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Archive for January 2011

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Egypt in Revolt

The Egypt Crisis in a Global Context

January 30th 2011

Arab Topics - Egypt Riots #1

It is not at all clear what will happen in the Egyptian revolution. It is not a surprise that this is happening. Hosni Mubarak has been president for more than a quarter of a century, ever since the assassination of Anwar Sadat. He is old and has been ill. No one expected him to live much longer, and his apparent plan, which was that he would be replaced by his son, Gamal, was not going to happen even though it was a possibility a year ago. There was no one, save his closest business associates, who wanted to see Mubarak’s succession plans happen. As his father weakened, Gamal’s succession became even less likely. Mubarak’s failure to design a credible succession plan guaranteed instability on his death. Since everyone knew that there would be instability on his death, there were obviously those who saw little advantage to acting before he died. Who these people were and what they wanted is the issue. Read more ..

Egypt in Revolt

Egypt’s Security Forces are the Key to the Current Crisis

January 30th 2011

Africa Topics - Wary Egyptian Cops

The current wave of protests in Egypt has pitted thousands of demonstrators against the police and Central Security Forces (CSF). The performance of these forces is key to the outcome of the crisis. If they can contain the demonstrations without excessive violence, the protests will likely burn themselves out over time. But if the demonstrations continue or escalate into greater violence, the police and CSF could break down, either dissolving entirely or engaging in undisciplined violence that further exacerbates the situation. Such a scenario, or even the likelihood of it, would probably spur the government to deploy army personnel to support the security forces, deter further demonstrations, and, if necessary, put down the protests through force. That would be a true crisis for the government, one with an uncertain outcome. Read more ..

Crisis in Egypt

Days of Rage in Egypt and an End of Days for Hosni Mubarak

January 30th 2011

Arab Topics - Egypt Riots #2

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak remains the target of the demonstrators, who still number in the tens of thousands in downtown Cairo and in other major cities, albeit on a lesser scale.

After being overwhelmed in the January 28 Day of Rage protests, Egypt’s internal security forces — with the anti-riot paramilitaries of the Central Security Forces (CSF) at the forefront — were glaringly absent from the streets January 29. They were replaced with rows of tanks and armored personnel carriers carrying regular army soldiers. Unlike their CSF counterparts, the demonstrators demanding Mubarak’s exit from the political scene largely welcomed the soldiers. Despite Mubarak’s refusal to step down January 28, the public’s positive perception of the military, seen as the only real gateway to a post-Mubarak Egypt, remained. It is unclear how long this perception will hold, especially as Egyptians are growing frustrated with the rising level of insecurity in the country and the army’s limits in patrolling the streets. Read more ..

The Edge of Fracking

Philadelphia is Latest City to Call for Ban on New Gas Wells in Critical Watersheds

January 30th 2011

Energy Topics - Marcellus gas well

As the federal government continues to study a controversial gas drilling technique and the states tinker with their own regulations, some cities and towns are trying to halt local drilling. Philadelphia became the latest to do that on January 28, when city officials called for at least a temporary ban on new wells in the watershed that serves the city's taps.

The request was part of a set of recommendations in a report approved by the city council asking federal and state authorities to tighten drilling regulations. The report also urges the city-owned utility to avoid buying gas that comes from the Marcellus Shale, the layer of rock that stretches under much of Pennsylvania and is considered one of the world's largest gas fields. Read more ..

Inside Africa

2011 May Be the Year of Africa

January 30th 2011

Africa Topics - African school kids

January, 2011, has seen Africa in the world headlines more than usual; but these are not just “news events”, here today, forgotten tomorrow.

The countries affected by the “Jasmine Revolution” unfolding in North Africa: Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt –and Yemen just across the sea- have something in common, and uprisings haven’t just happened there one after the other, by coincidence. These are all popular demonstrations, protests against entrenched leaders who show no signs of handing over power, whose regimes are characterized by corruption, unemployment –the unemployed have nothing to lose by taking to the streets- food costs, and a government that is out of touch with its people. Read more ..

Race for natural Gas

Ecological Benefits of Natural Gas Production May Be a Vapor

January 30th 2011

Energy Topics - Hydrolic Fracking pollution
Pollutant containment pond

The United States is poised to bet its energy future on natural gas as a clean, plentiful fuel that can supplant coal and oil.

But new research by the Environmental Protection Agency—and a growing understanding of the pollution associated with the full “life cycle” of gas production—is casting doubt on the assumption that gas offers a quick and easy solution to climate change. Advocates for natural gas routinely assert that it produces 50 percent less greenhouse gases than coal and is a significant step toward a greener energy future. But those assumptions are based on emissions from the tailpipe or smokestack and don’t account for the methane and other pollution emitted when gas is extracted and piped to power plants and other customers. Read more ..

