The Edge of Terrorism
|Steve Emerson||August 5th 2015|
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
|Steve Emerson||July 30th 2015|
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 ..
|Kristina Wong||July 29th 2015|
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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.
The Edge of Terrorism
|Andy Hazelnis||July 24th 2015|
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 ..
|Steven Emerson||July 19th 2015|
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 ..
|Rachel Avraham||July 14th 2015|
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. “This 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
|Kate Connolly and Patrick Wintour||June 8th 2015|
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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.
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
|Martin Barillas||May 13th 2015|
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
|Lydia Wheeler||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
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.
Read more ..
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.
|Jordain Carney ||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 ..
|Jordain Carney||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
|Edwin Black||April 21st 2015|
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
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 ..
|Jordan Fabian||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 ..
|Yael Klein||April 12th 2015|
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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."
The Edge of Terrorism
|Bernard Banks||April 9th 2015|
from AFP and agencies
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 ..
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 ..
|David Daoud||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
|David Daoud||March 18th 2015|
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 ..
|Ben Kamisar||March 17th 2015|
Embattled Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) will resign his seat in Congress amid a slew of allegations regarding improper spending of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer and campaign dollars.
"I do this with a heavy heart. Serving the people of the 18th District is the highest and greatest honor I have had in my life," the four-term congressman said in a statement Tuesday.
"But the constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District with the high standards that they deserve and which I have set for myself. I have always sought to do what's best for my constituents and I thank them for the opportunity to serve."
He has faced a number of questions since a February story in The Washington Post that showed his lavish congressional office.
Ben Kamisar writes for The Hill, from where this article is adapted.
The 2016 Vote
|Cameron Joseph||February 28th 2015|
Rand Paul’s likely White House foes are looking to end his Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll hot streak.
The Kentucky senator is still the frontrunner to win the annual measure of grassroots support after claiming victory for the past two years.
But how deep other potential rivals — most notably Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — cut into his support will show who is on the rise in the 2016 GOP field.
“Every year serious candidates come to CPAC and organize and get people to come here for the specific purpose of voting for them in the straw poll,” said Citizens United President David Bossie. “Does it at the end of the day really mean anything that you can have the money and an organization to bus people in? Probably, because that means you have money and an organization. It's important.”
The establishment-minded Bush bused in hundreds of supporters to show strength in the convention space and at the straw poll ballot box, while rising star Walker had plenty of vocal backers in the building as well. Read more ..
|Rebecca Shabad||February 23rd 2015|
Lawmakers will begin returning to Washington on Monday with only five days left to prevent a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Legislation funding the agency is at an impasse over provisions demanded by House Republicans that would overturn President Obama’s executive actions on immigration shielding millions from deportation.
Over the recess, both sides dug in, with many Republicans arguing that there is no reason for their party to bend now that a federal court has ruled in their favor by blocking Obama’s most recent actions.
The Senate is scheduled to vote Monday evening for the fourth time on a motion to open debate on the House-passed DHS funding bill.
The motion will certainly fail, leaving a decision on what comes next to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Read more ..
Russia on Edge
|Thekla Hritz||February 18th 2015|
Ukraine's president says his government's forces are pulling out of the contested eastern Ukrainian town of Debaltseve, which has been under siege by pro-Russian rebels and where fighting has continued despite a cease-fire.
In a Feb. 18 video statement, President Petro Poroshenko said "Ukrainian armed forces together with the National Guard completed an operation for a planned and organized withdrawal from Debaltseve."
Poroshenko said that so far 80 percent of Ukrainian units have left the city, adding that another two columns are expected to also pull out soon.
A deputy regional police chief in the besieged city told reporters earlier on the same day that "full-scale street fighting" continued, even as Ukrainian troops were pulling out. Read more ..
Europe on Edge
|Ben Cohen||February 16th 2015|
Friends of Omar El-Hussein, the Islamist terrorist responsible for dual attacks over the weekend in Copenhagen, Denmark, including one at a synagogue, say he was “consumed with hatred of Jews,” local tabloid Ekstra Bladet reported on Monday.
