Tuesday, February 21, 2012
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Tonga 5.2 !More info here.
- Iran threatens preemptive action.(CNN). Iran warned Tuesday it would strike against an "enemy" threatening it if needed to protect its national interests -- even if the enemy didn't attack first.Gen. Mohammad Hejazi, a deputy head of Iran's armed forces, said his country "will no more wait to see enemy action against us," according to the semi-official Fars News Agency."Given this strategy, we will make use of all our means to protect our national interests and hit a retaliatory blow at them whenever we feel that enemies want to endanger our national interests," Hejazi said.Fars added that in November, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had "warned enemies about Iran's tough response to any aggression or even threat.""Iran is not a nation to sit still and just observe threats from fragile materialist powers which are being eaten by worms from inside," Khamenei told students at a military college in Tehran, according to Fars."Anyone who harbors any thought of invading the Islamic Republic of Iran -- or even if the thought crosses their mind -- should be prepared to receive strong blows and the steel fists of the military, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and the Basij (volunteer) force, backed by the entire Iranian nation," Khamenei said, according to the report.Hmmmm.....What did they pick up in Syria's harbor?Read the full story here.
- 18 Statistics That Prove That The Economy Has Not Improved Since Barack Obama Became President.(EOTAD).By Michael Snyder.Has the economy improved since Barack Obama became the president of the United States? Of course not. Despite what you may be hearing in the mainstream media, the truth is that when you compare the U.S. economy on the day that Barack Obama was inaugurated to the U.S. economy today, there is really no comparison. The unemployment crisis is worse than it was then, home values have fallen, the cost of health insurance is up, the cost of gas is way up, the number of Americans living in poverty has soared and the size of our national debt has absolutely exploded. Anyone that believes that things are better than they were when Barack Obama was elected is simply being delusional. Yes, things have stabilized somewhat and our economy is not in free fall mode at this point. But don’t be fooled. This bubble of false hope will be short-lived. The problems we are seeing develop in Europe will erupt into another full-fledged global financial crisis and economic conditions in the United States will get even worse. When that happens, what possible ” economic solutions” will Barack Obama have for us? We never even came close to recovering from the last great financial crisis, and now something potentially even worse is staring us in the face. This is not a great time to have a total lack of leadership in Washington.The following are 18 statistics that prove that the economy has not improved since Barack Obama became the president of the United States….
- Today there are 88 million working age Americans that are not employed and that are not looking for employment. That is an all-time record high.
- When Barack Obama was elected, the percentage of unemployed Americans that had been out of work for more than 52 weeks was less than 15%. Today, it is above 30%.
- There are 1.2 million fewer jobs in America today than there were when Barack Obama was inaugurated.
- When Barack Obama first took office, the number of “long-term unemployed workers” in the United States was approximately 2.6 million. Today, that numberis sitting at 5.6 million.
- The average duration of unemployment in the United States is hovering close to an all-time record high.
- During the Obama administration, worker health insurance costs have risenby 23 percent.
- Since Barack Obama has been president, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has increased by 90 percent.
- Since Barack Obama has been president, home values in the United States have declined by another 13 percent.
- Under Barack Obama, new home sales in the U.S. set a brand new all-time record low in 2009, they set a brand new all-time record low again in 2010, and they set a brand new all-time record low once again during 2011.
- Since Barack Obama took office, the number of Americans living in poverty has risen by more than 6 million.
- Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has increased from 32 million to 46 million.
- The amount of money that the federal government gives directly to Americans has increased by 32 percent since Barack Obama entered the White House.
- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of Americans living in “extreme poverty” is now sitting at an all-time high.
- When Barack Obama first took office, an ounce of gold was going for about $850. Today an ounce of gold costs more than $1700 an ounce.
- Since Barack Obama became president, the size of the U.S. national debt has increased by 44 percent.
- During Barack Obama’s first two years in office, the U.S. government added more to the U.S. national debt than the first 100 U.S. Congresses combined.
- During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.
- The U.S. national debt has been increasing by an average of more than 4 billion dollars per day since the beginning of the Obama administration.Oh, but Barack Obama is promising that things will be much better very soon. Barack Obama is pledging that 2 million more jobs will be added to the economy in 2012.Do you believe him?Read the full story here.
- Russian search engine Yandex teams up with Twitter.(HD).Russia's top search engine Yandex said today it has teamed up with Twitter to allow the Russian firm to show the full feed of all public Twitter posts.The deal will give it full access to all tweets except for private ones, New York-listed Yandex said in a statement.It will also allow the Moscow-based company "to improve the quality of the search," and users will be able to find tweets "just moments after they have appeared," said Anton Pavlov, Yandex's blog search manager.Twitter posts will appear both in a blog search and on a separate website, twitter.yandex.ru.Terms of the deal were not disclosed.Yandex's Twitter deal highlights the increasing importance of microblogging as a source of information.Yandex is Russia's largest search engine, occupying some 63 percent of the market. Google trails behind with a 23-percent share.Google and Twitter last year failed to renew a deal for the search giant to include Twitter results in its feed.Read the full story here.
