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Friday, July 15, 2011

Fall of the Republic

HT: LogisticsMonster.

MFS - The Other News

                       Morning Posting.

  • Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity in Japan today 5.4 ! More info here.

  • Japan - Nuclear disaster - Situation Update No. 141 - .Source .

  • Japan : For the most accurate info on the nuclear disaster go to : Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog.Here.

  • Acting like a dictatorship: White House tried repeatedly to exclude honest news channels from reporting on administration.(DougRoss).Mark Levin has repeatedly stated that Barack Obama is the first president in history who "thinks like a dictator". But does this statement go too far?Consider the Wiktionary definition of the word fascism, which reads as follows:
"A political regime, usually totalitarian, ideologically based on centralized government, government control of business, repression of criticism or opposition, a leader cult, and exalting the state and/or religion above individual rights."
Judicial Watch has unearthed documents that confirm the President's desire to suppress dissent.[These documents show] the Obama administration, contrary to its repeated denials, attempted to exclude the Fox News Channel (FNC) from a round of interviews with Treasury’s “Executive Pay Czar” Kenneth Feinberg. The documents, which include email exchanges within the Department of the Treasury and between Treasury and White House staff, also provide colorful evidence of an anti-Fox News bias within the Obama White House....According to press reports, the Fox News Channel was specifically excluded from joining the pool of reporters which precipitated a backlash among the networks and a reversal by the Obama Treasury Department.According to The New York Times: “Fox’s television news competitors refused to go along with a Treasury Department effort on Thursday [October 22, 2009] to exclude Fox from a round of interviews with the executive-pay czar Kenneth R. Feinberg that was to be conducted with a ‘pool’ camera crew…”. Fox News Channel’s James Rosen reported this backlash forced the Obama administration to reconsider its position on the matter: “The Washington bureau chiefs of the five TV news network consulted and decided that none of them would interview Feinberg unless Fox was included, and the administration relented…,” reported Rosen. Ultimately, after other media representatives objected, Fox News Channel was allowed to participate in the interviews.
The Treasury Department’s official response, as detailed in back-and-forth emails uncovered by Judicial Watch, included a clear denial of any such plot to exclude Fox News from the interviews: “There was no plot to exclude Fox News, and they had the same interview that their competitors did. Much ado about absolutely nothing.” Moreover, in an October 23, 2009 email to New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg, Jake Siewart, Counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, repeated the denial that there was an effort to exclude Fox News Channel: “Call me today on your Fox-Treasury report,” Siewart wrote. “Not true that there was an ‘effort to exclude’ Fox.”However ..., internal Obama administration emails [show] that FNC was specifically singled out for exclusion. According to one October 22, 2009, email exchange between Dag Vega, Director of Broadcast Media on the White House staff, to Jenni LeCompte, then-Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs in the Treasury Department, Vega informs LeCompte that “…we’d prefer if you skip Fox please.”...In an email on the night of October 22, 2009, commenting on a report by Fox News Channel anchor Bret Baier noting the exclusion of the network from the pool, Psaki writes to Compte and fellow White House colleagues, “…brett baier just did a stupid piece on it -- but he is a lunatic”.Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest bluntly described the White House’s position on Fox News Channel in an October 23, 2009, email to LeCompte: “We’ve demonstrated our willingness and ability to exclude Fox News from significant interviews…”The Treasury Department blacked out a key email regarding its refusal to make available Treasury Secretary Geithner for an interview on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.Just as they do with the rest of the Bill of Rights, the minor-league Chicago thugs occupying the White House could care less about the First Amendment. They despise free speech; they act like petulant children when criticized; and when confronted on controversial topics, they lie -- early and often.Hmmmm.......dictatorship or democracy?Read the full story here.

  • What Happened to the $2.6 Trillion Social Security Trust Fund?(Forbes).Here’s how President Barack Obama answered CBS’s Scott Pelley’s question about whether he could guarantee that Social Security checks would go out on August 3, the day after the government is supposed to reach its debt limit: “I cannot guarantee that those checks [he included veterans and the disabled, in addition to Social Security] go out on August 3rd if we haven’t resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.”And Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner echoed the president on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday implying that if a budget deal isn’t reached by August 2, seniors might not get their Social Security checks.Well, either Obama and Geithner are lying to us now, or they and all defenders of the Social Security status quo have been lying to us for decades. It must be one or the other.Here’s why: Social Security has a trust fund, and that trust fund is supposed to have $2.6 trillion in it, according to the Social Security trustees. If there are real assets in the trust fund, then Social Security can mail the checks, regardless of what Congress does about the debt limit.President Obama’s budget director, Jack Lew, explained all this last February in USA Today.Hmmmmm..............Read the full story here.

  • The Obama Downgrade,the real reason the U.S. could lose its AAA rating.(WSJ).So the credit-rating agencies that helped to create the financial crisis that led to a deep recession are now warning that the U.S. could lose the AAA rating it has had since 1917. As painfully ironic as this is, there's no benefit in shooting the messengers. The real culprit is the U.S. political class, especially the President who has presided over this historic collapse of fiscal credibility.Moody's and the boys are citing the risk of a default on August 2 as the proximate reason for their warning. But Americans should understand that the debt ceiling is merely the trigger. The gun is the spending boom of the last three years and the prospect that Washington lacks the political will to reduce it in the years to come.Congress is responsible for the way so much of this spending was wasted, resulting in little job creation and the slowest economic recovery since the 1930s. But in the U.S. political system, Presidents are supposed to be the fiscal adults. When they abdicate, the teenagers invite over their special interest friends and blow the inheritance. The President is now claiming to have found fiscal virtue, but notice how hard he has fought House Republicans as they've sought to abate the spending boom. First he used the threat of a government shutdown to whittle the fiscal 2011 spending cuts down to very little. Then he invited Paul Ryan to sit in the front row for a speech while he called his House budget un-American.Now Mr. Obama is using the debt-ceiling debate as a battering ram not to control spending but to command a tax increase. We're told the White House list of immediate budget savings, the ones that matter most because they are enforceable by the current Congress, are negligible. His offer for immediate domestic nondefense discretionary cuts: $2 billion.As for Mr. Obama's proposed entitlement cuts, they are all nibbling around the edges of programs that are growing far faster than inflation. He's offering few reforms that would make a difference in the long run. Oh, and ObamaCare is untouchable, despite its $1 trillion in new spending over the next several years, growing even faster after that.So now we have the inevitable showdown over the debt limit, which must be raised to pay for all of this spending. And Mr. Obama is blaming Republicans for being irresponsible because they won't raise taxes in return for promises of modest future spending restraint. And some people even fall for it.We've said we think it would be foolish of Republicans to walk into Mr. Obama's debt-limit trap and let him blame them for the financial fallout, including a possible credit downgrade. But this is not because we think they will deserve the blame. Even if this debt-ceiling crisis passes, the threat of a credit downgrade will continue and grow until Mr. Obama changes his policies, or Americans change Presidents.Hmmmm......Hear,hear!Read the full story here.

  • Video - Jordan protests leave several injured,among them Journalists.(Al-Jazeera).  Journalists not spared as police violently end clash between protesters and government supporters in Amman.At least 10 people have been injured amid efforts by police to stop clashes between demonstrators and government supporters in the centre of the Jordanian capital, Amman.Police used batons on Friday to disperse people outside city hall, beating and injuring nine journalists.An Al Jazeera correspondent and several other journalists, including a Reuters cameraman, said they were attacked by police.The wounded included an AFP photographer and a female activist."We were beaten by police, although we were wearing special press vests," one of the injured photographers said."We thought we would be safe when we stood next to the police and away from the clashes."Fahim Karim, a New York Times reporter, was beaten by 10 policemen while a photographer who works for another international news agency said he was ordered by police not to shoot the scene.The clashes took place after about 2,000 people, including Islamists and youth groups, marched from Amman's Al-Husseini mosque to the city hall."Rulers, we want to reform the regime. We want the palace to hear the voices of Jordanians," the demonstrators chanted before they were set upon by government supporters.It was still unclear if the demonstrators would defy government warnings and hold an open-ended sit-in.Jordan has faced a protest movement demanding political and economic reforms and an end to corruption, since January.Security forces have previously prevented demonstrators demanding the removal of the government, but not King Abdullah, who appoints the cabinet and has wide powers, from assembling at main squares.Read the full story here.

