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Saturday, January 14, 2012

MFS - The Other News

                    Morning Posting.

  • Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands 5.2 !More info here.

  • Obama Proposes New Department of Corporate Welfare.(Cato).By Tad DeHaven. Contrary to what various news outlets are reporting, President Obama is NOT proposing to cut government. The administration is proposing to take four independent federal agencies that specialize in corporate welfare – along with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative – and combine them with corporate welfare programs at the Department of Commerce to form what would I would argue should be called the Department of Corporate Welfare.According to reports, this rearranging of the deck chairs would save $300 million a year. That’s peanuts. Worse, those alleged savings will be of no consequence to taxpayers as there is nothing to suggest that the president intends to cut overall spending for the agencies comprising the new bureaucracy. That portends bigger government, not smaller. The president is trying to sell the American taxpayer a false bill of goods.The president’s proposal is also an attempt to counter the perception – an accurate one – that the administration’s policies are detrimental to commerce. But corporate welfare is detrimental to commerce because the market distortions it creates hinder economic output. Making it easier for select businesses to help themselves to taxpayer-financed subsidies would only perpetrate the same sort of crony capitalist schemes that gave us Solyndra and the Chevy Volt.Of course, no transparent attempt to appear “business friendly” would be complete without a bone toss to the Small Business Administration. The “bone” this time is the president’s intention to elevate the head of the SBA to the Cabinet. As I discuss in a Cato essay on the SBA, rather than helping small businesses compete against big businesses, the SBA’s loan guarantees mainly help a tiny share of small businesses compete against other small businesses. In reality, the biggest beneficiary of the SBA is the banks, which reap the profits from the loans guaranteed by the agency.Finally, Republican policymakers talk a good game about cutting government, but they often hide behind calls for making the federal government “more efficient.” Now that the president has seized a political opportunity to sing from the GOP’s hymnal, it’ll be interesting – if not entertaining – to see how Republican policymakers respond. To avoid embarrassment, I recommend offering specific spending cuts.Hmmm.....What interest me is "Will there be Another Tsar at the head of it?Read the full story here.

  • India gov't agrees to prosecute Google, Facebook.(HurriyetDaily).India's government authorised on Friday the prosecution of 21 Internet firms including Facebook and Google in a case over obscene content posted online, two sources told AFP.The approval will lead to company directors being called to a trial court in New Delhi to answer serious charges such as fomenting religious hatred and spreading social discord, an official and a lawyer said.Internet giants including Google and Facebook were embroiled in a growing battle in India over offensive content with a judge warning websites may be blocked "like in China", stoking worries about freedom of speech in the world's largest democracy. The Delhi High Court had a hearing on Monday of an appeal by Google, Facebook and others against a lower court case by a private petitioner seeking to remove images considered offensive to Hindus, Muslims and Christians from websites. "The lower court gave a ruling asking the companies to take down some content, we appealed that ruling and it is in the higher court," said a Google spokesman in India on Friday. A law passed last year in India makes companies responsible for user content posted on their websites, requiring them to take it down within 36 hours in case of a complaint. The lower court affirmed the law last week. "If a contraband is found in your house, it (is) your liability to take action against it," Justice Suresh Kait told lawyers from Facebook India and Google India on Thursday, according to the Economic Times newspaper. "Like China, we can block all such websites (that don't comply). But let us not go to that situation." Less than 10 percent of India's 1.2 billion people have Internet access, though the connected population is rapidly growing through social media tools on mobile phones, bringing many into contact for the first time with images intended to offend. More than 880 million people have mobile phones in India, but more expensive Internet-capable 3G models are out of reach for many. Civil rights groups opposed the laws, but politicians say that posting offensive images in the socially conservative country with a history of violence between religious groups presents a danger to the public as Internet use grows. In December, Telecoms Minister Kapil Sibal weighed into the debate, urging Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to remove offensive material. Despite rules to remove offensive content, India's Internet access is still largely free when compared with the tight controls in fellow Asian economic powerhouse China. The India units of Facebook, Yahoo! Inc and Microsoft Corp declined to comment. Lawyers for the companies appeared in the lower court on Friday, but the judge adjourned the proceedings until March, Vinay Rai, the petitioner, told Reuters by phone.Read the full story here.

