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The Wikileaks Case

Ecuador's President Defends Asylum Grant for Assange

August 18th 2012

Rafael Correa

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa says the main reason his country has granted asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is that no one could guarantee that Assange would not be extradited to a "third country." Assange has been sheltered in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since June. The Australian took refuge there after losing a legal battle to fight extradition to Sweden, which wants to question him in connection with sexual assault allegations, which he denies. Assange fears Sweden could send him to the United States to face possible charges related to the 2010 release of hundreds of thousands of classified documents, including diplomatic cables held by the U.S. State Department about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Correa told local journalists in Loja, Ecuador, Friday that he does not agree with everything that Assange has done. Correa also said he feared that Assange would face a possible death penalty if he were prosecuted and convicted in the United States. Ecuador granted Assange asylum Thursday, prompting Britain to say it would not allow him safe passage out of the country and could even enter the embassy to capture him. Supporters of Assange have set up camp outside the building. The Organization of American States said Friday that it will hold a meeting of foreign ministers in one week to discuss the standoff. A spokesperson for WikiLeaks said Assange will appear in front of the embassy Sunday to give a statement.

The Telegraph reported: "In a late-night meeting on Friday the group agreed that the row was not over the granting of asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, but instead concerned the "inviolability" of the Ecuador embassy in London. Foreign ministers from north and south American nations will convene at the OAS Washington headquarters on Friday (Aug 24) at its Washington headquarters after a vote by the organisation's council that was overwhelmingly in favor: 23 to three, with five abstentions. Most representatives from the countries of the Americas and the Caribbean appeared delighted with the support for Ecuador's plea that the position of its embassy be looked at."


Russia on Edge

White House Deplores Russia's Two-Year Sentence for 'Pussy Riot'

August 18th 2012

pussy riot hoosegow

The White House on August 17 protested the conviction and “disproportionate” two-year sentence handed down against three members of the punk band Pussy Riot, whose trial in Moscow for "hooliganism" has sparked an international outcry.

Josh Earnest, a spokesman for President Obama, said the United States was "disappointed" by the guilty verdict against musicians Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich. "The United States is disappointed by the verdict, including the disproportionate sentences that were granted," Earnest told reporters. "While we understand the group's behavior was offensive to some, we have serious concerns about the way these young women — about the way that these young women have been treated by the Russian judicial system." Read more ..

The edge of Crime

Judge Postpones Hearing on Shooting Suspect's Notebook

August 17th 2012

james holmes
Credit: Aurora Police Dept.

A hearing regarding the notebook of the Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes that he mailed to his psychiatrist has been postponed for one week. The subject was supposed to be debated during Thursday's court hearing in Holmes' murder case.

But in his ruling on Wednesday, Judge William Sylvester granted a motion to postpone the debate until August 23.

Meanwhile, members of the nation's journalism community won a slight victory when the Colorado judge ordered several documents regarding the Batman movie killing in Aurora unsealed on Monday, but upheld the sealing of other documents at the request of both the prosecution and the defense.

James Holmes, 24, was arrested outside a theater after allegedly killing 12 people and wounding another 58 at the midnight showing of a Batman movie on July 20. He made his first court appearance three weeks ago.

The journalists' access to the files is expected to provide the public with a clearer view of one of the worst mass-shootings in U.S. history. A media coalition has been pushing for all records relevant to the case to be released. Steven Zansberg, a lawyer representing the media coalition, applauded part of the decision and but wasn't pleased about the overall ruling.

The attorneys for both the prosecution and defense had argued for the documents to remain sealed with the prosecutor saying his office wished to assure the integrity of the continuing investigation, and the defense saying they wished to protect Holmes' right to a fair trial. Read more ..

The Wikileaks Case

Ecuador Grants Political Asylum to WikiLeaks Assange

August 16th 2012

Click to select Image

Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño announced Thursday that his country would be granting political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, on the grounds the country believes he will be politically persecuted if he is extradited from Great Britain to Sweden. Assange, who turned himself in to British authorities in 2010, has been staying at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for nearly two months. The British government is seeking to extradite him to Sweden, where he was accused of rape and sexual molestation two years ago. 

Assange denies the allegations against him by two female former WikiLeaks volunteers. He believes the charges to have come in retaliation for his organization’s release of classified U.S. documents and diplomatic cables. Assange was released on bail and placed under house arrest on condition that he spend nights at the home of a supporter outside of London, but London’s Metropolitan Police argue that he has broken the terms of his bail by staying at the embassy. Prior to the announcement, Patiño declared that the Ecuadorian government had received written notice from the British government stating their intentions to “assault” the embassy if Ecuador refused to hand Assange over. Patiño argued that doing so would violate international law, which holds that an embassy is the sovereign ground of the country to which it belongs. Read more ..

