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The Edge of Sports

Amid Ailing Economy, Members of Congress Delve Into Sports Issues

November 14th 2011

Sports Topics - sport

Members of Congress have recently delved into the world of sports, weighing in on the NCAA, athletes’ drug abuse, conference alignments and the Penn St. sex scandal.

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) labeled the NCAA one of the “most ruthless organizations ever created by mankind.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said it is harder to change the college football postseason than win the presidency. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) publicly floated the need for an ethics investigation into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) lobbying for the University of Louisville to join the Big 12 Conference.

Congress has a long history of getting involved in sports controversies. One of the most prominent examples was a 1995 bill to repeal major league baseball’s anti-trust exemption as a threat to induce an end to that year’s strike. Ten years later, Congress held hearings that led to baseball toughening its steroid testing policy. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Bachmann accuses CBS of Planning a Biased Debate

November 14th 2011

Politics - Michele Bachmann
Michele Bachmann (R-MN)

Less than two hours after Saturday's CBS/National Journal presidential debate concluded, Michele Bachmann's campaign accused CBS News of deliberately keeping her questions to a minimum and planning a biased debate.

Bachmann's campaign sent reporters a screenshot of an email exchange where John Dickerson, a reporter for Slate who was just named political director for CBS News, says Bachmann wouldn't be getting many questions.

Dickerson was responding to an email sent to CBS News staffers discussing the possibility of booking Bachmann for a webcast interview. The initial email notes that Alice Stewart, Bachmann's spokeswoman, was included in the email chain, but Dickerson appeared not to have noticed when he sent his reply to the group.

"Okay let's keep it loose though since she's not going to get many questions and she's nearly off the charts in the hopes that we can get someone else," Dickerson wrote. Read more ..

Sword of Islam

Islamist Sudan Air Raid on South Sudan Kills 12 Refugees

November 11th 2011

Africa - Sudanese refugee

South Sudan has accused Sudan of carrying out the attack on the camp in Yida town, less than 20 miles from the border with Sudan. Of the November 9-10 attacks, Rupert Colville of the United Nations responded on November 11, "We condemn the bombing. The attack ... could amount to an international crime." According to Al-Jazeera, Miabek Lang, commissioner of Pariang County in Unity state where Yida is located, said 12 people were killed in the raid, but the claim has not been confirmed by other sources.

According to the Washington D.C.-based Institute for Religion and Democracy, armed forces of Sudan's Islamist regime crossed international borders and conducted an aerial bombardment campaign on two states in the new nation of South Sudan for two consecutive days, including a camp of northern Sudanese refugees from the Nuba Mountains. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Iran Halts Oil Exports to Pakistan because of Sanctions

November 9th 2011

Iran - Ahmadinejad Nuclear
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran

Petroleum-rich Iran has ceased exporting oil to its southern neighbour, Pakistan, when a refinery in the South Asian country could not get financing for the purchase. This was due to sanctions now imposed on Iran by the United States and the European Union, reported the Mehr news agency on November 9. The National Iranian Oil Company of the Islamic republic had signed a contract to sell 12,000 barrels of oil per day to Pakistan Oil Refining Co., also state-run.

Banks in Pakistan rejected the Karachi-based refinery’s requests to open letters of credit in order to do business with the Iranian company. Iran was the sole supplier to the refiner, which has closed for unspecified “technical reasons,” said Pakistan’s minister for petroleum, Asim Hussain. The date for the halt in exports, and whether any other Pakistani importers might be affected, was unclear. Read more ..

Guatemala on Edge

Guatemala Elects former Army Officer Tainted by Narcoterror

November 8th 2011

Latin American Topics - Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala
Otto Perez Molina

Former Guatemalan army general Otto Pérez Molina appears to have won his country’s presidential election, having bested his competitor Manuel Baldizón. Pérez Molina and his Patriot Party carried 54 percent of the vote in the November 6 run-off election as opposed to Baldizón’s 46 percent. The balloting reached a record for voter participation with 4.4 million ballots counted among 7.3 million eligible voters in the Central American republic.

Crime and poverty were the themes of the election in Guatemala that is coping with the legacy of decades of Cold War conflict, now coupled with government corruption, unemployment, and widespread narcoterror. Faced with apparent impunity for murder at the hands of criminal organizations such as MS-15, the millionaire Baldizón and leader of the populist Renewed Democratic Liberty party even called for the return of the death penalty for violent crimes. Read more ..

Islam Against Christianity

Catholics and Orthodox Churches Agree that the Arab Spring was 'Devastating' for Christians

November 8th 2011

Egypt - Egyptian Coptic women weeping
Egyptian Coptic Christians mourning

Following an annual meeting on October 27-28, the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation released a statement after having received reports on events in the lives of Catholic and Orthodox Churches worldwide. Chaired by Catholic Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans at St. Paul’s College in Washington D.C., the Consultation's Orthodox co-chairman since 1987, Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh, has retired and a successor has not yet been named.