- Egypt bans Swedish NGO worker from traveling.(BM).CAIRO: Egypt’s security officials banned on Monday a Swedish activist and NGO worker from leaving the country to Cyprus, saying that his name was among those banned from traveling due to their involvement in ongoing investigations of NGOs receiving foreign funding.The Cairo Airport said it had barred the Swedish NGO worker from exiting Egypt in accordance with the decision of the Attorney General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, who listed the worker’s name on the list of those barred from leaving the country, adding that Jea Eric, 65-years-old, was working in an organization called “Think and Work,” specializing in financing the building of churches.He was prevented from getting on board a plane leaving for Larnaca, Cyprus, however, he was allowed to leave the airport without being arrested.Egypt has referred 43 NGO employees, including 29 foreigners, 19 of whom are American, to trial following investigations into illegal foreign funding of civil society organizations in Egypt.The row has left tensions high between Washington and Cairo, with the United States demanding an end to the crackdown on NGOs in the country. Threats of ending aid to Egypt have been met by Egypt without any action to end the dispute.The trial for the workers begins on February 26.Hmmmm......Still 'selecting' the judges for the case?Read the full story here.
- Russia not to attend ‘Friends of Syria’ meeting in Tunis; China refuses commitment.(AlArabiya).Russia on Tuesday said it will not attend an international conference in Tunis this week aimed at seeking political change in Syria because the meeting only supported the opposition’s cause, as China refused to commit to attend an international conference in Tunis this week. The meeting was called “for the purpose of supporting one side against another in an internal conflict,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, according to AFP. “We cannot accept the offer to attend this meeting.”The “Friends of Syria group” will meet for the first time on Friday after being created in a response to a joint veto by Russia and China of a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning President Bashar al-Assad for the violence.The group is backed by members of the European Union as well as some Arab nations and the United States. Russia’s statement said the meeting would be unable to improve dialogue between Assad’s government and the opposition on ways of ending 11 months of violence that opposition sources say have killed more than 6,000 people. “The invitations to attend the Tunis meeting were issued to some parts of the opposition, but representatives of the Syrian government were not invited,” the statement said.“This means that the interests of the majority of the Syrian population, which supports the authorities, will not be represented.”Meanwhile, Russia said the United Nations should send a special envoy to Syria to help coordinate security issues and the delivery of humanitarian assistance.Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter Tuesday that it’s proposing that the U.N. Security Council ask the U.N. Secretary General to send the envoy, according to The Associated Press.On Monday Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the world body should help solve humanitarian issues in Syria, after Damascus allowed the Red Cross to bring humanitarian aid to some regions.China, meanwhile, refused to commit to attend an international conference in Tunis this week after the boycott announcement made by Russia.“China has received the relevant invitation,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular briefing. “The Chinese side is currently researching the function, mechanism and other aspects of the meeting.”Beijing has repeatedly defended its decision and Hong said Tuesday that China was “willing to play a constructive role with all sides for the peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis.”Read the full story here.
- Nigeria - Boko Haram attacks market, 30 people allegedly killed.(BM).Abuja (dpa) – Islamist militants are suspected of killing up to 30 people during a fierce battle with soldiers at a popular market in Maiduguri, north-east Nigeria, according to reports Tuesday citing witnesses.Suspected members of the Boko Haram militia besieged the Baga market late Monday, hurling explosives into the fish vendors’ section, in what they said was a reprisal attack against the traders over the arrest of a prominent sect member last week.The attackers accused the fishmongers of giving information to security forces, leading to the arrest.Hassan Mohammed, a spokesman for the governmental Joint Task Force that tackles terrorism, said eight Boko Haram members died in a gun battle with security operatives, while three traders sustained injuries and were being treated in hospital.“Spokesman Lt.Col. Mohammed Hassan Ifeji said, “We killed eight Boko Haram in the market, and we recovered large quantity of IEDs, and we successfully demobilized all the bombs they planted. The people we killed were those that engaged us and planted the bomb in the Baga Monday Market. No single civilian was affected; all you are hearing is lie.”Responding to the rumours that about 30 persons died in the confrontation, Ifeji said, “It is a lie and we have the poof that you can verify from hospitals. We gunned down eight of them who wanted to kill innocent Nigerians.”Read the full story here.
