Thursday, April 5, 2012
Blasphemous Vodka Brand Pulled in Kazakhstan.(RN).Imams fumed and believers rallied this week in Kazakhstan, where a brand of vodka praising the might of Allah went on sale in the country’s east, local media reported on Thursday. The plastic wrapping on the neck of the Baiterek vodka contained the phrase roughly translated as “the might of Allah suffices for everyone” in Arabic script amid flowery ornaments, KTK television said. The vodka, priced at 650 tenge ($4.3) per bottle, appeared in the city of Semey, some 600 kilometers east from the capital Almaty, Tengrinews.kz said. Several dozen devout Muslims staged a protest rally in the city of Aktobe, while the country’s Islamic clergy lambasted the unholy produce in an online appeal, which pointed out that Allah banned believers from consumption of alcohol. The manufacturer, Geom, blamed its Russian partners, saying the wrapping was designed by an unspecified Russian firm, KTK said. The firm mistook the Arabic script for an ethnic Kazakh design, Geom’s director said, Tengrinews.kz reported. The company issued an official apology and pulled the blasphemous beverage off the shelves, the report said. Islam is the dominant religion in Kazakhstan, a Central Asian nation of 16 millions, but the country adopted a relaxed stance on religion after decades under Soviet rule. However, it experienced the first violent attacks by Islamic radicals in its history last fall, indicating a rise in religious sentiment.Read the full story here.
Oil rift deepens Baghdad-Kurds dispute.(UPI).Tensions between Baghdad and Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish enclave have intensified after the Kurds halted oil exports in a payment dispute and the government signed a deal with BP to develop the Kirkuk oil fields the Kurds claim are theirs. “Oil is obviously at the forefront of every decision Baghdad makes and the fact that all of its hydrocarbons are located far from the capital is beginning to make the government’s position more precarious,” the Middle East Economic Digest observed recently.
Baghdad is increasingly alarmed at how the Kurdistan Regional Government, based in the northern city of Irbil, is attracting international oil companies to conduct exploration in the three Kurdish provinces along the northern borderlands. Baghdad refuses to recognize the deals the KRG has signed with 40 small foreign oil companies, insisting the government is the sole authority when it comes to oil contracts. But Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government was severely jolted in October 2011 when the world’s largest oil company, Exxon Mobil of the United States, defied Baghdad and signed a six-block deal with Irbil. Baghdad declared that illegal. Tensions have risen since Exxon’s surprise move that jeopardized its stake in the huge West Qurna 1 field in the south. The company refuses to back down but so far it hasn’t begun drilling in Kurdistan.
On March 25, the state-owned North Oil Co. announced it had signed a preliminary deal with BP to develop the northern Kirkuk oilfields, which contain one-third of Iraq’s reserves of 143.1 billion barrels. That was slap in the face for the KRG, which claims the city of Kirkuk and the oil fields are Kurdish territory because they formed a Kurdish province ruled by the Ottomans for 400 years. The BP deal, designed to boost Kirkuk production from 280,000 barrels per day to 580,000 bpd, was widely seen as Baghdad’s response to the KRG’s controversial contract with Exxon Mobil.
On Sunday, the KRG struck back by cutting back its oil exports, accusing Baghdad of failing to make payments totaling $1.5 billion since 2011. The KRG’s exports were reduced to 50,000 bpd from an estimated 90,000 bpd. Irbil threatened to cut off exports altogether within a month if Baghdad continued to withhold payment. Baghdad said it had allocated $560 million for the KRG but the dispute continues.
The rift has been magnified by the KRG giving sanctuary to Iraq’s fugitive vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi, and allowing him to flee to Qatar. Hashemi, the top Sunni politician in Maliki’s Shiite-dominated coalition, has been accused by the government of “aiding terrorists.” He denies the charges, which are widely seen as part of a widening crackdown by Maliki to eliminate his political rivals in the post-U.S. era. But it’s the feud over oil and revenue-sharing that dominates the widening rift between Baghdad and the Kurds. The outcome could have a far-reaching impact on Iraq’s future as it struggles to rebuild after decades of war, international sanctions and internal, sectarian rifts and on the minority Kurds’ determination to assert themselves as a long-suppressed people.
“Baghdad has an unenviable task of bringing together a country that has for so long been ripped apart by war and tyranny,” MEED observed. “Finding an effective and workable solution to selling its hydrocarbons should be its first priority.” The dispute centers primarily on Kirkuk, an ethnically mixed city where Saddam Hussein drove out the Kurds who once formed the majority and packed it with Arabs during his tyrannical rule. After the Americans toppled Saddam in April 2003, the Kurds, key U.S. allies during the invasion, reclaimed Kirkuk and its oil fields. Controlling them, along with reserves of an estimated 50 million barrels in Kurdistan, would form the economic backbone of the independent state for which the Kurds have fought for decades. The region has become a flashpoint between Iraq’s Arabs and the Kurds. U.S. forces kept the two sides apart but, now the Americans have left, the decades-old dispute between Kurds and Iraqi Arabs could ignite.
On top of that, Maliki’s dictatorial inclinations have prompted minority Sunni provinces to demand autonomy, threatening a possible breakup of the federal system established under the Americans. The Kurds are the effective kingmakers in Iraq’s often deadly politics and that gives the KRG in Irbil some high cards that Maliki ignores at his peril.Hmmmmm..........In mid-November, Barzani warned in an interview with Turkish television that the Iraqi Kurds would have no choice but to proclaim independence in the event of civil war.Obama: If We Work Hard, Afghanistan Could Be a Success...Like Iraq!
Read the full story here.
Courtroom Terror.(MiddleEastForum).By Raymond Ibrahim.Gatestone Institute April 5, 2012.Apologists often try to explain away Islamic terrorism as a byproduct of something else. The usual argument is that, because Muslims are politically, socially, or militarily weak—the archetypal example often given is Israel vis-à-vis the Palestinians—they have no choice but to resort to terror to strike at their stronger adversaries. In other words, they resort to terrorism simply to even the odds—hence the argument that terrorism is the "weapon of the weak."
Though this narrative is widely accepted, it is demonstrably false. Consider the following account that took place a couple of weeks ago in Muslim-majority Egypt:
More than 300 Muslim lawyers inside and outside a courthouse in the southern Egyptian province of Assuit today [3/16] prevented defense lawyer Ahmad Sayed Gabali, who is representing the Christian, Makarem Diab, from going into court. Mr. Diab was found guilty of "Insulting the Muslim Prophet" and was scheduled today for a hearing on his appeal. Attorney Dr. Naguib Gabriell, head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization, said there was "terror in the Assiut Court today." He added that he was on his way to court when he was advised that Muslim lawyers have issued death threats to any Christian lawyers who attend the court session. "Makram Diab was assaulted by Muslim lawyers during his transfer from the courtroom and security failed to protect him." Peter Sarwat, a Coptic lawyer, said that Muslim lawyers representing the plaintiffs prevented the defense team from entering court: "They said no Muslim will defend a Christian. It was agreed that Christian lawyers would take over and two Coptic lawyers volunteered, but the Muslims decided later that even Christians would not defend him." Sarwat said the Muslim lawyers wanted to assault the chief judge but he managed to leave the court via a rear door [emphasis added].The report goes on to explain how Muslim lawyers and activists went to court to defend Diab's right to a fair trial only to be assaulted by other Muslim lawyers: "They were assaulting us in a beastly and strange way just because we went there to defend a citizen who happened to be a Christian," said one of the lawyers, adding that exiting the court required security intervention: "We left court in a security vehicle which took us to Security headquarters, otherwise, we don't know what the outcome would have been for us."
