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Media on Edge

State Department Blasts Anderson Cooper and CNN Over Stevens Diary

September 23rd 2012

Amb Chris Stevens

U.S. State Department spokesman Philippe Reines says it is "disgusting" that news channel CNN has reported on the contents of the diary of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, despite objections from the diplomat's family.

CNN said on its website Saturday the public has the right to know what CNN has learned from multiple sources about the fears and warnings of a terror threat before the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Stevens and three other Americans. NN says it found the journal on the floor of what it called the "largely unsecured" compound. Reines says CNN "broke their pledge" to the Stevens family not to report on the journal.  Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Priorities Has Record Month, But Look Out for Crossroads' Bomb

September 23rd 2012

Ask Mitt

Priorities USA Action, the super PAC backing President Barack Obama's re-election effort, had its best month of fundraising in August, collecting $10.1 million. That's more than twice as much as the group has raised in any month but one, and a third of the total amount it has brought in since it was started by two former Obama aides last year. Priorities spent $9.5 million, and had $4.8 million in the bank at the end of August.

The super PAC supporting Romney, Restore Our Future, pulled in just over $7 million last month. But American Crossroads, the Karl Rove-connected super PAC that has spent millions supporting Romney as well, raised $9.4 million while spending $6.9 million. That leaves American Crossroads with a whopping $32 million still in the bank, which it can let loose as an an enormous water balloon of negative advertising in the closing weeks of the campaign. Read more ..


Travel and Politics

Senator Rubio Tweets his dispute with American Airlines

September 22nd 2012

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) ran into trouble with his flight back to Washington on Friday and took to Twitter to vent his frustrations. “Trying to get to DC for early morning votes tonight but let's just say this has not been the best week in American Airlines history,” Rubio tweeted. “Every American flight I have been on this week has been at least two hours late or cancelled. This one already one hour delayed.”

The rising Republican star was coming back to Washington to vote on the six-month spending bill that will keep the federal government open until March next year. Rubio complained that the airline was delaying his flight back to the nation’s capital. “Delaying flight for ‘maintenance’ to squeeze connectors from other flight, oldest trick in book.Feel bad for crew.#cmonman#AmericanAirlines,” Rubio tweeted. Read more ..


Russia on Edge

South Ossetia and Georgia in a War of Words, So Far

September 22nd 2012

Russian Tanks Invade Georgia

Meeting earlier this week with the co-chairmen of the ongoing Geneva talks on the security and human rights repercussions of the August 2008 war, two senior South Ossetian politicians accused Georgia of engaging in a new military buildup that they fear presages a new attack on their breakaway region.

The European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) released a statement three days later saying it "has not observed any evidence to support those claims." At the same time, the EUMM said it had registered, and conveyed to the Russian authorities its concern about, a concentration of Russian forces along the "administrative boundary line" separating South Ossetia from the rest of Georgia.

Also on September 21, the Georgian Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing concern at the deployment "in recent weeks" of Russian troops and armor along the administrative boundary line. It called on international organizations and Georgia's foreign partners to convey to the Russian leadership that such an "aggressive posture" is unacceptable. Read more ..


The Arab Winter of Rage

Libyan Protester-Militia Clashes

September 22nd 2012

Libya protesters

Libyan protesters ousted a jihadist militia from its headquarters and seized a few other paramilitary bases in Benghazi early Saturday in clashes that left at least two people dead. The capture of the Ansar al-Shariah militia compound and the bases of other armed Islamic extremist groups came after tens of thousands of Libyans marched through Benghazi Friday, demanding the disbanding of the powerful armed gangs.
Libyans held up signs in English and in Arabic with phrases including "terrorism has no place in the new Libya" and "Libya lost a friend." Ansar al-Shariah has been linked to the the assault that killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya last week, an allegation the group denies. Anti-militia demonstrators have also demanded the government build up the police and military forces to provide security.  The protests have revealed a growing backlash against the militias.
Read more ..

The Medical Edge

Test of New Dengue Vaccine Shows Promise

September 21st 2012

Kenya Kids

A clinical trial of a new vaccine against dengue fever shows progress toward fighting the most common mosquito-borne disease.  The drug is less successful than hoped, but seems to be effective at preventing three of the four related viruses that cause dengue. Dengue fever is endemic across the tropics, with more than 2.5 billion people in 128 countries at risk. Symptoms can range from aches and fever to circulatory failure, coma and death.  Some 21,000 people die of dengue each year, and the number of cases is increasing, including outbreaks in the southeastern United States.

