Monday, January 23, 2012
Last night the sun unleashed a flash of radiation called a solar flare, along with a generous belch of ionized matter that is now racing toward Earth at thousands of kilometers a second. The solar storm front from the ionized blast, called a coronal mass ejection (CME), should arrive tomorrow morning, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC). The forecasters called the event the strongest solar storm since 2005.
When a solar storm hits Earth, the impact can have a number of consequences, especially in Earth orbit and at high latitudes, where the planet’s geomagnetic shielding is thin. Solar storms can knock out satellites, cause blackouts, and force aircraft to avoid polar routes. Storms can also bring the aurora borealis, a.k.a. the northern lights, down to unusually low latitudes. (You can see a slideshow of recent low-latitude auroras here.)
The SWPC is forecasting that the inbound storm will reach G2 (“moderate”) and possibly G3 (“strong”) levels on the geomagnetic storm scale, which tops out at G5. A G3 storm should not cause severe problems for satellite operators or power companies but could interrupt satellite-based navigation systems and some radio communications. Such storms can also produce auroras visible as far south as Illinois and Oregon, according to the SWPC.Read the full story here.
Obama White House sides with TSA in Rand Paul standoff, TSA above the Constitution.(The Hill).The White House is standing by the Transportation Security Administration in its standoff with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and his father, Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
The elder Paul called the TSA a "police state" Monday after Rand Paul was reportedly detained by TSA after he refused to take a pat-down from TSA officials at the Nashville International Airport.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that he didn't have any reaction to Paul's "police state" comments.
But Carney sided with the TSA saying, "I think it is absolutely essential that we take necessary actions to ensure that air travel is safe."Ron Paul, who is one of four remaining Republican candidates for president, disagreed Monday afternoon. Paul said after he confirmed the incident involving Rand Paul on his Twitter page that it showed why the TSA should be eliminated.
"The police state in this country is growing out of control," the elder Paul said in a statement released by his presidential campaign.TSA has defended its treatment of Rand Paul, saying that its employees in Nashville followed its normal procedure with the senator, who has often sharply criticized the agency's pat-downs before he refused one Monday morning.
"When an irregularity is found during the TSA screening process, it must be resolved prior to allowing a passenger to proceed to the secure area of the airport," the agency said Monday in a written statement. "Passengers who refuse to complete the screening process cannot be granted access to the secure area in order to ensure the safety of others traveling."
Hmmmm...................Speech or Debate Clause - Article I, Section 6 of the United States Constitution is clear on detaining any Senator or Representative “in going to and returning from” Congressional sessions.
Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution of the United States.
The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place. No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.
Updated - Rand Paul on TSA detainment: ‘I was barked at: ‘Do not leave the cubicle!”. (DailyCaller).
“For an hour and a half, they said ‘absolutely, I would have to [accept a pat-down],’” Paul said. “And, because I used my cell phone, they told me I would have to do a full body pat down because you’re not allowed to use your cell phone when you’re being detained.”
“It’s like, well, I can’t call my attorney? I can’t call my office to tell them I’m going to miss a speech to 200,000 people?”Read the full story here.
IMRA interviews Said Kanan, Center for Palestine Research and Studies -- If elections were held in West Bank Hamas would win !
IMRA interviews Said Kanan, Center for Palestine Research and Studies --22 January 2012.
- Doesn't expect anything to actually happen in 2012 (neither unity or elections).
- If elections were held in West Bank Hamas would win -- despite the polls claiming Fatah would.
Iceland Declares Independence From International Banks.(RND).By Bill Wilson – Iceland is free. And it will remain so, so long as her people wish to remain autonomous of the foreign domination of her would-be masters — in this case, international bankers.
On April 9, the fiercely independent people of island-nation defeated a referendum that would have bailed out the UK and the Netherlands who had covered the deposits of British and Dutch investors who had lost funds in Icesave bank in 2008.
At the time of the bank’s failure, Iceland refused to cover the losses. But the UK and Netherlands nonetheless have demanded that Iceland repay them for the “loan” as a condition for admission into the European Union.
In response, the Icelandic people have told Europe to go pound sand. The final vote was 103,207 to 69,462, or 58.9 percent to 39.7 percent. “Taxpayers should not be responsible for paying the debts of a private institution,” said Sigriur Andersen, a spokeswoman for the Advice group that opposed the bailout.A similar referendum in 2009 on the issue, although with harsher terms, found 93.2 percent of the Icelandic electorate rejecting a proposal to guarantee the deposits of foreign investors who had funds in the Icelandic bank. The referendum was invoked when President Olafur Ragnur Grimmson vetoed legislation the Althingi, Iceland’s parliament, had passed to pay back the British and Dutch.
“These were private banks and we didn’t pump money into them in order to keep them going; the state did not shoulder the responsibility of the failed private banks,” Iceland President Olafur Grimsson told Bloomberg Television.
The voters’ rejection came despite threats to isolate Iceland from funding in international financial institutions. Iceland’s national debt has already been downgraded by credit rating agencies, and now those same agencies have promised to do so once again as punishment for defying the will of international bankers.The question is whether free peoples will choose to remain free, as Iceland has, or to submit.Hmmmm...........Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeedom!Read the full story here.
Iran 'definitely' closing Strait of Hormuz over EU oil embargo.(Telegraph).A senior member of Iran's parliament said on Monday the Islamic Republic would close the entry point to the Gulf if new sanctions block its oil exports, reiterating a threat made by officials a month ago that caused a temporary oil price spike."If any disruption happens regarding the sale of Iranian oil, the Strait of Hormuz will definitely be closed," Mohammad Kossari, deputy head of parliament's foreign affairs and national security committee, told the semi-official Fars news agency.Mr Hague commented: "These (sanctions) are peaceful and legitimate measures. They are not about conflict."I hope Iran will come to its senses on this issue and agree to negotiate."
Any bid by Iran to block the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Gulf, through which 20 per cent of the world's oil exports pass would be "illegal" and "unsuccessful", Mr Hague warned.
However since 1988, when the United States managed to destroy some 25 per cent of Iran’s larger naval capability during Operation Praying Mantis, Iran has spent the last two decades preparing its Revolutionary Guard naval forces to exploit the vulnerabilities of the United States’ larger conventional forces.
According to Revolutionary Guard commander Brigadier General Jafaari, "The enemy is far more advanced technologically than we are, we have been using what is called asymmetric warfare methods… our forces are now well prepared for it," he said, as cited by Global Bearings.Last month, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, commander of the Iranian navy, claimed that closing the Strait would be "easy," adding: "As Iranians say, it will be easier than drinking a glass of water." Each of these Nimitz class vessels carries a complement of fighter aircraft with more striking power than the entire Iranian air force. Their presence widens the options open to Western governments should Tehran attempt to retaliate for tighter sanctions by harassing international shipping lanes.Iran could do so by laying launching attacks using warships or land-based anti-shipping missiles. Each of these threats could be countered using carrier-based aircraft.However, officials believe that the balance of forces against Iran makes any such move against the Strait of Hormuz highly unlikely.
Hmmmm......I sure hope they do better than in the "Millenium Challenge '02" war games we staged in the Persian Gulf , quote: "U Sank My Carrier!" Read the full story here.
Senator Rand Paul Has Been Detained By The TSA At Nashville Airport(BI).On the list of stupid things the Transportation Security Administration could do for their public image: detaining Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, the politician most anxious to abolish them, is probably right near the top. But that's exactly what just happened, his Communications Director, Moira Bagley has confirmed it in a tweet. Kelly O'Donnell is reporting that aides say Paul was detained when he refused a full-body pat-down, after the scanner went off. Paul lifted his pant-leg to show he had no metal, and asked to be re-screened. He was denied this request. O'Donnell further reports that U.S. officials say that they didn't 'detain' him, though that is the word Paul's office is using. Bagley has now told Politico, “I spoke with him five minutes ago and he was being detained indefinitely... The image scan went off, he refused patdown.”I’m guessing that Rand Paul was en route to Washington for the Congressional session, in which case the TSA (and therefore the administration) have just violated the Speech and Debate Clause in the Constitution.I think we can safely say that the liberty-loving Senator may not have been a threat to board the airplane but he is likely to be a threat to the TSA from now on. Read the full story here and here.
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Japan 5.3 ; Fiji 5.2 - 5.1!More info here.
