Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Churchill on Chamberlain :"In the depths of that dusty soul there is nothing but abject surrender."
Pres. Obama meets his inner Mr. Chamberlain: Details of Obama’s letter to Iran released.(Mehr).MP Ali Motahhari said on Wednesday, “In the letter, it has been stated that ‘closing the Strait of Hormuz is our red line’ and they have requested direct negotiations.” “In the letter, Obama has announced readiness for negotiation and the resolution of mutual disagreements,” he added. He went on to say that Obama uttered threats in the first part of the letter and talked about friendship and negotiation in the second part. MP Hojjatoleslam Hossein Ebrahimi said on Wednesday, “Obama’s letter has several parts. Part of it is about this, (namely) that using international waterways is the right of all countries and all should benefit from them. And in this letter, he has described it as the United States’ red line.” “In the letter, Obama has mentioned cooperation and negotiation based on the interests of the two countries,” Ebrahimi, who is the deputy chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, told the Nasimonline news website.
“He has stated in the letter that they will not take any hostile action against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added.
Ebrahimi also said, “This is not the first time that Obama has sent a message and letter to the Islamic Republic of Iran. He has repeatedly spoken in a soft tone about the Islamic Republic of Iran, but, in practice, he has not acted accordingly.”
“Obama’s letter indicates that the United States has become afraid of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s might and has realized the point that an arrogant spirit is of no use, and therefore, he has softened his tone when speaking about the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he stated.
He added, “The important issue is that without the Islamic Republic of Iran’s permission, no country can benefit from the Persian Gulf.” Hmmmm.....“We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analyzing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will. I cannot believe that such a program would be rejected by the people of this country, even if it does mean the establishment of personal contact with the dictators.” ~ Neville Chamberlain.Read the full story here.
Obama 'demands talks' with Iran as it threatens to shut strategic Strait of Hormuz over West sanctions .
A shot across the bows?
Obama 'demands talks' with Iran as it threatens to shut strategic Strait of Hormuz over West sanctions .(DailyMail).President Obama has called for direct talks with Iran in a 'secret letter' to the country's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warning Tehran against closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a conservative Iranian lawmaker claimed.
Iran has threatened to close the waterway, the crucial route connecting the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, where about one-sixth of the global oil flows through, because of new U.S. sanctions over its nuclear program.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard, the country's most powerful military force, says Tehran's leadership has decided to order the closure of the oil route if Iran's oil exports are blocked.
U.S. military officials have made it clear that the country is preparing itself for a possible naval clash if the route is blocked.Today conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari revealed the content of the letter days after the Obama administration said it was warning Iran through public and private channels against any action that threatens the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf.
'In the letter, Obama called for direct talks with Iran,' Fars news agency reported.
'The letter also said that closing the Strait of Hormuz is (Washington's) red line.'
'The first part of the letter contains threats and the second part contains an offer for dialogue,' he added.
As the West made the military threat against Iran, Russia refused to back it, warning that it would trigger a 'chain reaction' that could destabilise the world.
Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov insisted that his country was 'seriously worried' about the sanctions against Tehran over its disputed nuclear program.And he also warned that stifling the country's economy could hurt the Iranian people.Lavrov said: 'The consequences will be extremely grave," he said. "It's not going to be an easy walk. It will trigger a chain reaction and I don't know where it will stop.'Lavrov, however, said sanctions on Iranian oil exports have 'nothing to do with a desire to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation.''It's aimed at stifling the Iranian economy and the population in an apparent hope to provoke discontent,' the Russian foreign minister said.
Russia believes that 'all conceivable sanctions already have been applied' and that new penalties could derail hopes for continuing six-way negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program, provoking Iranian intransigence, Lavrov said.He noted that the EU's consideration of new sanctions comes as Iran plans to host a delegation from the U.N. nuclear watchdog.'We believe that there is every chance to resume talks between the six powers and Iran, and we are concerned about obstacles being put to them.'The sanctions could hardly help make the talks productive,' he said. Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said upon arrival in the Turkish capital that Istanbul is the likely venue for further talks with world powers on his country's nuclear program. He did not give a date for the negotiations, but said Turkey is in touch with Iranian and EU officials.Meanwhile, Iran's official IRNA news agency said a senior security official, Ali Bagheri, headed to Moscow for talks with Lavrov and other Russian officials.Read the full story here.
Related - Iranian Submarines' Ambush for US Aircraft Carriers in Persian Gulf.(Fars).