“It was no coincidence that the 22-year-old presumed terrorist went after a Jewish synagogue when he was on a killing spree in Copenhagen late Saturday night,” the newspaper wrote. “According to several classmates, whom Ekstra Bladet has been in touch with, the 22-year-old harbored an intense hatred of Jews. Although he had Palestinian roots, he was born and raised in Denmark.”
“He was consumed with hatred of Jews and was very aggressive when he talked about the Israel-Palestine conflict, said a 22-year-old former classmate,” according to the paper.
El-Hussein was shot and killed after he was cornered by police in a narrow street near the railway station in Norrebro, about 4 kilometers from the scene of the synagogue attack, The New York Times reported. He had been released two weeks prior from police custody and is reported to have had a history of violence. Read more ..
|Jared Malsin and Chris Stephen||February 16th 2015|
Egypt reported that its war planes had struck Isis targets in Libya, shortly after President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi vowed revenge for the release by Isis-affiliated militants of a video of a mass killing of Christians. A spokesman for the Armed Forces General Command announced the strikes on state radio Monday, marking the first time Cairo had publicly acknowledged taking military action in neighbouring Libya.
The statement said the warplanes targeted weapons caches and training camps before returning safely. It said the strikes were “to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers”.
“Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield that protects them,” it said. Read more ..
Europe on Edge
|Martin Barillas||February 15th 2015|
Cutting Edge Contributor
|CCTV image of Copenhagen terror suspect|
Police failed to protect a synagogue in Copenhagen, despite appeals from the community, in advance of a terrorist attack that claimed the life of a guard during the pre-dawn hours of February 15. An as yet unidentified terrorist shot community guard Dan Uzan in the head outside of the synagogue while members of the Jewish community celebrated a bat mitzva. There were 80 people attending the event at the time of the deadly attack.
The attack at the synagogue came just hours after the terrorist claimed the life of a movie director at a popular café in the Danish capital. At the café, a conference was being held on freedom of expression and Islam that was attended by Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks. Vilks has survived attempts on his life and death threats ever since the publication of satirical cartoons of Mohammed. The publication of the cartoons sparked firebombings of Danish diplomatic missions in Muslim countries and boycotts of Danish products by Muslims. Read more ..
The World on Edge
|Martin Barillas||February 12th 2015|
Cutting Edge Contributor
The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France emerged from marathon talks in Belarus Thursday with a cease-fire deal aimed at ending months of fighting that has killed thousands in eastern Ukraine.
The cease-fire, which will begin February 15, was announced following 16 hours of grueling, all-night talks in the Belarussian capital, Minsk.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the parties "have managed to agree on the main issues," including the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the conflict area.
Pro-Russian rebels were also reported to have accepted the deal.
But all sides also stressed, in separate news conferences, that disagreements remain. "We have no illusions," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, adding there is "very, very much work to be done." Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Thekla Hritz||February 10th 2015|
|Russian troops in Ukraine|
The White House says President Barack Obama spoke by phone on February 10 with Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging the Russian leader to back a peace deal for Ukraine set for review Wednesday at a four-nation crisis summit in Belarus.
Obama's call, described in a White House statement, came as Ukraine reported that rocket strikes in the eastern city of Kramatorsk killed at least 12 people and wounded more than 80 others.
The Ukraine Foreign Ministry blamed pro-Russian separatists for the latest violence, calling the rocket barrage "a deliberate massacre of the city's civilians."
The White House statement said Obama "underscored "the rising human toll" of the fighting, as well as the importance of Putin "seizing the opportunity" to back peace proposals when he meets Wednesday with the leaders of France, Germany and Ukraine in Minsk.
Kyiv and a host of Western governments accuse Moscow of backing the nearly yearlong rebellion in Ukraine's east with troops, strategic planning and military hardware. Read more ..
