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Flotilla to Hamas

Illegal Gaza Flotilla Determined to Sail Despite International Calls to Cease

July 2nd 2011

Gaza Topics - Audacity of Hope Flotilla2

An international aid flotilla is continuing with plans to sail to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip despite a series of setbacks.

Pro-Palestinian activists organizing the aid flotilla say they still intend to challenge Israel's blockade on Gaza, a day after an American boat was intercepted by the Greek coast guard and turned back to Athens. American Greta Berlin, who was on board the vessel, blames Israel and the United States for the setback.

"The Greek government is under a huge amount of pressure from the Israeli government and probably our own government as well," said Berlin.

Israel and the U.S. have urged the flotilla not to violate the Gaza blockade, warning that the mission is dangerous and provocative. Read more ..


Flotilla to Hamas

Greece Stands Up to Illegal Gaza Flotilla--Arrests American Captain

July 2nd 2011

Europe Topics - Greek boarding party

Greek authorities, showing "unusual maritime courage at a moment of high national stress," according to one State Departmernt source,  have arrested the civilian captain of a US-flagged ship bound for the Gaza strip and aimed at challenging Israel's maritime blockade of the Palestinian territory bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Israel's blockade has been held to be legal under international law, and numerous governments--from Washington to Europe--have warned flotilla organizers they face arrest should they pursue this challenge. That is what happened.

According to the organizers of the voyage, John Klusmire, an American citizen and captain of The Audacity of Hope, was jailed on July 2 charged with disturbing sea traffic, endangering the lives of those on the ship, and disobeying a police order to remain at dock. Klusmire is due in court on July 5. The vessel and crew were also seized and remain at the Port of Pireaus near Athens, following their attempted departure from Greece.

A State department source, not authorized to speak on the record, declared, "Now that was unusual maritime courage at a moment of high national stress for the Greeks." Read more ..


The Edge of Debt

Lawmakers Grumble over Lack of Info on Secret Biden Debt-limit Negotiations

June 29th 2011

Economy - One Million Dollars

Lawmakers are expressing frustration with the lack of information they have received from Vice President Biden’s debt-limit negotiations.

The growing restlessness comes as Biden and six members of Congress are aiming to release the framework of a bipartisan deal by July 1 that will lift the nation’s debt ceiling while cutting trillions of dollars from the budget.

While the Biden group has expressed optimism that a deal is within reach, rank-and-file members are skeptical, and are raising questions about the lack of transparency.

In a recent floor speech, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) warned that a debt-ceiling deal being negotiated in the closed-door talks might be too modest and could draw little support in the upper chamber. Read more ..


The Afghan War

Obama’s Afghan Drawdown Could Spawn Revival of Opium Industry, says Rep. Turner

June 29th 2011

Afghan Topics - Afghanis in poppy field

President Obama’s plan to remove 33,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by next September could revitalize that nation’s opium industry, which has been a cash cow for the Taliban, says Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio).

American and NATO commanders have for nearly a decade tried various tactics in the war on Afghanistan’s narcotics industry—and fought mainly a losing battle.

Data compiled by both the Congressional Research Service and the Gen. David Petraeus-led NATO command in Afghanistan shows opium production rose from about 3,400 metric tons in 2002 to 4,200 two years later. Production then shot up to 8,200 metric tons in 2007. Production dropped steadily to 6,900 metric tons in 2009, according to the CRS and NATO data. Read more ..


Edge on Africa

US First Lady Calls Africa's Youth to Action

June 28th 2011

Africa - Obama and Mandela
Michelle Obama and Nelson Mandela (credit: Nelson Mandela Foundation)

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama has delivered a motivational speech to Africa’s youth, and in particular to the continent’s young women, calling them to action for a better future.

Following a boisterous choir and introductory remarks by South African women leaders, an emotional Michelle Obama, the first African-American first lady in U.S. history, spoke before a packed Regina Mundi church, directly addressing young women.

“You can be the generation that makes the discoveries and builds the industries that will transform our economies,” the first lady said. “You can be the generation that brings opportunity and prosperity to forgotten corners of the world and banishes hunger from this continent forever. You can be the generation that ends HIV/AIDS in our time, the generation that fights not just the disease, but the stigma of the disease.” Read more ..


