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The Petraeus Affair

Attorney General Defends FBI treatment of Petraeus Affair

November 16th 2012

Petraeus-Paula

Attorney General Eric Holder defended the FBI's decision not to release information about former CIA Director David Petraeus’s extramarital affair sooner, saying the investigation turned up no threat to national security.

Holder said if the federal probe had found evidence of a national security threat, he would have contacted the White House and members of Congress. He was made aware of the affair in late summer.

“We made the determination as we were going through the matter that there was not a threat to national security,” Holder told reporters in New Orleans in an unrelated press conference about the BP oil spill. “Had we made the determination that a threat to national security existed, we would of course have made that known to the president and also to the appropriate members on the Hill.” Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Senators Get an Eyefull of Benghazi Attack Videos

November 15th 2012

Libyan rioters at US consulate Sep 2012 #1

Lawmakers were shown surveillance video and footage from a Predator drone that gave a real-time picture of what happened the night of Sept. 11 in Benghazi, Libya, as the House and Senate Intelligence committees began inquiries into the attack Thursday.

The committees’ highest-profile witness, former CIA Director David Petraeus, isn’t coming to Capitol Hill until Friday. But the committees each held a lengthy hearing on Benghazi Thursday with several senior intelligence officials, including acting CIA Director Michael Morell stepping in for Petraeus.

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said after their hearing concluded that they will hold at least an additional two closed-door Benghazi hearings as well as a public hearing to release their findings. Read more ..


The Vote Aftermath

Carney Slams Romney 'Gifts' Critique as 'At Odds' with Election Results

November 15th 2012

obama and biden

White House press secretary Jay Carney blasted Mitt Romney's statement that the president had prevailed in last week's election because of "gifts" given by the administration to black, Hispanic and young voters, saying that conclusion was "at odds with the truth of what happened last week."

"Making it easier for Americans to go to college — that’s good for America," Carney continued. "It’s good for all Americans. It’s good for the economy. Making healthcare available to young people who can stay on their parents’ plans — that’s good for those families, it’s good for those young people so they aren’t bankrupted in their 20s by an illness. And it’s good for the economy and it’s good for all of us."

In the remarks, made on a Wednesday conference call with donors, Romney said moves like the president's healthcare reform legislation and a decision to suspend deportations of certain illegal immigrants who came to the country as children proved "highly motivational" on Election Day. Romney also said he had "gotten beat up pretty bad" on issues including his immigration stance and personal wealth. Read more ..


Operation Pillar of Defense

Hamas Aims For Civilians, Kills 3 In Kiryat Malachi IDF Hits 200 Gaza Targets, Calls Up Reserves

November 15th 2012

Gaza Qasam Rocket

Hamas terrorists committed war crimes against Israeli civilians Thursday, deliberately targeting civilians and killing three in Kiryat Malachi. Two men and a woman were killed Thursday morning when a rocket fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip struck their fourth-floor apartment. Five others were wounded, including two infants. Hamas has fired more than 200 rockets on Israel since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense, which seeks to reinstate Israeli deterrence in the face of incessant rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. Israel lauched the surprise attack on Wednesday by killing Hamas' top military commander and striking at least 20 arms depots. Thousands of Gazans attended the funeral of Ahmed Jabari Thursday, vowing revenge.

U.S. President Barack Obama expressed support for Israel's actions in a Wednesday call with Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. Hamas, Obama said, must stop its rocket fire on Israel. At the same time, Israel should make every effort to avoid civilian casualties, he added. Read more ..


Israel and Palestine

Hamas Military Leader Killed in Israeli Missile Strike

November 14th 2012

Drone Chopper

Israeli forces have killed the head of the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip. Ahmed Jabri was killed by a missile fired by the Israeli Defense Forces. Both Jabri and a passenger were fatalities on the afternoon of November 14 as they were driving a car in Palestinian-controlled area. Israel called it a "surgical strike." According to the Yediot Achronot news outlet, Jabri's passenger was his son, although this has not been confirmed by other sources.

Israel considered that Jabri was responsible for carrying several terrorist operations against Israel over the last five years. The IDF released a statement saying, "The purpose of this operation was to severely impair the command and control chain of the Hamas leadership, as well as its terrorist infrastructure." The statement said, "This was a surgical operation in cooperation with the Israeli Security Agency that was implemented on the basis of concrete intelligence and using advanced capabilities." Read more ..


