahs paw their way through our most sensitive high-tech secrets. Not to worry -- he did politely ask them to give it back.
FOUR - Waging War Against Libya Without Congressional Approval: Obama's handlers dreamed up a catchy new doctrine called Responsibility to Protect (R2P), and they were itching to try it out. So Obama gave them a nice, peppy little war to conduct in Libya. Why not take out the mad transvestite, Qadaffi? Nobody likes him, anyway.
Flagrantly flouting the War Powers Resolution, Obama spent a billion dollars to wage an unconstitutional war. The grand result is Al Qaeda's flag waving over Benghazi and 20,000 anti-aircraft missiles missing, which will probably wind up blasting towards us.
FIVE - Hollowing Out Our Military: This week we learn that Obama is slashing the defense budget, planning to lay off 14% off our troops, reduce our nuclear arsenal, shelve key weapon systems and explicitly cripple our ability to wage ground wars. What hath Saul Alinsky wrought!Already, Obama has strait-jacketed the military in political correctness, forbidding discussion of the nature of radical Islam and sanitizing the jihad-crazed murder of 13 soldiers at Fort Hood into "workplace violence." But that was not enough for our Commander-in-Chief. Our troops are so heroic that even in straitjackets, they can win. And if there's one thing Obama will not tolerate it's American victory.From George Washington to Barack Obama - it's been quite a ride.Read the full story here.
- McCain: Iraq is Unraveling Thanks to Obama.(Politico).Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) says Iraq is in the process of “unraveling” and could eventually split into three different states, blaming the Obama administration for a failure to secure a long-term troop presence in the country.“Iraq is unraveling. It’s unraveling because we didn’t keep a residual force there because the president of the United States pledged to get out of Iraq,” McCain said in an interview aired Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “And we could have kept a residual force there and kept some stability. Instead it’s unraveling and Iran’s influence is increasing. And there’s every possibility you could see a very chaotic situation”McCain declined to say whether he foresaw the possibility of an outright civil war, but said the country could certain break up into three different states.“There’s clearly an unraveling going on which could eventually lead basically into three different kind of states in Iraq. We needed to keep a residual force there. And that was what the Bush administration envisioned and that’s what we should have done.”McCain went on to say that the Obama administration did not effectively pressure the Iraqi government into allowing American troops to remain long-term.“The Iraqis were ready to deal on the issue. This administration did not give them a number [of troops],” the Arizona Republican told CBS.“Leading from behind is not what this world needs,” McCain said, in a shot at a comment that an anonymous advisor to President Obama made to the New Yorker last year.Read the full story here.
- U.S. orders expulsion of Venezuelan consul for suspected links to Iranian plot.(AlArabiya).The United States has ordered the expulsion of Venezuela’s consul general in Miami amid reports linking the diplomat to an alleged Iranian plot to target sensitive U.S. facilities with cyber attacks, the U.S. State Department said Sunday.The U.S. action comes as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was to kick off a Latin American tour in Caracas later Sunday.The Venezuelan embassy in Washington was notified Friday that Livia Acosta Noguera, the consul general, had been declared persona non grata and had until Tuesday to leave the country, said State Department spokesman William Ostick.“In accordance with Article 23 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the department declared Ms Livia Acosta Noguera, Venezuelan consul general to Miami, to be persona non grata. As such, she must depart the United States by January 10,” he said.“We cannot comment on specific details behind the decision to declare Ms Acosta persona non grata at this time,” he added in a statement.The State Department had said last month it was looking into “very disturbing” allegations that Acosta was a participant in an alleged Iranian plot to launch cyber-attacks on sensitive U.S. national security facilities.The allegations were made in a documentary that aired on the Spanish-language television network Univision, which said Acosta was taped discussing the alleged plot with Mexican students who later sought asylum in the United States.The contacts reportedly took place in 2007 while Acosta was serving at the Venezuelan embassy in Mexico City.On December 12, a State Department spokesman said the department could not corroborate the Univision report, but said, “We’re looking into it and continue to assess what additional actions we might take.”Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has long been a vociferous opponent of Washington, siding with Iran and Syria against US-led efforts to pressure Tehran over its nuclear program and Damascus on human rights abuses.Ahmadinejad’s trip to Venezuela and three other leftist-ruled Latin American countries -- Nicaragua, Ecuador and Cuba -- comes amid spiking international tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.A preliminary agreement by the European Union to embargo Iranian oil shipments has drawn Iranian threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the entrance of the Gulf if it does.US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, meanwhile, warned Sunday that the United States would not tolerate the closure of the strait and would respond to reopen it.In October, the United States accused Tehran of plotting to hire Mexican drug traffickers to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, which Tehran dismissed as “baseless and unfounded.”Read the full story here.
