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Significant Lives

Former Israeli President, Prime Minister Shimon Peres Dead at 93

September 28th 2016

Israeli flag and clouds

Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres died early Wednesday morning at the age of 93, according to Hebrew media reports.

His condition had deteriorated on Tuesday, two weeks after he suffered a major stroke, and his family was summoned to his side at Tel Aviv’s Tel Hashomer Hospital to say their final goodbyes.

Peres, who also served in a host of other government positions, was most recently the Jewish state’s president from 2007-2014. He emigrated from Poland to Palestine in 1932, before the founding of modern Israel in 1948. He was considered the last of Israel’s founding fathers.

He led the creation of Israel’s defense industry, negotiated key arms deals with France and Germany and was the prime mover behind the development of Israel’s nuclear weapons. But he was consistent in his search for an accommodation with the Arab world, a search that in recent years left him orphaned as Israeli society lost interest, especially after the upheavals of the 2011 Arab Spring led to tumult on its borders. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syria Announces New Offensive, Truce Collapses

September 26th 2016

Syria fighting injured baby

Syria announced a new offensive against rebel-held areas of Aleppo on Thursday while diplomats failed to find a way in New York to revive a U.S. and Russian-brokered ceasefire that collapsed this week.

Warplanes mounted the heaviest air strikes in months against rebel-held districts of Syria's commercial hub and largest city, dealing a fresh blow to efforts to end Syrian civil war that has raged since 2011.

Rebel officials and rescue workers said incendiary bombs were among the weapons that rained down on Aleppo. Hamza al-Khatib, the director of a hospital in the rebel-held east, told Reuters 45 people were killed."It's as if the planes are trying to compensate for all the days they didn't drop bombs" during the ceasefire, Ammar al-Selmo, the head of the civil defense rescue service in opposition-held eastern Aleppo, told Reuters.

Read more ..

Vote 2016

MSNBC Claims Democrats to Consider Replacement for Hillary

September 13th 2016

Hillary Clinton in blue

MSNBC reporter David Shuster has tweeted, following Hillary Clinton's collapse in New York City after unexpectedly leaving a commemoration of 9/11, that officials within the Democratic party are planning to convene an emergency meeting to consider a replacement for Clinton.
 
While Clinton's personal physician announced today that the candidate is receiving antibiotics for pneumonia, it was revealed later that the diagnosis came on September 9.
 
Earlier, Clinton's persistent coughing fits have been attributed to "allergies." After a two-minute coughing jab on Labor Day in Cleveland, Clinton joked that it came because she is "allergic to Trump."
Read more ..

Israel and the New Palestinians

Israel and Palestinians May Return to Peace Talks in Moscow

September 9th 2016

Bibi arguing

Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed "in principle" to resume peace talks in Moscow, the Kremlin announced Thursday.

There is no timetable yet for the meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Netanyahu has repeatedly said he would meet with Abbas anywhere and at any time, as long as there were no preconditions for the talks.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said both sides have to show they are committed to a two-state solution before there can be any successful negotiations.

"It's our belief that — and this speaks broadly to any peace negotiations, but certainly in this case ... if you don't have the right climate for them to be successful, then it's not worth having it," Toner said.

Read more ..

The Refugee Crisis

Emulating Trump, Britain is Building a Wall

September 8th 2016

Syrian Refugees

The United Kingdom has announced plans to build a "big new wall" to prevent illegal immigrants from entering British territory. The wall would be built at the border port at Calais in France. Nearby there are camps of migrants from a number of countries who seek admission to the UK. Known as "The Jungle," the camp has been noted for several years for riots and occasional raids by French police. Of late, squatters have assaulted vehicles headed for the Chunnel that goes beneath the English Channel and leads to the UK. British nationals and others have been injured and frightened by a number of spectacular attacks by migrants. Migrants have sought to commandeer vehicles, including commercial trucks, in order to enter the UK.
Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Iran Nuclear Exemptions Revealed

September 5th 2016

Bushehr plant and guard

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) placed detailed limitations on facets of Iran’s nuclear program that needed to be met by Implementation Day, which took place on January 16, 2016. Most of the conditions were met by Iran. However, we have learned that some nuclear stocks and facilities were not in accordance with JCPOA limits on Implementation Day, but in anticipation the Joint Commission had earlier and secretly exempted them from the JCPOA limits. The exemptions and in one case, a loophole, involved the low enriched uranium (LEU) cap of 300 kilograms (kg), some of the near 20 percent LEU, the heavy water cap, and the number of large hot cells allowed to remain in Iran. One senior knowledgeable official stated that if the Joint Commission had not acted to create these exemptions, some of Iran’s nuclear facilities would not have been in compliance with the JCPOA by Implementation Day. Read more ..


Vote 2016

Trump Surging in Iowa and Virginia

September 4th 2016

Click to select Image

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is surging in battleground states Iowa and Virginia in newly released polls, consistent with the national trend reported this week by Reuters-Ipsos and other major polling operations.

A handful of swing states—experts always mention at least five, and no more than eleven—will determine the winner of the presidential race, mainly concentrated in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Southwest.
Polling numbers from two of those states seem to fit a larger trend over the past two weeks of improving chances for Donald Trump to defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Read more ..


The Edge of Technology

Apples Owes $14.5 Billion in Back Taxes, EU Rules

August 31st 2016

Euro Symbol

The European Commission has ruled that over several years Ireland has granted unjustifiable tax benefits to Apple worth up to €13 billion (about $14.5 billion), which the US computer company must now pay back to the Irish state – plus interest.

The ruling is that Ireland allowed Apple to organize its business in a way that allowed it pay substantially less tax than other businesses and that this is illegal under European Union state aid legislation.