Speaking to FNA on Wednesday, Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Army's Self-Sufficiency Jihad Rear Admiral Farhad Amiri said that Iran has the best electronic diesel submarines of the world, adding that enemies, the US in particular, are most focused on Iran's astonishing subsurface capabilities. Amiri underlined that significance of submarines are not just indebted to their arms and equipment, "rather the tactical issues are very important", given the geographical specifications of the waters surrounding the county. "For example," he stated, "if an ordinary submarines can sit in the Persian Gulf's bed it would be the worst threat to the enemy." "That is one of the US concerns since Iranian submarines are noiseless and can easily evade detection as they are equipped with the sonar-evading technology" and can fire missiles and torpedoes simultaneously, he added.
"When the submarine sits on the seabed it can easily target and hit an aircraft carrier traversing in the nearby regions," Amiri reiterated. Speaking on the sidelines of the naval parades in the Sea of Oman at the end of Velayat 90 massive naval drills, Salehi said that the US brought the aircraft carrier out of the Persian Gulf and the vessel passed through the Strait of Hormoz and stationed in the Sea of Oman before the start of Iran's naval drills. As regards Iran's reaction to the vessel's redeployment, Salehi stated, "We advise, warn and recommend them (US Navy) not to return this carrier to its previous location in the Persian Gulf." "We are not in the habit of repeating the warning and we warn only once," Salehi reiterated, without mentioning the name of the US aircraft carrier. The aircraft carrier Salehi was referring to was the USS John C. Stennis, one of the US navy's biggest vessels. Read the full story here.
Report: Obama Set to Reject Keystone Pipeline.(BI).The Obama administration is expected to reject the controversial Keystone Pipeline this afternoon, according to Fox News.The State Department is expected to vote against the pipeline this afternoon. Transcanada will however be allowed to reapply with an alternate route going through Nebraska.The administration will be unlikely to approve the pipeline under the timeline for the payroll tax cut extension law which requires a decision by February 21.
Hmmmm..........No real surprise there, PM Harper isn't waiting for the OK from the Obama Admin he's already selling parts of the Alberta sands to the Chinese .As he pointed out : "But just because certain people in the United States would like to see Canada be one giant national park for the northern half of North America, I don't think that's part of what our review process is all about".
The $5.5-billion Enbridge pipeline project is all about sending Alberta bitumen in huge oil tankers to China. Beijing’s own state enterprises are among the project’s major backers, and Beijing has been buying up Alberta’s oilpatch at such a dizzying pace lately it’s hard to keep up.
- In the spring of 2010, China’s state-owned Sinopec Corp. took a $4.65-billion piece of Syncrude.
- Then the China Investment Corporation, which is run by the Chinese Communist Party, took possession of a $1.25-billion share of Penn West Petroleum.
- Last summer, the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation gobbled up Opti Canada for $2.34 billion. And so on.
- then last month, Sinopec spent $2.2-billion to take over Daylight Energy Ltd.,
- and last week, Petro-China, with the final push of $1.9 billion, became the owner and manager of the MacKay River oilsands project.
Apparently PM Harper knows he can't rely on Pres Obama, he knows where the money is and what creates jobs. Read the full story here.More Under Obama, Oil and Gas Production on Federal Lands Is Down 40% here.
Syria - Zabadani - The First Liberated Syrian City?(EAWorldview).
Day Six : Shelling has resumed in the city of Zabadani for a 6th day, as the cease-fire has apparently broken. Please see today's live coverage for the latest details.
The broken cease-fire, however, does not erase the significance of this event. The Free Syrian Army did win a military victory, if only for a day. Even more evidence is surfacing that testifies to that fact.This video reportedly shows a burned-out hull of a tank, allegedly destroyed by the FSA yesterday.While we will continue to monitor this situation, what we know now is that a small number of FSA have been able to hold of the Syrian regular army, and many more have defected from the Assad regime in the last 24 hours in Zabadani.
Day Five: The Syrian town of Zabadani, at the bottom of a valley only 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Damascus, has declared that it is now independent from the Assad regime.Al-Ayyam adds that residents are preparing to announce today that Zabadani is, officially, "the first liberated city in Syria."
For five days the town of 40,000 was under constant attack, but video surfaced showing a large contingent of soldiers belonging to the Free Syrian Army, consisting of defectors from the regular army and members of the opposition, who had taken up arms. Several videos indicated that, despite the regime assault, the defectors were scoring hits on Assad's tanks.
Now members of the opposition, including some of its leaders, are reporting that the Assad military has agreed to a cease-fire.This is huge news, and the clearest sign yet that the Assad regime is losing control of parts of the country. A major military defeat this close to the capital Damascus will help establish a foothold for the Free Syrian Army in the Rif Dimashq governorate, and a victory for the FSA could be used as evidence that there is a viable military resistance in Syria around which foreign nations could build a safe haven.
Tanks burning in a field in Madaya, near Zabadani, after being destroyed by soldiers from the Free Syrian Army.