  • Finding moderate Muslims.(DocsTalk).By SultanKnish.What were viewers willing to endure rather than experience the Shiite version of the Jersey Shore? They tuned in to National Geographic’s “Alaska State Troopers,” Tru TV’s “Lizard Lick Towing” and Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot,” but you couldn’t get them to watch “All-American Muslim.” Which just goes to show that we’re a nation of Islamophobes. Or that even people with bad taste in television have standards.The dirty little liberal secret is that progressives don’t watch “All-American Muslim” either. The show only exists as an Islamophobia talking point. Every time an advertiser drops it in favor of “Finding Bigfoot,” the progressives crow that once again they have proven that we are a nation that hates Muslims and loves Bigfoot.All-American Muslim’s hopeless ratings suggest that Americans are more confident of finding Bigfoot than of finding those even more imaginary creatures: moderate Muslims who reject terrorism of all kinds. They certainly aren’t to be found on “All-American Muslim” where the guest Imams have been far less peaceful than Bigfoot who in all his decades of appearing in grainy videos has not been known to curse infidels or support terrorist groups.Read the full story here.

  • Obama, US secretary of defense have warned Jerusalem of dangerous repercussions of strike.(JPost).The United States has begun taking measures to plan for an Israeli strike on Iran in order to protect US facilities in the region, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.The contingency planning came as a result of concern within the US defense establishment that Israel is planning to attack Iran over the Islamic Republic's reported nuclear armament program, according to the newspaper.US President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and other senior US officials have reportedly delivered messages through private channels to the Israeli government warning them about the dangerous repercussions of a military strike on Iran.Washington is concerned that Iraqi Shi'ite militias may attack the US embassy in Baghdad at Iran's behest. Some 15,000 US diplomats, federal employees and contractors will likely remain in Iraq, the newspaper reported. Tensions between the Jewish state and the Islamic republic spiked above normal this past week when an Iranian nuclear scientist was blown up in his car in Tehran in an attack that Iranian officials blamed on Israel.President Shimon Peres, speaking a number of days following the bombing, said that the attack was not carried out by Israel, to the best of his knowledge. US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had a phone conversation Thursday, discussing "recent Iran-related developments."Hmmmm......You have to wait for my reelection strategy?Read the full story here.

  • Obama czar proposed government should ‘infiltrate’ social network sites, chat rooms, message boards.(WND).By ArronKlein.Just prior to his appointment as President Obama’s so-called regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein wrote a lengthy academic paper suggesting the government should “infiltrate” social network websites, chat rooms and message boards.Such “cognitive infiltration,” Sunstein argued, should be used to enforce a U.S. government ban on “conspiracy theorizing.”Among the beliefs Sunstein classified as a “conspiracy theory” is advocating that the theory of global warming is a deliberate fraud.The find comes as a government document reportedly relates the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s command center routinely monitors dozens of popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, WikiLeaks and news sites including the Huffington Post and Drudge Report.Reuters reported that a “privacy compliance review” issued by DHS last November confirms that since at least June 2010, the department’s national operations center has been operating a “Social Networking/Media Capability” which involves regular monitoring of “publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards.”While the DHS may be monitoring websites for security reasons, Sunstein advocated such actions with another goal in mind.Sunstein’s official title is Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.In a 2008 Harvard law paper, “Conspiracy Theories,” Sunstein and co-author Adrian Vermeule, a Harvard law professor, ask, “What can government do about conspiracy theories?”“We can readily imagine a series of possible responses.
  1. Government might ban conspiracy theorizing.
  2. Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories.”
In the 30-page paper – obtained and reviewed by KleinOnline – Sunstein argues the best government response to “conspiracy theories” is “cognitive infiltration of extremist groups.”Sunstein’s paper is not the first time he has advocated banning the free flow of information.In his 2009 book, “On Rumors,” Sunstein argued websites should be obliged to remove “false rumors” while libel laws should be altered to make it easier to sue for spreading such “rumors.”In the book, Sunstein cited as a primary example of “absurd” and “hateful” remarks, reports by “right-wing websites” alleging an association between President Obama and Weatherman terrorist William Ayers.He also singled out radio talker Sean Hannity for “attacking” Obama regarding the president’s “alleged associations.”Ayers became a name in the 2008 presidential campaign when it was disclosed he worked closely with Obama for years. Obama also was said to have launched his political career at a 1995 fundraiser in Ayers’ apartment.Hmmm........Why does the terms Beria and NKVD Camps suddenly come to mind?Read the full story here.