The conclusion comes at the end of a European Commission investigation that began in June 2014 and found that two tax rulings issued by Ireland to Apple have artificially lowered the tax paid by Apple in Ireland since 1991. The European Commission ruling only covers the period 2003 to 2014.

Read more ..

The Edge of Space

Mysterious Signal Prompts SETI Hopes

August 30th 2016

Solar System Birth

A powerful signal has been spotted coming from the vicinity of a sunlike star, and now astronomers are trying to figure out what it means.

In May 2015, researchers using a radio telescope in Russia detected a candidate SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) signal that seems to originate from HD 164595, a star system that lies about 94 light-years from Earth, the website Centauri Dreams reported over the weekend.

The astronomers have not yet published a study about the detection; they plan to discuss it next month at the 67th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, according to Centauri Dreams' Paul Gilster, who wrote that one of the team members forwarded him the IAC presentation. [13 Ways to Hunt Intelligent Alien Life]

Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

17,000 Killed in Syrian Prisons Since 2011, Says Amnesty International

August 18th 2016

Syrian security forces

A new Amnesty International report details allegations of systematic torture of political prisoners and accuses the Syrian government of killing more than 17,000 people held in custody from the outset of the conflict in 2011 to December 2015.

The report is based on the recollections of 65 torture survivors.

The "catalog of horror stories" included in the report "depicts in gruesome detail the dreadful abuse detainees routinely suffer ... in Syria's notorious intelligence facilities," said Philip Luther, Amnesty's director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Torture has long been used in Syrian prisons, but its scale has increased “dramatically" since the 2011 conflict began, according to Amnesty’s Syria expert Claudia Scheufler, who was instrumental in putting the report together. Read more ..


Vote 2016

Obama Slams Trump-- Calls on GOP to Repudiate Candidacy

August 2nd 2016

Obama downcast

President Barack Obama said today that Donald Trump is “unfit to serve as president,” while calling on Republicans to repudiate their nominee. Obama claimed that criticisms coming from the GOP “ring hollow” if its’ leaders support the Trump candidacy, especially since the dust-up between Trump and Pakistani-born lawyer, Khizr Khan, that began when Khan excoriated Trump at the Democratic National Convention.
 
“The question they have to ask themselves is: If you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?”  Obama said at a news conference. 
Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Islamic Terrorists Slaughter Catholic Priest in France

July 26th 2016

ISIS Army

Two Muslim terrorists allied with the Islamic State stormed into a Catholic church in northern France during the midst of the celebration of Mass. They took hostages and then cut the throat of the 86-year-old priest in the church. A team of police trained in special weapons and techniques came to the scene and shot the two militants to death. Bomb disposal units are on hand, seeking any possible explosive devices left behind by the attackers. Two of the hostages were nuns.
 
In Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, about 35 miles southeast of the port of Le Havre in Normandy, French soldiers are patrolling the narrow streets near the church where the martyrdom took place. Mourners are gathering at the little church. One of the hostages who survived the assault is being treated for life-threatening injuries, said Pierre-Henry Brandet.
Read more ..

The Edge of the Solar System

Juno Arrives at Jupiter

July 8th 2016

Jupiter

NASA's Juno spacecraft has successfully entered orbit around Jupiter. At 8:53 P.M. Pacific time, ground controllers received a telemetry tone of 2,327 hertz -- equivalent to the highest D note on a piano keyboard—indicating that Juno's 35-minute engine burn had slowed the spacecraft enough to slip into the giant planet’s gravitational embrace. Launched in 2011 on a nearly five-year interplanetary voyage, Juno is only the second spacecraft to ever orbit Jupiter, after the Galileo mission that explored the giant planet from 1995 to 2003. During its capture into orbit Juno passed just 4,490 kilometers above the Jovian cloud tops, so close that the planet filled half its sky. Even so, Jupiter is so immense that an astronaut riding along would have seen only about 5 percent of the planet’s cloud-shrouded face.

At 9:50 P.M., the maneuver was officially complete as the spacecraft turned its solar arrays back toward the sun. “I won't exhale until we’re sun-pointed again,” Juno's principal investigator Scott Bolton had said at a press conference earlier in the day.

The spacecraft plummeted in from interplanetary space over Jupiter's north pole at about 7:30 P.M., falling ever faster as it plunged deeper into the planet’s gravitational field. Just two days ago its speed relative to Jupiter was nine kilometers per second; midday yesterday, 12 kilometers per second; and by the rocket burn, 54 kilometers per second. The burn reduced its speed by just 1 percent, but that was enough. (Theoretically, the spacecraft was captured by the planet at 8:38 P.M., about halfway through the burn, but confirmation did not come until later.) After skimming so close to Jupiter's upper atmosphere, the spacecraft soared back up from the planet’s cloud tops at about 9:30 P.M. into a looping, elongated orbit out to 8.1 million kilometers.

Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Iran Orders Hezbollah to target Saudi Arabia

May 18th 2016

Hezbollah

The military wing of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah has been instructed by Iran to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead, Middle East Eye can reveal.

The instruction comes in the wake of widespread anger at the apparent assassination of Mustafa Badreddine, its military commander in Syria and head of the movement's military wing, which Hezbollah blamed on “takfiri” forces supported by Riyadh.

According to well informed sources in Lebanon, the order was conveyed in person by Qasim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) who came to Beirut to give his condolescences.

Soleimani also named Badreddine’s successor and his two deputies, which is believed to be an unprecedented move in the relationship between Iran and the Lebanese movement. Previous appointments have been an internal matter for Hezbollah in consultation with Iran, MEE understands.

