Friday, February 3, 2012
Arrested Turkish journalist Ragıp Zarakolu nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.(HurriyetDaily).By Vercihan Ziflioğlu.Members from the Swedish Parliament nominate imprisoned Turkish publisher and human rights defender Ragıp Zarakolu for the Nobel Peace Prize. The nomination comes amid a debate over the prize’s criteria.Turkey’s prisons abound with writers, intellectuals and academics, a direct contradiction to the country’s desire to become a model for the Middle East, said Swedish Parliamentarian Armineh Kakabaveh, who recently nominated arrested journalist Ragıp Zarakolu for the Nobel Peace Prize.
“I am greatly honored to nominate Zarakolu for this prize. I hope the Nobel Committee accepts Zarakolu’s candidacy,” said Kakabaveh, one of five Swedish deputies who recently filed a formal appeal with the Norwegian Nobel Committee to nominate Zarakolu, a Turkish writer, journalist and publisher who has remained behind bars since Nov. 1, 2011, on terrorism-related charges.
“As far as we know, no one has had access yet to the [indictment] file, including Ragıp’s lawyer. He [has remained] behind bars for more than three months already. What kind of rule of law is this? Turkey should free Zarakolu and all the journalists, writers and intellectuals who have not advocated violence,” said Bjorn Smith-Simeonsen, the head of the Freedom to Publish Committee of the Geneva-based International Publishing Association (IPA), which has vigorously campaigned for Zarakolu’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.IPA called for the immediate release of Zarakolu. "Ragıp Zarakolu is the pride of publishing. He is the limelight of freedom to publish in Turkey. (...) This man does not belong to prison, he deserves a Nobel Prize.", Bjorn Smith-Simonsen, Chair of IPA's Freedom to Publish Committee (FTPC), said. "The trial is likely to begin in a year's time only. Ragıp Zarakolu's health is not good. We fear that he will not stand his detention conditions in the terrible F-type (high security) prisons. This is an additional reason for the Turkish authorities to show compassion and release him immediately", the IPA urged.
PEN International described Zarakolu in their announcement as a person whose name is being "respected internationally in the struggle for freedom of writing and publishing".Publisher Ragip Zarakolu, recipient of the 2008 IPA Freedom to Publish Prize, was arrested on Friday, 28 October 2011 in Istanbul. The 14th High Criminal Court in Besiktas, Istanbul decided earlier today, following a 28-hour long hearing, to incarcerate the man whom many view as Turkey’s most prominent freedom of expression and minority rights activist. In particular, he is being accused of being a member of an illegal organisation under the anti-terror legislation. IPA considers his imprisonment to be in violation of Turkey’s international treaty obligations. IPA therefore demands that he be released immediately.Read the full story here and here.
One Group’s Strategy to Derail Oil Pipelines, Raise Energy Prices.(Heritage).
Details of a large non-profit’s plans to combat the Keystone XL pipeline have surfaced, and offer some insight into the strategies and tactics of groups looking to combat the use of fossil fuels.
Canadian news channel Sun News uncovered of a PowerPoint presentation from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund detailing its work with other groups to derail the Keystone XL pipeline and other similar projects it deemed parts of “a globally significant threat.”
The presentation, written in 2008, describes the allocation of $7 million to environmental non-profits for tactics that include the use of the legislative and legal systems to delay or derail energy production in the United States and Canada, and to “raise the costs” of energy in both nations.
Here is that presentation in full.
Dempsey Told Israelis U.S. Won't Join Their War on Iran.(IPSNews).By Gareth Porter.Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told Israeli leaders Jan. 20 that the United States would not participate in a war against Iran begun by Israel without prior agreement from Washington, according to accounts from well-placed senior military officers.
Dempsey's warning, conveyed to both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, represents the strongest move yet by President Barack Obama to deter an Israeli attack and ensure that the United States is not caught up in a regional conflagration with Iran. But the Israeli government remains defiant about maintaining its freedom of action to make war on Iran, and it is counting on the influence of right-wing extremist views in U.S. politics to bring pressure to bear on Obama to fall into line with a possible Israeli attack during the election campaign this fall. Obama still appears reluctant to break publicly and explicitly with Israel over its threat of military aggression against Iran, even in the absence of evidence Iran has decided to build a nuclear weapon. Dempsey's trip was highly unusual, in that there was neither a press conference by the chairman nor any public statement by either side about the substance of his meetings with Israeli leaders. Even more remarkable, no leak about what he said to the Israelis has appeared in either U.S. or Israeli news media, indicating that both sides have regarded what Dempsey said as extremely sensitive.