- The Right to Bear Arms: Over 10,800,000 Guns Sold in the USA in 2011.(SHTF).The United Nations may think they’re weapons of mass destruction, but Americans seem to disagree.2011 was yet another record breaking year for gun sales, with Americans purchasing some 10.8 million firearms, a 14% increase over the previous year and up over 50% from ten years ago as reported by the National Shooting Sports Foundation:Many indicators, including a record-setting 2011, show the firearms industry continues to thrive in a down economy and that the potential exists for another strong sales year in 2012, reports the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry. Indicators such as background-check statistics, firearms production and importation, firearm-retailer surveys and on-the-ground reports from retailers nationwide reveal that interest in firearm ownership is high. “More and more Americans are choosing to exercise their Second Amendment rights, and they are doing so in a safe and responsible manner,” said NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti.One of the best indicators of firearms sales is the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System, which federally licensed firearm retailers use to conduct the mandatory background check on purchasers of new and used firearms. NSSF downwardly adjusts the NICS data by subtracting checks related to non-purchasing activity, such as checks for concealed carry permits, in order to gain a more accurate picture of market activity.December marked an unprecedented 19th straight month of background check increases when compared to the same period in the previous year.Why are more Americans choosing to own firearms? Reasons range from citizens’ increased awareness of the Second Amendment protecting the individual right to own firearms that was reaffirmed in two recent Supreme Court decisions, to increased interest in personal and home protection that may be due to economic uncertainty, to increased interest in the shooting sports and hunting.Politics has played a role, too, with a surge in firearms sale beginning in October 2008, in part because supporters of the Second Amendment feared the election of less gun-friendly candidates, including Barack Obama, and new, restrictive gun laws they might advocate. Though such legislation has not happened, industry professionals at the SHOT Show believe a similar reaction this election year is possible that could ignite another surge in firearm sales.Related to the topic of gun sales is the public’s changing attitude toward ownership. A recent Gallop poll showed a record lack of support for gun control, with only 26 percent of Americans favoring a ban on the possession of handguns. When Gallup first asked Americans this question some 50 years ago, 60 percent favored banning handguns.As sales climb, recent FBI data shows violent crime continuing to fall in the United States, with homicides dropping out of the top 15 causes of death in the country. The statistics undermine a favorite argument of anti-gun groups that “more guns equal more crime.”“These statistics vividly demonstrate that the lawful possession and use of firearms by law-abiding Americans does not cause crime,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “There have never been more firearms in civilian possession in the history of the United States, and crime, including homicide, continues to decline throughout the country.”According to Ammoland, more guns were purchased last year in the United States than than there are active duty military members in the world’s fourteen largest armies combined.Japanese Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was once quoted during World War II as saying, ”you cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.“Enemies of the people of the United States and our Constitution should take heed. We’ve got guns. Lots of them, so just back off.Read the full story here.
- Supreme Court: Warrantless GPS Tracking Is Unconstitutional.(Gizmodo).The Supreme Court just shut down a major tech controversy: police planting a GPS bug without your knowledge or the approval of a judge. By a unanimous decision, the court said such warrantless tracking is illegal. This is big. The case originated with a Maryland drug dealer whose car was nailed with a GPS tracker—and installed after the ten day window originally permitted by a warrant. Before he was caught, the dealer's coordinates were relayed to police for almost a month, without any judicial oversight. The Obama White House had previously claimed this was fair game, as driving your car on public roads in plain view abandons any expectation of privacy.Not so fast, says the Supreme Court: The Fourth Amendment protects the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." Here, the Government's physical intrusion on an "effect" for the purpose of obtaining information constitutes a "search." This type of encroachment on an area enumerated in the Amendment would have been considered a search within the meaning of the Amendment at the time it was adopted.Here, physical contact means "putting a GPS device on your car"—and under the law, has the same weight as the police kicking down your door. A physical search—something cops can't generally do unless a judge says so.Read the full story here.
- Why High Tech Manufacturing Jobs Aren’t Coming Back to the U.S.(NYT).Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”“The entire supply chain is in China now,” said another former high-ranking Apple executive. “You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That’s the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away. You need that screw made a little bit different? It will take three hours.”Another critical advantage for Apple was that China provided engineers at a scale the United States could not match. Apple’s executives had estimated that about 8,700 industrial engineers were needed to oversee and guide the 200,000 assembly-line workers eventually involved in manufacturing iPhones. The company’s analysts had forecast it would take as long as nine months to find that many qualified engineers in the United States.In China, it took 15 days.Read the full story here.
- Sahit Muja: Obama's rejection to build Keystone oil pipeline proof his failures to fix US economy.(Businessweek).President Barack Obama denied a permit to build Keystone XL oil pipeline . TransCanada said the 1,661-mile (2,673-kilometer) project would carry 700,000 barrels of crude a day from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico, crossing six U.S. states and creating 20,000 jobs. “I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my administration’s commitment to American-made energy,” Obama said in a statement. “We will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security.” This President has made it plain that he favors higher oil and gas prices in a misguided effort to create an artificial market for "environmentally friendly" energy sources. This pipeline decision is consistent with his anti-capitalism ideology and his goal of a government controlled economy. Unfortunately it is not consistent with increasing employment and building a healthy economy.Under President Obama leadership U.S. will continue to purchase overpriced oil from the robber baron sheiks of the Middle East, who will use that money to continue to fund terrorism.Obama has been lying for 3 years now that his first priority is job creation. Here he has at least 20,000 actual shovel-ready jobs right there before him, but he is cowed by his big green financiers into scuttling the project.In truth, job creation is not even in Obama's top ten priorities. President Obama has to finish up his failing pet social engineering projects first and then, if there's time, he will see what he do about jobs.Apparently the only jobs the president likes are those that are sponsored by union organizations licking his boots.President Obama has absolutely no idea how to fix our economy.Sahit Muja - President and CEO - Albanian Minerals -New York.Read the full story here.
- Destroying America by Denying Access to Energy.(Aim)By Alan Caruba. It is the crime of the century that America, home to some of the world’s greatest reserves of coal, natural gas and oil, is being deliberately destroyed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior as they do everything in their power to restrict access and drive energy producers out ofbusiness.It is common sense that a nation that cannot produce sufficient electricity to turn on its lights and power its manufacturing sector will be destroyed if current Obama administration regulations and actions continue. Our vital transportation sector and all others that utilize petroleum-based products will suffer, too.While President Obama babbles about millionaires and billionaires, everyone will be impoverished by the loss of jobs and revenue our energy sector produces now and can produce in the future.This isn’t an “energy policy.” It’s a “no-energy policy” and it is a guarantee of economic disaster.In early January, Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior, announced a new 20-year, million-acre ban on uranium mining for federal lands in Arizona, despite the fact that these lands hold the highest-grade of known uranium deposits in the United States. It is an outrage that a new GOP-Congress will have to overturn if the nation is to be assured of sufficient uranium to power its nuclear plants and for weapons development. If the ban remains, these uranium resources would be inaccessible until 2023!Tom Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research said that Salazar’s announcement “further compounds a man-made energy crisis that has been planned and executed in Washington, D.C.”At the same time we are learning of enormous natural gas discoveries that can reduce our energy bills and turn sleeping little towns into boomtowns, environmental organizations have launched a vast propaganda campaign against “fracking”, a technology that has been safely used for more than fifty years. Their claims about dangers to the nation’s supply of fresh water are baseless. Their claims that fracking has caused earthquakes in Ohio are absurd.Need it be said that the Environmental Protection Agency has turned its eyes on fracking and is working on a report due later this year that will likely call for harsh crackdowns on its use and more regulations to throttle the expansion of natural gas extraction?Americans and the nation’s future are being victimized by Obama administration policies. The 18th annual Index of Economic Freedom, was released on January 12th by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, measures the many factors that contribute to the economic health of a nation—things like property rights, regulatory efficiency, open markets, free trade and labor policies.Economic freedom is declining worldwide as governments try to spend their way out of the global recession. The United States fell to 10th place. In 2009 it ranked 6th, in 2010 it was 8th, and in 2011, it was 9th.We are witnessing the deliberate murder of a superpower.Read the full story here.
- Is There a Single U.S. Mainstream News Story About the Mass Burial of 30 People Outside Chicago Last Wednesday? (Cryptogon - Dailymail).It’s a practice more closely associated with third world countries, but in bleak times in a Chicago-area suburb, 30 people were buried in a mass grave on Wednesday.The pauper’s burial section at Homewood Memorial Gardens was established for those who could not afford to pay for a burial plot.And it is a problem that’s sweeping America as tough economic times have led to an increase in the number of indigent burials the morgue must perform.No mourners were present for the burial at the cemetery, which lies 25 miles south west of Chicago.The gruesome discovery of the pauper's burial section at Homewood was made last year, sparking a call for more strict federal regulations for cemeteries.Sheriff's officials had found caskets stacked on top of one another - some buried eight at a time - at Homewood. And the morgue has been accused of missing markers and poor record keeping.But coroners have said the practice is shared in other cities and states across the U.S. Tony Cox, the legislative chairman and former president of the Illinois Coroners and Medical Examiners Association, earlier told the Chicago Sun Times other cities, including New York, follow similar mass burial procedures for those with limited options. New York City Department of Corrections spokesman Stephen Morello referred to a burial site in Hart Island, New York, where 800,000 bodies lie.Officials there, he said, follow the same procedure - stacking coffins with inmates' remains three deep. Mr Morello said stillborn babies and children are always buried in individual caskets. Those, too, are stacked on top of one another.Read and see the full story here and here.
- Former Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Chris Dodd now MPAA Head Calls for Meeting Between Hollywood, Tech Giants to Reach SOPA Compromise.(HR)Former Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Chris Dodd, is now the head of the Motion Picture Association of America.MPAA head Chris Dodd would welcome a summit meeting between Internet companies and content companies, maybe convened by the White House, to look for a compromise on the much-discussed anti-piracy bill known as the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA.“The perfect place to do it is a block away from here,” Dodd told the New York Times, pointing from his office in Washington to the nearby White House, the paper said.A Senate vote on Tuesday will show whether opponents have succeeded in derailing that chamber’s version of the anti-piracy legislation, the Times said. The prime mover and shaker behind SOPA and PIPA and how it might benefit his global elite banking buddies if they aren’t cut out of financial transactions between little people via the peer-to-peer digital currency of the future.Hmmmm.......Do i hear Presidential executive power in the distance?Read the full story here.HT:LogisticsMonster.