Beyond the reports of the presence of the FSA in the city before the attacks, and beyond the video at the top of the blog showing a burning field of Assad-loyal tanks (and another, similar video we posted yesterday), reports of widespread defection were also rampant. This video also reportedly shows a group of "shabiha" captured by the defectors.Read the full story here.
Indonesia - State railway company KAI Finds Concrete Solution for Rooftop Riders. (JG).After numerous failed attempts to persuade people to stop riding on the roofs of train cars, state railway company Kereta Api Indonesia is hoping the threat of injury, or even death, will put a stop to the already dangerous practice. The company announced on Wednesday that it planned to install hanging deterrents in the form of rows of concrete balls that will stop anything — living or dead — in its tracks.
Mateta Rizalulhaq, a spokesman for KAI, said the concrete balls would be hung at rooftop height at several stations, such as Bekasi, Tambun and Cikarang, and at train crossings.
“With this method, we hope the passengers will no longer sit on the train roof, as it is dangerous,” Mateta told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday.
He declined to give a specific start date for the new scheme but said that it would be implemented soon. Last year, KAI installed paint guns at various points that would spray those riding on rooftops. That plan merely resulted in angry, paint-spattered riders. Seventeen-year-old Adit said he liked roof riding with friends just for the fun of it. “There’s a rush when you get on top of the train, plus the view is great and you don’t have to pay,” he said.Read the full story here.
Pakistan rejects US envoy's visit request.(Al-Jazeera).Islamabad has rejected a request by Marc Grossman, the US special representative tofd Pakistan and Afghanistan, to visit the country, a senior official told the Reuters news agency."Ambassador Grossman asked to visit Pakistan but we conveyed to him that it was not possible at the moment," a senior Pakistani government official, who declined to be named, said on Wednesday.
Relations between Islamabad and Washington are at the lowest point in years after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed on November 26 in a NATO air strike in the region bordering Afghanistan.
The growing tension threatens to set back peace efforts in neighbouring Afghanistan, from where the US and NATO plan to gradually withdraw troops after a decade of war.President Barack Obama’s special envoy will also visit Afghanistan and Qatar as part of the US strategy to involve the Taliban in talks for a durable peace, as the international forces led by the US are likely to pull out of Afghanistan by 2014.Pakistan's co-operation is regarded as crucial because of its long history of association with armed groups.Hmmmm........Total US aid to Pakistan to more than $18 billion post 9/11.
Read the full story here.
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Indonesia 5.2 - 5.3 ; Argentina 5.0 !More info here.
- "There She Blows!" - Lamar Smith Says SOPA Markup To Resume In February.(TD).For all the talk from some that SOPA was "dead," it appears it's alive and well and getting ready for its big re-entrance. Lamar Smith has just sent out a press release saying that he intends to resume the markup in February: Stop Online Piracy Act Markup to Resume in February. Washington, D.C. - House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today said that he expects the Committee to continue its markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act in February.Chairman Smith: "To enact legislation that protects consumers, businesses and jobs from foreign thieves who steal America's intellectual property, we will continue to bring together industry representatives and Members to find ways to combat online piracy."Due to the Republican and Democratic retreats taking place over the next two weeks, markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act is expected to resume in February."I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send a bipartisan bill to the White House that saves American jobs and protects intellectual property." Read the full story here.
- Related - The Internet Goes to Washington on January 18.(EFF).Security Experts and Tech Investors Scheduled to Testify; Worldwide Internet Protest GatheringThere’s some good news in the efforts to stop the Internet blacklist bills (SOPA/PIPA): Representative Darrell Issa, an outspoken SOPA critic and the author of alternative legislation called the OPEN Act, has announced that the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on January 18 to hear from actual technical experts, technology job creators, Internet investors and legal scholars.EFF’s activists will be providing live coverage of the event through our EFFLive Twitter account. A number of online activists are strategizing plans for a “SOPABlackout” — “censoring” websites and logos to draw attention to the hearing and showcase the widespread opposition to the censorship bills. We’re glad to see lots of sites participating and we’re urging folks to use social networks on January 18 to help spread the word.The Oversight Committee hearing will address the topic of Domain Name Service (DNS) and search engine blocks generally, and explore ways for the government to avoid legislation that would hamper economic growth. Of course, as active and controversial legislation, SOPA and its evil twin in the Senate, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) are certain to be discussed at length.Here’s a look at the witnesses scheduled to speak.Read the full story here.
- IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz tells NATO world needs to 'prepare for the worst'.(JPost).The world needs to “prepare for the worst” in wake of the ongoing upheaval in the Middle East due to the proliferation of weaponry throughout the world and into the hands of terrorist organizations, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz warned on Wednesday.Addressing a meeting of NATO military commanders at the western military alliance in Brussels, Gantz said that the world needed to “strengthen moderate elements and weaken the radicals.”“Only through joint work combining tough and soft power can we deter and in the long term overcome these radical elements,” Gantz said. Earlier in the day, Gantz met with the Canadian and Italian chiefs of staff.Gantz said that NATO’s decision to establish a missile defense system throughout Europe was a demonstration of the severity non-conventional weapons pose to the world.“Ballistic missile defense systems need to be the last line of defense and the initiative needs to come earlier by exhausting all of the available means to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” he said.Read the full story here.
- Iranian Revolutionary Guard/Quds Force could be planning attack in Turkey.(TZ).Intelligence units have warned that the Quds Force, a special unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, plans to send a group to Turkey to carry out a series of demonstrations that may include a bomb attack on the Embassy or Consulate General of the United States.The Turkish Security General Directorate (EGM) has warned police departments in all 81 Turkish provinces that they must be vigilant and remain alert to the existence of such a threat. The intelligence pertaining to the possibility of such an attack was delivered in a secret letter to the information department at Turkey's General Directorate of Security. The written statement indicates that a team linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard will be sent to Turkey and that it may be planning to bomb the US embassy or consulate general in the country. The Quds Force is infamous for its role in attempting to export Iran's revolution to other countries through the instigation of chaos and by acting as the overseas branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp.A number of Iranian officials pledged revenge on Turkey last year after the country approved the establishment of the NATO defense system on its soil, with prominent military and political figures saying that Turkey would be sorry for siding with the US. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has also frequently expressed his concern over such “provocations” that may try to see the brotherhood of Iran and Turkey, which spans centuries, fall apart.Read the full story here.
- The West is losing its battle with Islam.(VC).By Popov Veniamin.In the late 20th and early 21st century the concept of “the clash of civilizations” advanced in 1993 by Prof. Samuel Huntington, an American scholar, became one of the most broadly and emotionally discussed ideas in political and academic circles in the West and East. Huntington maintained that in the 21st century the main line of conflict will run between the West and Islam, and later between the West and the rest of the world. The Western media launched a large-scale propaganda campaign to support this theory by attempting to prove that all problems in the modern world are rooted primarily in “militant Islam,” because this religion “projects violence and terror” by its very nature and goals.After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the United States launched wars against two Islamic states, drawing in other Western countries in its wake. This Afghan campaign is a real record-breaker, in terms of its duration (10 years), the number of troops involved (150,000) and their equipment.Officially, it was proclaimed a struggle against terrorism, primarily al-Qaeda, which had been blamed for the attack on the Twin Towers and other places on 9/11. Recently the Al-Ahram weekly called this war an “Afghan tragedy.” What was the result?Even according to the obviously underrated UN data, more than 11,000 civilians have died in the last five years of the war alone. After several years of hunting bin Laden, a powerful task force of U.S. Marines located and killed this feeble 60 year-old who had been dubbed “terrorist number one.” Al-Qaeda is far from being defeated, and it is even strengthening its positions in Yemen and Northern Africa. Meanwhile, the Taliban not only continues to control Afghanistan’s vast provinces, making inroads and staging acts of terror in its central regions and even Kabul - it is even expanding their zone of operation. This movement has been dubbed a “shadow government,” that is waiting for its time to come. Read the full story here.
- SOPA protest nears zero hour.(Politico).Internet companies and activists are hoping to join the Arab Spring and other online democracy movements by taking an estimated 7,000 websites offline Wednesday to send a message to Washington: Don’t pass a pair of anti-piracy bills.The websites that have announced plans to go dark include Wikipedia, Mozilla, Reddit and Wordpress, but some of the most visited websites are conspicuous in their absence.Google announced Tuesday that it will stop short of a blackout and instead the company plans to post a link on its iconic homepage explaining its opposition to the two arcane copyright bills that are suddenly fodder for the evening news: the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act."Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and Web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet,” a Google spokeswoman said in a statement. “So tomorrow we will be joining many other tech companies to highlight this issue on our U.S. homepage."Read the full story here.
- Recess appointments might not hold.(TheHill).By Alexander Bolton.Some legal experts, including those who have sided with President Obama on other constitutional issues, think there is a good chance the courts could overturn his recent recess appointments.Legal experts said courts could invalidate Obama’s appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) because there is scant precedent on the issue.“It’s untested ground. If I were a judge, I could write out an opinion either way. There’s no clear precedent,” said Charles Fried, a constitutional expert at Harvard Law School who served as solicitor general under former President Reagan.Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, said waiting until Cordray or the new NLRB appointees act would make for “a much stronger case than the one they moved last week.”“I don’t think the substitution of new labor board members vitiates the earlier action,” Tobias said. “If there’s fresh regulation adopted by Cordray as director, there’s a plausible argument that he doesn’t have the authority.”A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the House is mulling whether to pursue legal action against Cordray and the other appointees. “We’re examining our options,” said Michael Steel. Boehner said earlier this month that he expects courts to invalidate the president’s move.“This action goes beyond the president’s authority, and I expect the courts will find the appointment to be illegitimate,” he said in a statement.Read the full story here.
- Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion Violates Federalism.(Cato).By Ilya Shapiro.Today Cato filed its second Supreme Court amicus brief in the Obamacare litigation, on the issue of whether the health care law’s Medicaid expansion is a proper exercise of the Constitution’s Spending Clause.That is, states must now accept a comprehensive reorganization of Medicaid or forfeit all federal Medicaid funding—even though the spending power is circumscribed to preserve a distinction between what is local and what is national. If Congress is allowed to attach conditions to spending that the states cannot refuse in order to achieve an objective it could not outright mandate, the local/national distinction that is so central to federalism will be erased.Joining the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, Pacific Legal Foundation, Rep. Denny Rehberg (chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies), and Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeffrey Colyer (also a practicing physician) we argue that, in requiring states to accept onerous conditions on federal funds that it could not impose directly, the government has exceeded its enumerated powers and violated basic principles of federalism.California is at risk of losing $25.6 billion in annual federal funding, for example, and together the states stand to lose more than a quarter trillion dollars annually. On average, states would have to increase their general revenue budgets by almost 40% in order to maintain their current level of Medicaid funding.In short, if Obamacare does not cross the line from valid “inducement” to unconstitutional “coercion,” nothing ever will. Just as the Commerce Clause is not an open-ended grant of power, the Spending Clause too has limits that must be enforced.Read the full story here.
- Solyndra Update: Friday Document Dump Raises More Questions.(Heritage).The White House’s Friday evening Solyndra document dump revealed a pair of interesting facts that should not be lost in the news cycle’s three-day-weekend lull. Neither is a smoking gun, but both will likely fuel the fire of an investigation the administration would rather see die out.According to internal emails released on Friday, the White House was informed that Solyndra planned on announcing layoffs mere days before the 2010 midterm elections. “No es bueno” – not good – exclaimed a White House staffer on October 27, two days after Solyndra informed the Energy Department of the layoff announcement.DOE “push[ed] very hard for us to hold our announcement” on the layoffs until the day after the election, a Solyndra staffer wrote on October 30. That email was released last November. The latest batch does not show that the White House exerted pressure to delay the announcement, but the timing of the emails is likely to raise more questions than it answers.The emails also reveal that the administration was planning the president’s visit to Solyndra’s Fremont, Calif., headquarters even before a pair of DOE panels approved the company’s loan guarantee. Neither the Credit Committee nor the Credit Review Board had met on March 6, 2009, when a DOE memo noted: “Serious consideration being given to having the president announce on March 19th during his California trip that DOE is offering a loan guarantee to Solyndra.”During the latter days of the George W. Bush administration, the Credit Committee voted unanimously “not to engage in further discussions with Solyndra at this time.” Less than three months later, after Bush’s successor took office, the loan guarantee was approved.While the March 2009 DOE memo does not clearly show wrongdoing by the administration, it does suggest that it was forging ahead with the loan guarantee even before properly assessing its merits.Read the full story here.
- PM Harper: Canada not 'giant national park' for U.S.(CBC).Any decision on developments such as the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline should be left to Canadians, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says."It's one thing in terms of whether Canadians, you know, want jobs, to what degree Canadians want environmental protection. These are all valid questions," Harper said in an exclusive interview Monday with CBC chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge."But just because certain people in the United States would like to see Canada be one giant national park for the northern half of North America, I don't think that's part of what our review process is all about."The $5.5-billion Northern Gateway project is a proposal by Canadian oil and gas company Enbridge to build two pipelines stretching 1,177 kilometres between the Alberta oilsands and the West Coast. The Northern Gateway would have the capacity to transport 525,000 barrels of oil per day."I don’t object to foreigners expressing their opinion," Harper told CBC News. "But I don’t want them to be able to hijack the process so that we don’t make a decision that's timely or in the interests of Canadians.""We're really the only supplier that is secure and is increasing its production. So I think [being market-driven has] served the country well. It's served government revenues well. It's served creation of jobs well. But it is fundamentally a market-based decision. We don't dictate pipelines go here or there."Read and see (Video) the full story here.