  • Senate Conservatives Warn Reid Against PROTECT IP Blitz.(Heritage).Six conservative U.S. senators voiced concerns Friday over the substance and procedural context of controversial legislation to block Internet piracy, noting potential economic damages and free speech restrictions the legislation might impose.Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Tom Coburn (R-OK), sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Friday expressing their concerns.The letter, whose signatories include the ranking Republicans on the Budget, Finance, and Judiciary Committees, warns of “breaches in cybersecurity, damaging the integrity of the Internet, costly and burdensome litigation, and dilution of First Amendment rights” could result from passage of the hotly-contested PROTECT IP Act.The legislation would empower the Justice Department to pursue legal action against any site that hosts content that violates intellectual property laws through measures that could include blocking access to such sites for all American Internet users. Given the concerns voiced by third parties opposed to the legislation, the letter states, Senate leaders “need to resolve as many outstanding concerns as possible prior to proceeding to floor consideration.”The senators also reaffirmed their request that “the bill be fully debated and amendments not limited” when it does comes to the Senate floor – on Jan. 24, according to the current Senate schedule. That tight time frame, the senators warned, may not permit the substantive changes to the legislation needed to secure their support.Read the full story and the letter in full here.

  • Children in New York contract mysterious illness, Fed Govt preventing disclosure of disease.(Libertyconfidential).Late last year, 12 girls in New York were hit with strange symptoms that included spasms, and tics. Some children were so bad, and for so long, that they had to be pulled out of school and tutored at home. One who couldn’t return to school had seizures. Parents have been demanding answers since late 2011. An investigation was launched into why these children — all girls who attend the same school, Le Roy, in New York — have come down with this mysterious illness. Visits to psychologists, medical doctors, MRIs, and more, have been conducted over the past months. Nothing has been revealed.The story took an unsettling turn this week when a government health official told parents not to worry, that they know what’s been making the children suffer these symptoms; but that the government will not permit the disclosure of details, not even to the parents. The official, from the state health department, called it a “federal issue.”At a recent meeting with almost 200 concerned parents and Le Roy School students, Gregory Young from the state health department said that all 12 girls had been diagnosed and are being treated. But Young also told the audience that the diagnosis and cause of the mysterious illness could not be shared because of the HIPPA Privacy Rule.Dupont told WHAM News: “Want to know something? If my daughter had a diagnosis and I knew about it, and I would, as her parent, I would tell you that!” According to WHAM, there was a heated exchange during the question and answer portion of the meeting. One angry parent even stood up and asked parents of girls with the tics to tell the rest of the parents whether there was a diagnosis or not. All the voices, about a half a dozen, yelled out “No!”.  A reporter from WHAM even spoke to a parent on a condition of anonymity, and asked if he was aware of any diagnosis. He said that he did not get a diagnosis from doctors. Hmmmm.......all young girls.Did these girls receive Gardasil vaccinations? A 'bad batch' in the lot?Read the full story here.

  • NATO radar system in Turkey up, running.(Hurriyet).An early warning radar system deployed in the eastern Anatolian province of Malatya began its surveillance activities Jan. 1, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned from reliable sources. A small number of U.S. troops were deployed to the military base at Kürecik in Malatya in the last week of 2011 since the Turkish military has no qualified personnel to run the U.S. AN/TPY-2 (X-band) early warning radar system. Despite the deployment, the installation is a Turkish base and will be commanded by a Turkish high-ranking officer, the source said. Turkey joined the NATO-led nuclear defense program only after its conditions were addressed by the alliance. It agreed to the deployment of the early warning radar system on its territory in mid-2011 while the alliance, in turn, agreed to the posting of a high-ranking Turkish general at NATO headquarters in Germany, where intelligence gathered through the radar system will be processed. Details of the radar system’s functions were discussed during a visit by Gen. Knud Bartels, NATO’s recently appointed military committee chairman, to Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel on Jan. 9. Iran, which is already in a spat with the United States over its controversial nuclear program, has strongly opposed Turkey’s move to deploy the radar.“The U.S. radar stationed in Turkey is no good for any Muslim country,” Iranian Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani told Turkey late Jan. 12 at a press conference while demanding further information on the matter. “But we have confidence in our Turkish friends.”Hmmmm.....Did Turkey give Iran guarantees it will never be used against them?Read the full story here.