- Iran sentences Iranian-US man to death for spying.(AlArabiya).Iran’s Revolutionary Court has sentenced an Iranian-American man to death for spying for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the student news agency quoted a judiciary official as saying, a move likely to aggravate U.S.-Iranian tension already high because of Tehran's nuclear work.Western nations have recently expanded punitive economic sanctions against Iran over suspicions it is trying to develop atomic bombs under the cover of a civilian atomic energy program. The Islamic Republic denies this.“Amir Mirza Hekmati was sentenced to death ... for cooperating with the hostile country America and spying for the CIA,” ISNA news agency quoted judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei as saying.“The court found him Corrupt on the Earth and Mohareb (one who wages war on God). Hekmati can appeal to the Supreme Court.”Iran’s highest court must confirm all death sentences. When it will rule in Hekmati’s case was not known.Hekmati, a 28-year-old of Iranian descent born in the southwestern U.S. state of Arizona, was arrested in December and Iran’s Intelligence Ministry accused him of receiving training at U.S. bases in neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq.Iran’s judiciary said Hekmati admitted to having links with the CIA but denied any intention of harming Iran, which has had no relations with the United States since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Mutual antagonism has reigned since.Hekmati’s family said earlier this month in a statement that the former U.S. military translator was visiting his grandmothers in Iran when he was arrested.“We have struggled to provide Amir with an attorney in Iran. We have sought to hire at least 10 different attorneys to no avail,” the family’s statement said. It said Hekmati’s “only advocate in Iran was a government-appointed lawyer who he met on the first day of his trial.”The U.S. government has demanded Hekmati’s release, saying he has been “falsely” accused. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said last month that Iran had not permitted diplomats from the Swiss Embassy, which represents American interests in Iran, to see him before or during his trial.Hekmati graduated from a Michigan high school. His father Ali is a professor at a community college in Flint, Michigan.Hekmati, whose trial ended on Jan. 2, was shown on Iranian state television in December saying he was a CIA operative sent to infiltrate the Iranian intelligence ministry.Iran also said on Monday it had broken up an alleged U.S.-linked spy network that planned to “fuel unrest” ahead of the March parliamentary election, the first nationwide vote since the country’s 2009 disputed presidential vote.“The detained spies were in contact with foreign countries through cyberspace,” Intelligence Minister Haydar Moslehi was quoted by state television as saying. He gave no information about the nationalities and the number of those detained.Iran, which often accuses its foes of trying to destabilize its Islamic system, said in May it had arrested 30 people on suspicion of spying for the United States and later 15 people were indicted for spying for Washington and Israel.Despite mounting international pressure and sharpened rhetoric, Iran seems determined to stick to its nuclear course ahead of the parliamentary election, to be followed by a presidential ballot in 2013.Read the full story here.
- Haniyeh: Muslims are creating the new Middle East.(JPost).Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh declared Sunday that the Muslim revolutions born out of the "Arab Spring" would replace US-backed chaos in the Middle East, Hamas affiliate Al Resalah quoted the Hamas leader as saying. "We are among those who will create a new Middle East. We have created a glorious revolution that will bring back the nation and its glory in place of the chaos that the American administration had so desired," Haniyeh told a gathering of Tunisian Islamist Ennahda party supporters in Tunis. According to the report, tens of thousands of Tunisians gathered outside the palatial government complex in the Tunisian capital to see Haniyeh speak, chanting in support of "Palestinian liberation." Protesters also chanted "Death to Israel" and "the army of Mohammed is back," as Haniyeh reiterated his pledge not "to lay down our arms" or recognize Israel, according to AFP. The Ennahda party, banned under the rule of ousted Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has since become the country's largest party, garnering 40 percent of votes in last October's parliamentary elections.Haniyeh has traveled Arab and Muslim nations on a Middle East tour that began December 25, including Egypt, Sudan, Turkey and Tunisia.Hmmmm......Thanks to Obama's 'incompetence' or is it something else the Muslim Brotherhood is taking over in the Middle East.Read the full story here.