The Edge of Piracy

Somali Pirate Kidnapper Sentenced To 10 Life Prison Terms

August 16th 2012

Somali pirate Mohammad Saaili Shibin

Somali pirate and hostage-taker Mohammad Saaili Shibin, a/k/a “Khalif Ahmed Shibin,” a/k/a “Shibin,” the man convicted of being the Somali kidnapper who also negotiated the ransom demands for the release of U.S. citizens onboard an American yacht, the S/V Quest, as well as the Marida Marguerite, a German-owned vessel, was sentenced late Monday afternoon in federal court in New York City. During the trial, jurors were told that the pirates shot Scott and Jean Adams of California and Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle of Washington state in this midst of neogotiations. The Surface Vessel Quest had been sailing around the world when the Somalis hijacked it off the coast of Oman. The convicted pirate was given 10 concurrent life sentences for piracy, two consecutive life sentences for the use of a rocket-propelled grenade and automatic weapons during crimes of violence, 10 years consecutive on six counts charging discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, and two 20-year sentences for the remaining counts of discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, according to the U.S. Navy criminal investigators. Read more ..

Europe on Edge

European Economy Shrinks

August 15th 2012

French Economic protest

Europe's two biggest economies have managed to dodge recession, but newly published statistics offer grim news for the region as a whole. New figures released by Eurostat statistical agency show the economies of both the eurozone and the 27-member European Union shrank by 0.2 percent in the second quarter of the year.

​​The only glimmer of good news came from Germany and France. Growth for Europe's largest economy, Germany,a modest 0.3 percent. And the second largest economy France managed to escape widespread expectations of recession by registering zero growth for a third consecutive quarter. Recession is defined as two successive quarters of negative growth.

Speaking on French radio, Economy and Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici offered a modestly upbeat reaction to the findings. Moscovici said there were a few encouraging signs, including a small pickup in investment. But he said the fact that France's economy was faring slightly better than those of Italy and Spain was not good enough. Both economies contracted in the second quarters. Read more ..

Egypt's Blockade of Gaza

Hamas Demands Egypt Ease Gaza Blockade but Cairo Refuses

August 15th 2012

Rafah crossing

Leaders of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas based in the Gaza Strip urged the Egyptian government on August 12 to unseal the only border crossing location for Gaza to allow its people to travel back and forth from the Palestinian territory, a member of the Israel National Police said.

Hamas' Interior Minister released a press notice stating that the Egyptian authorities must allow the travelers in both directions to go through the Rafah crossing. Hamas claims there is no longer any reason for Palestinians to be denied access to Sinai, the Israeli police source said.

The Minister complained that continued blockade by the Egyptian military is affecting thousands of people who need to travel in Sinai or through Sinai for medical, educational or business reasons. Rafah is the only crossing for individuals to enter or leave Gaza, said the Israeli source. Read more ..

Faster and More Furiously

Lawmakers File Lawsuit for Fast & Furious Documents

August 14th 2012

Eric holder

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Monday filed a civil lawsuit in federal court in the District of Columbia against Attorney General Eric Holder in an effort to compel him to surrender documents regarding to a failed law enforcement operation dubbed Operation Fast and Furious by the leaders at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (ATF).

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said the legal action was taken in response to President Barack Obama's executive privilege assertion that stonewalls the Republican congressmen from obtaining Justice Department documents related to the operation.

"Waiting nearly eight months after the subpoena had been issued to assert a meritless claim of privilege, the President's decision was a calculated political maneuver designed to stop the release of documents until after November's elections," Issa said in a statement Monday.

Those in the law enforcement community, who hold the operation's leaders responsible for a number of deaths including that of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, are saddened by the lack of response to this "outrageous display of government lawlessness."

"I don't know whether to yell or cry. The news media are more interested in protecting Obama and his minions than getting at the truth. The American people don't seem to care if their government violated any laws, either. This is a federal government out of control and the people who are trying to get to the bottom of this political cesspool are portrayed as the bad guys attacking a 'sainted' president's administration," said former New Jersey police detective, now a corporate security director, Peter Rosen. Read more ..

The Iranian Threat

Hezbollah Leader Warns: Our Rockets Can Hit All of Israel

August 14th 2012

Hamas Rocket

One of Hezbollah’s senior officials and its leader in southern Lebanon is claiming that the Iranian backed terrorist group can hit any Israeli city with its arsenal of missiles. Speaking in Lebanon on Monday ahead of “Quds Day”, Sheikh Nabil Kaouk said Hezbollah will continue its attempts to free “Palestine”, rid Israel from its presence in Jerusalem, and that the group’s missiles can reach anywhere in Israel. Former Mossad Director Danny Yatom seemed to confirm part of Kaouk’s statement while offering an analysis of what Iran’s response might be to an Israeli strike against its nuclear facilities. Rockets from Gaza and Lebanon can “cover all of Israel, and that is the main problem,” Yatom said. Israel’s short range rocket defense system, the Iron Dome, was reportedly installed in northern Israel last week (Safed) as part of a series of tests being undertaken by the IDF.  Read more ..