Badreddine’s replacement is Fuad Shukr, whose nom de guerre is al-Hajj Mohsen, the sources told MEE. 

Aged 55 and from the village al-Nabi Sheeth in the Bekaa Valley, Shukr comes from the core group which started Hezbollah along with Imad Mughniyeh, Badreddine, and Mustafa Sahadah.

Whereas his predecessors came from the intelligence and security wing of the organisation, Shukr came to prominence as a military man, responsible for operations against Israel, including the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. 

A graduate of the Imam Hussein University in Tehran, Shukr is regarded as well trained. Soleimani not only named the new head of Hezbollah’s military wing, but his two deputies as well, sources told MEE. They are Ibrahim Aqil, also know as al-Hajj Tahsin, but whose current pseudonym is al-Hajj Abdul Khader, and Talal Hamiah.

Shukr's appointment comes despite earlier reports in the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat suggesting that Badreddine’s nephew Mustafa Mughniyeh would be named as his successor.

MEE understands these reports to be incorrect.

Iran’s order to Hezbollah, and the fact that they have gone to such lengths as to appoint a successor, confirms the significance to Iran of Badreddine’s death, the exact circumstances of which are still a matter of speculation. His death near Damascus airport was initially blamed on an Israeli covert operation, but this was contradicted by a Hezbollah statement.

It read: ”Investigations have showed that the explosion, which targeted one of our bases near Damascus International Airport, and which led to the martyrdom of commander Mustafa Badreddine, was the result of artillery bombardment carried out by takfiri [Sunni militant] groups in the area."

The nearest opposition artillery positions however were 20 kilometres away and there are doubts that their shells could achieve pinpoint accuracy from that distance.

Hezbollah slogans at Badreddine’s funeral left little doubt that they held Saudi Arabia responsible for their military commander’s death.

Ever since Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations after the storming of their embassy in Tehran following the execution of the Shia leader Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, relations between the rival regional powers have plummeted. 

The latest sign of this was the failure to agree on arrangements for Iranian pilgrims to travel to this year’s Hajj.

The failure of four days of talks between the two sides last month has led to statements of mutual recrimination which will mean that Iranian pilgrims will almost certainly miss this year’s ceremonies.

Iran said that its citizens would not participate in the Hajj and blamed Saudi Arabia for the problem. Last year’s Hajj was marred by the death of at least 769 pilgrims, many of them Iranian, in a stampede at Mina on the outskirts of Mecca.

According to MEE sources the instruction Iran gave was to initiate actions against Saudi Arabia before the beginning of the Hajj in September. Shukr's task is to co-ordinate military actions with an Iraqi Shia paramilitary group Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, and a shia group in Bahrain Saraya al-Mukhtar.

Hezbollah operatives have been used in the past in the Gulf. A member of the al-Dawa militant group, Badreddine was arrested along with 17 others after the truck bombings of the US and French embassies in Kuwait City in 1983. In 1985 Badreddine was also reportedly involved in a failed assassination attempt of the Kuwaiti emir.

Amed Ibrahim al-Mughassil, a Saudi Shia member of Saudi Hezbollah who allegedly masterminded the attack on the US military barracks in Khobar in 1996, was captured last year after a 20-year manhunt. Saudi Hezbollah, also called Hezbollah el-Hajaz, is close to Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the IRGC.

- See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/exclusive-iran-orders-hezbollah-target-saudi-arabia-903428016#sthash.IOChq2UG.dpuf

The military wing of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah has been instructed by Iran to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead, Middle East Eye can reveal.

The instruction comes in the wake of widespread anger at the apparent assassination of Mustafa Badreddine, its military commander in Syria and head of the movement's military wing, which Hezbollah blamed on “takfiri” forces supported by Riyadh.

According to well informed sources in Lebanon, the order was conveyed in person by Qasim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) who came to Beirut to give his condolescences.

Soleimani also named Badreddine’s successor and his two deputies, which is believed to be an unprecedented move in the relationship between Iran and the Lebanese movement. Previous appointments have been an internal matter for Hezbollah in consultation with Iran, MEE understands.

Badreddine’s replacement is Fuad Shukr, whose nom de guerre is al-Hajj Mohsen, the sources told MEE. 

Aged 55 and from the village al-Nabi Sheeth in the Bekaa Valley, Shukr comes from the core group which started Hezbollah along with Imad Mughniyeh, Badreddine, and Mustafa Sahadah.

Whereas his predecessors came from the intelligence and security wing of the organisation, Shukr came to prominence as a military man, responsible for operations against Israel, including the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. 

A graduate of the Imam Hussein University in Tehran, Shukr is regarded as well trained. Soleimani not only named the new head of Hezbollah’s military wing, but his two deputies as well, sources told MEE. They are Ibrahim Aqil, also know as al-Hajj Tahsin, but whose current pseudonym is al-Hajj Abdul Khader, and Talal Hamiah.

Shukr's appointment comes despite earlier reports in the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat suggesting that Badreddine’s nephew Mustafa Mughniyeh would be named as his successor.

MEE understands these reports to be incorrect.

Iran’s order to Hezbollah, and the fact that they have gone to such lengths as to appoint a successor, confirms the significance to Iran of Badreddine’s death, the exact circumstances of which are still a matter of speculation. His death near Damascus airport was initially blamed on an Israeli covert operation, but this was contradicted by a Hezbollah statement.

It read: ”Investigations have showed that the explosion, which targeted one of our bases near Damascus International Airport, and which led to the martyrdom of commander Mustafa Badreddine, was the result of artillery bombardment carried out by takfiri [Sunni militant] groups in the area."