- 'Europe's Guantanamo': Öcalan Lawyer Discusses PKK Leader's Detention.(Spiegel).Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party, is locked up in a remote island prison and denied access to legal representatives. His lawyer Mahmut Sakar, who fled to Germany, discusses Öcalan's isolation, secret talks with the government and Turkey's recent military escalation against the Kurds.
SPIEGEL: The Turkish judiciary has arrested 36 lawyers who represented Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan. What are they accused of?
Sakar: They are said to be members of a terrorist organization but there is no evidence to support the allegations. Öcalan is currently denied legal representation and cannot receive visitors. For almost six months, he has been completely isolated from the outside world. He is held in a prison on the Marmara island of Imrali, which we see as Europe's Guantanamo.
SPIEGEL: Is Turkey steering itself into a new wave of violence?
Sakar: The situation is very tense. At the end of December, 35 civilians were killed during an air attack by the Turkish army. At the same time around 5,000 Kurdish politicians and activists are in prison. People are frustrated and angry. Day by day the chances of resolving this conflict are waning.Read the full story here.
- Turkey turned into open prison, opposition leader says, names prison “Silivri Concentration Camp”.(Hurriyetdaily).One day after main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has described Turkey as an “open prison” over the arrest of former top commander İlker Başbuğ, he issued a statement on the 1000th day CHP Deputy Professor Mehmet Haberal’s has spent at the “Silivri Concentration Camp.”“Our Zonguldak Deputy Professor Mehmet Haberal has now completed his 1000th day at the Silivri Concentration Camp. Together with Haberal and Balbay, a total of eight deputies -- the ones who have been elected by the scared votes of the people -- are detained in prisons,” the written statement said.Kılıçdaroğlu also said the president, the speaker of Parliament, deputy prime ministers, ministers and many other top officials were declaring they were against long terms of detention. “I want to ask,” the statement said, “If you are sincere, why don’t you move a finger for those outstanding people specially authorized courts have sent to concentration camps?”The CHP chairman slammed the government over the arrest of Başbuğ over the weekend, arguing the court was directed by the government.“Rule of law is just a notion on paper for Turkey. There is no rule of law in practice. Judiciary has been politicized. Specially authorized courts are the instruments of the political authority. I don’t trust in the impartiality of the judges of these courts,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on dissident TV channel Ulusal Kanal.Detention of Başbuğ was the result of the “poor justice system,” according to Kılıçdaroğlu. “Başbuğ has been arrested today, it may be somebody else tomorrow,” he said.Stressing that Başbuğ was inducted as chief of General Staff during the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) term, Kılıçdaroğlu said: “If you appointed this person to his post, then he cannot be the only one responsible. Those who appointed him also have the responsibility. The prime minister should speak on this issue; he cannot remain silent.”The CHP leader also indicated that the arrest of Başbuğ by a specially authorized court decision is jurally problematical. According to the constitution, chiefs of General Staff, even if they are retired, can only be judged by the Supreme Council, Kılıçdaroğlu recalled. The arrest of Başbuğ was a “judicial defect,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.Such shocking decisions were likely to take place in the future to divert attention from the compelling circumstances of the government, he said. “Some special files are being kept in the drawers of specially authorized courts. When the AKP is stranded, a file would be taken out of the drawer, somebody would be arrested and public attention would be diverted,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.Hmmmmm............Read the full story here.
- Updated - Prosecutor launches probe into Turkey's main opposition leader.Courts serve political will: CHP.(HurriyetDaily). Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) reacted to the launching of a probe into party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, saying that courts served the political will. CHP speaker Birgül Ayman Güler made a statement saying, "[the specially authorized courts] are under the command of the political will," and added that the CHP was left as "the last bastion of opposition in Turkey."The public prosecutor's office in Istanbul's Silivri district had launched an investigation into the CHP's leader earlier today, charging him with "attempting to affect a fair trial," and sent a letter to the Justice Ministry requesting the removal of Kılıçdaroğlu's judicial immunity.CHP deputy chairman reacted to the investigation and said, "the Parliament should revoke the immunity of all CHP members."Kılıçdaroğlu had made a public statement in front of Silivri prison, where suspects in the Ergenekon coup case are being held, likening the prison to a concentration camp. Kılıçdaroğlu had also said he could not bear to term members of the court “judges.” The prosecutor's office acted on Kılıçdaroğlu's remarks and prepared a two-fold indictment against him, charging him with "attempting to affect a fair trial" and "insulting members of the court." The CHP leader could face trial if the Justice Ministry revokes his judicial immunity.Hmmmmm....Democracy and Dictatorship both start with the same letter.Journalists,Generals.... Parliamentarians.....who's next?Read the full story here.
