Saturday, March 3, 2012
"CHANGE" - Ahmadinejad rivals rack up parliament wins in Iran.(AA).Conservative rivals of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared on course Saturday to gain firm control of parliament after elections that could embolden Iran’s nuclear defiance and give the ruling clerics a clear path to ensure a loyalist succeeds Ahmadinejad next year.
Although Iran’s 290-seat parliament has limited sway over key affairs - including military and nuclear policies - the elections highlight the political narratives inside the country since Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009 and sets the possible tone for his final 18 months in office.
Reformists were virtually absent from the ballot, showing the crushing force of crackdowns on the opposition. Instead, Friday’s elections became a referendum on Ahmadinejad’s political stature after he tried to challenge the near-total authority of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to decide critical government policies such as intelligence and foreign affairs.
The apparent setbacks for Ahmadinejad’s backers, according to early results, could signal a decisive blow in the internal political conflicts and give hard-liners an even stronger voice in Iran’s showdowns over its nuclear program.
The results also greatly reduce Ahmadinejad’s leverage to have a protégé clear the ruling clerics’ election vetting process and become a candidate to succeed him in mid-2013. It now seems likely that only staunch Khamenei loyalists could be in the running.
“It appears that the era of ‘Ahmadinejadism’ in Iran’s political history is gradually coming to an end,” said prominent Tehran-based political analyst Davoud Hermidas Bavand.“Under the present Cold War we are in, this election will increase our national security. It will make the U.S. and the West change its tone toward us,” said Mohammad Reza Bahanor, a hard-line lawmaker seeking re-election.
He predicted 80 percent of the winners belong to a group known as the ultraconservative Motahed, or United Front, which is the main anti-Ahmadinejad group. Full official results, however, were not expected until Sunday at the earliest.
Out of 197 winners that emerged by midday Saturday, at least 102 were conservatives who turned against Ahmadinejad after he openly challenged Khamenei. Also elected were six independent candidates opposed to Ahmadinejad.
Among the prominent anti-Ahmadinejad victors were: Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, whose daughter is married to Khamenei’s son; and parliament speaker Ali Larijani, who was Iran’s former nuclear negotiator.
Last month, lawmakers approved a petition to summon Ahmadinejad for public questioning over a long list of accusations, including corruption and his high-profile feud with Khamenei.
The parliament - which remains in session until the new chamber is seated in May - is expected to demand Ahmadinejad appear early next week, which would make him the first president ever to be dragged before lawmakers since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“Ahmadinejad is almost politically spent,” said the analyst Bevand.
But others, such as political commentator Ali Reza Khamesian, said it’s still too early to fully count Ahmadinejad out. “He won’t give up,” he said.
His spectacular falling out with Iran’s ruling theocracy underscores the lopsided nature of Iran’s political establishment. The president may be the international envoy of the country, but all the real power rests with the theocrats and their guardians, including the military-industrial machine of the Revolutionary Guard.
Interior Minister Mostafa Mohmmad Najjar said turnout in Friday’s election was 64.2 percent among 48 million eligible voters. That would be significantly higher than the 57 percent in the 2008 parliamentary elections. If confirmed, the figure will be used by authorities to try to discredit the opposition’s strength and their backing in the West.
“International media were surprised by the high turnout,” state TV proclaimed Saturday. “It was a slap in the face of the U.S.” The front-page headline in the hard-line daily Kayhan Saturday said the enemy was “checkmated.” Read the full story here.
HT: Israel Matzav.
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation New Caledonia 6.9 ; Vanuata 6.9 ; Chili 5.5 !More info here.
- If You Disagree With Obama, He Wants to Know Where You Get Your Money.(NR)By Jim Geraghty.The Thursday Morning Jolt: almost too much to handle. It features the discussion of whether Michigan should be considered a Romney-Santorum tie, what to make of the brokered-convention, unknown-figure-rides-in-to-save-the-GOP theories, and then this outrage that broke last night: Barack Obama: Join My Fight to Demand the Koch Brothers Tell Us Stuff!At 9:13 Eastern, Barack Obama – presumably, one of his staffers – tweeted, “Add your name to demand that the Koch brothers make their donors public.”The Obama campaign message is: “Americans for Prosperity, the special-interest front group run by the oil billionaire Koch brothers, is claiming that its donors are “tens of thousands” of folks “from all walks of life.” We’re asking them to prove it by disclosing their donors to the public. Demand the truth by adding your name.”Mister President, with all due respect, who the heck (not my first choice of words) are you to demand private citizens engaged in free speech disclose their donors when they are not required to by law? Who made you king?Oh, and the Koch brothers are “oil billionaires” the way you’re a multimillionaire recording artist. Here’s the summary from Forbes: “Koch Industries owns a diverse group of companies involved in refining and chemicals; process and pollution control equipment and technologies; minerals and fertilizer; fibers and polymers; commodity and financial trading and services; and forest and consumer products.”To summarize, President “I’ll Use SuperPACs After All” is demanding Americans for Prosperity turn over a list of donors that no law requires.As Obama said to a House Democrat who didn’t vote the way he wanted, “Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother.”Hmmmm........"You're eighter with me or against me"?Read the full story here.
