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Media on Edge

BBC’s Donnison May Lose Press Credentials After Tweeting Photo of Syrian Child

November 27th 2012

Fake Gaza Child Casualty Picture actually from Syria
Fake Gaza Child Casualty Picture actually from Syria

A BBC correspondent who found himself in hot water after tweeting a picture of a child, who he claimed had been injured during Israel’s operation in Gaza, but who was actually a casualty of Syria’s civil war, may find himself in even more trouble.

Walla News reports that Israel’s Information Ministry is exploring the possibility of denying Jon Donnison press credentials. According to the report Donnison has been invited to a hearing on Wednesday at the Government Press Office.

If denied the press credential, Donnison could possibly lose the ability to work in Gaza and the West Bank as he’d find it difficult to enter each territory from Israel.

Donnison tweeted an apology the day after the initial tweet appeared: “A photo I re-tweeted from another journo yesterday showing children injured was NOT in Gaza as I said but apparently from Syria. Apologies.”

Last week Knesset Member Carmel Shama Hacohen, Chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, said that the apology was not enough and suggested certain sanctions be imposed on channels whose coverage consistently “blackens the face of Israel.” Read more ..

Rwanda on Edge

Rwanda's Military Battles Hutu Rebels

November 27th 2012


Rwandan military officials say Hutu extremists based in eastern Congo crossed into Rwanda on Tuesday and launched attacks in several villages near the border. A military spokesman blamed the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) for the attack, which led to clashes with Rwandan military forces. However, Reuters news agency reports the FDLR, which opposes Rwanda's Tutsi-led government, has denied involvement in any fighting. Rwanda said the attackers numbered at least 100, were repulsed and fled back into the DRC or into Rwanda.

This new unrest in eastern Congo comes a week after Congolese rebel group M23 seized the city of Goma, near the Congolese-Rwandan border. The group, comprised mainly of Tutsi army defectors, defied a Monday deadline to withdraw from Goma that had been set by regional leaders.

Israel on Edge

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak Quits Public Life

November 26th 2012

Ehud Barak
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak

Long considered a master of the surprise attack, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivered one last shocking blow on Monday by suddenly announcing his retirement from politics.

Barak, who has served in numerous high-profile posts over the last three decades, including prime minister and IDF chief of staff, told the media: "I want to dedicate more time to my family. I feel I have exhausted dealing with political life, which has never been a passion of mine, and I feel there is room to allow other people to serve in senior roles in Israel."

"Time with family" is a standard excuse for a politicians retirement, and Barak's decision is likely motivated more by his perilous political position than anything else. Drummed out of his longtime home in the Labor party for his willingness to serve with Right-wing governments, Barak formed his own Independence party last year; but recent polls have shown that it has little electoral support, and might not even enter the next Knesset. Read more ..

The Edge of Justice

Mexican Cops Nab Suspect on FBI's Most Wanted List

November 25th 2012


Mexican federal police announced on Friday that they captured a suspected murderer, kidnapper, rapist and drug gang member who is listed as one of the FBI's 10 most-wanted fugitives, according to a law enforcement official.

Joe Luis Saenz, a U.S. citizen who lived in Los Angeles, California, was arrested on Thursday by federal police officers (Federales) in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico.

Officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation said he would be extradited back to Los Angeles this weekend under a U.S. law enforcement escort. The FBI alleges that the 37-year-old Saenz fatally shot two rival gang members in Los Angeles in July 1998 and kidnapped, raped and murdered his estranged girlfriend less than two weeks later. He is also accused of a fourth murder in Los Angeles County in October 2008, according to the FBI. The FBI offered up to $100,000.00 for information leading to Saenz's arrest. Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

Gaza Cease-Fire Holds Amid Signs of Normalcy

November 25th 2012


A cease-fire that ended eight-days of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip is now in its fifth day.Schools in southern Israel reopened Sunday after a 10-day closure brought on by Palestinian rocket attacks from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Parents were relieved.

“I’m very glad that my children finally can go back to school and start the routine," said a parent. "Routine is very good and it’s very important for our children.” Israeli students were glad to get back, saying school is better than a vacation spent in bomb shelters.

