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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 ..


The 2012 Vote

GM and Chrysler Don't Refute Romney's Ad Campaign

November 1st 2012

Chrysler HQ

Mitt Romney's campaign pushed back Wednesday at complaints from Chrysler and General Motors that his ads are inaccurate.

Romney campaign spokesman Jonathan Burks in an interview with the Wall Street Journal said nothing leaders from the two companies have said contradicts the pair of ads running in the critical swing state of Ohio. In the ads, Romney accuses the two U.S. automakers of building cars in China after receiving an $80 billion taxpayer bailout from the Obama administration. "Their comments don't refute anything in our ads," Burks told the Journal.

GM and Chrysler have responded to the ads with unusually fierce criticism. A GM spokesman said the ads came from a "parallel universe" while Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, who leads the company that bought Chrysler after its bailout, said production of Jeep vehicles would not be moved to China in a letter to employees that was published in the Detroit News. Read more ..


The Drug Wars

Columbian Terrorist Group Continues Killing Cops and Soldiers

October 31st 2012

FARC Terrorists

Six police officers were killed and one was wounded during a terrorist ambush in a rural area of southwest Colombia, a U.S. drug enforcement source stated.

The police officers were riding four motorcycles when they were attacked with gunfire on Monday afternoon in the southwestern province of Cauca, according to source.

The Colombian government immediately blamed the ambush on members of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC which is designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department.

The attack came as negotiators from the Colombian government and FARC announced they had initiated peace talks in Oslo, Norway on Oct. 18, 2012, aimed at ending their nearly five-decades-long armed conflict. The second phase of the talks is set to begin in Cuba's capital of Havana on Nov. 15, which is ideal for FARC since it is a Marxist organization. Read more ..


Europe on Edge

Eurozone Unemployment hits Record High

October 31st 2012

Spainish squatters

Unemployment in the eurozone hit a record high in September, with nearly 150,000 more jobs lost as the debt crisis
continues to undermine an economy slumping into recession, official data show.

The 17-state eurozone had a jobless rate of 11.6 per cent in September, up from 11.5 per cent in August, with the numbers out of work rising to 18.49 million from 18.34 million, the Eurostat data agency said on Wednesday.

The increase over the past year is well over two million.

The highest unemployment rate was recorded again in Spain, where 25.8 per cent of adults are out of work. Further layoffs are likely to follow next year as more of the country's 60 billion euro ($78m) programme of budget austerity kicks in. Austria posted the lowest rate of 4.4 per cent and benchmark Germany and the Netherlands each on 5.4 per cent. Read more ..


The Business Edge

Franken-storm Sandy takes $20 Billion Bite out of US Economy

October 31st 2012

Hurricane Sandy is expected to take a $20 billion bite out of the U.S. economy.

The massive storm has put much of New York City in darkness, closed Wall Street and prevented use of the New York subway system for as much as a week, making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for thousands to get to work in the nation’s largest city.

The storm also brought economic activity to a screeching halt for two days in other major cities along the East Coast, including Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Still, experts say that nationally, any negative economic effects from the storm are unlikely to be felt until after Election Day, meaning the economics of Sandy might not be a game-changer for President Obama or Mitt Romney. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Presidential Campaigns Resume

October 30th 2012

us voters

Mitt Romney will resume campaigning Wednesday with a trio of events in Florida, while President Obama has canceled his election events to stay in Washington to monitor fallout from the storm the ravaged the East Coast.

Romney's move effectively ends the temporary suspension in the presidential campaign triggered by the landfall of Hurricane Sandy.

Even though Obama will be focusing on coordinating response to the storm, his campaign has shown an awareness of the fact the election is only a week away. The White House updated reporters early Tuesday morning with the president's work on response efforts to Sandy and released photos of Obama meeting with federal officials. Both campaign have been wrestling with how to best balance the demands of a presidential race and the need to project the appropriate sensitivity as the Eastern seaboard grapples with the aftermath of the storm. Read more ..