There is no vaccine available to prevent dengue fever.  Part of the difficulty in developing one is that there are four different but related types of the disease.  Those who recover from infection by one type gain lifetime immunity, but only against that type.  Scott Halstead, of the Dengue Vaccine Initiative, explains that they are still at risk of infection with one of the other types. Read more ..


Broken Healthcare

Grassley says Providers Who Overbill Medicare Are Draining Its Finances

September 21st 2012

stethoscope

Medical professionals who cheat Medicare by billing for more complex and costly services than they deliver threaten to drain the elderly health-care program’s already shaky finances, Sen. Charles Grassley said Thursday. The Iowa Republican’s comments came in reaction to The Center for Public Integrity’s “Cracking the Codes”  series published this week. The investigation found that thousands of medical professionals have steadily billed higher rates for treating seniors on Medicare over the last decade — adding $11 billion or more to their fees. Grassley called the findings “disturbing,” though “not surprising” because any time Medicare creates a new payment structure, “a cottage industry develops to teach providers how to maximize revenue in the system.” Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Obama Bests Romney in August Fundraising

September 21st 2012

Obama with baseball bat

President Obama ended the month of August with almost twice as much money to spend as his Republican rival, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday. But the Republican National Committee had more than ten times the cash on hand as their Democratic counterparts, more than neutralizing the president's advantage.

Obama ended the month of August with $88.8 million, compared to just $50.4 million for the Romney campaign. The Romney figure includes $15 million in loans that must be repaid, meaning that the candidate actually entered the month with access to around $35.4 million — less than 40 percent of Obama's total. Obama's advantage comes thanks to a stronger fundraising month in August that saw the president bring in $84.7 million, outpacing Romney's $66.6 million haul. In turn, Obama was able to spend more: the president had receipts totaling $83.7 million, versus around $66.4 million for the Romney campaign. Read more ..


The Arab Winter of Rage

Video Protests an 'Excuse' to Attack US Facility In Libya

September 20th 2012

Obama

The Obama administration on Thursday called last week’s assault on the U.S. consulate in Libya a terrorist attack. This is the first time that White House officials have called the incident a deliberate attack, rather than a part of protests against a video that many Muslims consider offensive.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters it was “self-evident” that the September 11 attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi was a “terrorist attack.” A short time later, President Barack Obama said that protests over a video that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad were used as a pretext for a planned strike against Americans.

“What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.  Well, we do not know yet.  And so we are going to continue to investigate this,” Obama said. The president said Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and other countries have cooperated fully with the United States in the investigation. Read more ..


The 2012 Fox

Clinton to Battle Tea Party Over Foreign Aid to Egypt and Libya

September 20th 2012

Hillary

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to visit Congress on Thursday in an attempt to beat back Tea Party pressure to cut foreign aid to Egypt and Libya in the wake of anti-American violence in those countries.

Clinton, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter are expected to brief members of the House and Senate on the unrest in the region, which included an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

During the briefing, Clinton is expected to make the case for America’s continued financial support to the region despite the tensions that were exposed during last week’s protests at U.S. embassies. “We are continuing to work with the Hill on the support that we think is important to support those very forces of moderation, change, democracy, openness in Egypt that are very important for defeating extremism of the kind that we saw,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said earlier this week. “It’s a conversation we obviously have to continue to have, and the secretary will be having it with the Congress as well this week, we expect.” Read more ..


The Afganistan War

Terrorist Leader Who Targeted Prince Harry Arrested

September 19th 2012

Afgan Troops

A U.S.-led coalition security force on Tuesday arrested one of the Taliban commanders who led the Sept. 14, 2012 terrorist attack on the military installation, Camp Bastion, according to military officials. Members of the Taliban claim that Britain's Prince Harry, who is posted in Afghanistan, was their 'primary' target when they attacked Camp Bastion.

The terror suspect was taken into custody in Helmand following a joint effort by Afghan and coalition forces to track down the Taliban insurgents responsible for the attack, officials said. The Taliban leader is suspected of providing support to the terrorists whose attack killed two service members and caused damage to several coalition aircraft.