Obama Edge

No Room for Latin America in Obama's State of the Union Speech

January 30th 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Obama and Flag

New York Times Columnist James Reston once famously said, “The U.S. will do anything for Latin America, except read about it.” Or, evidently, speak about it. In President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 25, he spoke little of the international community, and even less about our southern neighbors. Despite the almost complete lack of direct attention, many of the topics that the president addressed are likely to gravely affect Latin America. Washington’s policies on higher education, immigration, and free trade will almost certainly reverberate beyond U.S. borders. Read more ..

The Race for Wind

Israel Takes Another Big Step away from Petroleum Addiction

January 30th 2011

Israel Topics - Israel road sign to wind turbines

Israel approved a plan to develop technologies to reduce the global use of oil in transportation.  Following a meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, Israel is due to  invest approximately $ 407 million over the next decade while seeking to invest millions more from other sources.

According to a January 31 statement from the prime minister’s office, the plan is designed to decrease global  dependency on oil and oil-producing countries, such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, “which causes instability in the global economy and harms the environment through the emission of pollutants and greenhouse gases.” Read more ..

Book Review

The Closing of the Muslim Mind Probed with Understanding

January 30th 2011

Book Covers - Closing of the Muslim Mind 2

The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis. Robert R. Reilly. ISI Books. 2010. 244 pages. 

Robert R. Reilly has written a book that may offer the key to both understanding and perhaps defeating the ongoing war of terror against the West. The book is entitled The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis. As Angelo Codevilla's jacket blurb puts it: "Reilly shows what happens to a civilization when it fails to give reason its due. This book teaches and warns. Read it." Paul Eidelberg describes it as "a book surpassing in depth even the best efforts of Bernard Lewis. You will not only be enlightened, but you may also see how the West might prevent a new Dark Ages."

Reilly is a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council and a well-published writer with substantial government service, including a stint as Director of the Voice of America and senior adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Information in 2003. As a sideline, he is also one of our finest classical music critics. In this book Reilly explains "why the restoration of reason to Islam is the only antidote to the spiritual pathology driving young men to attempted terrorist acts." Read more ..

Financial Recovery on Edge

Government Sleeps as Banks Profit from Federal Loan Modification Program

January 30th 2011

Economy - Foreclosure

With millions of homeowners still struggling to stay in their homes, the Obama administration’s $75 billion foreclosure prevention program has been weakened, perhaps fatally, by lax oversight and a posture of cooperation—rather than enforcement—with the nation’s biggest banks. Those banks, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Citibank, service the majority of mortgages.

Despite a dismal showing for the program, rising complaints from homeowners, and repeated threats from officials, the government has levied no penalties against even the most error-prone banks and mortgage servicers. In fact, despite issuing public warnings for more than a year about imposing penalties, the Treasury Department said this week they don’t even have the power to punish servicers for wrongfully denying help to homeowners. Instead of toughening the program, Treasury has actually loosened it in the face of industry lobbying. Read more ..

Pakistan on Edge

50,000 Gather in Karachi in Support of Blasphemy Law

January 30th 2011

Islamic Topics - Pakistan antiblasphemy rally

Shouting anti-government slogans, thousands of people marched here in Pakistan’s financial capital to oppose any amendments in the controversial blasphemy laws and praised the man charged with killing Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, who had dubbed it “black law.”

The massive rally, organized by religious parties, was addressed by Jamat-e-Islami chief Syed Munawar Hasan, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan’s Sahibzada Abul Khair Zubair, JI Karachi amir Muhammad Hussain Mehnati and others. Outlawed Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed appeared at the rally. The size of the Karachi rally, which was large even by the standards of the city of 16 million, showed how bitter the argument is over the decades-old laws. Read more ..

Islam's War Against Christianity

Ethiopian Muslims Demand Conversion or Death of Christians

January 30th 2011

Africa Topics - Ethiopian Christians

According to a news release from International Christian Concern (ICC) , Christians in the Ethiopian city of Besheno are being harassed and physically abused after Muslims posted notices on the doors of Christian homes warning them to convert, leave the city, or face death.

Three Christian leaders were forced to flee while two Christians have been forced to convert to Islam, said the ICC report. In the Muslim majority city, the entire evangelical Christian community consists of about 30 believers.