The substance of Dempsey's warning to the Israelis has become known, however, to active and retired senior flag officers with connections to the JCS, according to a military source who got it from those officers.Hmmmm.....War would have a devastating effect on the economy thus bring his reelection in danger.His own reelection primes above the lives of approximatly 7,6 Million Israeli citizens.Read the full story here.
Barack Obama says the drone attacks he authorises are targetted only at named people on a list of active terrorists who are a direct threat to America.
MFS:"The reason i posted the Video is to accentuate the following post" from Brahma Chellaney, Professor of Strategic Studies at the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research.
"Now, US policy, with its frantic search for a deal with the Taliban, is about to complete another orbit. Indeed, the Qatar-based negotiations highlight why the US political leadership has deliberately refrained from decapitating the Taliban. The US military has had ample opportunities (and still has) to eliminate the Taliban’s Rahbari Shura, or leadership council, often called the Quetta Shura because it relocated to that Pakistani city.
Yet, tellingly, the US has not carried out a single drone, air, or ground strike in or around Quetta. All of the US strikes have occurred farther north, in Pakistan’s tribal Waziristan region, although the leadership of the Afghan Taliban and of its allied groups, like the Haqqani network and the Hekmatyar band, is not holed up there. Source : No Escape from Empire’s Graveyard.
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Vanuatu 6.0 - 5.7 - 5.6 - 5.4 ; Papua new Guinea 5.1 !More info here.
- Obama Underestimated 2012 Deficit by About Half a Trillion Dollars.(WS).In President Obama’s first budget, entitled (with no apparent sense of irony) “A New Era of Responsibility,” he projected that the federal budget deficit in 2012 would be a rather hefty $581 billion (see summary table S-1). Fast-forwarding three years, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) now projects that it will instead be $1.079 trillion, meaning that, if the CBO is right, Obama was wrong by $498,000,000,000. To put that into perspective, that roughly half-trillion dollar margin of error is more than Obama allocated is this year’s budget for Medicare (see table S-3). Medicare could magically have become free for 2012, and the deficit would still have exceeded Obama’s earlier estimate.Deficit spending under Obama has truly been historic. An editorial in the Wall Street Journal rightly observes that “Mr. Obama has the worst fiscal record of any President in modern times. No one else is even close.” However, even this is somewhat generous. When you factor in the context — we’re not currently fighting the Civil War, World War I, or World War II, which are the only other times that our deficits have exceeded 6.0 percent of GDP (as they have every year under Obama) — the deficits on Obama’s watch are by far the most profligate in all of American history.Hmmmm.....An American debt to last?Read the full story here.
- Is Iran about to test a Nuclear weapon?(AstuteBloggers).By ReliaPundit). Khamenei then claimed the current century as the century of Islam and promised that human history is on the verge of a great event and that soon the world will realize the power of Allah.IMHO: THE ONLY THING THAT THIS COULD BE IS EITHER A TEST OF A NUKE OR THE USE OF A NUKE.Hmmm.....Last year the Former mossad chief warned of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon in 2012.And The maximum of 3,000 centrifuges that Fodow can contain will never produce enough to supply the fuel needed for a nuclear reactor.However, their performance is perfect for making nuclear bombs.So i wouldn't be surprised.Read the full story here.
- "Commander-In-Chief" quotes Jesus, but army Silenced Chaplains Last Sunday.(NR).In Catholic churches across the country, parishioners were read letters from the pulpit this weekend from bishops in their diocese about the mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services giving Catholics a year before they’ll be required to start violating their consciences on insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs. But not in the Army. A statement released this afternoon — which happens to be the 67th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Dorchester, on which four chaplains lost their lives – from the Archdiocese for Military Services explains: On Thursday, January 26, Archbishop Broglio emailed a pastoral letter to Catholic military chaplains with instructions that it be read from the pulpit at Sunday Masses the following weekend in all military chapels. The letter calls on Catholics to resist the policy initiative, recently affirmed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, for federally mandated health insurance covering sterilization, abortifacients and contraception, because it represents a violation of the freedom of religion recognized by the U.S. Constitution.The Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains subsequently sent an email to senior chaplains advising them that the Archbishop’s letter was not coordinated with that office and asked that it not be read from the pulpit. The Chief’s office directed that the letter was to be mentioned in the Mass announcements and distributed in printed form in the back of the chapel.So not only were chaplains told not to read the letter, but an Obama administration official edited a pastoral letter . . . with church buy-in?Hmmmm.....Didn’t people flee across an ocean-sized pond to be free of this kind of thing?Read the full story here.