The statement, On the Plight of Churches in the Middle East, declared “We are concerned for our fellow Christians who, in the face of daunting challenges, struggle to maintain a necessary witness to Christ in their homelands,” they wrote. “United with them in prayer and solidarity, we ask our fellow Christians living in the West to take time to develop a more realistic appreciation of their predicament. We ask our political leaders to exert more pressure where it can protect these Churches, many of which have survived centuries of hardship but now stand on the verge of disappearing completely.” Read more ..

The Edge of Justice

High Court Urged to Uphold Congressional Law Directing State Department to List Birthplace as Israel on Passports

November 7th 2011

Jewish Topics - Nathan Lewin, Attorney
Nathan Lewin

The law firm of Lewin & Lewin presented oral arguments to the U. S. Supreme Court on behalf of its nine year old client, Menachem Zivotofsky, in the highly charged case of Menachem Zivotofsky v. Secretary of State Clinton (No. 10-699).

At issue in the case is the right of a Jerusalem-born American citizen to self identify as born in “Israel” on his or her U.S. passport and birth certificate. The case has attracted support and interest worldwide including the filing of some five amicus briefs.

In 2002, Congress passed a law that directed the Secretary of State to record the birthplace of American citizens born in Jerusalem as "Israel" on these documents for American citizens who so request.  Since the bill's enactment, the Executive branch has refused to enforce the law, claiming that to do so would infringe on the President's authority to "recognize foreign sovereigns."

Menachem Zivotofsky was born in Jerusalem soon after the law was passed.  His parents requested that the place of birth on his U.S. passport and Consular Report of Birth Abroad be listed as "Israel."  The State Department refused the request and instead listed "Jerusalem" as the place of birth. Nathan Lewin and Alyza D. Lewin of Lewin & Lewin agreed to represent the Zivotofskys and have litigated the case pro bono for eight years. Read more ..

America Occupied

Occupy Wall Street movement Winterizes in the City that gave Birth to U.S. Labor Movement

November 7th 2011

America Themes - Occupy Flint
Occupy Flint protesters assemble at Bank of America, Flint MI.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has come to Flint, Michigan, a town that gave birth to General Motors and the scene of one of the signal events of American labor history. An encampment of tents, tarps, and canopies now shelters a group of mostly young protesters have occupied a vacant lot just north of the city center. Unlike similar groups elsewhere, the mostly young protesters have occupied a private space with the permission of the owner. In New York City, for instance, the Wall Street protesters are using a public park as a temporary campground. Occupy Flint began its sit-down protest on October 12.

No violence has been attributed to the protesters of Occupy Flint, who are relying on donations of food and portable toilets to lend some permanence to the camp. The group has received solar energy panels to charge their laptops and other electronic devices and appear to be settling in for the winter. They are asking for donations of food and warm clothing. Read more ..

Arab Winter

Yet Another Gaza-Bound Flotilla now in International Waters

November 3rd 2011

Palestine Topics - audacity of hope boat

A press release from the UStoGaza organization announced on November 3 that two ships bound for the Gaza Strip are now in international waters. Organizers of the ships say that they intend to “lift the siege of Gaza which deprives 1.6 million civilians of their rights to travel, work, study, develop their economy and be free." The Canadian ship Tahrir and the Irish ship Saoirse embarked from Turkey and are on the Mediterranean Sea as part of a flotilla that organizers are calling the Freedom Wave to Gaza. In all, the 2 boats carry 27 passengers from Canada, Ireland, U.S., Palestine, and Australia.

Veteran protester Kit Kittredge is on board the Tahrir. She was also a passenger on the American ship, The Audacity of Hope, which attempted passage to Gaza last July but detained by Israeli naval forces. The ship bears the same name as a book penned by President Barack Obama. Kittredge declared that "The only obstacles in our way are Israel's military and the complicity of the Obama administration but in our sails is the wind of worldwide public opinion which has turned against the illegal blockade." Kittredge, 53, describes herself as a massage therapist and volunteer firefighter. Read more ..

The Arab Winter in Egypt

Egyptian Muslim Teacher and Students Beat Christian Boy to Death for Crucifix

November 3rd 2011

Egypt - Ayman Nabil
Ayman Nabil Labib

Two teenaged schoolboys beat a Coptic Christian classmate to death on October 16 in the Egyptian town of Mallawi, raising fears in the minority Christian community that have been piqued since last year before the so-called Arab Spring that brought the downfall of former dictator Hosni Mubarak. Originally, local media did not report the incident as anti-Christian violence. However, Copts Without Borders, a Coptic news site, reported that 17 year-old, Ayman Nabil Labib, was attacked and killed because he was wearing a crucifix. Over the last few years, Coptic Christians have been targetted by Muslim extremists, while churches and monasteries have been attacked. On New Years Day of this year, a bomb blast racked a Coptic church and killed scores of worshippers.