The Arab Winter of Rage in Egypt

Thousands of Salafists Stage Rally Demanding Shariah in Egypt

November 14th 2012

Hijab and flag

An estimated 30,000 Salafists, a radical Islamist sect, gathered at Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, over the weekend demanding a constitution containing provisions with strict adherence to the Prophet Mohammed's Islamic laws known as Shariah. The country's first civilian president, Mohamed Morsi, took office a mere 100 days ago with the hope of a peaceful and stable Egypt, but is now faced with a conflict over formulating the nation's founding legal document -- a constitution. Gaining absolute power through last year's massive demonstration that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak who reigned for decades, the so-called conservative Muslims are attempting the total Islamization of Egypt.

Some of them, mainly the violence-prone Salafists, are calling for the full application of Shariah, known as regulations and rulings of their Holy Prophet Mohammed, in every political and social area of Egyptian living.

Even Muslims themselves are divided on to what extend they should be governed by the rulings of their Prophet, according to the intelligence source. The Salafists called for a constitution based on the "rulings" of Shariah, which suggest a society abiding by the strict letter of what clerics say is meant in Islamic law. Other Muslims, including some but not all the members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the best organized Islamic organization in Egypt, prefer a constitution based on the "principles" of Shariah, which allows greater leeway and is also favored by some liberals.


After the Election

Lobbyists Already Have their Hooks into New Lawmakers

November 14th 2012

K Street has already made inroads with Congress’s incoming freshman class of lawmakers by helping out with fundraising.

Interest groups and lobbyists have bundled campaign contributions for at least nine lawmakers-elect, raising more than $800,000 overall, according to a review of Federal Election Commission (FEC) records by The Hill. Several incoming freshman members will be on Washington’s fundraising circuit after Election Day as well.

Bundling helps lobbyists and interest groups maximize their political giving. Unlike donations from political action committees (PACs) or individuals, there are no limits on how much can be bundled for a candidate. “The big advantage for us is it allows us to go beyond the $5,000 limit,” said John Isaacs, executive director for the Council for a Livable World. The group supports candidates who are in favor of nuclear arms control and bundles campaign contributions through its website and direct mail. Read more ..


After the Election

Conservatives Return to House of Representatives with Trepidation

November 14th 2012

Lobbyist

House conservatives returned to Washington on Tuesday determined to hang tough on taxes and spending in the face of a new post-election fiscal dynamic.

With President Obama winning reelection handily, Republican lawmakers are viewing the coming negotiations on the fiscal cliff with anxiety, unsure how much party leaders will ask them to give up to strike an agreement.

A Wednesday meeting of the conference will be a pivotal time for them to show solidarity.

Rank-and-file conservatives have thus far stood by House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) approach, but few are willing to commit specifically to immediate revenue increases in a deal that has yet to be brokered. Read more ..


Broken Government

Obama Needs More Money to Overcome Fiscal Cliff

November 14th 2012

Obama

President Obama is taking a tough opening stance in talks over deficit reduction, pushing Republicans to accept a plan that calls for $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue over the next ten years, according to reports.

The figure is double the $800 billion last discussed by the White House and House Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) during their 2011 negotiations on raising the debt-ceiling limit.

The president’s plan is based on his most recent budget proposal, which sought the $1.6 in new revenues by targeting the wealthy and corporations.

The president and congressional lawmakers are set to meet at the White House on Friday as both sides begin hammering out a deficit-cutting plan that helps the nation move past the “fiscal cliff” of rising tax rates and automatic spending cuts set to take effect in January 2013. Read more ..


Oil Addiction

Oil Companies' Hefty Tax Breaks Endangered by Fiscal Cliff

November 13th 2012

Oil Barrels

The oil industry’s long record of success in defending its tax breaks faces new tests as lawmakers and the White House negotiate to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) won’t rule out targeting oil-industry deductions in a broad deal to avoid the higher income tax rates and deep automatic spending cuts set to take effect in 2013. “The details will have to be negotiated. Not going to speculate on what a final package may look like,” Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith told The Hill. The Speaker is seeking a deal with the White House that would include new tax revenues without raising rates, a stance that has shifted the focus to the deductions and loopholes in the IRS code.