Economic Jihad

Counter-Boycott of Whiskey Emerges in Response to Scottish Boycott of Israeli Goods

June 24th 2011

Food / Wine - Chivas whiskey

The Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC), comprising 250 Jewish men’s clubs and more than 25,000 members throughout North America, joined synagogues in Israel and elsewhere calling for a “boycott of scotch from distillers located in West Dunbartonshire Council in Scotland at Kiddush and [in] public and private” celebrations. The clubs are affiliated with the Conservative movement of Judaism and called for Jews to avoid certain liquor brands in the wake of a boycott of Israeli goods instituted by the local council of the whiskey-producing region of the United Kingdom.

“A boycott is like a snowball heading downhill,” said FJMC Executive Director Rabbi Charles Simon. “It begins at the top of a large mountain, and gathers momentum until it is transformed into an avalanche. If we wish to stop it, we need to act as soon as possible.” Read more ..


Mexico's Wars

The Truth May Be a Victim of Narco-War Firefights just South of the Border

June 24th 2011

Mexican Topics - Los Zetas cartel recruiting poster
Los Zetas recruiting poster offers 'dirty work'

Around 5 a.m. on June 17, simultaneous firefights reportedly broke out between elements of the Gulf and Los Zetas cartels in several locations in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, a Gulf stronghold. The Mexican military has confirmed that a gunbattle did indeed take place in the Colonia Pedro Moreno area but has not confirmed media reports of additional firefights in the Mariano Matamoros, Valle Alto, Puerto Rico and Seccion 16 neighborhoods. The military also has not confirmed a reported gunbattle in the rural area of Cabras Pintas, where six Mexican soldiers are said to have been killed.

Details of the confirmed firefight remain unclear, but from all indications, a large movement of Zeta forces into a Gulf stronghold did occur, and it suggests a heightened operational tempo in the war between these two cartels. In the coming months, this increasing violence is likely to continue in Gulf-held Reynosa and Zeta-held Monterrey as well as Matamoros.

The Mexican military said the June 17 gunbattle in Matamoros’ Colonia Pedro Moreno neighborhood resulted in three deaths and nine arrests, while an unnamed U.S. law enforcement official said four Gulf cartel gunmen died in the exchange of fire. Read more ..


Government on Edge

Watchdog Agency Flunks in Review of Commodity Futures Audits

June 19th 2011

Obama Admin Topics - OIG audit

The internal watchdog for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) flunked a recent review of its auditing operations, raising questions about its ability to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse within the agency that will soon police the multi-trillion-dollar derivatives market.

The embarrassing grade was disclosed by Inspector General A. Roy Lavik in his semiannual report to Congress, which included a summary of a review conducted by another federal inspector general. “OIG submitted to a peer review of our audit function, conducted by the Federal Election Commission Office of Inspector General. We failed, with a scope limitation,” Lavik’s semiannual report said.

“We are taking the review very seriously,” Judith Ringle, an attorney advisor in the CFTC’s Office of Inspector General, told iWatch News . “We have hired an outside consultant to help with remediation.” Read more ..


The Battle for Libya

NATO Investigates Libya's Claims of Civilian Casulties of Operation Unified Protector

June 19th 2011

dead libyans

According to an official advisory on June 19th, NATO is investigating reports by the Libyan government that NATO air strikes resulted in civilian deaths and injuries during the early morning hours of June 19th. The incident is said to have occurred in a residential area in northern Tripoli following a deliberate strike which targeted a missile site operated by pro-Qadhafi forces. The advisory noted, “NATO regrets any loss of civilian lives and is doing all it can to protect the people of Libya from the violence waged by the Qadhafi regime.”

Libya’s Health Ministry says 856 civilians have been killed in NATO airstrikes since they began in March, even while the figure could not be independently confirmed. Previous government reports on individual strikes have proven to be exaggerated. NATO acknowledged its planes hit targets in Tripoli. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Leaked Official Document Details Syrian Orchestration of Deadly Nakba Day protest

June 15th 2011

Syrian Issues - Nakba document

Writing in the UK Daily Telegraph, analyst Michael Weiss unveiled what may be the smoking gun that proves that the Assad dictatorship in Syria had fully orchestrated the so-called ‘Nakba Day’ protests on May 15. It was then that impoverished Syrians and Palestinians mobbed the border dividing Israel and Syria and crossed into the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. The confrontation resulted in approximately thirteen deaths and dozens of injuries when Israeli soldiers responded to the incursion. Approximately 200 protesters crossed into Israeli-held territory. It is theorized that some of the Syrians may have actually been seeking asylum in Israel rather than commemorating Nakba Day.