- Bahrain to Jewish leader: Iran is a threat to both of us.(JPost).Iran is a common threat to Bahrain, Israel and the US, the King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa was quoted as saying by a Jewish official on Sunday.Rabbi Marc Schneier, vice president of the World Jewish Congress, said the king told him he was alarmed by the Islamic Republic during a 45- minute meeting held in the capital city of Manama late last month.“I made a point how it’s ironic how we share a common enemy and he acknowledged that Iran has been a threat,” said Schneier, who gave the king a hanukkia at the end of their conversation.The oil-rich island nation has a troubled history with its northern neighbor across the Persian Gulf, which once laid claim to its territory.Schneier said Hamad agreed to his request to host a Jewish-Muslim dialogue in the oil-rich country later this year. The rabbi, who is also president of the Foundation for Interfaith Dialogue, said there was no set date or list of participants yet but that the conference would aim to improve ties between the Abrahamic faiths.The news comes at a time when the Sunni elite that rules Bahrain has been accused of oppressing the country’s Shi’ite majority.Last year Sunni security forces and Shi’ite protesters clashed for weeks, leaving 51 people dead, according to local human rights groups.Schneier said he did not believe Hamad was reaching out to Jews to rebuff charges of religious intolerance against him, saying the ruler had “implemented reforms and reached out to his opponents and tried to help.”He said it was imperative to hold talks between Jews and Muslims now because the perfect conditions to conduct such a conversation would never arise.“Whether we chose to have it [in Bahrain] or not you can’t wait,” he said. “It’s a genuine sincere effort to expand Muslim-Jewish dialogue.”During his stay Schneier met with the small but influential Jewish community in Bahrain including Jewish- Bahraini member of parliament Nancy Khadouri and Houda Nonoo, the country’s ambassador to the US.Read the full story here.
- Deployment of thousands of U.S. troops in Israel, a start of war against Iran?(AlArabiya).As the Middle East roils in crisis when a U.S. aircraft carrier entered a zone near the world’s most important choke point for oil shipments, the Strait of Hormuz, also an offshore region that Iran threatened to close if the United States raises sanctions against the Islamic Republic, the deployment of thousands of U.S. troops in Israel has raised speculations of an imminent war.On December 20, the Jerusalem Post newspaper reported Lt.-Gen. Frank Gorenc, commander of the U.S.’s Third Air Force based in Germany, as saying that there will be a deployment of several thousand American soldiers in Israel.“There is already a U.S. radar station in southern Israel, and might as well contain from 500 to 700 American soldier operating there,” Mathloum said.For Abdulaziz Sager, chairman and founder of the Gulf Research Center in Dubai, the deployment of U.S. troops in Israel is “definitely to send a clear signal to Iran.”But according to Elia Henna, a Lebanon-based expert in military issues, the deployment of 9,000 U.S. troops in Israel goes back to the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and to further the U.S. presence in the region and not to leave the “Arab field” open to further Iranian influence. Asked on why the United States did not increase its troops numbers in its military bases in the Arab Gulf, Henna said that both countries [Israel and United States.] have far more compatible militaries and are bound with military agreements and that the United States has more freedom in Israel. “Israel does not mind even if one million U.S. soldiers to be deployed in the Jewish state,” he added. Despite U.S.-Israel furthering their combative cooperation in light of the crisis looming around Iran, the Islamic Republic remains unyielding.On Sunday, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Fereydoun, Abbasi Davani, reportedly said that Iran’s underground uranium enrichment facility will go on stream soon.Davani said that the Fordow nuclear enrichment plant will be operational in the near future and that around 20 percent, 3.5 percent and four percent enriched uranium can be produced at the site.“There is no third party to verify about the site [Fordow] and truth about the announcement,” said Sager, adding “they can say all they want to say but there is no confirmation or verification.”Asked about the nature of the attack against Iran if there will be one, Sager said there will be a surgical and not a complete one since Iran cannot afford to, but it will be leaving the Gulf Arab or the surrounding region of Iran in dire environmental consequence.Hmmmm........"Asked about the nature of the attack against Iran if there will be one, Sager said there will be a surgical and not a complete one since Iran cannot afford to, but it will be leaving the Gulf Arab or the surrounding region of Iran in dire environmental consequence." is he talking nuclear fall out?Read the full story here.