- Cutting Edge Technology: Showcasing Israeli Unmanned Naval Vessel.(IDFS).The Protector unmanned surface vehicle (USV) is an Israeli-developed unmanned vessel using cutting edge technology. Nine meter long, weighting about 4,000 Kg (8,800 lbs) and reaching a speed of up to 92 Kph (57 mph), the Protector USV is based on former models of unmanned, autonomous, remotely controlled unmanned surface vehicles.Highly maneuverable and stealthy, the Protector can conduct a wide spectrum of critical missions, without exposing personnel and capital assets to unnecessary risk. Though autonomous, the device can easily be controlled from a shore several miles from the Protector.Read and see the full story here.
- Tourists killed in Ethiopia attack.(AlJazeera).German, Belgian, Austrian, Italian, Hungarian nationals among victims of shootings by gunmen, Ethiopia's communication minister says.Four people, including two foreign tourists, have been kidnapped by gunmen who also killed five foreigners in Ethiopia's Afar region, a government spokesman has said."The attack occurred at 5am local time on Tuesday, in which Eritrean-trained groups also kidnapped four. Two of them are foreigners, one is a driver and the other a policeman," Bereket Simon told Reuters news agency.Ethiopia's foreign ministry however, said it didn't have any further details about the attack or the victims' nationalities.Ethiopean state television [ETV], which first reported about the killings, also suggested that the attackers were rebels with ties to Ethiopia's archrival Eritrea, which hosts the exiled Oromo Liberation Front, a rebel group listed as a terrorist organisation by the Ethiopian government.ETV said two tourists were injured severely and were brought to a health clinic by defence forces. They are in critical condition, the television said. Another tourist survived the attack unharmed.Eritrea has rejected the accusation that it trained and armed the gunmen responsible for the attack in remote northeastern Afar region bordering Eritrea.In Berlin, a spokesman at the German foreign ministry, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said it has received "reports of an attack on a tour group with Germans in Ethiopia" and that the ministry is trying to determine what had happened.In Vienna, a spokesman at the Austrian foreign ministry said as many as 22 tourists of several European nationalities may have been attacked, including two Austrians.Read the full story here.
- Did Iran target and assassinate Iranian grad student, activist in Houston?(KSat).HOUSTON - A woman whom Houston police described as an activist on behalf of Iranian women's civil rights was found shot dead at the wheel of her car after it crashed into a townhouse garage.Houston police said the shooting happened around 12:30 a.m. Monday in a posh development near the Galleria.According to investigators, someone walked up to the passenger's side of 30-year-old Gelareh Bagherzadeh's car and shot her in the head.Bagherzadeh's body was found inside her running car, detectives said."When the officer arrived, the car's tires were still spinning," Officer J.C. Padilla said. "He had to reach in and turn off the motor."Bagherzadeh's car was found at the back of the town home complex, and police said she had driven past her parents' home near the front of the complex."We don't know if she was being followed at the time," Sgt. Richard Bolton said.Officers said Bagherzadeh's ex-boyfriend was on the phone with her when he heard what may have been the crash and gunshots."He said she screamed for her life," said Lorena Lopez, one of Bagherzadeh's close friends. "He heard screeching and he assumed it was a car accident."Bagherzadeh was part of Sabaz Houston, a local Iranian organization that supports the green movement against the current Iranian government..Hmmmm..............Read the full story here.
- Report: Turkish intelligence claims Israel aiding the PKK.(JPost).Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles that have been spotted in the Hatay and Adana provinces have gathered intelligence for the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), Turkey's Today's Zaman reported Tuesday according to Turkish intelligence agencies.The report claims that Israeli Heron drones helped the PKK gather information on the Hatay province, bordering Syria, that helped the group determine the locations for establishing training bases. Today's Zaman failed to say whether the Turkish report implicated Israel in aiding the PKK in any specific attack.It did say, however, that Kenan Yıldızbakan, a PKK member that organized an assault on a naval base in 2010, has visited Israel a number of times, lending to suspicions of collusion. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. Turkey has engaged in an ongoing conflict with Kurdish separatist groups, and at least 32,000 PKK militants and more than 10,000 Turkish soldiers and police have been killed by Turkey according to official Turkish numbers. Hmmmm.......Now that Obama has partnered with Turkey in the fight against terrorism, and conveniently left Israel out of the group.Has the time arrived to 'accuse' Israel of 'terrorist activities?Read the full story here.
- Black Widow attempted New Year Moscow attack but blew herself up by mistake.(CA).A "Black Widow" suicide bomber planned a terrorist attack in central Moscow on New Year's Eve but was killed when an unexpected text message set off her bomb too early, according to Russian security sources. The unnamed woman, who is thought to be part of the same group that struck Moscow's Domodedovo airport on Monday, intended to detonate a suicide belt on a busy square near Red Square on New Year's Eve in an attack that could have killed hundreds.Security sources believe a spam message from her mobile phone operator wishing her a happy new year received just hours before the planned attack triggered her suicide belt, killing her but nobody else.She was at her Moscow safe house at the time getting ready with two accomplices, both of whom survived and were seen fleeing the scene.Hmmmm........"From Russia with Spam"?Read the full story here.