- Afghanistan’s ISAF commander says soldiers “improperly disposed” of Qur’an.(BM).DUBAI: NATO troops in Afghanistan have “improperly disposed” of Islam’s materials, including the Qur’an, the commander of the NATO mission in the country said on Tuesday.“When we learned of these actions, we immediately intervened and stopped them,” said US General John Allen, the commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.“The materials recovered will be properly handled by appropriate religious authorities,” the statement said.The incident took place late Monday at the Bagram military air base, a sprawling American compound north of Kabul.Allen said he had ordered an investigation and that the incident was not intentional, without providing further details of the purpose of the soldiers’ activities.“We are thoroughly investigating the incident and we are taking steps to ensure this does not ever happen again,” said.An official at the airbase said dozens of Afghans protested in front of one of the control points inside the base. There was no hostility and the protest had been dispersed, the official said.One NATO official based in the Gulf, told Bikyamasr.com that this sort of action continues to “give Arabs and Muslims fodder to attack us for not being on top of cultural sensitivities.”The source added that “both American, local and foreign troops must do a better job of educating themselves on what needs to be done in order to ensure local populations wherever are not getting angry over things that can easily be avoided.”Hmmmm.......Meanwhile it's still OK to burn bibles.or other.Read the full story here.More here.
- Afghans rescue 41 potential child suicide bombers.(N24).Kabul - The Afghan government said on Monday that police had rescued 41 children from becoming suicide bombers as they were about to be smuggled across the mountains into Pakistan.Interior ministry spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi told a news conference that the children aged six to 11 had been released on February 15 from the clutches of four insurgents in eastern Kunar province.He told AFP their families "were fooled by terrorists", who promised to send them to seminaries in Pakistan where they would be "brainwashed" and "prepared for suicide bombings against Afghan and international troops in Afghanistan".Police arrested the four suspects and the children were returned to their families, the spokesperson said.The Afghan government has accused madrassas in Pakistan of teaching violent extremism and sponsoring Islamist violence, a legacy of Afghanistan's 1979-89 US and Pakistani-sponsored mujahideen uprising against Soviet troops.On February 12, Afghan authorities announced the arrest of two 10-year-old would-be suicide bombers allegedly planning to attack Afghan and international forces in the southern province of Kandahar, the Taliban's birthplace.They had been reportedly released last August, along with 18 other children, after receiving a pardon from Afghan President Hamid Karzai.Hmmmmm........Oh yeah...""the Taliban per se is not our enemy".Read the full story here.
Suzanne Mubarak to Obama: Prevent the transfer of my husband to a prison hospital or I'll disclose the identities of U.S. agents.
Suzanne Mubarak to Obama: Prevent the transfer of my husband to a prison hospital or I'll disclose the identities of U.S. agents.(INN).Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s wife, Suzanne Mubarak, has sent U.S. President Barack Obama a threat that if he does not prevent the transfer of her husband to a prison hospital, she will disclose the identities of U.S. agents operating in Egypt.
The report on Suzanne Mubarak’s threat was posted on Monday to the website of the independent Israeli newspaper Megaphone. It quoted a report in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Mukhtasar.
According to the report, Suzanne Mubarak made it clear that she is very familiar with the identities and roles of American agents who operate in Egypt, due to her closeness to the Egyptian security elite. She reportedly threatened Obama that if he does not work against the current regime’s intention to transfer her husband she will reveal the information she knows.
Two weeks ago, Egyptian officials said that Mubarak will shortly be moved to the Tora prison in Cairo as soon as the facility is upgraded to house him.
According to Egyptian media reports, Suzanne Mubarak fears that her husband's physical condition will deteriorate in the new prison, which may be the reason for her threats. Other reports said that Mubarak himself has hinted that if he is jailed in Tora, he will commit suicide.
Meanwhile on Monday, Egypt's General Prosecutor said that he had been unable to prove that any foreign power or organization had been involved in the violence against Egyptians during the uprising against Mubarak last year.
The prosecutor, Mustafa Suleiman, made the statement during closing arguments in the trial of Mubarak Monday.Hmmmm.......And we know Obama is a 'lady's' man:"I basically let Michelle have 90 percent of what she wants. But, at a certain point, I have to draw the line and say, 'Give me my little 10 percent.' "Read the full story here.
IDF Says Ground Invasion in Gaza ‘Matter of Time’.(INN).It is only a “matter of time” before the IDF has to re-enter Gaza to controlterror, IDF Chief of Benny Gantz warns, three years after the three-week Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign.
The IDF has carried out a consistent policy since several months after Cast Lead to retaliate after almost every terrorist attack on Israelis. Hamas and other terrorist groups, both allies and rivals, have carried out hundreds of rockets, missiles, mortar shells and sniping attacks since the end of Cast Lead in January 2009.Israel has been operating on the basis of a “Negev roulette” policy, by which the military usually carries out a symbolic response to terrorist attacks that cause no physical injuries or serious property damage.