It was a similar scene in Gaza on Saturday. Tens of thousands of Palestinian children returned to school, after sheltering at home during massive Israeli air strikes. Under the terms of the truce, Israel is also easing border restrictions on Gaza. Palestinian fishing boats sailed 10 kilometers out to sea, double the previous limit which Israel says it imposed to prevent weapons smuggling. Palestinians say fishing is better in deeper water. Gaza farmers were also allowed to visit land near the Israeli border fence, in what was previously a closed military zone. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Syrians Rebels Seize Part of Army Airport Near Damascus

November 25th 2012

Free Syrian Army

Syrian rebels seized a "large part" of a military airport near the capital on Sunday as troops shelled the outskirts of Damascus province, a watchdog and activists said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 31 rebels and 16 soldiers in and around Damascus were among 94 people killed in violence across the country on Saturday.

Rebels took a "large part" of the military airport of Marj al-Sultan, 15 kilometres (nine miles) east of Damascus, and destroyed two helicopters, according to the Britain-based Observatory. A video posted on the Internet by activists appeared to show one wrecked helicopter, while a rebel shoots rockets at the airport, gripped by several fires. The Syrian Revolution General Commission and Local Coordination Committees, two major networks of activists on the ground, meanwhile, reported shelling of several areas near Damascus. Read more ..


Ambassador Rice Aggressively Defends Herself

November 25th 2012

Susan Rice

The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, has aggressively defended herself and denounced criticism of her role in explaining what caused the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, when she appeared the following Sunday on five morning news shows representing the Obama administration. Amb. Rice continues to claim she had relied on talking points given to her by the intelligence community. In her defense against criticism from U.S. Senator John McCain and other Republican lawmakers, as well as counterterrorism experts, over the issue, Rice claimed that she relied on intelligence reports when she appeared on the Sunday news programs on Sept. 16, 2012, to discuss the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans. Read more ..

The Arab Winter of Rage in Cairo

Egyptian Judges Condemn 'Unprecedented Attack' By President

November 24th 2012

Mohammed Morsi

Egypt's top judges have accused President Muhammad Morsi of staging an "unprecedented attack on the independence of the judiciary." The criticism came in a statement issued on November 24 by the Supreme Judicial Council, which handles administrative affairs and judicial appointments.

It follows Morsi's decree on November 22 which granted him extensive new powers. Meanwhile, in Egypt's second city, Alexandria, judges announced a strike in the provinces of Alexandria and Beheira in protest at the move.

They said the decree violates the principle of separation of power and that they will not return to work until it is reversed. The ruling bars any court from dissolving the constituent assembly, which is preparing a new constitution. It also bans any legal challenges to the president's decisions and new laws until a new parliament is elected. Morsi also sacked his prosecutor-general and gave himself the power to appoint a new one. The president and his supporters say he is acting to protect last year's revolution from being undermined by loyalists of former ruler Hosni Mubarak. Read more ..

The Arab Winter of Rage in Cairo

Egyptian Protesters Assail Muslim Brotherhood Installations

November 24th 2012

Egypt army protest

Egyptian security forces dispersed protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square with rounds of tear gas. Security personnel fired the tear gas Saturday morning on the protesters, many of whom spent the night on the iconic protest hub. On Friday, November 23, protesters in several Egyptian cities attacked the offices of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood, as rival pro- and anti-government groups demonstrated in Cairo about a new presidential decree.

The protests came a day after Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi put himself above oversight and declared that his decisions cannot be appealed by the courts or any other authority. In a speech to supporters Friday at the presidential palace, Morsi said he wants to move Egypt forward as a stable and safe nation and does not want sole control of the country. Read more ..


Republican Sen. Graham Holds Obama Responsible for Benghazi Fiasco

November 23rd 2012

Libyan rioters at US consulate Sep 2012 #1

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Friday defended his criticism of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice’s statements in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack and charged President Obama with “stonewalling the American people.”

“I blame the president above all others,” said Graham, speaking on Fox News. Graham said that, compared to the administration's disclosures about other foreign policy issues, the White House has been reluctant to provide insight into their response to Benghazi.

“We have photos of the president in the situation room, a minute-by-minute account of the president's leadership. He deserves great credit for the Bin Laden raid. It was a gutsy call. We have information about how he called the deal on the recent cease-fire between the Israelis and Palestinians,” said Graham. Read more ..

