Israel and Palestine
|Robert Berger||July 20th 2013|
The Middle East peace process is getting a long-awaited boost, after a visit to the region by the American Secretary of State. The deal could give freedom for some Palestinian prisoners.
Israel has agreed to release Palestinian prisoners as part of a framework agreement to renew peace talks brokered by the United States.
Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said some Palestinians involved in terrorist attacks and jailed for more than 20 years would be freed.
At the same time, Steinitz told Israel Radio that his government did not agree to other key Palestinian demands, such as a freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank and disputed East Jerusalem. The settlement issue had led to a four-year deadlock in the peace process. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the deal late Friday in Amman, Jordan after four days of marathon talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and officials from the Arab League. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
World Jewish Daily
The IDF has deployed an Iron Dome battery near Eilat to guard against rocket attacks from Sinai as the Egyptian army prepares for a large-scale operation to rout out Islamist terror cells. Last weekend, several rockets were reportedly fired at Israel's southernmost city after Islamist groups fleeing the Egyptian military hid out in Sinai. After Israel allowed the Egyptian army into the demilitarized Sinai, the IDF has been concerned the terror groups will turn their attention to attacking Eilat. The Iron Dome system has been able to intercept the Qassam rockets and missiles that terrorists have fired on Israel in the past. Two Qassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip exploded Thursday in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council. There were no damages or injuries reported.
Earlier this week, the Egyptian army intercepted 19 Grad rockets at a security checkpoint between Suez and Cairo, reportedly heading for Cairo. However, the rockets may have been meant for Gaza. The lawlessness in the Sinai enables terrorists to smuggle arms to Gaza, which have been used to fire on southern Israel. Read more ..
Israel on Edge
|Skyler Schmanski||July 19th 2013|
The Jewish Policy Center
The European Union announced new binding rules on Tuesday barring any of its 28 member states from forging agreements with Jewish organizations in the Palestinian territories. Under the guidelines, the EU countries are prohibited from issuing grants, scholarships, and prizes or funding to Israeli organizations operating within the West Bank, Golan Heights, or East Jerusalem.
Despite the outpouring of heated sentiments, the EU's stance against Israel's policies is not especially new. On December 10, the Foreign Affairs Council's conclusions expressed the body's intentions to require EU-Israel contracts to "unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967," thereby setting the framework for this week's announcement. Tuesday's update serves to strengthen the established position of the European states. It is unknown, however, whether the inclusion of the Golan Heights in the official directive advocates Israeli negotiations with the embattled Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad. Read more ..
Russia on Edge
|James Brooke||July 18th 2013|
A Kirov-based court on Thursday found opposition leader Alexei Navalny guilty of embezzlement and sentenced him to five years in prison.
Russian judge Sergey Blinov convicted the country's leading opposition figure, the country’s first dissident to use the Internet to attain a wide following, of stealing 10,000 tons of timber, estimated at $500,000, from a state company while working as an adviser to a provincial governor in 2009.
Navalny has called the charges politically motivated and said they are intended to silence him. The sentence prevents Navalny, 37, from running in Moscow's September mayoral race, for which he recently registered, and from running for president in 2018. Under a new law, someone convicted of a serious crime, such as major theft, is barred for life from seeking office. Read more ..
Sudan on Edge
|Manyang David Mayar||July 16th 2013|
Inter-ethnic clashes in the east of Jonglei state have claimed scores of lives, wounded fighters from the Lou Nuer and Murle communities have said as they sought medical care in Bor, the capital of the state. Humanitarian agencies and the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have been unable to confirm the casualty figures, but the head of mission for Doctors without Borders (MSF), Raphael Gorgeu, said an MSF hospital in Bor was treating 144 wounded fighters from both sides, most of whom had firearm injuries and 28 of whom required surgery.