When damage is more severe, so is the response, even though most of the terrorist attacks are launched without guidance systems that can pinpoint targets. Gaza terrorists basically attack rural areas in the hopes of hitting human targets and know that if they hit a crowded urban center, there is more likelihood of a large-scale retaliation.
Last week, Be’er Sheva was targeted, but there were no physical injuries or major damage. Past experience has shown that Hamas strategically escalates its attacks to achieve a political end or when it thinks is will win media sympathy if it draws the IDF into a ground incursion not Gaza.
The IDF lost most of its ability to directly hit terrorists after the Sharon government expelled more than 9,000 Jews and ordered the withdrawal of all military presence from Gaza in the summer of 2005.
The “Disengagement” program ostensibly was aimed at removing any reason for Hamas to attack Israel, but the rocket strikes actually increased and struck deeper into central Israel until Cast Lead.
The military previously has said it is preparing for returning to Gaza, but Israel Defense suggested that next time around it might carry out a strategy of “divide and conquer” by dividing the region into several parts, effectively preventing Hamas from exercisingcontrol.
The terrorist organization is in the midst of returning to a unity government with the rival Fatah faction, headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas’ “peace” with Hamas has weakened his support from the United States and may cost him European Union backing as well. If Hamas and Fatah complete their unity arrangement and rocket attacks on southern Israel continue, the return of the IDF to Gaza could have severe consequences for Abbas as well as Hamas.Read the full story here.
Just before the girl was buried, her aging grandmother (father’s mother), swayed slowly towards the coffin with tears rolling on her wrinkled skin, pulled out the girl’s hair and tied a white tape around it.
“This is more than a symbol of her chastity and purity…it is a proof,” the grandmother said to the mourners.“Oh, my grandchild….go to your Lord because you will find rest and tranquility there…He is the one who can take revenge for you.”The crime took place in Bait Oula, a tiny village in the West Bank town of Hebron and it was publicized several weeks after it was perpetrated by the mother.
Residents, who spoke to the Palestinian Arabic language daily Donia Al Watan, said the mother had already been cruel to her daughter as she used to force her to do all household work because she does not like female offspring.It was this cruelty that made her rush and murder the girl without bothering to check if what neighbours said about her daughter was true.“Just go and see your daughter’s pictures on my son’s mobile phone,” the neighbouring woman told the mother after an argument, according to the paper.“The mother then started her plan to kill her daughter…residents said she had made her daughter clean the house for two days so the family will be prepared to receive would-be mourners on their daughter’s death.”After the murder, the family left the girl in her bed all the night. In the morning, they went straight to hospital and said their daughter had died of heart attack.“But doctors noticed the swelling in her neck and that her body was bluish….they informed the authorities, who later wrested a confession about the murder…the mother said she killed her to wash off shame and clean the family’s honour….a day later, hospital tests showed the girl was still virgin and pure….it was a hasty crime of
Obama: "All the Choices We've Made Have Been the Right Ones"
Tighten that belt !
Hmmmm......Obama's "Trusted Ally Turkey" is the cause of Greece overspending on Military equipment?(TI).While most Greeks are critical of the reforms on which the troika of the EU, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank are insisting, many also feel that Germany and France shoulder a share of the blame for Greece's overspending.
Over much of the last decade, Greece – which has a population of 11 million people – has been one of the top five arms importers in the world. Most of the vastly expensive weapons, including submarines, tanks and combat aircraft, were made in Germany, France and the US.
The arms purchases were beyond Greece's capacity to absorb, even before the financial crisis struck in 2009. Several hundred Leopard battle tanks were bought from Germany, but there was no money to pay for ammunition for their guns. Even in 2010, when the extent of the financial disaster was apparent, Greece bought 223 howitzers and a submarine from Germany at a cost of €403m.
In the new bailout agreement, Greece will pledge to reduce its defence spending by some €400m. Eurozone leaders have hitherto been notably more tolerant of Greece's arms expenditure – though this is twice the size of the Nato average as a proportion of GDP – than it has of excessive spending on health or pensions.
"It is easily forgotten when Greece is criticised that there has been not very subtle pressure from France to buy six frigates," says Thanos Dokos, the director general of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy.He adds that Greece was unwise to be the first purchaser of new weapons systems, such as German submarines, that still had technical glitches.
There is now a serious disparity between the limited resources of the Greek state and its very expensive weapons.Simos Kedikoglou, an MP of the New Democracy party, says that "pilots of F-16 [combat aircraft] are paid €1,200-a-month salary while they fly aircraft worth €60-70 million."