- Senate bill upgrades illegal Internet streaming to a felony.(RT).Individuals who live stream content over the Internet illegally would face up to five years in prison under provisions in a new Senate bill that would make illegally streaming copyrighted material a felony.Senators Amy Klobuchar, John Cornyn and Christopher Coons have proposed legislation to upgrade the laws to classify live streaming as content distribution, which would violate copyright laws and make the offense a felony. Distributing copyrighted materials is already felony, but a number of legal questions have questioned whether live streaming violated the laws.Many argue that live streaming is a public performance rather than illegal distribution. This debate has sparked legal questions. The Senate bill would curtail the debate by specifying that live streaming is distribution and therefore a felony violate of copyright law. The bill should not come as a surprise however. Over two months ago the White House requested that Congress draft legislation to end the dispute over live streaming and classify it as a felony. The request from the White House's Office of the US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator further called on Congress to ensure legislation also made it possible for law enforcement officials to wiretap suspected live streamers who violate the law. The report asked Congress “to ensure that [the Department of Justice] and U.S. law enforcement agencies are able to effectively combat infringement involving new technology.”The new bill abides by the White House’s requests. Under the proposed legislation live streaming more than 10 copyrighted items in any 180-day period where the total retail value could top $2,500 or the licensing costs would have topped $5,000 would be classified as felony copyright infringement.Opponents to the legislation see the shift in policy as an example of the government bending to corporate interests and cracking down on the free flow of information online.Hmmmmm.......Goebbels smiling from Hell?Read the full story here.
- Obama Okays Gulf Oil Storage For Brazil.(SL).Washington/Houston (Reuters) – The U.S. Interior Department said on Thursday it gave final approval for Petrobras to use the first ever deepwater floating production storage facility in the Gulf of Mexico.The facility will be used when the company begins oil and natural gas production at its Chinook-Cascade project in the near future, the department said. Petrobras is based in Brazil.So a Brazilian company that is already profiting from Mr. Obama’s (illegal) oil drilling moratorium is going to profit some more from their work in the Gulf.And, lest we forget, Petrobras has enjoyed a very cozy relationship with Obama supporter George Soros. And, oddly enough, the US is reported to be backing loans to Petrobras for off shore drilling, as well.A Petrobras official who asked not to be identified told Reuters that production would begin in May.Why not a little earlier, say on the one year anniversary of the BP spill itself?The floating facility has a daily production capacity of 80,000 barrels of oil and 16 million cubic feet of gas. It can be disconnected and moved out of the path of a storm, unlike permanently moored production platforms, preventing long-term supply disruptions because of storms."These regulatory approvals pave the way for safe, new production of oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Mexico," said Michael Bromwich, who heads the department’s agency that oversees offshore drilling.So there is no risk to the environment if they leak. Which, of course, could never happen. (Lest we forget, there was no storm involved in the BP leak.)Apparently, Brazilian drilled oil is good for the environment. Unlike oil drilled by companies the US might profit from.Read the full story here.
- India Joins Asian Dollar Exclusion Zone -- Will Transact With Iran In Rupees.(ZeroHedge).Two weeks ago we wrote a post that should have made it all too clear that while the US and Europe continue to pretend that all is well, and they are, somehow, solvent, Asia has been smelling the coffee.To wit: "For anyone wondering how the abandonment of the dollar reserve status would look like we have a Hollow Men reference: not with a bang, but a whimper...Or in this case a whole series of bilateral agreements that quietly seeks to remove the US currency as an intermediate.Such as these: "World's Second (China) And Third Largest (Japan) Economies To Bypass Dollar, Engage In Direct Currency Trade", "China, Russia Drop Dollar In Bilateral Trade", "China And Iran To Bypass Dollar, Plan Oil Barter System", "India and Japan sign new $15bn currency swap agreement", and now this: "Iran, Russia Replace Dollar With Rial, Ruble in Trade, Fars Says."" Today we add the latest country to join the Asian dollar exclusion zone: "India and Iran have agreed to settle some of their $12 billion annual oil trade in rupees, a government source said on Friday, resorting to the restricted currency after more than a year of payment problems in the face of fresh, tougher U.S. sanctions."To summarize: Japan, China, Russia, India and Iran: the countries which together account for the bulk of the world's productivity and combined are among the biggest explorers and producers of energy.And now they all have partial bilateral arrangements, and all of which will very likely expand their bilateral arrangements to multilateral, courtesy of Obama's foreign relations stance which by pushing the countries into a corner has forced them to find alternative, USD-exclusive, arrangements.But yes, aside from all of the above, the dollar still is the reserve currency... if only in which to make calculations of how many imaginary money one pays in exchange for imaginary 'developed world' collateral.On India's induction into the dollar unluck club, from Reuters.An Indian delegation has been in Tehran this week discussing options for payment and the source said the decision to pay in rupees was made after a meeting there."The Central Bank of Iran will open an account with an Indian bank for receiving payment and settling its import," the source, who has direct knowledge of the matter, said, adding the new system will start "soon".The source did not specify the name of the Indian bank. But other sources have said that Iran could open an account with India's UCO Bank as it does not have any interests in the United States.
Who's this India country anyway?
India, the world's fourth-largest oil consumer, relies on Iran for about 12 percent of its imports or 350,000-400,000 barrels per day (bpd) and is Tehran's second-biggest oil client after China. But Washington has snapped tighter financial sanctions on Iran and wants Asia, Tehran's biggest oil market, to cut imports in a bid to pressure the Islamic nation to rein in its nuclear ambitions, which it suspects are aimed at making weapons.
And, oh yes, we forgot Turkey -the (lately very pissed off) gateway to Europe.
Turkey and Iran said on Thursday they want to increase financial transfers and that work is underway to strengthen banking ties.
When the dollar fails, and currency are devalued, barter begins:
India Trade Secretary Rahul Khullar said this week that the Indian delegation to Iran would work around the U.S. sanctions to protect oil supplies and promote Indian exports.
The government source said Iran has agreed to step up imports from India which added up to some $2.7 billion in 2010/11 and including oilmeal, rice and tea.
"This will cushion them (Iran) to some extent from exchange rate volatility," the source said.Ironically, and as has been stated here many times before, by enacting the proposed sanctions and embargo, the US, but mostly Europe is doing nothing but shooting itself in the foot, as it opens up a brand new pathway of not only outright defiance, and thus political brownie points domestically for the likes of China, of the US, but it will allow the "Asian dollar exclusion zone" to buy even more crude, at cheaper prices, while in the process it is forced to build closer monetary relations with its neighboring countries, relations that rely less and less on the world's increasingly less relevant reserve currency.Asian support for U.S. sanctions is vital since the region buys more than half of Iran's daily crude exports. The European Union has agreed in principle to halting Iranian crude imports and could finalise the ban on Jan. 23.China, Iran's biggest crude customer, has rejected the U.S. sanctions as overstepping the mark and defended its extensive imports from the second-biggest oil producer in OPEC.Necessity may be the mother of all dollar-exclusive invention, but Obama is surely the father of necessity.Read the full story here.
- EU bans Iranian oil, Tehran responds with threats.(JPost).BRUSSELS/TEHRAN - The European Union banned imports of oil from Iran on Monday and imposed a number of other economic sanctions, joining the United States in a new round of measures aimed at deflecting Tehran's nuclear development program.In Iran, one politician responded by renewing a threat to blockade the Strait of Hormuz, an oil exporting route vital to the global economy, and another said Tehran should cut off oil to the EU immediately.That might hurt Greece, Italy and other ailing economies which depend heavily on Iranian crude and, as a result, won as part of the EU agreement a grace period until July 1 before the embargo takes full effect.A day after a US aircraft carrier, accompanied by a flotilla that included French and British warships, made a symbolically loaded voyage into the Gulf in defiance of Iranian hostility, the widely expected EU sanctions move was likely to set off further bellicose rhetoric in an already tense region.Meeting in Brussels, foreign ministers from the 27-state EU, which as a bloc is Iran's second-biggest customer for crude after China, agreed to an immediate ban on all new contracts to import, purchase or transport Iranian crude oil and petroleum products. However, EU countries with existing contracts to buy oil and petroleum products can honor them up to July 1.EU officials said they also agreed to freeze the assets of Iran's central bank and ban trade in gold and other precious metals with the bank and state bodies.A member of Iran's influential Assembly of Experts, former intelligence minister Ali Fallahian, said Tehran should respond to the delayed-action EU sanctions by stopping sales to the bloc immediately, denying the Europeans time to arrange alternative supplies and damaging their economies with higher oil prices."The best way is to stop exporting oil ourselves before the end of this six months and before the implementation of the plan," the semi-official Fars news agency quoted him as saying.He also reiterated that Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow channel between the Gulf and open sea through which a third of all oil tanker traffic passes to importers around the world.Read the full story here.
- Boko Haram Kill Police DPO, Soldiers And 10 Others In Bauchi.(SR).Members of a suspected Boko Haram sect this morning killed about 13 people in various attacks targeted at police, soldiers, a hotel and a bank in Bauchi State.A source told SaharaReporters that a Divisional Police Officer (DPO) was among those killed in Tafawa Balewa LGA along with two lance corporals of the Nigerian Army killed at an army checkpoint in Katagun and about 10 unarmed civilians. Some of the victims met their death in a police station and military checkpoint in Bununu District of Tafawa Balewa local government. The state police command through its commissioner, Ikechukwu Aduba, confirmed the incident.He said about five suspects have been captured by the combined team of army and police men who engaged the attackers in an exchange of gunfire. The commissioner stated that the security team recovered a number of assembled bombs as well as other weapons. Two churches –one of them an ECWA church-were attacked in Fadaman Mada and Railway Quarters in Bauchi Township early Sunday morning, but there was no loss of lives or injuries.Read the full story here.