The nearest opposition artillery positions however were 20 kilometres away and there are doubts that their shells could achieve pinpoint accuracy from that distance.

Hezbollah slogans at Badreddine’s funeral left little doubt that they held Saudi Arabia responsible for their military commander’s death.

Ever since Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations after the storming of their embassy in Tehran following the execution of the Shia leader Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, relations between the rival regional powers have plummeted. 

The latest sign of this was the failure to agree on arrangements for Iranian pilgrims to travel to this year’s Hajj.

The failure of four days of talks between the two sides last month has led to statements of mutual recrimination which will mean that Iranian pilgrims will almost certainly miss this year’s ceremonies.

Iran said that its citizens would not participate in the Hajj and blamed Saudi Arabia for the problem. Last year’s Hajj was marred by the death of at least 769 pilgrims, many of them Iranian, in a stampede at Mina on the outskirts of Mecca.

According to MEE sources the instruction Iran gave was to initiate actions against Saudi Arabia before the beginning of the Hajj in September. Shukr's task is to co-ordinate military actions with an Iraqi Shia paramilitary group Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, and a shia group in Bahrain Saraya al-Mukhtar.

Hezbollah operatives have been used in the past in the Gulf. A member of the al-Dawa militant group, Badreddine was arrested along with 17 others after the truck bombings of the US and French embassies in Kuwait City in 1983. In 1985 Badreddine was also reportedly involved in a failed assassination attempt of the Kuwaiti emir.

Amed Ibrahim al-Mughassil, a Saudi Shia member of Saudi Hezbollah who allegedly masterminded the attack on the US military barracks in Khobar in 1996, was captured last year after a 20-year manhunt. Saudi Hezbollah, also called Hezbollah el-Hajaz, is close to Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the IRGC.

- See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/exclusive-iran-orders-hezbollah-target-saudi-arabia-903428016#sthash.IOChq2UG.dpuf

The military wing of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah has been instructed by Iran to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead, Middle East Eye can reveal.

The instruction comes in the wake of widespread anger at the apparent assassination of Mustafa Badreddine, its military commander in Syria and head of the movement's military wing, which Hezbollah blamed on “takfiri” forces supported by Riyadh.

According to well informed sources in Lebanon, the order was conveyed in person by Qasim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) who came to Beirut to give his condolescences.

Soleimani also named Badreddine’s successor and his two deputies, which is believed to be an unprecedented move in the relationship between Iran and the Lebanese movement. Previous appointments have been an internal matter for Hezbollah in consultation with Iran, MEE understands.

Badreddine’s replacement is Fuad Shukr, whose nom de guerre is al-Hajj Mohsen, the sources told MEE. 

Aged 55 and from the village al-Nabi Sheeth in the Bekaa Valley, Shukr comes from the core group which started Hezbollah along with Imad Mughniyeh, Badreddine, and Mustafa Sahadah.

Whereas his predecessors came from the intelligence and security wing of the organisation, Shukr came to prominence as a military man, responsible for operations against Israel, including the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. 

A graduate of the Imam Hussein University in Tehran, Shukr is regarded as well trained. Soleimani not only named the new head of Hezbollah’s military wing, but his two deputies as well, sources told MEE. They are Ibrahim Aqil, also know as al-Hajj Tahsin, but whose current pseudonym is al-Hajj Abdul Khader, and Talal Hamiah.

Shukr's appointment comes despite earlier reports in the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat suggesting that Badreddine’s nephew Mustafa Mughniyeh would be named as his successor.

MEE understands these reports to be incorrect.

Iran’s order to Hezbollah, and the fact that they have gone to such lengths as to appoint a successor, confirms the significance to Iran of Badreddine’s death, the exact circumstances of which are still a matter of speculation. His death near Damascus airport was initially blamed on an Israeli covert operation, but this was contradicted by a Hezbollah statement.

It read: ”Investigations have showed that the explosion, which targeted one of our bases near Damascus International Airport, and which led to the martyrdom of commander Mustafa Badreddine, was the result of artillery bombardment carried out by takfiri [Sunni militant] groups in the area."

The nearest opposition artillery positions however were 20 kilometres away and there are doubts that their shells could achieve pinpoint accuracy from that distance.

Hezbollah slogans at Badreddine’s funeral left little doubt that they held Saudi Arabia responsible for their military commander’s death.

Ever since Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations after the storming of their embassy in Tehran following the execution of the Shia leader Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, relations between the rival regional powers have plummeted. 

The latest sign of this was the failure to agree on arrangements for Iranian pilgrims to travel to this year’s Hajj.

The failure of four days of talks between the two sides last month has led to statements of mutual recrimination which will mean that Iranian pilgrims will almost certainly miss this year’s ceremonies.

Iran said that its citizens would not participate in the Hajj and blamed Saudi Arabia for the problem. Last year’s Hajj was marred by the death of at least 769 pilgrims, many of them Iranian, in a stampede at Mina on the outskirts of Mecca.

According to MEE sources the instruction Iran gave was to initiate actions against Saudi Arabia before the beginning of the Hajj in September. Shukr's task is to co-ordinate military actions with an Iraqi Shia paramilitary group Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, and a shia group in Bahrain Saraya al-Mukhtar.

Hezbollah operatives have been used in the past in the Gulf. A member of the al-Dawa militant group, Badreddine was arrested along with 17 others after the truck bombings of the US and French embassies in Kuwait City in 1983. In 1985 Badreddine was also reportedly involved in a failed assassination attempt of the Kuwaiti emir.