The ICC says that Evangelist Kassa Awano remains in critical condition after Muslims attacked him on November 29, 2010. A few days after the attack, nearly 100 Muslims surrounded a vehicle carrying Christian leaders on their way to negotiate for peace with Muslim leaders. Two men, Tesema Hirego and Niggusie Denano, were seriously wounded, and the other leaders suffered minor injuries. On January 2, Muslims assaulted Temesgen Peteros with a knife after he testified about the attacks on these Christians in court. Read more ..

The Arab Revolts

Is King Abdullah of Jordan Next?

January 30th 2011

Arab Topics - Jordan protest sheikh

Initial and hopeful analysis stemming from the deadly riots that toppled Tunisia’s dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali—who had been relatively friendly to US and EU interests—are growing more cautious as news comes of violent disturbances in Egypt, Yemen, and Jordan. Elliot Abrams, a former National Security adviser to President George W. Bush, for example wrote in a weekend op-ed that the regime change in Tunisia and its prospects in Egypt are a vindication of the doctrine of that Arabs too may aspire to democracy. Reports from on the ground in Egypt and Tunisia are less hopeful. Linking the three inflamed countries is the global Muslim Brotherhood. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

The Truth Left Behind: Baiting the Trap

January 30th 2011

Terrorism - Daniel Pearl
Richard Reid

On September 11, 2001, as hijacked jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Daniel Pearl was 7,500 miles away in Bihar, India. Pearl, South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, was horrified as he watched replays of the attacks flash on his hotel television.

The next day, he flew to Karachi, the chaotic port city that is Pakistan’s commercial center, because he suspected the trail of responsibility might lead to Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and his associates in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pearl recognized the dangers of being an American journalist in a city plagued by criminal gangs, growing Islamic extremism, and violence. On September 17, 2001, he wrote lightheartedly to a friend: “Hi from Karachi, which would be a great city if we weren't scared to go out of the hotel.”

From there, Pearl flew north to a quieter Islamabad, the capital, where he hoped officials and other sources could give him their take on who organized the terrorist attacks in America. One of those sources was Khalid Khawaja, a former officer with Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, known as the ISI. He was also a self-proclaimed companion of bin Laden during the days when both Pakistan and the U.S. were providing semi-covert military aid to Afghan militants fighting Soviet occupation. Read more ..

Economic Recovery on Edge

Customers Close Accounts to Protest Wall Street and Abusive Lending Practices

January 30th 2011

Economy - I am not your ATM

The death blow for Michael Dalrymple’s Phoenix eco-friendly building supply company was the credit freeze that paralyzed the banking system and the nation in the fall of 2008.

“Once the economy melted down, 70 percent of my business evaporated overnight,” Dalrymple said. “Customers who would use a home equity line of credit to retrofit their homes were told by their banks that they didn’t have that credit anymore.”

His business, called a.k.a Green, held on a little longer, but closed its doors for good in 2009.

Dalyrmple said he blames the big banks and their political enablers for credit freeze that killed his business. “It was extremely frustrating as an entrepreneur looking to be in charge of my success or failure to come to the realization that the fate of my business was determined by greed, corruption and illegal behavior on Wall Street and in Washington,” he said.

It took more than two years, but Dalrymple will soon extract his own very small measure of revenge. Read more ..

Latin America on the Edge

Nicaragua Dredges Up Old Issues with Costa Rica on the San Juan River

January 30th 2011

Latin American Topics - Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua

As mounting tensions continue to smolder on the Korean Peninsula, another border dispute has been heating up in Central America, pitting Nicaragua against Costa Rica. Though it lacks the geopolitical gravitas and explosive nature of the conflict between North and South Korea, the standoff over a small area along the San Juan River has been the recurrent basis of a bitter and protracted affair. This deep-rooted dispute over an area of uninhabitable marshland is becoming increasingly nasty and convoluted. The historical resentment between the two neighbors blends with current political objectives that pose no small danger of bringing conflict to the region. In the January 11 – 13 opening arguments before the International Court of Justice, representatives from Costa Rica and Nicaragua pulled out all of the stops in an effort to convince the Court of the merits of their respective cases. Indeed, according to Pablo Gamez, reporting from The Hague, “the hurling of accusations” that took place during the preliminary hearings served to further strain bilateral relations between the two Central American neighbors. Read more ..

Islam on the Edge

Radical Muslim Victories Are Well-Funded

January 30th 2011

Terrorism - Hamas head

For the past five decades most funding to MB-affiliated organizations around the world – especially those involved directly in terrorist activities – has come from oil rich countries in the Middle East. However, Hamas, the MB Palestinian branch, designated as a terrorist organization by the E.U. and U.S., seems to derive large sums of money from the EU, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), of which the U.S. is the largest contributor. Individual countries also donate directly to the PA and Gaza (i.e. Hamas). The U.S. also aids the PA and Gaza through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Read more ..