More details include eyewitnesses reporting that the Muslim lawyers were "armed with clubs." Several, including reporters, were injured in the ensuing melee, and human rights groups were "forced out of the courtroom by the Muslims."
Was the condemned Christian's attorney right to categorize this incident as "terrorism"? According to Dictionary.com, the primary definition of terrorism is "the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes." In other words, terrorism is not just limited to 9/11-type strikes, but involves intimidating, bullying, threatening, etc.—precisely what happened at this courthouse trial.
Some more key points to keep in mind:
- Those making the death threats, physically assaulting others with clubs, and otherwise engaging in terrorist behavior were "more than 300 Muslim lawyers"; not jihadis or fugitives hiding out in caves, but lawyers.
- The entire issue revolves around something that, by Western standards of freedom, would be a non-issue to start with: insulting a "holy" figure, Islam's Prophet Muhammad. In a Western court of law, the Christian "blasphemer" would not even be tried, but rather the terrorist "lawyers."
- The attacks on fellow Muslim lawyers who merely sought to represent the condemned Christian is in keeping with Islam's doctrines of loyalty and disloyalty, which command Muslims always to side with fellow Muslims, while having enmity for non-Muslim infidels—certainly those perceived to have insulted their prophet.
Contrary to popular belief, then, and as this episode clearly shows, Islamic terrorism is not a byproduct of "weakness," but rather the typical approach to those who transgress the bounds of Sharia. Whether one man "blaspheming" Muhammad in a Muslim-majority nation (as in this example) or whether an entire nation existing on land perceived to be Islam's (as in the case of Israel)—terror is never far behind for those transgressing the bounds of Sharia.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
North Korea May Have New Long-Range ICBM.(WT).Details of a new North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) surfaced this week with a report from Asia that U.S. spy agencies spotted what appears to be a larger long-range missile than the one now being readied for launch in the next two weeks.
South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper quoted government sources as saying the new missile was seen at a missile-development center in Pyongyang, but noted that it is not clear if the missile is a functional system or a mockup.
The April 3 report said the new missile is about 130 feet long, compared to the estimated 100-foot-long Taepodong-2 missile photographed recently on a launchpad.
Asked about the new missile, Pentagon spokesman George Little on Tuesday did not directly comment.
“I would just merely say that this is something we’re working with our partners on,” he said.
Recent U.S. intelligence reports mentioned in Congress have said North Korea is developing a new road-mobile ICBM that can reach targets in the United States.
A CIA report to Congress made public recently stated that “North Korea continues to develop short-range and longer-range ballistic missiles.”
The new road-mobile missile was first reported in this space in December and confirmed March 2 by Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.
“There is development within North Korea of a road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile system that we’ve observed,” he said last month.
The mobile missile is “advertised to be significant in terms of its range capability,” Adm. Willard added.
The missile is more difficult to counter because mobile missiles can be hidden in caves and are set up more easily and fired more rapidly than North Korea’s less-sophisticated liquid-fueled missiles, like the Taepodong-2.
On Pyongyang’s upcoming missile test, Mr. Little, the Pentagon spokesman, declined to outline the specific steps the U.S. military is taking in preparation for launch expected between April 12 and April 16.
North Korea claims the launch is designed to put a satellite into orbit and has invited countries in the region to observe.
The United States says any missile test or space launch would violate U.N. resolutions barring missile tests and development.
“We, along with our partners in the region, are monitoring developments very closely, and that’s where I’ll leave it,” Mr. Little said.
Other defense officials said the military has activated its global missile-defense system that includes ships in the region; space-, sea- and land-based radar and sensors; and 30 ground-based interceptors based in Alaska and California.Hmmmm........You think they shared the know how with Iran?Read the full story here.
IDF chief Gantz unveils new deterrence policy.(YNet).IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz on Thursday declared a change in army police whereby any firing at Israel's south will be met with an attack on Hamas, regardless of the group behind the fire. Similarly, any firing from Lebanon will result in an attack on Hezbollah, and any terror attack by Iran's emissaries overseas will prompt a response against Tehran. Speaking at a conference in the Gelilot base, Gantz discussed the many threats Israel faces. "The IDF is Israel's sharpened sword and protector," he noted. He also addressed the firing of rockets at Eilat on Wednesday night. It is estimated that three rockets were fired from Sinai, one of which exploded near residential buildings. The remaining two rockets have yet to be found. There were no injuries. Egyptian officials denied that the rockets had been fired from Sinai, and one security official said the Israeli reports were erroneous. Referring to last month's round of violence in the south, Gantz said: "After disrupting a lethal terror attack, we endured attacks from the Gaza Strip for which Hamas was responsible. We acted with determination and caused grave damage to the terror organization. We proved once again that we are able to protect the lives of Israeli civilians and strike those who seek to harm us with force." Gantz warned that "anyone who tries to test us, domestically or overseas, will find a sophisticated army ready to defend Israel and subdue its enemies." Alluding to recent terror attacks in India, Thailand and Georgia, the IDF chief said, "We know the source of these attacks and those behind them must know that Israel's long arm will ultimately reach anyone who seeks to harm Israeli civilians and the Jewish people, Whether in Gaza, Lebanon or anywhere else."Read the full story here.
Just when you thought you heard it all - Erdogan: Iran making excuses to stall talks.(JPost).ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Iran was insincere in suggesting Damascus or Baghdad instead of Istanbul as possible venues for talks on its disputed nuclear program with six world powers next week. "The offer going round at the moment, Damascus or Baghdad, is a waste of time, it means it won't happen, because they know the other side won't come to Damascus or Baghdad," Erdogan told a news conference in Ankara.
"We have to be honest. Because of the lack of honesty they are continually losing their international prestige," he said. "This is not the language of diplomacy. The name of this is something else, but I won't say it here." Turkey had offered to host the April 13-14 talks in Istanbul and the two sides had appeared to settle on Turkey's commercial hub as the venue, but Tehran then requested to change the location following friction with Ankara. But after Erdogan's comments it would appear even more unlikely the talks will be held in Istanbul, and the lack of a venue could throw into question whether the negotiations will take place at all. "This meeting is not something that will win us any prestige and we are not after any such prestige. Iran would be the winners with us here. Why? Because we would put forward for them a just approach," Erdogan said. Tension between Turkey and Iran has risen this week after a senior Iranian figure spoke out against Turkey hosting the nuclear talks following the meeting in Istanbul on Sunday of the "friends of Syria" group of countries opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Iran's close Arab ally.Hmmmm.......Read the full story here.
'Rude awakening' for Mac users as cyber attack infects 550,000 of Apple's 'virus free' machines, UK and U.S. worst hit.