Chuol Dak Ruach, a member of the Lou Nuer community who took part in the fighting last week with the Murle, gave a chilling description of the clashes, which pitted Lou Nuer against Murle. “We started from an area called Tang-nyang and proceeded to overrun their villages. We raided their cattle and children, including girls. Read more ..
Montenegro on Edge
When it fired up the smelters in 1971, the massive Podgorica Aluminum Plant (KAP) was supposed to become a pillar of Montenegro's economy. But that dream is now crashing down.
Once the country's leading exporter, KAP entered bankruptcy proceedings last week with debts amounting to 340 million euros ($442 million), about 10 percent of the tiny Balkan country's annual GDP.
Layoffs among the sprawling complex's 1,200-strong workforce began this month. "My name is Radoman Minic. I am a crane operator. I have been working at KAP for 18 years," one of them said "I and many of my colleges lost our health working for this company. The moment I received my layoff notice felt to me like social death. I feel helpless." Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Michael Bowman||July 14th 2013|
Passionate, but mostly peaceful protests, have erupted in several U.S. cities after a Florida man was acquitted of murder and manslaughter in the highly-publicized shooting death of a black teenager last year.
Verdicts in racially-charged cases have, on occasion, triggered violence and destruction on a massive scale. The 1992 acquittal of Los Angeles police officers in the beating of a black motorist sparked days of ferocious riots and looting in the city. Dozens of people were killed, hundreds were wounded, and property damage topped $1 billion.
By comparison, reaction to the acquittal of Florida shooting suspect George Zimmerman has been relatively peaceful. Late Saturday, a six-woman jury arrived at a verdict in one of America’s most closely-watched court cases of recent years. Read more ..
Japan After Fukushima
Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is suspected to be leaking out highly radioactive water into the ground, contaminating the Pacific Ocean, Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said. NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said that the recent studies carried out on groundwater samples at the plant have detected high levels of cesium, tritium and other radioactive contamination. The Japan Times reports that Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) has claimed that a pit seeping radioactive water after the nuclear crisis erupted at the plant in April 2011 is the source of contamination.
According to the report, NRA has said that the toxic water in the area may not be the only source of contamination. The NRA also urged Tepco to speed up completion of a deeply sunken coastal containment wall between the plant and the Pacific to keep the increasingly highly radioactive groundwater from reaching the ocean. Read more ..
Israel on Edge
|Joshua Levitt||July 12th 2013|
On the seventh anniversary of the start of the month-long Second Lebanon War, marked Friday, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that Lebanese terror group Hezbollah has dramatically expanded its arsenal of weapons, exceeding 60,000 rockets and missiles in 1,000 military facilities, making the terrorist group capable of striking any part of Israel with continuous, precise attacks.
The organization’s missiles endanger Israel’s entire population, the IDF said. Hezbollah’s upgraded stockpile can strike at any of Israel’s civilian centers, including its southernmost city of Eilat. Thousands of missiles can strike targets within 40 kilometers, placing Israel’s northern region at risk of a devastating attack. Seven years ago today, Hezbollah terrorists abducted two IDF soldiers in an unprovoked assault on Israel’s northern border. The attack sparked the Second Lebanon War, a month-long conflict in which Hezbollah fired over 4,000 rockets at Israeli civilians. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Russell Grayson||July 11th 2013|
Cutting Edge Correspondent
In what were mistakenly named "wildfires," 19 heroic Arizona firefighters were apparently murdered by the Palestinian Jihadi group Masada al-Mujahideen, which set the fire as a terror attack upon the United States. The Jihadi group took credit for starting the Yarnell, Arizona fire in a detailed statement posted to jihadist forums online that was obtained and translated by the Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Intelligence Group, according to The Clarion Project. The arson-as-terror tactic has been wielded against Israel in recent years, most notably in the horrific 2010 Mount Carmel fire near Haifa that killed 42 and scorched 12,000 acres in three days. Moreover, using the terror-tactic of starting forest fires in Israel and in NATO countries was the subject of a detailed, 11-page, instructional article in the Summer 2012 issue of Al-Qaeda's Inspire magazine. Read more ..