Palestine on Edge

Measuring Words in Palestine

January 30th 2011

Terrorism - Hamas Kid

It has become axiomatic in a certain part of the American political class that words matter. Even with the necessary disclaimer that the shooting in Arizona was the work of a mentally deranged man whose political reading was confined mainly to Hitler and Stalin, and was not influenced by current political cross-currents, people across the political spectrum have pronounced the requirement that we measure our words against the harm they could do under some unforeseen circumstance. Fair enough.

But not only American rhetoric should be measured, and words should be measured for truth as well as for heat. As the Administration begins work on what appears to be the next phase of the Palestinian-Israeli “peace process” (words that clearly should be re-evaluated), let’s evaluate some fairly common Palestinian political rhetoric for the damage words can do under circumstances we can well see.

Start with the words “Palestine from the River to the Sea.” Every official map produced by the Palestinian Authority—whether used for school children or public buildings—shows Palestine replacing Israel. Children are taught that Haifa and Jaffa are “occupied cities” of Palestine. What harm are they doing to their children and what harm are they inviting their children to do to Israel? Read more ..

Oceans on the Edge

NOAA Moves to Police Seas

January 30th 2011

Environment Topics - NOAA HQ

As part of their continuing effort to take a lead in managing global fisheries, officials with the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration told Congress earlier this month that they’ll work with six countries – singled-out for their lack of enforcement—to cut down on illegal fishing around the globe.

A NOAA taskforce identified vessels in Colombia, Ecuador, Italy, Panama, Portugal, and Venezuela for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, or IUU. Most infractions were for fishing out of season or without proper registration, but in one instance driftnets were used illegally by an Italian vessel to catch 24 eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna—20 of them under the legal catch size—in the summer of 2009. Read more ..

America on the Edge

Understanding What the Constitution Stands for is Key

January 30th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Star Parker, CURE

I salute the Republicans of the 112th Congress for their initiative to restore the U.S. Constitution to its legitimate place of prominence in our public discourse.

Reading it aloud at Congress’s opening session and requiring members to cite constitutional authority when introducing new legislation are great ideas.

It will help highlight that the real debate is about the underlying defining principles of our nation that the constitution exists to protect.

Democrats mocking these gestures show their disdain for those underlying principles. When Congressman Henry Waxman, D-CA, says, “Whether it’s constitutional or not is going to be whether the Supreme Court says it is,” it’s like my saying that whether or not I steal from my neighbor depends on my calculation of whether or not I’ll get caught.

The constitution is our operating manual defining the functions and bounds of our federal government. It was meticulously designed by our founders so that we would have government consistent with the values and principles of our nation. It’s in those values and principles that our “eternal truths” lie. Not in the constitution constructed to secure them. If the drafters didn’t see it this way, they wouldn’t have provided provisions to amend and change it. It’s in our increasingly tenuous sense of what the truths are that precede the constitution, or the questioning by some if indeed there are any eternal truths, where our problems lie. Read more ..

Egypt in Revolt

Islamic Cleric Issues Fatwa Recommending Protests in Egypt

January 30th 2011

Africa Topics - Egyptian cop and lady

According to the MEMRI website, a fatwa—a Muslim religious ruling—was published on the Salafi-jihadi website Minbar Al-Tawhid Wal Jihad, which is the website of Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi. Citing the prominent Salafi-jihadist cleric Sheikh Abu Mundhir Al-Shinqiti, the fatwa rules that participation in the protests in Egypt is permissible and recommended, since these might bring about the fall of the current Egyptian regime.

Al-Shinqiti's fatwa demonstrates the high expectations Salafi-jihadis have regarding the outcome of the current uprising in Egypt. In their view, not only will the fall of the Mubarak regime change the political situation in Egypt itself, but it will also cause the West to lose an important ally and signal a new era in the Arab and Islamic world. Read more ..

Egypt in Revolt

Egypt’s Internet Blackout

January 30th 2011

Arab Topics - Cairo Internet Cafe

The Egyptian Government has become the first in the world to turn off its the internet. As of January 28, almost all internet servers in Egypt are offline. Homes, businesses, foreign embassies, and Egyptian government departments are without internet access. Text messaging services (SMS) have also been turned off.