- Canadian woman found unconsious and badly beaten in Mexico resort. (CNews).A young Canadian woman is undergoing treatment after being found beaten unconscious in a hotel in Mexico's Mazatlan resort region.Mexican federal police told CBC News on Sunday that the woman, reportedly in her 20s, was found lying in an elevator early Saturday.The police officer would not provide his own name, nor reveal details about the victim's age or identity. Mexican media reports that the woman was found at the Hotel Riu in Punta Cerritos and is said to be in serious condition.Police statements say another tourist was trying to enter the elevator and discovered the woman lying on the floor in a pool of blood, according to a noroeste.com report. Police believe the attack occurred at about 2 a.m., the website reported.Noroeste reports the woman is white with brown hair and a light complexion.Paramedics arrived at the hotel to perform CPR, Noroeste reported. She was rejected by two private clinics before being accepted as a patient at a hospital, where she is in serious condition, Noroeste reported.Investigators found blood in a hallway of the hotel and believe the woman was allegedly assaulted in a hotel room before being dragged to the elevator, the news outlet reported.Canadian officials in Mexico are aware of the beating and are providing assistance to the woman and her family."Our thoughts are with the badly injured Canadian and her family during this difficult time," Aliya Mawani, a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, said in an e-mail."Our officials in Mexico are providing consular assistance to her and her family and are in contact with Mexican authorities."The weekend beating comes after three Canadians were killed in Mexico earlier this month.Read the full story here.
- Bibi, Gantz battle over next IAF chief.(YNet).The Air Force battle: One of the most important IDF appointments – that of Air Force commander - has reached the decision point, with a major battle taking place behind the scenes between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday. PM Netanyahu is believed to push for the appointment of his military secretary, Yochanan Locker, who is believed to support an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. However, Army Chief Gantz opposes the move and wants Planning Branch Head Amir Eshel, known for objecting to an Iran strike, to take the post.Notably, some senior army officials claim that the two candidates hold identical views on the Iran issue and have not yet been asked to present their stance. One way or another, it appears that the issue of a strike in Iran prompted the prime minister to interfere in the appointment.The battle over the next Air Force chief, which up to now was conducted behind the scenes, reached the Knesset's State Control Committee Sunday, where Army Chief Gantz presented a decisive stance regarding his right to name the next IAF commander. "Officers must not be appointed in contradiction to the army chief's view, and the Air Force commander is just like any other general," Gantz told the Committee, which discussed the State Comptroller's Report on IDF appointments. "That's why we have an army chief – he summons the candidates, and he is the one who provides the explanations. The army chief received the government's trust for running the military, and this is how it should be done."Read the full story here.
- Remember that Rashid Khalidi video? (IsraelMatzav).Remember that videotape of Barack Hussein Obama at Rashid Khalidi's going away party? You know, the one that the LA Times has locked up in a vault and refuses to release? Lauri Ragen writes that we all should be screaming from the rooftops that the networks should be spending their time finding the video instead of broadcasting prurient video interviews with the ex-wives of Republican candidates. For good measure, she also asks why the media is pushing for Republican tax returns and not for Obama's college transcript. The public will never understand that the Islamists taking over the Mideast are not moderate, will not promote democracy, are not friends of the United States, and wish the ultimate destruction of the West if the public reads and relies upon only The New York Times, L.A. Times, MSNBC, or similar tools of the left for its "news" and information. Americans will not understand the implications of four more years of a pro-Islamist president if they do not understand what Islamism is all about. And they will not know who is sitting in the White House making policy decisions based on personal biases if the media continues to promote Obama's agenda rather than investigate and report.So why is the videotape of such paramount importance? Simon quotes from an article published in the L.A.Times discussing the tape and its contents:
[A] young Palestinian American recited a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of Palestinians and sharply criticizing U.S. support of Israel. If Palestinians cannot secure their own land, she said, "then you will never see a day of peace."One speaker likened "Zionist settlers on the West Bank" to Osama bin Laden, saying both had been "blinded by ideology."Furthermore, rumors abound regarding additional messages that may or may not have been openly shared at the dinner in Obama's presence. Ted Belman reported at Israpundit that he has a reliable source that "the audio tape clearly picks up the toast 'death to Israel'." Did Obama drink to the death of an American ally that he has been actively intimidating, browbeating, and dissing since he phoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on his first day in office? Does Obama liken Israelis living in the West Bank to Osama bin Laden, whose death he claims as his greatest foreign policy accomplishment?Read the full story here.
- Egypt’s Grand Mufti criticized on stage at youth symposium.(BikyaMasr).CAIRO: During the “National Unity and Citizenship” symposium, which was held Sunday evening at the National Youth Council in Cairo, an accusation was directed at the Grand Mufti by several attending youth.The young attendees accused Dr. Ali Gomaa of not allowing them the opportunity to converse with him, and of hogging and dominating the conversation.In addition, they criticized some of the cynical responses of the Mufti to their questions, and various fatwas he had issued which served the former regime.The Mufti said in reply that he had “not issued a single fatwa sanctioning an act forbidden by God” and that “if someone held something against him let them announce it.”He also asserted that a civil state would not come at odds with the application of Islamic law, and that he believes the victory of the Freedom and Justice Party in parliament is a clear indicator of the will of the people.He explained that “in Egypt, a civil state means a modern nationalist state that is compatible with Islamic provisions.”“I am a father to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis and all Egyptians, and am not biased for one over the other, because the mufti is like a judge,” he stressed.The Mufti clarified that there were five examples of Islamic rule amongst the Muslim nations – Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Somalia – and the choice of a model that would then be applied in Egypt was up to the Legislative Council.He concluded his speech by emphasizing that reading and educating oneself had become a necessity in the present time, saying, “Read and God will have mercy on you.”He also stressed that proper Islamic dress for a woman is one that was not form-fitting, loose, and was opaque.He finally declared that the Egyptian people, who greatly revered the Meccan Sunni doctrine, would not welcome the Shia doctrine into Egypt.Read the full story here.
- South Sudan says Khartoum seized oil worth $815 million.(Alarabiya).South Sudan President Salva Kiir accused Sudan on Monday of seizing $815 million worth of its crude oil in a row over how to share oil revenues between the former civil war foes. South Sudan seceded last July under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war between north and south, but the two countries are locked in a row over sharing oil revenues.The new landlocked nation needs to use a northern pipeline and the port of Port Sudan to export the crude but has failed to reach an agreement with Khartoum over a transit fee, prompting Sudan to seize part of its oil as compensation.Juba said last week it was preparing to shut down its oil output, which officials had said was 350,000 barrels a day. “In total, the revenue that the government of Sudan has looted since December amounts to approximately $815 million,” Kiir told parliament in Juba.He accused Khartoum of having built a tie-in pipeline to divert 120,000 barrels per day of southern production flowing through the north.Officials in Khartoum could not immediately be reached for comment.Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said this month Khartoum would impose a fee since Juba had failed to pay any fee for using northern export facilities since its independence.“Given our history with the administration of President Bashir, we realize that unfortunately we must prepare for a disruption of revenue that could last many months,” Kiir said.Hmmmm......As i predicted it did not take long.Read the full story here.
- Dubai - Abu Dhabi teenage boy to be tried for kissing girls.(BM). A 15-year-old Abu Dhabi boy is being tried in a criminal court for sneaking into a house and kissing two teenage girls. According to local reports, the boy was discovered by the father and has been charged with illegally entering a home and molestation.The prosecution accused the unnamed boy of entering a house in the capital and molesting two girls but the he denied the charges, saying they let him in.“The boy confessed to entering the house and kissing the two girls,” the paper said. “But he told the judge that the let him in and that it was not the first time that he goes into that house and kiss them.”Local UAE residents, upon hearing the charges, were shocked that it was actually going to court.“What a waste of time for the court to even hear such a case. The boys and girls are young teenagers,” said one Dubai resident to Bikyamasr.com. “What do we expect, that they won’t try this? Now will he be sentenced and have his life ruined because he stole a kiss?”Read the full story here.
- Dubai - Saudi morality police bust “vice” ring, hold 10 women on prostitution.(BM).DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice has reportedly busted a group of women accused of prostitution in the ultra-conservative gulf kingdom.According to the daily Sharq newspaper, the Islamic police arrested 10 Asian women for allegedly “practicing prostitution.” Among the arrested are four employees of a large hospital in the country.In the statement, published by the newspaper, the “Vice Committee” had reportedly “watched some of the girls for a few days before deciding to raid the apartment” in the Western city of Jeddah.A Commission undercover posing as a customer phoned the ring leader and told her he wanted a woman.“She asked him to come to the apartment and pick the girl he likes … once he was in, the other Commission members stormed the flat and arrested 10 Asian women,” Sharq said in its report.It said four of the those arrested are employees at a company managing a key government hospital in Jeddah, the country’s second largest city. The paper did not identify the defendants.Local sources told Bikyamasr.com that the “house” where the girls were staying was run by a member of the royal family and had, according to one local resident, “been visited by so many men on a regular basis.”The source added that “the girls were under basic slavery and were not allowed to leave the house even if they wanted to.”No men were reportedly arrested in the raid. The women could face the death penalty if convicted of prostitution.Read the full story here.