America and Israel
|Kevin Cirilli ||February 9th 2015|
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Monday he will not attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's March 3 address to Congress. "The idea that the president wasn't consulted? That's wrong," Sanders said Monday during a speech at the Brookings Institution. "I am not going."
Sanders, who is eyeing a run for the White House in 2016, is the first senator to say he will skip the speech, joining a growing group of Democrats who plan to be absent in protest of Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) decision to invite Netanyahu without consulting the White House.
Democrats have questioned having Netanyahu address Congress so close to the Israeli elections, which are held in mid-March. Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have said they will not meet with Netanyahu during his visit to avoid the appearance of trying to sway the outcome of that vote. Read more ..
Financing the Flames
|Edwin Black||February 7th 2015|
Times of Israel
Congressional legislators were astonished last year to learn that the Palestinian Authority was issuing monthly payouts totaling $3-7 million as salaries and other financial rewards to specific terrorists and their families. The money was channeled, in part, through the Ministry of Prisoners pursuant to the Law of the Prisoner. The law set forth a graduated scale, pegging monthly salaries to the length of Israeli jail sentences, which generally reflects the severity of the crime and the number of people killed and/or injured.
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Thousands of documents, newly obtained by this reporter through a lawsuit to unseal court-protected files, demonstrate that these payouts are not blind automated payments. Rather, senior Palestinian Authority officials as high as President Mahmoud Abbas scrutinize the details of each case, the specific carnage caused, and the personal details of each terrorist act before approving salaries and awarding honorary ranks in either the PA government or the military. Ministry of Prisoners spokesman Amr Nasser has explained, “We are very proud of this program and we have nothing to hide.” Nonetheless, in response to the international furor, the Palestinian Authority announced it would replace the Ministry of Prisoners with an outside PLO commission known as the Higher National Commission for Prisoners and Detainees Affairs.
The PA is dependent upon foreign donor countries to supply much of its budget, which now exceeds $4.2 billion annually. About ten percent of the PA budget, more than $400 million, is contributed annually by United States foreign aid. The US and many other countries have enacted laws forbidding any payments when the monies directly or indirectly support or encourage terrorism. The interdepartmental bureaucratic notations the Palestinian Authority has recorded on each terrorist before approving the level of salaried compensation is extensive. For example, one prominent case involved Ahmad Talab Mustafa Barghouti, who personally coordinated numerous terrorist acts. These included a January 2002 shooting spree on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, killing two and wounding 37; a March 2002 shooting spree at a Tel Aviv restaurant, killing three and wounding 31; and finally a March 27, 2002 attempt to smuggle an explosive suicide belt in an ambulance. The Israel Defense Forces arrested Ahmad. On July 30, 2002, a military court concluded that he was responsible for murdering 12 Israelis, and Barghouti was sentenced to 13 life sentences. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Kristina Wong and Scott Wong ||February 5th 2015|
The White House is poised to send a formal request to Congress asking for a new authorization to use military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The request, expected within the next week, would come days after ISIS released a video showing a caged Jordanian pilot being burned alive — a further display of the group’s brutality that one Republican lawmaker described Wednesday as a “game-changer.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said he would be “disappointed” if President Obama did not make the request very soon. “I do think it’s forthcoming,” Corker said in a short interview with The Hill. “I would be very surprised — disappointed actually — if it’s not here by the end of next week. And maybe sooner.” Sending an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) to Congress would open a complicated debate for the White House on war policy. Read more ..
The Edge of Intolerance
|Martin Barillas||February 1st 2015|
Cutting Edge Contributor
On January 31, members of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity at the University of California-Davis woke up to find swastikas spray painted in red on their frat house. Saturday is the Jewish sabbath and the appearance of the Nazi symbols disturbed the members of Alpha Epsilon Pi, which is a Jewish fraternity on the central California campus.