Islam on Edge

Islamists threaten Acid Attacks on Women wearing Jeans

August 13th 2012

Women of Jaipur

Islamist militants in the Kashmir region contested by Pakistan and India have warned that they will shoot dead any women or girls seen to be using mobile phones in public. Hand-written posters appeared at mosques in the Shopian district of the region in time for Friday prayers on August 10, apparently placed there by the Lashkia al-Qaeda and Alqaeda Mujahideen terrorist jihadi organizations. The posters reiterated demands that girls and women be enveloped in veils in all public places.

Women were alarmed, since the jihadi posters also proclaimed "If we spot any woman without purdah (veil), we will splash acid on her face." Numerous cases of men attacking women with acid have plagued not only Pakistan, but also Afghanistan in recent years. Some women, disfigured by acid attacks, have required extensive reconstructive surgery or have committed suicide in despair.

Local police have said that they are investigating, but that it is premature to say whether these posters are genuine or a prank.

The posters also demanded the village council heads to announce their resignation during Friday prayers. Similar posters had surfaced in south Kashmir's Tral township earlier this year, prompting some of the village councils to quit. The names of the terrorist organization outfits, which have purportedly issued the posters, have surfaced for the first time in the Kashmir valley.

Meanwhile, similar posters threatening girls and women emerged in Ranchi, Jharkhand, a province of eastern India, on August 9. The handwritten posters were published by Jharkhand Mukti Sangh, an extremist group, which threatened girls and women with acid attacks if they venture out in jeans or without traditional veils after August 20. The posters appeared at public intersections, and a Catholic school. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Obama and Ryan to Lock Horns in Campaign-Critical Iowa

August 13th 2012

Ryan Obama mashup

GOP vice presidential pick Paul Ryan will make his solo campaign debut in Iowa on August 13, competing with President Obama, who's beginning a three-day trip to the key battleground state. Obama is bringing his wife, popular first lady Michelle Obama, along with him – a sign the campaign is concerned about holding on to Iowa's six electoral votes.

But when Obama begins his tour in the Western part of the state, just up I-80, Ryan will be in Des Moines, visiting the Iowa State Fair. The competing visits show how important the state is to both campaigns, but it has particular resonance for Obama – during his historic 2008 run, it was his victory at Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses that catapulted him into the upper tier of Democratic presidential contenders. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Syrian Activists: Communications Down in Flashpoint City of Aleppo

August 12th 2012


Syrian activists say all communications are down in large parts of the countryside and in the flashpoint city of Aleppo, where government forces reportedly have been pushing rebel forces out of position since last week.

It is unclear what caused the cut in communications since early Sunday.  Despite this, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had reports that the army was continuing to shell rebel-held districts in the country's largest city.  There also were reports of violence elsewhere in the country. The Arab League has postponed a meeting of foreign ministers that had been scheduled for Sunday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to discuss the Syrian situation and a replacement for peace envoy Kofi Annan, who resigned earlier this month. Read more ..

The New Egypt

Egypt's Morsi Orders Top Military Officers to Retire

August 12th 2012

Mohammed Morsi

Egypt's new President Mohamed Morsi has forced out the country's top two military officers, announcing the immediate retirement of  Defense Minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi and Army Chief of Staff Sami Annan. The move comes after growing tensions over military operations in the northern Sinai, following a recent attack by militants that killed 17 Egyptian soldiers.

News that President Morsi had fired Defense Minister Tantawi and Army Chief of Staff Annan struck on a quiet summer afternoon as most Egyptians fasted for Ramadan. The president's spokesman, Yasser Ali, announced replacements for the two top officers on state television. He said Morsi was also annulling constitutional amendments that gave military commanders sweeping powers. He said the president has named Mahmoud Mekki as his vice president, that he is ordering Defense Minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi to retire, along with Army Chief of Staff Sami Annan. Read more ..

Iran on Edge

Iran Struck by Twin Earthquakes

August 12th 2012

Iran Earthquake 8-12-12

Iranian officials say two strong earthquakes in the northwestern part of the country have killed at least 250 people and left more than 2,000 injured. The 6.4 and 6.3 magnitude quakes struck late Saturday afternoon just 11 minutes apart.

Several villages near the city of Tabriz were leveled, while scores of others sustained serious damage. Dozens of aftershocks have rumbled through the area, prompting thousands of people to spend the night outdoors. Rescue teams are still searching for victims in collapsed buildings. Officials expect the death toll to rise. The Red Crescent aid society says it has given emergency shelter to thousands of people and is sending in more supplies. Earthquakes are common in Iran, but few are significant enough to be noticed. The last major earthquake in Iran was a magnitude 6.6 quake in 2003 in the southeastern city of Bam, where 30,000 of people died.