The Iranian Threat

Iranian Agent Indicted in U.S. Military Equipment Conspiracy

November 23rd 2012

Iran Missiles

An Iranian businessman and his company were charged in an indictment unsealed on Tuesday with conspiracy to defraud the United States, violating the Arms Export Control Act and smuggling in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Amin Ravan, a citizen of Iran, and his Iran-based company, IC Market Iran (IMI), were charged in connection with the illegal export of 55 military antennas from the United States to Singapore and Hong Kong.

According to the indictment, which was returned by a grand jury in the nation's capital, Ravan was based in Iran and, at various times, acted as an agent of IMI in Iran and an agent of Corezing International Pte Ltd, a company based in Singapore that also maintained offices in Hong Kong and China. On Oct. 10, 2012, Ravan was arrested by law enforcement officers in Malaysia in connection with a U.S. provisional arrest warrant. The United States is seeking to extradite him from Malaysia to stand trial in the District of Columbia. Read more ..


Obama Appointee Susan Rice Dismisses Critics' Concerns

November 22nd 2012

Susan Rice

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice on Wednesday defended her handling of the September attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, calling GOP criticisms “unfounded.” Rice told reporters during a briefing at the U.N. that her initial account of the attack, which killed four Americans, was based on then-current intelligence community assessments. “When discussing the attacks against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community,” said Rice. “I made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers.”

Rice initially said the attack was sparked by anti-American anger over a film critical of Islam which was posted to YouTube. The administration later amended that explanation, acknowledging that the assault was a planned terrorist attack. Republicans have questioned whether the White House sought to downplay the terrorist angle to score political points ahead of the election and the controversy could be a stumbling block if President Obama nominates Rice to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State in his second term. Read more ..

Broken Government

Jesse Jackson Jr Cites Federal Probe and Resigns from Congress

November 22nd 2012

Jesse jackson jr

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) submitted a letter announcing his resignation from Congress to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday, according to a Boehner aide. "For seventeen years I have given 100 percent of my time, energy, and life to public service," Jackson wrote. "However, over the past several months, as my health has deteriorated, my ability to serve the constituents of my district has continued to diminish. Against the recommendations of my doctors, I had hoped and tried to return to Washington and continue working on the issues that matter most of the people of the Second District. I know now that will not be possible."

Jackson's resignation comes amid reports that he is being investigated by the Justice Department for allegedly misusing campaign donations to redecorate his home. Reports earlier this month said Jackson was negotiating a plea deal with federal investigators that would require him to resign from Congress, citing health reasons, and repay the campaign funds. Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

Gaza-Israel Ceasefire Commences Even With Exchanges of Fire

November 21st 2012

Hamas protester

A cease-fire in Israel-Gaza hostilities brokered by Egypt went into effect Wednesday night, but not before last-minute exchanges of volleys between Israeli forces and Hamas militants who run the Palestinian enclave.

Gazans poured into streets after the cease-fire began and celebratory gunfire was heard. After days on near non-stop barrages, the Israeli aerial assaults appeared to have stopped. Mosques blared messages welcoming the truce and praising the "resistance." ​​An Israeli drone was heard overhead in the minutes after the cease-fire began. Israeli media reported some incoming rocket fire towards southern Israel in the first hour of the cease-fire.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr made the truce announcement in Cairo with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at his side, less than two hours before the 9 p.m. local time deadline for the cease-fire to begin.

​Terms of the cease-fire include both sides stopping hostilities and the opening of border areas from Gaza for the movement of goods and people. There will be a 24-hour period for implementation of the cease-fire. Egypt shall watch for violations on both sides. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Hamas Brutally Kills its own on Suspicion of Helping Israel

November 21st 2012

Hamas Execution

The battlefield in Gaza has six more dead now.  On Tuesday, a witness reported seeing masked gunmen publicly shoot six Palestinians who were suspected to have collaborated with Israel. A reporter from the Associated Press saw a mob surrounding five of the bloody bodies after the execution.