The American Petroleum Institute (API), the industry’s biggest lobbying group, is bracing for fresh attacks against incentives that oil companies say are nourishing the nation’s oil-and-gas production boom. Read more ..


Broken Government

Congress Turns Up the Heat on Petraeus Investigation

November 13th 2012

David Petraeus

Senior lawmakers on Monday sharpened their criticism of the FBI over its handling of the investigation that led to the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus.

The lawmakers questioned how FBI officials began an investigation into Petraeus and yet did not inform the congressional Intelligence Committee heads — or President Obama — that such a high-level probe was under way.

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the FBI made a mistake by not alerting Congress or the White House of the investigation, and said her committee would launch an investigation into the FBI’s “puzzling” actions.

The chairwoman also said she was perplexed to learn that other lawmakers outside the Intelligence panels — including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) — learned of the affair and investigation before Obama or the Intelligence heads. Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

Attorney General Holder Expected to Resign

November 12th 2012

Eric holder

Now that President Barack Obama has successfully garnered four-more years in the White House, attention to his second-term cabinet is increasing with many questioning the future of Obama's controversial U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, according to several police sources.

Over the weekend, several national news organizations pointed to statements Holder made regarding possibly leaving the Obama administration before the start of the president's second-term.

Many believe that if the GOP members of the House and Senate continue to delve into their investigation of an undercover gun-smuggling operation gone wrong, it will force Holder to resign. The Obama "attack dog" has already been found in contempt of congress for failing to comply with requests for documents related to the ATF's Operation Fast & Furious.

Although lawmakers and government watchdog groups are focusing on the Benghazi consulate attack, especially the discovery of more and more information that contradicts what the American people were told by the Obama administration and reelection campaign, many have not forgotten the so-called Operation Fast & Furious debacle and cover-up.

Just prior to Election Day, U.S. lawmakers released part two of their report on the "gun-walking" scheme that contributed to the deaths of more than 200 Mexicans and at least two American law enforcement agents. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released the second installment of their final report on Operation Fast & Furious. Read more ..


Media on Edge

BBC Director General Quits over False Accusations in Pedophile Investigation

November 11th 2012

BBC behind bars

Chris Patten, a British diplomat who negotiated Hong Kong’s transition to Chinese control who is now the chairman of the BBC governing trust, said on November 11 that unless the state-controlled media dinosaur makes significant changes it could be doomed to extinction. "The basis for the BBC's position in this country is the trust that people have in it," Patten said. "If the BBC loses that, it's over."Patten said that public confidence in the BBC must be restored in order to compete with private media conglomerates such as Rupert Murdoch’s media behemoth. "If you're saying, 'Does the BBC need a thorough structural radical overhaul?', then absolutely it does, and that is what we will have to do," said Patten, who was once a senior member of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party.

Patten’s warning came after the resignation of BBC Director General George Entwhistle on November 10, who had but two months in the job. Entwhistle threw in the towel and took the blame for the airing false child sex abuse allegations against Alistair McAlpine, a former politician. Entwistle said the report, broadcast on November 2, reflected “unacceptable journalistic standards” and should not have been broadcast. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Israel Fires Back at Syrian Artillery Attack

November 11th 2012

Israeli Tank in Sinai

Israel fired a warning shot into Syrian territory on November 11 after a mortar shell hit an Israeli army outpost in the Golan Heights. It was the first time Israel fired on Syria since the end of the 1973 war, in which Syria and Egypt attacked Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

As the Associated Press reports, "A short while ago, a mortar shell targeted an IDF (Israel Defense Forces) post in the Golan Heights," said army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich. "We answered with a warning shot toward Syrian areas. We understand this was a mistake and was not meant to target Israel and then that is why we fired a warning shot in retaliation." The Times of Israel also reports that Syrian troops may have fired on Israeli soldiers across the border. Read more ..


The GOP on Edge

War Opens Inside GOP Over Immigration

November 10th 2012

Border Patrol-Arizona

A war has opened within the GOP over whether to embrace immigration reform in the wake of President Obama’s thumping of Mitt Romney among Hispanic voters.

Conservative hero Sean Hannity said Thursday he had evolved on immigration reform after Romney lost Hispanics by 40 percentage points to Obama, while Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said a “comprehensive approach” on the issue was “long overdue.”