  • United Nations Security council gets 'devastating briefing' about Syrian nuke plant.(JPost).UNITED NATIONS - The UN nuclear watchdog brought allegations of covert atomic work by Syria before the Security Council on Thursday, but the 15-nation body took no immediate action amid divisions among key powers.The International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors voted in June to report Syria to the council, rebuking it for stonewalling an agency probe into the Dair Alzour complex, bombed by Israel in 2007.Western countries said Thursday's closed-door briefing by Neville Whiting, head of the IAEA safeguards department dealing with Syria and Iran, had made clear that Syria had a secret nuclear plant. They said the council should pursue the issue, but suggested it might not discuss it again before September.Russia and China, allies of Damascus who can veto any council action, queried whether the council should be involved, as the Syrian complex no longer exists.US intelligence reports have said the complex was a nascent, North Korean-designed reactor intended to produce plutonium for atomic weaponry, before Israeli warplanes reduced it to rubble. Syria has said it was a non-nuclear military facility.British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters Whiting had given a "devastating briefing ... from which you could only draw one conclusion -- that Syria did have at Dair Alzour a clandestine nuclear plant."Damascus had "tried to conceal the purpose of that plant ... misled the IAEA about what the purpose was and ... failed to cooperate effectively with the IAEA in following up the questions that the IAEA put to them," he said.Both Lyall Grant and German Ambassador Peter Wittig noted that the IAEA was due to produce a new report on Syria for its board of governors in September. "And then we take it from there," Wittig said.But Chinese envoy Wang Min said Beijing was "not very happy" about the council's involvement. "We should not talk about something that does not exist. There are a lot of things that happened in the past -- should we discuss all of them?" he asked.Russian envoy Alexander Pankin, asked what he had learned from Thursday's briefing, said "not much."Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said the meeting "didn't come to any conclusion because the Security Council considers only matters related to threats to peace and security, not to prefabricated, unfounded accusations against a member state of the United Nations.""The point is that there is no case for the Security Council to consider in its deliberations," he said.Hmmmmm..........Assad the 'reformer'.Read the full story here.

  • Video - Congressman John Sullivan: Obama “Despicable, Sick And Twisted”.(Dollard).Read and see the full story here.

  • Socialist Senator: Obama's Wrong - Social Security Checks Will Go Out If Debt Ceiling Isn't Raised.(NewsBusters).America's only admittedly socialist member of Congress said Wednesday that he disagreed with President Obama's comments concerning Social Security checks possibly not going out on August 3rd if the debt ceiling isn't raised.When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he felt checks to seniors and disabled vets would be issued no matter what, the host of MSNBC's "The Ed Show" responded, "So you would take issue with the President on that statement, that he may have been fear-mongering in essence?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: And Senator, what was your response to the President when he told a, an anchor in an interview he couldn’t guarantee that the checks would be there on April 3rd [sic], that he couldn’t guarantee that the Social Security checks would, would hit people’s bank accounts if we don’t take action? What’s your response to that? True or false?
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I-VERMONT): Well, there are differences of opinion about that. There are some who would argue, and I tend to agree, that given the fact that Social Security has a $2.6 trillion surplus, then you can figure out a way you must make sure that seniors and disabled vets get their checks.
SCHULTZ: So you would take issue with the President on that statement, that he may have been fear-mongering in essence?SANDERS: What he is saying is, look, there’s not enough money here to pay our debts. That’s true. I think, in fact, we can pay Social Security.Interesting when possibly the most liberal member of Congress goes on national television contradicting a Democrat president. That'll teach Schultz never to ask a question he doesn't know the answer to.Read the full story here.

  • Obama Owns the Debt-Ceiling Fiasco.(WSJ). It doesn't help that he's declared high-speed rail and even unspent stimulus funds as untouchable.President Barack Obama and Congress face a mess if the federal government hits the debt ceiling Aug. 2. The Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, projects that the government will receive $172 billion in revenues between Aug. 3 and Aug. 31, but it is on the hook to spend $306 billion, leaving a shortfall of $134 billion.On Tuesday, Mr. Obama told Scott Pelley of CBS News that "there may simply not be the money in the coffers" to issue Social Security, veterans and disability checks after Aug. 3. Not so. The $172 billion in revenues collected over the rest of the month can pay the $29 billion interest charges on the national debt, Social Security benefits ($49 billion), Medicaid and Medicare ($50 billion), active duty military pay ($2.9 billion), Department of Defense vendors ($31.7 billion), IRS refunds ($3.9 billion), and about a quarter of the $12.8 billion in unemployment checks due that month. There will, however, be no cash for highway construction, no checks for federal workers or retirees, no agriculture payments, no open national parks. Interest rates are also likely to rise if U.S. debt is downgraded, adding massively to the deficit and further damaging the economy. This would be a disaster with no political winners. The president's two most recent press conferences, in which he accused the GOP of foot-dragging, convinced Republicans that he was interested in scoring political points and attracting independents, not facilitating a deal. Convening high-profile White House meetings without offering substantive concrete proposals and then having his aides leak madly (and inaccurately) to the press afterward further squandered trust. There's still time for a deal, but it could come after the Aug. 2 deadline, and after much damage has been done to America's financial standing. Then the key political question will become who gets the blame. By then, it should be obvious that the man who promised to transcend petty politics and legislative gridlock made things worse. Washington is dysfunctional. And to paraphrase the president's senior adviser, David Plouffe, Mr. Obama owns the dysfunction. The president has not only governed as a liberal—he's governed as an incompetent liberal, thereby reminding voters that electing a Republican Congress and president next year is the only way to change direction.Read the full story here.

  • U.S. credit rating not worth saving, Ron Paul says.(Politico).The United States’s top credit rating is “probably not” worth saving, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said Thursday, less than a day after a major rating agency indicated it was considering a downgrade as the country hurtles toward the August 2 deadline without a deal to raise the debt ceiling.Paul, who earlier this week announced that he won’t run for reelection to Congress so that he can focus on his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, suggested in an interview on Bloomberg TV that he doesn’t see much value in the ratings of Moody’s and the two other major bond raters.“I think if you had a market evaluation on this issue, it should have marked down a long time ago,” he said.A downgraded credit rating would only amplify what is already clear to him - that the U.S. government is “insolvent,” Paul said.“We play along with this game with Social Security. We know it is insolvent. We know that if it were an insurance company, it would be in big trouble,” he said. “It is true that this rating will have an effect, but it is a short-term effect. Ultimately, the fundamentals show this country is bankrupt.”Though raising the debt ceiling would solve short-term problems, it leaves the longer term ones intact, Paul said.“Sometimes I wonder whether this is more of a political theater to build up the fear. First, we won’t be able to write the checks for Social Security and the next thing there’ll be a down rating of bonds,” he said.President Barack Obama said in an interview earlier this week that he could not “guarantee” that Social Security checks would be sent on August 3 and onward if there isn’t a deal on the debt “because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.”Though Paul, a longtime critic of U.S. monetary policy who would like to see the Federal Reserve abolished and wrote a book called “End the Fed” two years ago, is doubtful about the actual value of Moody’s rating of the U.S. government, he acknowledged it could motivate congressional Republicans and the president to reach a deal on the debt ceiling.“If they do this, this will be very significant, but I think it is part of the game to make sure everyone is fearful so we continue this process,” he said, referring to the negotiations over raising the debt ceiling.“Long term, I think raising the debt limit is a negative because it delays the inevitable. It will give us much bigger problems down the road. Today and tomorrow, if Moody’s does not lower the bond rating, it will be helpful in the short run. In the long run, it will be more devastating because Congress will go back to their old habits again.”Hmmmmm......."Old habits die hard"?Read the full story here.