Members of the fraternity expressed surprise and dismay at the expression of hatred they found. Some said that they had never experienced hatred directed at the Jewish people.
Tensions at the campus have recently peaked because of a resolution that was passed by the student senate on January 29 that urged the university to divest from companies based in Israel or that support Israel. Read more ..
|Omri Ariel||January 30th 2015|
An IS-affiliated terrorist group launched a deadly attack in several locations in the Sinai Peninsula Thursday evening, killing at least 27 people. Egyptian authorities claimed Hamas is also to blame for this incident.
It is reported that a car bomb was detonated outside a military base and mortars were fired at a police station, a hotel and over a dozen checkpoints. 36 people were injured, one of them a senior military officer. Officials estimated that the death toll may rise due to the fact that many buildings have been shattered and people may still be buried under the ruins. Read more ..
|Martin Barillas||January 28th 2015|
|Nigerian church bombed by Boko Haram|
Catholic Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria, warned that a catastrophe awaits the country if the advance of the violent Boko Haram Muslim sect is not halted.
“The situation is very dangerous and very disturbing, because once they capture Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, then you can be sure that all of the areas around will easily fall to them,” said Archbishop Kaigama.
His comments followed a fatal attack in Maiduguri – a city in northeastern Nigeria – where dozens were killed and thousands displaced by a Boko Haram attack on January 25. “I am quite surprised at that because the people are still dying and being displaced so if the government cannot adequately control the violence, I think there is need for international assistance” he added.
Catholic Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of Maiduguri also warned that Boko Haram may soon control the entire northeastern region of Nigeria if international military assistance is not forthcoming. Read more ..
The 2016 Vote
|Scott Wong and Alexander Bolton ||January 22nd 2015|
The 2016 GOP primaries don’t start for another year, but potential presidential candidates are already furiously working to lock up support from lawmakers from early- and key-primary states.
Jeb Bush is chatting up members of his home state Florida congressional delegation. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is making personal visits to early primary state lawmakers. And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is wooing would-be supporters.
Winning endorsements from popular politicians — and their spouses — in places like Iowa, New Hampshire South Carolina and Florida is crucial to getting a leg up on the competition — particularly with a crowded field.
And the prospective GOP contenders aren’t taking any chances. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Martin Barillas||January 21st 2015|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Democrats and Republicans in Congress expressed a mix of reactions to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, with a particular focus on his economic policies and the ongoing international negotiations on Iran's nuclear program.
After the January 20 speech at the Capitol in Washington, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Obama's speech a "powerful vision of opportunity and prosperity" for American families, and highlighted his plans to help those in the middle class.
But Republicans in the Senate, who reclaimed a majority this year, questioned how the president would fund those initiatives. Senator Cory Gardner expressed opposition to raising money through new taxes. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|John Chapin||January 21st 2015|
As he enters his seventh year at the nation’s helm, President Barack Obama put forward an agenda he said will strengthen national and global security.
Speaking from the U.S. Capitol Tuesday evening, Obama addressed the nation and a Congress in which Republicans control both the Senate and the House of Representatives after winning sweeping victories in the November elections.
At a time of riveting global crises, Obama's speech was mostly about domestic issues, but he touched on several pressing foreign policy challenges.
Obama acknowledged as commander-in-chief his first duty is defending the country.
"We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents," the president said. Read more ..
|Diego DiGhero||January 20th 2015|
The Islamic State group has released a video purporting to show two Japanese hostages and threatening to kill them in 72 hours if Japan does not pay the militants $200 million.
The video posted on January 20 on jihadist websites shows a black-clad person with a knife speaking in English along with two kneeling men wearing orange jumpsuits. It identifies the men as Kenji Goto and Haruna Yakawa.
The militant criticizes Japan's support for Western military efforts to battle the group.
Japanese forces are not part of the U.S.-led coalition that has conducted more than 1,700 airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria since August. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged on January 17 to give $200 million in non-military aid to countries fighting the Sunni extremists. Read more ..
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