  • The west's useful idiots.By MelaniePhilips.In its editorial (£) this morning, the Times still clings to the delusion that the ‘Arab Spring’ was the harbinger of democracy in the region. Although it coyly concedes that ‘the path of change is strewn with uncertainties’ such as the fact that ‘Sunni extremist parties have gained electoral support in Egypt, while Coptic Christians have suffered murderous attacks’, such, ah, ‘uncertainties' do not deter the Times from concluding nevertheless that ‘The Arab Spring is nonetheless a movement as inspiring as the fall of communism.’ If the Times was hoping to win this week’s Pangloss Award for the most asinine display of intellectual blindness and wishful thinking, it has surely been pipped at the post by the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague who has also written in the Times. After entering at the start his own coy caveat: ‘Violence and votes for Islamism are a setback but this was never a quick fix’ he nevertheless passes smoothly on from this setback to reason to the quick fix of fantasy: ‘...being realistic does not mean losing faith. Far from it: greater freedom and democracy in the Middle East is an idea whose time has come. It holds the greatest prospect for the enlargement of human freedom and dignity since the end of the Cold War. ‘On the positive side, Tunisia has its first democratically elected parliament since the 1950s, with 24 per cent of the seats held by women. Morocco has held free elections under a new constitution that, for the first time in its history, means a prime minister from the party that won most votes, rather than one picked by the King. Turnout in the first phase of Egypt’s elections was above 60 per cent, compared with 23 per cent in the 2005 elections under the Mubarak regime. Libya has a new government after more than 40 years of dictatorship. Positive reform is under way in Jordan, and Yemen has agreed a political transition negotiated by the increasingly influential Gulf Co-operation Council. Bahrain has begun to take steps to implement the conclusions of its commission of inquiry into the violence last year, although the need for full implementation remains.’ Rub your eyes indeed. The fact is that the principal outcome of this ‘Arab Winter’ is the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood -- the anti-Jew, anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-human rights body of jihadists that is currently making spectacular inroads into the western culture it intends to conquer, as well as mounting selective murderous attacks as through the Hamas in Gaza; and close behind them are Islamists who are yet more extreme. Those relatively moderate Arab countries which have not yet succumbed to the Islamists, such as Jordan, are desperately holding out; but the gains the extremists have made in Egypt and elsewhere mean that such resistance against them has been weakened. The British government’s partner in this crime against freedom, the Obama administration – acting in accordance with the Obama doctrine of embracing America’s mortal foes while dumping on its allies –has now openly reached out to the Brothers. While reports have been denied that Obama has used the spiritual leader of the Brotherhood Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi as an intermediary in the American surrender talks with the Taleban, the overtures by the US to the Brotherhood are being openly acknowledged. The reason given is that since these guys have won power through elections, the US has no alternative but to talk to them. Neville Chamberlain said much the same thing at Munich. Read the full story here.

  • A Greek Default Would Hit the ECB Hard.(Spiegel).By Stefan Kaiser. Hopes that Greece can be saved are dwindling. Athens had hoped to reach a deal with its creditors on a 50 percent debt haircut, but banks have now made it clear that efforts to reach an agreement could fail. Should the country go bankrupt, the European Central Bank stands to lose the most.Read the full story here.

  • Erdoğan, Obama discuss latest developments in Middle East.(TZ).Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and US President Barack Obama spoke on phone on Friday to discuss regional developments.Turkish Prime Ministry said in a statement on Friday that Erdoğan and Obama discussed issues related to the security and development of the Middle East and North Africa. The statement said the two leaders discussed ways to continue supporting a broad-based government in Baghdad that will bring stability, democracy and prosperity. Erdoğan’s discussion with Obama came two days after the Turkish prime minister talked to his Iraqi counterpart, Nouri al-Maliki, warning him that arrest warrant he issued for one of his Sunni vice presidents, also a close friend of Turkey, will hurt democracy in the war-torn country. Erdoğan told Maliki to take steps to reduce tensions in Iraq following a series of bombings in the capital of Baghdad after Maliki issued an arrest warrant for Tariq Hashemi last month.Many attacks in recent days in Iraq have targeted the country's Shiite majority, increasing fears of a serious outbreak of sectarian violence following the withdrawal of US troops last month.Obama and Erdoğan also discussed recent developments in Syria and agreed that both countries will continue condemning Syrian regime’s brutal military crackdown on protesters and will support legitimate demands of Syrian people. The statement added that both leaders expressed that there is a need for Iran to continue its dialogue with international community with respect to its suspected nuclear program. Iran's parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, who is on a visit to Turkey, said on Thursday that he believes that the standoff over his country's nuclear program can be solved through serious talks.Larijani told a news conference after meeting Turkish leaders in Ankara that Tehran supports the idea of holding further talks in Turkey. Saeed Jalili, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, recently said he had called on six powers - the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - to resume talks.Turkey, a US ally that relies on Iranian oil and gas imports, signaled Thursday that it will not comply with American sanctions against Iran regarding its nuclear program.Turkey indicated that it will only enforce sanctions that have been approved by the United Nations, and its announcement is a setback to US sanctions aimed at halting what Western governments say is Iran's effort to develop nuclear weapons.Turkey said it would evaluate the content of the US sanctions, but Turkey's biggest crude oil importer Tüpraş already has renewed a contract to continue to import crude oil from Iran in 2012. Hmmmm......Ahmadinejad......Erdogan......Obama...Sanctions....What sanctions?Read the full story here.