Amed Ibrahim al-Mughassil, a Saudi Shia member of Saudi Hezbollah who allegedly masterminded the attack on the US military barracks in Khobar in 1996, was captured last year after a 20-year manhunt. Saudi Hezbollah, also called Hezbollah el-Hajaz, is close to Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the IRGC.

- See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/exclusive-iran-orders-hezbollah-target-saudi-arabia-903428016#sthash.IOChq2UG.dpuf

The military wing of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah has been instructed by Iran to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead, Middle East Eye can reveal.

The instruction comes in the wake of widespread anger at the apparent assassination of Mustafa Badreddine, its military commander in Syria and head of the movement's military wing, which Hezbollah blamed on “takfiri” forces supported by Riyadh.

According to well informed sources in Lebanon, the order was conveyed in person by Qasim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) who came to Beirut to give his condolescences.

Soleimani also named Badreddine’s successor and his two deputies, which is believed to be an unprecedented move in the relationship between Iran and the Lebanese movement. Previous appointments have been an internal matter for Hezbollah in consultation with Iran, MEE understands. Read more ..


Israel on Edge

CUFI Action Fund Expands Legislative Staff

March 18th 2016

Pastor John Hagee

The Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Action Fund has hired longtime political operative Jason Stverak to lead its legislative efforts in Washington and state capitals around the country. Stverak, who will serve as the Action Fund’s Legislative Director, most recently worked as Communications Director for Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and previously served as the Executive Director of the North Dakota Republican Party and later as the founder and President of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

"The year ahead promises to be full of challenges for the U.S.-Israel alliance and Middle East peace. But given Jason's stellar record and astute understanding of Washington’s inner workings, I know he will be a tremendous asset to our team," said Gary Bauer, Washington Director of the CUFI Action Fund.

"I’m very excited to be joining the Action Fund at this pivotal time. With an ascendant Iran, near daily Palestinian terror attacks, relentless persecution of Christians at the hands of radical Islamic extremists, and the rise of the BDS movement across the United States, now more than ever America’s Christian Zionists need to ensure our elected officials know exactly where we stand," said Stverak. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Iran Seized U.S. Navy Sat-Phone SIM Cards; May Have Accessed Classified Information

January 24th 2016

Iranian navy ship and guard

Read more ..

The iranian Threat

Iranian Naval Commander Says US Aircraft Carrier Was Potential Target of Missile Attack

January 14th 2016

Iranian Admiral Habibullah

An Iranian naval commander revealed that his forces had locked their missiles on a US aircraft carrier, semi-official Fars News Agency reported on Wednesday. Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, said that the incident occurred during Iran’s seizure Tuesday of two US naval boats and their 10 sailors — who were released Wednesday. Fadavi said that after the aircraft carrier USS Truman displayed “unprofessional moves,” Iranian naval forces went on high alert. “We prepared our coast-to-sea missiles, missile-launching speedboats and our numerous capabilities, to strike if they made a hostile move,” he said. Fadavi said that the IRGC Navy warned the Truman to change course. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Minnesota Man Facing Terrorism Charge Once Worked at Airport

December 23rd 2015

United Airlines jet liner

A Minnesota man who faces terrorism-related charges once boasted that he was capable of building rockets that could threaten planes landing at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and also once worked at the airport as a baggage handler, an FBI agent testified Tuesday.

FBI Special Agent Daniel Higgins spoke at a hearing for Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, 20, of Eagan. Warsame was the 10th young man from Minnesota's Somali community to be charged since April with terrorism-related counts accusing them of plotting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group. He was arrested and charged Dec. 9 with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and one count of providing such support. Read more ..


The Caliphate

Russia Is Using Space Power in Its Attack on Syria

December 17th 2015

Vladmir Putin attempts modesty

Vladimir Putin’s military is unveiling a new arsenal in its battle with ISIS and other insurgents in Syria. Much of that new military hardware is hundreds of miles above Earth.
Russia’s two-month-old military intervention in Syria on behalf of the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has involved dramatic, and highly visible, strikes by high-tech jet fighters, lumbering heavy bombers, powerful ground-based artillery, and even ships and submarines launching missiles over long distances.

Less visible but no less impressive has been Russia’s mobilization in Earth’s orbit. Moscow claimed it has positioned 10 satellites—representing more than 10 percent of Russia’s space arsenal—over Syria to map terrain, spot targets and gather other intelligence, and relay radio signals between far-flung ground, air, and sea forces. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

DOJ May Intervene in Terror Judgment Against Palestinian Authority

August 5th 2015

Hamas head

The Justice Department is "carefully considering" whether to intervene in a federal civil suit in New York which generated a $218 million judgment against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for supporting and enabling terrorist attacks during the second Intifada.

Under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, that award can triple to $655 million.

A decision whether to weigh in on the case should come by Monday, a letter sent to U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels on July 27 said. Reuters first reported on the letter last week.

The lawsuit, Sokolow v. PLO, was brought by 10 American families whose loved ones were killed or who suffered injuries themselves in those attacks between 2001 and 2004. The evidence included internal PA and PLO records detailing a program to pay surviving relatives of Palestinians who died in suicide terror attacks or who were in Israeli jails after being convicted of terrorist acts. While the PA says it no longer provides support for terror attacks, payments to the families of dead terrorists and to prisoners in Israeli jails continues. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Israeli Strike Kills Ruthless, Hizballah/PFLP Terrorist

July 30th 2015

IAF Fighter

An Israeli airstrike Wednesday reportedly killed a senior Hizballah operative in the Golan Heights; a man considered one of the most reviled terrorists in Israeli history.