- New Belgian govt. raises its own wages by 8% - paper, implements cuts on everyone else.(RaiNovosti).The new government in Belgium raised its own wages by 8% contrary to promises of 5% cuts under the spending cuts plan, the Het Nieuwsblad op Zondag paper said on Sunday.The ministers’ new wages were approved at a cabinet session on December 16.Therefore annual wages of Belgian deputy prime ministers have been increased from 224,000 euros to 248,000 pretax, ministers’ salaries from 220,000 to 238,000 euros and state secretaries’ from 210,000 to 227,000 euros.The paper did not cite the figures for the premier.Belgian nationalists have already expressed their anger at the new move. Ben Weyts of the New Flemish Alliance opposition party said “ministers are only enriching themselves at a time when others have to save.”On Saturday, the Belgian government decided to freeze about a billion euros of budget expenses for a few months after the European Commission refused to approve the Belgian 2012 budget.The commission disagreed with the Belgian government calculations that the budget deficit would be 2.8 % GDP with 0.8 % economic growth. According to the commission, the budget deficit would reach 3.1% given such growth rate, which is above the 3% margin set by the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact.The European Commission has asked the Belgian government to find 1.2-2 billion euros to cover the budget deficit by January 9.Read the full story here.
Iran says it will close Strait of Hormuz if crude exports blocked, what are the odds they pull it off?
IRGC naval bases
Tehran’s leadership has decided to order a blockade of the strategic Strait of Hormuz if the country’s oil exports are blocked, a senior Revolutionary Guard Commander said as reported by Iranian press.
The strategic decision was made by Iran's top authorities, Ali Ashraf Nouri said, as cited by the Iranian Khorasan daily."The supreme authorities … have insisted that if enemies block the export of our oil, we won't allow a drop of oil to pass through the Strait of Hormuz. This is the strategy of the Islamic Republic in countering such threats," Nouri said.Until now, there had been no official confirmation of Iran’s military having direct orders to block the Strait. However, Tehran has been threatening to block the strategic waterway – one of the world's most important oil routes – if the West slapped more sanctions on its oil exports or risked hostile military act of any kind.Meanwhile, Iran is planning a new round of “massive” naval drills codenamed The Great Prophet, which will be carried out by the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard with its own air, naval and ground forces, separate from those of the regular military.On Thursday, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's naval commander, Admiral Ali Fadavi, said the next round of war games would be "different” from previous ones.
Iran recently held a 10-day naval exercise near the Strait of Hormuz, demonstrating its military prowess and ability to take full control of the waters if necessary.
Meanwhile the EU may delay its embargo on Iranian crude oil imports, a measure aimed at complementing the US sanctions. EU members most dependent on oil imports are seeking to push back the embargo and have called for “grace periods” on existing contracts. But diplomats from different countries differed on the exact length of these grace periods. Diplomats from Greece, which is most dependent on Iranian oil imports, have called for a delay of 12 months, while the UK, France and the Netherlands want a maximum of 3 months. EU foreign ministers are set to meet in Brussels on January 30 to decide on how the embargo will be imposed. Iran is the second-largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia, among the 12 countries in OPEC, making around 3.5 million barrels a day. EU countries buy around 500,000 barrels per day, the largest share of Iran’s total 2.6 million barrel a day oil export.During an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the United States would not tolerate the blocking of the Strait of Hormuz. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added that the US would take action to reopen the Strait in the event Iran does block it. “They've invested in capabilities that could, in fact, for a period of time block the Strait of Hormuz. We've invested in capabilities to ensure that if that happens, we can defeat that,” Dempsey said. Panetta also said he did not believe Iran was developing a nuclear weapon but indicated that Iran’s nuclear capabilities are what concern the US and its allies.
Panetta and Dempsey stressed the need to continue putting diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran but also said that the US did not intend to “take any option off the table.” Asked about what the United States would do if Israel were to take out Iran’s nuclear capability on its own, Leon Panetta said the main goal would be to protect US forces in the region.Read the full story here, more The Consequences of a Strike on Iran: The IRGC Navy here.