In this latest incident, the dead boy’s parents broke their silence on October 30 and confirmed that their son’s murder took place after he boy refused to remove the crucifix that he wore on a chain around his neck. He also had a cross tattooed on his wrist, a Coptic tradition, which he was asked to conceal by his teacher, according to Assyrian International News Agency (AINA). “The teacher nearly choked my son and some Muslim students joined in the beating,” said his mother in a statement to AINA.

Despite reports that Labib was beaten in the schoolyard, his father asserted that Labib was in fact beaten in the classroom. “They beat my son so much in the classroom that he fled to the lavatory on the ground floor, but they followed him and continued their assault. When one of the supervisors took him to his room, Ayman was still breathing. The ambulance transported him from there dead, one hour later,” he said. Two Muslim students, Mostapha Essam and Walid Mostafa Sayed, were reportedly arrested and detained, pending investigations into the murder. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Noam Shalit: Gilad Treated "Harshly"

November 2nd 2011

Israel Topics - Gilad Shalit

Gilad Shalit endured "harsh things" the imprisoned soldier's father revealed, just days after his son's release. Among other depravations, Noam Shalit said his son did not see sunlight for almost 2,000 days. His gaunt appearance and pale skin seem to testify to this fact.

Noam Shalit was reacting to a claim made by a senior Hamas terrorist, Zuhair Al-Qaisi, who claimed that Shalit was treated well during his captivity. Al-Qaisi claimed that Shalit was allowed to watch election and eat kosher food. But Noam Shalit countered that his son was suffering from malnutrition and the effects of an untreated shrapnel wound the Israeli soldier suffered before his abduction more than five years ago. Read more ..

Thailand on Edge

Thailand Floods Take Toll on PC Makers

November 1st 2011

Asia Topics - Thailand flooding portside

Several computer makers have admitted their fourth quarter earnings could be adversely affected by component shortages, including industry heavyweights Asustek Computer, Acer Inc., and Samsung Electronics. “The whole PC production chain is stuck at a bottleneck,” Acer’s CEO JT Wang told investors, referring to the effects of the Thailand floods on hard disc supplies.

“This is not a problem that we can solve by ourselves and so we have started raising prices,” he added, noting that with HDD prices up an estimated 5-20 percent, the firm had had to raise the cost of its notebooks to protect its margins.

Acer saw its shares drop slightly on Monday after the firm predicted its fourth quarter shipments could decrease by up to 10 percent from Q3, owing to the constraints on the component supply chain. The firm had previously said it expected notebook shipments to stay flat during the fourth quarter, with perhaps a slight 5 percent uptick, though this estimation has now been reversed.


The 2012 Vote

Republican Eric Cantor Seeks Government Support for Innovative Businesses

November 1st 2011

Politics - Eric Cantor (R)

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told a gathering at the University of Michigan on October 31 that government needs to continue supporting those who create businesses and opportunity, from whose ranks have sprung entrepreneurs including Henry Ford and Steve Jobs. Appearing at the Michigan League ballroom, the Virginia Republican said "We need more than a jobs plan, we need a Steve Jobs plan," while government should support leaders and innovators who create new industries and new ideas that benefit society. "Job building and community building are what successful people can do," Cantor said. "Small business owners, businessmen and women are the key formula for success in America. It is students like you who can be the designers and builders of America's ladders."

Cantor's appearance was presented by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy on the Ann Arbor campus, The congressman was introduced by U-Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman.

Cantor said he would be moving a bill soon in Congress to ease access to capital, to "help these risk takers in achieving their dream." While he supports public schools, he said charter schools have served many students in areas where public schools are not adequate. "We need to ensure access to the best schools available," Cantor said. "No child should be forced to attend a school that is failing her." Read more ..

The Arab Fall

Israel seeks Calm and Displays Strength after Jihadi rocket Attacks

October 30th 2011

Palestine Topics - Dead Islamic jihadis

 The border between Israel and the Gaza Strip remains tense after an eruption of deadly violence on October 29. Israel and the Islamic Jihad group are signaling they are interested in an informal ceasefire after a wave of tit-for-tat attacks on the Gaza border. Israel launched several air strikes on Islamic Jihad targets on October 29, while Palestinians fired more than 20 rockets at border communities in southern Israel. Nine Palestinian militants and an Israeli civilian were killed. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country does not want an escalation, but he issued a strong warning to Palestinian militant groups in Gaza. Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Knesset that Israel would respond harshly to any Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks. "Whoever attacks us," said Netanyahu, "his blood will be on his own head."

Netanyahu said on October 30 that "there is no cease fire" in the south, in reference to the recent escalation in violence along the Gaza border. Speaking at a special cabinet meeting, the prime minister warned, "The other side will pay a higher price then they have already paid, until they stop firing."