Faster and More Furious

New Report on Fast & Furious Revels Obama's DOJ Incompetance

October 30th 2012

Guns for sale

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 White House, the administration and the Obama re-election campaign, many have not forgotten the so-called Operation Fast & Furious debacle and cover-up. On Monday, U.S. lawmakers released the second part 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) yesterday released the second installment of their final report on Operation Fast & Furious. Their latest release chronicles the U.S. Department of Justice’s management failures, specifically finding fault with five senior Justice Department officials for failing to identify red flags indicating reckless tactics. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

UN Envoy Says Syria Situation Worsening

October 30th 2012

Contreras

Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says the situation in Syria is getting worse, and that the international community must unite to help the Syrian people find a solution to the 19-month crisis.

After talks Monday in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Brahimi said he was sorry a holiday cease-fire did not take hold, but that the failure would not discourage efforts to find a solution.

"We shall continue to work as hard as we possibly can, and in cooperation with everybody inside Syria and outside of Syria, to bring the level of violence down, put an end to it and launch Syria on the road to building the new Syria," Brahimi said.

The envoy also said the United Nations is not sending a peacekeeping operation to Syria. He had called for the Syrian government and rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad to observe a truce during the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, but both sides continued fighting. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

CIA Chief Reportedly Called Sudanese President on Weapons Factory Strike to Deny US Involvement in Purported Israeli Attack

October 30th 2012

Petraeus
David Petraeus

A Sudanese newspaper is reporting that CIA chief David Petraeus called Sudanese deputy intelligence head Saleh A-Tayeb to deny any U.S. involvement in an airstrike that destroyed an arms factory in Khartoum late last week. According to the report that appeared in the local Sudanese paper “al-Intiba,” after Sudanese officials placed blame on Israel for the strike U.S. officials attempted to reach out to their Sudanese counterparts to deny reports that the U.S. was involved or had prior knowledge of the attack.

Shortly after the strike the U.S. embassy in Khartoum closed, raising speculation that U.S. officials knew of the strike. However, according to the article this was  merely a precautionary measure taken by the U.S. to protect embassy staff. According to the official quoted in the “al-Intiba” article, the US asked that Sudan guarantee the safety of American diplomats currently based in Khartoum. Read more ..


Israel and Gaza

Israel Strikes Back at Gaza Rockets

October 29th 2012

Israeli Jet Diving

The Israeli military said its aircraft struck a Palestinian rocket launching pad and an unidentified militant activity site in the Gaza Strip in response to persistent rocket and mortar fire from the coastal territory. The military also says Gaza armed groups launched 11 rockets and mortars into southern Israel early on Monday. No casualties were reported on either side, according to The Associated Press.

The hostilities undercut a brittle, informal truce that went into effect last week after the worst outbreak of violence between the two sides in months. The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Gaza’s ruling Islamist Hamas movement, claimed responsibility for firing the rockets on Israel, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP two rockets fell in open areas within the Eshkol district which flanks the southern sector of the Gaza border, while another two landed in and around Beersheva, a city of 194,000 people.

Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Car Bomb Rocks Damascus Assad Regime Steps up Airpower

October 29th 2012

Machine Gun Bunker

A car bomb has ripped through the Al-Hajar Al-Aswad district of southern Damascus following heaviest military airstrikes since fighter jets were first deployed to crash the uprising. The escalating violence came amid warnings by the U.N.-Arab league peace envoy on the worsening of the Syria crisis. The blast has caused an unknown number of casualties, according to the Syrian States Television. “A terrorist car bomb attack has hit the district of Al-Hajar Al-Aswad,” the broadcaster said.

Al-Hajar Al-Aswad was the scene of intense mid-summer combat between rebels and the army when fighting broke out in several districts of the Syrian capital. Earlier on Monday, the Syrian military launched the heaviest air strikes seen in the country since warplanes were first deployed over the summer, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Obama Tried to Restablish Diplomatic Ties with Iran

October 29th 2012

Iranian clerics

The Israeli daily Maariv reported on Sunday that, early in his term,U.S. President Barack Obama made a major attempt to reestablish diplomatic ties with Iran. According to the Times of Israel, the attempt took place in 2009, and was initiated by Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, undoubtedly with presidential approval.

