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Vote 2017

Alabama Republicans Remain Steadfast for Judge Moore

November 11th 2017

Vote Buttons

The embattled Roy Moore, the Republican candidate the represent Alabama in the U.S. Seante, is currently tied with his Democrat opponent Doug Jones. According to the most recent Opinion-Savvy/Decision Desk HQ poll, the two are tied. Moore had led Jones by 5.7 percent in a previous survey by the same organization, while other polls had the former Alabama Supreme Court justice up by double-digits. The poll was conducted on Thursday via landline automated calls to 515 likely voters in Alabama. It cited a margin of error 4.3 percent ±.

The poll was released after the Washington Post released a report on Thursday in which four women allege that Moore made sexual advances on them when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers. President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and other Republicans have called on Moore to step out of the race should the allegations prove to be true. Trump had not endorsed Moore in advance of the Republican primary last month. Voters go to the polls to select their new senator on December 12. Read more ..


Kurdistan Rising

Iraqi Kurdistan's Crisis: A Failure of Strategy

October 25th 2017

PKK (Kurdish Worker's Party) Fighter

As the war against the Islamic State as an entity controlling territory comes to a close in Iraq, control over territories disputed between the Iraqi central government and the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government (KRG) has come to the forefront. Forces officially affiliated with the Baghdad government, as well as militias aligned with it on this issue, have taken control of several key disputed sites, including Kirkuk city and Sinjar, which were previously held by Kurdish forces.

While it initially seemed that the aim of the operations was just to assert the boundaries that existed prior to the Islamic State surge of 2014, there are indications the rollback may go as far as the 2003 boundaries. What is the root of this crisis? And what, if anything, should be the U.S. role? Read more ..


Kurdistan Rising

The Fall of Kirkuk: Made in Iran

October 23rd 2017

Kurdistan Frontline

Iraqi forces took Kirkuk city from the Kurds this week with hardly a shot fired. Twenty-two Kurdish fighters were killed in the sporadic and disorganized resistance, while seven Iraqi soldiers also lost their lives. It is a remarkable setback for the Kurds, who just a few weeks ago held an independence referendum. The loss of Kirkuk especially, given the city's vast oil resources, lessens the likelihood that an independent state will emerge from the Kurdish Regional Government area in northern Iraq.

Now the Iraqi forces are rolling into other areas conquered by the Kurdish Regional Government in the course of the war against ISIS, including Sinjar city, close to the border with Syria. Meanwhile, an exodus of Kurdish civilians is streaming in the direction of Erbil and Suleymaniya cities. Kurdish forces are withdrawing from the areas of Makhmur and Khanaqin as well. Yezidi civilians, who bore the brunt of the ISIS assault in the summer of 2014, are again uncertain of their fates as they wait for the arrival of Iraqi forces. Read more ..


Iran's Nuke's

Iran's Secret Sites Linked To Nuclear Weapons Development Revealed

October 13th 2017

Iran Nuclear Equipment centrifuges

President Donald Trump is expected this week to “decertify” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known simply as the Iran deal, declaring that the agreement reached in 2015 by the U.S. and five other international powers is not in America’s national interest. The matter will then be tossed back to Congress, which will have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose hefty pre-2015 sanctions.

While the President’s likely move has generated wide condemnation from foreign policy leaders — who reiterate that the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has maintained Iran is in compliance — a new 52-page investigative report by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), entitled: “Iran’s Nuclear Core: Uninspected Military Sites,” obtained exclusively by Fox News and slated for release Wednesday, asserts that the country’s nuclear weapons program has far from halted. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

The Iranian Dictator's Clothes

October 11th 2017

Rowhani

The clock appears to be ticking on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); more than some may think, less than others may hope. Whatever President Donald Trump decides to do with the unsigned, unratified, unagreed-upon text of the untreaty, it should be clear that the agreement did not moderate Iran’s ambitions — nuclear or otherwise — and pretending will not make it so. The JCPOA was not designed to end Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons capability.

One reason there is no agreed-upon text is that the sides were negotiating different ends: the U.S. wanted to constrain Iran’s enrichment and other nuclear weapons-related capabilities for a period of time during which President Obama and others said/hoped Iran would become a constructive regional player. Iran was negotiating the terms under which it could continue to enrich uranium with an international imprimatur. Deal supporters acknowledge as much Read more ..