The 2012 Vote

Romney Picks Ryan

August 11th 2012

Romney and Ryan--Virginia Announcement

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney has chosen Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate. Romney made the announcement Saturday before a throng of supporters in front of the retired battleship USS Wisconsin in Norfolk in the eastern state of Virginia. Romney introduced Ryan to kick off a four-day campaign bus tour. Ryan told the crowd that America is on the wrong track and said, "Mitt Romney and I will take the right steps, in the right time, to get us back on the right track."  The 42-year-old Ryan is a long-time congressman from the midwestern state of Wisconsin and has the backing of many influential conservatives.  He now chairs the House Budget Committee and has been a vocal leader in cutting the deficit by slashing the U.S. budget.

Romney's announcement ends weeks of speculation on who his running mate would be.  The most notable names mentioned included Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Wikipedia Locks Down its Pages on Veep Candidates

August 10th 2012

Wikipedia logo color

Wikipedia pages for candidates most likely to appear on Mitt Romney’s shortlist for vice president have been locked down as of August 8.  "This article is protected due to vandalism," reads the Wikipedia page for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Similarly, pages for Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and even CIA Director David Petraeus are in “semi-protected” mode, preventing edits from unregistered users or users who registered within the last few days.

With anticipation high for the expected announcement by Romney’s campaign — which will come sometime this month, ahead of the GOP convention — TechPresident’s Micah L. Sifry on August 6 reported that monitoring the increased number of edits on the Wikipedia entries for various contenders might tip off interested observers.

He based that speculation on the high number of edits made to Wikipedia pages for Sarah Palin and Joe Biden ahead of announcements that they would be the running mates for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), respectively. Palin’s page saw roughly 68 changes and Biden’s about 40 the day before their respective announcements, much higher numbers than other likely VP candidates at the time. Read more ..

Border Wars

Bold Brazil Thumps its Chest with Military Operations on Southern Borders

August 10th 2012

Brazilian firebase

On August 7-8, Brazil began reinforcing its southern borders with about 9,000 more military troops as the fifth part of its war on criminal gangs, according to a U.S. security official who monitors South American organized crime. The security source told the Law Enforcement Examiner that the border reinforcements are part of Operation Agatha 5, which the Brazilian government initiated on July 6 on their country's borders with Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The deployment of troops is aimed at actively assisting Brazil's border security officers who are outgunned and out-manned by the crime groups that include drug cartels, the source said.

Also involved in what's expected to be a month-long operation are the Brazilian Air Force and Navy, who will use attack helicopters, jet fighters, patrol boats and high-tech equipment, he added. Read more ..

Edge of Terrorism

Two Suspects in 2000 Ramallah Lynchings Arrested

August 10th 2012

Dagestan massacre in Ramallah

Two Palestinian men have been charged in Israeli court after they confessed to their involvement in the infamous 2000 Ramallah lynchings of two IDF reservists.
The suspects were apprehended in June as part of a larger operation against Hamas terror cells operating in Ramallah and the Binyamin region.  It was following their arrest that the two men confessed to taking part in the barbaric murders nearly 12 years ago.
“We notified the families of the victims about the arrests after the investigation, and before publication of it. We acted with sensitivity,” said police spokesman Dudi Asraf.
Yossi Avrahami and Vadim Nurzhitz had mistakenly reached a Palestinian checkpoint in October of 2000 and were subsequently taken to the Ramallah police station.  As word spread around the city that Israelis were being held inside the station, a mob approached and proceeded to engage in what British photographer Mark Seager said “was murder of the most barbaric kind.”


The Battle for Syria

Syrian Government Assault Targets Rebels in Aleppo

August 9th 2012

Free Syrian Army fighters

Syrian government jets and helicopters bombed targets in the besieged northern city of Aleppo on August 8 as tanks launched a ground assault on the rebel-held district of Salaheddin. There were reports of fierce battles with Syrian state television saying rebels were being overrun. Leaders of the rebel Free Syrian Army denied their forces were retreating.

Reports from some foreign journalists in the city, however, say some rebel forces had pulled back from their positions in Salaheddin, while others continue to hold their ground. One rebel commander near the city was quoted as saying that his men were running short of ammunition.

Arab satellite channels showed several buildings in Aleppo that had collapsed after being bombed by fighter jets. Amateur video also showed rocket and bullet-pocked concrete facades and burnt-out flats destroyed by field artillery. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Mitt Romney Wants to Take Women Back to Policies of the '50s--Obama Charges

August 8th 2012

Barack Obama Israel speech

President Obama on Wednesday accused Republicans of wanting to take the nation “back to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century” during a campaign stop aimed at securing support from women.

Stumping on a two-day, four-stop swing through Colorado — a state where Obama needs strong turnout from women in November — the president sought to hammer home the benefits his healthcare law includes for families, such as free mammograms and contraception and cancer screenings with no copay.