  • Blast hits home of Gaza terror chief.(Ynet).At least one person was killed in an explosion reported at the Rafah home of a senior terrorist in the Gaza Strip Saturday evening, Palestinian officials said. Adham Abu Salima, a Gaza Health Ministry official, said the house belonged to Popular Resistance Committees Secretary-General Zuheir Qeisi. Five or six Palestinians were wounded in the mysterious explosion, sources in Gaza said.Eyewitnesses said the huge Rafah blast could be heard far away and that the house was completely burned down. The initial explosion was reportedly followed by several smaller blasts. The IDF said it was unfamiliar with the incident. Witnesses said there was no sign of Israeli military activity in the area.The PRC later released a statement saying that Qeisi was not killed in the blast. The group said the explosion was caused by a malfunction and was not a result of an Israeli strike.The Popular Resistance Committees were involved, among other things, in Gilad Shalit's abduction to the Gaza Strip in June 2006. Qeisi himself was interviewed by the al-Hayat newspaper following the Israeli soldier's release and claimed that Shalit was held "in better, more humane conditions than the conditions accorded to prisoners held by Israel."In August of 2011, the IDF killed six PRC members, including the group's military commander, following the terror offensive near Eilat that claimed the lives of eight Israelis. Some of the terrorists killed in the Israeli airstrike were involved in the Shalit abduction. Tensions have been growing in Gaza in recent days, with terror groups sustained several casualties. Late Thursday, IDF tanks opened fire on a terror cell operating east of the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, Palestinian sources said. Medical officials in the Hamas-ruled territory said two people who sustained moderate wounds in the Israeli shelling were evacuated to a hospital in Deir el-Balah.Read the full story here.

  • Qatari emir says Arab troops should enter Syria ‘to stop the killing’.(AlArabiya).The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, said Arab troops should be sent to Syria to stop the deadly violence that has claimed the lives of more than 5,000 people since an uprising against the regime of President began about 10 months ago.Asked during CBS “60 Minutes” whether Qatar would be in favor of Arab nations intervening in Syria, The Qatari emir said, “For such a situation to stop the killing...some troops should go to stop the killing.”Sheikh Hamad’s statement came amid growing claims that a team of Arab observers dispatched to the country to curb the bloodshed has failed in its mission.Qatar, which once had close relations with Damascus, has been a harsh critic of the 10-month crackdown by President Bashar Assad’s regime. The wealthy and influential Gulf state withdrew its ambassador to Syria in the summer to protest the killings.Arab League observers began work in Syria on Dec. 27 to verify whether the government is abiding by its agreement to end the military crackdown on dissent.But far from bringing a halt to the violence, the mission has coincided with an apparent increase in killings. A U.N. official said Tuesday that about 400 people have been killed in the last three weeks alone, on top of an earlier estimate of more than 5,000 dead since March.Opposition and army defectors meanwhile have increasingly been taking up arms to fight back.On Friday, Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby warned that Syria may be sliding toward civil war. Elaraby said Assad’s regime was either not complying or only partially complying with an Arab League peace plan.The plan calls for removing Syrian heavy weapons from city streets, starting talks with opposition leaders and allowing human rights workers and journalists into the country.On Saturday, Lebanese officials said a man was killed by a bullet coming from the Syrian side of the border. The officials said Lebanese citizen Hassan Obeid, 17, died in a clinic where he was rushed after being hit in the stomach in his northern hometown of Bkarha near the border with Syria.The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to talk to the press. Several Lebanese and Syrian citizens have been killed in border areas in Lebanon since the uprising against Assad began.More than 5,000 Syrians have fled to Lebanon during the uprising.In the restive central city of Homs, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, troops at a checkpoint opened fire randomly on Saturday, killing two people.Read the full story here.