Edge of Terrorism

Mujahideen Attack on U.S. Embassy Spikes Fears of Islamists in Bosnia

October 29th 2011

Terrorism - Bosnian mujahideen in Sarajevo embassy attack

In Sarajevo, Irma Maric's Friday afternoon on October 28 was shattered by gunfire. She describes watching a brazen 30-minute rifle assault carried out by a suspected Islamist on the U.S. embassy unfold from her office window:

"I looked out of the window and I saw people running, like kids, also. They were [fleeing], because of the fear...When you see, through the window, people lying down on the streets, it's the first thing I remember: the 1990s in Sarajevo," Maric said.

The Bosnian capital was under siege during the region's 1992-1995 war. Maric, a 28-year-old born and raised in Sarajevo, describes the city as calm today.

Political and religious leaders in the Balkans are voicing concerns over what some are describing as a "terrorist" attack on the embassy on October 28. The building has been temporarily closed. Read more ..

Green Scandals

Republicans Call for Probe of Obama’s Green Car Program

October 28th 2011

Technology - Biden and Fisker

Republicans are calling on Congressional investigators to expand their probe of the Obama Administration’s “green energy” loan program to include Fisker, the start-up electric car company that received more than $500 million in federal support but is assembling its high-end sports sedan in Finland.

“We need to extend the investigation,” Rep. Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican who sits on the committee that has been investigating the government’s loan program, told ABC News in an interview for World News and Nightline. “If they couldn’t find someone to build the car in the U.S., then don’t do it. Find another way. Find something else.”

Fisker is one of two start-up electric car companies that combined have been offered $1 billion in federal loans through an Energy Department program meant to create jobs and improve air quality through the fledgling alternative energy industry. The loan program has faced intense scrutiny from Congress since the first loan recipient, the solar manufacturing firm Solyndra, declared bankruptcy last month. Read more ..

The Edge of Justice

Russia Admits Ship Skipped U.S. Port Fearing Seizure Over Chabad Library

October 26th 2011

Jewish Topics - Chabad Archival Document

Russia's Foreign Ministry reportedly advised a sailing ship on a goodwill mission to avoid docking at a San Francisco port last week over fears it would be held as collateral for a collection of Jewish rare books and manuscripts.

According to articles in the Moscow Times and San Francisco Chronicle, the three-masted Nadezhda turned sail after officials warned that it may be seized under a U.S. court decision ordering Russia to surrender a 62,000 piece library that belonged to the late Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, the sixth rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch.

In 1991, in the last years of the Soviet Union, a court in Moscow ordered the library turned over to the Chabad organization. But the Soviet Union collapsed and the new Russian authorities set aside the judgment. The Russian government now says it wants to preserve the library itself for the use of scholars and Russian Jews.

The Chabad organization felt it could not get a fair hearing in Russian courts and sued the Russian government in U.S. courts to acquire the library. Last year, a U.S. court ruled in the organization's favor and ordered Russian authorities to turn the library over. Read more ..

Libya after Gadhafi

Graphic Images Emerge of Libyan Rebels' Abuse and Sodomy of Dictator Gadhafi

October 26th 2011

Libya - Gadhafi looks heavenward

Graphic, gruesome images have emerged from Libya as the United Nations and the U.S. have called for investigations of the circumstances of the death of former dictator Muammar Gadhafi. Cellphone video images taken by Libyan insurgents of the NATO-supported National Transitional Authority shows Libya's former leader being sodomized with a metal implement. Gadhafi was captured on October 20 as he and a convoy of supporters were fleeing from the city of Sirte. Video taken at the scene showed first that he was wounded but alive. Footage taken minutes later showed his lifeless corpse being displayed on the ground. First reported by GlobalPost, it has been widely covered by other media outlets such as CBS and Huffington Post. Read more ..

Iran on Edge

Hold Iran Painfully Accountable for Murder Plot--U.S. Official Demand

October 26th 2011

Iran - The 12th Imam

"Iran needs to be held accountable for this plot." That is the message being delivered this week in Europe by David Cohen -- the U.S. Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence and the man responsible for overseeing sanctions against Iran -- in the wake of an alleged plot by the Persian Gulf country to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador on U.S. soil.

The official's first stop was London, where Cohen met with British officials on October 24 to discuss potential new sanctions against Iran in response to the plot.

From there, Cohen is taking his message to Berlin, Paris, and Rome.

The potential sanctions would target the heart of Iran's financial dealings, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), in a move that analysts suggest could have a crippling effect on the country's economy by cutting off nearly all international financial transactions. Read more ..