'Rude awakening' for Mac users as cyber attack infects 550,000 of Apple's 'virus free' machines, UK and U.S. worst hit.(DailyMail).A new computer trojan has infected 550,000 machines running Apple's Mac OS X - and many could still be vulnerable. The infected machines are now part of a 'botnet' of zombie machines which can be controlled by cyber criminals and 'told' to download new malicious software. The attack has been described as a 'rude awakening' for Mac users.The new attack was spotted by Russian anti-virus vendor Dr Web. 'We conducted research to determine the scale of spreading of Trojan BackDoor.Flashback that infects computers running Mac OS X,' says the Russian antivirus vendor. 'The botnet encompasses more than 550 000 infected machines, most of which are located in the United States and Canada.
'This once again refutes claims by some experts that there are no cyber-threats to Mac OS X.' Many Mac users believe that the system is 'immune' to viruses and trojans - but in reality hackers rarely choose to write viruses that afflict Macs, simply because there are relatively few Macs compared to the huge number of machines that run Windows. Hackers want their attacks to spread rapidly, so they usually target the OS that offers the most potential 'victims'. Describing the attack as a 'rude awakening' for Mac OS X users, blogger Adrian Sanabria said, 'Despite what Apple's marketing department would have you believe, Macs are not invulnerable to attacks and malware targeting OS X does exist.' The attack works using a vulnerability in Java, and is delivered via infected web pages. Just visiting the web pages is enough to infect a machine, downloading a file which then downloads further malicious software from elsewhere. Dr Web claims that more than four million web pages are infected with the trojan. 'Over 550 000 infected machines running Mac OS X have been a part of the botnet on April 4,' says Dr Web. 'These only comprise a segment of the botnet set up by means of the particular BackDoor.Flashback modification. Most infected computers reside in the United States (56.6%, or 303,449 infected hosts), Canada comes second (19.8%, or 106,379 infected computers), the third place is taken by the United Kingdom (12.8% or 68,577 cases of infection) and Australia with 6.1% (32,527 infected hosts) is the fourth.'Read the full story here.
Ex - Israeli Dror Freiler buys Finnish ship from Torku, plans to sail it to Gaza.(TT).
Dror Feiler is the same jerk who created the outrageous piece of “art” in Sweden in 2004, the face of a female terrorist floating in a pool of Jewish blood. It was later trashed (polite golf clap) by the then Israeli ambassador to Sweden, Zvi Mazel, who threw a lamp lighting the pool, into the pool.
What a waste of money, if they were really interested in subsidizing the Arabs of Gaza, they could have just used the money to by goods and sent them by trucks into Gaza. That however isn’t their intention, it’s to try and delegitimize the Jewish state if something serious happens, and break the entirely legal anti-weapons blockade of Hamastan.
Dror Feiler is just another hard leftist loser who longs for the limelight, and no better way for him to remain relevant to his pals in the Swedish anti-Israel movement, than to keep planning one anti-Israeli provocation after the other.
The Swedish Ship to Gaza organization strives to get to Gaza from Turku with the acquired Estelle-sailing ship. The organization of activist Dror Feiler has been trying for the past two times. Nine of his friends killed and wounded on the first trip has not caused Israeli born Swede to retreat.
The Swedish Ship to Gaza organization strives to get to Gaza from Turku with the acquired Estelle-sailing ship. The organization of activist Dror Feiler has been trying for the past two times. Nine of his friends killed and wounded on the first trip has not caused Israeli born Swede to retreat.
- I do not think about what might happen, says Dror Feiler, the Estelle’s new owner.
- I just go and then what happens, happens. It is our duty. We do not just do this for nothing.
Some other from Turku are about to go to Gaza, former sailors of the Estelle. One of them is Wellu Koivisto, who does not get scared off.
- Well, of course, it’s always a bit scary, but yes, we’ve been in strange places before, and in some way, of course, the fear is healthy, he commented.
The Jewish Congregation in Turku is of a completely different opinion.
- I can only say that there’s sufficiently enough dumb people in the world. Young people like this who imagine themselves to be radical, or doing something good, but they are doing their own cause much more harm than good. They are not conducive to peace, but to conflict, the Jewish congregation in Turku, Honorary President, Ruth Hasan commented.Read the full story here.
Historian Michael Wolffsohn on Israel Poem 'Grass Has Written an Anti-Semitic Pamphlet'.(Spiegel).
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What do you think of Günter Grass's poem, "What Must Be Said," which was published in Germany's center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper on Wednesday?
SPIEGEL ONLINE: In a statement on Wednesday, the Israeli Embassy in Berlin pointed out that the poem was published just before the feast of Passover.
Wolffsohn: I noticed that, too. In doing so, Grass is following an ignoble tradition. The time around Passover has always been the time of pogroms and a time when the blood-libel myth about Jews is disseminated.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Grass accuses Israel of claiming a "right to the first strike" which "could wipe out the Iranian people." Do you really think that he is following an anti-Semitic tradition with such statements?
Wolffsohn: At the very least, I would not have expected such cluelessness from a former practicing Catholic like Grass, given the current tension between different religions. Apart from anything else, this talk of a "first strike" is total nonsense.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Why?
Wolffsohn: Israel has never threatened to conduct a nuclear first strike. The submarines referred to in the poem provide a second-strike capability. If one's own territory has been devastated by a nuclear attack, submarines give a nation the ability to respond to the attack. That's something obvious to anyone who knows anything about military strategy. Grass clearly has no idea about the topic.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: But Grass also calls Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a "loudmouth" who has "subjugated" his people.
Wolffsohn: That doesn't make things any better. By using the word "loudmouth," he is trivializing the nuclearization of Iran. The Jews have learned from history that threats are more than just crazy talk -- thanks to Hitler, for whom Grass fought.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: You are referring to the fact that Grass was recruited into the Waffen-SS as a teenager toward the end of World War II. It was against his will, as he explains in his autobiography "Peeling the Onion."
Wolffsohn: At it happens, I have just read the book, and I was shocked by how he played it down. At the age of 17, one certainly does possess a political consciousness. Grass is simply incapable of self-criticism. Apart from that, he himself also writes in his "Onion" book that he had volunteered for the Navy and would have also been happy to join a tank regiment. Not his parents, however.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Do you believe him when he writes in his poem that he feels "connected" to the State of Israel?
Wolffsohn: I have never believed him. He was never a friend of the Jewish people -- this is a myth he constructed himself. During his very first visit to Israel, on the occasion of the first German-Israeli "culture week" in 1971, he already acted like a bull in a china shop, and lectured the Israeli audience on historical and moral issues.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Grass writes that he was condemned to silence because, otherwise, he would be accused of anti-Semitism.
Wolffsohn: This is a very common stance in Germany: According to a poll by the Allensbach Institute, 52 percent of Germans believe that, when it comes to the issue of Israel and Jews, it is too easy to fall flat on your face. I am very cautious about using the term (anti-Semitic), but what Grass has written is an anti-Semitic pamphlet compressed into pseudo-poetry. Moreover, the possibility of an Iranian attack on Israel is the subject of extensive public debate, as is the question of a conventional bombing of Iran by Israel. Grass is living in a dream world if he believes there is some kind of taboo in that respect. It's yet another indication that the man engages entirely in navel-gazing.Read the full interview here.