Related - From yesterday's post the following story:
Such a "Great" Idea It Can Now Be Proclaimed But Not Criticized: Obama Supports the Muslim Brotherhood
- Such a "Great" Idea It Can Now Be Proclaimed But Not Criticized: Obama Supports the Muslim Brotherhood.(DocsTalk).By BarryRubin.Not only is the Obama Administration, as I’ve written for the last year, favoring radical Islamist forces — despite the fact that these are anti-Western, pro-terrorism, building dictatorships, and openly antisemitic and anti-Christian — but now even the establishment media is admitting it.A friend of mine said, “Oh, they are probably saying that the Brotherhood is sounding radical publicly but privately reassuring U.S. officials that they are moderate.”“No,” I replied. “That’s the old way of doing things when it was important to be, or at least to pretend to be, somewhat balanced. Now they say that the Brotherhood sounds moderate both publicly — ignoring all evidence to the contrary — and privately. Those who disagree are merely Republicans trying to defeat Obama in the election, and so should be ignored. The mass media today in such matters is worse than our worst nightmares of a decade ago.”And so for the first time in U.S. history an American government, to the applause of the vast majority of the mass media, is backing an anti-American authoritarian movement. Here’s how the New York Times explains it: The Obama administration has begun to reverse decades of mistrust and hostility as it seeks to forge closer ties with an organization [the Muslim Brotherhood] once viewed as irreconcilably opposed to United States interests.Any serious foreign policy analyst should see three red flags in the above sentence.
- First, of course the U.S. government must deal with Egypt’s government but that doesn’t mean it should publicly proclaim that the Brotherhood is a nice group and give what amounts to an unconditional endorsement of it.Indeed, the Obama Administration and media are using a cheap trick. They confuse the proper, responsible policy of dealing with those in power while doing something quite beyond that: a self-destructive policy of rushing to insist that sworn enemies of freedom and the United States are really nice guys and there’s no problem with having them in power.As I’ve written before, it’s possible to elect a dictatorship. The Egyptian people have a right to do so but that doesn’t mean the West should like it.Obama has given away all U.S. leverage and assets beforehand, just as he did by announcing a year ago, during the revolution’s opening days, that he would be happy to accept a Muslim Brotherhood government.So the Brotherhood’s moderation is assumed. The science is settled; the debate is over.The reversal also reflects the administration’s growing acceptance of the Brotherhood’s repeated assurances that its lawmakers want to build a modern democracy that will respect individual freedoms, free markets and international commitments, including Egypt’s treaty with Israel.Wow, yes that’s it. The Obama Administration believes what the Brotherhood says and not what has been said by Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and others including many moderate Egyptians. No one has bothered to look at the actual radical record of Brotherhood lawmakers in the last parliament! Obama has chosen his friends and he’s on the wrong side.And at the same time it underscores Washington’s increasing frustration with Egypt’s military rulers, who have sought to carve out permanent political powers for themselves and used deadly force against protesters seeking an end to their rule.This is nonsense. Of course, the military has used force, though rarely deadly force. But what evidence is there that the military wants “permanent political powers?” On two occasions it put forth some demands and then retreated within a few hours when pushed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet even when moderates protested in the thousands the army either ignored them or broke up the demonstrations.It only took a year to figure that out. Yes, the Brotherhood gains more support because of U.S. policy. Some Egyptians argue the Americans back the Brotherhood so they might as well join the winning side. Others argue that the Brotherhood has intimidated the Americans so they are heroes who should be supported.In other words, Obama isn’t just observing but is affecting events. Now, note how the Obama Administration avoids this issue:“It would be `totally impractical’ not to engage the Brotherhood `because of U.S. security and regional interests in Europe,’ a senior administration official” said. But we are not talking about holding talks, we’re talking about becoming apologists for Islamism, a position announced and defended in a detailed explanation by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It is entirely predictable that as the revolutionary Islamists take anti-American and dictatorial stances the Western media will underreport them and the Obama Administration will ignore them, if only to defend the mistaken ideas they hold and the mistaken policy Obama has staked out.Notice the use of the word “engage.” Earlier, the Obama Administration spent much of its effort engaging Iran and Syria, claiming this was necessary. One thing about this president, and the complicit media, is that they never examine past failures when the precise same strategy is repeated (domestic example: “Stimulus” followed by “Jobs Bill.”)How do we supposedly know the Brotherhood is moderate? Because that is what it tells the Western journalists and diplomats. But that’s not what it tells the Egyptian people or its own members: “the official said.