But the president also emphasized the differences between him and his opponent, Republican presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who he said would take the Affordable Care Act and “kill it dead” on his first day in office. “The decisions that affect a woman’s health aren’t up to politicians or insurance companies, they’re up to you,” Obama said during a fiery speech before a crowd of nearly all women. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Egypt Bombs Sinai Terrorist Checkpoints As Gaza Blockade Intensifies

August 8th 2012

Apache Helicopters

Egyptian security officials say the military has carried out an assault on suspected Palestinian Gaza terrorists in the Sinai peninsula following new attacks against checkpoints. Officials say the airstrikes Wednesday killed 20 militants. The strikes came hours after an attack against checkpoints in the city of El-Arish, about 50 kilometers from the border with Israel and the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian military and President Mohamed Mursi had vowed to assert more control over the border area following an attack Sunday that killed 16 Egyptian border guards. Egypt said Gaza terrorists involved in the attack were trying to cross into Israel.

Egyptian security officials say they used army attack helicopters to fire missiles at suspected Islamic terrorists in Sinai following simultaneous attacks by armed men on three security checkpoints. It was the first time Egypt's army has fired missiles in the area since the 1973 war with Israel to recapture the Sinai Peninsula. The missile strikes came hours after the militant attacks near northern Sinai's main city of Al-Arish, about 50 kilometers from the Gaza-Israel border. Officials say a military officer, two soldiers, two police and a civilian were injured by the militants early on August 8. State media quote Egyptian military sources who say 20 militants were killed by the air strikes. Read more ..

Oil Addiction

Senators Voice Concerns over China's purchase of Gulf of Mexico Oil Assets

August 7th 2012

Offshore Oil Rig

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), citing national security concerns, is questioning a Chinese oil company’s planned purchase of the Canadian energy firm Nexen Inc., which holds substantial Gulf of Mexico oil-and-gas assets. Inhofe joins a pair of senior Democrats – Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Rep. Ed Markey (Mass.) – in questioning state-owned CNOOC Ltd.’s proposed $15.1 billion purchase of Nexen.

“I have serious national security concerns with the Chinese government, acting through one of its corporations, purchasing a company that will give it control over significant U.S. oil and gas resources,” Inhofe told MarketWatch in a statement. “This combined with China’s closed economy, its prohibition on direct, full investment in Chinese business operations by U.S. firms, and its blatant disregard to U.S. intellectual property rights make this transaction even more concerning,” adds Inhofe, who is a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. Read more ..

The Cyber Edge

Senate Republicans Stymie Obama's Cybersecurity Act

August 6th 2012

Hacker's Hand

The Republican members of the U.S. Senate on August 2-3 blocked the passage of President Barack Obama's priority cyber legislation, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012. A law enforcement source in Washington, D.C. said that there was no formal vote because of several disputes over the amount of power to be given to the Executive Branch over businesses and non-government organizations.

The wide-reaching legislation, if it had passed, would have given government law enforcement and security agencies power to make decisions regarding the digital defense of critical infrastructure companies against cyber attacks. The Republican senators claimed they were uneasy about giving Washington even more power over the private sector. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Sinai Terrorists Kill Egyptian Cops

August 6th 2012

Israeli Tank in Sinai

Heavily armed Islamic terrorists attacked and killed 16 Egyptian police officers on Sunday, seized two military vehicles, and then attempted to attack Israeli police and security officers posted on the Sinai-Israeli border, according to a report from a police source in Israel.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) quickly responded by bombing one of the armored vehicles and killing four of the terrorists, according to the Israel National Police source. Ehud Barak, Israel's Minister of Defense called for Egyptian government officials to increase the security in order to prevent terrorist operations launched from the porous Sinai region.

The problem for Israel is now compounded by the fact that Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi is himself an Islamist member of the radical Muslim Brotherhood who all but took over the government after former U.S. and Israeli ally President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown last year in a rebellion, according to counterterrorism expert and police advisor Saul Dominivitz.

The situation is further complicated because of Egypt's close relationships with terrorists in the Gaza Strip such as Hamas, Palestinian Muslim Jihad, and the Egyptian-based Salafists. Israel is also accusing Palestinian terrorists in Gaza of involvement in terrorist training and in the Sinai region, especially since the Mubarak government was overthrown. President Mursi promised the Israeli government that he would make security in Egypt and on its border with Israel a top priority, but the Israeli police source claims Mursi has little control over the nation's security and military forces. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Sen. Reid Speaks for Himself on Romney Tax Returns Says White House

August 6th 2012

Harry Reid

The White House on Monday distanced President Obama from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s comments that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney hasn’t paid taxes in a decade.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Monday that Reid (D-Nev.) “speaks for himself” and had spoken on the issue without any guidance from Team Obama. “He certainly speaks for himself,” Carney said, adding that Obama hasn't expressed an opinion on Reid's recent comments.