America on Edge

Unsentimental Thieves Steal Historic Bell in San Francisco

October 25th 2011

Christian Topics - St Marys San Francisco bell
Historic copper bell of St. Mary's Cathedral. Photo credit: Neil Gertner

Catholics and history buffs in San Francisco were consternated by the theft of an historic bell, a “priceless artefact”, from St. Mary’s Cathedral. Sometime during the month of October, thieves made off with the 122-year-old, 2.7 ton bell that had stood on a wooden platform in the churchyard since the 1970s. The historic bell tolled during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and resulting fire and also survived an arson attack in 1962 when the old cathedral was torched.

George Wesolek, communications director for the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco said of the thieves, “ "It is kind of an ignoble end for the bell if they succeed." The archdiocese is offering an unspecified amount of money as a reward to anyone who helps return the bell or catch the thieves. A security camera pointed at a nearby parking lot may have captured the truck as it left the cathedral. The bell, made of a copper alloy, could fetch $75,000 if melted down. While it originally cost $17,000, it is not clear whether the church can afford a replacement. Other needs are much more pressing now, said a diocesan spokesman. Police vow to find the lost bell. Read more ..

Turkey on Edge

Hypothermia Risk for Victims of Turkey Earthquake

October 24th 2011

Turkish Topics - Turkey Earthquake

Rain, mountain snow and colder conditions are in store for search, rescue and recovery operations in the Van, Turkey, area which was hit by a deadly and devastating earthquake this past weekend.

A large storm will form and stall over the region this week, bringing progressively chilly and unsettled weather conditions. The forecast calls for rounds of rain in the Van metro area and wet snow or a mixture of rain and wet snow over the elevations overlooking the city.

Van is the largest city in the region hit by the earthquake and is home to over 370,000 people. Thousands of people live outside the city in the region. Hypothermia is an added risk to those trapped in debris and those left homeless following the 7.2 magnitude quake. Read more ..

The Edge of War

Iraqi Prime Minister Says Failed Talks over Soldiers’ Immunity Led to U.S. Withdrawal

October 24th 2011

Iraq - Nouri al-Maliki

Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s prime minister, said Saturday that negotiations breaking down over whether U.S. soldiers would be protected from legal action led to American military forces withdrawing by the end of this year.

“When the Americans asked for immunity, the Iraqi side answered that it was not possible,” al-Maliki told reporters in Baghdad, according to the Associated Press. “The discussions over the number of trainers and the place of training stopped. Now that the issue of immunity was decided and that no immunity [is] to be given, the withdrawal has started.” Read more ..

Islam Against the Copts

Egyptian-Americans March against Persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt

October 21st 2011

Egypt - Egyptian Coptic women weeping
Egyptian women mourning deaths of Coptic Christian, Oct. 9

Hundreds of Egyptian-American protesters marched from the White House to the the U.S. Capitol on October 19 to show solidarity with their fellow Coptic Christians who were killed recently in Egypt.

The protesters gathered late October 19 to ask the U.S. to stop giving aid to an Egyptian military, which they accuse of killing "Coptic Christians."

They say the Egyptian government has been unable or unwilling to protect Coptics, who are vastly outnumbered in the mainly Muslim country.

On October 9, at least 23 people were killed and 150 injured in Cairo when a protest by Coptic Christians over the recent burning of a church escalated into rioting against military rule. Several Coptic Christian groups organized the October 19 demonstration in Washington. Martina Beshai, of the Washington-based group Coptic Solidarity, said security and freedom of religion are "basic rights" that every person in the world should have. Read more ..

The Battle for Libya

U.S. Investigates Claims of the Death of Libya's Gadhafi

October 20th 2011

Libya Topics - Muammar Ghadafi as Charlie Chaplin

U.S. officials are reviewing reports that former Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi was killed by rebel forces on October 20 following his capture near his hometown of Sirte. According to media reports, Gadhafi was wounded in the head and legs as he tried to flee in a convoy that came under attack from NATO warplanes at dawn, a senior official with Libya's National Transitional Council said. The former leader was apparently first taken away by ambulance and subsequently died. No independent confirmation is available.

Gadhafi's death followed months of NATO air strikes and other military action in Libya in concert with rebel forces following a government crackdown against pro-democracy protesters emboldened by protests in Jordan, Tunisia and Egypt. In the so-called Arab Spring, the dictatorships of the latter two states were brought down even while the revolutions’ end-game has yet to be determined. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

“Joe the Plumber” Files for House Run

October 16th 2011

Congressional issues - Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber, 2008

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, better known to most Americans as Joe the Plumber, has taken concrete steps toward running for the House in Ohio.

Wurzelbacher filed candidacy papers with the Federal Election Commission on October 7, and also registered a campaign committee under the name “Joe for Congress 2012." He listed himself as the committee’s treasurer.

“Joe the Plumber” became a household name during the 2008 presidential campaign when Wurzelbacher questioned then-Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) small-business plan during a campaign stop in Ohio.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and running mate Sarah Palin, then governor of Alaska, quickly seized on Wurzelbacher as a symbol of the blue-collar America they said would suffer under Democratic policies, and dubbed him Joe the Plumber. It later came out that he is not actually a licensed plumber. In the years since, Wurzelbacher has capitalized on his newfound notoriety as a motivational speaker and author. Read more ..