- Former Saudi intelligence chief says all options open against Iranian ‘threats’.(AlArabiya).Saudi Arabia will use “all available options” to defend itself against Iranian “threats” that might trigger “unwanted military confrontation,” its former intelligence chief told a Gulf security conference.Prince Turki al-Faisal’s comments to the conference in Bahrain late on Tuesday came after Tehran demanded Riyadh rethink its offer to make up for any oil lost to world markets as a result of threatened curbs on Iranian exports.“Any threat to our interests or security will force us to use all available options to defend our interests, and national and regional security,” Faisal said in remarks carried by Al Arabiya news channel.“The mounting escalation and persistent tensions might end up in an adventure with unpredictable consequences or in an unwanted military confrontation.”Iran has warned Western governments that it will close the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf, a strategic choke point for much of the Middle East’s oil, if they press ahead with sanctions against its key crude exports.“Iran must not fuel this conflict and must not threaten us when we commit to international decisions,” Faisal said.“It must neutralise the security of the Strait of Hormuz and that of the world energy supply,” said Faisal, who is also a former Saudi ambassador in both London and Washington.Read the full story here.
- Iran - Death sentence for Canadian netizen confirmed, new arrests.(Trust).Reporters Without Borders is shocked to learn that the supreme court has confirmed website designer Saeed Malekpour's death sentence. His family said the court took the decision under pressure from the Revolutionary Guards. A Canadian resident who was arrested on 4 October 2008 while visiting his family, Malekpour, 35, was sentenced to death in January 2011 on chargesof anti-government agitation and insulting Islam.Arrests of netizens are meanwhile continuing. Simien Nematollahi, a contributer to the pro-Sufi website Majzooban (www.majzooban.org), was arrested at her Tehran home by intelligence ministry officials on 11 January on a charge of anti-government propaganda. Several members of the website's staff were arrested on 7 and 8 September and were freed on bail on 4 October pending trial.Mohammad Solimaninya, the head of u24, a social networking website for Iranian professionals, was arrested on 20 January after being summoned before a revolutionary tribunal in Karaj, a town 20 km north of Tehran, on 10 January. Plainclothes intelligence ministry officials searched his home the same day, confiscating his computer, hard disks and CDs.His family still does not know why he was arrested or where he is being held. As well as running u24, Solimaninya has created and hosts the websites of many civil society organizations, NGOs and Iranian intellectuals.Reporters Without Borders is also concerned about Mohammad Reza Pourshajari, a blogger who has been held since 12 September 2010. He was tried by a revolutionary court in Karaj on 21 December 2011 on a charge of insulting the Prophet in articles posted on his blog and in letters sent to government officials while he was in prison.His daughter said the trial lasted a quarter of an hour and took place without his lawyer being present. The charge of insulting the Prophet is very vaguely defined but it carries a possible death sentence and is often used by the authorities to silence critics who try to defy the government.Read the full story here.
- Some 11 metric tons of lethal mustard gas Remain Undestroyed in Libya.(RN).Some 11 metric tons of lethal mustard gas, also known as sulfur mustard or yperite, remain in existence in Libya, Belgian media reported on Wednesday citing Defense Minister Pieter de Crem.Under ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi, Libya joined the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in 2004. The country declared it had 1.4 metric tons of raw materials to produce chemical weapons and 25 metric tons of mustard gas.As of March 2011, Libya had destroyed 55 percent of its chemical weapons stockpile.However, the country still had to eliminate 11.25 tons of mustard gas, which can form large blisters or chemical burns on exposed skin and eyes and cause bleeding and blistering within the respiratory system.The disposal process was disrupted when an uprising to oust Gaddafi evolved into an armed conflict and resulted in the death of Libya’s longtime ruler, with the help of NATO and other international forces.According to earlier media reports, mustard gas was produced at a chemical plant in Rabta about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Tripoli and stockpiles were located in Rabta and Al-Jufra, south of Sirte.Read the full story here.
- Muslim Party Seeks Power In Dutch Parliament.(Forbes).By Abigail R. Esman.The Dutch Muslim Party has announced plans to seek seats in the Dutch Parliament. The party already has a hold in regional governments in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and other Dutch cities.The Partij Voor Moslim Nederland (Party for Muslim Netherlands), as it calls itself when it is not referring to itself as The Dutch Muslim Party (note the strong differences in meaning), campaigns on an anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, and anti-discrimination platform. It hopes to take part in Parliamentary elections in 2015. Among its principles:
- Criminalization of blasphemy.