Palestinians on Edge

How Palestine “Occupies” Itself

October 10th 2017

Nabi Saleh Villagers with Rocks

“Occupation” has become an all-purpose Palestinian tool. On the one hand, the Palestinians claim the Israeli “occupation” makes serious negotiations with Israel impossible. On the other, they claim the “occupation” makes the development of local institutions and civil society impossible. Western and Israeli diplomats have largely avoided criticism of this strategy, possibly because it has become a central tenet of Palestinian identity.

A consistent Palestinian strategy for seeking statehood while blaming Israel for its absence has been codified through the narrative of “occupation.” The anniversary of the 1967 war brought this to the forefront in endless accusations regarding the Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank. There is even an assertion that Gaza is still “occupied.” Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

If the U.S. Reimposes Sanctions on Iran, Allies Will Follow

October 3rd 2017

Iran-US Hatred

“We will not be able to coerce Europe, Russia, and China into shunning Iran’s economy over policy interests that they do not share.” — Adam Szubin, former director of the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control

“The United States would have to threaten all customers who buy Iranian crude. The response would be global outrage and resistance, especially from our allies.” — Matthew Reed, vice president at Foreign Reports

In November 2011, Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk — with help from then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — took the Obama White House by surprise, filing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that imposed crippling sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran. Days later, Kirk and New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez forged a bipartisan compromise and a vote was scheduled. Read more ..


Kurdistan Rising

What Next for Kurdistan?

October 1st 2017

Kurdistan Map

Calling a referendum on Kurdish independence in Iraq was the easy part. The difficulty after the vote on September 25th concerns the route ahead. The vote took place in the three provinces that make up Iraqi Kurdistan, and in the contiguous Iraqi regions that Kurdish forces took from Islamic State (IS). It was a resounding success for the pro-independence movement, with the electoral commission claiming that 93% of the 3.3m votes cast were in favour.

But though billed as a step towards statehood, the result is non-binding. Iraqi leaders, who had previously agreed to negotiations on the status of the territory, now reject them on the grounds that the referendum was unilateral, unconstitutional and divisive. On September 29th the Iraqi government stopped international flights from using the airport in Erbil. Iraq’s neighbours are also vowing to torpedo any Kurdish attempt to go it alone. Iran has stopped flights to the region and Turkey has closed one of its crossings to the landlocked territory, which relies heavily on imports. Read more ..


Inside Judaism

Is the Western Wall Judaism's Holiest Site?

September 26th 2017

Western Wall

Few beliefs have resonated more widely, or among a more diverse set of Israelis and Jews, than the perception of the Western Wall as Judaism's holiest site, the place where they feel the greatest sense of sacredness, "the holy of holies of Jewish national unity" to use the words of the Wall's rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowitz. Chief rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Amar has similarly asserted that "no one can annul the holiness of the Western Wall, not the government, not the courts."[2]

But when did the Western Wall become the holiest Jewish site? Historical evidence suggests that the Temple Mount was actually Judaism's "holy of holies," and that the Western Wall's venerated position is a relatively late development with a more prosaic and even non-Jewish origin. Would these facts change the tenor of the debate about the Western Wall's future status? And can they help ameliorate the widening schism between Israel's Orthodox religious establishment and the Diaspora Conservative and Reform movements over this holy site? Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Trump Has Created Leverage Against Iran. Now He Needs a Closer.

September 25th 2017

Iran Missiles

Supporters of the Iran nuclear deal are in panic mode.

Obama administration alumni are warning that President Donald Trump's threats to not certify Iranian compliance next month will unravel a bargain that makes the world safer. European leaders and Iranian envoys say the deal cannot be renegotiated. Quietly, many career State Department officials, according to administration sources, are trying to figure out a way to at least delay Trump's plan to throw the deal into turmoil.

The alarm is understandable. If Trump decertifies Iranian compliance with what is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, then it will be up to Congress to vote to impose the crippling sanctions on Iran's banks and oil exports that President Barack Obama waived as part of the nuclear deal. If Congress does that, it really would blow up the nuclear deal. Read more ..