  • Iraq PM denounces Turkish ‘interventions’.(AlArabiya).Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki voiced criticism on Friday of Turkish “interventions” in Iraqi affairs, warning that Turkey itself would suffer if its actions sparked conflict in the Middle East.His remarks come amid a political row in Iraq, with authorities charging Sunni Arab Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi with running a death squad. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his concerns over the deadlock to Maliki in a telephone conversation this week.Hashemi, who is currently holed up in Iraq’s Kurdish region, has mooted the possibility of going to Turkey, even though officials have barred him from overseas travel.“We... did not expect the way they (Turkey) interfere in Iraq,” Maliki said in an interview with the al-Hurra satellite television channel on Friday.“Recently, we noticed their surprise interventions with statements, as if Iraq is controlled or run by them.”He continued: “Their latest statements interfered in domestic Iraqi affairs... and we do not allow that absolutely. If it is acceptable to talk about our judicial authority, then we can talk about theirs, and if they talk about our disputes, we can talk about theirs.”Maliki warned that “Turkey is playing a role that might bring disaster and civil war to the region, and Turkey itself will suffer because it has different sects and ethnicities.”Erdogan on Tuesday spoke to Maliki by telephone, voicing concern over Iraq's political stand-off.“Democracy will take a beating if the doubts being felt by partners in the coalition government transform into animosity,” the Anatolia news agency quoted Erdogan as saying.The Turkish premier also called on political and religious leaders in Iraq to stem sectarian tensions stoked by the festering row.In addition to the charges against Hashemi, Maliki, a Shiite, has called for his Sunni deputy Saleh al-Mutlak to be sacked. In response, Hashemi and Mutlak’s Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc has largely boycotted parliament and the cabinet.The U.S. and U.N. have urged calm and called for dialogue, but oft-mooted talks involving all of Iraq's main political leaders have yet to take place.Read the full story here.

  • Violence against pilgrims continues in Iraq as suicide bomber kills 50 in Basra.(AlArabiya).A suicide bomber disguised as a policeman killed at least 50 people in an attack that targeted Shiite Muslim pilgrims passing through a checkpoint in Iraq’s southern city of Basra on Saturday, police said. “A terrorist wearing a police uniform and carrying fake police I.D. managed to reach a police checkpoint and blew himself up among police and pilgrims,” said a police official at the scene of the bombing.Riyadh Abdulamir, head of the health department in Basra province, said 50 people were killed and 100 wounded in the 9:00 am (0600 GMT) attack just west of Basra city.Women and children were among the casualties, he said, but did not give further details.The attacker, who had been distributing food to pilgrims walking to the Khutwa Imam Ali, a site on the outskirts of Basra venerated by believers for its associations with one of the key figures of their faith, blew himself up near a police checkpoint.Arbaeen has been a frequent target of militants since the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein.Scores of people have been killed in attacks on pilgrims in the last few weeks, including a suicide bombing which killed at least 70 people.Many of the attacks on pilgrims have used methods such as suicide bombings that are the signature of Iraq’s al-Qaeda affiliate.Attacks targeting Shiites have also killed dozens of people since Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government issued an arrest warrant for a Sunni vice president, triggering a political crisis that risks scuttling a power-sharing agreement.Attacks had ebbed since the height of sectarian slaughter in 2006-2007 when thousands were killed in intercommunal violence among Shiite and Sunni. But the withdrawal of the last American troops in December has fanned worries of a spike in violence.Read and see (Video) the full story here.