- Obama hides from the press.(DailyMail).By Don Surber.The only president to ever need a teleprompter to handle a press conference — so his staff could feed him the answers — held his last prime-time press conference in July 2009, which ended in disaster when he said the police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, “acted stupidly” in arresting his friend Henry Louis Gates.The New York Times broke the unwritten code among journalists that you never, ever complain about mistreatment from Barack Obama.President Obama has bubble-wrapped himself in the White House. His press staff reflects his attitude of disdain toward the press, as Brian Stetler noted: Daniel Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, responded in an e-mail, “The idea that interacting with the public through social media is somehow going around the White House press corps is a prehistoric notion.”“The media has become so diffuse that communicating ones’ message requires a lot more work than it used to,” he wrote. “You have to be willing to go where the viewers are, because they now have so much choice in where they get their information.”Bizarre. The imperial presidency rises. No one in that “prehistoric notion” called the White House Press corps is willing to call Obama out on this. Not even Jake Tapper.And this echoes in corporate chambers as well. From Glenn Reynolds: “I was talking to a CEO last year — an Obama supporter no less — who told me he was amazed at how openly Administration officials threatened to use media demonization if he didn’t play ball. It’s like they’ve got the press in their pocket or something. But now some of those officials have to be thinking that the people they threaten will be around after Obama’s gone, and they’ll remember.”The press and corporate America allow this man to bully them. They deserve scorn.Read the full story here.
- "никто дома" - “Reset” Backfires as Clinton Fails to Reach Foreign Minister Lavrov.(Heritage).On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wanted to reach her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, to discuss the upcoming U.N. Security Council vote on Syria, but there was nobody on the other end of the line.Apparently, it took Secretary Clinton more than 24 hours to get ahold of Lavrov to discuss the United Nations resolution that would force Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to step down within two weeks. Is this what the real “reset” with Russia looks like? If so, the “reset” button needs to be pushed again: The Administration should announce an in-depth Russia policy review.Syria is not the only area where Moscow is bucking the Washington-led coalition that includes our Western European allies and the Sunni Arab states. On Iran, Russia (and China) is as intransigent as it is on Syria.The reason: Russia’s perception that the United States is behind this popular uprising. The Kremlin views democracy-promoting nongovernmental organizations and even private-sector social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, as a part of a nefarious U.S. global agenda to spread “managed chaos.” It sounds like a conspiracy theory because it is one. As President Ronald Reagan would say, this is just not so.Peaceful protests against Assad’s dictatorship started last spring and have claimed more than 5,000 lives. Today, as Assad refused to pursue political reforms, the insurrection grew violent. Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, are vying to lead the Syrian Sunni majority to power.Russia’s continued defiance of U.S., Western, and Sunni Arab interests is a clear mark of disregard for the Obama Administration’s “reset” policy. Russia wants to see itself as an independent pole of a “multi-polar” world—but in Syria, this approach is backfiring. Some Russian policymakers understand that. Mikhail Margelov, a Middle East expert who taught Arabic in the KGB Academy and is now the chairman of the Russian Parliament’s upper house International Affairs Committee, said that Moscow has exhausted the arsenal of its means to support Assad. Hopefully, someone in the Kremlin is paying attention.The list of the Obama Administration’s concessions to Russia is long—but they failed to earn cooperation on Syria. They included the cancellation of the “third site” in Poland and the Czech Republic, a ballistic missile defense plan for the protection of Europe and the U.S. homeland. The Administration toned down criticism of democratic norms and human rights violations, as Moscow stepped up its crackdown on peaceful protests in 2011 and manipulated the parliamentary election.The White House pursued a policy of geopolitical neglect in the former Soviet Union and a lack of any tangible response regarding Russia’s strategic nuclear buildup. These concessions emboldened Russia to become even more bellicose and disregardful of U.S. interests.Syria is yet another example of the “reset” policy backfiring. Lavrov’s cold shoulder treatment of the U.S. Secretary of State demonstrates that Moscow considers the Administration weak.Hmmmm......Obama: "All the Choices We've Made Have Been the Right Ones"Read the full story here.