Pundit Charles Krauthammer wrote Friday that Hispanics should be a natural GOP constituency, which means increasing border security while giving amnesty to those already in the United States illegally. “Yes amnesty. Use the word. Shock and awe — full legal normalization (just short of citizenship) in return for full border enforcement,” he wrote. Read more ..


The Vote Aftermath

CIA Director Petraeus Resigns Following Admission of Extramarital Affair

November 9th 2012

David Petraeus

President Barack Obama accepted the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus on November 9, following a meeting they had on the previous day. In a statement, the former top Army general explained the rationale for his departure. “After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair,” Petraeus said in a statement. “Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation.”

Obama’s national security was already expected to have some departures, but Petraeus’s announcement has caused turmoil in the administration. Having taken the position just fourteen months ago, Petraeus had been expected to remain in situ. Obama stated that Petraeus has “provided extraordinary service to the United States for decades,” adding that “through his lifetime of service David Petraeus has made our country safer and stronger.” Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Iran Implicitly Confirms Attack on US Drone

November 9th 2012

Click to select Image

Iran has confirmed a Pentagon report that two Iranian warplanes fired on an unarmed U.S. drone in the Persian Gulf last week.

Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi was quoted on the Iranian Students' News Organization website as saying that Iran's armed forces took action against an anonymous plane that entered the country's airspace - countering the Pentagon's contention that the U.S. aircraft was over international waters. Iran also vowed to confront any other aircraft that enters its airspace. According to FARS news agency, Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Massoud Jazayeri said Iran would "give a decisive response to any aerial, ground or sea aggression."

US pondering response

Pentagon spokesman George Little said Thursday that the unmanned Predator was outside Iranian waters on a routine classified surveillance mission on November 1 when an Iranian military plane fired at, and missed, the drone. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

More Smart Phones Connect to Wi-Fi Hotspots Than Laptops

November 8th 2012

I-phone

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has published a report on the Wi-Fi hotspot market compiled by global research company Informa Telecoms & Media, revealing that smartphone-based hotspot connections now outnumber those from laptops for the first time.

This trend is set to accelerate as the industry moves toward the deployment of Next Generation Hotspots (NGH), based on open industry standards, which will make it even easier for the rapidly increasing number of smartphone owners to use the technology.

The survey revealed that hotspot connections are now led by smartphones (40 percent), followed closely by laptops (39 percent) and then tablets (17 percent) which have seen rapid growth since their recent emergence. The survey also highlighted rapid deployment of NGH, which is based on Passpoint certified equipment, with 19 percent of operator respondents planning to deploy by the end of 2013. NGH dramatically simplifies public Wi-Fi access, especially from smartphones, by allowing secure connections without the need for usernames and passwords, and is seen as a vital tool for offloading busy mobile broadband networks. Read more ..


The Vote Aftermath

House Leader Boehner Pivots on Tax Hikes Following Obama Victory

November 8th 2012

John Boehner
Speaker John Boehner

In the wake of the GOP’s disappointing election, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday signaled a willingness to accept higher tax revenues as part of a deficit cutting deal.

The fast-approaching deadline to stop a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts left Boehner and other leaders with little time to digest Republican Mitt Romney’s defeat on Tuesday.

Leaders on both sides of the Capitol moved swiftly to stake out their positions on the fiscal cliff, with Boehner calling for a “down payment” that would lead to a farther-reaching pact in 2013 and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) saying he did not want to see a short-term fix. “I’m not for kicking the can down the road; I think we’ve done that far too much,” Reid told reporters in the Capitol. “I think we should just roll up our sleeves and get it done.” Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Some Surprises in Congressional Races that are Too Close to Call

November 7th 2012

Lobbyist
U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) was locked in tight reelection battle Wednesday morning, with his race too close to call.

He isn't the only incumbent lawmaker facing possible defeat. In one of the most shocking races of the night, longtime Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) was in a tough race with challenger Bill Bloomfield, leading him by less than 100 votes with 39 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday.

Another race too close to call is Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), who was trailing Republican challenger Martha McSally by less than 400 votes with 100 percent of precincts reporting. The losses would result in some of most well-known members of Congress leaving the lower chamber. West is down against Democratic rival Patrick Murphy by less than 3,000 votes, with 100 percent of precincts reporting. Florida law requires an automatic recount if the margin stands at 0.5 percent or less of votes cast. Read more ..