The Trump Era

Rising scandal 'bigger than Russia'

September 21st 2017

NSA

Author and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said in an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News that the surveillance conducted by the Obama administration on Trump campaign director Paul Manafort was an “egregious” abuse of power that endangers the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution and dwarfs the allegations made about alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 general election. 

There is speculation that the FBI, through the Obama administration’s FISA requests, taped Manafort’s conversations with Donald Trump into 2017. According to CNN, Manafort had been under FBI surveillance since 2014 and into this year. Manafort served briefly as Trump’s campaign director in 2016, and the two remained in contact this year. Gingrich said of the development, “this may be the most egregious abuse of the criminal justice process in American history.”  He said that he fears that “the country that you and I know is under siege by a deep state which illegally wants to create a very different America and is willing to break the law and abuse the law.”

Read more ..

Gaza on Edge

Gaza Strip’s Crisis Leaves Qatar Vulnerable

September 19th 2017

Emir Qatar Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani & Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh

The head of Qatar’s Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, Mohammed al-Emadi, recently visited the Gaza Strip to reaffirm Qatar’s commitment to its people and government. Al-Emadi’s trip, which began June 6, brought with it a $3 million commitment to rebuilding the homes for 600 Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip.

The families chosen to benefit from the rebuilding were deemed some of the poorest in Gaza. The project, however, is just a small fraction of the $1.4 billion Qatar has pledged to give to Gaza over five years.

Naji Sarhan, the Palestinian undersecretary of the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, praised al-Emadi’s visit, which has come amidst a humanitarian crisis for Palestinian Arabs in Gaza. Just recently, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has cut Hamas leaders’ paychecks and refused to continue paying Israel for electricity supplied to Gaza. Shortly after the PA’s announcements, Israel acquiesced to PA officials requests and reduced its electricity supply to Gaza. Both actions have put Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement, rival to the PA’s key party, Fatah) under great pressure. Read more ..


North Korea's Nukes

Mystery Shock after North Korea Nuclear Test Still Puzzles

September 16th 2017

Kim Jong-Un

 

Eight-and-a-half minutes after North Korea set off a nuclear bomb on September 3, a second burst of energy shook the mountain where the test had just occurred. More than a week later, researchers are still puzzling over what caused that extra release of seismic energy—and what it says about North Korea’s nuclear-testing site, or the risks of a larger radiation leak. Monitoring stations in South Korea have already picked up minute levels of radiation from the test.

A number of theories have emerged to explain the second event, ranging from a tunnel collapse or a landslide to a splintering of the rock inside Mount Mantap, the testing site. But seismologists can’t agree and say that they may not get enough evidence to pin down the cause.

“This is an interesting mystery at this point,” says Göran Ekström, a seismologist at Columbia University in New York City. 
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The nature of the first seismic signal is clearer because it matches the profile of a bomb blast. The US Geological Survey (USGS) determined the magnitude of the seismic event associated with the nuclear explosion at 6.3, whereas the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in Vienna calculated it at 6.1 on the basis of a separate analysis. The explosion was many times the size of past North Korean tests and was the largest seismic signal from a nuclear test ever detected by the international network of seismic monitoring stations used by the CTBTO. Read more ..


Israel on Edge

Hijacking the Laws of Occupation

September 5th 2017

Russian privates on parade

The fact that there are 40 or more ongoing conflict and occupation situations throughout the world, including in Iraq, Afghanistan, Western Sahara, East Timor, East Congo, Nagorno-Karabakh, Northern Cyprus, and the Crimea, is not widely known.1

The international community does not appear to be very bothered with these occupation situations. In fact, curiously, these situations are rarely seen by the international community as “occupations.” Nor are the respective parties involved described as “belligerent occupants” or “occupying powers.”

It is rare to find resolutions or agenda items in the highly politicized and partisan UN Human Rights Council that deal with such situations of occupation and transfer of people to establish settlements in the territory they are occupying.

However, the objective criteria for such occupations are evident for all to see, and they clearly fall within the factual definitions of occupations, as set out by the international law of armed conflict and specifically in the 1907 Hague Regulations2 and the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention.3 Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Russia in Syria: Between Iran and Israel

September 4th 2017

Medvedev and Assad

The central issue discussed in the August 23, 2017 meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Putin was the growing Iranian involvement in Syria and the role that Russia is assigning to Iran in shaping the future political arrangement in the war-torn state. Israel's struggle against Iran's growing influence in Syria will be determined by the ability of both Iran and Israel to exercise effective levers of influence on Russia. Russia for its part will try to maneuver between Israeli demands and the need for cooperation with Iran, partly by making conflicting promises to each side. Therefore, Israel should treat Russia's promises in this context with caution, and improve its readiness to use force wisely and with a low signature, against Iran's objectives for establishing itself in Syria.