- No Escape from Empire’s Graveyard.(PS).By Brahma Chellaney.NEW DELHI – With the stage set for secret talks in Qatar between the United States and the Taliban, US President Barack Obama’s strategy for a phased exit from war-ravaged Afghanistan is now being couched in nice-sounding terms that hide more than they reveal. In seeking a Faustian bargain with the Taliban, Obama risks repeating US policy mistakes that now haunt regional and international security.Since coming to office, Obama has pursued an Afghan strategy that can be summed up in three words: surge, bribe, and run. The military mission has now entered the “run” part, or what euphemistically is being called the “transition to 2014.”The central objective is to cut a deal with the Taliban so that the US and its NATO partners exit the “graveyard of empires” without losing face. This approach – aimed more at withdrawing forces as soon as possible than at ensuring enduring peace and regional stability – is being dressed up as “reconciliation,” with Qatar, Germany, and the United Kingdom getting lead roles in facilitating a settlement.Yet what stands out is how little the US has learned from the past. In critical respects, it is beginning to repeat its own mistakes, whether by creating or funding new local militias in Afghanistan, or by striving to come to terms with the Taliban. As with the covert war that the US waged in the 1980’s in Afghanistan against Soviet military intervention, so, too, have short-term interests driven US policy in the current overt war.To be sure, any leader must work to extricate his country from a protracted war, so Obama is right to seek an end to this one. But he was not right in laying out his cards in public and emboldening the enemy.Read the full story here.
- Two US tourists 'kidnapped in Egypt's Sinai peninsula'.(BBC).Gunmen in Egypt's Sinai peninsula have kidnapped two American women tourists, Egyptian security sources say.They were travelling in a small bus with three other tourists from St Catherine's monastery on Mount Sinai to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh when it was stopped by the gunmen.One official told the Reuters news agency that the men wanted a ransom.Bedouins kidnapped 25 Chinese workers in northern Sinai earlier this week, but released them unharmed after a day.They were demanding the release of fellow tribesman who were jailed after the 2004 bomb attack at the resort of Taba that killed 31 people.The Americans were reportedly travelling through the Wadi al-Sual area of Sinai, about 40km (25 miles) from St Catherine's, when a vehicle carrying masked men armed with machine-guns forced the bus to stop.The gunmen took the tourists' money and valuables before grabbing the two women, forcing them into a vehicle and fleeing into the mountains.Their Egyptian tour guide was also kidnapped, AFP news agency said.Read the full story here.
- NATO Will Switch On Its (limited) Missile Shield in May.(Wired).BRUSSELS, Belgium — This is what years of development, revamp and acrimony have yielded: Starting in May, Europe will have the beginning of an operational shield against ballistic missiles, courtesy of NATO.The system will be modest at first, not much more than SM-3 interceptor missiles aboard the U.S.S. Monterrey, a ship enabled with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system and stationed in the Mediterranean. It’ll be aided by an early-warning radar system Turkey’s hosting at its Kurecik base.But together, they form what a senior NATO official told reporters on Wednesday was an “interim capability” to stop incoming missiles — the first, ever, in Europe. NATO will formally announce it in May at its big summit in Chicago, and when defense chiefs meet here on Thursday, they’ll get updated on its progress.There’s a long, long way to go in what the Obama administration calls its “phased adaptive” approach to the Euro missile shield. The SM-3 interceptors aboard the Monterrey — the first of many such ships headed to the Med — can only stop short- to intermediate-range missiles. (NATO would not disclose the exact range for the “interim” shield.) It will take years to add even the entire easternmost parts of the continent to the shield — the “phased” part of “phased adaptive” — as its first ground-based anti-missile missiles, which will be hosted in Romania, won’t be operational until 2015. And the shield won’t be able to stop intercontinental ballistic missiles until 2020, if everything goes according to plan.NATO also wouldn’t discuss how Iran would react to an announcement of an infant missile shield. “It’s aimed at incoming missiles, not a [specific] country,” said the senior NATO official, who would not brief reporters on the record.Hmmmm..........Hurry, hurry there's an election coming?Read the full story here.
- US 'no-fly' list of suspected terrorists doubles in 12 months.(Guardian).Classified log of individuals banned from flying into or within America as they are considered a threat stands at 21,000. The size of the US government's secret list of suspected terrorists who are banned from flying to or within the country has more than doubled in the past year.The no-fly list jumped from about 10,000 known or suspected terrorists one year ago to about 21,000, according to government figures. About 500 are US nationals.The flood of new names began after the failed Christmas 2009 bombing of a Detroit-bound jetliner when the US government lowered the standard for putting people on the list and scoured its files for anyone who qualified. "We learned a lot about the watchlisting process and made strong improvements, which continue to this day," said Timothy Healy, director of the Terrorist Screening Centre, which produces the no-fly list.Among the most significant new standard is that a person doesn't have to be considered only a threat to aviation to be placed on the list.People considered a broader threat to domestic or international security or who attended a terror training camp are also included, said a US counter-terrorism official who spoke on condition of anonymity. As agencies complete the reviews of their files, the pace of growth is expected to slow, the counter-terrorism official said.The American Civil Liberties Union has previously sued the US government on behalf of Americans who believe they are on the no-fly list and have not been able to travel by air for work or to see family."The news that the list is growing tells us that more people's rights are being violated," said Nusrat Choudhury, of the ACLU. "It's a secret list, and the government puts people on it without any explanation. Citizens have been stranded abroad."Read the full story here.