Saudi footballers may be under 'magic spell'.(Emirates24/7).Saudi footballers could be vulnerable to magic spells and should seek spiritual treatment before they enter the play field for a match, a prominent Saudi Islamic scholar was reported on Thursday as saying. Sheikh Khalid Al Guraisi, a well known scholar and Raqi (healer by Koran), said a recent series of defeats by Al Nasr Club in domestic football matches proved the players could have fallen prey to “magic or envious eyes” But a prominent sports writer in the Gulf Kingdom dismissed reports that Al Nasr has been under magic spell, saying its fans could be under that spell. “Some Saudi football clubs could fall under a collective magic spell or envious eyes…such things are accepted in religion,” Guraisi said. “I know there are people in some clubs who use magic to affect players at another club…some of them do this through an experienced magician and the magic work could be concealed near the goal in the play field…in other cases, the magician could be present during the match to affect players.” Guraisi said he believes some clubs pay large sums of money for magic work, adding that such work largely affects the match results. He cited one case in which a Saudi player succeeded in reaching goal area of the other team by sidestepping five players but failed to score. “He was alone in the goal area after managing to elude five players…when he was there, he just fell down without scoring…this player, I think, was under a magic spell or an envious eye and had to be treated,” he said. “There should be a sort of spiritual immunization of the players who fall under a magic spell before they go to the match…I wonder why Saudi clubs do not seek the help of Raqis to heal their players,” he said. Juraisi’s comments to the Saudi Arabic language daily Sharq followed last month’s furor in the world’s dominant oil power that Al Nasr, one of the largest sport clubs in the Gulf Kingdom, has been under magic spell following a recent series of defeats and bad performance by some of its players. Newspapers quoted some Al Nasr officials as admitting their players could be under a spell. “If Al Nasr club is under a state of magic, then I believe it is the club’s fans who are under the spell not the club,” Mohammed al Duwaish, a well known Saudi sport writer and lawyer, said in remarks attacking that club. “Blaming magic for the recent bad performance shows that the club is not frank with itself nor does it see itself well in the mirror.” Another scholar also criticized Al Nasr, saying the club was only trying to blame magic for its bad performance. “I have consulted with many Sheikhs and scholars and all of them agreed with me that the club is not under a magic spell…what has been said about that spell is just an excuse to justify its failure,” Sheikh Basil al Sabei said.Hmmm.....Do you get a new coach or a Priest?Read the full story here.
Israel seeks multi-year US missile defense aid.(JPost).By Yaakov Katz.Israel is in talks with the US about increasing its financial aid for Israeli missile defense programs and establishing a multi-year budget program which will not require annual administration approval. Israel receives an estimated $3 billion annually from the US under a 10-year memorandum of understanding signed in 2007. The administration and Congress have also allocated additional funds to help finance Israel’s development and procurement of missile defense systems like the Arrow, which defends against ballistic missiles, and the Iron Dome, which protects Israel from short-range rockets. “We are trying to reach an agreement with the US that will spread out over a number of years,” a senior defense official said on Wednesday. Last month, the Pentagon said it would request additional funds for Israel’s Iron Dome budget. The US previously approved a $205 million infusion for Iron Dome systems, though it is unclear whether that amount would be matched in the new budget cycle. Under Israel’s new request, it is seeking about $1 billion in aid from the US which it plans to use to speed up the procurement of additional Iron Dome batteries as well as the development of David’s Sling, the system that Israel plans to use to defend against medium-range rockets. Israel has three functioning Iron Dome batteries and plans to deploy a fourth in the coming weeks. The three that are operational succeeded in intercepting some 60 rockets during the recent round of violence with Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip last month. Defense officials said on Wednesday that Israel’s talks with the Obama administration regarding the new funding would likely be completed within the coming months. According to different estimates, Israel is expected to request $700 million to purchase four additional Iron Dome batteries and to speed up the development of David’s Sling, and another $300 million for the purchase of Tamir interceptors, used by the Iron Dome. The IDF says that it will need around 13 batteries to provide adequate protection from Hezbollah and Hamas’s shortrange Katyusha rockets. “These discussions are taking place despite the budget problems that the Americans are having and should not be taken for granted,” another official said.Read the full story here.
Video - Hamas Gaza Interior Minister explain how the so called "Palestinians" are in fact Arabs from various Arab countries.
Hamas Minister of the Interior and of National Security Fathi Hammad Slams Egypt over Fuel Shortage in Gaza Strip, and Says: "Half of the Palestinians Are Egyptians and the Other Half Are Saudis" Al-Hekma TV (Egypt).
Key China insurer to stop covering tankers with Iranian oil.(AlArabiya).HT: IsraelMatzav.Key ship insurer the China P and I Club will halt indemnity coverage for tankers carrying Iranian oil from July amid tightening Western sanctions against OPEC's second largest producer, two club officials told Reuters on Thursday. This is the first sign that refiners in China, Iran’s top crude buyer, may struggle to obtain the shipping and insurance to keep importing from the Middle Eastern country. Iran's other top customers -- India, Japan and South Korea -- are running into similar problems, raising questions on how Tehran will be able to continue to export the bulk of its oil. Oil prices are up nearly 14 percent since the start of this year on concerns that Iranian supplies may be disrupted due to Western sanctions. Brent crude oil traded above $123 a barrel on Thursday. The China P&I Club, whose members include major Chinese shipping firms Sinotrans and COSCO Group, is the first Chinese maritime insurer to confirm it will halt business with tankers operating in Iran, following similar action in Japan. “Many ship owners want to join our club and want our club to cover this risk, but considering all these regulations from the United States and the EU, I know the China P&I club will not do that,” said a Hong Kong-based official with the insurer, which provides coverage to more than 1,000 vessels. “The China P and I club will not take the risk. We have asked our members not to go there, if they go there, they take their own risk,” the official added. Starting in July, European insurers and reinsurers will be barred from indemnifying ships carrying Iranian crude and oil products anywhere in the world, in line with sanctions on Tehran.Asian ship owners will be further limited in their search for insurance to replace their European-based coverage as the China P&I Club was seen as one alternative. It was not clear if other Chinese ship insurers were also planning to reduce tanker coverage. “I really don’t know what will happen,” said a Beijing-based Chinese industry official. “We are talking about $1 billion (per tanker). No single insurance company can handle that.”Read the full story here.