  • Republicans' eyes on Clinton's visit for radar talks with Turkey.(TodaysZaman).US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will arrive in İstanbul today to participate in the fourth meeting of the Libya Contact Group and on Saturday will pay a long-expected bilateral working visit that had been postponed due to political turmoil in the Middle East.While in Turkey, in addition to her counterpart, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Clinton will also meet with President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to discuss the situation in Libya and Syria and a full range of shared bilateral and multilateral issues.US senators and their staff will be watching closely to see if she pushes the agenda on an agreement to station a US missile defense radar in Turkey, an agreement many Republicans oppose, foreign policy blog The Cable reported on Wednesday.“We write with concern over recent reports that the administration may be nearing completion of a bilateral agreement with the Turkish Government to base a US AN/TPY-2 (X-Band) radar in Turkey,” wrote Republican Senators Jon Kyl of Arizona and Mark Kirk of Illinois in a July 12 letter to Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta obtained by The Cable.At the NATO summit of heads of state and government in Lisbon last year, Turkey formally backed NATO plans to build a missile defense system, saying it will also contribute to national defense against the growing threat of ballistic missile proliferation.The same Turkish diplomat elaborated on Ankara's approach to the issue, recalling that within the new Strategic Concept of the Alliance, which was decided upon at the Lisbon summit, the missile defense had been accepted as a fundamental element of NATO's joint defense system.“The to-be established system will serve in a defense-oriented capacity which does not aim at any offensive against another country. Ankara attaches high importance to the fact that this defensive system will not only make a contribution to the NATO countries' security but will also contribute to regional and global security and efforts for disarmament in general,” the diplomat said.“The work done within the alliance for improving the NATO missile defense system is continuing within this context. By their very nature, consultations concerning this issue are also being held among the allies. Turkish-US talks on this issue are being held as part of consultations among the allies within the framework of the NATO missile defense system, which will also include the United States' Phased Adaptive Approach,” the diplomat added.The Cable, meanwhile, reported that the senators want the radar to be based in either Georgia or Azerbaijan, arguing that these two countries are better locations for defense against a missile attack from Iran.“But more broadly, they are concerned that Ankara will place a number of onerous restrictions on the radar, such as demanding that no data be shared with Israel. The senators have also accused Turkey of violating US sanctions against Iran, which they said calls into question their reliability as a partner in organizing a missile defense system aimed at Tehran,” The Cable said.Hmmmmm......A scary thought came to my mind," efforts for disarmament in general" is this aimed at Israel?Does turkey want the shield against Israel?Read the full story here.

  • "The laws don't apply to me"?Obama Election Campaign Admits to Violating FEC Election Laws.(Ghostfighters).Obama’s election campaign manager Jim Messina admitted in a video released on July 13th that they have been collecting foreign funds for Obama’s 2012 election campaign and the DNC, to the tune of $86 Million. This is clear violation of the FEC laws for campaign funding.The Logan Act, which states…
§ 953. Private correspondence with foreign governments.
Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply himself, or his agent, to any foreign government, or the agents thereof, for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.1 Stat. 613, January 30, 1799, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 953 (2004).
Here’s the video in which Messina says : Obama has raised in this quarter $86 million.GLOBALLY! GLOBALLY! GLOBALLY! This must go to the FEC and we should send this to Rep Issa immediately.They are either that stupid or they just don’t give a damn!At about 3:25 he says globally we raised.Read and see the full story here.

  • Israelis “bug” President Obama to release Pollard. Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA – July 13, 2011[IMRA: The following anecdote which was shared with IMRA by a first-hand  source, raises some question about the degree of seriousness that is being attached to the numerous requests that have been made to President Obama for the release of Jonathan Pollard. Pollard is languishing in an American prison in his 26th year of a life sentence.]At a recent kosher fundraising dinner party for President Obama’s reelection campaign where donations started at $20,000.00 and up, a well-connected American Jewish activist (who brought in serious money that night) merited a few minutes of private time with the President. Here is how their conversation went:
The activist asked the President, “Are you going to free Jonathan Pollard?
The President responded, “Are they bugging you too?”
The activist replied, “Yes, the Jewish community is bugging me.”
The President declared, “The Israelis are bugging me too.”
The activist explained, “Pollard is an important issue in the Jewish Community today. We all feel its time for him to be released.”
The President was silent.
The activist pressed on, “I raised a lot of money for tonight’s event and many of those who gave me money only gave it to me on the condition that I ask you the question about Pollard.
There was no response from the President.The conversation was closed.Hmmmm.......Sounds like the debt talks?Read the full story here.

  • Japanese firm cuts ties with Iran over crane executions.(Ynet).Crane manufacturer says it has ended business relations with Islamic Republic after Los Angeles Times report reveals Tehran used cranes for public hangings. A Japanese heavy machinery manufacturer said it has cut business ties with the Iranian government following a report that its cranes have been used for public executions. The company's announcement came several days after United Against Nuclear Iran President Mark D. Wallace published an op-ed in Los Angeles Times where he names the Japanese Tadano company as one of several companies exporting cranes to Iran."In response to Iran's brazen attempts to intimidate and terrorize its own people, United Against Nuclear Iran has launched a Cranes Campaign. The goal is to educate crane manufacturers worldwide about the Iranian regime's clear misuse of their products and how such use can tarnish their brand image," Wallace wrote.As part of the campaign, United Against Nuclear Iran published on its website a list of seven international manufacturers exporting cranes and other heavy equipment to Iran, along with pictures of the cranes being used for public executions.Crane-hanging has become a common in the Islamic Republic. According to the op-ed, "Amnesty International estimates that as many as 13 people had been hanged in public by the end of April, compared to a total 14 in all of 2010. In a number of instances, those executed have been left hanging high in the air on construction cranes for all to see." Wallace called on the international community to bring to an end "this kind of barbarism and highlight more broadly the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran."Hmmmmm......Perhaps give Iran another seat at the UN?Read the the full story here.

  • Shoah forum raises awareness on mass graves.(Ynet).Mass graves in Eastern Europe 'lay forgotten, unmarked and unstudied for decades' because of Communist rule and Holocaust denial, says one of scholars attending symposium in Bucharest.Dozens of scholars and historians from across Europe and the US attended a symposium earlier this month on Holocaust mass graves in Eastern Europe to raise awareness in countries where little information on the subject was available under communism. Paul Shapiro from the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum said well over one million Jews were murdered in Eastern Europe before the Nazi concentration camps were operational. He said the mass graves "lay forgotten, unmarked and unstudied for decades" because of Communist rule and Holocaust denial. The event in Romania's capital – the first of its kind in a former communist country – coincided with the commemoration of 70 years since about 12,000 Jews were killed in northeastern Romania under the pro-fascist regime of dictator Marshal Ion Antonescu. Participants at the symposium came from France, Germany, Ukraine, the US and Romania. Last year, researchers in Romania discovered a mass grave in a forest near the town of Popricani, close to the northeastern city of Iasi where the 1941 pogrom took place. The grave contained the bodies of 36 people, including women and 12 children. Shapiro said "at Iasi, thousands of Jews were murdered on the streets of the city by Romanian authorities and civilian collaborators, with some German participation, within sight of the non-Jewish population of the city." He added that "the killings elicited no negative reaction by the population." Shapiro believes that the Iasi pogrom could be seen as "the signal that mass murder of Jews on the streets, in plain sight, in public, was possible, and that all Jews, not just men who might bear arms to resist, should be killed and simply thrown into mass graves, to be forgotten forever." "Is it by chance that just three to four weeks later official Nazi policy changed to call for the murder of all Jews - men, women, children and the old?" he said. The discovery near Iasi last year offered evidence of pogroms against Jews in the region, where official history taught that Germans were the sole perpetrators of the Holocaust. About 280,000 Jews and 11,000 Roma, or Gypsies, were killed during the pro-fascist regime of dictator Marshal Ion Antonescu, who was Romania's prime minister from 1940 to 1944 and was executed by the communists in 1946. About 6,000 Jews live in Romania today. During communist times, the country largely ignored the involvement of Romania's leaders in wartime crimes. The country's role in the Holocaust and the deportation of Jews were minimized by subsequent governments after communism collapsed in 1989. In 2004, after a dispute with Israel over comments about the Holocaust, then-President Ion Iliescu assembled an international panel led by Nobel-prize winner Elie Wiesel to investigate the Holocaust in Romania. Read the full story here.