According to the Pentagon, nearly 20 jihadists infiltrated the perimeter of Camp Bastion and attacked International Security Assistance Force personnel and facilities using small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and suicide improvised explosive device (IED) vests, military officials reported. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syrian Forces, Rebels Battle for Northern Border Crossing

September 19th 2012

Free Syrian Army

Syrian rebels were fighting Wednesday to overtake a northern border crossing from government forces. Rebels tore down the Syrian flag at the Tal Abyad post bordering Turkey after a day of fighting, but it was not clear if they controlled the entire crossing.Fighters opposed to President Bashar al-Assad control several other crossings along the northern border with Turkey.

Meanwhile, rights group Amnesty International says there is evidence of what it calls an emerging pattern of indiscriminate attacks against civilians by the Syrian army. Amnesty released a report Wednesday based on its investigation earlier this month in Idlib, Jabal al-Zawiya and north Hama.  The group says government forces are routinely shelling towns and villages with imprecise weapons that should not be used in residential areas.     Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Somali Militants on the Defensive in Kismayo

September 19th 2012

Somali civilians and military officials say al-Shabab militants have been exiting Kismayo in recent days, fearing an impending onslaught by Somali forces, African Union troops and allied militaries. Some fighters said to be remaining behind may continue to pose a serious threat.

Kenyan military spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna says ground troops are about 50 kilometers from Kismayo, and advancing from the northwest and the south, backed by navy and air forces. He says reports of al-Shabab fleeing the city are only “partly true,” adding that some elements may be planning to stay behind to snipe at allied forces when they enter the city. But Oguna says he does not expect a tough fight against these remnants. “We do not anticipate stiff resistance as we get into the city because the main commanders are leaving," said Oguna. "We do not expect the junior forces to fight without their commanders.  So we expect minimal resistance as we get to Kismayo.” He also says the militants have dismantled a radio transmitter in Kismayo, a sign that they are no longer using the city as a base for operations. Read more ..


The Arab Winter of Rage

France Braces for Muslim Backlash at Its Embassies Following New Muhammad Cartoon by Paris Magazine

September 19th 2012

Yemeni Protestor

France stepped up security at some of its embassies on Wednesday after a satirical Parisian weekly published crude caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. The prime minister said he would block a demonstration by people angry over a movie insulting to Islam as the country plunged into a fierce debate about free speech.
The government defended the right of magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish the cartoons, which played off of the U.S.-produced film "The Innocence of Muslims," and riot police took up positions outside the offices of the magazine, which was firebombed last year after it released an edition that mocked radical Islam. The amateurish movie, which portrays the prophet as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester, has set off violence in seven countries that has killed at least 28 people, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. Government authorities and Muslim leaders urged calm in France, which has western Europe's largest Muslim population.
Read more ..

Energy Politics

Congress Focuses on Energy and Job Losses

September 19th 2012

Wind turbines in cloudy sky

Fresh layoffs in the coal and wind industries are fueling congressional battles over energy policy ahead of the elections. Republicans are seizing on job losses at coal mining giant Alpha Natural Resources as they seek support for legislation to kill, soften or delay various federal rules that affect the coal industry.

The House will vote later this week on the bill, which would upend federal greenhouse gas regulations and other White House policies that Republicans allege are harming the coal industry. The House Rules Committee is slated to meet Wednesday afternoon to vet amendments that could receive floor votes when the bill comes up. A final floor vote on the bill is expected Friday. While Republicans are focusing on coal, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) says layoffs announced by wind energy equipment maker Siemens shows why lawmakers must extend tax credits for wind projects. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Massachusetts Democrats Hedging their Bets Despite Warren Lead

September 19th 2012

Elizabeth Warren, native American
Elizabeth Warren

Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren finds herself ahead in multiple recent polls of the Massachusetts Senate race — but her party remains cautious about her chances, and Republicans insist that the race isn’t over yet.

Coming off a well-received speech at the Democratic National Convention earlier this month, three polls have shown her leading incumbent Sen. Scott Brown (R).

Warren posted a 4-percentage-point lead in a poll conducted by Suffolk University and 7News in Boston that was released Monday, a 2-point lead in a poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling out on Sunday and a 6-point lead in a poll from Western New England University, also out on Sunday. Though her leads in the first two surveys were within the margin of error, three consecutive polls can generally be taken as more than a statistical anomaly. Read more ..