Egypt’s Brotherhood presidential candidate Khairat al-Shater vows to push for Sharia.(AlArabia).The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for Egypt’s presidency, Khairat al-Shater, has pledged to press for the implementation of Sharia (Islamic law) if elected, a Muslim think tank said on Wednesday. Shater, whose candidacy for the May election sent political shock waves throughout the post-uprising country, said implementing the Sharia was “his first and final goal,” said the Legal Authority for Rights and Reform after meeting with him on Tuesday. Shater, who stepped down as the Brotherhood’s deputy leader to run, said “he would work to form a group of scholars to support parliament in achieving that goal,” according to a statement on the group’s website. When asked by AFP, a senior official with Shater’s campaign did not deny the statement, but clarified that the presidential candidate shared his electoral program with the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party. The FJP calls for an “Islamic, constitutional and democratic” state, but not a “theocracy,” which it defines as rule by religious men. The Muslim Brotherhood advocates an Islamist state achieved through peaceful means. The official said Shater, who has refused interview requests, would prioritize “democratic institution building and an economic renaissance” if elected. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he added that Shater “is committed to the constitution and Article 2, which all Egyptians agree on.” The constitution was suspended by the military after an uprising overthrew president Hosni Mubarak last year. Article 2 stipulates that the principles of Islamic law are the main source of legislation. But there is no universal interpretation of Sharia. Many Coptic Christians, who comprise about 10 percent of Egypt’s 80-population, worry about the growing power of Islamists in the country, but Shater’s campaign official said he would guarantee them their rights. Secularists and liberals are also concerned. Mainstream Islamic scholars say the Sharia offers Christians and Jews protection under an Islamic state. But they believe that only Muslim men can rule. The Coptic Church, the prestigious Sunni Muslim al-Azhar institution and liberals have pulled out of the panel because of their meager representation. Mohammed al-Beltagui, a prominent FJP parliamentarian, warned on Tuesday that the Brotherhood was overreaching by appointing Shater. “It harms the Brotherhood and the nation, to have one faction assume all the responsibility under these conditions,” he wrote. But another lawmaker with the group, which is pressuring the ruling military to sack the government, said the party would lose support in future elections if it did not have the executive power to push through its program.Read the full story here.
See You in 2013 in Nuclear Tehran.(RN).If someone wanted to back out of the April 13-14 meeting between Iran and the P5+1 group of international mediators to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, here is an excuse – Tehran has suddenly asked to move the venue from Istanbul to Baghdad. Now the question is whether the key participant in the talks, the United States, wants talks to go forward and why. On the one hand, one gets the impression that the Obama administration considers any form of communication with Tehran to be distasteful and would like to have an excuse to back out of talks. But, on the other hand, failing to produce any results is no good either. It became clear from an April 3 interview given by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov that the future of the Istanbul talks is vague – unexpectedly, he could not confirm the time and venue of the meeting. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has already said that the talks will take place in Istanbul, but now Tehran has objected to the venue. What has it suggested instead? Damascus was proposed as one option but this is below-the-belt. Tehran is now proposing Baghdad as an acceptable venue. There should be no problem with Baghdad, as U.S. officials are still in the habit of portraying Iraq – at least for public consumption – as a model for the region. It’s possible that the Iranians have quarreled with the Turks because Turkey has been surprisingly active in the efforts to oust Iran’s ally, Bashar al-Assad, and has started claiming second place (after Saudi Arabia) as the counterbalance to Iran in the Muslim world.
Anyway, there should be no problems with Baghdad as the venue of the meeting. American leaders visit the Iraqi capital all the time. Just this past March, Bagdad played host to the Arab League summit, and it went fine. This time we are talking about a meeting at the level of deputy foreign ministers in a mid-sized conference hall without the massive police escorts that can paralyze traffic in any city. This meeting can be held anywhere, be it London or Moscow. The P5+1 (Britain, Germany, China, Russia, the United States and France) can even meet in Tehran or in the Maldives. The subject of the talks is another matter. Moscow has said more than once that the sides are conducting these talks to agree on a step-by-step process to disentangle the Iranian nuclear knot. The international mediators – the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – have promised to lift sanctions against Iran step by step, while Iran has promised to make its nuclear programs transparent – also step by step. It goes without saying that it is best to keep all promises – like those that have long been made on the similar North Korean nuclear issue but have not been translated into reality so far. The question is, will the United States accept such agreements now? Imagine that at the nuclear summit in Seoul President Barack Obama was caught on microphone instructing Hillary Clinton “to tell Mahmoud (Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) that I have to postpone it until after the election.”
If the U.S. administration were to strike a deal now, the Republicans will say it is against U.S. interests and, besides, Ahmadinejad will be able to orchestrate the presidential campaign. If he violates any of the accords reached in Baghdad, the Republicans will probably win the White House. This is why current U.S. debates on Iran (a key issue in America for years) boil down to whether Washington can afford to keep it on the backburner until next year. Nobody is putting the question like this but de facto… If the chief Republican candidate calls Russia the main enemy in a fit of temper and does not see more terrifying opponents, then everything must be okay and why bother in this case? Washington prefers to pretend that the latest round of sanctions against Iran, meant to completely block Iranian oil exports, is producing results and that Tehran is coming to its knees, albeit slowly. Oil prices will not soar because Obama has a plan, which is already being carried out. America is also making it seem that Tehran, scared by sanctions and events in Syria, is bound to be more flexible. Its sudden decision to change the venue does not mean much. If the worst-case scenario happens – say, if some sudden provocation or the endless delay of talks allows Iran to build a nuclear weapon – the sides can meet in nuclear Tehran after January 2013.Read the full story here.
Mahmoud Abbas: Genuine Hamas Reconciliation, Ending Jerusalem Judaization Top Priorities.(IW).Dr. Mohamed Morsi, Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), met with Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), Palestinian Authority Chairman, at his residence in Heliopolis – Cairo, on Monday evening, 2nd of April 2012. The meeting discussed Palestinian-Egyptian relations and the importance of supporting Palestinian reconciliation efforts during the current stage. As Palestinian President Abbas welcomed the FJP Chairman Dr. Morsi, he hailed the vital role that Egypt plays in the region – especially supporting the Palestinian cause throughout the ages – and expressed his determination to achieve Palestinian reconciliation. Abbas also spoke about the risks facing the Holy City of Jerusalem and the dangers of Judaization that deface Jerusalem and threaten to obliterate the original historical Arabic nature and the traditional Islamic identity of the Holy City. For his part, Dr. Morsi asserted that the FJP puts the Palestinian issue at the forefront of its interests, because it is an issue linked to the national security of Egypt and the Arab and Muslim world. He highlighted the importance of overcoming the differences between Palestinian factions, working to complete national reconciliation efforts, and ending the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. These, he added, are key stepping stones on the way of defending Al-Aqsa Mosque and liberating the Holy City of Jerusalem. Further, the FJP Chairman said that the Palestinian issue and the siege of Gaza were two key factors in sparking Egypt’s January 25 Revolution, which confirms the great importance of the Palestinian cause to the Egyptian Government and all the Egyptian people. Dr. Morsi added that this prompted FJP members in the People's Assembly and Shura Council to push for lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip, and the visit by the Egyptian parliament’s Arab Affairs Committee to Gaza.Hmmm....... "threaten to obliterate the original historical Arabic nature and the traditional Islamic identity of the Holy City"....no more mention of Christianity either.Read the full story here.