  • Vowing Revenge for Osama bin Laden's Killing, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Commanders Vie for Control; Hakimullah Mehsud's Control Waning As TTP Splits.(Memri).Following the May 2, 2011, killing of Osama bin Laden in a U.S. operation in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, there are indications that leading commanders of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, or the Movement of Pakistani Taliban) are vying for control of the organization, while TTP Emir Hakimullah Mehsud's grip on the organization may be waning. In recent weeks, Maulana Waliur Rehman, who is the TTP's Emir for the Mehsud tribal region of Waziristan, and Umar Khalid Khorasani, the TTP's Emir for Mohmand Agency, have released several media statements, indicating attempts by them to assert control on the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Also, a leading Taliban commander, Fazal Saeed Haqqani, recently announced that he is breaking away from the TTP, the umbrella alliance of Taliban commanders, and cited differences with the TTP leadership for his decision to quit.
On July 5, 2011, a Pakistani media report which quoted anonymous Taliban commanders and Pakistani intelligence officials noted that Hakimullah Mehsud has been in isolation for more than a year,and is rapidly losing control over the TTP. "Hakimullah might soon be faced with more rebels from within the TTP after last week's defection by one of his top commanders [Fazal Saeed Haqqani]," the report said.
A militant commander, who was not identified in the report, said: "It looks as though he [Hakimullah Mehsud] is just a figurehead now. He can hardly communicate with his commanders in other parts of the tribal areas … he is in total isolation. Only a few people within the TTP know where he is.Although Pakistani military officials claim credit for Hakimullah Mehsud's isolation, the locals in the Pakistani tribal region say that this his isolation is "more likely due to" anger among tribesmen over the U.S. drone attacks, who think that these attacks would not take place if the militants leave the area, according to the report.Perhaps the most convincing sign of dissension within the TTP came in late June when Fazal Saeed Haqqani, the Taliban commander for Kurram Agency, announced that he had broken away from the Hakimullah Mehsud-led TTP. Fazal Saeed Haqqani, who claimed that he has received offers of support from militants from various regions of Pakistan, announced the launch of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Islami (TTP-Islami), a new militant organization.
According to the report, Fazal Saeed Haqqani, who is reportedly 39 years-old, also claimed that about 800 armed fighters are under his command. Haqqani has studied at the Darul Uloom Haqqania madrassa at Akora Khattak, a town in the Nowshera district of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. This Islamic seminary at Akora Khattak is run by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam leader Maulana Samiul Haq, and is known for training a generation of Pakistani militant commanders. After Fazal Saeed Haqqani's departure, the Hakimullah Mehsud-led TTP appointed Maulana Zahir as the TTP's commander for Kurram Agency. "The defection [of Fazal Saeed Haqqani] took place within days after unknown attackers killed a spokesperson [Shakirullah Shakir] for the TTP's Fidayeen-e-Islam group – the suicide bombing squad," a Pakistani media report noted, adding: "The killing of Shakirullah Shakir, a key figure of the TTP, in Mir Ali town of North Waziristan has raised questions over how influential Hakimullah still is in the region."A tribesman, who was not identified in the report, described the impact of Fazal Saeed Haqqani's departure in the following words: "It was like a slap in the face for him [Hakimullah Mehsud]. Nobody could have imagined such things [e.g. the killing of Shakirullah Shakir] here sometime back." The report added: "A day after Haqqani's announcement to split, a group of the Taliban from Khyber Agency attacked their counterparts from Orakzai [district] in what appeared to be another sign of growing friction within the TTP and lack of a centralized and coordinated leadership."
It is possible that Fazal Saeed Haqqani may be enjoying some support from the Pakistani military. While announcing his break from the TTP, Fazal Saeed Haqqani declared that his new organization TTP-Islami will not launch suicide attacks in Pakistan, noting that he has been against suicide bombings from the beginning, and on various occasions has called on the TTP leadership to halt such strikes in Pakistan.Importantly, Fazal Saeed Haqqani's operational area was Kurram Agency, a district where the Pakistani military last year allowed the Haqqani Network to create a new safe haven, as Pakistan has been under U.S. pressure to carry out an operation in North Waziristan, the traditional base of Haqqani Network. The Haqqani Network, the second largest militant group among the Taliban in Afghanistan, is believed to be supported by the Pakistani military intelligence.
Umar Khalid Khorasani, the TTP's commander for Mohmand Agency, is not known to have released videos or statements in recent years. However in June 2011 he took the extraordinary step of granting an exclusive video interview to the British news agency Reuters. Answering questions regarding his mission and Osama bin Laden's killing, Umar Khalid Khorasani outlined his targets: "God willing our fight against America is continuing, inside Pakistan as well as outside Pakistan. When we launch our attacks, we will prove that we can hit American targets outside Pakistan also, because it is our enemy. Our attacks against it will continue.""Even if some rapprochement is reached in Afghanistan, our ideology, our aim, our struggle is for the removal of the British system that still exists in Pakistan. It does not matter whether there is peace or war throughout the world, our struggle for the implementation of the Islamic system in Pakistan will continue," he added.Umar Khalid Khorasani has dispelled Western policymakers' thinking that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban), the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Afghan Taliban), and Al-Qaeda are separate organizations. In an exclusive article titled "The Group of 40 Thieves" in the magazine, he accused the "Western media and the international media working under its influence" of engaging in covering up the biggest news story of the day – that "the U.S. has been defeated in Afghanistan."
Describing the Pakistani ruling class as "The Group of 40 Thieves," Umar Khalid Khorasani observed: "This group of 40 thieves cares not for the country or its people; it cares only for money… And there is another group… the Pakistan Army and its intelligence agency [Inter-Services Intelligence – ISI]; first of all they are worried about the [security of] nuclear weapons and the secular image of Pakistan. They think that if the religious sentiments remain dominant, then they will be isolated internationally, and their nuclear program will become a target of the superpowers."
"Jews and Christians will never be pleased with you until you become one among them," Umar Khalid Khorasani said, quoting the Koran. Describing the Pakistan Army and intelligence agencies as apostates for supporting the U.S., the TTP commander said that the supporters and enemies of the Pakistani military once thought that the Pakistani soldiers are fighting for the U.S. "But," he added, "in my opinion, this view is being proved weak, because in reality the rulers of Pakistan, political parties, and the military itself are Islam's worst enemy."Umar Khalid Khorasani also stated that the Taliban's objective is the establishment of a worldwide Islamic caliphate of which Pakistan will be a branch, noting: "It is too much to expect fraternity to Islam from such a [Pakistani] army of an Islamic country. It will keep fighting Muslims, demolishing mosques and madrassas, delivering Muslim sons and daughters to the U.S… But if they are thinking that they will finish the Taliban, it is foolish thinking, because the U.S. has surrendered with all its army and arsenal; Russia surrendered; and Britain accepted defeat… The day is not distant when there will be pure Islamic sharia in Pakistan, and Pakistan will be a branch of the same Islamic khilafat [caliphate]."Hmmmmmm........Houston we have a problem?Read the full story here.

  • Iran - Isa Saharkhiz Writes Letter from Prison to UN Special Rapporteur.(Persian2English).Isa Sahahrkhiz, a prominent journalist and one of the founders of the Society for the Defense of Press Freedom in Iran has written a letter from Rajai Shahr prison to the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur Dr. Ahmad Shaheed, urging him to take immediate action and travel to Iran.Isa Saharkhiz was violently arrested in July 2009 and consequently suffered broken ribs. He was later tried and, sentenced to three years in prison for “Insulting the Supreme Leader and the regime”, banned from all political and journalistic activities for five years, and prohibited from leaving the country for one year.Translation of the letter from Isa Saharkhiz to the UN Special Rapporteur
Dear Mr. Shaheed,With greetings,
I, Isa Saharkhiz, one of the political prisoners arrested after the 2009 coupe election, have not been allowed to exercise my legals right of prison furlough for needed medical treatment, after having served half of my prison sentence.
Mr. Ahmed Shaheed,
The news of your appointment as the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur to Iran was heartwarming for me and many other political prisoners. We hope that you will be our voice in informing the public of the deplorable conditions of the prisons in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Mr. Ahmed Shaheed,
What is happening now in the Islamic Republic prisons is a crime against humanity and not any less than Stalin’s inhumane treatment of prisoners in the forced labor camps of Siberia.This treatment is not solely limited to the political prisoners, but the situation for the general prisoners is no less disastrous.
You have probably heard of the horrible death of Hoda Saber who died while on hunger strike after being beaten by prison officials. Prior to that, you must have heard of Mohsen Dokmechi’s death.You probably also are somewhat aware of my medical situation and are aware that they will not even allow me to be hospitalized for my needed medical treatment. I will not go into the details of my medical case.My purpose for writing this letter is to remind you that such a dire situation exists and that another tragic event may occur at any moment. It is apparent to me and my fellow inmates that the strategy and objective of the authorities is “to kill the protesting prisoners silently and gradually”.
They have made a deliberate decision to destroy us and have planned a silent death for us, because they fear our survival even behind these walls and bars.
You, in the name of humanity and because of the responsibility that has been bestowed upon you, are obligated to use everything in your power and act immediately to inform the public of the heinous [crimes] that occur behind these walls.I hope you realize the value of time in this matter and know that any delay in taking action will result in the deaths of more political prisoners.Therefore, I urge you to take action immediately and travel to Iran without any further delay. If the authorities prevent you from visiting with the political prisoners, that will only show another disgraceful act by a regime that is built on the foundation of lies.Isa Saharkhiz- July 2011. Rejai Shahr prison.Read the full story here.