- Next Leg Of The Ponzi Revealed - Foreign Central Banks To Begin Buying US Stocks Outright Starting Today.(ZH).We were speechless when we read this from Bloomberg.The Bank of Israel will begin today a pilot program to invest a portion of its foreign currency reserves in U.S. equities.The investment, which in the initial phase will amount to 2 percent of the $77 billion reserves, or about $1.5 billion, will be made through UBS AG and BlackRock Inc. (BLK), Bank of Israel spokesman Yossi Saadon said in a telephone interview today. At a later stage, the investment is expected to increase to 10 percent of the reserves.A small number of central banks have started investing part of their reserves in equities. About 9 percent of the foreign- exchange reserves of Switzerland’s central bank were invested in shares at the end of the third quarter, the Swiss bank said on its website.The investment will be made in equity index trackers and will include between 1,500 to 2,000 shares, among them stocks like Apple Inc. (AAPL), Saadon said.In other words, while the Fed's charter forbids it from buying US equities outright, it certainly can promise that it will bail out such bosom friends as the Bank of Israel, the Swiss National Bank, and soon everyone else, if and when their investment in Apple should sour. Luckily, this means that the exponential phase in risk is approaching as everyone will now scramble to frontrun central bank purchases no longer in bonds, but in stocks outright, leading to epic surges in everything risk related, then collapse and force the Fed to print tens of trillions to bail everyone out all over again, rinse repeat, until this chart becomes asymptotic. We say luckily, because it means that the long overdue systemic reset is finally approaching.Read and see the full story here.
- The TSA Is Coming To A Highway Near You.(Forbes).By Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).One of the great honors of my service to Tennessee is having the opportunity to represent Ft. Campbell which is home to the storied 101st Airborne, the 5th Special Forces Group and the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment which piloted Navy SEAL Team Six during the raid on Osama Bin Laden.Each soldier who calls Ft. Campbell home has gone through some of the most intensive training on the planet which pushed their minds and bodies to their physical limits. In the end, those who make the cut have earned the right to be part of our United States military, are honored to wear its uniform, and are serving on the frontlines in the fight against global terrorism.Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for our nation’s Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) who Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano contends are our nation’s last line of defense in fighting domestic terrorism. Unlike “hell week” which faces potential Navy SEALs, becoming a TSO requires a basic level of classroom and on the job training. In many cases this rigorous training is less severe than the requirements of becoming a security guard in most states.Believe it or not, only 7 years ago, TSOs went by a more deserving title, “airport security screeners.” At the time, their title and on the job appearance consisted of a white shirt and black pants. This was fitting because airport security screening is exactly what’s required of the position. However, this is no longer the case.In the dead of night, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) administratively reclassified airport security screeners as Transportation Security Officers. The TSA then moved to administratively upgrade TSOs uniforms to resemble those of a federal law enforcement officer. They further completed the makeover with metal law enforcement badges. Not surprisingly, government bureaucrats at the TSA left out one crucial component during the artificial makeover – actual federal law enforcement training as is required of Federal Air Marshalls.While TSOs may have the appearance of a federal law enforcement officer they have neither the authority nor the power. If a passenger brings a loaded gun or an explosive device into an airport screening area there is nothing a TSO can do until the local police step in to save the day.In order to help rein in the TSA I introduced H.R. 3608, the Stop TSA’s Reach in Policy Act aka the STRIP Act. This bill will simply overturn the TSA’s administrative decision by prohibiting any TSA employee who has not received federal law enforcement training from using the title “officer,” wearing a police like uniform or a metal police badge. At its most basic level the STRIP Act is about truth in advertising.As TSOs continue to expand their presence beyond our nation’s airports and onto our highways, every American citizen has the right to know that they are not dealing with actual federal law enforcement officers. Had one Virginia woman known this days before Thanksgiving she may have been able to escape being forcibly raped by a TSO who approached her in a parking lot in full uniform while flashing his badge.Will the STRIP Act solve every problem facing the TSA? Absolutely not. The STRIP Act seeks to expand upon the work of my colleagues by chipping away at an unnoticed yet powerful overreach of our federal government. If Congress cannot swiftly overturn something as simple as this administrative decision there will be little hope that we can take steps to truly rein in the TSA on larger issues of concern.Furthermore, if Congress fails to act do not be surprised if the TSA gives TSOs another administrative makeover in the future. Only this time it won’t be a new uniform. It will be the power to make arrests as some TSOs are already publicly calling for.Hmmmm.......Obama:"We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, and just as well-funded."Read the full story here.