Exercises are now being cancelled to save small sums of money.
Greece also has the world's largest merchant marine, but its navy is cutting back on its anti-piracy patrols to protect vessels in the Indian Ocean.
The justification for Greece's large army – 156,000 men compared to 250,000 in the German army – is the perceived threat from Turkey, which requires the Greeks to keep some form of military parity with a nation with seven times as many people.Mr Dokos says that fear of being labelled unpatriotic has prevented the opposition in parliament from seeking a in defence expenditure. There has never been a debate in parliament about how far a Turkish threat really exists.Hmmm.......Where are the days when they managed with "300 Spartans"?Read the full story here.
Iran giving contradictory signals to Certain EU Members.(JPost).Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Salehi took a conciliatory tone on Tehran's relations with Europe on Monday, a day after cutting off oil sales to two key countries, saying that Europeans and Iran need one another, Iran's Mehr News reported.
Salehi said he believes relations with Europe will soon return to their "earlier state," adding that the current deteriorated state of ties cannot continue for long."Europeans cannot be needless of us, and Iran, due to its old relations with European countries, needs Europe," he said.
On Sunday, Iran announced that it had stopped selling crude oil to British and French companies, a retaliatory measure against the latest round of European sanctions on the Islamic state's lifeblood, oil.
"Exporting crude to British and French companies has been stopped ... we will sell our oil to new customers," spokesman Alireza Nikzad was quoted as saying by the ministry of petroleum website.In a contradictory report, Iranian broadcaster PressTV quoted Iran's Deputy Oil Minister Ahmad Kalebani, as threatening to stop selling oil to additional European countries.
Kalebani reportedly said Tehran would take further measures if "EU hostilities continue," according to PressTV, which listed Spain, the Netherlands, Greece, Germany, Italy and Portugal as countries that could be targeted.China rebuked Iran on Monday for stopping oil sales to British and French companies over the weekend, calling for renewed efforts at dialogue over an escalating stand-off over Tehran's controversial nuclear program."We have consistently upheld dialogue and negotiation as the way to resolve disputes between countries, and do not approve of exerting pressure or using confrontation to resolve issues," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said when asked about Iran's ban on oil sales to British and French firms.Hmmmmm.......Read the full story here.
Related - 'Japan to win exemption from Iran sanctions by US'.(JPost).Tokiyo - Japan is likely to win an exemption from US sanctions by reducing its imports of crude oil from Iran by at least 11 percent per year, the Yomiuri newspaper said on Tuesday.
The two countries reached an agreement at talks last week, with a formal deal expected by the end of this month, the report said, citing unnamed sources.
The United States, angry over Iran's nuclear program, wants Japan, to cut back on Iranian imports.
Japan is the third-biggest customer for Iranian oil. It needs to import more oil in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, and the country's refiners have yet to make significant cuts, awaiting the Japanese government's instructions.
The United States says it will punish financial institutions that deal with Iran's central bank, the main clearing house for oil revenues. A country can earn a waiver from the sanctions if it significantly reduces trade with Iran.
The US sanctions, which President Barack Obama signed into law in December, would penalize financial institutions for undertaking transactions with Iran's central bank, exposing the US operations of Japanese banks that deal with Iran.
As of January 2012, Iran exports 22% of its oil to China, 14% to Japan, 13% to India, 10% to South Korea, 7% to Italy, 7% to Turkey, 6% to Spain and the remainder to France, Greece ( other European countries), Taiwan, Sri Lanka, South Africa.
Hmmmm.....Turkey imports at least 175,000 barrels a day from Iran and intends to increase it's import they don't need a waiver and risk no sanctions since they're Obama's 'trusted' allies.Read the full story here.
A small group of Baha'is in Ismailia, Egypt, 1926.
In Egypt the Baha’i are the proverbial canary in the coal mine.(BM).CAIRO: Egypt’s small Baha’i Faith community has faced attack upon attack in its less than 200 year existence in the country. The latest has come from prominent ultra-conservative Salafist leader Abdel Moneim al-Shahat, who called on the government to “protect itself” from the faith by denouncing the faith and calling its followers “blasphemous.”“We will prosecute the Bahai’s on charge of treason,” said Shahat via telephone on Dream 2′s al-Haqiqa TV program.“We as Salafists refuse to deal with Baha’is, because they do not exist by virtue of their faith.”According to Shahat, Bahai’s are not entitled to rights under Islam because they are not recognized by the religion, and any new constitution should not include an amendment protecting their rights.
He cited previous Al-Azhar – the Sunni Islamic world’s most prestigious institution – rulings that said Baha’is are blasphemous.