  • Pakistani Security Analyst Examines Hizbut Tahrir's Role in Recruiting Pakistan Army Officials to the Cause of Establishing Islamic Caliphate.(Memri).Following the recent arrest of serving Pakistan Army officer Brigadier Ali Khan and four majors over their connections to the Islamist organization Hizbut Tahrir (HT) Pakistan, there is growing concern in Pakistan that the Islamic militants in the country may have penetrated deep inside the Pakistani military.Hizbut Tahrir is an international movement of Islamists who seek to establish an Islamic caliphate worldwide by recruiting educated and professional Muslim youth to their cause. Concern about Hizbut Tahrir's influence among the Pakistani military officers grew in the wake of the May 22 militant attack on PNS Mehran, the Pakistan Navy headquarters in Karachi. It is believed that the PNS Mehran naval airbase attack was aided by officers within the Pakistan Air Force.In a recent article titled "The Hizbut Tahrir Threat," Muhammad Amir Rana, a noted Pakistani commentator on security issues, argued that Hizbut Tahrir has "an anti-constitutional and anti-democratic outlook and agenda." Rana, who is editor of the research journal "Conflict and Peace Studies," warned: "Most analysts tend to watch madrassas and popular mass movements for signs of radicalization. The danger with HT is ever more serious and often overlooked because it is not always visible and does not conform to stereotypes."Read the full story here.

  • Arab League Sec.-Gen. Objects to U.S. Statements Against Assad.(Memri).In response to statements by U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has lost his legitimacy, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al-Arabi said that he opposes verbal attacks on Syrian leaders.Al-Arabi added that no one has a right to determine that the president of any country has lost his legitimacy, except for the people who elected him.After meeting with Al-Assad, Al-Arabi said that there is no pressure on the Arab League to make a decision on Syria similar to the one made on Libya.Read the full story here.

  • Mecca great deals for real estate agents as abandoned buildings and estates are possessed by jinns.(Arabnews).MAKKAH: There are widespread rumors among Makkawis claiming some abandoned buildings and estates are possessed by jinns.According to the widely circulated gossip, residents of these buildings located in various districts of the holy city, especially on the outskirts, say they vacated their dwellings after supernatural forces had harmed them.There are divergent views among local residents with regard to the rumors. However, most of their views seem to confirm the existence of something mysterious at these buildings.These have forced the owners of a number of such buildings and plots of lands to sell them at much lower rates.There are also reports that some realtors are allegedly behind these rumors.Local resident Muhammad Bazaid said it was easy to identify abandoned buildings that are allegedly possessed.“Some buildings and estates in the city are known to be possessed by jinns. People used to say that,” he said, while noting that this situation is being exploited by some realtors.“They are behind spreading of these rumors and are thus instrumental in lowering prices of these properties. They then try to buy them at prices much lower than the market value,” he said.Hmmmm........"Who you gonna call?Ghostbusters?Read the full story here.

  • Belgium: Moroccans against use of children in Palestine campaign.(IslaminEurope).Via Le Vif/L’Express (with help from the Philosemitism blog):A Belgian-Moroccan group (Union of Belgian-Moroccan Associations, CABM) published a letter condemning the "Welcome to Palestine" campaign, whose Belgian delegation included 5 minors, including at least three Belgian-Moroccan girls (aged 14, 15, and 17).One of the authors of the letter and president of CABM, Hassan El Bouharrouti, told Le Vif/L’Express that his daughter (17) was dragged into this adventure by her mother, though he had warned the police, the border police and the Israeli embassy. He accused the organizers of cultivating hate and antisemitism, when there are still battles to fight in Belgium against racism and social exclusion.Excerpts from the letter: We condemn in the strongest terms the use of minors in the International Mission of Solidarity with the Palestinian people on July 8 2011, in which a Belgian delegation participated. The appeal by the organizers to anybody over the age of 9 seems to have elicited no response on this point from the signatories, which included several politicians, academics and associations.In Belgium minors should never have been exposed to any risk whatsoever while participating in a mission that clearly part of a provocation and confrontation with the State of Israel. This showdown doesn't serve the Palestinian cause which is at the heart of this mission. However, it contributes to fueling antisemitism in the Belgian-Moroccan community. Wanting to make minors into righter of wrongs is absolutely irresponsible on the part of the parents whose role it is to ensure the protection and development of their children, and not to send them on a suicidal antisemitic operation (...)The participants, mostly Belgian-Moroccans, were able to participate in this mission after they collected the necessary funds. Each participant paid 500 EUR for the ticket and 300 EUR for pocket money. Questioned, the Belgian authorities did not see fit to prevent the departure of minors to Israel. They awaited the reaction of the Israeli authorities who finally ensured their security by sending them back to Belgium. We appeal to the responsibility of the Belgian authorities to ensure that minors will not be asked to participate in any operation aimed at exploiting them for political means in a conflict likely to endanger their life or security. We appeal to the subsidizing authorities to guarantee that no funds will be granted for financing such operations for minors.Read the full story here.

Poor and Broke Camp Out Overnight, Rush the Gates for Gov Rental Assistance

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Walsh to Obama: Quit Lying

Incitement on Syrian TV against the US and Its Diplomatic Mission in Syria

Ron Paul vs Bernanke: Is Gold Money?

MFS - The Other News

                       Morning Posting.

  • Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity in Japan today 4.9 ! More info here.

  • Japan - Nuclear disaster - Situation Update No. 141 - .Source .

  • Japan : For the most accurate info on the nuclear disaster go to : Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog.Here.

  • Ron Paul to Bernanke: “You could’ve given $17,000 to each citizen,”.(Forbes).Bernanke Fights Ron Paul In Congress: Gold Isn’t Money.Chairman Ben Bernanke faced-off with Fed-hating Representative Ron Paul during his monetary policy report to Congress on Wednesday. The head of the Fed was forced to respond to accusations of enriching already rich corporations while failing to help Main Street, while he was pushed on his views on gold. When asked whether gold is money, Bernanke flatly responded “No.” (See video above).While most of Bernanke’s reports to Congress serve politicians to pursue their own agendas by gearing the Chairman towards their issues, with Republican Rep. Bacchus talking of the unsustainability of Medicaid and Rep. Frank (D, Mass.) asking about the need to raise the debt limit without cutting spending, it was a stand-off between Bernanke and Ron Paul that took all the attention.Read the full story here.

  • President Obama abruptly walks out of talks.(Politico). "President Barack Obama abruptly walked out of a stormy debt-limit meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday, a dramatic setback to the already shaky negotiations, according to GOP sources... 'He shoved back and said ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’ and walked out,' House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters... On a day when the Moody’s rating agency warned that American debt could be downgraded, the White House talks blew up amid a new round of sniping between Obama and Cantor, who are fast becoming bitter enemies.When Cantor said the two sides were too far apart to get a deal that could pass the House by the Treasury Department’s Aug. 2 deadline — and that he would consider moving a short-term debt-limit increase alongside smaller spending cuts — Obama began to lecture him.“Eric, don’t call my bluff,” the president said, warning Cantor that he would take his case “to the American people.” He told Cantor that no other president — not Ronald Reagan, the president said — would sit through such negotiations.
    "Hmmmmm......Childish or dictatorial behaviour....Or both?Read the full story here.