- U.S. probe of Koran burning finds 5 troops responsible, officials say; Afghans demand trial.(WP).By Kevin Sieff.PUL-E-ALAM, Afghanistan — Military investigators have concluded that five U.S. service members were involved in the incineration of a pile of Korans in Afghanistan last week, according to U.S. military officials who have been briefed on the inquiry.The burning of the Muslim holy books — which U.S. officials say was accidental — incited a week of protests that left 30 Afghans dead. The burnings also were cited as motivation for at least some of the six fatal attacks on U.S. military personnel that have occurred in Afghanistan in the past eight days.Investigators appointed by Marine Gen. John R. Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, found that the service members removed the Korans from a prison at Bagram air base after they were discovered to contain extremist messages.The books were then placed in an office for safekeeping, according to the inquiry. But they were mistaken for garbage and taken to a landfill on the base.Afghan employees identified the books as Korans just as the pages caught fire, a major desecration according to Muslim teachings. The discovery led to a week of unprecedented tension between U.S. and Afghan military officials.U.S. military officials said that although the five service members will be reprimanded, it is unlikely that their names will be released or that their punishment will approach the severity of what some Afghans are demanding, including trial in an Islamic court.“For the soldiers, it will be serious — they could lose rank. But you’re not going to see the kind of public trial that some here seem to want,” said one U.S. military official.Another military official said: “What they did was careless, but there was no ill will.”The much-discussed investigation was intended to quell unrest and prove to the Afghan public that U.S. officials were apologetic and willing to make amends for wrongdoing.But U.S. military officials expressed concern that the investigation’s finding — which stops short of pinning blame on malevolent service members — might not satisfy Afghan leaders.Senior Afghan clerics, in a statement issued after a meeting with President Hamid Karzai, said: “This evil action cannot be forgiven by apologizing. The perpetrators of the mentioned crime should be put on a public trial as soon as possible.”The clerics reiterated calls for the U.S.-led NATO coalition to relinquish control of military prisons to the Afghan government. “This incident was caused due to the illegal management of the prison,” the clerics said, according to a translation of their statement provided by the U.S. military.A NATO spokesman, Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, declined to comment on the findings of the military inquiry, saying it was “still going through the legal process.” A separate Afghan investigation, which is being conducted by lawmakers and religious officials, is expected to conclude in several days. U.S. military officials worry that if the Afghan investigation clashes with their findings, it could reinvigorate protesters.“There’s a real concern there. We don’t know what the investigation will say or how the public will react,” one official said. “But we know that there’s a real interest in trying guilty parties in an Afghan court, and that’s not something we’re prepared to do.”Hmmm.........The Islamic scholar Imam al-Haskaf specifies burning as an appropriate means of disposal for Qurans that have been defaced or rendered unusable, writing "Books that are no longer benefited from, one should wipe away the names of Allah, His Angels, and His Messengers, and burn the rest.Read the full story here.
- Wounded French journalists arrive in Paris; Obama says Assad’s ‘days are numbered’.(AA).Two French journalists evacuated from Syria’s battered city Homs arrived Friday at a military airport near Paris after escaping the besieged protest hub where two of their colleagues were killed.A plane transporting wounded reporter Edith Bouvier, 31, and photographer William Daniels, 34, arrived at Villacoublay airport from Beirut where they were met by relatives and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Sarkozy, who announced Friday that Paris would close its embassy in Syria to denounce President Bashar al-Assad's “scandalous” repression, paid homage to the journalists on their arrival.He said that Syrian authorities will “be called to account for their crimes before international criminal jurisdictions.”“The crime that they committed, the crimes that they have committed, will not go unpunished,” Sarkozy said, also praising a “chivalrous” Daniels for staying with Bouvier in Homs during days of heavy regime bombardment.
An ambulance was parked on the tarmac to take Bouvier to a military hospital for treatment for a broken leg suffered during the deadly bombardment of an improvised media center in Homs on Feb. 22.France announced it was ready to step up support of the rebels if the U.N. Security Council cleared the way for such a move. “Dictators will all, one day, have to pay for their actions,” Sarkozy said.
Bouvier, whose femur was shattered during heavy shelling of Homs’ Baba Amro district, and Daniels were brought across the border into Lebanon by Syrian rebels on Thursday, ending several days of uncertainty over their fate.Their plight had mesmerized France following the death of a French photographer Remi Ochlik last week during the bombardment of Homs, alongside American journalist Marie Colvin.Paris prosecutors on Friday opened a preliminary murder probe into the attack on the media center in Homs.A judicial source said that one of the inquiry’s first objectives would be to gather data that would allow the formal identification of Ochlik’s body so that it could be returned to France.
Meanwhile, Obama said in an interview published Friday that President Assad’s “days are numbered,” adding Washington was working to accelerate the transition to democracy there.
In the interview with the Atlantic Monthly, Obama said “it is our estimation that (Assad’s) days are numbered. It’s a matter not of if but when.”“Now, can we accelerate that? We’re working with the world community to try to do that,” he said.
Obama acknowledged that Syria is bigger, more sophisticated and more complicated than Libya, and that countries like Russia are blocking U.N. action, according to AFP.Read the full story here.
video - Former Guantanamo Prisoner Adel Al-Gazzar Complains About Cornflakes and Yogurt Breakfasts in prison.
Former Prisoner Adel Al-Gazzar Complains About Cornflakes and Yogurt Breakfasts At Guantanamo, Concludes: 'The U.S. Soldier... Is No Rambo'
In an interview on Egypt's Al-Rahma TV, former Guantanamo prisoner Adel Al-Gazzar mocked U.S. soldiers, saying they have the "body of a mule and the dreams of a bird," and that despite his "awesome" body, "the U.S. soldier... is no Rambo."