There are conflicting reports, mostly speculative, regarding the August 23, 2017 meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Vladimir Putin in Sochi. The central issue discussed was growing Iranian involvement in Syria and the role that Russia is assigning to Iran in shaping the future political arrangement in the war-torn state. Already before the meeting, Israel sent strong messages relaying that the continued Iranian presence in Syria constituted a concrete threat to it. Read more ..


Campus Jihad

Follow the Money: The Israel-Boycott Movement and Its Accomplices

September 1st 2017

boycott Israel t-shirt

U.S. banking giant Comerica's closure of an account earlier this year held by an organization that wages legal and economic warfare against America and Israel may be the harbinger of a successful strategy against BDS.

BDS—or the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement—is a global effort that seeks to isolate the Jewish state from the international community in order to secure a Palestinian state by endangering Israel's existence. BDS seeks a one-state solution rather than an Israeli and Palestinian state living side by side in peace. Our research shows many BDS organizations are entwined with states and other entities that advance hate groups and terrorism at large.

Dallas-based Comerica said in May that it closed the account of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, also known as IADL, due to a "business decision." Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's signing into law of an anti-BDS law in early May set the stage for the shutdown of the anti-Israel organization's account,

Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Stormclouds over Syria

August 16th 2017

F-35

In the past five weeks, U.S. forces in Syria have struck directly at the Assad regime and its allies in Syria no less than four times. On May 18, U.S. warplanes struck regime and allied militia forces that breached a 34-mile exclusion zone around a U.S. outpost in southeastern Syria. Then on June 8 and June 20, the United States shot down Iranian-made drones as they approached the outpost.

But the most dramatic event so far was the June 18 downing of a Syrian air force Su-22 by a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet. This took place after regime forces attacked a town held by the U.S.-aligned Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near Tabqa, in northern Syria. The Su-22 dropped bombs near the SDF fighters, ignored U.S. warnings, and was then shot down.

The downing of the Su-22 threatened to bring Washington and Moscow into conflict in the war-torn country. In the aftermath of the incident, Russia announced the end of deconfliction arrangements with U.S. forces and that it had decided to treat future U.S. flights west of the Euphrates River as hostile. Read more ..


Russia and Iran

Russia Re-examines Relationship with Iran

August 15th 2017

Khameni and Khomeini

As the Islamic State (IS) has been in steady retreat, Iran and Russia are facing real difficulties sustaining their partnership. Each took advantage of the fight against IS to further its military campaign in Syria. Both sides avoid discussing their differences, keeping their critics from making the most of the situation, but both fail to completely conceal the friction. In 2016, Moscow and Tehran jointly shielded Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime from the opposition and sought to preserve the remaining state institutions. In an attempt to freeze the six-year-long civil war, Russia is currently opting for agreements beyond the peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan — that is, behind Iran’s back. Examples include the de-escalation zone in southwest Syria that Russia negotiated with the United States in Amman, Jordan, as well as de-escalation zones in eastern Ghouta and northern Homs, both of which were negotiated in Cairo. Read more ..


The Qatar Crisis

Qatar Crisis: Worst Case Scenarios

August 6th 2017

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani

The crisis between an Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on one side, and fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Qatar on the other, shows no signs of abating. Qatar has responded to the list of 13 demands presented to Doha last month. At a meeting in Cairo on July 5, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE said they regretted Qatar’s “negative” response to their list of demands, and restrictions they had imposed would continue.

The origins of the tensions stretch back decades – probably generations in the minds of the main characters – but it is unclear why they suddenly erupted in May with the breaking of diplomatic relations and the cutting of air, sea, and land links. The alleged cause – that Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar made pro-Iranian remarks – is fiercely contested. With hindsight, both sides seem to have been preparing for such a schism for months.

Read more ..