- Note to Congress: Swear Off Phony War Savings, Now and Forever.(Heritage).By Patrick Louis Knudsen.Though the idea has been thoroughly discredited, the President and Members of Congress are still considering a large, thoroughly bogus “savings” option to help cover their profligate spending: They intend to claim war spending that was never going to be spent as “savings”—and then spend it on something else. It is one of the most embarrassingly transparent gimmicks in town, and it should be shunned permanently.The alleged “savings” come from a reduction in estimated projected spending on U.S. activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. But those activities—termed Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)—already are winding down. The projected spending does not exist, and never will exist—and therefore neither do the “savings.”These Twilight Zone savings are only an artifact of the way the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates future spending. As explained yesterday in a blog post by CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf: CBO, in its baseline projections for OCO spending, follows the rules set in law for projecting discretionary spending—that is, it projects appropriations in future years equal to those in the current year, with adjustments for inflation. But that is just a baseline projection; the funding has not yet been provided, and there is no “OCO fund” set aside in the Treasury from which resources can be drawn in future years.That is typically mild CBO-speak for: “You can’t be serious.”But the President and lawmakers are in a bind. They are trapped in several budget crises of their own making, and now need a deus ex machina to escape. The President wants the “savings” to spend on more Keynesian-style economic stimulus. Members of Congress want them for at least two other options: to pay for the “doc fix,” which they have adopted year after year to prevent a sharp plunge in payments to Medicare physicians, or to help finance a bloated transportation bill. But to say it again, these savings do not exist. Therefore, they cannot reduce the deficit, and they cannot offset more spending. End of story.President Obama has attempted this trick before, starting with his first budget, so he could claim large savings by proposing to spend less than those amounts. He used it again in his September “jobs” proposal. Senator Harry M. Reid (D–NV) made the same attempt in last year’s debt limit negotiations proposal, only to see the bogus savings lambasted by principled Members of Congress who can recognize a gimmick.It is bad enough for the President and Congress to claim completely unreal savings. Even worse is when they then turn around and plan to spend them. Enough is enough. Congress and the President should give up the fakery, take the budget seriously, and find budgetary savings that exist in the real world.Read the full story here.
- Disposal of Russian Third Generation Nuclear Subs Suspended.(RN).Russia has decided to suspend the planned disposal of third-generation strategic nuclear submarines currently in service with the Navy, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Thursday.“The most successful projects will undergo two repairs instead of one. The subs' period of service will be extended to 30-35 years instead of the current 25,” Rogozin told journalists.He also said Akula (Typhoon) class submarines will be upgraded and their electronics and armaments replaced every seven years.According to Rogozin, this will help gain time until all eight Borey class strategic submarines are deployed by 2020.The deputy premier also said a naval vessel construction development program for the next 30 years is expected to be worked out soon.Read the full story here.
- Deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin:"Russia to Build 6 Submarines Annually".(RN).Russia will start producing six submarines and one aircraft carrier annually starting in 2013, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Thursday.“By 2013, production capacity [at Russian shipyards] will allow us to build six submarines and an aircraft carrier every year,” Rogozin told reporters, adding that the number includes both nuclear and diesel-powered submarines.As a result, the production output will surpass that of the Soviet era when Russia built an average of five submarines annually, he said.Rogozin earlier said the production had been bogged down in the past by a lack of financing, outdated equipment and a shortage of skilled labor.Russia is planning to build eight Borey class strategic submarines and up to 10 Graney class attack subs by 2020.Hmmmm......A cold wind blowing from Mother Russia.Read the full story here.
- Egypt Fumes Over Israel's Energy Plans.(INN).By Gavriel Queenann.Israel has beaten Egypt to the punch in its bid to connect to the European electrical grid, leaving pundits in Cairo gnashing their teeth.Egypt's media went into a frenzy over Israel's plans to build a major electrical plant in Ashdod, in what some pundits in Cairo claim is an attempt to undermine Egypt's plans to export electric energy to Europe.Calling the project Israel's "High Dam," after Egypt’s major Nile dam and electrical power station, the reports note that the project will receive joint European-American funding. The project will both aid Israel in reducing its dependence on gas imports and allow the Jewish state to export electricity to Cyprus and Europe.The Israel Electric Company (IEC) and Greece's DEH Quantum Energy are expected to sign the MOU in a few weeks' time. This will lead to a feasibility study, which will be followed – if all goes well – by ratification of the project by the Israeli and Cypriot governments, in the course of 2012.The cable will be 270 km. long. Another cable will connect Cyprus and Crete, which is part of the Greek electricity grid. An MOU for the longer cable has already been signed between Greece and Cyprus.The closeness of Israel to Cyprus and Greece helped make the High Dam project more feasible, since Israel will be linked to the Cypriot and Greek electricity networks with 53,000 kilometers of connections under the sea to European shores, and is later expected to extend for another 600 kilometers inside European territories.The electricity generated by the High Dam will provide more than 10 European countries with an electric power estimated at 2,000 megawatts and will reach 4,000 megawatts by 2020.Hmmmm.......Another project that 'terrorists will attack.Read the full story here.