Edge of Terror

State Department Issues Worldwide Alert following Thwarted 'Murder and Mayhem' Made in Iran

October 13th 2011

Saudi Topics - Saudi embassy dude

The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accused the Islamic Republic of Iran of seeking to further its influence worldwide through "murder and mayhem," after the U.S. revealed an alleged plot by the Iranian government to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said on October 13 while on a trip to Austria that the oil kingdom is working on a "measured response." The prince said that the kingdom would "not bow" to Iranian pressure and would hold the Islamic Republic for any action taken against Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, Prince al-Faisal's British counterpart, William Hague, said Thursday the alleged plot was a "major escalation in Iran's sponsorship of terrorism." He said Britain will work with the U.S., the European Union and Saudi Arabia to agree on an international reaction. Read more ..

Edge on Terrorism

U.S. Citizen Charged with Spying for Assad Regime of Syria

October 12th 2011

Arab Topics - Bashar Assad headshot

Mohamad Anas Haitham Soueid (47) of Leesburg, Virginia, has been charged for his alleged role in a conspiracy to collect video and audio recordings and other information about individuals in the United States and Syria who were protesting against the Assad regime in Syria. According to an October 12 statement of the office of the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security, these materials were given to Syrian intelligence agencies in order to silence, intimidate and potentially harm the protestors.

Soueid, aka “Alex Soueid” or “Anas Alswaid,” a U.S. citizen born in Syria, was charged by a federal grand jury on October 5 in a six-count indictment in the Eastern District of Virginia. Soueid is charged with conspiring to act and acting as an agent of the Syrian government in the United States without notifying the Attorney General as required by law; two counts of providing false statements on a firearms purchase form; and two counts of providing false statements to federal law enforcement. Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Media Tablets Take 75 Percet Share of US Ultra-mobile Device Shipments

October 12th 2011

Computer Topics - iPad 2

Led by media tablets, more specifically Apple’s iPad 2, an estimated 37 million ultra-mobile devices (UMDs) will ship into the United States during 2011, says ABI Research. UMDs represent mobile computing devices on a continuum bordered by laptop PCs and smartphones. The UMD category consists of four segments: ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs), mobile Internet devices (MIDs), netbooks, and media tablets. The revenue value from vendor shipments of UMDs into US sales and distribution channels during 2015 is forecast to top $24 billion.

About 75 percent of total UMD shipments in the US during 2011 are expected to be media tablets. “While the near-term opportunity is all about media tablets, no UMD segment type has ever sustained a lead for longer than 36 months in any part of the world,” says ABI Research group director Jeff Orr. “Is the next device trend beyond media tablets just around the corner?” Read more ..

Vote 2012

Herman Cain's Candidacy Sets Race and Political Narratives on Edge

October 11th 2011

Politics - Herman Cain
Herman Cain

Herman Cain doesn’t fit snugly into the usual narrative about race and American politics.

It is not merely that the African-American businessman is coming on so strongly in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination.

It is that the bedrock of Cain’s support comes from demographic and ideological groups that are sometimes accused — falsely, they would say — of harboring racist tendencies.

Polls in recent weeks have indicated that Cain has conspicuously strong backing among Republicans in the states of the old Confederacy. He has been a Tea Party darling virtually since the movement’s inception. And, as recently as Friday, he was cheered to the rafters by the deeply conservative, and almost uniformly white, attendees of the Values Voter Summit in Washington.

Has Cain achieved this measure of support by sidestepping issues of race? Hardly. Read more ..

Egypt After Mubarek

Fatal Clashes with Coptics in Cairo Spark Fears of Sectarian Violence

October 10th 2011

Egypt - Egypt_Muslim_Christian

Egypt's ruling military council on Monday ordered the government to investigate the killings of at least 25 people in Sunday's street battles between Coptic Christians and Egyptian security forces. The order came after crisis talks on the country's worst violence since a February uprising that swept then-President Hosni Mubarak from office.

The clashes began when Coptic Christians marched in downtown Cairo to protest the burning last week of a church in southern Egypt. Coptic protesters said they expected a peaceful march. They say they were attacked by the Egyptian army. Tensions heightened further when thousands more protesters - some of them Muslims who supported the Copts, and some of them supporters of the military - took to the streets.

Coptic marcher Emad Hatef had an Egyptian flag tied around his neck. Like many of the marchers, he blamed the violence on Egyptian Islamists. Read more ..