Some protesters wielded gasoline bombs that detonated land mines on the Syrian side of the border. The confrontation occurred within the context of assaults by Bashir Assad’s regime on the Syrian people, resulting in hundreds of deaths. Some Syrian army units have deserted after having seeing their comrades executed for refusing to shoot unarmed civilians. Syrian refugees are currently flooding into Turkey. Read more ..


Edge of Terrorism

Transatlantic Summit on Jihadi Terrorism and Arab Unrest Convenes at Congress

June 14th 2011

Terrorism - Walid Phares and Other Terrorism Experts
Walid Phares and other anti-terrorism experts

On June 14, 2011, the Third Summit of the Transatlantic Legislative/Parliamentary Group on Counter Terrorism (TAG) will be held on Capitol Hill and attended by members of the U.S. Congress and European Parliament. TAG was launched in 2008 by U.S. Representative Sue Myrick and Jaime Mayor Oreja of Spain, who serves as a member of the European Parliament and is Vice President of the EPP Group, with responsibilities in the area of  Political Strategy and the European Ideas Network. The two lawmakers are the co-chairs of the transatlantic caucus. In 2009, the group appointed two secretaries generals, Guillermo Martinez Casan of Brussels and Dr. Walid Phares of Washington D.C.

In this third summit, TAG's agenda will focus on two major issues: Terrorism after Bin Laden and the Evolution of the Arab Spring. After opening remarks by Mayor Oreja and Myrick, Dr. Phares will deliver the annual report. Read more ..


After the Balkans Genocide

Mladić Refuses to Offer Plea to War Crimes Charges

June 9th 2011

Genocides - ratko mladic
Ratko Mladić in 1993

The former military commander of the Bosnian Serbs, Ratko Mladić, made his first public appearance at the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia after 16 years as a fugitive. During his arraignment, he refused to plead to the 11 counts against him—including genocide, extermination and murder.

The whole world watched Friday to get a first glimpse of the man accused of committing the worst crimes since World War II. The once formidable general, stripped of his military uniform and in a dark grey suit, had to be supported by two guards and lowered into the defendant’s seat. He gave a military salute before he sat down. His speech was slow as he started off, but he became more defiant when presiding Judge Alphonse Orie asked him if he wanted to listen to the charges against him. He said he did not want to hear a single word.

But the judge read out all 11 charges anyway. Mladić, often wiping his face with a tissue, listened intently, sometimes shaking his head no, for example when the judge read out the genocide charge for the Srebrenica massacres. When he was asked if he wanted to enter a plea, he declined.

Mladić replied through an interpreter.

“Mr. Orie, I would like to receive what you’ve read out just now, these obnoxious charges read out against me,” Mladić said. “Because I need more than a month for these monstrous words, the ones I’ve never heard before, those that are included in this indictment.” Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Candidate Ron Paul Drops "the Money Bomb" on Republican Romney

June 8th 2011

Politics - Ron Paul
U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R)

GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul took in more than $1 million Sunday using an online "money bomb" that hit at the Republican field's front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

As of 11:22 a.m. on June 6, donors contributed more than $1.1 million to Paul's presidential campaign, according to his website. The haul matches what Paul brought in early last month with a "money bomb" on the day of the first GOP presidential primary debate.

Paul's latest "money bomb" is notable because it attacks Romney, both for the healthcare law he enacted as governor of Massachusetts and his status as the leading fundraiser in the GOP field. The title of the "money bomb" is "The Revolution vs. RomneyCare: Round One."

"Other campaigns are already hitting high gear—or should we say they are hitting up the fat cats," Paul's campaign wrote to supporters last week. "In fact, establishment candidate Mitt Romney raised 10 million dollars in one day a couple of weeks ago from well-heeled party bigwigs and Wall Street insiders, many of whom ponied up the legal maximum of $2,500 per person (or $5,000 per couple)."

The libertarian Texas congressman is riding a new wave of confidence to begin his 2012 presidential campaign. He has repeatedly said that the Republican Party and the country as a whole is much more receptive to his small-government, anti-war message than in 2008, when he last ran for president. Read more ..