Obama offered "the opening of interest sections in Washington and Tehran, with the possibility subsequently of expanding to full diplomatic ties." He was also prepared "to hold senior level diplomatic contacts, to agree to reciprocal visits, to approve security cooperation between the countries, direct flights between the US and Iran, and the granting of visas to Iranians wishing to visit the US. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Obama Edges Over Romney in Crucial Ohio

October 29th 2012

Obama

President Obama has stretched out a four-point lead in the crucial battleground of Ohio, Public Policy Polling (PPP) said Sunday. Obama leads Mitt Romney 51 percent to 47 among likely voters, the Democratic-leaning pollster said.

PPP had found Obama with a one-point edge last week, but said the president had consolidated his support among Democrats and narrowed Romney’s lead among independents. Ohio has turned out to be one of – if not the most – closely watched states in this year’s presidential campaign. Both Obama and Romney would appear to have a difficult path to 270 electoral votes without the Buckeye State, and the two campaigns have flooded the state with advertisements and visited frequently. The PPP poll also comes the same day that a poll from a consortium of Ohio newspapers found the president and Romney locked in a tie, at 49 percent apiece. Suffolk and Rasmussen also found the race tied in recent days. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Storm Clouds and a Tight Presidential Race Loom Ahead

October 29th 2012

Obama and Romney road show

Tight polls in a number of battleground states and a monumental storm that could hamper get-out-the-vote efforts have shuffled an already unpredictable presidential race, with eight days remaining before Election Day.

Hurricane Sandy is poised to be this year’s October surprise, forcing both President Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney to rearrange their campaign schedules, cancelling events in important states, with little time left before the election.

Those lost opportunities for the presidential contenders to rally supporters and sway undecided voters in key states could be crucial.

Both candidates scrapped events in battleground Virginia over the weekend to allow local authorities to focus on storm preparations. The Obama campaign also canceled the president's visit to Colorado and the first lady's trip to New Hampshire on Tuesday, as well as Jill Biden's stops to North Carolina and Pennsylvania on Sunday and Monday. Read more ..


Nigeria on Edge

Nigerians Rampage After Suicide Bombing Of Church

October 28th 2012

Nigeria - Jos Unrest

Rioters rampaged through the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna following a suicide-bomb attack on a Catholic church that left three people -- including the bomber -- dead on October 28. Five more people were killed in the subsequent rioting, in which Christian youths targeted people they believed to be Muslims. According to conflicting reports, as many as 145 people were injured in the explosion and rioting.

AFP reported that a mob set a man on fire after dousing him with gasoline. They then prevented rescue workers from saving him. No one has taken responsibility for the church bombing, but the terrorist Boko Haram sect has targeted Christians in the region in the past. The group has conducted an insurgency since 2009 that has left about 2,800 people dead.

The Edge of Terrorism

Indonesia Arrests 11 in Terror Plot to Bomb US Embassy and Other Targets

October 28th 2012

Click to select Image

Indonesian police say 11 people have been arrested in a suspected plot to attack the U.S. embassy in Jakarta and other domestic and foreign targets. National police spokesman Suhardi Alius said Saturday the arrests by a special anti-terror unit took place in four provinces. Alius said the suspects, members of the newly-formed Harakah Sunni Movement for Indonesian Society, were preparing to launch a series of strikes.  He said targets also included a plaza near the Australian embassy in Jakarta, a local office of the American mining giant Freeport-McMoRan and the U.S. consulate in Surabaya.  A police facility in Central Java was also targeted.