Crying “Spy! Spy!” people; within  the mob were stomping and spitting on the dead. One of the alleged spies was tied to the back of a motorcycle and dragged through the streets as a warning to anyone else considering talking to Israel.  On a large notice posted to a utility pole, Hamas’ military wing Izzedine al-Qassam claimed responsibility for the execution.  Without offering proof, Hamas claimed that these men relayed information about munitions and locations to Israel. Israel’s targeted “surgical” strikes within Gaza, require intelligence. That comes from drone aircraft and also information being fed from inside Gaza. Hamas believed it caught some of those collaborators. Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

Hamas Inflicts Bus Bomb in the Heart of Tel Aviv

November 21st 2012

Click to select Image

Hamas terrorists struck the heart of Tel Aviv Wednesday afternoon, when at least one terrorist reportedly place a bomb on a bus near Israel's Pentagon, the Kirya. Israeli news outlets report that three people were critically injured and 21 were hurt over all. The terror group that controls the Gaza Strip quickly claimed credit for the attack and Gaza residents celebrated. It was the first terror attack in Israel's cultural capital since April 2006. The Times of Israel reports: The explosion on the Dan bus took place on the corner of Shaul Hamelech and Weitzmann streets, an area with many office buildings and heavy pedestrian traffic, close to the army’s Kirya complex. It was not clear initially if the incident was the result of a suicide bomber. A man was seen placing a bag on the bus and then running away, leading to a police chase through the streets of Tel Aviv. There were also reports of a second suspect. Police arrested at least one person in connection with the bombing, in the stock market compound in Ramat Gan. Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

Israel Leaflets Gaza Neighborhoods with Evacuation Directions Ahead of Ground Incursion

November 21st 2012

Jets vapor trail

In preparation for an impending ground incursion, and in an attempt to minimize civilian casualties, even at the cost of losing the element of surprise, Israel has dropped another round of warning leaflets over some of the neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip. Ccivilians are required to leave their homes for their safety, the leflets warn. The IDF has even detailed the escape routes they should take to maintain their safety.

The first leaflet declared: "To the residents of Sheikh Ajlin, Tel Al-Hwa, Rimal South, Zeitoun, Sjaiya, Turkeman and Sajiya Jadida: For your safety, you are required to evacuate your residences immediately and move towards the central Gaza city, via Al-Khara, Jma'at Al Dul Al Arabia, Al Aqsa Al Qudsiya, Um Alaimoun, Salah A-din, Al-Maqsurra, Hal's Mjdad. In the central Gaza city, you are required to stay between the areas of Salah A-din from the west, Amar Al-Muchtar from the north, Al-Nasser from the east and Al-Quds St. from the south." Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

A Potential Cease-Fire and the New Regional Dynamic

November 20th 2012

Hillary in Israel

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in Israel overnight Nov. 20 and rumors are rapidly spreading of an imminent cease-fire agreement. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has also confidently claimed Nov. 20 that "the war will end today," but statements out of Israel have been far more reserved. The Times of Israel, citing Egyptian intelligence officials, reported that Israel has rejected the cease-fire draft and that there will no news conference announcing a cease-fire tonight.

The core dilemma remains: If Hamas or any other Palestinian entity can threaten Israel's major population centers with long-range Fajr-5 rockets, what guarantees can Egypt or another third party make to neutralize that supply and prevent further shipments? The fact that another Fajr-5 rocket was fired at Jerusalem on Nov. 20 while thousands of Israeli troops remain forward-deployed in preparation for a ground invasion adds urgency to this question. Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

Israel's First Soldier Fatality in Gaza War

November 20th 2012

Israeli Commandoes Injured by Flotilla

The Israeli military says Cpl. Yosef Fartuk, 18, from Emmanuel, was killed earlier today by a rocket fired from Gaza into Israel. His family has been notified. In a statement, the army said the 18-year-old serviceman was killed Tuesday afternoon. It was the military's first fatality since it launched an offensive in the Gaza Strip last Wednesday. The operation is meant to halt rocket fire out of Gaza. The operation has killed 129 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians. Three Israeli civilians were killed by rocket fire last week.

The announcements came on the heels of a Gaza rocket attack that lightly injured six people after striking an apartment building in the central city of Rishon Letzion.The upper floors of the building went up in flames, according to Channel 2.

Also Tuesday evening, a person was moderately to seriously wounded when a rocket fired from Gaza struck a building in Ashkelon.

That attack followed a barrage of rockets fired at Ashdod, in which seven people were lightly injured after two direct rocket hits on the city, including one that completely destroyed a grocery store. Earlier Tuesday, two rockets fired from Gaza towards Jerusalem landed in the Gush Etzion region, with one hitting an open area of a Palestinian village in the West Bank, police and the IDF reported. It was unclear if the rocket caused any damage or injuries, although AFP reported Palestinian paramedics made their way to the scene.