Japan after Fukushima
from Japan Today and agencies
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday that 600,000 becquerels per liter of tritium has been detected in groundwater at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. It’s the first time such a high level of tritium, an isotope of hydrogen, has been measured in the plant’s groundwater, Tepco said. The water, sampled Friday, came from an observation well about 6 meters west of the plant’s port. The well is the closest to the sea of the five wells used for radiation monitoring.
On July 1, the tritium level in the same well was 510,000 becquerels per liter, Tepco said. The utility also said it had measured, on Wednesday, a seawater tritium level of 2,300 becquerels per liter — the highest so far — near the water intakes of reactors 1 to 4. Tritium concentrations in groundwater have become denser on the north side of the intakes, but Tepco also said it has yet to determine whether the tainted water has been leaking into the sea. Read more ..
Egypt's Second Revolution
|Russell Grayson||July 9th 2013|
Cutting Edge Correspondent
After a bloody Monday that saw 51 deaths and another 435 injured as security forces outside the Republican Guard headquarters opened fire on Pro-Morsi demonstrators, the interim Egyptian government headed by Adly Mansour announced an accelerated schedule for parliamentary elections to be held early in 2014. Morsi supporters claimed that the shooting began indiscriminately just as they were starting their morning prayers.
However, according to Amr Taha, a local resident of the Heliopolis neighborhood where the Republican Guard headquarters is located, the pro-Morsi crowd had begun trying to force their way into the military installation at about 4 AM, just before shooting began. Taha said that morning prayers had finished at the local mosque, and that he was returning home when he witnessed protesters throwing stones and metal objects at soldiers who were warning the demonstrators to "keep away."
Read more ..
Egypt's Second Revolution
from MENA and agencies
Read more ..
Downtown Cairo prosecutor general Hamdy Mansour issued an arrest warrant for Al Jazeera news channel director Abdel Fattah Fayed.
The director faces charges of threatening public peace and national security through broadcasting incendiary news.
Military and Interior Ministry raided the headquarters of Al Jazeera Mubasher Wednesday evening after an army statement in which Defence Minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew President Mohamed Morsy and appointed Supreme Constitutional Court chief Adly Mansour as interim president in his place.
The prosecutor accused Al Jazeera had broadcast material that incited violence. Prosecutors have also charged Fattah Fayed with operating without a license, in contravention of Egypt's Investment Law.
Egypt's Second Revolution
|Michael Bowman||July 7th 2013|
U.S. lawmakers are urging a cautious response to rapidly-unfolding events in Egypt.
Republican Senator Bob Corker says the United States should aim to play a stabilizing role in the face of upheaval and uncertainty in Egypt. He spoke on the Fox News Sunday television program.
“Something has happened [in Egypt] that is going to provoke a lot of unrest for some time. It has implications in other parts of the region. But what we [the United States] should be doing right now is urging calmness, urging the military to move through the civilian process as quickly as possible,” he said.
Senator Corker added that there should be no snap decisions on the future of U.S. aid to Egypt. Also appearing on Fox was Democratic Senator Jack Reed, who urged a speedy resumption of democratic rule in Egypt. “We have to be a force of stability and support for a very quick transition to a fully-elected democratic government. The military has to make clear what their timetable is, and they have to move to be inclusive. One of the problems with [ousted President Mohamed] Morsi, he was increasingly exclusive, increasingly authoritarian,” said Reed. Read more ..
The War on Terror
|Sabine Guinsbourg||July 7th 2013|
Radical Islamic cleric Abu Qatada was deported from Britain to Jordan early on July 7, ending a nearly decade-long legal battle to get him sent back to Jordan to face terrorism charges.
The move comes after Britain and Jordan ratified a treaty on torture aimed at easing the human rights concerns that blocked previous attempts to deport the Palestinian-born Jordanian preacher.