Palestine on Edge

Yasser Arafat's body to be exhumed by Swiss forensic experts

November 7th 2012

Mahmoud Abbas and Big Bro Arafat

At a press conference, the chief of the group investigating Arafat's death announced that the Swiss forensic professionals first examined Arafat's grave site in Ramallah before actually opening it, exhuming the body and then taking specimen's of the PLO chief's remains. Swiss experts will open the grave and take the samples for examination on Nov. 27, 2012, according to the Israeli source.

The Palestinian committee charged with probing Arafat's death will work with the Swiss forensic team. The Palestinian committee will at the end receive a full report from Swiss regarding their opinion as to what killed the controversial PLO leader, considered one of the fathers of Islamic terrorist tactics such as suicide bombers. The samples of Arafat's bones will be taken to Switzerland for scientific examination since the Palestinian National Authority does not possess the necessary resources for conducting the tests of Arafat's remains. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Prominent Black Democrat Fails to Endorse Obama Candidacy

November 6th 2012

Gov. L. Douglas Wilder
Doug Wilder

A nationally prominent Democrat who endorsed President Barack Obama’s first election bid in 2008 has decided not to endorse the first black American president’s reelection. Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia, the first black American state governor in the history of the American union, wrote in a November 5 column that he could not endorse Obama’s reelection bid, citing differences over the Chief Executive’s conduct during the campaign.

While Wilder did not expressly support the candidacy of Republican Mitt Romney, he did say that the former Massachusetts governor "has met the test to be president." Speaking to the conduct of the campaign, Wilder wrote "Democrats counted on using ad hominem attacks to make Romney seem too unworthy and too unsteady to be the country's chief executive because of the rough nominating process. But that has not been 100 percent effective. Will it be effective enough? We'll find out on Tuesday."

A lifelong Democrat, Wilder has been known at times to differ with party colleagues over partisan orthodoxies. Wilder continued to say in his column, "I have campaigned for and supported the president in the past, and many people now want to discuss his job performance with me." Wilder, in an anecdote, mentioned an encounter with he had with a female voter who had supported Obama’s 2008 election bid. The woman told Wilder that this time around she did not want any party to take her vote for granted. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Voting Starts in a Close Presidential Race

November 6th 2012

Obama and Romney dreamin

President Barack Obama is in his home town of Chicago, Illinois to await the results of the presidential election. In closing rallies in battleground states, Obama cast the election as a choice between starkly different visions of the future.

Obama spoke at rallies in Wisconsin, Ohio and finally Iowa, where a political primary victory in 2008 helped propel him to the Democratic presidential nomination. At each stop, he urged voters to show up at the polls to ensure victory over Republican candidate Mitt Romney on on November 6. In Des Moines, Iowa, he urged voters to help him finish what he started when he won the presidency four years before. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Navy SEAL Group Protests that Obama Poses "Clear and Present Danger to U.S."

November 5th 2012

Navy Seal Team 6

The Obama administration poses a clear and present danger to America, according to a former member of elite Naval commandos in a statement released Sunday. U.S. Navy SEALs have been telling anyone who'll listen that President Barack Obama has been a weak leader throughout his term and cannot be trusted.

Senior administration officials recklessly briefed members of the press with operational details that put SEALs, their families and America at risk rather than protecting the secrecy of missions. Now we know more about SEAL Team 6 than we do about our own President's college transcripts, said a group of SEALs opposed to President Barack Obama's handling of counterterrorism.

"These SEALs know the facts. They were silenced by their service. But they refuse to remain quiet any longer. The stakes are simply too high," said a former intelligence officer and police detective M. Shane Duffy.  "The SEALs removed one threat to America, now it's time for the voters to remove the other," added retired Navy SEAL Brad Nagel. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Russia Engages in Diplomatic Offensive with Arab League

November 5th 2012

Contreras

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has held talks in Cairo in a fresh diplomatic effort to end the Syrian crisis. Lavrov met on November 4 with Arab League head Nabil Elaraby and the joint UN-Arab League mediator on the Syrian conflict, Lakhdar Brahimi.