Egypt Sentences Christian Student Gamal Abdou Massoud to Three Years in Jail for Insulting Islam.(CT).CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian youth court on Wednesday sentenced a 17-year-old Christian boy to three years in jail for publishing cartoons on his Facebook page that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohammad, actions that sparked sectarian violence. Gamal Abdou Massoud was also accused of distributing some of his cartoons to his school friends in a village in the southern city of Assiut, home to a large Christian population and the hometown of the late Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda. "Assiut child's court ordered the jailing of Gamal Abdou Massoud ... for three years after he insulted Islam and published and distributed pictures that insulted Islam and its Prophet," the court said in a statement seen by Reuters. The cartoons, published by Massoud in December, prompted some Muslims to attack Christians. Several Christian houses were burned and several Christians were injured in the violence. Human rights lawyer Negad al-Borai said the jail sentence was the maximum penalty under Egyptian law for such a crime. Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the country's 80 million population, have long had a difficult relationship with Egypt's overwhelmingly Muslim majority. Tension between Muslims and Christians has simmered for years but has got worse since the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak. Christians have become increasingly worried by a surge in attacks on churches, which they blame on hardline Islamists, though experts say local disputes are often also to blame.Read the full story here.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Machpelah House and rule of law.(IMRA).Statement by DM Barak(Communicated by Josh Hantman, MOD International Media Adviser (Wednesday), 4.4.12, the Israel Police evacuated the settlers who had inhabited the "Patriarch House" in Hebron. The evacuation was carried out on the orders of Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Defense Minister Barak said afterwards: "I will continue to act in order to maintain the rule of law and democracy while guaranteeing the authority of the State over its citizens."
Defense Minister Barak added that "Any request to acquire the relevant buying permit or any other transactions will be dealt with professionally and impartially, as is the practice. However, we cannot allow a situation where unlawful actions are taken to determine or dictate ad-hoc facts to the authorities."
Before going into the specifics of the “Machpelah House”, which was evacuated today at the instruction of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a few words about Ehud Barak and the rule of law.
The laws in Israel strictly restrict work permits to foreign workers such that there is absolutely no way to get a work permit to employ a foreign worker as a housekeeper for a household of able bodied persons.And yet, despite this, Ehud Barak saw Virginia, an illegal Filipina worker, in his home for close to a year, and we are supposed to believe that it never dawned on “Mr. Rule of Law” that there might be a problem.By the way, Virginia told reporters that she took the place of another illegal foreign worker at the Barak home.
Pop Quiz: Why wasn’t “Mr. Rule of Law” Ehud Barak’s Cabinet Secretary Isaac Herzog indicted for illegally diverting funds from a Canadian non-profit organization to the campaign coffers of Ehud Barak? A move that could have jeopardized the non-profit status of the fund?
Answer: Lack of evidence.
Bonus question: Why “lack of evidence”?
Answer: Isaac Herzog invoked his right to remain silent to avoid incriminating himself.
A critical and fundamental principle in a democratic society is the equal application of the law.
The huge shopping malls built in place of corn fields on kibbutzim weren’t torn down because the land hadn’t yet been rezoned from agricultural use. It took many years to clear up the paperwork, but the absence of building permits didn’t stop the cash registers from jingling.Pretty much every building in the Herzliya Airport compound operated for many years without proper permits.
There are major communities inside the Green Line in Israel that failed to complete an approved Urban Building Scheme (UBS) for decades. The absence of the UBS did not halt development. While technically literally every structure built in the absence of the UBS was an illegal structure none were either evacuated or demolished.
Back in October 2002 while the very same cabinet meeting that featured a shouting match over the evacuation of outposts – also for “rule of law” - approved a plan proposed by Transportation Minister Ephraim Sneh (Labor Party) to grant operating licenses for "sherut" (jitney) lines to those companies that illegally operated on the lines for at least three years without a proper license.
Again. A critical and fundamental principle in a democratic society is the equal application of the law.
Turning to the “Machpelah House”:
#1. It is an incontrovertible fact that the house was purchased. The seller’s brother complains that it wasn’t fair for Jews to use an Arab middle man to buy the property. But he admits that the sale took place.
#2. There is no need to speculate as to the impact of a Jewish presence in the house – located within the small area in Hebron where Jews are allowed - on public order. The same IDF officers and others now suggesting the move could cause a disruption already predicted a firestorm reaction by the Arab public to the move on Land Day. Yet the “Machpelah House” received next to no attention from the Arab public in the protests that day.
#3. Mr. Barak claims that "Any request to acquire the relevant buying permit or any other transactions will be dealt with professionally and impartially, as is the practice.” The practice of Mr. Barak has been to consistently refuse to approve transactions. The logic behind his refusal to approve has consistently been based on ideological/political considerations rather than the application of some kind of “impartial” standard.
#4. Mr. Barak asserts that “we cannot allow a situation where unlawful actions are taken to determine or dictate ad-hoc facts to the authorities." The transaction of the purchasing of the house was itself not an unlawful action. And the decision that the area within which the house is located should be an area where Jews can live was a “fact” that the previous Netanyahu Government reiterated in the Hebron Agreement. If anything, the only actor “dictating” today is DM Barak.
#5. If Mr. Rule of Law Barak only wanted to make the point that the house could not be occupied until he signed the papers then he can sign them tonight so that the Jews can move back in.
#6. If DM Barak declines to respect the mandate of the coalition Government it remains up to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to restore the balance.
Again. A critical and fundamental principle in a democratic society is the equal application of the law.
And even an Israeli public with an attention span of a two year old can reach the conclusion that the “Machpelah House” along with other problems on the plate from Judea and Samaria, are suffering dearly from a very unequal application of the law.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review and Analysis).
Read the full story here.
Iran's Press TV now also banned on German and French airwaves.
Press TV – In an email sent to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) officials, Vice President of the SES Platforms Services, Stephane Goebel, noted that the BLM has asked Press TV be immediately removed from the platform. The authority has claimed that Iran’s English-speaking channel does not have a license for broadcast in Europe.
“BLM has…sent us an official request to immediately seize the service of the above-mentioned channel [Press TV],” Goebel noted.
Regretting the decision, Goebel added that his company “will be no longer able to keep the Press TV signal on air and will need to shut down the service without further notice.” The move is clearly part of a plot orchestrated by the West to silence the voice of the Iranian English-language channel.
Press TV channel is also no longer available in France as from today.“We regret that Press TV for legal reasons may not be broadcasted on Astra from now on. The broadcaster works on a quick solution. We ask for your patience” It has to be said that during the Mohamed Merah events, about the possibility that Al Jazeera may has broadcasted the movies of the murders by the Toulouse shooters, the French CSA: ‘Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuelle’: the governing Authority of the French Broadcasting Television assured that it had the power to control or interrupt the broadcasting signal of any channel emitting via Satellite over the French Territory. This last move about shutting down Press TV in France can only be the signal that President Sarkozy gave the instructions unilaterally to cut the Astra satellite signal.Source here and here.
Palestinian Authority detains, questions two journalists for critical reporting.(IMRA).New York, April 3, 2012-The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Palestinian Authority's recent anti-press actions in which one journalist was detained for a week for reporting on alleged corruption and spying and a second was questioned over a critical article and his posts on social media. These actions occurred despite the Authority's recent announcement of a press freedom award that it claimed would reward "quality and daring material."