The 53-year-old Abu Qatada, once dubbed Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, is wanted in Jordan to face retrial in several terrorism cases in which he was sentenced in absentia. British governments have tried since 2001 to deport him, but courts have blocked his extradition due to concerns that Jordan might use evidence obtained under torture against him. The treaty ratified last month ensures that will not happen. Read more ..
The Political Edge
|Daniel Strauss||July 7th 2013|
|Texas Governor Rick Perry|
Efforts by conservatives to restrict abortion in several state legislatures are receiving national attention, as Republicans work to pass national versions. In Texas, state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) found herself in the national spotlight after filibustering a proposal that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The legislation would also have toughened requirements for locations offering abortions and required that doctors who perform abortions have admission privileges at a hospital close to their clinics.
Davis's effort caused Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) to call a second special session to try and pass the bill through the Republican-controlled legislature.
Davis received wide praise from the left for the filibuster. Democratic senators and national organizations like the Democratic Governors Association sent out fundraising emails citing Davis. Read more ..
|Kyle Balluck||July 6th 2013|
The leaders of Venezuela and Nicaragua said late Friday that they would be willing to grant asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, according to reports. Reuters reported that Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said during a speech in Managua that he could accept the bid "if circumstances permit."
"As head of state and government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, I have decided to offer U.S. humanitarian asylum to young Snowden," President Nicolas Maduro said in Caracas, according to Venezuela's state news agency, AVN.
Maduro made the offer to Snowden to "protect from persecution unleashed the most powerful empire in the world, against a young man who has done is tell the truth," AVN reported. Earlier Friday, WikiLeaks, the group that is helping the former contractor, tweeted that Snowden had applied for asylum in six additional countries. WikiLeaks originally said Snowden had applied for asylum in 21 countries. Read more ..
Egypt's Second Revolution
|Diego DiGhero||July 5th 2013|
from VOA and agencies
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood called for mass protests on July 5 against the military-backed ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. The Brotherhood is part of an alliance of Islamist parties calling for peaceful protests to follow Friday afternoon prayers at mosques across the country. Until now, the atmosphere on the streets has been largely celebratory since Morsi was forced out by the military following large opposition protests.
Morsi was replaced by Adly Mansour, a top judge who was sworn in on July 4 as interim president -- a move that was quickly rejected by the Brotherhood. Islam Abdel-Rahman, who is on the the foreign affairs committee of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, told the Voice of America that his group will not take part in any military-led political process. Read more ..
Egypt on Edge
Western states are treading carefully after Egypt's army ousted its popularly elected Islamist president, Muhammad Morsi.
They have generally stopped short of either backing or condemning the move, which was accompanied by a suspension of the constitution and a pledge of early elections.
A handful of Arab states have welcomed the Islamist leader's removal and congratulated Adli Mansour, the head of the country's constitutional court, on his appointment as Egypt's interim leader.
By contrast, Morsi's ouster was strongly denounced by Turkey's Islamist-rooted government and by Syria, whose President Bashar al-Assad is fighting to crush a two-year-old uprising. Read more ..
The New Egypt
|Russell Grayson||July 3rd 2013|
After seizing Al Ahram, Egypt's largest state newspaper, spokesmen for the Egyptian Army are reporting therein that President Morsi is "no longer a part of the decision-making process in Egypt." Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) head, General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, announced on state TV that at 5PM GMT, Morsi was told by the Army that he is "no longer President." Al-Sisi announced a suspension of the constitution, a provisional government headed by the Chief Justice of Egypt's high court, Adly Mansour, and the beginning of implementing a government of "national reconciliation."
Witness reports, obtained from social media feeds of various reporters on scene, indicate that tanks and other armored military vehicles have been surrounding the pro-Morsi protest groups in Cairo. Airport officials are reporting that Morsi and a number of key Muslim Brotherhood leaders have been banned from flying anywhere by the Army.