Religious Tolerance

Pakistan's Islamist Parties Rally to Demand Release of Convicted Terrorist

October 10th 2011

PakistanTopics - Pakistan protest green flag

Following a call-up by the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC - a coalition of Islamic parties) in Pakistan, many Islamic political parties and a banned al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group - Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) - held country-wide rallies on October 7 demanding the release of a convicted criminal, Mumtaz Ahmed Qadri. Along with those small demonstrations, a partial strike was also observed in many cities of Pakistan. Qadri was sentenced to death by a Karachi court for the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer. The latter had been outspoken in defense of Pakistani Christians and others who have suffered persecution or have been convicted for blasphemy under their country’s Islamic laws. Qadri (26), who had been one of Taseer’s bodyguards, murdered the governor on January 4 in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital.

Generally, people did not reply to the call of SIC, while in Karachi (the biggest city of the country with 18 million people) only 1,000 demonstrators gathered to protest against the court’s judgment against Qadri. For those parties, Qadri is considered a hero who killed a “blasphemer.” For many observers, Friday’s rallies and the call for a countrywide strike got a very poor response. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Double Trouble: Bankrolling and Broadcasting Terror

October 6th 2011

Economy - International Currency 3

Indonesian companies and financial institutions are poised to help Iran sidestep international sanctions by setting up a joint bank to facilitate billions of dollars of annual trade between the two countries. In addition, the Indonesian government is allowing its national satellite company to broadcast one of the world's most vitriolic television stations, al-Manar, which is owned by Hizballah, a recognized terrorist organization sponsored financially and operationally by Iran. While the Indonesian government clearly feels it is in its interest to expand business relations with Iran, this would facilitate Iran's march toward nuclearization. Furthermore, by failing to take a strong stance against Iran and Hizballah, and in particular, al-Manar, Indonesia is allowing a rogue regime and its proxy to proliferate terrorism and radicalize Muslims around the world, including in Indonesia. Read more ..

Significant Lives

Apple's Steve Jobs Passes into History and so does an Era

October 6th 2011

Computer Topics - Steve Jobs 2

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and the holder of more than 300 technology patents, died on October 5. The eccentric entrepreneur who built Apple into the world’s leading technological company started in a prosaic garage in Silicon Valley. Having built one of the first personal computers marketed, Jobs led Apple to create wildly popular devices such as the iPhone. He was 56.

Sometimes accused of egocentricity, Jobs pioneered the concept of the personal computer and of navigating them by clicking onscreen images with a mouse, which he also developed. In more recent years, Jobs introduced the iPod portable music player, the iPhone and the iPad tablet, which changed how content is accessed and consume in the digital age. "Steve Jobs is one of the great innovators in the history of modern capitalism," New York Times columnist Joe Nocera said in August. "His intuition has been phenomenal over the years." Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Using Economic Levers to Hurt Al-Shabaab

October 5th 2011

Islamic Topics - Palestinian Rally

In recent weeks, the United Nations has sponsored meetings in Mogadishu to help Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) improve security, promote reconciliation and draw up a new constitution for the war-ravaged country. One of the biggest obstacles to ensuring peace in Somalia, however, is Al-Shabaab, a terrorist organization, which controls large swaths of the country and siphons off aid meant to help the country's destitute. While the international community focuses its attention on the best ways to help Somalia, much more can be done to curtail Al-Shabaab's influence.

Founded in 2004, Al-Shabaab has been designated a terrorist organization by Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The group is a recognized al Qaeda affiliate that is determined to institute its own brand of Salafi Islamic rule in Somalia. Read more ..

After the Holocaust

Newly Vigorous German Prosecutors to Seek Elderly Nazi Criminals

October 5th 2011

Nazi Era - Hitler Sepia

The German government has announced that hundreds former Nazi death camp guards will now be brought to justice. This comes in the wake of the May 2011 conviction of John Demjanjuk (91), a former camp guard assigned to the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland during the Second World War. Demjanjuk was convicted of assisting in the murder of more than 28,000 Dutch Jews. While he was sentenced to five years in jail, Demjanjuk is currently free on appeal.

Other elderly Nazis and collaborators may now face similar proceedings. German authorities are now seeking them out. Kurt Schrimm, head of the prosecutors' office that investigates Nazi crimes, says he is now looking into other possible suspects who could still be alive and prosecuted once Demjanjuk's appeal is heard.

Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, welcomed the news that the files were being re-examined and urged prosecutors to act quickly. "As our numbers — those of the victims — have also rapidly dwindled, this represents the final opportunity to witness justice carried out in our lifetimes," he said. "Time is the enemy here." Read more ..

Egypt After Mubarak

Egypt's Democratic Opposition Vows Return to Tahrir Square

October 4th 2011

Egypt - Tahrir Square protest

Ten Egyptian political parties, including the ousted National Democratic Party (NDP), have threatened to organize a mass protest in Cairo’s Tahrir Square if the current military-dominated government implements a proposal to ban from politics those persons associated with the former Mubarak regime.

The ban was discussed at an October 2 meeting between the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), Egypt’s interim ruling body, and members of the Democratic Alliance, one of Egypt’s largest new political blocs. The two groups are set to meet again on the afternoon of October 4 to discuss the ban further. Read more ..