  • John Bolton: Obama worst president for Israel – evah.(JPost).US President Barack Obama is “the most anti-Israel president in the history of the state, without any question,” John Bolton, the former US envoy to the UN and a man considering entering the presidential race against Obama, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.“If you think that this is just a misunderstanding of where the green crayon went in 1949, then think again,” Bolton said of Obama. Bolton’s comments came during a meeting he had with the Post’s editorial board.Bolton, who is currently a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a Fox News commentator, said that Obama bought in to what he said was the “European line” that if you make progress between Israel and the Palestinians “sweetness and light” will break out in the region, and every other problem from Iran to terrorism will be easier to solve.“I think that is like looking through the wrong end of the telescope,” he said.Bolton, in the country along with former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar and Nobel Peace Prize laureate David Trimble from Northern Ireland as part of a delegation of international dignitaries involved in an organization called Friends of Israel Initiative, said he was considering running for the Republican nomination, and would made a decision by Labor Day.“The problem is that we haven’t had an adequate discussion of national security issues for two and a half years,” he said, explaining why he was thinking about entering the race.“It is not a priority for Obama, and I think that is a big mistake for the United States.”Bolton said he conducted extensive “due diligence” about a possible race for the Republican nomination, including talking to fundraisers, pollsters, and campaign people in different states, including Iowa, where he has visited in advance of the Iowa caucuses, the first test in the US election calendar.Some of Bolton’s harshest criticism of Obama had to do with the administration’s Iran policy, with Bolton saying he believed the Obama administration’s “real Plan B for the Iranian nuclear weapons program is that it can be contained and deterred, much as we contained and deterred the Soviet Union in the Cold War.“I think that is fundamentally wrong,” Bolton said, adding that the only way to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons was through military action.“Diplomacy and sanctions are not going to work,” he said unequivocally.“The Obama administration certainly isn’t going to use force against the Iranian program, and Israel is obviously very reluctant to do it as well,” he said.“If Israel is not prepared to strike, then get ready for an Iran with nuclear weapons, and you can draw your own conclusions. If you think Iran’s behavior is bad now, imagine what it will be if it gets nuclear capability. I think we are all sleepwalking past this.”Bolton said the US would have an easier time destroying Iran’s control of its nuclear fuel cycle than Israel would, but that Israel has the capability to do this, and has had it for some time.“If I had been in charge of the Israeli government, I would have attacked in 2008 for several reasons,” he said.“First, it was three years ago, so you are much more likely to have eliminated the key elements of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”Secondly, he said, “in 2008 you had a president sympathetic to Israel – so you calculate the next time that is going to occur.”Bolton had equally strong words to say about the Palestinian bid for some type of statehood recognition at the UN in September, something he said should not – as it is in Israel and elsewhere – be getting more attention and energy than the Iranian nuclear threat.Israel’s proper response to the move, he said, is “not to pay any attention to it, and to care no more about it than the grass you tread beneath your feet.”Without referring directly to Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s oft-quoted comment that Israel faced a “diplomatic tsunami” in September, Bolton – who served as US envoy to the UN from 2005-2006 – said “if you make the General Assembly into something more than what it is, than you are giving it authority and legitimacy it doesn’t have.”His comments were made against the backdrop of what is almost certain to be a US veto in the Security Council, the body whose approval is necessary for a state to become a UN member. In that case, the Palestinians are likely to take their bid to the General Assembly, which has no binding authority.Bolton acknowledged, however, that the move did have political significance, similar to the “Zionism Equals Racism” declaration of the mid-1970s.Leaning on past experience when he was head of the international organizations department in the State Department from 1989-1993, Bolton said that the only way to get this move stopped in the UN was for the US Congress to pass legislation saying that if the move did go through, Washington would cut off funding to the international body.He said that a threat by former secretary of state and chief of staff James Baker, backed up by the first president George Bush, to cut off funds to the UN if the PLO was accepted into the UN system as a full member is what kept the PLO from gaining acceptance as a state in 1989.Read the full story here.

  • Obama: "Nobody can be messing with our embassy".(DougRoss).Why would CBS headline an article quoting Obama as saying "Nobody can be messing with our embassy"? In all seriousness, that's just bizarre.Look, no matter what you think about his policies, Barack Obama is an articulate and well-spoken man. So I do find it somewhat odd and offensive that CBS would pick out an inartful turn of phrase to use as a headline.CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley asked President Obama today about the attacks on the U.S. embassy."Yesterday the U.S. embassy in Damascus was attacked by a mob," Pelley said. "I wonder what you say to the dictator in Syria?""Well, you know, we've been very clear that what we've seen on the part of the Syrian regime has been an unacceptable degree of brutality, directed at its people," Mr. Obama said. "We've certainly sent a clear message that nobody can be messing with our embassy. And that we will take whatever actions necessary in order to protect our embassy. And I think they've gotten that message."Hmmmm..........Read and see the full story here.

  • Mother 'with attitude' arrested after refusing TSA pat-down of daughter.(DailyMail).A mother has been arrested after refusing to let her child be searched by a TSA agent.Andrea Fornella Abbott, 41, was arrested at Nashville International Airport on Saturday after telling agents she did not want her daughter to be 'touched inappropriately' or have her 'crotch grabbed,' according to a police report.Mrs Abbott acted 'belligerent and verbally abusive to staff', yelling and swearing at them, according to the report. Police said after the woman refused to calm down she was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.Speaking to police, airport officer Sabrina Birge said:'[Abbott] told me in a very stern voice with quite a bit of attitude that they were not going through that X-ray.'The officer then told Mrs Abbott: 'No, it’s not an X-ray,' before adding, 'It is 10,000 times safer than your cell phone and uses the same type of radio waves as a sonogram.'Mrs Abbott then reportedly replied: 'I still don’t want someone to see our bodies naked.'Mrs Abbott was also prevented from taking a video of the incident on her mobile phone.The news comes as the TSA finally changed its policy on patting down young children at airports this month.Airport security workers will now make repeated attempts to screen young children without resorting to invasive pat-downs.The agency is working to put that change in place around the country, and it should reduce, but not eliminate, pat-downs for children.The move comes after public outrage in April over a video of six-year-old Anna Drexel, who was patted down at New Orleans airport.Hmmmm......At a meeting of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee in Washington, Pistole told the members that TSA agents will be instructed to make “repeated efforts” to resolve security screenings without conducting pat downs on children younger than 10 years old.Read the full story here.

  • Over a Fifth of Navy Ships Aren’t Ready to Fight.(Wired).More than a fifth of the Navy isn’t ready to sail or fight, at a time when demand on the fleet is off the charts. And the number of unready ships is likely to rise as Navy officers try to fix their chronic readiness woes.According to statistics released by Rep. Randy Forbes, the Virginia Republican who chairs the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee, 22 percent of Navy ships didn’t pass their inspections in 2011. In 2007, just 8 percent of ships were rated as carrying junk equipment or insufficient spare parts. And more than half the Navy’s deployed aircraft — the F/A-18 Hornets, the jamming EA-18G Growlers, the P-3C Orion surveillance plane — aren’t ready for combat.The Navy’s surface fleet goes into the water banged up. Its aircraft carriers, frigates, destroyers spend nearly 40 percent of their deployment time with “at least one major equipment or systems failure,” according to a chart Forbes released at a hearing on Tuesday. That can include “anti-air defenses, radar, satellite communications, or engines.” Let’s not forget that even the new ships are disintegrating.And the demand on the Navy is huge. Consider the last year at sea. U.S. Navy ships and aircraft performed support missions for Iraq and Afghanistan. They helped with disaster relief after Pakistani floods and a Japanese tsunami/earthquake. They fought Somali pirates and spearheaded an ongoing war in Libya.At Forbes’ hearing, two senior Navy officers, Vice Adm. William Burke and Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy, signaled that the readiness problem’s going to get worse before it gets better. As engineers perform more detailed inspections — the admirals’ solution to the problem — they’ll probably expose even deeper maintenance woes. And ship maintenance “came up short” in the current defense budget, Burke said, with $5 billion devoted to patching up the fleet.Philip Ewing of DoD Buzz contends that today’s Navy is paying the bill for short-sighted Pentagon decisions in the late ’90s and early 2000s. As someone who documented “systemic, service-wide problems with preventive maintenance” at emerged at the end of the last decade, Ewing writes that the Navy cut back on maintenance crews, used computer programs instead of skilled chiefs for maintenance instruction, and “simple budget cuts meant ships didn’t get the regular maintenance or spare parts they needed.”Now consider that the Navy’s facing down three big trends. The Obama administration’s $400 billion, 12-year defense budget cut means it has to juggle priorities if it wants to get its ships and planes ready to fight. (Bye-bye, super lasers.) The Pentagon sees the U.S.’ most likely security showdowns occurring at sea and in the air, especially in the western Pacific — the Navy’s wheelhouse. Finally, unless the Navy goes on a shipbuilding surge in the next decade, the fleet might shrink by about 70 ships as the Reagan-era subs and combatants meet the end of their service life in the 2020s.The Navy, in other words, is staring down an era of doing more with less.Hmmmmmm........"CHANGED"?Read the full story here.