The world’s newest monotheistic faith, and one that has been oppressed vehemently in Islamic countries, including Egypt, where in the early years of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Baha’i temples and places of worship were closed, and the Baha’i cemetery in the country largely destroyed, continues to face such attacks by the likes of Shahat and others in the country.
In 2009, the Egyptian Baha’i community hoped they had ushered in a new era for identification cards in the country after the first batch of the religious minority was granted new ID’s without a religion written on them. The move came after years of struggling against the state in order not to choose one of the “big three” religions Judaism, Christianity or Islam.
The new ID’s came months after an Egyptian court granted the Baha’i community the right not to list a false religion on the paperwork, something the small minority community had been pushing for in recent years after discrimination has been reported.
Egyptians are forced to have religion noted on their identity cards. Previously, Baha’is were forced to choose between Islam, Christianity or Judaism in order to receive official documents, including birth certificates and passports.
Many of them took their cases to court, claiming that they’d rather leave the religion slot blank than choose a religion other than their own. The court, initially, agreed, and said they could leave the category blank in a move widely praised by religious advocacy groups in the country.
The Baha’i Faith is the most recent, established in 1863, monotheistic religion. It originates from Iran and believes in the progressive revelations of God. Baha’is believe that all religions are true and from God, but that at different times throughout human history, a new manifestation (prophet) is needed in order to adapt to the changing times and cultural traditions.
The main conflict between Muslims and Baha’is is in the idea that Mohamed is not the final prophet of God, which has led to Muslims distrusting Baha’is.
In December 2003, Al Azhar Research Academy, the most authoritative Sunni institution in the world, issued a fatwa against the Baha’i Faith. It stated that Islam does not recognize any religion other than those that the Holy Qur’an has asked to be respected. The fatwa specified the Baha’i Faith, stating that the “Baha’i creed and its likes are intellectual epidemics that should be fought and eliminated by the state.”
It is worth adding that defense of the Baha’i is also a test for the millions of non-Salafist, non-Brotherhood Egyptian organizations and for Egyptian leaders and would-be leaders–starting with the influential Egyptian Judges Club, for example, and with Amre Moussa, former Arab League Secretary General and the leading presidential candidate.
Perhaps even more than the treatment of American and other pro-democracy NGOs, the Baha’i are the proverbial canary in the coal mine when it comes to judging whether Egypt will move toward respect for human rights, protection of minorities, and a state based on law.Read the full story here, more here and here.
Canada: Section 34 of the Online surveillance bill opens door for Big Brother.(CBC)."There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time." ~ George Orwell, 1984.
So finally here's Section 34. After reading it, you wonder whether it's just pandas we're getting from China.Among other things, the bill requires ISPs to install surveillance technology and software to enable monitoring of phone and internet traffic. Section 34 is there to make sure ISPs comply. So what, exactly, does it say?
Essentially, it says that government agents may enter an ISP when they wish, without a warrant, and demand to see absolutely everything — including all data anywhere on the network — and to copy it all. If that seems hard to believe, let’s walk through it.
First, Section 33 tells us that, “The Minister may designate persons or classes of persons as inspectors for the purposes of the administration and enforcement of this Act.” So we’re not talking about police officers necessarily. We’re talking about anyone the minister chooses — or any class of persons. (Musicians? Left-handed hockey players? Members of the Conservative Party? Sure, that’s absurd — but the bill allows it…)
Next, Section 34 spells out the sweeping powers of these “inspectors.” And, if they sound Orwellian, welcome to the world of Section 34.
The inspectors may “enter any place owned by, or under the control of, any telecommunications service provider in which the inspector has reasonable grounds to believe there is any document, information, transmission apparatus, telecommunications facility or any other thing to which this Act applies.”And, once he or she is in, anything goes.
The inspector, says the bill, may “examine any document, information or thing found in the place and open or cause to be opened any container or other thing.” He or she may also “use, or cause to be used, any computer system in the place to search and examine any information contained in or available to the system.”
You read that right. The inspector gets to see “any” information that’s in or “available to the system.” Yours, mine, and everyone else’s emails, phone calls, web surfing, shopping, you name it. But, if that sounds breath-taking enough, don’t quit now because the section is still not done.
The inspector — remember, this is anyone the minister chooses — is also empowered to copy anything that strikes his or her fancy. The inspector may “reproduce, or cause to be reproduced, any information in the form of a printout, or other intelligible output, and remove the printout, or other output, for examination or copying.”
Oh, and he can even use the ISP’s own computers and connections to copy it or to email it to himself. He can “use, or cause to be used, any copying equipment or means of telecommunication at the place.”
In short, there’s nothing the inspector cannot see or copy. “Any” information is up for grabs. And you thought the new airport body scanners were intrusive?