But Carney said Reid’s comments speak to a “broader question” about the president’s views on income taxes, saying that a “tradition” which “has been in place since 1968 of candidates for the president releasing multiple years of their tax returns is an important one.”

“You know, it’s not always every candidate’s favorite part of the process, but it’s a tradition that’s important,” Carney said. “It’s valuable to the American people as they decide who should be president. So that’s why the president has put forward his financial information, his tax returns when he was a candidate, and believes that that’s an important tradition.

In an interview last week, Reid claimed a Bain Capitol investor told him Romney had not paid any taxes in 10 years. That’s why, Reid said, Romney has refused to release more than the roughly two years' worth of tax returns he's already shared. Romney and other Republicans have ripped Reid over the remarks, noting that he has no evidence to back up his claims. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called Reid a “dirty liar” for the remarks.

Reid has refused to divulge the name of the businessman he said was a Bain investor. But some Democrats have rushed to Reid’s defense. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday said Reid was telling the truth. Reid’s comments have dominated the news cycle and kept attention on Romney’s tax records, which Democrats see as advantageous for Obama. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Israeli Helicopters Targets Global Jihad Squad in Gaza

August 6th 2012


In a release issued to reporters this morning, the Israel Air Force says it has, “targeted a Global Jihad-affiliated terrorist squad in the southern Gaza Strip.” One of the terrorists, says the release, “Ahmed Sai’d Isma’il, resident of Tufach, was among those responsible for the execution of the terror attack adjacent to the Israel-Egypt border, in which an Israeli civilian was killed, on June 18, 2012.” According to the Jerusalem Post citing Palestinian hospital officials, one person died in the IAF strike, and one other was injured. The IDF also says that the attack was preemptive, as Sai’d and other members of the terror group were planning another attack from Sinai against Israeli citizens. “Achmed Sai’d as well as E’id Nadi Ucaal, resident of Rafah, in addition to several other Global Jihad members were operating in order to execute a terror attack against Israeli civilians via the Israel-Egypt border,” says the release. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Syria's Prime Minister Defects as State TV Blows Up

August 6th 2012

Syria burning

Syria's prime minister is gone from the job two months after taking the post, amid conflicting reports about the method of his departure. State television said Monday that Riad Hijab was fired and replaced by his deputy, Omar Ghalawanji, while Jordanian officials said Hijab defected to Jordan with his family. The news came hours after state media said a bomb exploded at the state television building in Damascus, wounding several people.The station remained on the air following the blast, which ripped through the third floor of the building. A pro-government, private TV station, which itself was hit with a deadly blast in June, broadcast images of the building's damaged walls, wires dangling from a collapsed ceiling and people walking through smoke-filled hallways. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Sikh Temple in Milwaukee Assaulted by Shooting Spree

August 5th 2012

Sikh Milwaukee Shooting

At least seven people have been killed in a shooting at a Sikh temple in the northern U.S. state of Wisconsin. The gunman is among the dead. Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt says four people were found dead inside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, located outside of Milwaukee, on Sunday morning. Three others, including the gunmen, were killed outside the temple.

He says authorities do not believe a second gunman was involved. Earlier, a police spokesman said an officer responding to the shooting had engaged the suspected gunman, with both sustaining injuries. Police said three bodies were found outside the temple at 7512 S. Howell Ave. and four were inside the building. Among the deceased is the gunman, who apparently acted alone. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Iran Asks for Help to Secure Kidnapped Citizens in Syria As Violence Spreads

August 5th 2012

Ahmadinejad and Assad3

Iranian media said Sunday Tehran has asked Turkey and Qatar to help secure the release of 48 Iranian national kidnapped Saturday in Damascus. Iran has described the victims as religious pilgrims. However, al-Arabiya television says the Syrian rebels have described them as elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Iran backs the Syrian government, while Turkey and Qatar support the Syrian opposition. The U.S. State Department announced Sunday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Turkey Saturday to discuss the deteriorating situation in neighboring Syria where a mass uprising against President Bashar al-Assad has been underway for more than 17 months. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Malawi, Clinton's latest stop on her African tour, that the U.S. top diplomat is going to Istanbul "for bilateral consultations with the Turkish government on Syria, as well as to cover other timely issues." Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Obama May Lose the Election at the Gas Pump

August 5th 2012

Oil Prices

Gas prices have surged in recent weeks and analysts predict they’ll keep rising, creating fresh openings for GOP attacks against President Obama that had waned when prices dropped sharply. The nationwide average for regular gasoline is $3.60-per-gallon, a 24-cent rise over the past four weeks, according to AAA. Prices are well below the peak of nearly $4 in early April, a run-up that fueled constant GOP criticism of White House energy policies and threw Obama on the defensive. The frequency of political clashes over gas prices have tapered off since prices tumbled. But several analysts have stated that costs at the pump are likely to continue their recent rise through August.