The War Afganistan

12 Killed In Afghan Suicide Bombing

September 18th 2012

Kabul Car Bomb

Afghan militants have claimed responsibility for a suicide car-bomb attack near the international airport in Kabul that killed 12 people, including at least eight foreigners. The Hizb-e Islami insurgent group said the bombing was in retaliation for a privately made U.S. film mocking the Prophet Muhammad that has ignited angry protests across the Muslim world.

The suicide bomber, who Hizb-e Islami said was a 22-year-old woman, rammed a car packed with explosives into a minivan carrying foreign aviation workers. "They were all civilian pilots working for [a] private company [Air Charter Service]," Kabul Deputy Police Chief Daud Amin said. "While they were on the way to the airport, there was a suicide attack with a car bomb." Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack. His office said the victims included eight South African nationals, one Kyrgyz, and three Afghans. Another 11 Afghan civilians were reportedly wounded. Suicide bombings carried out by women are extremely rare in Afghanistan, where few women even drive cars. Read more ..


The Arab Winter of Rage

Afghanistan Suicide Bombing Linked to Anti-Islam Film

September 18th 2012

Bomb Victims

A suicide bomber has killed at least 12 people in an attack on a mini-bus carrying foreigners near the Afghan capital.

Police say nine foreign workers, their Afghan driver, and two other Afghans were killed when the bomber detonated a car full of explosives near the bus Tuesday on the highway to the Kabul airport.  South Africa's Foreign Ministry confirmed eight of the dead were South Africans. Afghan insurgent group Hezb-e-Islami claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it sent a female bomber in response to an anti-Islam, online video that has sparked worldwide protests, including in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, NATO confirmed it is scaling back joint operations with Afghan security forces amid a series of recent insider attacks and the release of the video. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Iran Claims Blasts Cut Power to Nuclear Site

September 17th 2012

Iran Nuclear Equipment

Iran says power lines to its primary underground nuclear facility at Fordo were cut last month by explosive blasts set off by "terrorists and saboteurs." The head of Iran's atomic agency, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, made the comments Monday at a meeting in Vienna of the United Nations atomic watchdog member states.  He did not say who was responsible. Iran has in the past blamed the United States and Israel for targeting its nuclear program and scientists.

The Iranian comments come as European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she will meet Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Istanbul on Tuesday.  She said the meeting is "part of continuing efforts to engage with Iran." Talks between world powers and Iran in Moscow in June failed to reach a breakthrough. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that a political solution is still possible. Russia said Monday that ministers from six world powers plan to meet with Iranian negotiators on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting next week. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Obama Has Latino Edge over Romney

September 17th 2012

Obama

President Obama holds a commanding lead over his Republican challenger among Latino voters, with a particular advantage among women, according to a poll released Monday by Latino Decisions.

The survey finds Obama with a 68-26 percent lead over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney among all Latinos. Among Hispanic women, Obama's lead is even larger. He leads Romney among this consituency by a 74-21 percent margin — a staggering 53-point advantage. Among men, the lead decreases to 61-32 percent in favor of Obama. Both Hispanic women and men give the president a 71 percent favorability rating, while Romney's favorability fails to crack 30 percent with either group. Romney is looking to chip away at that lead with a speech Monday afternoon to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles. Romney will hit the president on the economy and immigration, according to excerpts of his remarks released by his campaign. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Obama Leads Romney in the Final Stretch with 50 Days to Go

September 17th 2012

Obama

With 50 days until the 2012 election, President Obama has a small, but clear lead over Mitt Romney.

Obama is ahead of Romney by a narrow margin in most national polls, and has a slightly wider lead in most swing states, giving Romney almost no room for error. Obama continues to lead Romney in personal likability — a major asset — and a sustained barrage of summer advertising from his campaign combined with a successful Democratic National Convention has put him in the driver's seat heading into the election's homestretch.

The president has led Romney in polling throughout the summer except for a slight blip following the GOP convention, and the electoral college map sets up favorably for the president. Republicans are hopeful their big spending advantage will help Romney claw his way back into the lead, though Democrats have the edge in the ground game. While the economy continues to drive the election, this past week’s flare-up in Middle East violence has injected itself, at least temporarily, into the campaign. Republicans have pushed hard on the issue, though Romney’s initial response was criticized from both sides of the aisle. Regardless, if violence and instability continues to roil the region, it could cut into Obama’s advantage with voters on foreign policy. Read more ..