- Russia to Hand Over Nerpa Nuclear Submarine to India.(RN).Russia’s K-152 Nerpa nuclear-powered attack submarine will be handed over to the Indian Navy on Monday, a top official in the United Shipbuilding Corporation said.The ceremony will take place in the Far Eastern Primorye Territory. In line with the contract worth over $900 million, the Project 971 Shchuka-B (NATO: Akula II) class sub will be leased to India’s Navy for ten years. It will be recommissioned as the INS Chakra.India will become only the sixth operator of nuclear submarines in the world when it takes delivery of the Nerpa, after the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China, though it previously leased another Russian submarine which was then returned.Twenty sailors died on the Nerpa in 2008 after the vessel’s fire-suppression systems were accidentally triggered during sea trials, releasing toxic gases.Read the full story here.
- Egypt’s parliament has first session amid uncertainty.(BM).CAIRO: Across the barbed wire fence erected to block activists from accessing the street leading to Egypt’s Parliament building the stream of men dressed in suits can be seen in the distance entering the People’s Assembly on Monday morning. The men, all newly elected legislators are holding the first session of the country’s first post-revolution parliament.As security remains tight, police motioning onlookers to keep moving and ushering away a potential photograph from being taken, Egypt’s parliament has officially begun.Despite the elected members taking office on Monday, the country’s military junta remains the law of the land. MPs, observers and activists are still uncertain as to what actual power the new parliament will have.One MP, speaking to Bikyamasr.com as he entered the area, said he would push for a resolution of some kind that demands the military leave power immediately.“We are to be the rulers of this country, either now or soon because this is what we were elected for,” the MP told a group of reporters.First on the agenda Monday morning was electing a Speaker of Parliament. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), with its 47 percent of all seats, is hopeful of installing their chief candidate, Saad al-Katatni, into the position.While it may be formalities in the first session, activists are concerned that the new government has no real power as the military maintains its grip on the country.“We fought for change, but all we have really changed right now is who is the dictator,” said Ahmed, a 27-year-old activist who had joined a group of anti-military protesters in a small demonstration within stones throw of the parliament building early on Monday. They were quickly pushed away by uniformed police, who told them they were not allowed to be in the area.“This is why we need mass protests on Wednesday to keep the pressure and demand the military leave power at once,” Ahmed told Bikyamasr.com.The first session of parliament was inaugurated two days before the one-year anniversary of the January 25 uprising’s first day. Activists have been voiceful in calling for large numbers of citizens to descend on central Cairo’s Tahrir Square to demand that the military leave power immediately and to continue the revolution, which they argue has been hijacked by the conservative Islamic groups, including the FJP and the ultra-conservative al-Nour Party.“We are watching the new parliament, but it is made up of people who were not part of the revolution and continued to campaign even as people were being killed by the military and police. How can we trust them,” added Ahmed.Read the full story here.
Does Obama's Odd Pitch Signal Scheme for Communist Cuba-Style Committees?Click here to read about Cuba's CDR network, watch Obama's unusual video appeal. The community-organizing, event part starts toward the end of the piece, around a minute-forty-three seconds into it.HT: CC.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
"Humanitarian" Geneva convention observing Taliban video shows execution of 15 Pakistani soldiers.(TheStar).Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan —Fifteen Pakistani soldiers stood blindfolded, handcuffed to each other, as one of their Taliban captors held an AK-47 rifle and spoke with fury about revenge.
He left no doubt what would come at any second.Pakistan’s Taliban abducted the paramilitary troops on Dec. 23 from near the country’s lawless tribal areas to avenge military operations. Now they have released a video showing their execution as a warning to Pakistan’s 600,000-member army, which has failed to break the back of the insurgents despite superior firepower and a series of offensives against their strongholds in the mountains.“Twelve of our comrades were besieged and mercilessly martyred,” said the militant. “To avenge those comrades, we will kill these men. We warn the government of Pakistan that if the killing of our friends is not halted, this will be the fate of you all.” Before death, one of the men described how dozens of Taliban fighters stormed their fort in the northwestern Tank district and kidnapped the soldiers.“They attacked us with rockets, killed a sentry. One ran away. The Taliban entered the fort and captured us with our weapons,” he said. “They tied our hands, put us in a Datsun and took us away.”The video then shows the fighters taking turns shooting the soldiers.The Taliban and Pakistan’s military, one of the largest in the world, have entered exploratory peace talks that raised hopes that their conflict, which has killed thousands of people, could ease. But the talks have faltered, a senior Pakistani security official said, and the video is likely to enrage the army.Hmmmm......No word if they burried them or left for the vultures?Read the full story here.
Israel to blame for talks ‘fiasco’ - Abbas.(RN).
The responsibility for a failure to restart stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks will lie solely with Tel Aviv and its refusal to halt settlement construction, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said on Sunday in Moscow.“If Palestinian-Israeli negotiations end in a fiasco, the blame for this will be Israel’s alone,” Abbas told journalists at a brief news conference after a meeting with Russia’s chief mufti, Rawil Gaynetdin.“We are committed to a continuation of talks…but the settlement policies of Israel prevent this,” Abaas said, adding that settler violence was continuing. “Five mosques were recently burnt down in the West Bank.”
Abbas arrived on Thursday on a six-day visit to Russia, one of the members of the so-called Quartet on Middle East peace. The other members are the United States, the United Nations and the European Union.
The visit is part of a European tour to drum up more support for the Palestinians’ stance on settlements as attempts to revive full talks flounder. Exploratory discussions in Jordan on January 14 ended unsuccessfully.
President Dmitry Medvedev reconfirmed Russia’s support for an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital during a meeting with Abbas on Friday.“Our relations remain on an excellent level,” Medvedev said. “Russian-Palestinian friendship…stretches back not decades but centuries.”Russia has consistently called for a freeze on new settlement construction by Israel.
The Kremlin’s commitment to an independent Palestinian state dates back to the Soviet era, although its influence in the region has waned considerably since then. But Moscow also enjoys both political and cultural ties with Israel, which is home to a massive Russian-speaking diaspora.
The Palestinian leader has enjoyed a warm welcome in Russia. On Saturday, he was honored by the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, as a “guardian of Christian values in the Middle East”Hmmmmm............A “guardian of Christian values in the Middle East”. “In the last 40 years, the Christian population in the West Bank has slumped from about 20 percent of the total to less than two percent today.” Read the full story here.
‘Israel to Give Obama no more than 12 Hours Notice on Attacking Iran’.(INN).HT: IsraelMatzav.Israeli officials told visiting USS Chief Joint of Staffs Martin Dempsey that it would give President Barack Obama no more than 12 hours notice if and when it attacks Iran, The London Times reported Sunday.The Netanyahu government also will not coordinate with the United States an attack on the Islamic Republic, according to the report, the latest in a number of suposed scenarios concerning cooperation or lack of it between Jerusalem and Washington.
It is left to speculation whether the rumors are based on facts or are leaked by officials to mask the possibility of secret military coordination.The London Times said its sources explained that that Israel fears that President Obama would try to torpedo an Israel attack if more notice were given because he is concerned that Iran will respond by blocking the Strait of Hormuz, sparking a rise in the price of oil that could cripple Western economies. If the attack were to occur in the next 10 months, it would put President Obama in a tight spot on the eve of his bid for re-election.President Shimon Peres told Dempsey, "I am sure that in this fight [against Iran] we will emerge victorious. It is a fight that does not belong exclusively to the United States or Israel, but a global struggle to create a safe world for all peoples.”Hmmmm.......Would you warn Obama.....given his track record of throwing allies under the bus?Read the full story here.
Barack Obama What Are You Up To Now?
I began filming this after a dozen or so train cars went by on a stretch of track south of Santa Cruz California. Where are the military vehicles going? Why are they being shipped? What could this possibly be for? Barack Obama, what are you up to?There are 3 more videos here.HT:BeforeitisNews.
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands 6.2 - 5.7 - 5.4 - 5.1 ; Chile 5.0 !More info here.
- Saudi Arabia withdraws its monitors from Syria, urges more international pressure.(AlArabiya).Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said on Sunday Riyadh was pulling its monitors from the Arab League’s heavily criticized observer's mission in Syria, which has been extended for another month, because Damascus had not kept its promises.“My country will withdraw its monitors because the Syrian government did not execute any of the elements of the Arab resolution plan," Prince Saud al-Faisal told Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo. The statement was obtained by Reuters after he spoke.“We are calling on the international community to bear its responsibility, and that includes our brothers in Islamic states and our friends in Russia, China, Europe and the United States,” Prince Saud said, calling for “all possible pressure” to push Syria to adhere to the Arab peace plan.Prince Saud’s stamen followed a decision to extend the Arab League’s observer mission Syria for another month during a meeting by Arab foreign ministers in the Egyptian capital, where they decided to add more members to the mission and provide them with more resources.An officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to the media, said the U.N. would train the observers.The move had been widely expected after the troubled mission technically expired on Thursday. Many in Syria's opposition movement have complained that the observers have failed to curb the bloodshed in the country as the regime cracks down on a 10-month-old uprising against it.A League panel held closed-doors talks to hear a report on the mission that blames both sides, the government and opposition, for the bloodshed, according to an Arab diplomatic source. It recommends an extension while cautioning that its observers would not be deployed indefinitely.At a meeting of foreign ministers in Cairo, the Arab League looks set to extend and expand its observer mission, despite strong criticism that it has failed to stem 10 months of deadly violence.Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi was at the Cairo talks and due to chair a broader meeting of foreign ministers from the 22-member bloc to decide the future of the mission launched a month ago.Sunday's report was being delivered by the mission's chief, General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi of Sudan, who wants his mandate to be strengthened, not scrapped, a League official said.In a statement late Saturday, Dabi said the mission's mandate was “to verify that the Syrian government has implemented the terms of an Arab League plan to solve the crisis, not to stop the bloodshed and violence.”But the opposition Syrian National Council has been lobbying for UN intervention and said it would reveal “a counter-report” later on Sunday to try to discredit Dabi's account.The SNC said it also plans to send a delegation to the United Nations to press the Security Council for intervention.Neighboring Turkey, which has called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, said on Sunday that it was ready to work with the United Nations if a humanitarian crisis developed in Syria.“We hope that before the situation reaches that stage, the Syrian administration will halt the unjust war it has waged against its own people and find ways to make peace with its people,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.“But if a humanitarian tragedy unfolds before our eyes, and if the U.N. steps in, we are ready to work with the United Nations,” he added.Read the full story here.