Inside Iraq

Iraq’s Christian Community Stirred by Targeted Murders in Kirkuk

October 3rd 2011

Iraq - Iraqi church bombed
Carbombed Iraqi church

A double murder has outraged Iraq’s Christian community in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, considered strategic for its huge oil fields disputed between Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds. On October 1, Bassam Isho (30)—a Catholic man employed at a restaurant in the Muthana district—was shot dead by a group of unknown men. Following the murder, the men scattered and are as yet unidentified. Earlier that day, on the outskirts of Kirkuk, the corpse of a second Christian was found, also shot to death. The body of Hanna Polos Emmanuel (60) lay sprawled on the edge of the road that leads from the city to Baghdad, the capital of Iraq.

Christians continue to die in the complete indifference of the authorities. Kidnappings for extortion, assassinations and attacks on churches and Christians are now episodes of daily life, and the local and national government seem incapable of defending them. AsiaNews cited anonymous sources in Kirkuk, who declared that "the attacks on Christians continue and the world remains totally silent. It’s as if—he continues—we’ve been swallowed up by the night." Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Candidate Cain Denies playing the Race Card against Fellow Republican Perry

October 3rd 2011

Politics - Herman Cain
Herman Cain

Herman Cain pushed back on October 3 against criticism that he had unfairly called opponent Rick Perry "insensitive" when asked about a rock displaying a racial epithet at a ranch leased by the Texas governor.

“All I said was the mere fact that that word was there was ‘insensitive,’” Cain said outside Trump Tower in Manhattan, N.Y., according to the National Review. “That’s not playing the race card. I am not attacking Gov. Perry. Some people in the media want to attack him. I’m done with that issue!”

Cain was in Manhattan to meet with businessman Donald Trump.

The Washington Post reported on October 2 that Perry — and his parents before him — had leased a Texas hunting ranch that at one point was known by the name "N-----head." The slur was painted on a rock on the property, which has since been painted over. Sources quoted by the Post — some of whom were anonymous — indicated that the rock had not been immediately painted over, as the Perry campaign claims. Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Rambus Crypto Division Licenses Technology with as yet Unknown Smart Phone/Tablet Firm

October 3rd 2011

Computer Topics - Smart phone

Cryptography Research, Inc., a division of Rambus Inc., has made a cryptic announcement about signing a license agreement with a major smart phone and tablet manufacturer. Specific terms of the agreement and disclosure of the manufacturer are confidential; all that is said that license is for the use of CRI’s Differential Power Analysis (DPA) countermeasures patents.

Under the agreement, ongoing royalties will be paid for the use of CRI’s patented innovations.

“Our DPA countermeasures technology is a key part of securing mobile devices to safeguard the data of consumers and content providers worldwide,” said Paul Kocher, president and chief scientist of Cryptography Research, in a statement.

Differential Power Analysis (DPA) monitors variations in electrical power consumption of a target device and then uses advanced statistical methods to derive cryptographic keys or other secrets. Read more ..

Inside Islam

Pakistani Muslims Riot following Death Sentence for Islamist Assassin

October 3rd 2011

PakistanTopics - Mumtaz Qadri
Assassin Mumtaz Qadri

"Release Mumtaz Qadri: Hero of Islam," "By punishing one Mumtaz Qadri, you will create one thousand Mumtaz Qadris!": these are the slogans being chanted by Mumtaz Qadri`s supporters across Pakistan when the Anti Terrorism Court sentenced him to death for the assassination of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer. On October 1, the ATC announced its finding at Adyala Jail in Rawalpindi. Justice Syed Pervez Ali Shah was escorted by the police out of the jail through a back gate due to the furious supporters gathered outside.

Large police contingents were deployed to prevent any break-in. Several supporters blocked the road outside the jail and chanted slogans. Some recited verses from the Quran while members of the Sunni Tehreek group waved their party’s green and yellow flags. A Qadri supporter, wiping tears from his face, said, “We don’t accept this. We don’t accept this.”

The City Police Officer in charge deployed officers all over the city to avoid any further escalation of the furor. The Sunni Tehreek, a religious leader, declared the verdict as politically motivated. Tahaffuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat also rejected the death sentence and demanded an immediate reversal of the decision.

The protestors in Rawalpindi blocked the Adyala Road, Ketchery chowk, Murree Road, burning tires and vandalizing the memorial to fallen Benazir Bhutto`s memorial at Liquat Bagh. Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was also felled by Islamist fanatics.

Sarwat Ijaz Qadri - a Sunni Islamic religious leader - opined that the court made the decision against Qadri in bad faith, saying “We will appeal against the decision at the High Court. The ATC did not give heed to the Quran and the Sunna. The judge has announced the verdict to please the Jewish lobby. The ATC should have praised Qadri for his heroic act and release him immediately." Read more ..

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