- Sharia in Germany?German Politician Blasted for Support of Islamic Law.(Spiegel).Most politicians in Germany have gotten the message: The quickest way to spark a career-damaging controversy is to make a facile comment about Nazis or the Holocaust. Media critics and political opponents are quick to pounce.But that isn't the only way to attract unwanted attention, as Jochen Hartloff, the interior minister of the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, found out this week. In an interview with the Berlin tabloid BZ, Hartloff said that Sharia law, in a "modern form," would be acceptable in Germany. In comments published on Friday in the center-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, he added that Islamic moral code "is certainly conceivable when it comes to questions pertaining to civil law."Hartloff, a politician from the center-left Social Democrats, made clear that he was referring specifically to family law issues such as divorce settlements and alimony, but also certain instances of contract law in which devout Muslims seek to avoid paying interest. Applying Sharia rules, he said, could help avoid hostility in such cases.Reaction, perhaps predictably, has not been entirely supportive. Jörg-Uwe Hahn, the justice minister in the state of Hesse, lambasted Hartloff, telling the mass-circulation tabloid Bild that "German courts are here responsible for the law. We don't need special Islamic courts." He was seconded by Stephan Mayer, a parliamentarian for the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats. Mayer, a legal expert, demanded Hartloff's resignation. "It is inconceivable that a justice minister fosters such ideas," he told Bild. "There is no room in Germany for Islamic law. The Sharia is barbarous and inhuman in all its forms."Read the full story here.
- Over 650 injured in Egypt clashes.(BikyaMasr).CAIRO: Over 650 people have been injured as protesters and police clash in downtown Cairo on Thursday evening, al-Arabiya is reporting. Thousands have gathered on Mohamed Mahmoud street in the center of Egypt’s capital to demand the end to military rule following violence at a football match on Wednesday that left at least 75 dead in Port Said.Medical personnel told Bikyamasr.com that the number “could become even greater, but thank God, no deaths.”Near continuous tear gas continues to rain down upon protesters, who are being pulled from the frontlines by young men on motorcycles and delivered to makeshift field hospitals set up on side streets nearby.Despite the tear gas, spirits remain high among the protesters, led by the fans of Egyptian football club al-Ahly, who were the victims of Wednesday’s violence.Earlier in the evening, the fans and protesters marched to central Cairo, chanting against the military junta and calling for the “execution of the Field Marshal,” in reference to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) chief Hussein Tantawi.“We won’t leave. They will have to kill us,” one protester told Bikyamasr.com, as billowing smoke from the tear gas wafted over the area. Eyes burning, the activist went straight into the mix to assist those in need of help, pulling one man out of the cloud of gas.“It’s all we can do to demand justice,” the activist added.The violence began as the protesters continued to chant against the military and police. Early in the evening, as the sun was setting, security forces began firing tear gas into the crowds, in a failed attempt to disperse the protests.Read the full story here.More here.
- NATO 'ally' Turkey bans French army passage.(HurriyetDaily).French state aircraft and warships are no longer using Turkish airspace and territorial waters after permission requests in three different cases were rejected by the Turkish government, France’s top diplomat in Ankara said, amid the ongoing spat over a French law penalizing the denial of Armenian genocide. “Our requests [for an aircraft and two warships] have been rejected, so we are no longer issuing such requests. We are using alternative routes,” France’s Ambassador to Turkey Laurent Bili told the private news channel CNN Türk in an interview. Bili said the first rejection was to a request for a French military aircraft that wanted to use Turkish airspace on its way to France from Afghanistan. Similarly, two French warships were not allowed to enter Turkish territorial waters recently. Turkey’s move against the French military was part of sanctions imposed against France after the adoption of the law at French Parliament late December last year. Though enough numbers of lawmakers and senators were collected to take the law to the Constitutional Council for possible annulment, Bili’s words revealed the process was not an easy one.Hmmm......When will NATO realise the potential threat that Turkey represents to the organisation?Read the full story here.