- US to send the oldest US aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise to Persian Gulf.(PTV). US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has vowed to maintain a fleet of eleven warships despite budget pressures, mostly to project sea power against Iran.On board of the oldest US aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, Panetta told the crowd of 1,700 sailors that the 50-year-old ship is heading to the Persian Gulf region in a direct message to Tehran.“The reason we maintain a presence in the Middle East ... We want them to know that we are fully prepared to deal with any contingency and it's better for them to try to deal with us through diplomacy," Panetta said.The USS Enterprise is the oldest active duty ship in the American naval fleet and its mission dates back to the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and the Vietnam War.The decision to maintain 11 warships comes at a time when the US economy is facing a national debt of more than USD 15 trillion after a decade of costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and is preparing for 487 billion dollars in defense cuts over the next 10 years.On January 5, US President Barack Obama announced the shift in Washington's defense strategy to reduce the expenses. The eight-page document contained no details about how broad concepts for reshaping the military - such as focusing more on Asia and less on Europe - will translate into troop or weapons cuts.Iran has warned the West of the possible closure of the Strait of Hormuz, where one-fifth of the world's oil shipments pass.Read the full story here.
- US aircraft carrier enters Gulf without incident.(Jpost).WASHINGTON - A US aircraft carrier sailed through the Strait of Hormuz and into the Gulf without incident on Sunday, a day after Iran backed away from an earlier threat to take action if an American carrier returned to the strategic waterway.The carrier USS Abraham Lincoln completed a "regular and routine" passage through the strait, a critical gateway for the region's oil exports, "as previously scheduled and without incident," said Lieutenant Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the US Fifth Fleet.Read the full story here.
- Fallout On Obama’s Killing Of Keystone Jobs Continues As “Repulsed” Laborers’ Union Quits Alliance.(LUR).The fallout over Barack Obama’s decision to kill 20,000 (mostly) union jobs on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project continues as the Laborers International Union of North America left the BlueGreen Alliance Friday afternoon.Founded in 2006, the BlueGreen Alliance is a political pairing of left-wing unions and environmental groups whose mission (so to speak) is to ensure that America’s conversion to a green economy results in union jobs as jobs in industries like coal are destroyed.Included among its stated goals are passage of cap and trade legislation, as well as the Employee Free Choice Act (aka card-check unionization).According to the Laborers’ union press release announcing the union’s departure from the BlueGreen Alliance on Friday afternoon, at least Laborers’ president Terry O’Sullivan seems to be understanding the Devil’s pact union bosses have made by sacrificing their members’ jobs in exchange for an economically-unrealistic “green” economy:
“AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently said there was a divide in the labor movement over this project,” LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan said. “That is an understatement. That divide is as deep and wide as the Grand Canyon. We’re repulsed by some of our supposed brothers and sisters lining up with job killers like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to destroy the lives of working men and women.” [Emphasis added.]Specifically, O’Sullivan was referencing the CWA, SEIU, UAW, Transport Workers Union, United Steelworkers Union and Amalgamated Transit Union who had sold their souls (and union jobs) to the environmentalists and praised Obama’s decision to side with the green activists by killing the pipeline, as well as destroying the hopes of unemployed union members.O’Sullivan said Keystone is only the beginning of what will likely be a protracted struggle over major projects to build and strengthen America’s energy infrastructure. “LIUNA plans to unite with the support of the strong and proud unions of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department to fight for good jobs that build America and strengthen our energy resources,” he said. “We will not stand idly by, nor will the Building Trades.”“Their real target wasn’t the pipeline, but the oil sands. They missed that target – the oil sands will be developed whether Keystone XL is built or not – but hit tens of thousands of working men and women,” O’Sullivan said. “It is impossible for LIUNA to stand side-by-side with these groups. Construction workers are struggling with 16 percent unemployment and 1.3 million of them are jobless. The Keystone XL was not just a pipeline to them, it was a lifeline.” [Emphasis added.]As was noted in the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama’s plan replace jobs destroyed with his “green agenda” was faulty at best. In fact, the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign has already destroyed up to 1.24 million jobs in 36 states—with more surely to come.For the sake of jobs (union and union-free), let us hope that more union bosses—and, if not them, their members—wake up from their delusion that Barack Obama is actually interested in creating jobs, as opposed to his agenda to “transform America.”Hmmmm....."Et Tu Trumka"?Read the full story here.
- Awesome: U.S. Catholic Bishops Slam Obama’s “Direct Attack On Religion” As “Literally Unconscionable”.(PRNW).The Catholic Bishops of the United States called “literally unconscionable” a decision by the Obama Administration to continue to demand that sterilization, abortifacients and contraception be included in virtually all health plans. Today’s announcement means that this mandate and its very narrow exemption will not change at all; instead there will only be a delay in enforcement against some employers.“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.The cardinal-designate continued, “To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty.”The HHS rule requires that sterilization and contraception — including controversial abortifacients — be included among “preventive services” coverage in almost every healthcare plan available to Americans. “The government should not force Americans to act as if pregnancy is a disease to be prevented at all costs,” added Cardinal-designate Dolan.At issue, the U.S. bishops and other religious leaders insist, is the survival of a cornerstone constitutionally protected freedom that ensures respect for the conscience of Catholics and all other Americans.“This is nothing less than a direct attack on religion and First Amendment rights,” said Franciscan Sister Jane Marie Klein, chairperson of the board at Franciscan Alliance, Inc., a system of 13 Catholic hospitals. “I have hundreds of employees who will be upset and confused by this edict. I cannot understand it at all.”“The Obama administration has now drawn an unprecedented line in the sand,” he said. “The Catholic bishops are committed to working with our fellow Americans to reform the law and change this unjust regulation. We will continue to study all the implications of this troubling decision.”Hmmmm........Obama Tells High School Students: "I Don't Think Ethics Was My Favorite Subject".Read the full story here.
- The Barack Obama administration is rigging US Census by counting Illegal Aliens.(NWV).By Chuck Baldwin.The Barack Obama administration is quietly in the process of rigging use of the US Census of 2010, which deliberately counted millions of illegal aliens, for the purpose of restructuring the apportionment of the US House of Representatives. Accordingly, as candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor of one of the negatively affected states (Montana), Mr. Bob Fanning and I have joined with several others in becoming amici curiae in a pending federal lawsuit brought by the State of Louisiana against the US Secretary of Commerce, et al., which was filed January, 13, 2012 in the United States Supreme Court.What has happened is, the US Census Bureau erroneously claims that it “‘is required by the U.S. Constitution count everyone living in this country, regardless of immigration or citizenship status.’” Accordingly, they have counted millions of illegal aliens in the 2010 Census and are using those figures to apportion the US House of Representatives. If this egregious misinterpretation of the US Constitution is allowed to stand, five states (Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, and Ohio) will lose representation in the US Congress to which they are lawfully entitled, while three states (California, Texas, and Florida) will be awarded additional representation in the US Congress to which they are not lawfully entitled. And, of course, this will also directly impact the makeup of the Electoral College, which ultimately elects the President of the United States.Of course, this manipulation of the 2010 US Census also impacts the election of the US President, as those states that are granted more seats in the US Congress are also granted more votes in the Electoral College as the Electoral College is composed of a “Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.Read the full story here.