Lavrov stressed all parties needed to agree to negotiate based on the Geneva Declaration, which was agreed in June and calls for a transition administration, but leaves unclear what role, if any, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad would have.
"[Russia] is trying to execute what was agreed upon in Geneva. But, with great regret, the other Western and regional countries who took part are speaking only with the Syrian opposition and are not speaking with the government," Lavrov said at a press conference following the Cairo talks. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Android powers 75% of smartphones in Q3

November 5th 2012

Smart phone running voice recogniton

Google's Android operating systems was found on three of every four smartphones shipped in the third quarter, according to International Data Corp. Four years since the first Android-powered smartphones hit store shelves, Android has risen rapidly to become far-and-away the dominant OS in smartphones. Apple Inc.'s iOS, which runs the company's line of iPhones, was a distant second in the third quarter with 15 percent market share, according to IDC. According to IDC, the number of Android-powered smartphones in the third quarter reached 136 million units, up 92 percent from the third quarter of 2011. Android's market share increased from 58 percent in the third quarter of 2011, IDC said.

"Android has been one of the primary growth engines of the smartphone market since it was launched in 2008," said Ramon Llamas, research manager for mobile phones at IDC, in a statement. "In every year since then, Android has effectively outpaced the market and taken market share from the competition." Read more ..


The Race for Nuclear

South Korea Shuts Down Two Nuclear Reactors

November 5th 2012

Nuclear Reactors

Suspect replacement parts at South Korea's nuclear plants have prompted the government to order the immediate shutdown of two power-generating reactors. Reactors five and six at the Yeonggwang nuclear complex were ordered to go offline on November 5.

Government officials say, before they can re-start the reactors, technicians will need to replace thousands of fuses, cooling fans and other parts. Minister of Knowledge Economy Hong Suk-woo says the components that were installed came with forged quality certificates. The minister says these are non-core components and such parts do not pose a safety threat. He adds there is no connection between the possibly counterfeit parts and a series of malfunctions at South Korea's nuclear reactors this year. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Iran Occupies and Installs Naval Base on Disputed Persian Gulf Islands

November 4th 2012

Iranian Admiral Habibullah

Iran's state TV is reporting that the country's powerful Revolutionary Guards have established a new naval base to reinforce its authority over three Persian Gulf islands also claimed by neighboring United Arab Emirates. The report says the base near Bandar-e Lengeh some 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) south of Tehran is the Guards' fifth in the Gulf. The Iranian-controlled islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb dominate the approach to the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a key waterway through which about one-fifth of the world's oil supply passes. During a ceremony held on Sunday, a new naval base of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps was inaugurated in the port city of Bandar Lengeh, which is located on the coast of the Persian Gulf in the southern province of Hormozgan. 

The naval base, named the Imam Muhammad Baqer (AS) Fifth Naval Region, has been established to increase the operational capabilities of the IRGC Naval Force and expand its area of responsibility in the Persian Gulf in line with Iran’s defense doctrine. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Bill Clinton Makes Last-Ditch Effort for Obama Campaign

November 4th 2012

Clinton for Obama 2

Former president Bill Clinton was on the campaign trail Saturday night with President Barack Obama as the race for the White House enters its final days before Tuesday's election. Clinton, his voice hoarse from his exhaustive campaigning for Obama, said he has literally given "my voice in the service of my president." More than 24,000 people came to the outdoor arena in Bristow, Virginia, to hear the current and former presidents.

Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney are crisscrossing the country as the campaign winds down. Polls indicate the two candidates are virtually tied in the key states of Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Virginia. The president holds a slight edge in Ohio and Virginia, while Romney is ahead in Colorado, and the two candidates are tied in Florida. The four states are the key so-called "swing states" critical to gaining the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.   Read more ..


Inside Russia

Holocaust-denier from Putin's party Resigns from Smolensk City Council

November 4th 2012

Concentration Camp

A deputy from the Smolensk city council, Andrei Yershov, has resigned from his post amid controversy over his comments on benefits for Holocaust survivors.

During a mid-October city council debate on granting privileges such as free passage on buses and trains to people who as children were incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps, Yershov said, "Why? For the simple reason that they were not finished off."