  • Breast-feeding mother 'told to leave council headquarters because she would offend Muslim visitors'.(DailyMail).A mother was ordered not to breastfeed her baby in public because she was in a ‘multicultural building’. Emma Mitchell, 32, was about to feed 19-week-old son Aaron when a receptionist at a town hall warned her to stop.Last night Mrs Mitchell condemned council staff, saying it was time people recognised the law which allows nursing mothers to breastfeed in public.‘It was just awful. I felt humiliated, intimidated and guilty through the whole thing,’ she said. ‘What I was doing was one of the most natural things a mother can do. You hear everywhere that breast is best for your baby, so why wouldn’t I be allowed to do that?’ The incident occurred when Mrs Mitchell, from Oldham, was in the Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Oldham Civic Centre.The mother of two was asking about hiring a babysitter for her two boys when Aaron became hungry and started crying. She then asked the receptionist if she could use a corner of the room to feed him, but she refused, saying it was a ‘multicultural building’.Mrs Mitchell, who is married to Neil, 43, a lorry driver, said: ‘She then rang the manager who told me that I couldn’t breastfeed here and to go into the shopping centre’s public toilets instead.‘A member of the complaints department came down and spoke to the receptionist. ‘But she then told me that I had caused an uproar. I just asked to be allowed a place to feed my crying baby.’ Michelle Booth, 38, a friend who was at the civic centre, said: ‘I don’t understand. It’s political correctness gone mad when they’re worried about offending people of other cultures over something so natural.’ Under UK law, mothers can breastfeed in public under the provision of goods, services and facilities section of the Sexual Discrimination Act, whatever the age of the baby, in places such as council buildings, cafes, restaurants, libraries and doctors’ surgeries.Last night councillor Shoab Akhtar, of Oldham Council, said: ‘We fully support the right of mothers to breastfeed their children and actively encourage it due to the long-term health benefits it provides.Hmmmm.....The religion of peace.Read the full story here.

  • "To boldly go where no ship has gone before". Russia build the perfect vessel for it.(Wired).What the Soviets lacked in ability for effective governance, they made up for in ballsy engineering prowess. Really, who else would think to pack two nuclear reactors into a ship and set it loose in the Arctic breaking ice?The NS Yamal, named after the “Ends of the Earth” Yamal Peninsula in Northwest Siberia, is an Arktika-class nuclear-powered Russian icebreaker. Although construction on it began back in 1986, the Yamal was not completed until 1992, after the fall of Soviet rule. Since the new Russian government no longer needed it for its intended purpose — keeping Arctic shipping lanes open — the 150 meters long, 23,455 ton Yamal has since been operated by the Murmansk Shipping Company as a converted 50-cabin cruiser for North Pole tours.This ship is powered by dual pressurized-water nuclear reactors, each of which contains 245 enriched uranium fuel rods. When fully loaded with 500kg of nuclear material, the Yamal can operate for up to five years without needing to refuel. Each reactor weighs 160 tons and resides within a closed compartment under reduced pressure and is shielded by steel, high density concrete and water. 86 sensors throughout the ship monitor radiation levels at all times.Breaking with the Soviet tradition of intuitive, straightforward design, the reactors are used to power Rube Goldberg propulsion system. The reactors power boilers which generate high pressure steam to power 12 dynamos which in turn power electric motors attached to each of the three propeller screws. These motors provide each screw with roughly 25,000 horsepower or 55.3MW. With that much power, the Yamal punches through ice up to 2.3m thick at a speed of 3 knots. And though the Yamal’s maximum rated ice thickness is 5m, it has been recorded smashing individual ice ridges as thick as 9m.But the Yamal doesn’t rely on brute force and a 48mm thick double hull alone. It’s coated with a special, friction-reducing polymer and also uses a water ballast system between the double hulls to concentrate additional weight in the stern. If those aren’t enough, the Yamal is equipped with a an air bubbling system that jets 24 m³/s of air 9m below the surface to help break up the floe (they also help with steering).Despite its ability to break through 20 vertical feet of ice at a time, the Yamal is effectively trapped in the Arctic. Because the reactors use the area’s frigid water for cooling, the Yamal is physically incapable of traveling near (and definitely not past) the equator without overheating and melting down its fuel supply.Hmmmm......Trapped by it's sheer force.Read and see the full story here.More here.

  • Casualties in Kandahar mosque blast.(Al-Jazeera). Cleric reportedly killed by suicide blast during Kandahar memorial service for Afghan president's brother. Casualties are reported following a blast at a mosque in Kandahar during a memorial service for Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of Afghan president Hamid Karzai who was killed on Tuesday.Officials told the Reuters news agency that a senior cleric had been killed with three others, and said there were 11 other casualties.Afghan Interior ministry spokesman Siddiq Siddiqi told AFP the explosion was caused by a suicide bombing.Hmmmm.......Nothing personal i hope?Read the full story here.
  • Updated: Suicide attack hits memorial for Karzai's brother, 4 killed.(NDTV).Kandahar: A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a mosque in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing four people among those who had gathered for a memorial service for the president's assassinated half-brother, the government said.Among those killed in the explosion in Kandahar city was Hekmatullah Hekmat, the head of the clerical council for the province, the Interior Ministry said. At least 13 people were wounded, said Zalmai Ayubi, spokesman for the provincial governor.No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.The Sarra Jamai mosque in the southwest of the city had been filled with relatives and friends of the president's half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, who was killed earlier this week. They were offering their condolences to the family of the provincial leader.Wali Karzai was shot at close range by a confidant on Tuesday, leaving President Hamid Karzai without a powerful ally in Kandahar province, a former Taliban stronghold and the site of recent military offensives by the U.S.-led military coalition.Hmmm......I guess it was personal after all?Read the full story here.

  • Euro Crisis - Berlin Retreats on Private Involvement in Greece Bailout.(Spiegel).The markets, it would seem, are becoming impatient. Even as Berlin seems content to move only slowly toward the establishment of a second bailout package for debt-stricken Greece, investors are getting nervous. As are rating agencies. Fitch on Wednesday downgraded Greek debt to one step above default status. The agency cited the lack of certainty on a second aid package for Greece as a factor in its decision. In addition, the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday worsened its outlook on the Greek economy, forecasting that it would shrink by 3.8 percent this year instead of the 3 percent it had earlier predicted.Still, sluggish progress is being made toward a second aid package for Greece. And according to a report in the business daily Handelsblatt on Thursday, Germany may be backing away from its demand that private investors make a "substantial contribution" to the bailout. "(German Finance Minister Wolfgang) Schäuble is under massive pressure," an unnamed European Union diplomat told the paper. "He is being forced to bow to reality."The Finance Ministry had been hoping that banks, insurance companies and investment funds would come up with €30 billion for the next bailout, which could be worth as much as €110 billion. But with many euro-zone countries opposed, the European Central Bank skeptical and rating agencies concerned, the word inside the Finance Ministry in Berlin, according to the Handelsblatt, is that such private involvement has reached a dead end.Hmmmm.....The birth of 'Euro bonds' just came a step closer.Read the full story here.