Operation Pillar of Defense

Congress Warns Egypt on Gaza Conflict

November 20th 2012

Mohamed Morsi Speaks at Press Conference

Leading members of Congress have warned Egypt of the loss of U.S. aid unless it ends support for Hamas. Senior House and Senate members have determined that Egypt was supporting Hamas' war against Israel in November 2012. They said Egypt could be encouraging Hamas and its Palestinian militia allies to maintain missile and rocket attacks on the Jewish state. "Egypt -- watch what you do and how you do it," Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said. "You're teetering with the Congress on having your aid cut off if you keep inciting violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians."

Egypt represents the second largest beneficiary of U.S. assistance. For the last 30 years, Cairo has received $1.3 billion in military aid and at least $200 million in economic assistance. Congressional criticism of Egypt's alliance with Hamas has crossed party lines. A leading Senate Democrat said the new Islamist regime of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has yet to demonstrate its commitment to regional peace.


Operation Pillar of Defense

Gaza Conflict Reveals Turkey's Differences with U.S.

November 20th 2012

Turk flags

The deepening crisis over Gaza is straining Turkish-U.S. relations, with Ankara calling on Washington to rein in Israel.

While addressing a conference in Istanbul on November 19, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a strong attack against Israel for its ongoing military operation in Gaza. He says those who associate Islam with terrorism close their eyes in the face of mass killing of Muslims, and turn their heads from the massacre of children in Gaza. The prime minister went on to say "For this reason, I say that Israel is a terrorist state, and its acts are terrorist acts."

Erdogan made similar statements during a visit to Cairo last week. U.S. President Barack Obama has strongly defended Israel in connection with its operations against Gaza, citing its right to self-defense. Some political observers in Turkey say the opposing views of the two leaders could hurt their relationship. Read more ..


97 Republicans Sign Letter Urging Obama to avoid Rice Nomination for State

November 19th 2012


Nearly 100 House Republicans on Monday called on President Obama not to nominate Susan Rice as secretary of State. In a letter to Obama, the 97 Republicans said the credibility of the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has been gravely wounded by her account of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. “Though Ambassador Rice has been our representative to the U.N., we believe her misleading statements over the days and weeks following the attack on our embassy in Libya that led to the deaths of Ambassador [Christopher] Stevens and three other Americans caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world,” Republicans wrote in their letter, which was spearheaded by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and sent to Obama on Monday. Stevens and the three others were killed in the attack on the Benghazi consulate.

The letter says Rice “propagated a falsehood” that the attacks were a spontaneous response to a video that depicted the Prophet Muhammad. The administration then said, more than a week later, that terrorism might have played a role. Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

American Legislators Line Up in Support of Israel

November 19th 2012

Israeli tanks and crews

U.S. congressional lawmakers are rallying behind Israel, reaffirming its right to self-defense in the face of Palestinian rocket attacks. Some legislators’ backing of Israel extends to the possible use of ground forces in Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said Israel cannot ignore rocket attacks, but faces tough decisions on how best to respond. “The problem the Israelis have is [that] these rockets are being fired on them from places that they cannot reach by flying over them in the air," Chambliss said. "I mean, they [Palestinian militants] are putting them in school yards, surrounded by schoolchildren, and firing them from marketplaces that are crowded with people.” Read more ..

Operation Pillarsof Defense

Obama Defends Israel's Right to be Free of Hamas' Missiles

November 18th 2012

Hamas rocket in Gaza
Hamas rocket fired from Gaza.

President Barack Obama says he continues to work to achieve a negotiated solution to the crisis between Israel, and Hamas in Gaza. Before the president arrived in Southeast Asia, White House officials said he was working the phones with leaders in the region in search of a solution to end Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.

During a news conference in the Thai capital, he was asked if an Israeli military ground operation into Gaza would constitute an escalation of the crisis. The president summarized his message to leaders like President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

"My message to all of them was that Israel had every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory," he said. "If that can be accomplished, without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that is preferable. That is not just preferable for the people of Gaza, it is also preferable for Israelis, because if Israeli troops are in Gaza they are much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded." Read more ..

The Petraeus Scandal

Petraeus Denies Leaking Secrets to his Paramour

November 18th 2012


Former CIA director David Petraeus confessed to making some "big mistakes" by having an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell, but said he never allowed her access to classified documents or information, according to Fox News Channel's national securitycorrespondent on Saturday.