Samir Kuntar reportedly was among five men killed by an Israeli airstrike in the Syrian Druze village Hader. That community is considered strongly loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad

Kuntar was among five prisoners Israel released in 2008 in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

Kuntar was 16 years old in 1979, when he and three other members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) sneaked into Israel, killing a policeman and kidnapping a man and his 4-year-old daughter, Einat Haran. Kuntar killed the little girl by smashing her head with his rifle butt. Compounding the tragedy, Haran's other daughter, a 2-year-old, was accidentally suffocated by her mother as she tried to keep the girl from crying out as they hide from the terrorists in their apartment. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Dems Clash with Kerry over Iran Nuke Deal

July 29th 2015

John Kerry

Democrats harshly criticized the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran during a testy hearing Tuesday, underscoring the difficulty the White House faces in winning over its own party. Secretary of State John Kerry had several sharp exchanges with Jewish Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, including ranking member Eliot Engel (N.Y.), who said he was “very disappointed” with the agreement.

Supporters and opponents of the Iran nuclear deal have focused on Jewish Democrats as both influencers and bellwethers in the debate.

“I have a fundamental concern that 15 years from now, Iran will essentially be off the hook,” Engel said. “My big question is this: What happens then? Are we back to square one? Is this deal just pushing the pause button for 15 years?” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) argued the deal was not legally binding and that a future administration could turn away from it.

Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Leader of Khorasan Group Killed in U.S. Airstrike

July 24th 2015

MQ-1 Predator Drone

A U.S. airstrike killed a seasoned member of al-Qaeda, Muhsin al-Fadhli, 31, as he traveled by car in the northwest Syrian town of Sarmada on July 8th, according to recently released information from officials in Washington. Al-Fadhli was leader of Khorasan, a terrorist group focused on launching attacks on the U.S and Europe.

Pentagon spokesperson, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis made the announcement Tuesday morning saying that Al-Fadhli's "death will degrade and disrupt ongoing external operation of al-Qaeda against the United States and our allies and partners."

According to U.S. reports, Fadhli was a confidant of Osama bin Laden and one of the few members of al-Qaeda to receive a warning prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. Fadhli was active in terrorist operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than a decade and is considered a close ally of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, before his death in 2006. Officials suspect Fadhli's involvment in two 2002 terrorist attacks, one that killed a United States Marine in Kuwait as well as a deadly explosion on the French oil tanker MV Limburg off the coast of Yemen. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

"Stop Iran" Protest In Times Square

July 19th 2015

Iran Nuclear Equipment centrifuges

The "STOP IRAN RALLY," the largest, grassroots bipartisan American protest against the deal granting Iran a fast track to a nuclear bomb, will be held in Times Square on Wednesday, July 22, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thousands of Americans from all faith traditions, political interests and communities, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, registered Democrats and Republicans, LGBT, Iranian-Americans, and others will demand that Congress vote down the Iran deal.

Under the umbrella of the STOP IRAN RALLY COALITION, more than 100 organizations spanning the nation's political, religious and social spectrum will participate. A roster of preeminent experts from senior levels of the military, government, academic, and media establishments will speak at the rally.

"Strip away the administration's rhetoric and it's clear this deal gives the Mullahs – the world's foremost sponsors of terrorism, $150 billion in return for effectively nothing: no dismantlement of Iran's nuclear program; no anytime or anywhere inspections; no eradication of Iran's ballistic missile program; no maintenance of the arms embargo; and no halt to Iran's sponsorship of terror," said Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, STOP IRAN RALLY's co-organizer. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Iranian Nuclear Deal Reached

July 14th 2015

Iran Long-Range Missile

In the UN complex in Vienna, Austria, the foreign ministers of the six world powers and Iran announced that a nuclear deal was reached after months of intensive negotiations.   Israel is following with concern the partial easing of sanctions that Iran received in exchange for the monitoring of their nuclear sites.  â€œThis is a new chapter in international relations,” EU Foreign Minister Frederica Moghini stated this morning.

In the meeting that was conducted, Moghini added, “We will overcome the decades of tension between Iran and the rest of the world.” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif added, “This is a solution that only has winners. It opens a new horizon with the international community. We are opening a new chapter and we need to relate to it as a great achievement for all of us.” Read more ..


Greece on Edge

Juncker Vents Fury Over Greek Bailout Talks At G7 Summit

June 8th 2015

Greek and EU flags

European Union officials delivered a blistering attack on the Greek government at the G7 summit in Bavaria, and world leaders including Barack Obama sought to avoid a transatlantic split over Ukraine by agreeing to maintain sanctions against Russia.

In a day of secluded talks in the Alpine resort of Schloss Elmau, the biggest drama was provided by a verbal attack on the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, by the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker.

The summit’s host, Angela Merkel, had hoped to solve the Greek bailout crisis before the summit, but instead Juncker felt forced to open proceedings by staging a press conference accusing Tsipras of undermining negotiations over new terms for a bailout and of effectively lying to the Greek parliament.

Read more ..

Broken Government

Sen. Paul Says NSA Bulk Data Collections Leads to 'Systemic Bias'

May 26th 2015

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Presidential hopeful and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Monday defended his role in scuttling Senate compromise on government surveillance reauthorizations, a move that could lead to the controversial intelligence programs expiring outright at the end of the month.

“I’m right in line with what the founders would have fought for and I am proud of the fight,” Paul said on CBS’s “This Morning.”

“The Constitution is inconvenient, but the thing is, we obey the Constitution because it protects the rights of all individuals.”

The Senate adjourned last weekend without a compromise on extending expiring portions of the Patriot Act. Paul led an effort to block a compromise bill, called the USA Freedom Act, as well as a number of short-term extensions of the program meant to carry the policies through a congressional recess.