  • Israel issues warning against travel to Bangkok.(JPost).The Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued Friday a "severe travel warning" to nationals, advising against travel to Bangkok "in the near future", and to "avoid congregating at known spots favored by Israelis, watch out for suspect items and not to accept packages from strangers in Bangkok."Thai authorities arrested a Lebanese suspect after being warned by Israel of a possible attack in Bangkok, Thailand's deputy prime minister said on Friday, adding that police had stepped up security and he was confident the situation was under control."A Lebanese suspect from the Hezbollah group has been taken into custody by Thai officials and police are investigating further," Chalerm Yoobamrung told Reuters."Following concern raised by the Israeli embassy about a possible attack by a group of Lebanese terrorists in Bangkok, Thai police officials had been coordinating with Israeli officials since before the New Year."Thailand's Defense Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha said Thai and US intelligence officials were monitoring the movements of other individuals and were stepping up precautions in areas deemed to be at risk such as tourist sites and Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport.A defense ministry source said Israeli intelligence had contacted Thai officials on December 22 with information that two or three suspects could be planning an attack in Thailand. However, the individuals traveled to the south and left the country.The Israelis alerted Thai officials again on January 8 of the danger of an attack around January 13 to 15 in areas where there are often large concentrations of Western tourists, such as the Khao San Road, which is popular with young backpackers.The arrest was made after the second Israeli warning, the source said, adding that Thai security officials were working closely with the United States and Israel.Defense Minister Yuthasak said the Israeli embassy and synagogues could also be targeted and that the attacks could come in the form of car bombs."Thai officials had not intended to release the news at this time since it could have an impact on tourism and cause panic among citizens," he said, noting that the US embassy naturally was concerned about the safety of Americans.Earlier, the US embassy had warned of a possible attack by "foreign terrorists" and told its citizens to be careful in areas of the capital frequented by tourists."We're warning all US citizens to take caution when visiting public areas where Western tourists are known to gather in Bangkok," said Walter Braunohler, a spokesman at the embassy, declining to give further details.Bangkok, a magnet for tourists with its vibrant nightlife and a transit point for those heading for Thailand's beaches, has gone through periods of violent political turmoil in recent years but threats of foreign attacks are rare.Hezbollah, a Shi'ite Islamist group in Lebanon backed by Syria and Iran, is on the official US blacklist of foreign terrorist organizations.Read the full story here.

  • Islamist ‘Morality Police’ to train volunteers in using electric batons.(Ahram Online) — The self-proclaimed Islamist “Morality Police” announced on its new official Facebook page that it has acquired 1,000 tazers to be distributed to volunteers who will promote “virtue” and combat “vice” in the Egyptian street.The “Morality Police”, which models itself on a similar group in Saudi Arabia that monitors citizens social behaviour, added in its announcement that these electric shocks batons will help in self-defence against any possible attacks on volunteers, adding that volunteers would be instructed to use the tazers only in “extremely necessary” situations.The Facebook page announced that the first field training session for volunteers will be on Thursday evening in El-Mandara neighbourhood in Alexandria.Meanwhile, Suez Port authorities announced last week that they foiled an attempt to smuggle in 1,000 tazers while it was not clear who the shipment was intended to reach.Islamist and organised Salafist forces such as the Nour Party have distanced themselves from the “Morality Police” group, which has so far only operated in cyberspace.Hmmmm.....Shocking....really Shocking news.Read the full story here.

  • Antisemitic and Anti-Israel Articles on Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Website.(Memri).The website of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt,, contains articles with antisemitic motifs, including Holocaust denial and descriptions of the "Jewish character" as covetous, exploitative, and a source of evil in human society. While articles of this tenor have been posted on the site in the past, their posting has recently taken on greater importance in light of the group's increasing strength following the ouster of the Mubarak regime, as reflected by the results of the recent parliamentary elections.In addition to antisemitic content, articles on the site also include praise for jihad and martyrdom, and condemnation of negotiation as a means of regaining Islamic lands. Among these are articles calling to kill Zionists and praising the September 9, 2011 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo – which one article called a landmark of the Egyptian revolution. Some senior officials in the MB's Freedom and Justice party published articles on the site expressing reservations regarding the peace agreement with Israel and insisting that Egypt was entitled to amend it. Such statements contradict assurances by Freedom and Justice party head Dr. Muhammad Mursi to senior U.S. officials that the MB would honor all international agreements signed by Egypt.This paper will present excerpts of articles posted on the MB site, dated both before and after the revolution.
  1. MB: The Jewish Character Is Still a Source of Evil in the World.
  2. Articles on MB Website Deny Holocaust, Accuse U.S. of Fabricating "Tale" of Jewish Extermination.
  3. In Praise of Jihad and Martyrdom, Against Negotiations.
  4.  Wishing for the Destruction of the State of Israel.Hmmmm.......Obama's administration their  'buddies'.Read the full story here.

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