Catherine Herridge reported that the former four-star general insisted he never passed any classified information to Paula Broadwell, a concern of many in Washington, D.C., since the Obama administration has been plagued with numerous incidents of intelligence leaks, most of them to the news organizations.

Suspicions arose when Ms. Broadwell gave a lecture in Denver in which she claimed the Benghazi attackwas launched in order to rescue two militants who were being detained by the CIA at the U.S. Consulate annex. Read more ..

The Vote Aftermath

Republicans Need to Stop Saying 'Stupid Things'

November 18th 2012

Gov Bobby Jindal

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) criticized Republican candidates on Sunday for making comments he said alienated voters and cost the party the presidency and key Senate seats.

"We don't need to demonize, and we also don't need to be saying stupid things," Jindal, the new chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said on "Fox News Sunday."

He singled out Republican Senate candidates Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana, saying their controversial comments on rape and abortion cost Republicans Senate seats and dragged down the party nationally.

Jindal also denounced Mitt Romney's recent comment to donors that President Obama was able to win reelection by giving "gifts" to key voting groups. "I absolutely reject what he said. Look, we as the Republican Party have to campaign for every single vote," Jindal said. Read more ..

Edging Toward the Fiscal Cliff

Only Two Paths Available on 'Fiscal Cliff'

November 18th 2012


During his weekly address on Saturday, President Obama warned Republicans that there are only two possible outcomes for negotiations over the looming "fiscal cliff."

He said that either they agree to allow tax breaks to expire for the top two percent of American earners, or taxes will go up for everyone."When it comes to taxes, for example, there are two pathways available," Obama said.

"One says, if Congress fails to act by the end of the year, then everybody’s taxes automatically go up – including the 98 percent of Americans who make less than $250,000 a year. Our economy can’t afford that right now. You can’t afford that right now. And nobody wants that to happen," he warned.
Obama said the other path is for Congress to agree to his plan to extend the tax breaks for the first $250,000 of everyone's income. Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

Iron Dome Proves an Invaluable Defense System--Hundreds of Rockets Intercepted

November 18th 2012

Iron Dome

Israel's citizens once again came under rocket attack Sunday, as Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip kept up their attacks, despite a reported 1,000 strikes by Israel's military on Hamas infrastructure.

Even so, the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted two rockets aimed at Tel Aviv Sunday and has intercepted a reported 242 since operation Pillar of Cloud began last week.

Hamas has now fired a total of seven rockets at Tel Aviv and Iron Dome has intercepted three. Sources say the Iron Dome battery deployed just Saturday near Tel Aviv is the most advanced system yet. It was scheduled to be ready for use in 2013, but has been pressed into service sooner. There are conflicting reports over diplomatic activity that might produce a ceasefire. Egypt is reportedly attempting to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, but Israel's president, Shimon Peres, said he had not received any formal proposal. Hamas has reportedly set conditions for a ceasefire that include Israel lifting its blockade of the Gaza Strip and ending its targeting of Hamas officials. Read more ..

Egypt on Edge

Train-Bus Collision in Egypt Kills Scores of School Children

November 17th 2012

Mohammed Morsi

Egyptian officials say a speeding train has collided with a school bus, killing at least 49 people. Almost all of them were young children. Officials say the accident occurred Saturday about 300 kilometers south of Cairo near the village of Manfalut in Egypt's southern Assiut province. The bus was filled with more than 60 children between the ages of four and six when it was hit by a train while crossing the tracks. Officials say that along with the 49 deaths, another 18 people were injured.

Up to 17 were also wounded in the crash on Saturday as the bus crossed tracks near a village in Manfaloot district in the southern province of Assiut, 300km south of Cairo. The provincial governor, Yahya Keshk, says the railway crossing gate was open when the train hit the bus, and that the crossing worker was asleep at the time. He has been detained. Transport Minister Mohamed Rashad resigned shortly after the accident was announced.  President Mohamed Morsi has ordered other key ministers to offer assistance to the families of the victims.