Paul bucked criticism from other lawmakers that his efforts are just for show or to help shore up fundraising for his presidential campaign. He noted that a recent Justice Department Inspector General report found that “the bulk collection of data hasn’t cracked one case."

While that report said that the controversial Section 215 of the Patriot Act “did not identify any major case developments,” intelligence officials said it served other important purposes. Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

Obama Administration Apologizes to UN for Baltimore Incidents

May 13th 2015

Obama speechifying

In the wake of a United Nations report that condemned the United States for its allegedly poor human rights record, James Cadogan, a senior counselor to the U.S. assistant attorney general, apologized to the international delegates conferring in Geneva.  "The tragic deaths of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Michael Brown in Missouri, Eric Garner in New York, Tamir Rice in Ohio and Walter Scott in South Carolina have renewed a long-standing and critical national debate about the even-handed administration of justice. These events challenge us to do better and to work harder for progress — through both dialogue and action." Speaking on May 11 in Switzerland, Cadogan also said that the Department of Justice has opened more than 20 investigations since 2009. This includes its investigation into the Baltimore Police Department, and the report by the Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Policing that was released in March. The latter provided more than 60 recommendations.
Read more ..

The Way We Are

Growing Confidence among Same-Sex Marriage Advocates

May 9th 2015

Gay rights activists are trying to harness their momentum on same-sex marriage to push for anti-discrimination laws.

Advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBTs) people say they have a lot to celebrate, with the Supreme Court expected to issue a major ruling on gay marriage in June, President Obama calling for an end to gay conversion therapy, former Olympian and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” dad Bruce Jenner announcing he’s transgender, and support for gay marriage hitting a record high.

But advocates say the headway they have made on winning acceptance for LBGT people is not yet reflected in the nation’s laws — and that's something they intend to change. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Women and Girls Freed from Boko Haram Get Care

May 3rd 2015

Nigeria soldiers

Nigeria's military has rescued 234 more women and children from a forested area of northeasternNigeria controlled by Boko Haram extremists who have kidnapped hundreds of girls in recent years, the Nigerian defense ministry said Saturday.

The latest rescue, announced by the Nigeria Defense Headquarters on Twitter, brings the total for the week to more than 677 females the Nigerian military claims to have rescued.

Hundreds of the girls and women, are bewildered and traumatized,. They are being registered, fed and given medical care in their first day out of Nigeria's war zone.

The group of 275 women and children are among the nearly 700 released in the past week by the Nigerian military from Boko Haram extremists and the first to be transported to the safety of a Malkohi refugee camp here in Yola in the country's northeast.

Officials on Sunday are still registering the 61 women and 214 children, almost all girls. Many critically malnourished babies and children have been put on intravenous drips in the clinic and 21 have been hospitalized for gunshot wounds and fractured limbs, said a camp official.
Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Clash of the Titans in the Senate over Nuclear Negotiations with Iran

April 29th 2015

Supporters of an important bill on Iran are walking through a political minefield as they work to set up a series of amendment votes that Democrats warn could bring down the legislation.

Approximately 60 amendments have been put forward so far, with almost half of Senate Republicans seeking to challenge President Obama’s handling of the controversial nuclear negotiations with Iran.

While the legislation crafted by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has been endorsed by the White House, Democrats are warning that all bets are off if controversial amendments are attached.

“Amendments that undermine the administration’s negotiations or structurally alter this careful bipartisan compromise should be rejected by the Senate,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who voted for the legislation during a Foreign Relations Committee markup earlier this month. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

GOP Senators Pushing Democrats Hard on Obama's Iran Deal

April 27th 2015

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida)

Conservative Republicans are looking for ways to force Democrats to walk the plank in a series of tough votes over Iran.

GOP senators want to attach amendments to the recent deal struck between Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) that would allow Congress to weigh in on any agreement reached between the Obama administration and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program.

The White House and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are warning against changes that could erode support from Democrats and President Obama.

But the GOP is looking for options that would place Democrats between the proverbial rock and a hard place, forcing them to choose between opening themselves up to attack by voting against the amendments, or angering Obama and Reid by backing them. Read more ..


Financing the Flames

New Israel Fund Critics See BDS Lawsuits in Wake of Israeli Supreme Court Ruling

April 21st 2015

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Lawsuits may soon be coming.

A stunning new Israeli Supreme Court decision has upheld most of a 2011 Israeli law enabling civil recovery actions against those that proliferate Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli individuals, companies, and institutions. Most of the Law Preventing Harm to the State of Israel by Means of Boycott was sustained in a recent ruling — the court's strongly-worded majority opinion, seven concurring opinions and dissent covered 233-pages. The newly enabled addition to Israel Civil Tort Law 62A covers the total Israeli domain, that is, the Jewish State delineated in 1948 and all territory under Israeli control, including the West Bank. As such, those suffering losses by BDS activity can sue for actual damages. Punitive damages are disallowed under the ruling. Critics are predicting litigation against the New Israel Fund (NIF) and its NGO grantees that promote BDS.

For its part, the NIF and its grantees that fought hard against the law during the run-up to the Supreme Court decision have almost universally condemned the decision as an attack against freedom of expression and democracy.

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By way of background, the NIF was pivotal in the early establishment of the international anti-Israel boycott through its funding of the Coalition of Women for Peace and other activities. After widespread criticism, the NIF stopped funding the Coalition of Women for Peace. However, many key NIF grantees, such as Partners for Progressive Israel (PPI), remain vibrantly involved in the BDS movement.