- For Obama’s Navy Policy, “Talk Is Cheap”.(Heritage).By Brian Slattery.As President Obama has hastily drawn down forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to meet arbitrary timelines, he has taken the opportunity to ramp up rhetoric on a strategic military shift to the Asia–Pacific region. He recently made it clear in the new defense strategy guidance that military focus will be directed toward emerging threats in the region and stressed that security needs will drive the budget, contrary to recent concerns that fiscal constraints have directed miserly defense spending. In spite of this rhetoric, the defense budget has been cut dramatically during Obama’s presidency. As an editorial in The Washington Times recently commented, “Talk is cheap. An emerging debate over the Navy’s future reveals the price America will pay for slashing defense.”A shrinking U.S. Navy contradicts the Administration’s pledges for increased presence in the Asia–Pacific region. No one is debating that American naval presence in the region is a key component of both U.S. and global security. This is particularly evident in China’s increasing efforts to assert its “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea. Yet Obama has failed to address these concerns through the budget process. In fact, the need for a more robust navy will only increase if his guidance is implemented. The U.S. fleet, amidst a host of defense issues in need of attention, cannot atrophy any further.The aircraft carrier fleet is an asset that should be of particular concern. There is a possibility that soon the fleet may fall to nine ships—below the congressionally mandated requirement of 11. Meanwhile, China has recently begun sea trials on its first aircraft carrier, and its officials have expressed a requirement of at least three carriers “so we can defend our rights and our maritime interests effectively.” While China has claimed in the past that it intends to float a navy only to protect its own territorial waters, an aircraft carrier program signifies only one thing: power projection. Taking this into account with the disputed waters in the South China Sea, one can assume that China has higher aspirations than merely a coastal security fleet. This reinforces the need for a strong U.S. carrier fleet in the years to come.For all the talk of an increased focus on East Asia and the Pacific, there appears to be a divide between national security aspirations and what the U.S. Navy can afford. If President Obama wishes to follow through on pledges of a greater Pacific presence, he must either somehow overturn much of the defense slashing he has implemented or attempt to loot other Defense accounts to fund a sustainable blue-water Navy. Instead of continuing to cut defense to give the illusion of fiscal responsibility, perhaps Obama should consider matching rhetoric to reality.Hmmmm.....Or stop investing in "Solyndra like "projects?Read the full story here.
- "Arizona strikes back": State investigates feds over gun-running.(WT).Arizona's state legislature will open its own investigation into the Obama administration's disgraced gun-running program, known as "Fast and Furious," the speaker of the state House said Friday.Speaker Andy Tobin created the committee, and charged it with looking at whether the program broke any state laws — raising the possibility of state penalties against those responsible for the operation.It's a turnaround from the rest of the immigration issue, where the federal government has sued to block the state's own set of laws.A law requiring businesses to check new workers' legal status was upheld by the Supreme Court last year, and the court has agreed to hear the case of Arizona's crackdown law that makes being an illegal immigrant a state crime and gives state and local police the power to enforce that law.Fast and Furious was a straw-purchase program run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The goal was to try to trace guns sold in Arizona shops and then trafficked across the Mexican border, where they landed in the hands of drug cartels.As part of the operation, however, agents let the guns "walk" — meaning they lost track of them. At least two of the guns ended up at the scene where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a shootout with Mexican bandits along a smuggling corridor in Arizona.Mr. Tobin will announce the committee's jurisdiction at a press conference in Phoenix on Monday. The committee is charged with looking into the facts about the program, what impact it had on Arizona and whether any of the state's laws were broken.A report is due back by March 30.Hmmmm.......GunWalker - "These boots will keep on walking, one of these days they'll walk all over you?"Read the full story here.
- UK - Pilot with terror links deemed a security risk accuses airline of racism after losing his job.(Dailymail).A British airline pilot arrested over an alleged terrorist plot is claiming racial and religious discrimination after losing his job.The pilot, a Muslim, was judged a security risk because of his close links to two alleged extremists suspected of ‘planning to use an aircraft as part of a hostile or terrorist act’. Because of draconian reporting restrictions imposed last week by an employment tribunal, the man cannot be identified and neither can his employer.Despite this, a well-known British carrier said in a letter that the pilot was ‘in a position to cause considerable harm’ and added that it was in the ‘national interest’ to ensure he never flew commercial aircraft again. Concerns about the two suspected extremists – one is a business partner of the pilot’s brother – were first raised when they paid for flying lessons and a light aircraft in cash.During a raid on the London home of one of the pair, detectives found documents relating to the operation of aircraft, a flight map of the UK and literature from an Islamic extremist group banned in many countries.The pilot, who lives in South-East England and was based at Heathrow, has known the men for ten years and rented a flat from one of them. In October 2007 the pilot himself was arrested – and immediately suspended by the airline – but was never charged. Both his landlord and the other man were prosecuted under the Terrorism Act. Charges against one of the men were later dropped and the other was cleared by a jury.It was at this point that the airline began an internal investigation into the pilot’s conduct, having been passed information about him by Scotland Yard’s SO15 anti-terrorism command at the time of his arrest.The investigation heard claims, denied by the pilot, that he had suggested the September 11 attacks were ‘comparable to the United States’ wars in Afghanistan and Iraq’.On another occasion, while returning to the UK, it was alleged he had read a book on the flight deck which, he explained to the colleague who was captaining the plane, put a ‘different perspective on 9/11’.Details of the extraordinary case have never previously been disclosed.The pilot’s discrimination claim began last week at a tribunal in Havant, Hampshire, where he claimed his employers had effectively ruled that he was ‘guilty by association’.He told the hearing that it was ‘inconceivable that the treatment that I have received . . . would have happened to a non-Muslim or to someone of a different race’.Although the pilot’s case is likely to attract the support of human-rights campaigners, there will be considerable sympathy too for the airline, which said yesterday in a statement that ‘the safety and security of our customers, aircraft and employees is always our number one priority and we will never compromise this area of our business’.The airline added that following information from the police ‘we carried out a thorough investigation and risk analysis and concluded that the claimant was not suitable for work in his role’.Before the hearing began on Thursday, the pilot’s legal team successfully obtained a temporary restricted reporting order preventing him being identified. The reasons for the order, which is being challenged by lawyers for The Mail on Sunday, were not given, although they are understood to relate to illness.Read the full story here.
- Netanyahu urges attorney general to Probe Jerusalem mufti who encouraged killing of Jews.(YNet).Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called on Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to order an investigation against the top Muslim cleric in Jerusalem and the Palestinian Authority who quoted a religious text that includes passages about killing Jews.During an event celebrating the 47th anniversary of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement last week, Mufti Mohammed Hussein cited a hadith (saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) claiming that the Earth's end of days will not happen until Muslims kill Jews in a religious battle: "The Hour (of Resurrection) will not come until you fight the Jews. The Jew will hide behind stones or trees. Then the stones or trees will call: 'Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'" The moderator who introduced the mufti at the Fatah event said, "Our war with the descendants of the apes and pigs (i.e., Jews) is a war of religion and faith." Netanyahu condemned the mufti's comments, which were posted on YouTube by an Israeli watchdog group, as "heinous." Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) told Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting, "What's frightening is the fact that the mufti's comments were aired on the Palestinian Authority's official television station and website and have been backed by all the Palestinian officials. "If this isn’t anti-Semitism, I don't know what is," he said. Minister Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beiteinu) said the mufti should be investigated and prosecuted, adding that the "extremist Muslim imam who spoke of a final solution gets his inspiration from Nazi Germany." Read the full story here.
- Anti-nuclear group blasts J. Lo and her car for alleged Fiat ties to Iran.(AlArabiya).American singer Jennifer Lopez has come under fire from an unexpected source: United Against Nuclear Iran. The group has, in an open letter, asked the “American Idol” judge to renounce her relationship with Italian car manufacturer Fiat.UANI is a New-York based group that lobbies for a tough international response to Iran’s alleged nuclear program.The group has targeted Lopez for a TV ad she appears in for the car company that UANI says is associated with the Iranian regime’s transgressions.UANI has even created a parody of the ad, in which the narrator imitating Lopez says: “.. Fiat sells cars, truck and other equipment on the streets of Iran, where the brutal Iranian regime represses its own people, hangs homosexuals, support terrorists including al-Qaeda and builds a nuclear weapon. “I would never want that on my block, but Fiat does pay me millions. “Fiat and the brutal Iranian regime ...or the people of Iran. I hope concerned citizens don’t make me choose.”Fiat sells and distributes trucks in Iran through its subsidiary Iveco. Some of those truck have reportedly been used to transport ballistic missiles and to “stage gruesome public executions” according to UANI. UANI sent an open letter to the singer, demanding the international star ends her endorsements of Fiat products if the company does not renounce all business dealing with the Islamic Republic.“By endorsing Fiat, you are serving as a spokesperson for a company that freely does business with a regime that is developing an illegal nuclear weapons program, financing and sponsoring terrorist groups including al-Qaeda, has killed American and NATO soldiers and is recognized as one of the world’s leading human rights violators,” wrote UANI President Mark Wallace.Wallace served under the George W. Bush administration as the U.S. representative to the United Nations for the agency’s management and reform.The group sent a similar letter to the CEO of Fiat, Sergio Marchionne, asking the company to cut ties with the regime in Tehran and pointing out that other car manufacturers such as KIA and Toyota have already done so.Read the full story here.
- Bibi featured in Obama campaign ad.(IsraelMatzav).Prime Minister Netanyahu is featured in a campaign ad for Barack Hussein Obama that targets American Jews. So are President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak (of course, the latter two are less of a surprise, particularly Peres). But then, what do you expect them to say? We're the ones who need to get the word out that this is a lie.But Danny Ayalon (who is persona non grata in Washington)? I don't get that one.Read and see the full story here.