- Iran's supreme leader Khamenei promises Iranian people the world will soon be rid of 'cancerous Zionist regime'.(YNet)."The Zionist regime is a cancerous tumor and it will be removed," Teheran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday.Khamenei addressed thousands of worshipers attending a Tehran University prayer service marking the Fajr celebration.The Iranian Revolution brought freedom and dignity to Iranian people and "destroyed the anti-Islamic regime, and brought Islamic regime instead… Dictatorship was changed to democracy," he said. Khamenei further downplayed the possibility of a United States' strike on the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities: "A war would be 10-times deadlier for the Americans… These threats indicate America's weakness and the Americans need to know that the more threats they make, the more they damage themselves."He also dismissed the West's sanctions on Iran, saying that they will not make Iran forfeit its nuclear ambitions: "They said they would impose crippling sanctions to punish us, but the sanctions are good for us – they make us rely on our own talented people." He also reiterated Iran's threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, saying that "when the time comes we will execute our warning."Khamenei also addressed the Arab Spring, saying he believed the Palestinians will soon follow the example of the Arab world. He promised that "Iran would assist any country or organization that would fight the Zionist regime, which is now weaker than ever," he said. Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, said that Iran has helped Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas in their fights against Israel. The crowd met the statement by chanting "Death to Israel."Read the full story here.
- Children as young as 13 tortured, electrocuted by Syrian forces: rights group.(AlArabiya).Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have detained and tortured children as young as 13 with impunity, opened fire on them and used schools as detentions centers of military barracks, Human Rights Watch reported on Friday.“Children have not been spared the horror of Syria’s crackdown. Syrian security forces have killed, arrested, and tortured children in their homes, their schools, or on the streets. In many cases, security forces have targeted children just as they have targeted adults,” said Lois Whitman, children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. A 17-year-old girl from Tal Kalakh, was quoted by the rights group as saying that in May 2011, security forces entered her school and arrested all the boys in her class, after questioning them about the anti-regime slogans painted on the school walls.“About four [officers] jumped over the walls, and the rest came through the main gate. They hit [the boys] with their hands and cursed them. I left school three days after that. I don’t know if [the boys] ever came back,” said Nazih (not her real name).The rights groups reported that children as young as 13 were “held in solitary confinement, severely beaten and electrocuted, burned them with cigarettes, and left to dangle from metal handcuffs for hours at a time, centimeters above the floor.”Read the full story here.
- Iran - Judiciary Chief Raps UN Biased Report on Iran's Human Rights.(Fars).TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran's Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani censured UN Special Reporter for Human Rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed for his biased report on Iran. "It is amazing that a rapporteur who is responsible for observing international legal rights has expressed such biased reports about Iran," Ayatollah Larijani said, addressing the third professional conference on human rights, Islam and the West here in Tehran on Thursday. The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed of the Maldives, alleged in his 21-page report in October 2011 that rights violations have increased in Iran. The rapporteur had already issues false reports on the status of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, he said. It is astonishing that in the West anyone denying the Holocaust is sent to jail but if one insults holy prophets, there is nothing wrong with it, Ayatollah Larijani underscored. Torture has been banned in the Human Rights Declaration but the Americans have tortured prisoners in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib jails, Larijani said. There are numerous cases of human rights violations by western countries, the Judiciay chief said. Ahmed Shaheed presented his report on Iran to the UN Human Rights Council based on the allegations made by the western powers and the Islamic Republic opposition parties in exile and without even paying a single visit to the country.Read the full story here.
- Ukraine’s jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko tortured, daughter informs US.(HurriyetDaily).The daughter of Ukraine’s jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said her mother was being abused in prison, as she pleaded with lawmakers to pressure Kiev to release her.Tymoshenko has been “illegally imprisoned, maltreated and humiliated for six months” in prison, and was being subject to “sleep deprivation and intimidation to try and break her,” Eugenia Tymoshenko told lawmakers at a hearing of the European Affairs subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Yulia Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year jail sentence after a court convicted her of abuse of power, which she claimed was a political prosecution by her rival Viktor Yanukovych, who is now the president. Her daughter urged the U.S. government to pressure Yanukovych to free the former leader. Eugenia Tymoshenko said her mother is constantly kept in a lit cell under video surveillance and recently fell unconscious from a “mysterious loss of blood pressure.” Prison authorities have said she merely felt dizzy. A top U.S. lawmaker warned Feb. 1 that relations with the West were at risk over the imprisonment. “It would be difficult if not impossible for Ukraine to deepen relations with the West while Ms Tymoshenko remains behind bars,” said U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen at the hearing. The top U.S. intelligence official warned that democracy is under siege in Ukraine. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that Ukraine is moving toward authoritarian rule under President Viktor Yanukovych.Read the full story here.