The move aims to prevent the Egyptian people from protesting, and Egyptian officials have specifically called on people not to congregate in public places after prayers. Renesys notes that the shutdown is reminiscent of efforts in Iran and Tunisia to slow the internet or shut down some main internet connections. The real purpose however is more in line with a “government crackdown on peace, goodwill, and social media.” It aims to discredit, disrupt, and ultimately censor anti-government protest. Read more ..

Edge of Justice

Federal Government Muzzles Dissent Over Improper Sentencing in Controversial Rubashkin Trial

January 30th 2011

Jewish Topics - Sholom Rubashkin

Government concern over growing support for Sholom Rubashkin among prominent advocacy groups have prompted efforts to suppress three amicus curiae briefs that call for a new trial.  The move betrays an effort “to shut the door” on mounting indications of questionable conduct in the case, Iowa ACLU’s Randall Wilson said in a phone interview with Yated. “What this shows is that a tender, raw nerve has been struck. It’s very threatening to the Attorney’s Office that Rubashkin’s defense is gaining a surge of credibility from outside organizations that carry clout.” 

A written motion filed by the government last week asked the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to reject the amicus curiae briefs because they present “no new arguments” that had not been covered in the appeal filed by Sholom Mordechai’s attorneys. The move has stunned legal experts. ACLU’s Wilson said he has never encountered a case where the government refused to agree to the filing of an amicus curiae from the ACLU. Other experts consulted by this writer say they can find no precedent for the Department of Justice opposing a friend-of-the-court brief from any respected legal organization.  “Assuming for the sake of argument that the briefs present nothing new, they surely can’t do any harm in that case. So why go to these unusual lengths to resist them?” asked the ACLU director. Read more ..

Inside South America

Guyana’s Departing President Leaves Legacy of Perpetual Violence and Incompetence

January 30th 2011

Latin American Topics - Bharrat Jagdeo

Stagnation, violence, corruption, arch-sectarianism, and unfettered crime—this is the heritage that Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo will bequeath to his country. Now that Jagdeo has announced that he will not seek a third term in the upcoming August election, he may well ask, as a New York mayor once did, “How did I do?” The answer, in this instance, must be: “terribly.” Chosen by former President Janet Jagan to succeed her in office, and supposedly held in high esteem by Guyana’s founding father, the illustrious Cheddi Jagan, Jagdeo could only receive the lowest of marks from any independent evaluation. Through his tolerance of crime, racism, and dismal social progress, President Jagdeo has turned in a fifth-rate performance as president of one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere. As the Guyanese use every strategy, legal and illegal, to flee the dysfunctional country, Jagdeo will go down in history as a man who did almost nothing for his nation while in office. Read more ..

America on Edge

Restoring a Culture of Life for All Americans

January 30th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Star Parker, CURE

A black child has a 50 percent chance of being aborted and, if born, a 70 percent chance of living in a single parent home.

A campaign launched in Los Angeles last week sought to raise awareness of what is becoming known as "black genocide" -- the devastation occurring in black America as result of abortion.

It's modeled after a highly successful similar campaign conducted in Atlanta earlier this year by Georgia Right to Life and the Radiance Foundation.

According to just released data from the Guttmacher Institute, 1.21 million abortions were performed in the United States in 2008. Some 30 percent of these abortions were performed on black women. With blacks accounting for about 12 percent of the U.S. population, the tragic disproportionate rate of abortion in this community is clear.

Seventy billboards will be posted around Los Angeles, with focus on neighborhoods with high percentage black population. The billboards show the face of a beautiful black child with a headline that says: "Black Children are an Endangered Species." Read more ..

Peace Process on Edge

Must Israel Accept Palestinians’ “Right of Return” to Achieve Peace?

January 30th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Mitchell Bard

The Israeli refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to flood Israel is both a lawful and understandable position that should not impede a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Publicly, Palestinians insist the refugees have a “right of return.” In December 2010, for example, Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat declared that peace with Israel would be “completely untenable” if Israel continued to “disregard the aspirations [of the Palestinian refugees] to return to their homeland.”

Privately, however, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas acknowledged in a meeting with the Palestinian Negotiations Support Unit on March 29, 2008, “On numbers of refugees, it is illogical to ask Israel to take 5 million, or even 1 million, that would mean the end of Israel.”

In negotiations with Abbas, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, like other Israeli leaders before him, offered to accept a limited number of refugees on a humanitarian basis. No agreement was reached, but the record shows that the disagreements were over the number of refugees and the amount of monetary compensation rather than an Israeli acceptance of the demand that all refugees have an option to 'return' to Israel. Read more ..