For example, a February 2015 PPI policy statement published on its website, accessed April 20, 2015, states: "PPI supports a selective, targeted boycott of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, not at Israel as a whole. The conception of a selective boycott first adopted by PPI called for a boycott of goods produced by the settlements." However, several PPI web pages devoted to boycotting settlement products were found blanked out when accessed after the Supreme Court ruling. These include such pages as one entitled "boycott-settlement-products." Read more ..


Egypt on Edge

Former Egyptian President Morsi Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

April 21st 2015

Morsi

Mohamed Morsi, who was elected President of Egypt following the revolution in which former President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The Egyptian court ruled that Morsi, who was ousted after only a year in office, is responsible for the death of protesters during the riots that broke out in Egypt in 2012.

Morsi faced four separate charges, including espionage, and for some of them could be charged with the most severe punishment of all – the death penalty. In addition to Morsi, 11 other senior officials in the Muslim Brotherhood were sentenced to 20 years in prison, including the party’s General Secretary, Mohamed Beltagy, and former head of Parliament, Essam el-Erian. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

President Obama Mends Faces with Skeptics over Iran's Nukes

April 14th 2015

President Obama pleaded with Jewish groups to back his nuclear framework deal with Iran during a private meeting at the White House on Monday.

The president held separate meetings on Monday with leaders of major Jewish organizations and a group mostly comprised of Jewish Democratic supporters and donors.

Obama made an “emphatic and passionate” case during the nearly 90-minute meeting with Jewish organizations that the deal is the best way to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, according to an official from a group that participated.

“Concerns were raised and there was a fair amount of back and forth,” the official, who requested anonymity to describe the events of the meeting, said. “There were some folks walking in who support and favor the deal and there were some who have deep, deep concerns about the deal. I don’t think anyone’s fundamental view was changed by the conversation.” Read more ..


The Caliphate

Islamic State Brutally Destroys Ancient City of Nimrud

April 12th 2015

Islamic State Destroys Nimrud April 2015

The Islamic State released a new video on Sunday featuring its operatives destroying the old city of Nimrud in Iraq. The city is situated in Iraq's modern day Nineveh region. In the video, the IS men are shown using bulldozers and explosives to turn the archeological treasures into debris. The terrorist organization has been destroying ancient sites throughout Iraq as part of what it calls "the war against false idols."

see the video here

"God has honored us in the Islamic State to remove all of these idols and statutes worshiped instead of Allah in the past days," one of the operatives stated. "Whenever we seize a piece of land, we will remove signs of idolatry and spread monotheism."

Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

French TV5Monde Hit by Islamic State Hackers

April 9th 2015

IS with Missile

French television network TV5Monde said Thursday that it had been hacked by individuals claiming to belong to the Islamic State group, who brought television broadcasts to a halt and and hijacked its websites and social networks. The Paris-based company was able to partially resume television broadcasts by 1:00 am (2300 GMT) after a three-hour blackout, the network's director-general Yves Bigot told AFP, but added its systems had been "severely damaged" by an "unprecedented attack".

The hackers posted documents on TV5Monde's Facebook page purporting to be the identity cards and CVs of relatives of French soldiers involved in anti-IS operations, along with threats against the troops.

Read more ..

Vote 2016

Records Show AFSCME Public Employee Union Gave $65 Million Mostly to Democrats

April 5th 2015

Money Bands=Happiness

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees -- the country’s largest trade union for public employees -- gave more than $65 million last year to politicians, lobbyists and activist groups, according to 2014 federal reports obtained by Watchdog.org.

AFSCME is funded by roughly 1.4 million members and mandatory fees taken from 125,255 nonmembers. Critics argue AFSCME gets its revenue from taxpayers so its donations are essentially indirect support for Democratic politicians, political activist groups and bigger government. AFSCME’s 2014 report to the Labor Department showed $64,585,115 in Political Activities and Lobbying spending. 

The union also reported more than $1 million in donations to political nonprofits as Contributions, Gifts and Grants, with $126,500 going to MSNBC host Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Tensions Arise with France over U.S. Deal with Iran's Nuclear Program

March 22nd 2015

On orders of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, France might be the one to scuttle a nuclear deal with Iran.

Israel has turned to France in order to prevent what it considers an unfavorable nuclear deal with Iran from emerging, Reuters reported on Sunday.

Top Israeli envoys were sent to Paris to confer with their French counterparts after tensions arose between France and the United States over negotiation strategy, leading the Israelis to find an ally in the leading European power.

According to the report, France seems to be the best hope for Israel at a time when the Jewish state’s relations with the American administration are tense. AFP reports that France’s officials have been stridently opposed to the direction of the current negotiations and are greatly concerned about signing a deal that would grant too much relief to Tehran.

European officials have noted that if Paris has its way, the deal would be signed for 25 years, in contrast to the United States which is only aiming for a deal that would expire in a decade. Read more ..


Israel and Politics

Israeli Premier Netanyahu Wins Decisive Re-Election Victory

March 18th 2015

Bibi Netanyahu with Glasses

With almost all the ballots counted for Israel’s general election held today, the ruling Likud party of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has scored a dramatic and decisive victory over the rival Zionist Union party

99% of votes have been counted from a total of 4,223,057 and Likud is in first place with 23.29 percent. Zionist Union is trailing far behind in second place with 18.76 percent, almost 5 percentage points behind Likud.

The results give Netanyahu 29 seats in Israel’s Knesset, a full 5 more than the Zionist Union with 24. The tally significantly exceeds exit poll results which showed the two parties in a dead heat.

The United Arab List is in third place at 10.95 percent or 14 seats, followed by the centrist Yesh Atid with 8.78 percent or 11 seats and Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu with 7.42 percent or 10 seats. Read more ..



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