Al-Gazzar, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who was resettled in Slovakia by the Obama administration, voluntarily returned to his native Egypt in June 2011 and was immediately arrested, according to his lawyers.
In 2002, during his incarceration at Guantanamo, he had been convicted in absentia of plotting to overthrow the Egyptian government and sentenced to three years in prison, in what his advocates have called a sham trial. He had not been repatriated to Egypt by the U.S., although he was cleared for transfer by both the Bush administration and an inter-agency task force set up by the Obama administration, because U.S. officials and his lawyers feared he would be persecuted or tortured upon his return.
Interviewer: You said that some American soldiers in Guantanamo would cry and send letters to their mommies and girlfriends…
Adel Al-Gazzar: Right.
Interviewer: The American soldier looks strong, but is he really that strong?
Adel Al-Gazzar: Like the poet said, he has the body of a mule and the dreams of a bird. Some brothers even wrote a poem that goes: "This American, the real idiot. He resembles a donkey, in body and in stupidity." This is just one part. This poem had many stanzas. He is a real idiot, and he resembles a donkey in his body and stupidity. Indeed, they have awesome bodies. They practice sports, and have muscles out to here, like Rambo. The US soldier thinks he's a Rambo. The cinema has made him believe that. But the truth is that he is no Rambo.
The US soldier cannot fight at all. During the first Gulf War, the Egyptian and the Syrian armies moved in, and the Americans stayed behind. When it was all over and all the "dispensable" soldiers killed or wounded, the Americans would come and take pictures.
They would serve us breakfast that does not suit our nature. They would give you cornflakes and yogurt. People, we want falafel and broad beans… That stuff doesn't cut it for us. It would never fill us. Source Memri.
Siberian earthquake activity pointing to 'Rapid Pole Reversal"?(TTBTS).An unsettling report prepared by Viktor Seleznyov, director of the Geophysical Institute at the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (SB RAS), on the 6.8 magnitude earthquake and the several 5.2 magnitude earthquakes that struck the Tyva Republic in Russia’s East Siberia on February 26 warns that more seismic activity should be expected within the coming weeks and that this event is part of an ever increasing body of evidence pointing to a “rapid” shifting in our Earth’s magnetic poles.
Director Seleznyov, and other SB RAS scientists, have been increasingly concerned over the past fortnight about this region after the 9 February and 12 February“mysterious blasts” in the Kemerovo Region reminiscent of the 30 June 1908 Tunguska Event that remains the largest explosion of its type in modern times that for over a century has yet to be fully explained.
The “common linkage” between these mysterious explosions and increasing seismic events in Siberia, this report says, is due to the rapid shifting of our Earth’s magnetic North Pole that has doubled in the last 50 years, and in the 1990s “picked up speed in a big way,” bolting north–northwest into the Arctic Ocean at more than 55 kilometers per year.
To the most immediate effect upon our Earth due to this “magnetic pole anomaly,” this report continues, has been the “strange disruption” of the jet stream over the Northern Hemisphere that on the North American side has produced the driest and warmest winter weather in recorded history, but on the European side has causedrecord-setting cold and snow that has claimed over 650 lives.
Though Director Seleznyov notes in this report that the evidence for a “full scale” geomagnetic reversal of the positions of magnetic north and magnetic south are still being debated, our Earth is, “without a doubt,” currently undergoing a Laschamp-type geomagnetic “event” known as a geomagnetic excursion.
A geomagnetic excursion, like a geomagnetic reversal, is a significant change in the Earth’s magnetic field. Unlike reversals however, an excursion does not permanently change the large-scale orientation of the field, but rather represents a dramatic, typically short-lived decrease in field intensity, with a variation in pole orientation of up to 45 degrees from the previous position.
The Laschamp Geomagnetic “Event” noted in this report is interesting on a number of levels due to its having occurred between 7,000-17,000 years ago falling within the working timeframe of:
1.) The flash freezing of Siberia where still today woolly mammoths are still uncovered in near pristine condition, and
2.) The 11 August 3114 BCE start date of the Mayan Calendar that seemingly predicts the year of 2012 will, indeed, experience another such cataclysmic event.
To the validity of Director Seleznyov’s predictions, should they come horrifyingly true this year, one need look no further than the letter conversations held between arguable two of the greatest minds of the 20th century; Albert Einstein (1879-1955) the German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, andImmanuel Velikovsky (1895-1975) the Russian-born American independent scholar of Jewish origins.
Where on one hand Einstein represented the modern scientific community regarding the possibility of “sudden” Earth changes, Velikovsky gave voice to the all of the ancient peoples who ever lived on this Earth who stated they witnessed these “sudden” Earth changes first hand, with the “battle” between them resting on what was going to be the “final outcome” and, perhaps, best articulated by Einstein in his 22 May 1954 letter to Velikovsky that, in part, said:
“The proof of “sudden” changes is quite convincing and meritorious. If you had done nothing else but to gather and present in a clear way this mass of evidence, you would have already a considerable merit.”