Finally, note that such all-encompassing searches require no warrant, and don’t even have to be in the context of a criminal investigation. Ostensibly, the purpose is to ensure that the ISP is complying with the requirements of the act — but nothing in the section restricts the inspector to examining or seizing only information bearing upon that issue. It’s still “any” information whatsoever."It does not even mention that there should be a criminal investigation behind the request — it's completely broad," says Chantal Bernier, the federal deputy privacy commissioner."As the legislation is written now, it could impact any law-abiding Canadian citizen."Hmmmm......"Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty". ~ Plato.Read the full story here.
Obama Administration Signs Accord in Mexico for Oil Exploration in the Gulf of Mexico With State-Owned Pemex
Obama Administration Signs Accord in Mexico for Oil Exploration in the Gulf of Mexico With State-Owned Pemex.(BB).
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa signed an agreement today for development of oil and gas reservoirs that straddle the two nations’ boundaries in the Gulf of Mexico.
The agreement is the first of its kind signed by the U.S., establishing a legal framework and creating incentives for U.S. energy companies to develop oil and gas resources jointly with Petroleos Mexicanos, the Mexican state oil company known as Pemex. When it comes into force, the agreement will end the current moratorium on oil exploration and production in the Western Gap portion of the Gulf of Mexico.
“With this, we are setting aside the old fear that honestly exists among many Mexicans that Mexico’s oil could be extracted from the other side,” said Mexican President Felipe Calderon. “Any joint reservoir will be jointly exploited,” and we will all gain the benefits.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar called the agreement an historic step that “opens to door to previously off-limits areas in the Gulf of Mexico,” an area larger than the state of Delaware.Hmmmm.......I wonder if Mexico will follow Brazil's example and sell also the oil to China?Read the full story here.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak: We'll do what we need to do.(JPost).As more and more US officials publicly call on Israel not to attack Iran at this time, Defense Minister Ehud Barak emerged from a two-hour meeting Monday with visiting US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon saying sovereign nations act based on their own perception of their interests.
The US-Israel relationship, Barak said at a meeting of his Independence faction shortly after hosting Donilon, is a relationship between “two sovereign countries, each one responsible in the final analysis for the decisions it takes for itself and about its future.”
Barak’s comments came amid a wave of reports citing unconfirmed sources saying that the US – including Donilon – is pressing Israel to give more time for international sanctions to work before taking military action against Iran.
Barak gave little indication of friction with the US over the issue, saying the discussions with Donilon covered a wide range of issues, and that the security relationship between Israel and the US was excellent. He added that the relationship was unique it its “openness, mutual respect, understanding, attentiveness, and knowledge that at the end of the day we are talking about two very friendly countries with a very long and deep connection, that has deepened during the current administration.”
The White House put out a statement after the meeting saying that Donilon concluded three days of talks in Israel that “addressed the full range of security issues of mutual concern.”
Before going to Washington, where he will also address the annual AIPAC policy conference, Netanyahu will go to Ottawa and meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The flurry of high-level USIsraeli consultations comes even as significant US officials are publicly saying this is not the time for an Israeli strike on Iran.
On Monday, Joe Cirincione, of the State Departments International Security Advisory Board that provides the State Department with independent advice on security and diplomatic issues, told CBS that it was uncertain whether an Israeli attack “would do enough damage to actually do much more than delay the program for a year or so.”
Cirincione said a strike would not bring about a quick end to this crisis; it would be the beginning of either a larger war or a long-scale, large-scale containment effort to try to stop Iran from what they would undoubtedly do, which would be race to build a bomb. During this period, he warned, oil prices would rise to $200, or even $300 a barrel, which would have severe “repercussions on an already fragile global economy.”
The European Union enraged Tehran last month when it decided to slap a boycott on its oil from July 1. Iran, the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the main Gulf oil shipping lane, in retaliation and the United States signaled it would use force to keep it open.
The spiking tension has put upward pressure on oil prices.On Sunday, Iran’s Oil Ministry announced that it stopped selling oil to French and British companies, although the move will be largely symbolic as those firms had already greatly reduced purchases of Iranian crude.
Deputy Oil Minister Ahmad Qalebani suggested the Western crackdown would backfire, saying that in targeting Iranian oil the West had achieved only a surge in crude prices from $103 a barrel to $120, “and it will reach $150.”Read the full story here.
Map of Egypt and Sudan, produced by Islamists, and surfaced on the internet some time ago, which shows the imagined different countries that the alleged American-Jewish plot is supposed to create.