After the Vote

Countermeasures to Russian Disinformation

August 5th 2017

Putin

The mind of society is the battlefield in the current global struggle for geopolitical domination. The uses of soft power dominate in this battle and information warfare is the name of the game-not "cyber war" in all the ways it has been described but the influence and ultimately control of individual minds that, like cells in a body, make up the Mind of Society. Then control is used as leverage to achieve objectives that are often hidden.
The recent illumination of Russian operations in this area has received a great deal of publicity. Russian operations of this kind are by no means new or unique, but the scale is unprecedented. This is thanks to distributed means of communication, which in turn created distributed digital islands of simulated life as a habitat on which more and more people (some of the time) and some of the people, all of the time, live their lives. The fragmented efforts of the United States and her allies to defend our mind-space and respond with equally effective operations have been less than adequate.
Effective countermeasures require unified, coordinated strategies recognized to have a high priority so that they will, in fact, be executed. They require clout, funding, and leadership to succeed. Once executed, they need to be evaluated to determine their efficacy. Offensive strategies must attack enemies as they attack us, by gaining access to the insides of their hives and securing the queen, not easy to do when the control of the information space in authoritarian and dictatorial regimes closes many of the gaps that in our more open society leave us unprotected.
Read more ..

Islam's War Against Christianity

A War against Christians

July 26th 2017

Coptic woman weeping at funeral

A pervasive persecution of Christians goes on throughout the Middle East and South and  Southeast Asia with relatively small organized efforts to oppose it, even among Western churchmen.
True, both the Pope Francis has spoken out against discrimination, and in many instances, imprisonment and worse. In April the Roman Catholic Pope made a ceremonial visit to meet the leader of Egypt's indigenous Christian Coptic leader who may head as many as 20 million Egyptian Christians. But the Mainline Western Protestant churches with their preoccupation with social issues, often to the neglect of articles of faith, have largely left opposition to such oppression to the Western democratic governments led by the U.S.
Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

After Liberation, Will Mosul Fall to Iran?

July 20th 2017

PKK (Kurdish Worker's Party) Fighter

After a brutal nine-month war, the Iraqi Army has liberated Mosul from ISIS. The city, Iraq's second largest, is all but destroyed.

The butcher's bill tallies 30,000 people dead and counting. Another 600,000, roughly a third of the population, have been displaced. Roughly three-fourths of Mosul's buildings are in ruins, two-thirds of its electrical grid is shredded, and much of what's left of the water system is booby-trapped. The price tag for reconstruction will be tens of billions of dollars that Iraq doesn't have.

Now comes the hard part.

Anyone with sufficient weapons and training can kill terrorists, and it's much harder to rebuild a city than level it. Harder still in a fractious sectarian place like Iraq is establishing enough political trust and goodwill that hardly anyone will be interested in picking up a rifle and shooting at the neighbors again. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

The Real Jihadist Threat No One Is Watching

July 18th 2017

Hamas head

Most people can tell you who the potential jihadists are, especially the ones in Europe and the USA. You can point them out in a group: they are immigrants, or more often, the children of immigrants, who came from the Middle East or North Africa. They often converse among one another in Arabic. Many want to join the Islamic State and other terror groups in Syria, or have gone and since returned. They are mostly men, usually around age 20 or less, and have grown up feeling alienated from the societies in which they live.

Most of this is wrong.

In fact, the UK-based Henry Jackson Society has found that "those who convert to Islam are four times more likely to become terrorists than those who are born Muslims." And in 2015, the Washington Post warned that converts have emerged "as some of the most dangerous and fanatical adherents to radical Islam." Read more ..


Media on Edge

CNN Legal Quagmire After Identifying Reddit User Who Created Trump Wrestling Meme

July 6th 2017

CNN

CNN threatened to destroy a Reddit user who created a video that President Donald Trump tweeted last week. The network was quite open in what it proposes to do if Reddit user “HanAssholeSolo” should violate an agreement with CNN. In print, CNN issued a threat that may galvanize further resentment against a news source that is increasingly seen by Trump’s supporters as unreliable at best and probably biased.

The video, a gif, featured footage from Trump's pre-politician days when he grappled at ringside with WWE founder Vince McMahon. To this was added a CNN logo superimposed on McMahon's face.

Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., issued a tweet of his own on July 5, suggesting “If only CNN spent as much time tracking down info on IRS targeting, Fast and Furious, Iran deal, etc as they did a meme writer!” CNN and several Congressional Democrats claimed that the video was either a threat of violence or an encouragement of violence against the network and the media in general.  Read more ..


Israel and India

Why India and Israel Have Forged Such Close Ties

July 3rd 2017

Indian army privates on parade

As Narendra Modi arrives this week for the first state visit ever by an Indian prime minister to Israel, both he and his host Prime Minister Netanyahu will be marking a significant warming up of ties between the two countries. But it will also express the fulfillment of a long-unrequited desire, dating back to the early days of the Jewish state, for close ties with, and recognition from, India.

In those early years, David Ben-Gurion and other key Zionist leaders made strenuous bids for political and diplomatic support from Indian nationalist leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.

Ben-Gurion tried leveraging Einstein to persuade Nehru

Ben-Gurion himself made personal contact not only with central Indian political figures to seek their support,  but even convinced Albert Einstein, a reluctant Zionist, to write to Jawaharlal Nehru, soon to be India's first prime minister, in the summer of 1947 to push for a sympathetic hearing for Zionism. Read more ..


Financing the Flames

Europe Must Stop Funding Demonization of Israel

June 27th 2017

Euro Coins

About a year ago, the Ramallah-based Popular Art Center staged a musical performance for “the Palestinian martyrs,” titled “No to laying down guns.” There is nothing new here. This is the “education to peace” that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared in his meeting with US President Donald Trump. Abbas declared, and the European Union is paying in funding for the center. The more interesting thing is that the grant was given as part of a special project for “increasing Palestinian public awareness of EU core values.”

Particularly large funding, of €2.5 million, was given to the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC). One of the senior employees of the WCLAC is Manal Tamimi. Tamimi propagates anti-Semitic cartoons, often defines Israel as a Nazi state, and her tweets include content such as “Vampire Zionist celebrating by drinking Palestinian bloods” and “I do hate Israel, I do hate Zionism, I wish a third intifada coming soon and people raise up and kills all these Zionist settlers everywhere.”

Read more ..

The Trump Era

Constitutional Expert Says Trump Cannot be Indicted

June 21st 2017

Trump2

Famed legal expert Alan Dershowitz explained on Fox News on Tuesday that the Justice Department has clarified that sitting presidents cannot be "indicted, prosecuted, or tried while serving in office." He noted that a president must first face impeachment and removal from office before being charged with a crime. Back in May, Dershowitz tweeted his objection to the current probes into supposed collusion between Donald Trump’s political organization and Russians during the 2016 general election. He tweeted: “The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?” 
 
On Fox News, Dershowitz said on Tuesday that there is no criminal act to investigate, when he referenced the probe being led by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Last week, the Washington Post reported that Mueller is currently investigating President Trump for supposed for obstruction of justice over his firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Since then, reports have been contradictory as to whether Mueller is indeed investigating the president. Read more ..


Republicans on Edge

Soros, Clinton-Linked Teneo Among Donors to McCain Institute

June 20th 2017

Ben Franklin one hundred dollar bills

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain in 2012 turned over nearly $9 million in unspent funds from his failed 2008 presidential campaign to a new foundation bearing his name, the McCain Institute for International Leadership.

The institute is intended to serve as a “legacy” for McCain and “is dedicated to advancing human rights, dignity, democracy and freedom.” It is a tax-exempt non-profit foundation with assets valued at $8.1 million and associated with Arizona State University.

Conservative and liberal critics, however, believe the institute constitutes a major conflict of interest for McCain, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.

Read more ..

The Trump Era

Trump Under Legal Siege

June 17th 2017

Trump1

The distinguished political scientist Angelo Codevilla coined the ominous term “cold civil war” to describe America’s precarious condition, adding, “Statesmanship’s first task is to prevent it from turning hot.” The attempted massacre June this week June 14 of Republican Congressmen and their staff by a deranged partisan of Sen. Bernie Sanders turned up the heat a notch, but it would be mistaken to attribute much importance to this dreadful outburst of left-wing rage. The augury of American fracture will not be street violence, but a constitutional crisis implicating virtually the whole of America’s governing caste. The shock troops in the cold civil war are not gunmen but lawyers.