Though Einstein died before he and Velikovsky were able to complete their “debate,” critical assumptions made by Einstein in backing his position were subsequently proved to be false, and as Velikovsky completely documented in his manuscript “Before The Day Breaks”.
To us living today, and as detailed in Director Seleznyov’s report, of whom to believe…Einstein or Velikovsky…will determine the fate billions…and if the ancients are to be believed, the “end” will come much, much sooner than later.Hmmm........Read the full story here.
Christians, Actors Targeted as Islam Rises in Egypt.(INN).As Islamist parties gain power in Egypt, the country has seen a wave of lawsuits accusing various figures of “insulting Islam.” In the latest case, a group of lawyers belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood have accused high-profile Egyptian women of provocative behavior.
The lawyers argue that the women “encourage sexuality and other inappropriate behaviors.” The Egyptian paper Al-Bawaba named two of the targets as actresses Ghada Abd al-Raziq and Summaya al-Khashab.The same lawyers previously accused renowned comic actor Adel Imam of insulting Islam. Imam was given a three-month jail sentence.
A Christian man recently received a far harsher sentence for the same crime. According to Bikyamasr, Coptic Christian Makram Diab was given a six-year prison sentence for making offensive remarks about Mohammed, who Muslims revere as a prophet.
Egypt’s Christian community has also been hit by kidnappings targeting young women. According to Christian community leaders, many Christian girls have been kidnapped by Muslim men and forced to convert to Islam. Police often decline to intervene.
Muslim leaders often argue that the girls fled home of their own accord, usually after falling in love with a Muslim man.Christians held a protest over the issue outside Parliament this week. Protesters called on MPs to look into the kidnappings and enforce the law.Hmmmmm........Wouldn't you love a holiday to Egypt?Read the full story here.
Three Palestinian terrorists sentenced in absentia over 1988 Greek cruise ship attack.(DW).
A court in Paris has sentenced three ex-members of a radical Palestinian group in absentia to 30 years in prison for an attack on a Greek cruise ship over two decades ago. Nine people were killed in the attack.
Three men were found guilty in absentia at a French anti-terrorism trial on Thursday for their role in an attack on a Greek cruise ship more than two decades ago. The men, who are suspected ex-members of the Palestinian group Abu Nidal, were each sentenced to 30 years in prison.
On July 11 1998, at least one gunman on the City of Poros cruise ship opened fire on passengers as the ship was returning to Athens after a one-day cruise, before throwing a grenade and a fire bomb. Nine people, including three French citizens, were killed and dozens more were injured. "The message from this trial is that French justice never gives up on those who commit terrorist acts," the victims' lawyer Francis Szpiner said.
Lebanese-born Adnan Sojod was convicted of murder and attempted murder after being identified by some thirty witnesses as the main shooter. Meanwhile Abdul Hamid Amoud and Palestinian-born Jordanian national Samir Mohammed Ahmed Khaidir were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to attempt murder. New arrest warrants were issued for the men whose whereabouts remain unknown.Abu Nidal's faction is believed to have killed or wounded nearly 1,000 people in 20 countries in a string of attacks between 1970 and 1988. For years it was on the US State Department list of terrorist organizations.Read the full story here.
Daylight: New film blasts Obama's Israel record.(DT).By Josh Rogin. One day before the AIPAC conference kicks off in Washington, an anti-Obama pro-Israel group is widening its criticism of President Barack Obama's record on Israel -- while the White House defends its treatment of the relationship.
The trailer for a new 30-minute video, entitled "Daylight: The Story of Obama and Israel," cuts together clips of Obama quotes and outside commentary to put forth the narrative that Obama has made statements and taken actions as president that have put him out of step with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters.
"We believe that that the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines," Obama is shown saying, a reference to his May, 2011 speech, where he for the first time explicitly defined U.S. policy as supporting the 1967 borders with agreed swaps as the basis for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations."He didn't quite have a full grasp of what the full region looks like," conservative journalist Lee Smith is shown saying in the video. "This is not how you treat an ally." The ad goes beyond the Israeli issue to suggest that the president is too solicitous of Muslim concerns. The end of the trailer shows Obama saying, "I want to make sure we end before the call to prayer," a clip from his town hall meeting with Turkish students in Istanbul in April 2009.
The video was produced by the group the Emergency Committee for Israel, which has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on its pre-AIPAC publicity campaign, including posters and billboards all over Washington that question Obama's commitment to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
"He says a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. Do you believe him?" the posters read. Then, next to a picture of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini and President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, it says, "Do they?"Read the full story here.
Netanyahu warns against talks with Iran; Obama says it will ‘play victim’ if attacked.(AA).Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed on Friday the idea of renewed international negotiations with Iran aimed at preventing the country from building a nuclear weapon as U.S. President Barack Obama warned that a premature attack on Iran would allow it to play the “victim” in the nuclear crisis.“It could do again what it has done before, it could pursue or exploit the talks as they’ve done in the past to deceive and delay so that they can continue to advance their nuclear program and get to the nuclear finish line by running up the clock, so to speak,” Netanyahu told a news conference in Ottawa after talks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“I think the international community should not fall into this trap,” he said, according to Reuters.