Furthermore, according to the BBC's Jeremy Bowen, troops in full riot gear have begun firing their guns into the air to disperse the Islamist demonstrations in Cairo. However, it is being reported that troops have withdrawn a short distance away at this time, surrounding the pro-Morsi crowd instead of confronting it. Ambulances are futilely trying to pass through the anti-Morsi group in Tahrir Square, as well, due to a huge crowd that's packed in too densely for vehicles to navigate through. Read more ..
|Fred Schulte||July 2nd 2013|
The Center for Public Integrity
Citing massive budget and staff cuts, federal officials are set to scale back or drop a host of investigations into Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse — even though cracking down on government waste and cutting health care costs have been top priorities for the Obama administration.
The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General is set to lose a total of 400 staffers that are deployed nationwide as a primary defense against health care fraud and abuse. Though agency officials have yet to decide which investigations will be shelved as staff dwindles, the existing staff is already stretched so thin that the agency has failed to act on 1,200 complaints over the past year alleging wrongdoing — and expects that number to rise. The OIG began shedding staff at the beginning of the year. Read more ..
The New Egypt
Egyptian media reported Sunday that a Dutch journalist was raped by several men in Cairo's Tahrir Square a few days ago. Dina Zakaria, a journalist reporting for the "Egypt 25" news channel affiliated with the January 25 revolution, shared the incident on her Facebook page Sunday: "A Dutch journalist in Tahrir was raped by men who dub themselves revolutionists. Her condition is severe and she is hospitalized."
Meanwhile, a state hospital issued a statement that the journalist was admitted after being raped by five men several days ago. She underwent surgery and has been released. It was also reported that Egypt's Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah ordered his staff to go to the hospital to hear the woman's story and reveal the circumstances behind the violent attack. Read more ..
Islam's War Against Christianity
|Martin Barillas||July 1st 2013|
Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent
The Vatican news service has confirmed that on Sunday, June 23 the Syrian priest François Murad was murdered at the St Anthony of Padua convent in the village of Gassanieh, in northern Syria, where he had taken refuge.
Graphic video shows that the priest was beheaded, a common practice for centuries among Muslim jihadis when confronted with those who refuse to accept Islam. According to the report, the militants who murdered the priest are linked to Islamist militants known as Jabhat al-Nusra, who are fighting to bring down the government of President Bashr Al-Assad.
Father François, 49, had once lived in community with the Franciscan Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land. After ordination to the priesthood, he continued to share close bonds of spiritual friendship with them. Read more ..
|Michael Beckel||July 1st 2013|
The Center for Public Integrity
Supporters of the Defense of Marriage Act — parts of which the U.S. Supreme Court today deemed unconstitutional — still have allies on Capitol Hill. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., for one, has already said that he plans to introduce a constitutional amendment later this week to restore the 1996 law that defined marriage as between one man and one woman.
A staunch conservative, Huelskamp has also already this year received the legal maximum of $10,000 from the political action committee of Citizens United, which filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court supporting DOMA. The brief argued that “homosexuals are neither politically powerless nor singled out by law for discriminatory treatment.” Read more ..
|Dan Robinson||July 1st 2013|
President Barack Obama has outlined a new model for U.S. engagement with Africa, supporting greater economic opportunity and democracy, and African-led solutions to security. At the University of Cape Town, Obama presented a broad picture of his goals for U.S.-Africa policy, including assistance, trade and investment, health, and security cooperation. The speech was framed around the legacy Obama said former president Nelson Mandela has left for the continent.
Earlier he and his family visited Robben Island, where Mandela spent nearly two decades of his 27 years in prison under the former apartheid regime. “Nelson Mandela showed us that one man's courage can move the world and he calls on his to make choices that reflect not our fears, but our hopes, in our own lives and in the lives of our communities and our countries," he said. Read more ..