August 3rd brought fresh evidence that pump prices are likely primed for more increases in coming weeks.

U.S. oil futures prices, buoyed in part by the Labor Department report of 163,000 jobs created in July, jumped by over $4-per-barrel to settle at $91.40 in New York trading. Prices for European Brent crude, which some U.S. refiners use, also rose sharply Friday. A continued rise in oil prices, which had fallen below $78-per-barrel for U.S. crude in June, would fuel what analysts say is already going to be some pump price increases on tap. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Assad's Forces Move to Secure Aleppo and Damascus

August 4th 2012

Syrian security forces

Explosions rocked the Syrian capital, Damascus, on August 4, and the northern city of Aleppo as security forces try to push rebels from their remaining strongholds.

The government says it has regained control of all of the capital. The French news agency reports a brigadier general told journalists that rebels had resorted to hit-and-run tactics against security forces.

Activists say an entire district became a battleground in Aleppo on August 4. An army helicopter fired machine gun rounds and ground troops shelled targets in an attempt to oust rebels from their positions.

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than two dozen people were killed in anti-government-related violence across Syria on August 4. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Syrian Army, Rebels Clash Near Aleppo TV Station

August 4th 2012

Anti Assad insurgents

Syrian security forces clashed again with rebels Saturday, as they fought for control of a state TV station in the northern city of Aleppo and government troops bombarded rebel-held areas of Damascus. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that about two dozen people were killed in unrest Friday. The U.N. General Assembly approved a non-binding resolution Friday that condemned Syria's use of heavy weapons in the fight against rebel forces. The vote also criticized the U.N. Security Council for failing to stem the violence. Syria blasted the General Assembly's action.

The country's U.N. ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari called the resolution a "piece of theater" that would have no impact on the country. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said the Syria conflict is now a "proxy war" and he urged major powers to end the violence. He said "the immediate interests of the Syrian people must be paramount over any larger rivalries of influence." Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Cloud Computing to Boost Global Memory IC market

August 3rd 2012

CG cloud

Despite suffering from significant oversupply problems, the global memory integrated circuits (IC) market will be driven on by data centers and the advent of cloud computing, expects a new report by international business analysts GBI Research. According to the company's latest report, the increased adoption of cloud computing services among various enterprises and customers is leading to the design and development of memory ICs suitable for shared servers and storage devices.

In-memory cloud computing offers large amounts of memory storage through a new storage tier, and is currently in high demand, with applications such as Apple’s iCloud leading the way. Continuing developments will increase the market of memory ICs, which will in turn help cloud computing infrastructure and data centers to deal with issues related to storage and reliability. The main challenge of such cloud computing infrastructure services is to maintain high system performance at low infrastructure costs, even when data size grows continuously. Advances in flash memory, specifically NAND flash, are of key importance as higher density types enable more applications per server. Read more ..

The Edge of Trafficking

Illegal Alien, MS-13 Member Arrested for Allegedly Prostituting Washington-Dc area Teen Girls

August 3rd 2012


A member of a notorious El Salvadorian-based organized crime gang, who was arrested Wednesday by federal agents, was charged on Thursday with prostituting a juvenile in Alexandria, Virginia. Following his arrest and processing, Yimmy Anthony Pineda Penado, a/k/a “Critico” and “Spike,” of Montgomery County, Maryland, made his initial appearance before Judge Theresa C. Buchanan, United States magistrate judge for the Eastern District of Virginia to answer to charges of sex trafficking a juvenile.

According to court documents, Pineda Penado admitted he is an active member of the crime gang Mara Salvatrucha, also known as “MS-13.” He allegedly prostituted at least one teenage girl in Northern Virginia and Maryland. Pineda Penado is accused of "providing juvenile female runaways with alcohol and drugs in an effort to make them more compliant and receptive to being prostituted to older men." Penado is illegally in the United States, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Read more ..

Wolrd Health on Edge

Uganda and America's CDC Cooperate on Ebola

August 2nd 2012

African school kids

Two more deaths were confirmed Wednesday in Uganda’s ongoing Ebola outbreak, raising the total to 16. Officials are fighting to prevent further transmission of the virus. Through a partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the country is uniquely positioned to respond quickly to suspected cases of Ebola and other hemorrhagic viruses. Representatives from the World Health Organization say 36 possible Ebola cases have been reported in Uganda, mostly in the west of the country. At least one death occurred in Kampala, raising concerns that the virus had reached the capital. However, there is no evidence of any transmission within the city.

Ebola is no stranger to Uganda. Last year a 12-year-old girl living an hour outside of Kampala died from the virus. Thirty-nine people died in a 2007 outbreak in an area bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo. But unlike other countries in the region that have seen similar outbreaks, Uganda has a team of virus hunters from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on hand to respond quickly to hemorrhagic fevers, like Ebola. Read more ..