“I have not set down red lines to the United States and will not set down red lines,” he said. “I want to reserve Israel’s freedom to maneuver in light of threats, every country would demand that.”
Meanwhile, Obama warned that a premature attack on Iran would allow it to play the “victim” in the nuclear crisis, in remarks published Friday days before he meets Netanyahu.
In some of his toughest comments yet on Tehran’s nuclear drive, Obama also warned Israel and Iran should take seriously possible U.S. action against Iranian nuclear facilities if sanctions fail to stop the country’s atomic ambitions.
“I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don’t bluff,” Obama told the Atlantic Monthly magazine.“I also don’t, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.”
Netanyahu’s government has maintained that all options remain on the table with regard to action on Iran, but Obama issued a blunt warning against a premature strike.“At a time when there is not a lot of sympathy for Iran and its only real ally (Syria) is on the ropes, do we want a distraction in which suddenly Iran can portray itself as a victim?” Obama said.
Even if Israel were not a specific target of Iran’s wrath, Obama said “it would still be a profound national-security interest of the United States to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
Obama is scheduled to address the annual conference of the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC on March 4, one day before his meeting with Netanyahu.
Netanyahu was also to deliver a speech at the meeting of the AIPAC lobby on the evening of March 5, after meeting Obama.Hmmmm.......He’s not bluffing about taking action inside Iran........Obama: The “One Thing” That Michelle Allows Me To Do Is Watch ESPN.Read the full story here.
"Sign of 'Changing' times?" Ahmadinejad's sister fails to win parliamentary seat.(AA).The younger sister of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad failed to win a parliamentary seat in the hometown of the president, the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported Saturday.
The report said the final results from a small town southeast of the capital shows that Parvin Ahmadinejad, a close ally of the president, was defeated by her conservative rival.Parvin Ahmadinejad was running for a seat in Garmsar, about 35 miles (60 kilometers) southeast of Tehran. She is a current member of Tehran’s municipal council.
Her failure in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hometown is seen as a big blow to him in the first balloting since his disputed re-election in 2009.Early returns also showed conservative rivals of Ahmadinejad were elected in many other constituencies.
Out of 50 winners, at least 36 conservative opponents of Ahmadinejad had won seats in parliament.
Three other liberal-leaning candidates were elected. The tendency of the remaining 11 was not yet clear.
More than 3,440 parliamentary hopefuls - all vetted by Iran’s ruling Islamic system and none with links to the Green Movement that led protests after Ahmadinejad’s re-election - were running for seats.
The early results suggest Ahmadinejad will face a more belligerent parliament in the nearly two years remaining in his second four-year term.
Nationwide, final results are expected to be released during the weekend and early next week. Results in small towns, with few representatives in parliament, appear sooner than cities like the capital, Tehran, which has some 5 million eligible voters and 30 legislators.
The new parliament will begin its work late in June. It is expected to boost the voices of hard-line opponents of Ahmadinejad in next year's presidential elections.The results for the 290-seat parliament will have no direct influence over Iran’s nuclear program or other critical affairs, such as military or oil policies.
However, high turnout could heighten Tehran’s defiance of the international community’s effort to halt Iran's nuclear program, which the West suspects is trying to build a weapon, a charge Iran denies.Mehr said some 70 percent of more than 48 million eligible voters participated in the Friday elections.In 2008 and 2004, the turnout for parliamentary elections was 57 percent and 51 percent, respective.Hmmmmm........"CHANGE" you never know who and when it will hit.Read the full story here.
Anger surrounds Obama's Administration's payout of NGO bail money in Egypt.(BM).Cairo: Frustration and anger has surrounded the United States government’s decision to pay the bail for 19 American NGO workers in Egypt, which enabled them to leave the country late this week.
Activists and American citizens have voiced their surprise that US taxpayer money was used to release the workers from their court case in Egypt, which had sparked tension between Washington and Cairo in recent months.
The US State Department confirmed on Friday that they had indeed paid the $330,000 bail for each of the American citizens to be tried in the case.
“I find it simply unwarranted. As an American living in Cairo, I know that if I were tried, because I don’t have political connections, it would be different. This is a lot of money and wrong to use on a court case,” said one American English-language teacher in the Egyptian capital. He told Bikyamasr.com that “the Egyptian anger over the use of money to deal with a trial, however, wrong, shows that corruption and bribes are still part of Egypt’s daily life. No wonder they are angry.”
The travel ban on the workers was lifted this week and the State Department on Friday said 13 foreign workers – 6 of them US citizens – had left Egypt on a private plane.
Egyptian activists condemned the use of money to free the workers from the trial. Although they voiced anger at the proceedings in the first place, they argued that by using financial power to remove the foreigners from the country, was not the right move.“We struggle daily to fight against the system. What about the Egyptians on trial? Are they not as important?” activist and anti-military junta protester Yussif Ahmed told Bikyamasr.com on Saturday. The human rights worker called for justice “instead of hiding.”He argued that “by using money to release the foreigners from the trial, the case will not be of as much international significance and the Egyptian workers are now to face major difficulties as the trial continues.”