Not Buying Anything at Borders--It is Like Buying Stolen Goods

January 28th 2011
I am not buying anything at Borders, including their electronic reader. Who can trust this company. I won't even walk into the store. I do not buy stolen goods off the back of a truck. Nor will I step into a Borders to buy a paperback or even a cup of coffee, if the publishers and suppliers are not being paid. I can buy anything I want off Amazon, and make my own coffee doing it.

The Obama Edge

Obama’s State of the Union and U.S. Foreign Policy

January 25th 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Obama and Flag

U.S. President Barack Obama will deliver the State of the Union address tonight. The administration has let the media know that the focus of the speech will be on jobs and the economy. Given the strong showing of the Republicans in the last election, and the fact that they have defined domestic issues as the main battleground, Obama’s decision makes political sense. He will likely mention foreign issues and is undoubtedly devoting significant time to them, but the decision not to focus on foreign affairs in his State of the Union address gives the impression that the global situation is under control. Indeed, the Republican focus on domestic matters projects the same sense. Both sides create the danger that the public will be unprepared for some of the international crises that are already quite heated. We have discussed these issues in detail, but it is useful to step back and look at the state of the world for a moment. Read more ..

Confronting the Farhud

The Most Heinous Killers of the Holocaust: the Muslim-Catholic Ustasha

January 24th 2011

Book Covers - Farhud book

Edwin Black is the author of IBM and the Holocaust. This article is drawn from his just released book, The Farhud, Roots of the Arab-Nazi Alliance During the Holocaust (Dialog 2010). Buy it here

In the hierarchy of Hell that created the Holocaust, one group of killers stands out as more vicious, murderous, and bloodcurdling than all others. Who were they? Where did they plow their killing fields? How and why did they come together to sear a chronicle of atrocities a magnitude worse than Auschwitz?

The answer: None were more savage than the Ustasha of Yugoslavia, a Muslim-Catholic alliance of Nazi killers so gruesome and beastly that even Berlin shrank in horror at the slaughter. This berserk army of ghastly murderers, the Ustasha, and three related crack divisions of Arab-Nazi Waffen SS comprised of tens of thousands of Muslim volunteers, terrorized people of all faiths in Yugoslavia. In large measure, these murder machines emerged through the efforts of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini. The Grand Mufti was on a mission to accelerate the extermination of all Jews everywhere. His partner was Adolf Hitler—personally. The epic story of this alliance of horror and hate is one that begins in Jerusalem, travels to Baghdad, culminates in the killing fields of the Balkans, and ultimately spread across all Europe.

In many ways, the scene was set centuries ago by the Medina Extermination of 627. Medina was a largely Jewish city. When its 600 or so Jews refused to convert to the new Muslim religion, the Prophet Muhammad mass-murdered them in a protracted ceremony, beheading the Jewish faithful one by one. This massacre became a glorious iconic event in Islamic history, as memorable to Muslims as the Sermon on the Mount is to Christians or the parting of the Red Sea is to Jews. Read more ..

Inside Latin America

Jaguars Endure as Living Symbol of Native America

January 24th 2011

Animals - Jaguar

An enduring symbol of indigenous cultures in the Americas, the jaguar continues to hang on despite illegal hunting, habitat pressures and delays in implementing conservation plans. A new study that reveals the existence of more than 100 jaguars in the Mexican state of Jalisco is the latest report to document the ongoing presence of the wild cat. Contracted by the Jalisco Secretariat of Environment and Sustainable Development (SEMADES) the study identified jaguars in four mountainous and coastal areas of Jalisco, including Minantlan, Chamela-Cuixmala, Cabo Corrientes and the Sierra de Cuale. Headed by biologist Rodrigo Nunez Perez, who counts 14 years researching the jaguar, the study also noted the presence of pumas, ocelots, jaguarandis and other species.

"The jaguar performs a fundamental role in the our ecosystems," the SEMADES study stated. "It is considered a landmark species, which means where there is the reproduction of jaguars under good conditions, there is also the same happening with lesser species, above all with smaller felines still of great importance." Read more ..

Edge on Terror

Suicide Bomber Suspected in 31 Deaths at Moscow International Airport

January 24th 2011

Russian Topics - Moscow Domodedrova Airport
Moscow's Domodedovo International Airport

Russian media and officials say a suspected suicide bomber has killed at least 31 people in what investigators are calling an act of "terror." The actual number of dead and wounded is sketchy at present but appears to be rising. Russia's Investigative Committee said the explosion went off at Moscow's Domodedovo international airport, wounding at least 130 people at 4:40 p.m. local time (13:40 GMT).