Obama and Israel

Netanyahu Says He Will Not be Drawn into U.S. Presidential Election

September 17th 2012

Bibi arguing

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on September 16 warned Washington that time was running short to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and denied that his increased pressure was motivated by the American presidential election.

Netanyahu last week escalated his criticism of President Obama's Iran policy, blasting the White House for declining to clarify a “red line” they would not allow Iran to cross in its nuclear program. Those comments were fodder for Republicans, including GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who has charged Obama with being a weak ally to Israel and of failing to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Netanyahu on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday was asked what he believed were the "major differences" between Romney and Obama regarding Israel and Iran. The prime minister said he knew that others “are trying to draw me into the American election, and I’m not going to do that." Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Romney Steps Up Attacks on Obama's Foreign Policy

September 17th 2012

Romney 2

Mitt Romney's attacks on President Obama's foreign policy record are intended to set up a broader indictment of Obama on the 2012 election’s central issue: the economy.

Republican political advisers say the Romney campaign hopes the criticism on foreign policy blends into the larger argument that Obama is a weak leader on domestic and foreign issues. “The Romney guys see foreign policy as a part of a larger narrative that President Obama's leadership is lacking,” said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell. "If they can tag him as leading from behind abroad, they can turn around and tag him with the same thing at home on domestic issues like the economy.” Read more ..


Israel and Iran

Iran Just Months From Nuclear Capability, Must Be Stopped--Netanyahu

September 16th 2012

Obama pointing finger at Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Iran is just months away from a nuclear-bomb capability, and preemptive military action is preferable to a nuclear-armed Tehran. Meanwhile, U.S. officials continue to insist that existing sanctions may yet convince Iran to change course.

Netanyahu told an American television audience Iran is in a final sprint to nuclear-weapons capability. “They are very close. They are six months away from being about 90 percent of having enriched uranium for an atom bomb.”

The prime minister spoke on NBC’s Meet the Press program, days after chiding the international community for what he perceives as its failure to set a clear “red line” on Iran’s nuclear program that would trigger a military response. Netanyahu again argued for a more aggressive international military posture towards Tehran, saying preemptive action is the lesser of two evils. “A lot of leaders call me, tell me, ‘Do not do it, it is not necessary. The danger of acting is much greater than not acting.’ And I always say the danger of not acting, in time, is much greater. Because Iran with nuclear weapons would mean that the kind of fanaticism you see storming your embassies would have a nuclear weapon.” Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Moroccan Illegal Alien Sentenced to 30 Years for Planning to Bomb U.S. Capitol

September 16th 2012

DC Capitol police officer

A Moroccan national arrested by law enforcement as he was planning to detonate a bomb in the U.S. Capitol building was sentenced to 30-years in prison by a federal judge. Amine El Khalifi, an illegal immigrant who lived in Alexandria, Virginia, was sentenced on Friday after pleading guilty in June to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. The would be terrorist originally faced a maximum sentence under federal law of life in prison, but prosecutors agreed to the 30-year prison term as part of a plea agreement. The 29-year-old El Khalifi's lawyers asked for a sentence of 25 years, saying that would be enough to deter others from pursuing similar plans, but their request was denied.

U.S. District Judge James Cacheris imposed the sentence in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

The FBI's tactics in the case, including providing El Khalifi with what he thought were working explosives, were legitimate but weighed in favor of the shorter sentence because he never put anyone in actual danger, attorneys stated.

El Khalifi was arrested in the garage adjacent to the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 17, 2012 by FBI agents. At the time he wore a vest he believed was full of explosives supplied by al-Qaeda, federal law enforcement official said. The FBI and the Department of Justice officials involved in the case stated that at no time were innocent people in danger since "the IED (improvised explosive device) was inoperable and did not contain explosive material." The wannabe terrorist believed he was working with al-Qaeda when in fact his contacts were undercover U.S. agents, the officials stated. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

America Pays Tribute to Diplomats Murdered in Libya

September 15th 2012

Amb Chris Stevens
Ambassador Chris Stevens

President Obama hailed the work of four Americans killed in Libya this week, while promising a vigorous and unrelenting effort to bring their killers to justice.

In his weekly address released Saturday, the president said the four killed, including Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, "represented the very best of our country."

"Without people like them, America could not sustain the freedoms we enjoy, the security we demand, and the leadership that the entire world counts on," he said.