Authorities say evidence from arrest sites include bombs, ammunition, detonators, bomb-making manuals and other explosives materials.  Neither the U.S. nor Australian embassies has commented on the arrests, and it was not immediately disclosed how far the attack plans had advanced. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Obama Squandered Big Bucks on Green Jobs: Inspector General

October 28th 2012

Green Jobs

The Obama administration released a disturbing report on Friday that revealed hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars poured into a program that failed to achieve its goals and was discriminatory against women, whereby 84 percent of the beneficiaries were men.

The report regarding an internal investigation conducted by the Inspector General of the Department of Labor increases suspicion of the ineffectiveness of the Obama administration’s Green Jobs Training Program, according to members of the House of Representative.

"As is customary in the nation's capital, bad news is always released on Friday so it gets a minimal amount of news media and public attention," said political strategist Jerry Norstrom.

According to the report, specifically requested by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), the IG confirmed suspicions that the Labor Department has further "squandered taxpayer money since the program was flagged by the IG last year."

“The green jobs training program belongs in the long list of the [Obama] administration’s bad investments including the bankruptcies of Solyndra, Beacon Power, Abound, and just this month, A123,” said Chairman Issa.

“Not only was the program poorly thought-out, mismanaged and dysfunctional, but it served as a slush fund to reward friends of the Obama Administration. Millions of dollars went to groups like the National Council of La Raza, the Blue Green Alliance and the US Steelworkers union,” Issa stated. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Storm Causes Cancellations in US Presidential Campaign

October 27th 2012

Hurricane Isabel

Some U.S. presidential campaign events are being canceled in advance of Tropical Storm Sandy.
Challenger Mitt Romney and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden have both canceled appearances in Virginia Beach, in the southeastern state of Virginia, as the storm moves closer to the U.S. east coast.  Biden has canceled a Saturday appearance there, while Romney has canceled a Sunday rally that was to be held in the same city.

U.S. President Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to cast an early ballot in the presidential election, voting earlier in the week at his Chicago polling place.

Tropical Storm Sandy is being closely monitored by U.S. election officials because the storm could disrupt early voting that is going on in several states. Meanwhile, Romney has called for "bold changes" to fix the nation's economy in what his aides have described as his "closing argument." Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syrian Death Toll Rises to 50 Despite Cease-fire

October 27th 2012

Syria Damascus fighting injured baby

The Syrian government and opposition activists have traded blame for a series of deadly attacks that have strained a fragile cease-fire. Activists say Syrian forces launched airstrikes on Saturday to pound targets in areas including the Damascus suburbs.

The government blamed militants for attacks on security forces and several bombings, including a blast near a church in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor.

The state-run SANA news agency said "armed terrorist groups" were continuing to breach a truce between the government and rebels that took effect on Friday in observance of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights sid that more than 50 people were killed in anti-government related violence on Saturday, including at least 17 security force members.  Saturday's violence raises the two-day death toll to about 200. Read more ..


After Fukushima

Fukushima 'Running out of Space' to Store Radioactive Water

October 27th 2012

Rad monitor Japan

Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant is struggling to find space to store tens of thousands of tons of highly contaminated water, it emerged today. About 200,000 tons of radioactive water used to cool the broken reactors are being stored in hundreds of gigantic tanks built around the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. Operator Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has already chopped down trees to make room for more tanks and predicts the volume will more than triple within three years.

"Our land is limited and we could eventually run out of storage space," said water treatment manager Yuichi Okamura. Tepco's tanks are filling up mostly because leaks in reactor facilities are allowing ground water to pour in. Outside experts say that if contaminated water is released, there will be a lasting impact on the environment. And they fear that because of the reactor leaks and water flowing from one part of the plant to another, that may already be happening. Nuclear engineer Masashi Goto said the contaminated water build-up poses a long-term threat.

Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Republican Senator Graham Dismissive of Obama's Account of Benghazi Disaster

October 27th 2012

Libyan rioters at US consulate Sep 2012 #2

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called President Obama’s statements on Libya “a lot of B.S.” on Friday after the president said that his administration wasn’t playing politics with its response to the deadly attack.

“In the words of President Obama, this statement sounds like a lot of B.S.,” Graham said in a statement, referencing Obama’s comments in a Rolling Stone article.