- Saudi Mufti, Pope urge caution with social media.(Gulfnews).Manama: Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti and Pope Benedict XVI have urged people to "exercise proper discernment in the face of the surfeit of stimuli and data" that they receive on the internet.In Riyadh, Shaikh Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh said people cannot take the social-networking website Twitter as the source of their knowledge if they do not really know who is behind the posted comments."Twitter is used to issue fatwas [religious edicts] without evidence or substantiation," the mufti said. "It is used as a platform to spread lies by some people who seek fame by insulting and denigrating other people," he said in his Friday sermon in Riyadh."People should be well aware of such dangers. The site should not be used to exchange accusations or to misquote people. Muslims should be careful not to be drawn into wrong acts and must instead engage in constructive criticism," he said.In Rome, Pope Benedict XVI had on Tuesday praised the significance of digital communications, but cautioned against potential hazards. In his message for the 46th World Day of Social Communications, he said: "In concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated, as long as those taking part in the conversation do not neglect to cultivate their own inner lives. "If we are to recognise and focus upon the truly important questions, then silence is a precious commodity that enables us to exercise proper discernment in the face of the surcharge of stimuli and data we receive."Read the full story here.
A baby-giant, weighing almost 7 kg (15.4 pounds), was born in Kokshetau in northern Kazakhstan, the chief doctor of the regional maternity hospital said on Friday.(Rainovosti).
The newborn and her mother are feeling fine. “I had to do caesarean sections because the baby was a large girl, weighing 6,645 grams [14.6 pounds],” a hospital spokesman said.
The usual weight of a healthy newborn child is 3-3.5 kg (6.6 – 7.7 pounds). An infant up to 5 kg (11 pounds) is considered big, more than 5 and it is a “giant”. According to statistics, these big babies are a rare event and are born one in every 1,500 cases.
“This is the first time we've witnessed such a case, but the operation was successful,” the doctor said.
Hmmm......According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Canadian Anna Bates gave birth to a baby boy who weighed 23 pounds, 12 ounces and was 30 inches long. He was born way back in 1879, however, and died just 11 hours later. The biggest baby a healthy mom delivered was another boy, who truly tipped the scales at 22 pounds, 8 ounces. His mom was Carmelina Fedele from Italy, and that was in 1955. More recently, a woman in Indonesia birthed a 19-pound boy.
U.S. Accused of Running Over Egyptian Civilians.(MEForum).by Raymond Ibrahim
Jihad WatchFebruary 2, 2012.How many are the lies that Egypt's military regime has forwarded concerning its role in attacking and killing Egyptian demonstrators since it usurped power a year ago?
There were, for instance, the lies concerning the Maspero massacre, where the military slaughtered Christian Copts who were protesting the constant attacks on their churches.
Despite all the video evidence that the military ran armored-vehicles over Copts [apparently now removed by YouTube], the military regime insisted that it would "never, never" run over civilians; that the very idea was "impossible, impossible!" It even showed a video of a military-vehicle running amuck, claiming it was hijacked by Coptic protesters (it was later revealed that an Egyptian soldier was, in fact, inside driving).
More recently, Mohamad Tantawi, the head of the military—and de facto head of Egypt—said that the widely circulated video of soldiers beating, stripping, and kicking a female protester is "entirely fake"—a ludicrous assertion, even if Jimmy Carter supports it.
Who is the latest victim to be scapegoated for the military's crimes against its own citizenry? None other than the U.S.A.Ongoing accusations that American officials were involved in killing Egyptian civilians have prompted the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to deny it through a January 27 press release:
As we have stated in previous press releases, there is absolutely no truth to reports that U.S. embassy employees or diplomats were involved in hit-and-run incidents using U.S. diplomatic vehicles, injuring or killing protestors in January 2011 in Cairo. There is also no truth to statements alleging that the keys inside U.S. diplomatic vehicles are coded and can only be used by U.S. Embassy employees. On January 28, 2011, however, a number of our U.S. Embassy vehicles were stolen. After these vehicles were stolen, we heard reports of their use in violent and criminal acts. If true, we deplore these acts and the perpetrators. Egyptian authorities have conducted an investigation that has led to the recovery of some of these stolen vehicles.Who is behind these accusations? The military? As mentioned, it did make similar accusations against Coptic protesters, saying they hijacked and manned the military-vehicles that ran over fellow Copts at Maspero—only to be exposed as lying by Al Dalil.
While it is not altogether clear who is behind these accusations—this report indicates a lawyer of a former Egyptian official being tried, while older reports mention "communiqués"—it is, of course, the military regime that stands to gain by this latest case of blaming the other.
Raymond Ibrahim is an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.