The Euro on Edge

Bank of Israel Chief Warns Europe's Economy Could Collapse

August 2nd 2012

Euro money

In a bleak overview of the global economy, Stanley Fischer of the Bank of Israel, told his country’s parliament on Wednesday that Europe’s economy could collapse, a second Lehman Brothers style event could take place, and Israel must be prepare itself to deal with these possibilities.

“Either Europe will deal with it, or it will collapse and countries will begin to quit,” Fischer, who serves as the Governor of Israel’s Central Bank told the Knesset Finance Committee on Wednesday.  “That could happen. We cannot know what will happen in the second case; it may be accompanied by a financial crisis. Some people are talking about Lehman Brothers II. I don’t know. The only thing I do know is that I don’t know. We must therefore prepare. The economy must be ready in advance, not afterwards. We must maintain financial stability, as well as fiscal stability and the budget.”

Fischer cited lackluster U.S. growth forecasts and European financial problems as two reasons why Israeli exports will suffer in the near term. Read more ..

Faster and More Furious

New Report on Fast & Furious Blasts ATF, U.S. Attorney

August 1st 2012

Guns for sale

Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Tuesday announced the release of the first of three new reports laying out the facts about what Issa termed the reckless Obama/Holder program commonly known as Operation Fast and Furious.

"The [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] ATF and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office failed to consider and protect the safety of Americans, Mexicans, and fellow law enforcement personnel throughout Operation Fast and Furious," stated Issa upon promulgating his committee's report throughout the nation's capital.

"Testimony and a persistent reluctance to fully cooperate make clear that many officials at ATF and the Department of Justice would have preferred to quietly sweep this matter under the rug. Though they are among the most vocal objectors to oversight by Congress, this investigation has also shown that both agencies are among those most in need of additional scrutiny and attention from Congress," claims Chairman Issa. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Netanyahu tells Israeli TV that Iran Attack Decision his Alone

August 1st 2012

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck a defiant tone in a series of television interviews on Tuesday night. Speaking to all of Israel's television channels, he stated that whatever his advisors and military staff may think about an attack on Iran's nuclear program, the final decision will be his and his alone. Netanyahu's remarks were in response to a a story published earlier that day by Yediot Aharonot, Israel's best-selling daily.

According to Yediot: "the US administration believes Israel’s top military and intelligence brass – including IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, Air Force Commander Maj.- Gen. Amir Eshel, Head of Military Intelligence Maj.- Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Mossad head Tamir Pardo, and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yoram Cohen – are all opposed to an Israeli attack without US backing." The Israeli media has never much cared for Netanyahu, and the reporters grilled him extensively on his plans for a strike on Iran and his reaction to what is perceived as strong opposition to such a move in the security establishment.

In response, Netanyahu repeatedly emphasized that such fateful decisions must be left to the elected political leadership. “That is the way it has always been, and will always be,” he said. To illustrate the point, Netanyahu said that former prime minister Menachem Begin chose in 1981 to attack the nuclear reactor in Iraq despite opposition at the time from the heads of the Mossad and military intelligence.

In regard to Iran, Netanyahu's message was absolute and unequivocal. "It is working to destroy us," he said, "and is preparing atom bombs to destroy us. As much as it is dependent on me, I will not let that happen." Read more ..

Broken Government

GOP Leaders Yank One-Year Farm Bill

July 31st 2012

wheat fields

House Republicans on Tuesday ended their attempt to vote on a one-year farm bill, opting to move forward with a measure that would only provide drought aid to farmers. The one-year bill was set to come up before the House Rules Commitee on Tuesday night but was removed from the agenda just before the meeting.

The House GOP is planning to take up a standalone drought bill under suspension of rules later this week, according to Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.). House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) urged his colleagues to vote for the limited disaster bill when it comes up for a vote on Thursday.

“My priority remains to get a five-year farm bill on the books and put those policies in place, but the most pressing business before us is to provide disaster assistance to those producers impacted by the drought conditions who are currently exposed," he said. "Beyond that, I will continue to work with my leadership, Ranking Member Peterson and our members to determine the best path forward." Read more ..

Broken Government

Reid, Boehner Announce Deal to Avoid Government Shutdown

July 31st 2012

US Capital Day

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced on Tuesday an agreement to avoid a government shutdown shortly before the November election. Reid said President Obama has also agreed to the deal.

“This agreement reached between the Senate, the House and the White House provides stability for the coming months, when we will have to resolve critical issues that directly affect middle class families," Reid said in a statement. "I hope that we can face the challenges ahead in the same spirit of compromise.”
The continuing resolution will extend government funding for six months after it runs out Oct. 1. The government will be funded at $1.047 trillion, the top-line spending level for 2012. While 2012 spending was set at $1.043 trillion under the August 2011 Budget Control Act, the actual rate is expected to be closer to $1.047 trillion. That also is the number set for 2013 spending. Read more ..

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