The Edge of Justice

Congressional Subpoenas in Probe of "Fast and Furious" Program

June 8th 2011

Mexican Topics - Seized narco weapons Mexico

The chairman of the House Oversight Committee will use the power of the subpoena to learn if a federal gun-tracking program contributed to the killing of a Border Patrol agent. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is planning to issue a number of subpoenas to federal officials with ties to the controversial program, which was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The move by Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, comes on the tail end of a series of interviews with government officials and witnesses that the panel’s investigators conducted last month. Sources said the interviews produced a plethora of new evidence and information regarding who gave the ultimate go-ahead for ATF’s “Fast and Furious” operation. Read more ..


Religious Freedom

Pakistan's Islamists Ask Ban of the Bible as a 'Pornographic' Book

June 6th 2011

Christian Topics - Bible

Christian leaders in Pakistan strongly condemned the demand to ban the Holy Bible by a radical Islamic party Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam (Samiul Haq Group). The party has launched a campaign asking to ban the circulation of the Bible, described as a "pornographic” and "blasphemous book."

Church of Pakistan Bishop Dr. Alexander John Malik of Lahore strongly reacted in a press statement to the demand and said that agreeing to such a demand would be interfering in the religious matters of the Christian religion and violation of religious freedom which is ostensibly guaranteed by the constitution. The bishop further said that the demand is sowing seeds of discord between religious communities. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Assad Regime Pays Impoverished Farmers To Die in Confrontation with Israel says Syrian Reform Group

June 6th 2011

Arab Topics - Golan Hts protesters 062011

A confrontation ensued along the Golan Heights border area when Syrian and Palestinian protesters attempted to cross into Israeli territory from the Syrian side on June 5. According to various media reports, approximately 20 persons were killed in the affray. The US State Department says "We are deeply troubled by events that took place earlier today in the Golan Heights resulting in injuries and the loss of life," while calling for the two sides to refrain from further bloodshed. Read more ..


Edge of Justice

Judge Orders FBI to Open Up about a Previously Secret Computer Drive

June 5th 2011

Politics - FBI HQ

June files. Zero files. I-drive. The FBI has a history of putting information in locations unknown outside the bureau, making them almost impossible to access from the outside. Now with the discovery of a new drive, a federal judge has ordered the FBI to explain by June 30 whether it is using a previously unknown record-keeping system to hide evidence from defense lawyers.

Concerns about the use of shared drives accessible only to FBI agents are not the first time this issue has come to light. The FBI’s use of these drives goes back at least a decade, and has been criticized by defense lawyers for years as a way for the bureau to handpick what information is made public and what is kept secret—even from federal judges and prosecutors. Read more ..


The Edge of Justice

John Edwards Indicted in Campaign Finance Case

June 5th 2011

Politics - John Edwards
Former Senator John Edwards

A federal grand jury has indicted former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) on six counts of violating campaign finance laws during his 2008 presidential campaign—a new low point in what’s been his precipitous fall from political prominence.

Even Edwards’s most strident supporters have largely fled him, aghast at his fathering a child with former campaign aide Rielle Hunter while his now-deceased wife, Elizabeth, battled cancer. The six counts, which include four counts of illegal campaign contributions, one count of false statements and another for conspiracy, center on Edwards’s role in funneling money from campaign donors to Hunter in a bid to keep quiet his extramarital affair—and keep his lofty political ambitions afloat. Read more ..


Egypt after the Revolt

Egyptian Women Tortured and Subjected to “Virginity Tests” by Military

June 4th 2011

Egypt - Egyptian women protesting

An Egyptian general, who does not wish to be identified, admitted that his country’s military conducted forced “virginity tests” on female protesters in March of this year. Speaking to CNN, the officer reportedly said, “The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine,” adding, “We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place.” During the protests and riots that eventually brought down the decades-long dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, reports emerged of such abuse of both women and men at the hands of Egypt’s security forces. Some protesters were arrested and tortured, while others have disappeared and remain unaccounted for. According to the Egyptian general, “These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and [drugs].” Read more ..


Media Freedom

Murdered Journalist is the Latest among Pakistan's Silenced Voices of Protest

June 4th 2011

PakistanTopics - Saleem Syed
Syed Saleem Shahzad

Pakistanis are in mourning and have taken to the streets in several cities, including Lahore and Islamabad, following the abduction and murder of a journalist who worked for an international news service based in Italy. Observers have expressed concern that the life anyone who challenges the Pakistani government over issues such as the country's blasphemy laws and overall security is in jeopardy. Human rights advocates and Christian leaders are denouncing the killing.