Afghanistan on Edge
International-backed efforts to seek a negotiated end to the 12 years of grinding war in Afghanistan have suffered another blow after Taliban rebels apparently rejected conditions for proposed peace talks. The development comes as British Prime Minister David Cameron concluded a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of efforts to revive the stalled peace process.
In its first formal reaction following the opening of the controversial Taliban political office nearly two weeks ago in Qatar, the Afghan insurgent group has harshly criticized the United States and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai for allegedly “wasting time” and making “false commitments” regarding proposed peace talks.
In a Pashto language statement emailed to VOA late Saturday, a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, says “coercion, threats, provocation” and demands that Taliban fighters surrender have not worked in the past and will not work in the future to solve the Afghan problem.
The Islamist group also accused the United States of being in a “state of confusion” and lacking a “firm stance” on the peace talks. It also snubbed the Afghan president for his opposition to a direct dialogue between the Taliban and the United States. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Dan Robinson||June 29th 2013|
U.S. President Barack Obama engaged young people from South Africa and three other African nations for more than an hour Saturday, taking questions on issues ranging from economic growth and job opportunity in Africa to countering extremism in a town-hall style meeting that followed talks earlier in the day with President Jacob Zuma.
The condition of former South African leader Nelson Mandela was a key topic, and Obama praised the ailing anti-apartheid icon in emotional terms at both events on Saturday, saying Mandela's personal courage and South Africa's historic transition are a personal inspiration to him and to the world. The president will visit Robben Island in South Africa Sunday, the prison where Mandela spent nearly 20 years for fighting to overturn the country's apartheid regime. The president appeared at ease and energized for his exchange with the young people in his audience at the University of Johannesburg in Soweto. Read more ..
The New Egypt
|Edward Yeranian||June 28th 2013|
Supporters and opponents of beleaguered Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi held demonstrations in different parts of Cairo, and elsewhere in Egypt, two days before an opposition rally is expected to draw an even larger turnout.
A few thousand Morsi supporters gathered in front of a mosque in the outlying Cairo district of Nasr City during Friday prayers. Many carried banners proclaiming support for the president and the crowd broke into periodic chants of “Islamic rule, Islamic rule.”
At the same time, anti-Morsi protesters chanted slogans calling for the president to resign, marching from at least three Cairo districts towards the city's iconic Tahrir Square.
In Egypt's second largest city of Alexandria, several thousand opponents of the president gathered in a seaside district, chanting slogans in favor of toppling the government. Protesters also demanded that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group stop meddling in politics. Reuters news agency reports that at least 36 people were wounded in clashes in Alexandria. Read more ..
The New Senegal
|Dan Robinson||June 27th 2013|
President Barack Obama, visiting Senegal, praised the country's democratic progress, saying it sets an example for Africa. Senegal was the first stop for Obama and his family on their weeklong trip to Africa that includes South Africa and Tanzania.
Thousands turned out to welcome America's first African-American president, on his first return to sub-Saharan Africa since 2009. At the presidential palace in Dakar, Obama and First Lady Michelle were welcomed by Senegalese President Macky Sall and his wife Mareme.
Bilateral talks covered a range of issues, from U.S. support for Senegal's democracy and infrastructure to joint security. President Obama's trip to Africa
President Obama praised Sall for his openness and anti-corruption efforts. He said Senegal is an example for Africa.
“It is moving in the right direction, with reforms to deepen democratic institutions and as more Africans across this continent stand up and demand governments that are accountable and serve the people, I believe Senegal can be a great example," said President Obama. Read more ..
America on Edge
Supporters of same-sex marriage in the United States won two victories Wednesday at the Supreme Court with potentially far-reaching legal and political consequences.
Just after the decisions were made public, chants of “USA” and “thank you” from gay marriage supporters filled the air outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. In a five-to-four decision, the high court struck down a federal law passed in 1996 known as the Defense of Marriage Act that barred same-sex couples from receiving federal tax, health and pension benefits.
The majority opinion was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and was joined by the court’s four liberal-leaning members. The court’s four leading conservatives were in the minority. Read more ..