The blast occurred inside the international arrivals area of the airport as thousands of people thronged at the modern facility. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered on Monday that security be increased at all of the country's airports and transportation hubs. Said Medvedev "It is necessary to step up security at all airports, railway stations and transportations hubs," giving instructions to Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev to cooperate with Russia's Federal Security Service. Read more ..

National Book Chains Like Borders were Built to Fail

January 24th 2011
For those who think switching their allegiances between a bankrupt Borders that has refused to pay publishers, and the bigger Barnes and Noble which drove out countless independents, let me say this. Many of us in San Francisco consider it wrong-headed to even get a cup of coffee in a Borders or a Barnes and Noble. If you support the existence of independent book shops as I do, you know that giving your business to a national chain is like contributing to the demise of the most important part of the book-selling world-- the local bookstore. Yes, Border and Barnes and Noble tried to drive them out of business, and in many cases succeeded. Those superstores were built to fail. But in some cities--and I am happy to say San Francisco is one of them, the public has stubbornly maintained its loyalty to local, independent shops. You get what you pay for, and America has paid for the mess Borders and Barnes and Noble have created.

Sudan on Edge

Iran Influence Seen in Sudan Election

January 24th 2011

Africa Topics - Sudan demonstration

Results of a recent referendum vote on independence in Sudan are set to be announced next month. Preliminary numbers show more than 98 percent of voters in southern Sudan want independence from the north. But the country's Arab Muslim government, which is based in the north, and its Iranian ally may not let the south break away without a fight. For more than 20 years, the Sudanese government waged a ruthless jihad against the south, leading to some 2 million deaths -- many of them Christians. Now that the south is set to become an independent nation, Sudanese Dictator Omar al-Bashir is once again rallying his troops.

"The Islamist Salafist and jihadi forces who rule the elites of Khartoum are going to try to do everything they can," explained Walid Phares, Middle East expert and author of The Coming Revolution. "One -- to undermine the viability of the young southern Sudan. Two -- to make sure that no other spots in Sudan which are against the government, against the jihadi regime, will erupt as well." Read more ..

The Ancient Edge

The Rise and Fall of Civilization Measured by Mathematical Models

January 24th 2011

Archaeology Topics - Roman ruins in Libya

The instability of large, complex societies is a predictable phenomenon, according to a new mathematical model that explores the emergence of early human societies via warfare. Capturing hundreds of years of human history, the model reveals the dynamical nature of societies, which can be difficult to uncover in archaeological data.

The research, led Sergey Gavrilets, associate director for scientific activities at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis and a professor at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, is published in the first issue of the new journal Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History, the first academic journal dedicated to research from the emerging science of theoretical history and mathematics.

The numerical model focuses on both size and complexity of emerging "polities" or states as well as their longevity and settlement patterns as a result of warfare. A number of factors were measured, but unexpectedly, the largest effect on the results was due to just two factors – the scaling of a state's power to the probability of winning a conflict and a leader's average time in power. According to the model, the stability of large, complex polities is strongly promoted if the outcomes of conflicts are mostly determined by the polities' wealth or power, if there exist well-defined and accepted means of succession, and if control mechanisms within polities are internally specialized. The results also showed that polities experience what the authors call "chiefly cycles" or rapid cycles of growth and collapse due to warfare. Read more ..

Haiti on the Edge

Haiti on the Brink of Going Back to the Future with Baby Doc Duvalier

January 24th 2011

Caribbean - Baby Doc Jean Claude Duvalier

The world recently marked the first anniversary of the tragic earthquake that ravaged Port-au-Prince, killing upwards of 300,000 Haitians, destroying more than 250,000 homes, and displacing more than 1.3 million people. The earthquake in Haiti was by far one of the most unforgiving natural disasters of the past century (with property damage estimated at up to $14 billion), and has led to one of the most comprehensive international humanitarian relief responses ever undertaken. Within a few weeks of the earthquake, national governments, international agencies, charities, and well-intentioned individuals reached out from their homes and overseas, pledging several billions of dollars in emergency assistance. A portion of the funds are now being devoted towards rehabilitation and future reconstruction efforts. Read more ..

Israel and Palestine

Did Israel Illegally Demolish a Palestinian National Landmark in East Jerusalem

January 24th 2011

Israel Topics - Demolition of the Shepherd Hotel
Demolition of the Shepherd Hotel

Among Israel’s detractors is a widely held and circulated myth meant only to drive a wedge deeper between Israel and those she seeks for international support that claims Israel illegally demolished a Palestinian national landmark in East Jerusalem.