A considerable portion of America’s permanent bureaucracy, including elements of its intelligence community, is engaged in an illegal and unconstitutional mutiny against the elected commander-in-chief, President Donald Trump. Most of the Democratic Party and a fair sampling of the Republican Establishment wants to force Trump out of office, and to this end undertook an entrapment scheme to entice the president and his staff into actions which might be construed after the fact as obstruction of justice. Read more ..


Qatar on Edge

The Other Reason To Isolate Qatar: Its Appalling Human-Rights Record

June 16th 2017

Qatari Skyline

The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain have all cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar over allegations of fuelling extremism and terrorism.

It’s true the government in Doha has a long history of supporting various radical Islamist groups and movements across the Middle East. Senior Muslim Brotherhood members, Hamas leaders, and Al Qaeda fixers reside in the country. The Taliban even has an unofficial "embassy" in the capital. Doha has also bankrolled with hundreds of millions radical Islamist opposition groups in Libya and Syria, which has angered its neighbors.

And to Qatar's critics, the billion-dollar hostage deal between the emirate, Iranian security officials and Al Qaeda-linked Syrian rebel groups was further evidence of its role in sponsoring extremists. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Are Jihadists Taking over Europe?

June 13th 2017

Muslim girls German flag

"Germany is quietly building a European army under its command," according to some in the media. Apparently German Chancellor Angela Merkel, after her clash with U.S. President Donald Trump, would like to invest, along with France, in a European army.

At present, however, there is just one real army in Europe -- the Jihadist Army, as in the terrorists who struck London on June 3 and murdered seven people, just two weeks after carnage in Manchester.

In the four European countries most targeted by terror attacks -- Britain, France, Belgium and Germany -- the number of official extremists has reached 66,000. That sounds like a real army, on active duty.

Read more ..

The Trump Era

Trump Fired Comey Because He Misled Public that President was Under Investigation

June 10th 2017

Trump1

At last, at least for your humble correspondent, this week’s big hearing brought clarity. I now believe President Donald Trump fired Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey because he believes Comey intentionally misled the public into believing Trump was under investigation by the FBI. There is enough support for this theory that, had the president been forthright in explaining it when he dismissed Comey on May 9, there might have been considerably less uproar. Instead, Trump dissembled, as he seems hardwired to do. He thus bought himself a debilitating special-counsel investigation, despite its being increasingly patent that there is no crime to investigate.

March 20 was the big day. Understanding why requires us to go back several weeks, to January 6, the day Trump and Comey first met. Read more ..


Palestinians on Edge

Nakba and its Role in the Arab-Israeli conflict

June 4th 2017

Pro-Palestine Gaza protesters

Since Israel's inception in 1948, the Arab-Palestinians mark Nakba Day. Nakba, the Arabic term for catastrophe, represents much more than just the physical creation of the modern State of Israel in 1948, which Palestinians decree as the cataclysmic disaster. It is also the Palestinian process of refusing to accept the fact that a sovereign Jewish state could even be allowed to come into being.

Over the years, one of the greatest ironies is that Arab members of Knesset have repeatedly proposed establishing an official Nakba Day. Although the Knesset's Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs eventually banned these proposals, they indicate how ingrained 1948 is in the Arab psyche. To the Knesset's credit, there was an understanding that marking the Nakba is harmful and propagates the notion that Israel's birth was illegitimate. Read more ..


Turkey on Edge

Turkey’s Indigenous Weapons Industry: A Rover with Rolls-Royce Ambitions

June 2nd 2017

Turkish military parade with flags

A former US ambassador to Ankara once described Turkey’s regional (i.e., neo-Ottoman) foreign policy aspirations by saying that the country had “Rolls-Royce ambitions but Rover resources.” The same could be true for Turkey’s ambitious indigenous weapons programs.

Turkey suffers from a “sizing” malady. When, in the late 1950s, Kemal Nejat Kavur was serving as the Turkish ambassador to Moscow, Andrei Gromyko, the then Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs, asked him: “Your Excellency, your country has the highest number of men under arms in Europe. If you turned them against your traditional enemies, the Greeks, you would be too much for them. But if you turned them against us, it would be too small. What’s the reason for this?” Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Trump's Saudi Speech: Pretty Good

May 22nd 2017

Saudi princes

In Riyadh, on the first stop of his tri-monotheism tour that will take him to Jerusalem and Rome (sorry, Mecca was not available), Donald Trump gave a major speech on a wide range of topics – the Middle East, jihadi violence, Iran, an "Arab NATO," and Islam. It's a mixed performance, but overall positive.