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that the money to pay the bail ultimately came from the US government, saying that the Obama administration had agreed to treat the legal expenses stemming from the incident “as part of the activities that the US government funds.”
“The NGOs paid the bail out of money that they received from the US government,” she said. “We agreed to this because the situation arose in the context of the democracy promotion work that they were doing that we had funded and supported.”Nuland said that it was up to the US citizens who had left to decide whether to return to Egypt to face the charges.It is unlikely they will return, leaving many Egyptians and Americans living in Egypt angry over what they have said was a move of corruption.
“This is unacceptable. Stealing away in the night shows the US is willing to accept the military control and forget about democracy and transparency,” added Ahmed.Hmmmmm........Under Islamic law, jizya is a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state's non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria. The tax is/was to be levied on able bodied adult males of military age and affording power,(but with specific exemptions), From the point of view of the Muslim rulers, jizya was a material proof of the non-Muslims' acceptance of subjection to the state and its laws, "
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Hamas says Egypt to blame for Gaza continued power outages.(BM).Hamas leader in Gaza put the blame for the power crisis in the Gaza Strip on Egypt, arguing that continued power outages are the result of Cairo not implementing promises to boost their electricity output.
Ismail Haniyeh told reporters on Friday that Egypt was in complete control of the flow of fuel into Gaza and alluded to Cairo officials not doing enough to assist the Palestinians since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.
It comes as many households in the small Mediterranean enclave are receiving only around 6 hours of electricity daily, which has begun to cause anger and resentment towards the Islamic group in Gaza.
The statements from Haniyeh are likely to cause a rift with Cairo, who said in recent weeks it would help boost energy outputs to Gaza.“Is it reasonable that Gaza remains without electricity a year after the revolution in Egypt?” Haniyeh said in a weekly address, accusing Cairo of trying to force Gazans to accept their energy supplies via arch foe Israel.“Is it reasonable that Gaza remains blockaded a year after the dismissal of the tyrant (Mubarak) regime?” he said.
Egypt is seen as the last hope for Gaza as Israel continues a complete economic blockade on the 2.5 million inhabitants in Gaza, who struggle for basic daily supplies.
Although Cairo has promised to open the border at Rafah, it remains sporadically open and Palestinians are still unable to move freely into Egypt. Supplies are in short order and despite hopes that a post-revolution Egypt would bring change to the political dynamic in the region, Palestinians in Gaza continue to struggle daily for the basic necessities of life.Hmmmmm.........Read the full story here.
After India now it's Pakistan's turn to tell Obama Admin to take a walk.(Fars).TEHRAN (FNA)- Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar rejected the US threats of economic sanctions against the promotion of economic ties between Iran and Pakistan, and reiterated that her country would extend its cooperation with Iran in the energy sector. "All of these projects are in Pakistan's national interest and will be pursued and completed irrespective of any extraneous considerations," Rabbani Khar said in crushing response to the US threats. "As far as our bilateral relations and cooperation is concerned, we do not make it contingent on views and policies of any third country."
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton threatened sanctions if Pakistan goes ahead with the $1.5 billion pipeline, a project which Washington views as undermining its attempts to squeeze Iran to drop its nuclear program. Pakistan says the multi-billion dollar deal is crucial for addressing its energy crisis. Under the 2010 deal, Iran would supply Pakistan with natural gas from 2014.
Rabbani Khar said Pakistan was talking to Iran about some "important projects, such as the gas pipeline, the electricity transmission projects and upgrading trade partnership".
"All these projects are in Pakistan's national interest and will be pursued and completed irrespective of any extraneous considerations."
She cautioned Washington officials that Pakistan sought a relationship with the US based on mutual respect.
It is now interesting to see that arch foes Pakistan and India are taking a similar position when it comes to the US opposition to their energy ties with Iran.
New Delhi, too, has argued that it needs Iranian crude oil to meet its energy needs, despite pressure from the US to cut back.
Pakistan has been resistant to the US pressures against its energy ties and cooperation with Iran for a variety of reasons. Firstly, Tehran and Islamabad have long had Muslim brotherly ties. Secondly, Pakistan is now in a dire energy crisis. The country relies on gas for half of its energy needs and is already facing massive shortfalls and daily blackouts which have gutted industrial production. For sure, Islamabad views the gas pipeline project with Iran as a key medium-term strategy to get itself out of a hole.
And thirdly, after US helicopters killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the border with Afghanistan in November, Islamabad froze diplomatic relations with the US. That means no delegations of senior Washington officials are coming through Pakistan. The country's leaders remain furious the Obama administration has not officially apologized for the strike.
In this climate it seems unlikely Pakistan will do what the US wants, and Washington had better think of other plots against the Islamic Republic as Tehran and Islamabad have already proved that they would not allow any third party to harm their strong relations.Hmmmm.....The world has become a powder keg thanks to Nobel "Peace prize" winner Obama.Read the full story here.