Iraq After Saddam
Read more ..
One of the executioners involved in the hanging of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been killed, the outlawed Baath Party said in a statement. While not providing a date for when the executioner was killed, the statement identified him as Mohammed Nassif al-Maliki, who allegedly appeared in the video of Saddam’s execution. The statement said Maliki was the masked man standing on the left side of the former Iraqi strongman and slipping the noose around his neck.
In the report, posted on the party’s official website, a “well-informed” source was cited as saying that “party members killed Mohammed Nassif al-Maliki, near Yusufiyah city (about 25 km southwest of, Baghdad).” Iraqi officials have not commented on the reports of Maliki’s death. The site mentioned that before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Maliki used to sell vegetables in the country’s Karbala province.
Catholic Church on Edge
|Martin Barillas||June 24th 2013|
Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent
On June 24, Pope Francis received 30 members of the delegation of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations. At the Vatican meeting, Pope Francis recalled that 21 previous meetings have helped to strengthen the mutual understanding and ties of friendship between Jews and Catholics. A native of Argentina, which has the third largest Jewish community in the world, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio said that the ‘Nostra Aetate’ declaration that came out of the Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s represented “a key point of reference for relations with the Jewish people” for the Catholic Church.
“In that Council text, the Church recognizes that 'the beginnings of its faith and election are to be found in the patriarchs, Moses, and prophets'. And, with regard to the Jews, the Council recalls the teaching of Saint Paul, who wrote 'the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable' and who also firmly condemned hatred, persecution, and all forms of anti-Semitism. Due to our common roots, a Christian cannot be anti-Semitic!” Read more ..
from RFE and agencies
cuador says former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has asked for asylum.
Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino made the announcement via Twitter on June 22 while on an official visit to Vietnam. Snowden, who is wanted by U.S. authorities for leaking details of secret government surveillance programs, flew to Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23.
A Hong Kong government spokesman confirmed that Snowden had left the territory. even though the United States had been seeking his extradition. The Hong Kong administration issued a statement saying that it had no legal basis to prevent Snowden from leaving. The statement also said that the U.S. extradition request "did not fully comply with legal requirements."
The "South China Morning Post," which has published exclusive interviews with Snowden, said on June 23 that Moscow is not his final destination. Read more ..
|Jennifer Martinez||June 23rd 2013|
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday said the Senate is "on the verge" of getting 70 votes to pass the Gang of Eight's immigration bill, crediting the recent deal on border security language with winning more GOP votes.
"The bill will pass. I think we're on the verge of getting 70 votes. That is my goal," Graham said on "Fox News Sunday." "We're very, very close to 70 votes. The Hoeven-Corker amendment I think gets us over the top."
The Senate is slated to vote on the border security amendment by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) on Monday. The amendment is viewed as key to securing more GOP votes for the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wants to finish work on the sweeping immigration bill this week and hold a vote to end debate on the underlying bill on Thursday. Graham, a member of the bipartisan Gang of Eight, called the Corker-Hoeven amendment "the most aggressive attempt to control the Southern border and regain our sovereignty." Read more ..
The Iranian Threat
|Hayom Staff||June 22nd 2013|
Read more ..
Newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rohani was a member of the secretive government council in charge of orchestrating the country's global terrorist campaign in the 1990s, the Washington Free Beacon has reported.
According to a 2008 report by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center -- a non-profit research institute that was funded largely through U.S. State Department grants until 2009 -- the Special Affairs Council was tasked with recommending individuals for targeting and implementing the assassinations after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei signed off on the operation.
"After [Iranian Revolution leader Ayatollah] Khomeini's death [in 1989], the responsibility for recommending individual assassinations fell to the Special Affairs Committee.