"It is ironic that Palestinian leaders, who for years have benefited from independent media coverage, should now try to stifle their own critical journalists," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. "The Palestinian Authority should stop muzzling journalists and scouring social media posts looking for critics to punish." Yousef al-Shayeb, a correspondent for the Jordanian daily Al-Ghad, was detained by the Palestinian Authority for 48 hours on March 26 in Ramallah and questioned over his sources for a January 30 article he wrote alleging corruption and spying by the Palestinian diplomatic mission in France, according to news reports. The interrogation followed a defamation complaint filed by the Authority's foreign minister and the head of the mission that sought $US6 million in damages under Article 189 of the Jordanian Penal Code, which is enforced in the West Bank, according to human rights groups. The law permits damages for libel in print media.
Al-Shayeb is also accused of defaming government officials, a charge that can carry up to two years in prison under Article 191 of the code, according to rights groups. Shortly after the complaint was filed, al-Shayeb was fired from Al-Ghad, news reports said. On March 28, Ramallah's first instance court ordered the journalist's detention to be extended for another 15 days, news reports said. The same day, al-Shayeb began waging a hunger strike, and the Palestinian Journalist's Syndicate held a sit-in protest, news reports said. On April 2, Ramallah's Magistrate Court ordered the journalist's release on bail of 10,000 Jordanian dinars (US$14,000), according to local and international rights groups. He has not been charged yet. Al-Shayeb's article accused Palestinian Authority deputy ambassador Safwat Ibraghit in Paris of recruiting Arab students to spy on Islamic groups in France and abroad, and sharing that information with both Palestinian and foreign intelligence agencies. The journalist also accused Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian National Fund Director Ramzi Khouri Abu Nabil, and Palestinian Authority Ambassador in Paris Hael al-Fahoum of complicity and nepotism in promoting Ibraghit to his post despite his ties to foreign intelligence agencies and the complaints leveled against him, CPJ's review of the article found. On Thursday, al-Maliki told reporters that al-Shayeb's arrest was justified and that the journalist filed his story knowing it "contained falsehoods," and suggested that he and the government were the victims, news reports said.
In a separate incident, the Palestinian Authority interrogated Tariq Khamis, a reporter for the news website Zaman Press, for three hours over his Facebook posts about Ismat Abdel-Khalek, a university professor who was detained on Wednesday after posting allegedly defamatory comments about President Mahmoud Abbas and calling him a traitor," news reports said. The journalist told the online news website Electronic Intifada on Monday that he was also interrogated about an article he had recently published in Zaman Press about Palestinian youth groups who were critical of the Authority and were calling for negotiations with Israel to end. These anti-press incidents follow the Palestinian Authority's March 27 announcement of a press freedom prize recognizing exemplary journalism. The annual prize is intended to "support local media and encourage journalists to compete and produce quality and daring material that addresses citizens' concerns," the prime minister in Ramallah, Salam Fayyad, said, according to news reports. Fayyad asked journalists to submit their work during the first half of April, so the winner could be announced in May, the reports said. CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.Read the full story here.
Worse than SOPA? CISPA to censor Web in name of cybersecurity.(RT).
H.R. 3523, a piece of legislation dubbed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (or CISPA for short), has been created under the guise of being a necessary implement in America’s war against cyberattacks. But the vague verbiage contained within the pages of the paper could allow Congress to circumvent existing exemptions to online privacy laws and essentially monitor, censor and stop any online communication that it considers disruptive to the government or private parties.
Critics have already come after CISPA for the capabilities that it will give to seemingly any federal entity that claims it is threatened by online interactions, but unlike the Stop Online Privacy Act and the Protect IP Acts that were discarded on the Capitol Building floor after incredibly successful online campaigns to crush them, widespread recognition of what the latest would-be law will do has yet to surface to the same degree. Kendall Burman of the Center for Democracy and Technology tells RT that Congress is currently considering a number of cybersecurity bills that could eventually be voted into law, but for the group that largely advocates an open Internet, she warns that provisions within CISPA are reason to worry over what the realities could be if it ends up on the desk of President Barack Obama.
So far CISPA has been introduced, referred and reported by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and expects to go before a vote in the first half of Congress within the coming weeks. “We have a number of concerns with something like this bill that creates sort of a vast hole in the privacy law to allow government to receive these kinds of information,” explains Burman, who acknowledges that the bill, as written, allows the US government to involve itself into any online correspondence, current exemptions notwithstanding, if it believes there is reason to suspect cyber crime.
As with other authoritarian attempts at censorship that have come through Congress in recent times, of course, the wording within the CISPA allows for the government to interpret the law in such a number of degrees that any online communication or interaction could be suspect and thus unknowingly monitored. In a press release penned last month by the CDT, the group warned then that CISPA allows Internet Service Providers to “funnel private communications and related information back to the government without adequate privacy protections and controls. The bill does not specify which agencies ISPs could disclose customer data to, but the structure and incentives in the bill raise a very real possibility that the National Security Agency or the DOD’s Cybercommand would be the primary recipient,” reads the warning. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, another online advocacy group, has also sharply condemned CISPA for what it means for the future of the Internet. “It effectively creates a ‘cybersecurity'’ exemption to all existing laws,” explains the EFF, who add in a statement of their own that “There are almost no restrictions on what can be collected and how it can be used, provided a company can claim it was motivated by ‘cybersecurity purposes.’”
What does that mean? Both the EFF and CDT say an awfully lot. Some of the biggest corporations in the country, including service providers such as Google, Facebook, Twitter or AT&T, could copy confidential information and send them off to the Pentagon if pressured, as long as the government believes they have reason to suspect wrongdoing. In a summation of their own, the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan arm of the Library of Congress, explains that “efforts to degrade, disrupt or destroy” either “a system or network of a government or private entity” is reason enough for Washington to reach in and read any online communiqué of their choice. The authors of CISPA say the bill has been made “To provide for the sharing of certain cyber threat intelligence and cyber threat information between the intelligence community and cybersecurity entities,” but not before noting that the legislation could be used “and for other purposes,” as well — which, of course, are not defined. “Cyber security, when done right and done narrowly, could benefit everyone,” Burman tells RT. “But it needs to be done in an incremental way with an arrow approach, and the heavy hand that lawmakers are taking with these current bills . . . it brings real serious concerns.”Read the full story here.
NYT Jerusalem Bureau Chief Compares Treatment of Journalists In Israel To Iran.(FreeBeacon).By: Adam Kredo.The New York Times’ recently installed Jerusalem bureau chief is once again drawing fire on Twitter for likening Israel to Iran. When approached by the Free Beacon, she defended the comparison.
“What do Israel and Iran have in common? Jailing journalists, according to [the Columbia Journalism Review],” Rudoren tweeted yesterday.
The comment—which immediately elicited a flurry of angry reactions from various pro-Israel forces across Twitter—included a link to a CJR report noting that Israel and Iran respectively place second and third on the list of countries currently incarcerating journalists.
The report itself drew widespread criticism for employing statistical sleight of hand in order to paint a portrait of Israel that does not comport with the facts.