The facts however, when presented—but even more, when actually reviewed—support a very different scenario.

On January 9, 2011, Israeli crews began demolition work on the Shepherd Hotel building in the Sheikh Jarrah community of Jerusalem to make way for the planned construction of a Jewish housing project. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas insists the hotel is a historic national landmark and Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat claims that Israel is illegally demolishing the hotel as part of their attempt to “ethnically cleanse Jerusalem from its Palestinian inhabitants, culture and history.” Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

The Truth Left Behind: Finishing Daniel Pearl’s Work

January 24th 2011

Terrorism - Daniel Pearl

On the morning of May 17, 2002, Pakistani police investigator Fayyaz Khan ordered officers to dig inside a compound in the Gulzar-e-Hijri neighborhood, a poor area on Karachi’s outskirts. It was not a pleasant task. At the scene, Randall Bennett, the U.S. State Department’s regional security officer in Karachi, lit a cigarette to mask the stench of death.

This was the stomach-turning culmination of the search for kidnapped Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. He had been abducted nearly four months earlier on January 23 while trying to chase down possible Pakistani connections to “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, the British Muslim man who attempted to blow up an American Airlines jetliner over the Atlantic.

Gently, under the watchful eye of a colonel in Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, police officers lifted their find. First: a skull four doctors on the scene said had been “decapitated,” the U.S. consul general, John Bauman, later wrote in a State Department cable. Then the upper torso, still wearing the light blue track suit that Pearl’s kidnappers had him wear. Pearl’s body, cut into about 12 pieces, was removed. This outcome, sadly, came as little surprise. A gruesome videotape had circulated earlier, drawing worldwide attention, showing Pearl’s beheading by a man whose face the camera never revealed.

Locating the remains, however, was a breakthrough. Pakistani police and U.S. officials for the first time had established a link to Pearl’s actual murderers. The man who led police to the site, a young militant named Fazal Karim, sat in jail across town. Read more ..

Edge on Justice

Federal Judge in Controversial Rubashkin Case Receives Even Harsher Condemnation

January 24th 2011

Jewish Topics - Sholom Rubashkin
Sholom Rubashkin

Lending serious weight to calls for a retrial in the Rubashkin case, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) has filed a sharply worded amicus curiae brief with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, urging the court to vacate Sholom Mordechai’s conviction.

NACDL’s brief joins two others that were filed last week by the WLF (Washington Legal Foundation) and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), supporting the appeal filed by Nathan Lewin and other appellate attorneys this month. The WLF brief called for the Court of Appeals to remand the case to a new judge for re-sentencing. It said the 27-year jail sentence reflects serious errors in Judge Reade’s sentencing procedures as well as violations of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Read more ..

Religious Tolerance

Minorities Feel Further Marginalized by Recent Events in Pakistan

January 24th 2011

PakistanTopics - Lahore's Cathedral

The cathedral in Lahore was packed on Sunday, January 17. There were not only Christians but members of the civil society present despite the foggy morning to “warm up” against rising extremism in a Muslim Pakistan. A number of Catholic Pakistanis were also active in the old, red-brick hall of the main protestant church of Lahore. Salmaan Taseer—the governor of Punjab provice and a liberal man—was assassinated by his official security on calling for a review the blasphemy laws under which a Christian woman had been sentenced to death.

The main churches held special prayers for Taseer last Sunday to pay tribute to Taseer’s advocacy for minority rights and opposition to the death penalty for the blasphemy-accused. Read more ..

Italian-Americans on Edge

Reflecting on Italian-American Identity: The Mafia and Me

January 24th 2011

History American - Mobster meeting

Like many others of Italian-American heritage, I experienced some discomfort when in 1951 Senator Estes Kefauver, a Democrat from Tennessee, launched his highly publicized investigation into the organized rackets, uncovering scores of thugs with Italian surnames. Subsequent decades produced an endless parade of such rogues whose mugs were repeatedly splashed across the print and broadcast media.

I must admit that when it came to names, the mafia operatives really had them: Lucky Luciano, Scarface Al Capone, Sammy the Bull Gravano, Joey Bananas Bonanno, Crazy Joey Gallo, Jimmy the Weasel Fratianno, Sonny Red Indelicato, and Sonny Black Napolitano. One could go on with Joey Kneecap Santorielli, Johnny Bingo Bosco, Itchy Fingers Zambino, Big Paulie Castellano, and Lupo the Wolf Saietta. Also Johnny Blind Man Biaggio, Vinny Gorgeous Basciano, and Fredo the Plumber Giardino. Read more ..

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