Brazil on Edge
|Martin Barillas||June 21st 2013|
Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent
Brazil's President Dilm Rousseff has called for an emergency meeting of her cabinet on June 21 to confer about the growing protest movement that has not slowed down despite government concessions. Protesters, apparently drawing to the otherwise defunct worldwide Occupy movement, have been seen wearing the now familiar Guy Fawkes masks as they confront police in various Brazilian cities. Some protesters wore red clown noses: an allusion to their contention that they are treated with contempt by the government.
Some estimates place the number of protesters at two million, while conservative estimates place the figure as at least one million protesters rallying in dozens of cities across Brazil on June 20 and into the evening. Read more ..
The Arab Winter
|Jacob Kamaras||June 20th 2013|
JNS News Service
Rami Hamdallah, the newly appointed Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister, has abruptly submitted his resignation to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamdallah, who took office on June 6, resigned as a result of a dispute over his powers, Ma’an News Agency reported. Hamdallah, who was the president of An-Najah University in Nablus, was appointed to the position following the resignation of Salam Fayyad. A political newcomer, many analysts suspected that Abbas choose Hamdallah for the position in order to maintain the ties with Western countries, which provide the PA with substantial amounts of foreign aid, that Fayyad had established. Read more ..
The Iranian Threat
|Yoel Goldman||June 20th 2013|
The Times of Israel
Iranian president-elect Hasan Rowhani was allegedly involved in plotting the deadly 1994 attack on a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, according to the indictment filed in the case. The attack, attributed to Iran and carried out by the terrorist group Hezbollah, killed 85 people and injured hundreds.The 2006 indictment (PDF) names Rowhani as a member of the committee headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that planned the bombing, the deadliest attack of its kind in Argentinian history. Rowhani’s name in the indictment was first reported by the Washington Free Beacon. The newly elected Rowhani, who raced to a surprise first-round victory on Friday with 50.7 percent of the vote in Iran’s presidential elections, likely served in a subordinate capacity on Khamenei’s committee in the early 1990s. Though Rowhani was present for deliberations, the final decision to attack the AMIA center was made by Khamenei and then-president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, according to the indictment. Read more ..
The War on Terrorism
|Diego DiGhero||June 19th 2013|
Afghanistan has suspended negotiations with the U.S. on a bilateral security deal, in a dispute over proposed U.S. talks with the Taliban. A statement from Afghanistan's National Security Council on June 19 cited "the contradiction between acts and the statements made" by the U.S. in regard to the peace process. Afghan leader Hamid Karzai said on June 19, the same day that U.S. made a symbolic turn-over of overall national security to the Afghani government.
In a statement, Karzai said, "In view of the contradiction between acts and the statements made by the United States of America in regard to the peace process, the Afghan government suspended the negotiations, currently underway in Kabul between Afghan and U.S. delegations on the bilateral security agreement." He was apparently miffed about being excluded from the talks.
The U.S. talks with Afghanistan are focused on what American and coalition security forces will remain in the country after 2014. On June 18, the U.S. announced it was opening talks with the Taliban on on June 20 in Doha, the capital of the Persian Gulf country of Qatar, in a push to establish a framework for ending more than a decade of war in Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama said he is not surprised by the Afghan government's reaction. He says U.S. officials had anticipated that there would be some areas of "friction" at the start of the process. During a June 19 news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he said he hoped that despite challenges, the reconciliation process in Afghanistan would proceed. Read more ..
The War on Terrorism
|Luis Ramirez ||June 18th 2013|
The U.S. military says that within the next three years, it will put women in key combat roles from which they were previously excluded.
American women have been serving in combat roles and hundreds have been killed on the front lines for years, but they have been excluded from key positions in areas including Special Operations and infantry.
In January, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced changes to regulations banning women from 237,000 positions.
On Tuesday, officials from all four branches of the U.S. military gathered at the Pentagon to announce a timeline for those changes. The Marines already have come up with new gender-neutral physical tests, and by the middle of 2015, the Army will have new standards that will allow women to be part of its elite Ranger regiment. Read more ..
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