- Free speech within limitations: speech that can be seen as insulting or offensive on religious grounds will be prosecuted.
- Damage or destruction of holy texts for any religion to be criminalized by law.
- Members of the party can also be non-Muslims.
- Women and men are to be seen as equal under the law.
- The party is to be based on the Islamic principle of Shura.
- All troops must be withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Turkey must immediately be made a member of the EU.
- Support to Israel must be stopped.
- Zero-tolerance for all drugs, including marijuana (currently tolerated under Dutch law).
- No bans shall be set against the current practice of importing poorly-educated women as brides for Dutch Muslim men.A new pamphlet outlining the party’s vision is to be published by the end of this month.Read the full story here.
- IDF Kills Two Terrorists near Gaza Belt Kibbutz.(INN).Israeli aircraft and tanks struck a terrorist cell attempting to bury bombs at the Gaza security fence near a kibbutz Wednesday morning, killing at least two terrorists.Hamas confiremd the kill. Aircraft fired four missiles on the cell, while tanks fired artillery shells. One of the cell's bombs exploded, and no Israeli soldiers were injured. Hamas claimed that other terroists at the scene are engaged in a gunfight with IDF soldiers, but there has been no confirmation from the army, and Hamas information often is propaganda without substantiation.Terrorists in Hamas-ruled Gaza have been staging almost daily attempts to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians, but their failure has kept the incidents out of mainstream media headlines.Read the full story here.
- Holocaust scholars to Obama: Condemn Libya for Bashir visit.(Jpost).Eighty Holocaust and genocide scholars signed a petition calling on US President Barack Obama to condemn Libya's new government for hosting a visit by Sudanese President Omar Bashir.Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for his role in the Darfur genocide."Especially in view of the role the United States played in bringing about the overthrow of the Gadhafi regime," the petition says, "the US has a right, and a moral obligation, to demand that the new Libya join us in treating perpetrators of genocide as pariahs."The petition urges Obama to "speak out publicly against Libya's embrace of Bashir and to make it clear to the international community that the US regards the hosting of visits by Bashir as unacceptable." Its signatories -- from the United States, Europe and Israel -- call for "a firmer policy by the US toward perpetrators of genocide and those who coddle them."Read the full story here.
- India says continuing to buy oil from Iran.(HD).Energy-hungry India said Tuesday it was continuing to buy oil from Iran, despite an intensifying US campaign to smother Tehran's vital oil exports until it abandons its nuclear programme."We have accepted sanctions which were made by the United Nations. Other sanctions do not apply to individual countries," Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told a news conference. "We continue to buy oil from Iran." Iran is India's second-largest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia, providing around 12 percent of the fast-growing country's needs at an annual cost of around $12 billion.The law provides waivers to firms in countries that significantly reduce crude supplies from Iran. Under Washington's measures, foreign firms must choose between doing business with the Islamic republic or the United States.Mathai said India would not seek a waiver from the United States.Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar told reporters on Monday the delegation would "work out what (could be done) in terms of the new sanctions under section 1245 of the US Act".The governments of the two countries would work on financial mechanisms for India to continue to import Iranian crude as well as to promote Indian exports, he added.New Delhi at present pays Iran $1 billion every month through Turkey.Hmmmm.....And Obama wouldn't want to upset buddy Erdogan...would he?Read the full story here.
It’s a girl: The three deadliest words in the world.(TheIndependent).By Ram Mashru .It’s a girl, a film being released this year, documents the practice of killing unwanted baby girls in South Asia. The trailer’s most chilling scene is one with an Indian woman who, unable to contain her laughter, confesses to having killed eight infant daughters.
The statistics are sickening. The UN reports approximately 200 million girls in the world today are ‘missing’. India and China are said to eliminate more female infants than the number of girls born in the US each year. Lianyungang in China has the worst infant gender ratio on record with 163 boys born for every 100 girls. Taiwan, South Korea and Pakistan are also countries in which unwanted female babies are aborted, killed or abandoned.
Gendercide in South Asia takes many forms: baby girls are killed or abandoned if not aborted as foetuses. Girls that are not killed often suffer malnutrition and medical neglect as sons are favoured when shelter, medicine and food are scarce. Trafficking, dowry deaths, honour killings and deaths resulting from domestic violence are all further evils perpetrated against women. This femicide has led the Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces to report in ‘Women in an Insecure World’ that a secret genocide is being carried out against women at a time when deaths resulting from armed conflicts have decreased.Hmmmm....................."Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world." ~ Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5; Babylonian Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 37a.Read the full story here.