The real plot to partition Egypt.(OCN).By Dioscorus Boles.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMERI) published an important article recently. MEMRI explores the Middle East through the region’s media, and this time, on 17 February 2012, it focused on Egypt, bringing to the attention of the public two articles that had been published earlier, on 9[i] and 10[ii] February 2012, by the Egyptian official newspaper, al-Ahram, in which a government’s official and journalist attacked national and international NGOs, and accused some, particularly one American organisation – which it did not name – of working to partition Egypt into four states. MEMERI’s article comes under the title: “Egyptian Government Daily: U.S. Striving to Divide Egypt into Four Countries”,[iii] and the reader can access it by clicking the link below:
MEMRI’s article reminds us of the conspiratorial mind of the Egyptians; and this malady seems to be getting worse as the military and Islamists entered in a coalition to rule Egypt. Recently, the Superior Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), supported by the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) and the more fanatic Salafists, has raided national and international NGOs’ offices in Egypt, arrested some of their members, and accused them of fermenting unrest. A bizarre accusation, which was repeated in the government’s al-Ahram newspaper, is that these organisations, particularly one American organisation which has not been named, plot to partition Egypt. Division maps, they say, have been “uncovered at the headquarters of an American organisation”, and the seizure of a partition map of Egypt there “proves the existence of this dubious plan”. The newspaper goes on to call the so-called “Egypt’s Partition Plot مخطط تقسيم مصر”, “Bernard Lewis’ Zionist-American Plan”. Lewis is of course the British-American scholar who has written most than any other to make readers understand Islam and the Islamic world.
I was aware of the existence of this type of thinking in the mind of some Muslim Egyptians. It is not new, so it is not surprising. The Islamist literature and internet pages abound with it;[iv] and ex-president Anwar Sadat (1970 – 1981) irresponsibly propagated it at some stage, even though he did not dare to point the finger of blame at the Americans or Israelis but accused poor Pope Shenouda, the spiritual leader of the Copts, of plotting to become the political as well as the religious leader of the Copts and “set up a separatist Coptic state with Assiut as its capital”.[v] As evidence for the alleged Coptic separatist plan, he told the Parliament, on 14 May 1980, that the Palestinians in Lebanon had arrested three Coptic volunteers fighting in the ranks of the Christian Maronite militias.[vi] One can also add here the repeated allegations by Islamists that the Copts store weapons in their churches and monasteries, and this seems to be an article of faith with them, however unfounded, on which they perpetually feed their anticoptic hatred and violence.
It is, however, interesting to know what the current rulers of Egypt think Copts fit into all this alleged conspiracy, and what area in Egypt they suspect is projected to become a Coptic country. The fanciful plot, they tell us, envisages four states:
- A state in Sinai and the eastern part of Delta (one assumes it is basically Bedouin): this is supposed, somehow, to be under Jewish influence. We are not told what the capital of this state will be.
- Nubian Egypt, with Aswan as its capital: this will, somehow, be integrated with South Sudan and will also be connected to the Berbers in North Africa.
- Coptic Egypt (which they call, in a derogatory way, “the Nazarene State الدولة النصرانية”[vii]), with its capital at Alexandria: this will stretch southward from the southern part of Bani Suwayf Governorate to the southern part of Asyut Governorate, and westward to the city of Mrsa Matruh.
- Islamic Egypt, with its capital at Cairo: this will include the remainder of Egypt. This is intentionally made to look comparatively so tiny in area (see map below) so as, of course, to instigate the maximum emotional response possible against the Copts and the Nubians (who will take, as the Islamist map alleges, the largest part of Egypt). The reader can watch the following Egyptian TV programme to understand how a sample of Egyptians, presumed educated but actually a bunch of low IQ idiots, react to such claims:The “Nazarene State” of course is what interests us here. From al-Ahram’s article and the circulated map, we can conclude that the SCAF and the Islamists assume that such state is planned to include:
- The Governorate of Alexandria
- The Governorate of Matruh
- The Governorate of Minya
- The Governorate of Asyut
- The Governorate of Sohag[viii]
- The western part of al-Buhayrah Governorate
- The western part of Giza Governorate
- The western part of Fayyum Governorate
- The western part of Bani Suwayf Governorate
- The northern part of New Valley Governorate
Obama’s Gas Pains.(PLB).More anomalous is Obama’s explanation this week that “gas prices are on the rise again because as the economy strengthens, global demand for oil increases.” It is true that global demand for oil is probably the primary driver of the price of oil right now (though surely a risk premium because of Iran is in the mix somewhere), but here in the U.S. demand for gasoline seems to be way off, as shown in the figure below which I plotted earlier this week for my Energy Fact of the Week squib over on American.com. The figure shows retail gasoline deliveries—the best proxy for consumption—falling off a cliff starting a few months ago—before prices began to creep back up. The fall in consumption ought to be holding down gasoline prices, all other things being equal (which they never are). Is the economy about to fall over the cliff along with this indicator? That’s what a lot of people are wondering.Read the full story here.