The comments were caught on audio recording and posted on the Internet, sparking an outcry for Yershov to resign. The controversy was reported by Russia's Pravda newspaper. Yershov is a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party.  Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Obama Call for "Revenge" Reverbates on Campaign Trail

November 4th 2012

Obama with baseball bat

GOP nominee Mitt Romney began his final weekend campaign blitz in New Hampshire Saturday morning, ripping President Obama for telling supporters that "voting is the best revenge."

"Vote for revenge? Let me tell you: Vote for love of country," Romney said to cheers. Obama made the remark at a Friday rally after supporters booed Romney. “No, no, no. Don't boo. Vote,” Obama told a crowd in Springfield, Ohio. “Voting is the best revenge.”

The GOP nominee jumped on the comment later that day, and his campaign released an ad attacking the president for it Saturday morning. The Obama campaign said Saturday that the president's comment was made in the context of Romney's “scare tactics.” Spokeswoman Psaki said a Romney TV ad running in the state that suggests Chrysler was moving production of Jeep models to China was an attempt at “frightening workers in Ohio into thinking, falsely, that they’re not going to have a job.” Read more ..


Israel and Palestine

Netanyahu Says Only direct talks can Reveal Palestinian True Position After Abbas Media Overture

November 4th 2012

Bibi Netanyahu with Glasses

Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Candidates Focus on Jobs and Economy in the Final Stretch

November 3rd 2012

Obama-Romney

Mitt Romney and President Obama entered the final weekend before Election Day battling over the issue at the center of their race for the White House — jobs and the economy.

With just three days before voters to go the polls, Obama and the Republican running to replace him offered dramatically different takes on the economy and what the latest unemployment report says about it. Romney focused on the 7.9 percent unemployment rate, and the fact that it as higher than the 7.8 percent rate in January 2009, when Obama entered office. “Think of that — unemployment today is higher than the day when Barack Obama took office,” Romney said at a campaign rally in Wisconsin, a swing state getting attention from both campaigns this weekend. Read more ..


Obama and Israel

As Election Nears, Timothy Geithner Shows up at US-Israel Loan Guarantee Signing

November 2nd 2012

Click to select Image

Last week U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Israeli Finance Ministry Director General Doron Cohen met to sign an extension of the U.S.-Israel Loan Guarantee program in an event in the Diplomatic Room of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

According to a source on the Israeli side with knowledge of the meeting, however, the timing of Geithner’s appearance was unusual and somewhat peculiar.

“Usually this is something that goes on between lower level officers. The Israeli Finance Ministry Director meets with  U.S. officers and the agreement is signed. However, a few days before the scheduled meeting we got a call from U.S. officials telling us that Geithner will sign,” the source said. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Homegrown Islamist Sentenced to Prision for Plot Against Pentagon

November 2nd 2012

jail door blue

A homegrown Islamic terrorist who confessed to planning to crash model airplanes carrying explosives into federal buildings including the Pentagon was sentenced on Thursday to 17 years in prison in Boston, Massachusetts, according to the FBI.

Rezwan Ferdaus planned to use rigged cellphones to detonate the improvised devices to bomb the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. His plea bargain with prosecutors helped him to avoid a much lengthier sentence. The 27-year-old Ferdaus was arrested back in February near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., as part of an undercover investigation by the FBI.

Ferdaus, a man of Moroccan descent who grew up in Massachusetts, was planning a suicide attack on the Capitol with explosives he received from undercover officers, whom he thought were associates of al-Qaeda. He also planned to deliver bomb-making materials for use in attacks against U.S. troops during the Iraq conflict.

Beginning in January 2011, Ferdaus began designing and constructing detonation components for improvised explosive devices (IED) using mobile phones. Ferdaus supplied 12 mobile phones, which he modified to act as an electrical switch for an IED, to FBI undercover employees (UCEs), whom he believed were members of al-Qaeda, with the intention that they be used to kill American and coalition soldiers in Afghanistan or other locations overseas.

In June 2011, Ferdaus delivered his first mobile phone detonation device to the UCEs. At a subsequent meeting, the UCEs falsely told Ferdaus that his first phone detonation device had succeeded in killing three U.S. soldiers and injuring others in Iraq. Ferdaus responded, “That was exactly what I wanted” and that he felt “incredible....We’re changing the world.” He also suggested that he could make “20 to 30 [detonation components] per week” to send to his “brothers overseas.” Read more ..