“This Administration does play politics with national security,” Graham said. “In an effort to look strong, this Administration has strategically leaked classified information about numerous sensitive national security programs, ranging from the raid on bin Laden, the cyber-attacks on Iran, to disrupting the underwear bomber plot.” Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Obama Expresses 'Surprise' That Climate Change wasn't Discussed at Final Debate

October 27th 2012

Obama-Romney

President Obama said Friday that he presents a “huge contrast” with Mitt Romney on climate change, and noted he is “surprised” the topic didn’t surface in three debates with the GOP nominee. “We are not moving as fast as we need to, and this is an issue that future generations, MTV viewers, are going to have to be dealing with, even more than the older generation is,” Obama said in an interview on MTV Friday afternoon. “And so this is a critical issue. And there is a huge contrast in this campaign between myself and Governor Romney. I am surprised it didn’t come up in one of the debates,” the president said.

However, while there were no questions on the topic, Obama never raised it himself during the debates despite engaging in several exchanges with Romney over energy policy. The silence in the debates disappointed many environmentalists, who wanted a more muscular stance from Obama. CNN’s Candy Crowley said after moderating the Oct. 16 debate that she had a question ready but didn’t get to it. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

UN Election Monitors have Immunity from US Law says State Department

October 26th 2012

us voters

Election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have immunity from U.S. laws, according to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott had sent a letter to the OSCE on Tuesday informing the organization that its observers “are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place,” and that coming within 100 feet of a polling place “may be a criminal offense.” During Friday’s State Department media briefing, Nuland said that the OSCE observers were eligible for full immunity. Nuland also said that she did not anticipate having those immunities invoked, as the OSCE and Texas were in communication.

Nuland dismissed a question about whether authorities in Texas had cause to worry the OSCE efforts were the advance of “some international attempt to assert control of their sovereignty.”  Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Harry Reid Taken to Hospital after Car Crash

October 26th 2012

Harry Reid

The Hill reports: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was taken to a hospital on Friday afternoon after a multiple-car crash in Nevada. His office has not commented on his injuries although Nevada Highway Patrol public information officer Loy Hixson said Reid's injuries did not appear to be life threatening, according to CNN. A source close to Reid's family told the Las Vegas Sun that the majority leader is "OK;" adding there were no visible injuries and that Reid was taken to the hospital as a matter of caution.

A Las Vegas police spokesman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Reid, 72, was the only person taken to the hospital and seemed to only have "minor rib injuries." The crash occurred on Interstate 15, according to Las Vegas's KTNV, which runs near the Las Vegas strip. It happened around 1 p.m. local time and involved multiple cars, including two Metro vehicles, two Capital Police vehicles and two civilian vehicles, according to local Fox affiliate KVVU-TV. Officers on the scene described it as a chain-reaction crash, according to the Associated Press. As a member of the Congressional leadership, Reid gets protection from Capitol Police, some of whose vehicles were involved in the crash. Read more ..


The Arab Winter of Rage

CIA Was Denied Military Backup in Benghazi

October 26th 2012

libya-consulate

On Friday, sources in Benghazi during the attack on the U.S. consulate said that Central Intelligence Agency operatives twice asked for permission to help Ambassador Chris Stevens and his staff, and twice were told to 'stand down' -- while a later request for military backup was denied, according to a Fox News Channel alert by Megyn Kelly.

But, during a U.S. Defense Department press conference on Wednesday, when reporters asked about the U.S. failure to respond to a terrorist attack on a U.S. Consulate in Libya, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made short shrift of the confusing -- some say deliberately misleading -- White House statements over the last several weeks.

Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, were viciously attacked and murdered during an attack that occurred on Sept. 11, 2012, and began at 10 p.m., Libyan time, at the consulate, which attackers set afire, and spread to the nearby annex during the course of six or more hours. Read more ..