…`They’ve been very specific about conveying a moderate message’….” Indeed, the State Department tells us that the Brotherhood has pledged to maintain “universal human rights” and previous Egyptian government commitments, presumably the peace treaty with Israel.The fact that Senator John Kerry is leading this effort is even scarier. He has been wrong about every Middle Eastern issue, notably his failed engagement policy with Syria and Iran. Might Kerry learn something from this experience about how radical forces can lie to you and manipulate you into supporting their repressive regimes?Of course not.Will anyone in the mass media compare Kerry’s positions on engaging Iran and Syria with his making the same mistake now by engaging the Arab Islamists?Again, of course not. So the public won’t hear people say: Hey, hasn’t this policy already failed twice under this administration?Kerry’s foolishness is endless. He told the reporter, “The Brotherhood’s leaders said they were eager to work with the United States and other Western countries, especially in economic areas.” Oh, they want American money. If that doesn’t prove they’re moderate what does?And here’s an interesting twist, the kind of thing that makes the New York Times the kind of newspaper it is:“The administration’s willingness to engage with the Brotherhood could open President Obama to new attacks by Republicans who are already accusing him letting Islamists take over a pivotal ally. Some analysts, though, said the overtures amounted to a tacit admission that the United States should have begun such outreach to the region’s Islamist opposition long ago.”Did you catch that?First, the Republicans (boo!) will criticize Obama without any basis and, second, the real mistake was that the United States (Bush?) should have engaged Islamists even sooner!So the idea that Obama is wrong about the Brotherhood is dismissed a mere partisanship. Thus, there need be no actual discussion of whether this charge is true! The Times readers are conditioned to reject anything associated with Republicans. The idea that Obama let (I prefer the words “helped,” cheered,” and “declared harmless”) Islamists take over a pivotal ally is now officially banished. And if you hear someone say otherwise, know that he is a Republican trying to sabotage Obama so ignore that person. Immediately put hands over ears.Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, is the person quoted as arguing that the United States missed chances to build ties to “moderate Islamists” earlier. Should America apologize for keeping the Brotherhood waiting? And what about the effort to build ties with “moderate Islamists” like Hizballah, the Iran regime, and Syria’s government which is not Islamist but allied with the Islamist bloc?But here’s Hamid’s really interesting point: “Now the Brotherhood knows it is in a stronger position and it is almost as if the U.S. is chasing them and they are sitting pretty.”Yes, that’s it. They view Obama policy not as one of friendship but of weakness. Thus, they will make no concession — except patience and mouthing soothing words in English — in the pursuit of their radical, anti-American agenda.Hmmm............How deep is this ‘admin’ infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood?What exactly is the role and influence of Huma Abedin in the Hillary Clinton's Admin?Why doesn’t anyone concentrate on Huma’s brother’s role and connection to Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi?Quariawi who now suddenly is the go between between the Taliban and the Obama admin.Does the word treason still excist in America?Read the full story here.
Egyptian Presidential Candidate Muhammad Al-Nishai: The Killing of Bin Laden Was Fabricated by American Filmmakers; George Bush Was an Idiot Whose Mother Was Surprised when They Made Him President
When I saw the news about the killing of Bin Laden, I said... The Secretary of State came and sat down next to... What's his name?... the US President... Barack Obama. They both sat and looked at the TV this way... So I said: "Who's the American director who directed such a beautiful scene?" They built a house just like Bin Laden's, they brought someone who looks like him, and we watch something that didn't actually happen in Pakistan. It will turn out that it was in Washington...
Interviewer: In Hollywood.
Muhammad Al-Nishai: The Americans excel in these matters. They have an amazing imagination. They built Hollywood, which creates a reality that is greater than reality. If you watch "The Ten Commandments" by the film director Cecil DeMille, you say that's exactly how it was in history - the way Cecil DeMille described it.
Interviewer: The film "Air Force 1" portrayed the US President as a brave hero, whereas George Bush ran to hide the moment they attacked the Twin Towers. Until his mother said: "Come back, boy"...
Muhammad Al-Nishai: Even his mother was surprised when they made this idiot president. Source Memri.
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.