"Sanctions that Bite?" India raised the amount of crude oil imported from Iran by 53 percent.(Fars).Tehran - Iran and India resolved their oil payment issues after they agreed to accept payment in rupee term, a move that could unlock huge sums pending on both sides.Exporters body Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO) said on Friday that the long-pending issue of payments with Iran has been resolved, and shipments to that country will now be paid in Indian rupees. "The payment problem with Iran has been resolved with operationalization of rupee payment mechanism through UCO Bank," FIEO president Rafeeque Ahmed said in a statement on Friday. "Those payments which have been stuck will be cleared expeditiously." He said "such positive action" by the government would encourage exporters to aggressively export to Iran and optimize utilization of the rupee balance in oil import pool.
A high-level delegation of Indian officials, including businessmen, is slated to visit Tehran on March 10 to explore the huge business potential specially left open after the new round of US and EU sanctions against Iran.The Directorate-General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has also agreed to grant all export benefits to exporters for which payment is received in Indian rupee and a notification will be issued soon.
The problem with Iran began after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in December 2010, withdrew the Asian Clearing Union (ACU) mechanism under which payments were made to Iran. India imports 12 million barrels of crude oil every month from Iran, which is the nation's second-largest supplier after Saudi Arabia. According to Lloyd's List Intelligence, India raised the amount of crude oil imported from Iran in January to 16.2m barrels. This represented a jump of 53% compared with the previous month and is two-thirds higher than average levels recorded last year. Hmmmm.......Price of gas in India is now around $ 5/Gallon, soon it will be cheaper......Obamanomics!Read the full story here.
"Osama's Abottabat" - Hindus stall Hollywood film shoot in India recreating bin Laden’s hideout.(BM).NEW DELHI (dpa): Right-wing Hindu activists on Friday disrupted the shooting of a film by Hollywood director Kathryn Bigelow’s recreating Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan hideout in the Indian city Chandigarh, news reports said.
Bigelow is making a movie on the US Navy Seals who tracked and killed the al-Qaeda leader in the Pakistani city of Abbotabad. She has chosen to set her movie in Chandigarh, capital of the northern Indian state of Punjab, IANS news agency reported.
The Oscar-winning director’s crew was forced to cancel shooting and move cameras after demonstrations by activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) in Manimajra town on the outskirts off ChandigarhThe VHP activists disrupted the shooting and removed Pakistani flags put up to recreate streets in Abbotabad where the Navy Seals killed bin Laden on May 2, 2011.
“They are showing Chandigarh as Pakistan. This is not acceptable in any terms. Why should a place in India be converted to look like Pakistan? We will never allow Pakistan flags flying at places in the city,” Vijay Singh Bhardwaj, a leader of the Hindu organization, was quoted as saying.
Activists dispersed after local police officer Rajesh Shukla assured them that Pakistani flags would not be permitted at the shooting locations.Bigelow later said they would not be using the flags, the report said.South Asian neighbors India and Pakistan have a history of bitter relations and have fought three wars since their independence from British rule in 1947.Oscar winner Bigelow’s crew has been shooting in the area since Wednesday.The feel of a Pakistani town was created in Manimajra and a busy market area in Chandigarh with Urdu signboards.“Given the security environment in Pakistan and the strained US-Pakistan relations, too many risks were involved in shooting the film inside that country,” IANS quoted a crew member as saying.
Bigelow’s film Zero Dark Thirty or ZD30 is expected to be released by the end of the year, the reports said.Hmmm....."By the end of the year" meaning before November...Will they give Obama dolls at the exit of the movie theatre?Read the full story here.More here.
Mansion servant 'enslaved' by uber-rich New York family for nearly six years.(Yahoo).
A wealthy New York woman is facing criminal charges after being accused of keeping an illegal immigrant as an indentured servant and forcing her to live in a closet for nearly six years.
Documents posted on the Smoking Gun allege that Annie George, 39, and her now-deceased husband, Mathai Kolath George, hired an illegal immigrant from the Indian state of Kerala. The immigrant, identified only as "V.M.," was promised about $1,000 a month in wages to live in the family's 34-room, 30,000-square-foot home, known as Llenroc mansion, which houses a helicopter pad, 15 fireplaces, marble flooring, 24-karat gold gilded ceilings and a glass elevator. V.M. was tasked with taking care of the Georges' four young children, along with performing household duties in the mansion located about 20 miles north of Albany.
New York's minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Even if V.M. had been allowed to leave the residence at the end of a regular 40-hour workweek, she would have been entitled to a minimum, pretax income of $290 per week, or $1,160 per month.
Instead, the "forced labor situation" (as described in the court papers) was even worse than the already-below minimum wage offer of $1,000 month. V.M. received 85 cents an hour, working 17-hour days, seven days a week, over the 67 months she was kept inside the George residence.
All told, V.M. received only about $29,000 over the five and a half years she was forced to work for the George family.
The Smoking Gun reports that immigration agents received a tip from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center last year and removed V.M. from the George's property. The U.S. Department of Labor conducted its own investigation and says V.M. is entitled to $206,000 in back wages. She was also allegedly denied health benefits, sick days or any personal time off from her labors.Read the full story here.