China on Edge

China Blocks NY Times Website Over Story on Wen Jiabao

October 26th 2012

Chinese hackers

Chinese government censors moved quickly to block the New York Times website Friday after it published a blockbuster story detailing the massive wealth accumulated by the family of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

The report threatened to shatter the public image of Wen, who is known as a compassionate, reformist leader with a modest background. The Times says a review of corporate and regulatory records indicate the prime minister's relatives control assets of at least $2.7 billion.

Just hours after the article was posted, access to the paper's English and Chinese-language websites was blocked throughout China. Censors also hurried to delete references to the prime minister and his family on China's Twitter-like Weibo microblog, while the Times' Chinese social media accounts were also deleted.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei condemned the article on Friday, telling reporters that it was meant to "smear China" and had "ulterior motives."

NY Times reacts
Eileen Murphy, the paper's spokeswoman, expressed disappointment and said she hopes full access is restored soon. But she said the Times refuses to compromise its journalistic standards.  Following the June launch of its Chinese-language site, the paper made a similar commitment, vowing not to tailor its content based on "the demands of the Chinese government."
Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Voter Fraud Uncovered in Virginia

October 25th 2012

Election ID Support

The son of an 11-term Democratic congressman was allegedly caught on video providing information on how to commit voter fraud, according to a report and video released on Wednesday. Patrick Moran, the son and campaign worker of U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), when approached by an undercover investigator for advice on how to steal the votes of more than 100 people, Moran advised falsifying documents to satisfy Virginia’s new voter ID law, according to investigative journalist James O'Keefe, who is the founder and director of The Project Veritas.

Patrick Moran is heard saying in a video, “Bank statement obviously would be tough, but they can fake a utility bill with ease.” Moran goes on to say in the video, “You’d have to forge it.” Announcing the release of the video, O’Keefe said, “This is the most damning evidence to date of the scope of voter fraud in this country. Patrick Moran is not only the son of an 11-term Congressman, but is also the Field Director on his father’s re-election campaign." Read more ..


The Arab Winter of Rage

White House Knew of al-Qaeda Link to Benghazi Consulate Attack

October 25th 2012

Libyan rioters at US consulate Sep 2012 #1

White House officials and State Department staff, contrary to original press statements, were informed about the suspected terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2012, just two hours after the assailants invaded the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and that a radical Islamist group claimed responsibility for the consulate invasion and murders of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, according to emails obtained by the news media on Wednesday.

The emails, obtained by the Fox News Channel's national security correspondent Catherine Herridge from an anonymous government source, identified the terrorist group as Ansar al-Sharia as claiming responsibility for the attacks. The first short email revealed how U.S. diplomats, in the midst of the violent and deadly attack, described the attack to Washington.

A second email that was sent stated that the Embassy in Tripoli had reported that "the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi had stopped and the compound had been cleared." It said a ‘response team’ was at the site attempting to locate missing personnel. A third email sent carried the subject line: "Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack." The message reported: "Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on [the U.S. Embassy in] Tripoli." Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

UN Monitor Denounces Iran's Human Rights Conditions

October 25th 2012

Quds Force

The United Nations expert charged with monitoring the human rights situation in Iran warns that there are “alarming trends” in the country’s human rights situation, including the prosecution of human rights defenders and lawyers, executions in the absence of fair trials, and the detention of journalists and Internet commentators.

U.N. Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed says in his third report to the U.N. General Assembly that the overall human rights situation in Iran is “deeply troubling.”

The country has one of the highest execution rates in the world, often for crimes, such as drug offenses, which are not considered to be among the most serious and deserving of capital punishment under international standards. Just this week, Tehran announced that 10 more persons were executed for alleged drug crimes. Minors also have been subject to the death penalty. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Russia Accuses U.S. of Arming Syrian Rebels

October 25th 2012

Syrian Rebels in Aleppo

Russia’s senior general says that rebels in Syria have acquired shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles, including a model made in the United States. General Staff Chief Nikolai Marakov says that officials need to determine who supplied the weapons to Syria’s opposition.