Obama also vowed that U.S. would do everything in its power to find and punish their murderers. "As we mourn their loss, we must also send a clear and resolute message to the world: those who attack our people will find no escape from justice," he said. "We will not waver in their pursuit. And we will never allow anyone to shake the resolve of the United States of America." Obama's address comes as U.S. and other Western embassies have become the target of protests, many violent, across a number of nations in the Middle East and Africa. In addition to the violence in Libya, protests have emerged in Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen after clips of a film mocking the Prophet Muhammad were released online. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Eastwood Defends his Empty-Chair Speech

September 15th 2012

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood stood by his widely-mocked appearance at the Republican national convention in a CNN interview Saturday and said GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney actually enjoyed it.

“He's got a much better sense of humor than people think,” the 82-year-old actor and director told CNN in his first televised interview since the convention. “He actually thought it was quite funny.”

Eastwood's improvised routine on the last night of the Tampa convention had him addressing an empty chair, pretending to ask questions of an invisible President Obama's. While well-received by many convention-goers, the unscripted appearance was roundly criticized as being bizarre and disrespectful.

“What do you want me to tell Romney?” Eastwood said at one point in the act. "I can't tell him to do that to himself.” Eastwood, who is promoting his new movie 'Trouble with the Curve,' told CNN he had no regrets. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Terror Victim Sues Warwick Hotel Seeking Ahmadinejad’s Upscale Rooms-- Lawyer Vows to Go After Others

September 15th 2012

Ahmadinejad speaking at UN

Lawyers for an American terror victim now living in Israel have served Manhattan’s upscale Warwick Hotel with papers demanding the rights to the rooms that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  has booked, for his upcoming visit to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly, according to the New York Post. One of the lawyers told The Algemeiner that she plans to go after others offering services to the Iranian delegation in New York as well.

Stuart Hersh, who is also a US Navy veteran, was badly injured in a 1997 suicide bomber attack at the Ben Yehuda street mall in Jerusalem. A former journalist, his injuries which include a speech impediment, 60 percent hearing loss, back pain, and difficulty walking, left him unable to work. He also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, that caused “insomnia, nightmares and flashbacks, and led him to attempt suicide a year later,” writes the Post. The attack killed 5 people and injured close to 200 others. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Parties Trade Blame for 'Least Productive Congress' in Decades

September 14th 2012

Eric Cantor (R)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) had a lengthy argument on the House floor Friday afternoon in which they alternatively blamed each other for the failure of the House to address issues like jobs and the deficit.

The exchange, which could be the last of their weekly colloquies until after the November election, included moments in which Hoyer laughed at Cantor's prescription for job creation. Cantor could occasionally be heard muttering things like "here we go" as Hoyer launched into a new criticism of GOP policies.

The long floor fight highlighted the intensely partisan atmosphere that critics say has undermined Congress's ability to address the nation's biggest challenges. Cantor started his remarks by saying the House would only be in session next week, after which members are expected to be free to return to their districts and campaign until the Nov. 6 elections.

The fight also seems to mark one of the lower points of cooperation between the two leaders. The relationship between Hoyer and Cantor has always had its ups and downs, but it seemed to be on the upswing earlier this year. They found a way to cooperate on a bill extending the Export-Import Bank, and have cooperated famously on the issue of strengthening support for Israel.

None of that cooperation was on display Friday. Hoyer started by pressing Cantor on why there is no sign of a farm bill, and quickly moved to argue that Republicans are refusing to act on a bill that would allow current tax rates to be maintained for 98 percent of Americans. "There is not agreement right now that we ought to raise taxes in this economy," Cantor replied, referring to the Democratic plan to allow rates to rise for high-income earners. Read more ..


The New Egypt

Muslim Protests Flare in a Dozen Countries

September 14th 2012

Cairo burning US embassy

New protests ignited across the Muslim world on September 14 as anger spread over an anti-Islamic video posted on the Internet. The U.S. and other foreign missions have stepped up security following violent attacks that began on September 11. Protests were registered not only in Muslim-majority, countries but also the United Kingdom

On September 14, following Friday prayers in Tunisia's capital, police in Tunis fired tear gas at more than a thousand rock-throwing demonstrators. Some of the protesters breached the wall surrounding the U.S. embassy. Black smoke was seen rising from the embassy parking lot, although it is unclear if the protesters had thrown petrol bombs into the area or had set some cars on fire when they scaled the wall. The violence also spread to Sudan, where witnesses said police clashed with thousands of protesters heading toward the U.S. embassy. Protesters are also reported to have breached the German embassy. Riots greeted Pope Benedict XVI on the day that he arrived in Lebanon. In Tripoli, at least one person was killed in confrotations between police and masses of demonstraters. In addition, hundreds of protesters set a KFC fast-food restaurant as well.. Earlier this week, Israeli Muslims protested against the video 'The Innocence of Muslims' in demonstrations in Tel Aviv. Read more ..