Operation Pillar of Defense

Israel Destroys Gaza Headquarters while Hamas vows Revenge

November 17th 2012

Hamas headquarters Gaza

The Israeli military has shut down the main roads around the Gaza Strip, a sign that it is poised to launch a ground offensive on the Palestinian enclave that could explode into an all-out war. Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip early Saturday, November17, destroyed the Hamas Cabinet headquarters. Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh was not in the building at the time of the strike. Also on November 17, Israel's missile defense system destroyed a Hamas missile over the skies of Tel Aviv.

The strikes followed an exchange of rocket fire on the previous day between Israel and Palestinian Hamas terrorists in Gaza with one Palestinian rocket landing in a field outside Jerusalem. Hamas claimed responsibility for the unprecedented attack on the holy city. Hamas' rockets also struck in the vicinity of Tel Aviv. Israel responded by calling up thousands more military reserves for a potential force of 75,000 reservists. Overnight on November 16-17, Israel stepped up its airstrikes and destroyed at least 120 missile batteries and 20 tunnels. This brought the total number of targets to 830. Read more ..

The Edge of Space

Most-Distant Galaxy Candidate Found-- Light Traveled 8 Billion Years

November 17th 2012

protoplanetary disk

A team of astronomers including Carnegie's Daniel Kelson have set a new distance record for finding the farthest galaxy yet seen in the universe. By combining the power of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and one of nature's own natural "zoom lenses" in space, they found a galaxy whose light traveled 13.3 billion years to reach Earth. Their work will be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

The diminutive blob--only a tiny fraction of the size of our Milky Way galaxy--offers a peek back in time to when the universe was 3 percent of its present age (13.7 billion years). The light from this newly discovered galaxy, named MACS0647-JD, is from 420 million years after the Big Bang.

Eight billion years into its journey, this light took a detour along multiple paths around a massive galaxy cluster called MACS J0647+7015. Due to the gravitational lensing, the research team, led by Marc Postman of the Space Telescope Science Institute, observed three magnified images of MACS0647-JD with the Hubble telescope. The cluster's gravity boosted the light from the faraway galaxy, making the images appear brighter than they otherwise would, enabling astronomers to detect them more efficiently and with greater confidence. Without the cluster's magnification powers, astronomers would not have seen this remote galaxy. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Saudi Islamist To Serve Life In Prison For Attempted WMD Attack In Texas

November 17th 2012

jail door closeup

A citizen of Saudi Arabia living in Lubbock, Texas, has been sentenced in a federal courtroom in Amarillo, Texas, to life in prison. Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari had been convicted by a jury on June 27, 2012, for the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. Jurors were told that the 22-year-old "lone wolf" Islamic terrorist purchased chemicals and equipment required to build an improvised explosive device (IED). The jury was also told that Aldawsari conducted extensive research in order to choose several U.S. targets including the Texas residence of former-President George W. Bush.

The Saudi national had lawfully entered the United States on a student visa in 2008 and was enrolled at South Plains College near Lubbock. Lisa Monaco, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, stated, “Khalid Aldawsari came to this country intent on carrying out an attack. He then began purchasing ingredients to construct a bomb and was actively researching potential targets in America. Thanks to the hard work of many agents, analysts, and prosecutors, his plot was thwarted before anyone was harmed; he was convicted at trial and at sentencing U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter held the [would-be terrorist] accountable for his actions.” Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

Egyptian Pressures Follow Israeli Cease Fire in Gaza

November 16th 2012

Israeli tank IDF photo

Egypt's prime minister has vowed to intensify his country's efforts to stop what he called Israeli "aggression" in Gaza and achieve a truce between Israelis and Palestinians. Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil spoke in Gaza on November 16 after a brief cease-fire that Israel put in place during his visit to the area collapsed.

Israel's military said it had not attacked Gaza during a two hour period, even though Gaza's Hamas militants had fired at least 50 rockets into Israel at that time. However, a Hamas source said Israel had launched a bomb attack on northern Gaza on November 16 that killed two Palestinians. Attacks on both sides this week have killed 20 Palestinians and three Israelis. Even during Kandil's visit, rockets fired from Gaza rained down on Israel. In response, the Israeli Defense Forces are deploying a fifth Iron Dome anti-missile battery from its testing ground to the battlefield, which is set to be operational on November 17. So far, the innovative defense system has destroyed numerous rockets aimed at Israel before they could hit their intended targets. Read more ..

The Petraeus Affair

Attorney General Defends FBI treatment of Petraeus Affair

November 16th 2012


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 ..

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