First, what's wrong with the 34-minute speech: It's incoherent, jumping from topic to topic and then back again. It's neither eloquent nor insightful (as in, "Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death"). In places, it consists of Obama-like euphemisms, such as the statement that history's great test stands before us, one goal that transcends every other consideration: "to conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism."

Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Assad’s Hollow Crown

May 10th 2017

Syrian refugees

The mortar shells came early in the morning.  At about 5.  At regular intervals. Solemn and sinister. They were a reminder of how close it all was. We were in the Damascus Old City. There was still fighting in Jobar, about two kilometers away.  The rebels had also counter-attacked from the east, from the suburbs in eastern Ghouta, in the previous week.   A shell had landed in the precinct of the Umayyad Mosque. 

This was not in accordance with the line being promoted by the regime, according to which the rebellion was on the verge of defeat.  But there it was. The old city was tense, behind a veneer of strained normality. There were checkpoints every hundred meters or so. Read more ..


Broken Borders

Austin Texas Faces Costs for 'Sanctuary City' Status

May 5th 2017

US/Mex Border fence

Millions of people are living illegally in the U.S., and more than 100,000 live in Austin, Texas. Austin law enforcement has pledged not to arrest and detain people for simply living there illegally. But that promise goes against a bill about to become law in Texas. It also goes against requests from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And it's costing Austin money and creating confusion - in the immigrant community as well as among law enforcement.

Several weeks ago, armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents entered the Travis County criminal court and began arresting people who could not prove they were in the U.S. legally, according to Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt. She called it a raid and said it undermined her work.

"This, I would submit, is not about sanctuary cities," she said. "I would submit that this is straight-up political retribution." Read more ..


Islam on Edge

Can Islam Ever be Reformed?

April 30th 2017

Muslims pray on a rug

Muslim reformer Zuhdi Jasser has recently attacked leaders of the anti-Jihad movement in America. He equated them with jihadists when he called them the derogatory word, alt-jihadists, meaning that Americans who speak and write against the evils of Islamic jihad and sharia are just as bad as jihadists. Jasser attacked by name freedom fighters like Stephen Kirby, John Guandolo, Diana West, Clare Lopez, Andrew Bostom, Robert Spender and Pamela Geller.

Jasser claims that he coined the word ‘alt-jihadists’ but in fact Arab media beat him to it when they equated vocal anti-jihad leaders with jihadists. To silence critics of jihad and Islam, Muslim media have habitually come down hard on critics of jihad and Islam and treated them worse than terrorists. Read more ..


The Korean Threat

Is China the Solution to the North Korean Problem?

April 28th 2017

North Korean missiles

Based on the completed review of Washington's North Korea policy, the U.S. administration has no plan to respond to Pyongyang's next nuclear test with military might. But U.S. President Donald Trump has taken every opportunity to show that he still considers all options — including a military strike — to be on the table.

This won't, however, do much to change North Korea's own calculations. Pyongyang no longer sees its nuclear weapons program as a chip to be bargained away for economic and security concessions from Washington. Instead, developing a credible nuclear deterrent has become a matter of national security, and a crucial one at that. North Korea will forge ahead with its nuclear program undeterred, bringing it one step closer to its final stage — and bringing the country closer to a clash with regional powers intent on stopping it.

Read more ..

Russia on Edge

A Brave New World for the Kremlin

April 10th 2017

Russian soldiers Red Square

Every country faces generational change. Evolutions in technology, culture, social mores and global affairs can leave a gulf between young and old that neither can easily bridge. In Russia, that gulf is especially vast. As of this year, 27 percent of Russians were born after the fall of the Soviet Union, and that number will jump to nearly 40 percent within the next decade. The rising generation was never Sovietized. Most of them, moreover, are too young to remember the tumultuous 1990s, a decade of war, financial crisis and political disarray.

Unlike the older generations, they don't recall President Vladimir Putin's promises to save Russia or the measures he took to stabilize the country after its post-Soviet tailspin. In fact, they've never really known life without him. For Putin, the situation poses an unfamiliar challenge.

Read more ..


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