- Iranian trucks carrying chemical missile materials intercepted en route to Syria.(TZ).Four Iranian trucks were stopped two weeks ago in Turkey's Kilis province on the border with Syria and were found to be carrying raw materials used in the making of ballistic missiles, Turkish daily Taraf has reported.Four trucks with Iranian license plates were intercepted by Turkish authorities two weeks ago at the Öncüpınar Border Gate in Kilis province, which lies to the north of Syria, a country to which Turkey has been blocking the delivery of arms shipments since pro-democracy protests turned bloody in the Arab country.Although the contents of the trucks were not publicized by customs officials, Taraf stated that on Friday it obtained reports confirming the trucks' dangerous load. According to the daily, one of the trucks was carrying four six-meter-long cylindrical tanks and heat-resistant materials, while the other three were carrying 66 tons of sodium sulfate, all of which were on their way to Syria possibly to be used in the making of chemical missiles.Turkey has dispatched a scientific team to study the materials and the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has also requested to be informed of the contents of the trucks' loads, Taraf noted. Diplomatic sources confirmed that the trucks carried a load that was in violation of a UN embargo on Syria, but that the responsibility of finding out where the trucks originated from was Iran's.The Iranian Embassy in Ankara denied that the four trucks still being held in Turkey were carrying military equipment from Iran to Syria. The drivers of the trucks also denied allegations that they were carrying arms, stating that their cargo consisted of raw materials used in the leather industry, water pipes and iron.Read the full story here.
- Three female American activists denied entry to Egypt, deported from Cairo Airport.(BikyaMasr).CAIRO: Security authorities at Cairo International Airport denied entry to three female American activists on Sunday morning for security reasons.Officials added their names on a list of those banned from entering the country under the classification “Very Confidential,” according to security sources, who spoke under the cover of anonymity to the state-run MENA news agency.The airport security authorities inspected the three American’s iPad devices, handed them back to the women, and deported them back to the United States.The three American activists arrived on a plane coming from Bahrain, intending to participate in demonstrations and celebrations on the anniversary of the January 25 uprisings that toppled the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak last February.Hmmmm.........Democrats?Read the full story here.
- Will No-Interest Banking Undo Turkey's Economy?(DanielPipes).That's the thesis implicit to David Goldman's analysis at "Recall notice for the Turkish model." After dubbing the Turkish economy a bubble that "is bursting, starting with the stock market and national currency," he makes this observation about the prime minister: Erdoğan has the weirdest economic views of any serving head of government. He justified the credit bubble on religious grounds, pledging repeatedly to cut the "real" interest rate (the cost of interest minus the inflation rate) to zero. "We aim to cut the real interest rate in the long run, so people will increase their incomes through working, not through interest," he said last April. "Eventually we aim to equalize the interest rate and inflation rate." Erdoğan believes that this would fulfill the Islamic injunction against lending for interest; if the real interest rate is zero, he seems to think, the sharia ban on interest is fulfilled de facto.In other words, Erdoğan's wacky financial ideas, which are likely to doom his country's economy, follow directly from his Islamist dream of eliminating riba (usury). More generally put, the Islamist economic program undermines itself. Read the full story here.
- India: Muslims slaughter pregnant cow in Hindu temple compound.(POS).A tense atmosphere has prevailed in Perumbavoor, a satellite town of Kochi city and a municipality in the Indian state of Kerala, after a group of Muslims slaughtered a pregnant cow inside the compound of the Sree Dharma Sastha late Tuesday afternoon. The perpetrators slit the cow's throat.Cows are considered sacred in Hinduism, and killing them is prohibited. The killing of the pregnant cow inside the temple compound was a deliberate act of sacrilege designed to provoke local Hindus.A member of the Sree Dharma Sastha temple committee is reported to have said, “If they wanted the cow for meat they could have simply stolen it. That they committed the heinous act right in front of the temple has only one explanation – their intention was perhaps to create trouble.""As per police reports, Perumbavoor and the surrounding areas have witnessed a rise in Islamist operations recently." The Hindu website says.Read the full story here.
- Video - Keystone Calamity.(CS).Obama chooses Saudi oil over Canadian oil with his rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline.Read and see the full story here.
- Growing Islamic fundamentalism in Bosnia-Herzegovina.(AlexanderMunch).Christians and moderate Muslims are trying to stem the tide of Islamo-fascism in the heart of the former Yugoslavia. by John Newton and Eva-Marie Kolman.The rise of radical Islam in Bosnia-Herzegovina is going unchallenged by the authorities, the country’s leading bishop has warned. Cardinal Vinko Puljic, the Archbishop of Sarajevo, highlighted the growth of extremism in the country during a visit to the international headquarters of Aid to the Church in Need.The 66-year-old cardinal said that the growing process of Islamisation in Bosnia-Herzegovina is being funded by radicals in the Middle East. He said: “Muslim centres and mosques have been built in many places with petrodollars from Saudi Arabia.”During the interview with ACN in Königstein, Germany, the cardinal stressed the spread of Wahhabism, an Islamic reform movement, which is the official religion of Saudi Arabia. Many commentators have linked Wahhabism to terrorist movements such as al-Qaeda.The Archbishop of Sarajevo said that there are already 3-5,000 Wahhabis in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the group is seeking to gain influence in society. Cardinal Puljic said: “Nobody in the government has the courage to do anything to prevent this development.” According to Aid to the Church in Need’s report on the oppression of Christians, Persecuted and Forgotten?, more than 100,000 young Bosnian Muslims have encountered Wahhabi Islam through organisations such as Active Islamic Youth, Furqan, and the Muslim Youth Council. Cardinal Puljic added: “In recent years, at least 70 new mosques have been built in Sarajevo alone.”Read the full story here.
- Cold War Redux: Russia’s Kaliningrad buildup causes NATO chief concern.(SR).Vilnius: NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen Thursday urged Russia to refrain from building up its military near the alliance’s borders, saying it was a concern for the 28-nation organization.Rasmussen questioned Russian moves to bolster its forces in its Kaliningrad territory, which borders NATO members Lithuania and Poland, both part of Moscow’s Cold War-era stamping ground.“These Russian statements are of course a matter of concern for NATO allies,” he told reporters in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius. “It is a complete waste of Russian financial resources, because it is a buildup of offensive military capacities directed against an artificial enemy, an enemy that doesn’t exist,” he said.“NATO has no intention whatsoever to attack Russia,” he added, speaking alongside Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite.Moscow has warned that it plans to deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, and earlier this month, Russian media reported that an S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile system would go into service there in April.Russia repeatedly has said it will be forced to take additional measures if it fails to agree with NATO on a missile defense shield.NATO powerhouse the United States insists a shield is needed against potential threats from Iran, but Russia counters that anti-missile facilities planned in Poland would undermine its own security.Rasmussen said it was time for a reality check.“It doesn’t make sense to build up offensive military capacities in the Kaliningrad region. I would encourage the Russians to face a new reality, we are not enemies, we are not adversaries, we should be partners and it would be of mutual benefit if we develop peaceful cooperation,” he said.Lithuania and fellow Baltic states Estonia and Latvia – where Rasmussen was due later Thursday and Friday – are nervous about Russian military moves.They won independence in 1991 after five decades of Soviet rule, joined NATO and the EU in 2004, and have strained relations with Moscow.“Russian actions do not increase trust between NATO and Russia,” Grybauskaite said. “We invite Russia to be open for dialogue, to see new threats and realities and to seek smart defense,” she added.With a total population of 6.3 million and professional forces of 20,500, the Baltic states lack enough fighter planes to police their skies. Other NATO members therefore take turns doing so, from a base in Lithuania.The trio wants to extend the air patrol accord, which expires in 2014.Read the full story here.
- The Palestinian Josef Fritzl?Palestinian man jails daughter in bathroom for 9 years.(YNet).The Palestinian Josef Fritzl? The Qalqilya Police on Saturday freed a 20-year-old woman who was locked in a bathroom for over nine years.The woman's father admitted to locking up his daughter since she was 11-years-old, citing a "family dispute" as the reason behind her prolonged imprisonment. When police officers arrived at the house, they discovered a locked door. The owner of the house refused the officers' demands to unlock the door, claiming his daughter was using the bathroom. The woman heard the commotion and started screaming for help. She told police officers that her father had the key to the door. After finally unlocking the door, the officers were surprised to discover a young woman sprawled on the floor, next to a pillow and a blanket.The officers took the woman, who has not seen daylight for almost a decade, to the local police station, where she was given food, clothing and a social worker. The father was taken into custody. The rescue operation was made possible by intelligence obtained by the police. The officers of the West bank city noted the woman thanked them for saving her after long years in captivity.Hmmmmm........How many more are there like her?Read the full story here.
- HMS Victory to be raised from sea.(AD).The remains of the first HMS Victory are to be raised from the sea bed nearly 300 years after it sank, it has been reported.The vessel, predecessor of Nelson's famous flagship, went down in a storm off the Channel Islands in 1744, taking more than 1,000 soldiers to their deaths.Along with a bronze cannon collection, some believe the ship was carrying a large quantity of gold coins from Lisbon to Britain, which would now be worth a reported £500 million.According to the Sunday Times, the wreck is to be handed over to the Maritime Heritage Foundation, which is expected to employ Odyssey Marine Exploration to carry out the recovery. The American company found the ship four years ago.A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: "Efforts to protect key parts of British Naval history such as the wreck of HMS Victory 1744 are very welcome and we hope to make an announcement shortly."The guns and other artefacts will be displayed in British museums, while Odyssey is likely to receive the bulk of any treasure under the laws of salvage, the newspaper reported.The Maritime Heritage Foundation was set up by Lord Lingfield, the Tory peer formerly known as Sir Robert Balchin.He is a relative of Admiral Sir John Balchin who was on board the Victory when it sank, although he stressed he would not profit personally from the ship's cargo.Lord Lingfield told the Sunday Times: "The foundation seeks to prevent damage to this historically important site and maximise its archaeological, scientific and educational value."We hope it will give a unique insight into the world of the mid-18th century Royal Navy."Read the full story here.