  • Lukachenko an officer and not a 'Gentleman',is the end of the last Ex-Sovjet Dictator near?(Spiegel).Uprising in Belarus, the Internet Generation Takes on Europe's Last Dictator.The end of Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko's era appears to be approaching, as thousands take to the streets in Minsk to protest against the country's economic crisis. The Internet-savvy demonstrators are finding ever-more-creative ways to voice dissent, but Lukashenko is responding with violence. For weeks, thousands have been taking to the streets to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the Lukashenko regime, but they are going about it in a playful and almost joyful manner. They meet in public squares, seemingly spontaneously, walk in groups through parks, suddenly start to applaud and organize peaceful motorcades. It's the Belarusian version of flash mobs.Lukashenko has ruled unchallenged for 17 years, during which he has eliminated the political opposition and the free press. But he seems overwhelmed by the protests of recent weeks. In fact, Lukashenko is so beside himself that he now has entire busloads of people arrested almost every day, without any legal justification.When people in Belarus "are no longer being arrested by the hundreds but by the thousands, an irreversible process has begun," says Ukrainian political scientist Vladimir Gorbach. Similarly, the Moscow newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes that the "end of the Lukashenko era" is approaching. In the wake of the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, are we now witnessing the twilight of a regime that has persisted for so many years, wedged between the Western European democracies and the new Russia?Lukashenko, 56, who was the political commissioner of a tank company during the Soviet era and later the director of a collective farm, was reelected to another term as president in December, but the vote was apparently blatantly rigged. With the help of the police and state security units, he managed to brutally suppress the established opposition, which called on its supporters to take to the streets after polling stations closed. His task was made easier by the fact that the regime's opponents, who are organized in very small parties and include former top government officials, are internally divided and have little support among the population.The president had bought the approval of many Belarusians with generous wage and pension increases. The unspoken agreement was that the people could enjoy economic security as long as they stayed out of politics. After the election, Lukashenko promptly got even with his adversaries, without encountering any resistance from the public, at least at first. They were jailed on charges of having incited "mass unrest." Several of the opposition's former presidential candidates are now in prison.But then an economic crisis occurred in the spring. Belarus's economy, already suffering from the high prices of oil and natural gas from Russia, ran out of money, and Lukashenko's irresponsible wage increase only made the situation worse. Because the country imports far more than it exports, its balance of trade also collapsed.What failed to happen after December's election is now happening half a year later: The population is rising up. The Independent Institute of Socioeconomic and Political Studies, which now operates in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius after having been expelled from Belarus, has documented the radical shift in the public mood with a detailed opinion poll.It concludes that the number of people who are dissatisfied with their material situation has tripled since March of this year. Some 73 percent of Belarusians complain that their quality of life has worsened dramatically, and almost one in two blame it on the president. Lukashenko's approval rating declined from 55 percent in December, the month of the election, to only 33 percent in June. Close to two-thirds of poll respondents say that it is "not good for the country" that Lukashenko now has absolute power. The radical shift in public opinion is so remarkable because it shows that criticism of the dictator has reached the middle class, which includes Belarus's small and mid-sized business owners. They feel that Lukashenko's state socialism is disastrous.Hmmmmm......Why does Russia allow Lukachenko to continue?Read the full story here.

  • Hezbollah: We won't let Israel take our gas.(Ynet).Hezbollah flexing muscles over maritime border dispute with Israel – Deputy Chief of Hezbollah, Sheik Naim Kassam said that "Lebanon will not permit gas or oil to be extracted from its land or territorial waters."We will continue to closely follow the situation in order to restore Lebanon's rights, at whatever cost necessary,' he said.In a speech on Wednesday, Hassan Nasrallah's deputy noted that "Hezbollah supports the national position to defend the country's maritime rights and the government's delineation of a maritime border." Kassam commented on Israel's remarks vis-à-vis the maritime border, saying: "The Israeli threats do not frighten us. We will not change our position and continue to maintain our rights. "Israel knows its threats fall on deaf ears in Lebanon, after it tasted the bitter taste of the mighty Lebanese resistance." On Monday Lebanese President Michel Suleiman warned Israel against "taking any unilateral decision regarding the maritime border, which violates international law – as it often does on many matters."Suleiman's comments came after Jerusalem handed the United Nations its position on Israel's maritime border with the Land of Cedars, by which the border should be drawn further north, leaving Israel an area thought to contain natural gas as well as oil reserves.Read the full story here

  • Sources say Iran prepares for nuclear work in bunker.(TodaysZaman).Iran is preparing to install centrifuges for higher-grade uranium enrichment in an underground bunker, diplomatic sources say, a development that is likely to add to Western worries about Tehran’s atomic aims.Preparatory work is under way at the Fordow facility, tucked deep inside a mountain to protect it against any attacks, and machines used to refine uranium could soon be moved to the site near the clerical city of Qom, the sources said. The Islamic Republic said in June it would shift production of uranium enriched to 20 percent purity to Fordow from its main Natanz plant this year and triple output capacity, in a defiant response to charges that it is trying to make atomic bombs.Tehran only disclosed the existence of Fordow two years ago after Western intelligence detected it and said it was evidence of covert nuclear activities. The facility has yet to start operating. “They are preparing (for the centrifuges to be installed) in Fordow,” one diplomatic source said. Refined uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power reactors and also, if enriched to much higher levels, provide material for atomic arms. Iran’s June announcement that it would move and boost output has drawn censure from the West, which has imposed increasingly tough sanctions on Tehran to try to force it to halt enrichment. Carrying out the process in Fordow could provide greater protection for Iran’s uranium-purifying centrifuges against any US and Israeli air strikes. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons and says it is enriching uranium for electricity production and medical applications. But its decision in early 2010 to raise the level of enrichment from the 3.5 percent purity needed for normal power plant fuel to 20 percent worried countries that saw it as a significant step toward the 90 percent needed for bombs.Read the full story here.

  • Mumbai terror attacks: 18 dead, 133 injured in three bomb blasts.(NDTV).Mumbai: Mumbai woke to a rainy morning in the aftermath of its first terror attack since 26/11. Despite the special hubs for tackling terror strikes, it was left exposed yet again last evening - three blasts within 12 minutes. Eighteen people have died and 133 injured. The city has been sealed and is on high alert; so are Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore.Through the night, the hospitals in Mumbai were in overdrive. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who called the terror strike "an attack on the heart of India," visited JJ Hospital where 20 people were admitted, nine with serious burn injuries. All serious burn injury victims are being moved to JJ Hospital.Home Minister P Chidambaram, who reached the city last night, visited each of the three locations where Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) ripped through the Wednesday evening rush hour. Sources say upto seven IEDs may have been used in the three blasts. At a bus stop in Dadar, the IED was planted inside an electrical box; outside the popular snack shops in Zaveri Bazaar in South Mumbai, the IED was placed on a motorcycle under an umbrella; next to Opera House, the device, police say, was placed in a ditch on the road.The three explosions occurred within twelve minutes - a coordinated terror attack, said Mr Chidambaram. Chief Minister Chavan told NDTV that there was speculation that fuel was used in the IEDs, a sort of Molotov cocktail, but said he would prefer for the police to handle and confirm these details. The blast at Opera House was the most powerful. (Watch: YouTube videos on Mumbai blasts)Teams from the National Investigating Agency collected forensic evidence from the locations. Special officials from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CSFL) in Hyderabad and Delhi are also handling the case. Traces of ammonium nitrate have been found.Despite the heavy rain, experts say, forensic evidence was not washed away. Samples have been safely collected and are being checked at a forensic lab in Kurla in Mumbai. The details they reveal will be shared this afternoon by investigators. The police also say security cameras opposite the bus stop at Dadar and from Opera House will provide important clues. As the explosions stabbed Mumbai last night, the city kept its calm. Mid-day newspaper reported that the city's trains were running on time on the Central and Western lines. Mr Chavan accepted that the attacks prove that "terror groups are active and able to strike at will."The first blast took place at 6.54 pm in Zaveri Bazaar in South Mumbai, a crowded market named for the many small jewelry stores that fill its narrow streets. A minute later, there was an explosion at Opera House, also in South Mumbai; the final strike was at 7.06 pm near Kabutarkhana at Dadar West in Central Mumbai.Read the full story here.More here ,warning contains graphic images.

  • And now for something completely different!'Jewish Eurovision' strikes again.(Video) Hundreds of young adults from Jewish communities worldwide competed through YouTube for right to take part in Jewish world's song contest. You're invited to study vocal abilities of 30 finalists.After 20 years, the "Jewish Eurovision" is making a comeback: Close to 30 Jewish communities from across the world are sending representatives to the world's biggest Jewish song contest, Hallelujah, which will be held on August 25 in Ramat Hasharon. The finalists – from the United States, Mexico, Russia, Australia, Argentina, Sweden, Turkey, Costa Rica, Uruguay and other countries – were selected out of hundreds of contestants who took part in the early auditions. They're all young adults (aged 16-26) who posted their performances on YouTube in Hebrew on in their own language, and were carefully selected by a panel of judges. Israel is sending its own representative, IDF soldier Mor Mahlev, all the way from the Education Corps' military band. Eitan Gafni, Hallelujah's founder and head producer, says that "Hebrew songs are the most popular Israeli art. They are also sung by Jews who do not speak Hebrew in communities, youth movements and summer camps, and during their visits to Israel." Read and listen to the full story here.
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