America After Sandy

Gas Shortage Adds Misery to Storm Recovery Tribulations

November 2nd 2012

Gas Station line

The U.S. death toll from the powerful storm that ravaged the East Coast is above 90 and rising, as emergency workers canvass flood and fire-ravaged neighborhoods. Police say at least 59 people were killed as Sandy pummeled New York City and New Jersey. Lines of cars stretched nearly two kilometers at the handful of gasoline stations able to pump fuel.

But New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city will carry on Sunday with its annual, world-famous marathon. He said the event should not overtax the police department because it is on a Sunday, when there is less street traffic. Canceling could also put more strain on already-strapped business owners, as the prestigious event draws thousands of runners and spectators, and millions of dollars to the city. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Opposition Forces Seize Strategic Northern Town in Syria

November 2nd 2012

Syrian Rebels in Aleppo

Human rights advocates say the Syrian opposition has taken control of a strategic northern town that is crucial to the government's fierce campaign against rebels in the embattled city of Aleppo.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have completely withdrawn from Saraqeb, where the main highways from Aleppo to Damascus and the Mediterranean coast meet. Ramy Abdel Rahman, the director of the UK-based monitoring group, says that rebel forces now control an area extending 25 kilometers in all directions from the town. Read more ..


America after Sandy

New York and New Jersey Struggle to Accomodate Refugees

November 2nd 2012

Click to select Image

With limited subway and bus service restored, the hardship caused by flooding and power outages in New York City has begun to ease since Monday night, when Hurricane Sandy struck the U.S. East Coast. But for thousands of residents from low-lying areas in New York who were evacuated to temporary shelters, the dislocation and struggle continue.

Outside a Manhattan public high school, whose gymnasium has been turned into a shelter for up to 100 displaced storm victims, Jesus Flores says he is grateful to shelter workers, volunteers and the city.

“They give me very good help. They give me [a] bed. They give me a blanket. They give me food, everything. And I feel comfortable because I have a place to stay, and I can make it. It’s a good thing,” Flores said. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

US Presidential Race Back to Full Speed After Superstorm

November 1st 2012

Obama campaign bus

With the American Election Day fast approaching, U.S. President Barack Obama resumes campaigning for re-election Thursday after spending several days heading the federal government's response to the Atlantic storm Sandy. Obama will travel to the so-called "battleground states" of Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado, three states that could determine if he or Republican challenger Mitt Romney will gain the 270 electoral votes needed to win next Tuesday's election.  The president suspended his campaigning Monday as Sandy devastated the coastal area of New Jersey and caused massive damage to New York City.  Romney also spent several days rallying for donations for Sandy's victims.

Obama traveled to New Jersey Wednesday to get a first-hand look at the damage with Republican Governor Chris Christie, who praised the president's handling of the disaster, despite being a supporter of Romney. Romney held a rally in Florida,Wednesday, his first official campaign event since Sandy made landfall, but avoided directly criticizing Obama. ''It is my view that we should not continue along the same path, but it is time to take a new path - a bold, aggressive change, because the road we're on, the road we are on is not doing so well," said Romney. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

GoDaddy Suspends anti-Obama Domains and Websites for Spam

November 1st 2012

Smart phone

Virginia-based GOP advertising firm ccAdvertising was behind a flood of anti-Obama text messages sent Tuesday night, according to Web domain records. By Wednesday morning, GoDaddy, a domain registrar, had suspended the firm's websites for spam and abuse. ccAdvertising did not respond to a request for comment.

It is unclear how many people received the unsolicited messages, but many people in the Washington, D.C., metro area took to Twitter and other social media sites on Tuesday night to complain about the unusual campaign tactic.

The texts covered a variety of topics, including abortion rights, Medicare and taxes. "The average American pays at least $2,000 more in taxes than 4 years ago. STOP OBAMA!" one message read. "Obama endorses the legality of same-sex marriage. Say No to Obama at the polls on Nov 6!" read another.

Jonathan Weisman, a reporter for The New York Times, tweeted that his 13-year-old daughter received a text reading: "Obama denies protection to babies who survive abortions. Obama is just wrong." Mike Madden, editor of The Washington City Paper, received another: "Re-electing Obama puts Medicare at risk." The messages came from a variety of websites rather than phone numbers. The sites included informedett.com, aicett.com and gopmessage.com. Read more ..



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