Justin Martin, the report’s author, “avails himself of obviously bad numbers. He relies on an artificial, self-serving, and meaningless definition of ‘per capita,’” wrote Omri Ceren in Commentary. “And he equates twilight totalitarian roundups with open Israeli jurisprudence. For a scholar to publish something like this in an academic outlet is disgraceful, and any CJR editor who touched the post is complicit in nakedly politicizing their journal.”
Rudoren initially defended her tweet, maintaining that the report was noteworthy.
“Just sharing a link that caught my eye,” she tweeted in response to one of her critics.
“Was trying to make a lite point off a tidbit. It’s Twitter, not a dissertation. Others’ analyses also intrstng,” she later added.She then apologized.
“Folks, I tweeted the CJR link w/o reading it carefully (and w/o reading any of the analyses),” the tweet stated. “Apologies.”She maintained that it is perfectly acceptable to make note of the report, even if it was flawed.
“To suggest that noting the existence of a CJR study, even if flawed, is anti-Semitic
seems entirely out of proportion. Anti-Semitism is about intent, right? So the suggestion is that I put the tweet out to hurt/destroy Jews? Seriously? A tweet? It’s a platform for conversation, for sharing information—and, sure, for debunking or critiquing that information,” Rudoren wrote.Read the full story here.
Egypt Al-Azhar seat of Sunni Islam says no return to Constituent Assembly.(BM).CAIRO: The Islamic Research Academy, Al Azhar, and seat of Sunni Islam, decided on Tuesday at its emergency meeting held under the chairmanship of the Sheikh Al-Azhar, Grand Imam Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, to hold on to its previous decision not to participate in the Constituent Assembly drafting Egypt`s new constitution, and insisting on its withdrawal despite negotiations and attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood to convince Al Azhar to return. This comes after the Coptic Orthodox and Catholic Churches representatives, along with the representatives of the Supreme Constitutional Court, chairman of the Lawyers Syndicate, members of Leftist and Liberal parties and prominent Public figures withdrew and boycotted the session of the Constituent Assembly in protest of the monopoly of the Muslim Brotherhood`s Political Wing the Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist Nour Party, over the selection criteria of the Assembly`s Membership. The adviser to the Sheikh of Al Azhar , Sheikh Mahmoud Azab, said after the end of the session of the Islamic Research Academy, which was held at Al-Azhar, that Al Azhar is dissatsified with the representation in the constituent Assembly, as it does not represent all spectrums of the nation, he said. Azab said that The Research Academy discussed all the proposals made by the leader of the FJP Party Mohammed Morsy to make some concessions, but it found that these proposals are inadequate, adding, “If the selection criteria is changed and pleases all the spectra of the society, Al Azhar would definitely return to the Assembly. For his part, Mahmoud al-Muhanna, a member of the Islamic Research Academy, said that Al-Azhar represents the whole nation, pointing out that if Al-Azhar is marginalized, it means that the whole nation is marginalized and excluded from the Assembly. Muhanna explained that the members of the Islamic Research Academy decided after studying the proposals not to return and be bound by this decision, until all the spectra of the society are represented equally and fairly in the Assembly, indicating that the former Mufti of the Republic, Dr. Nasr Farid Wasel, the sole representative of Al-Azhar in the Assembly decided with the Academy members not to participate.Hmmm......The Egyptian people have objections to the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist, apparently Obama has not.Read the full story here.
Obama Administration becomes the biggest ammunition hog in the United States peacetime history.(AP).By James Smith.There are two stories that have come to light recently, the first is the awarding of a contract to a munitions manufacturer for 450,000,000 hollow point rounds for the .40 caliber.The second story which I wrote is how the Department of Homeland Security had already ordered 200,000,000 rounds of .40 caliber, but also ordered 15,000 gun cleaning kits for the .40 caliber weapons, and has put a request out for a virtual shooting gallery for the .40 caliber handguns.
650,000,000 round of ammunition is quite a bit of lead and brass. It will sure to drive the price of copper and brass way up. But Homeland Security is not alone in their requests.
The other departments -- the ones that handle mundane things like meat quality -- believe they need to be armed to the teeth as well. It’s enough to make a non-paranoid person, well, paranoid.
The US Department of Agriculture put in a bid for a wide variety of ammunition. I guess raiding farms and raw milk dairies can be very dangerous work. The required rounds are listed, and include shotgun slugs.
Frangible rounds – for those who don’t know, are rounds that are designed to break apart when they hit walls or other hard surfaces to prevent ricochets during close-quarters combat.And of course the FBI needs about 100,000,000 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition for law enforcement needs. It posted the request November 15, 2011 and the order will be awarded this week. Oddly, it states a fixed-price, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity type contract; however the pricing requirements go up to 100,000,000 rounds.
So with that large order, we now can move the total “excess” number of .40 caliber rounds that is needed by this administration to 750,000,000 rounds.
Because we live in a free society they feel they must be armed against Amish folk who want to sell people raw milk, like most humans on this planet drink. Maybe the USDA needs the ammunition to fight the evil cadre of “Lemonade Stands” that will soon be terrorizing people walking down sidewalks in Suburbia America.
How can a government justify 2.2 rounds per American citizen? Granted, ammunition does have a great shelf life, but this is utterly ridiculous!The best way to avoid a civil war is not to start one. If “they” are planning to start one, then it would make sense to arm yourself and take away the guns of the citizenry. If this is just for “work”, ie, to stop bad guys, then the numbers just don’t make sense.
As Sherlock Holmes would say, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”. We are running out of the impossibles and the improbables.The leftovers are unconscionable and frightening. The game is afoot my friends. Evil in the guise of a benevolent government is still evil.
Will the characters be unmasked in time for our free country to remain free, or will we be another stiff on the slab of history.Hmmmm........ “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”.Read the full story here.
Police state Comes to the Internet: Introducing CISPA.(AP).After nearly unprecedented pushback against bills SOPA and PIPA, their apparent defeat cannot yet be claimed. Most skeptics presumed that the defeat of the aforementioned would only serve to offer a compromised "SOPA light" at some point to circumvent criticism over government censorship. Well, it didn't take long. In addition to OPEN and ACTA to combat supposed piracy issues in the U.S. and Europe respectively, we now have been presented with a full-on fascist template for Internet control where government and private corporations will work hand in hand under the very broad definition of cybersecurity.
The CISPA acronym is probably the most honest of those proposed thus far, and certainly is self-explanatory: the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. Cybersecurity initiatives themselves are framed in such a way as to declare the free and open Internet to be subsumed into national security infrastructure, thus giving it over to the Pentagon, NSA, and other agents for use in surveillance and even offensive war. However, CISPA goes one step further to suggest that all information transmitted on this national security infrastructure is fair game for the prying eyes of the State. Most likely the private sector must bow to any and all demands made, or face being labeled as supporters of terrorism.
Both House and Senate are due to address CISPA (H.R. 3523) in the last weeks of April -- we had better make noise ten times louder than what was made against previous attempts to hijack the Internet. Once the Internet is co-opted openly by the military-industrial-surveillance complex, there will be very little chance for regaining what will be lost.Hmmm.............How conveiniant : The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say).Read the full story here.