Interfax news agency quotes General Nikolai Marakov as saying "that militants fighting Syrian government forces have portable missile launchers of various states, including American-made Stingers.” He did not make any direct accusation of how the rebels acquired the weapons. In Washington, the Pentagon had no immediate comment. In the past, the U.S. government has denied supplying Syrian rebels with weapons or having any information that American-made weapons are in the hands of rebel forces. Read more ..


Burma on Edge

Violence Between Burmese Buddhists and Muslims Spreads

October 25th 2012

Rohingya Refuge Camp
Muslim Rohingya camp in Myanmar

Renewed sectarian violence between Muslim Rohingya and Buddhist Rakhine is spreading in Burma’s western Rakhine state. At least two people were reported killed and there are concerns the death toll may grow. Authorities say fighting erupted late Tuesday in two more towns, Kyaukpyu and Myebon.

Burma's state media said communal violence has left more than 1,000 homes burned since Sunday. The New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported two people were killed in the fighting, while unconfirmed reports say casualty figures are much higher. Al Haji Nyunt Maung Shein is chairman of Burma's Islamic Religious Affairs Council. He says they received reports as many as 178 Muslims and Buddhists were killed, but were unable to independently confirm the figures. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Rocket War on Israel's South Keeps Children Home as Fighting Intensifies

October 24th 2012

Rocket Damage

Over 60 rockets and mortars were fired at civilian targets from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday night and throughout Wednesday morning. Two foreign workers were critically wounded by a direct rocket hit, while working in chicken coops on a farm in the Eshkol region, which was badly hit. They were evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva, along with a third worker who was lightly wounded. In addition, a woman suffered minor injuries as she stumbled while running for shelter during a siren. Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) claimed responsibility for the attacks.

In Eshkol, located in the northwestern part of the Negev, 30 rockets struck the region, hitting homes and damaging properties. One of the rockets hit a central electricity exchange box, cutting off several of the towns.

Ronit Minaker, the spokesperson for the Eshkol region said that the normal routine of area residents was severely disrupted today. “Schools have been cancelled—children are home and parents have stayed home with them, missing work because of the rocket attacks,” she said.

“Five homes have been hit in the south, and there were children at home in some of them at the time. Families whose homes have been hit are now staying by their neighbors,” Minaker added.

Following this latest escalation, the military has canceled school in many parts of the Negev. The students will learn online, and the teachers are making a special effort to identify students who are suffering from anxiety so that they receive the proper trauma treatments. Nachala, a student at Sapir College, near Sderot told Tazpit News Agency that she arrived for her morning classes, but was sent home. "I heard rocket explosions all night long. This morning, when I got to Sapir, we were told to go home because of the rocket threat. For me it wasn't too bad, because I live nearby, but many of the students traveled from far to get to college classes, and they had to go back home." The IDF Home Front Command has instructed area residents who live within the radius of 10 kilometers of the Gaza border to take shelter and stay indoors. Read more ..


Burma on Edge

Sectarian Violence Spreads in Burma--A Thousand Homes May be Burned

October 24th 2012

Burmese Generals

Renewed sectarian violence between Muslim Rohingya and Buddhist Rakhine is spreading in Burma’s western Rakhine state. At least two people were reported killed and there are concerns the death toll may grow. Authorities say fighting erupted late Tuesday in two more towns, Kyaukpyu and Myebon. Burma's state media said communal violence has left more than 1,000 homes burned since Sunday. The New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported two people were killed in the fighting, while unconfirmed reports say casualty figures are much higher.
 
Al Haji Nyunt Maung Shein is chairman of Burma's Islamic Religious Affairs Council.  He says they received reports as many as 178 Muslims and Buddhists were killed, but were unable to independently confirm the figures. "Still the violence is going on in Rakhine state, especially in Kyaukpyu area and Myinbya area last night.  And recently they are suffering so much.  And almost all, nearly 2,000 houses are burnt," he said.
The council cancelled celebration of the Islamic religious festival Eid al-Adha out of concern for security.
Read more ..


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