Obama and Libya

Egyptian Leaders Demand U.S. Action Against Filmmaker

September 13th 2012

Libyan riot at US consulate Sep 2012 #3

While U.S. leaders attempt to quell fears that Egypt and Libya have become radicalized, the Egyptian government is calling for action, not against the rioters who attacked the American embassy in Cairo, but against the U.S. citizen who created the controversial Mohammed movie that allegedly sparked the rampages in Cairo and Benghazi on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the American people that the Egyptian government, as well as the Libyan leadership, would work with the United States in the aftermath of the attacks on U.S. embassies and diplomatic staff members located in those two Muslim nations.

While no deaths occurred in the attack on the embassy in Cairo, during the Libyan attack, four members of the U.S. diplomatic staff were murdered by Islamists, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, a popular and highly regarded diplomat. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Israeli Premier Raps Obama for Failure to Declare 'Red Lines'

September 13th 2012

Obama and Netanyau

In an unusually bold attack against the Obama administration's Iran policy, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on September 11 that a refusal to draw "red lines" to stop Iran's nuclear program amounts to an act of commission.

Speaking just hours after U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said the U.S. would not delineate "red lines" over which Iran could not step without risking a military strike, Netanyahu said such a policy essentially invites Iran to build a nuclear bomb.

Speaking in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said:

"The fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to nuclear bombs. If Iran knows that there are no red lines, if Iran knows that there are no deadlines, what will it do? Exactly what it is doing. It is continuing without interference toward nuclear capability and nuclear bombs. Read more ..


The New Arab Spring

Demonstrators Storm U.S. Embassy in Yemen

September 13th 2012

Cairo burning US embassy
Protesters at U.S. embassy in Egypt

Mimicking protests in Egypt, demonstrators shouted “death to America” and stormed the American embassy in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen on September 13. The protesters managed to breach the security at the diplomatic mission and entered the embassy compound but did not enter the main building. There they burned the American flag and replaced it with an Islamic war flag bearing the inscription “There is no God but Allah.” Before entering the compound, the demonstrators pelted the embassy with rocks, set tires alight, and tore down the embassy sign.

Protests in the Muslim world have appeared to mimic a raucous demonstration in Cairo on September 11, protesters entered the U.S. embassy compound in Egypt where they tore down the U.S. flag and scrawled Islamist graffiti on its fortress-like walls. Read more ..


South Africa on Edge

South Africa Mining Unrest Far from Over

September 12th 2012

South African Miner Living Conditions

Labor unrest is threatening to spread across South Africa's mining sector after a firebrand youth leader called for workers across the nation to make the mines "ungovernable." At the Lonmin platinum mine where the strikes started, workers' attendance has plunged to its lowest level yet. Just 1.8 percent of workers turned up at the mine in Marikana township Wednesday - a clear sign that South Africa’s mining woes are far from over.

The company said in a statement it is continuing to seek a negotiated solution after weeks of strikes and violence have led to at least 45 deaths, including that of a man found hacked to death outside the Marikana mine on Tuesday.

The illegal action has caught on at other mining companies in the mineral-rich nation, encouraged in part by ex-youth leader Julius Malema. Malema did not mince words when he spoke to miners on Tuesday.  He called for a national mining strike.  He has repeatedly called on workers to make South Africa’s mining sector “ungovernable” and calls his movement a “revolution.” The workers appear to be listening. Read more ..


The New Libya

Muslim Mob Kills US Ambassador, 3 Others in Libya

September 12th 2012

Libya embassy fire Sep 2012

A Muslim mob stormed the American consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi late Tuesday murdering U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, and three other embassy staffers. The deaths occurred when rioters, angered over an amateur American-made film that insults Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, shot rocket propelled grandes and set fire to the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. The short film has been universally panned as a marginal, wooden, amateur production of little value.

The movie came out months ago but the protest occurred on the anniversary of September 11 attacks, leading to speculation that the movie protest was a cover for a political assassination.

Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had confirmed that only a single U.S. official was killed in the Benghazi attack, which she condemned “in the strongest terms.” Clinton said some have sought to justify “this vicious behavior” as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. She said the U.S. deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, but rejected any “justification for violent acts of this kind.” Read more ..


Broken Economy

Senators Demand for $55 Billion Debt Down Payment

September 12th 2012

Lobbyist

A bipartisan group of senators is negotiating a roughly $55 billion debt “down payment” that would temporarily turn off automatic spending cuts and buy Congress at least six months to work out a bigger deal. The down payment would be linked to a deficit-reduction framework that would bind committees with jurisdiction over spending and taxes to an action plan, say sources familiar with the negotiations. 

If a deal is reached and leaders sign off on it, Congress could approve the plan in a lame-duck session. The goal of the group is to keep Congress from going over the so-called fiscal cliff without simply punting into next year the difficult questions over spending and taxes that have stymied their colleagues. 

All of the George W. Bush-era tax rates are set to expire at the end of the year, and automatic spending cuts to defense and non-defense programs, known as sequestration, are scheduled to begin in January. Congress also faces a decision soon on raising the nation’s debt ceiling.  Read more ..


Pakistan on Edge

Pakistan Factory Fire Death Toll Soars--Windows Barred

September 12th 2012

Pakistani Fire Sept 2012

Pakistani authorities say more than as many as 300 people have been killed and more than 60 injured overnight after a fire in Karachi destroyed a garment factory where they had been locked in as workers. The factory was thought to have employed about 450 people and the death toll was continuing to rise on September 12 as authorities searched through debris after the overnight blaze.

Tariq Kamal Ayubi, head of the emergency department at Karachi's Civil Hospital, said about 30 of the dead were so badly burned that it was impossible to tell whether they were male or female. Many were trapped on the top floor where some could be seen trying in vain to slip through bars placed over the windows. Others on the top floor, unable to reach a fire escape, plunged to their deaths. Firefighters say most of the remaining victims died of smoke inhalation in a basement without any fire exits. They say the doors to the basement were locked. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

White House Rejects Netanyahu’s Request for Meeting on U.S. Trip

September 11th 2012

Obama Netanyahu

The White House has informed the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that President Obama will not be able to meet with Netanyahu later this month when the Israeli leader travels to the United States for the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

According to an Israeli official who spoke with Reuters, Netanyahu’s office reached out to the White House for a meeting between the two leaders, but “the White House has got back to us and said it appears a meeting is not possible. It said that the president’s schedule will not permit that.”

An additional report from the Jerusalem Post states that Netanyahu offered to travel to Washington D.C. during his trip to the U.S., because President Obama will not be in New York during the prime minister’s time there, but the White House “didn’t think that would be possible” to meet. This will mark the first time Obama and Netanyahu will not meet during a trip to the U.S. by the Israeli leader, since the president took office. Read more ..


Faster and More Furious

Huge Weapons Cache Found in Mexico is Linked to Fast and Furious

September 11th 2012

Mexican arms cache

Mexican police officers discovered a large weapons cache that may be linked to the U.S. gun-walking snafu, Operation Fast and Furious, an American drug enforcement official working as an "advisor" in northern Mexico said on Friday.

The anonymous source asserted that the weapons apparently belong to drug traffickers who stored them at a private residence in northern Mexico.

The weapons discovery was a result of a Mexican schoolboy who brought a loaded handgun to class. His classmates observed the gun in the 9-year-old's schoolbag and reported it to their teacher, who in turn reported it to the Hermosillo city police.

According to the law enforcement source, the semiautomatic firearm was fully loaded. It was immediately confiscated and then a police SWAT team raided the boy's house where they found a cache of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition, according to the source. Read more ..


Faster and More Furious

Issa Postpones Pivotal "Fast and Furious" Investigation

September 11th 2012

Click to select Image

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has been forced to postpone a hearing on an inspector general’s investigation of "Operation Fast and Furious" until next week. The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, told Issa in a recent letter that after 17 months of investigating the botched gun-tracking operation, the lengthy report would not be ready for public release until later this week, at the earliest. Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, worried the DOJ would try to delay the report’s release for political reasons, according to an earlier letter to Horowitz sent last month. And the powerful Republican was hoping to use Tuesday, Congress’s first full day back at work after its summer recess, to launch into the report’s findings as soon as possible.

The hearing would also have coincided with the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93. Read more ..



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