Investigative journalist Saleem Shahzad, 40, the Bureau Chief for the Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online and correspondent for an Italian wire agency, went missing on the evening May 29 from Islamabad. Shahzad`s body was later recovered from the Head Rasul area in Mandi Bahauddin, Punjab province, nearly 100 miles from Islamabad. Earlier, his car was recovered from the Sahara -i- Alamgir area, about six miles from where his body was found.

Saleem Shahzad`s brother-in-law Hamza Ameer said, " Shahzad had been working for Asia Times Online for around 10 years. He was a very brave journalist. He was scheduled to appear on a talk show at a local news channel in Islamabad on Sunday evening, he left his residence in F/8-4 Islamabad around 5:30 pm, in a few moments his cell phone stopped responding, the news channel tried to contact him several times, as he didn't show up. They tried to reach us and informed us that Shahzad didn't reach the station." Ameer further said, " We rushed to the Margalla police station and lodged a complaint about Shahzad`s mysterious disappearance."

IG ( Inspector General ) Islamabad Police Wajid Durrani said, " After lodging of the complaint about Saleem Shahzad`s disappearance, we had started the probe, initially it was revealed that his cell phone got turned off near his house in F/8-4 Islamabad, which indicates that he was kidnapped close to his residence. On Monday (May 30) the Saddar Police Station in Sahara -i- Alamgir near Jhelum informed us that they have found Shahzad`s car which contained his ID (Identity Card) and other documents which confirmed that the car belongs to Shahzad. The police recovered his body from Head Rasul near Mandi Bahauddin, we informed the family and called them to identify the body, after confirmation the arrangements were made to shift the body to Islamabad. There were clear signs of torture on the body, the body was sent for post mortem." Read more ..


Edge on Markets

Global Market for OLED Lighting is Set for Serious Growth

June 4th 2011

Energy Topics - OLED matrix

The global market for OLED lighting will be $4.8 billion in 2016, according to market research firm NanoMarkets LLC. Of that Europe will be responsible for $1.5 billion in OLED lighting panel sales and Asia is expected to provide $2.1 billion. Japan is set to lead the OLED lighting business in Asia. Japanese companies have taken up key positions across the OLED lighting supply chain Sales of OLED lighting in Japan are expected to reach $1.1 billion by 2016.

Although, the addressable market for OLED lighting in China is limited, NanoMarkets expects the Chinese OLED lighting market to reach $420 million by 2016. OLED lighting is expected to be one of the industries to benefit from government support for technology. For South Korea NanoMarkets predicts OLED lighting sales of $230 million by 2016. Read more ..


Economic Recovery on Edge

As Fannie, Freddie Flounder, Six Top Execs Receive Handsome Rewards

May 31st 2011

Economy - One Million Dollars

Over the last two years, the Obama administration has approved a whopping $34.4 million in compensation to the top six executives of the financially troubled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage giants while lacking basic protections to ensure such compensation is warranted, a federal watchdog found.

The largesse flowed to the six executives even though the two companies they run struggle to staunch billions of dollars in losses, remain in government conservatorship, and are required to repay taxpayers for assuming the companies’ liabilities during the mortgage crisis. Fannie and Freddie are tapping Treasury Department funds each quarter to help pay 10 percent dividends owed to the U.S. government. Read more ..


Economic Recovery on Edge

Chrysler Repays its Bailout Money; Obama takes Victory Lap

May 30th 2011

Automotive - Chrysler HQ

President Obama hailed Chrysler’s repayment of its 2009 bailout loans Tuesday and took credit for the automaker’s revival.

The White House said the repayment “marks a significant milestone for the turnaround of Chrysler and the countless communities and families who rely on the American auto industry.”

Obama said it was because of his own actions that Chrysler was able to rebound from its government-supervised bankruptcy, which resulted in its acquisition by Italian automaker Fiat.

“Supporting the American auto industry required making some tough decisions, but I was not willing to walk away from the workers at Chrysler and the communities that rely on this iconic American company,” Obama said in a statement.

“I said if Chrysler and all its stakeholders were willing to take the difficult steps necessary to become more competitive, America would stand by them, and we did,” Obama said. Read more ..


Edge on NarcoTerror

Mexican Drug Lords Decapitate and Dismember a Prosecuting Attorney in Guatemala

May 28th 2011

Latin American Topics - Guatemala - headless corpse

The dismembered and ravaged body of an assistant prosecuting attorney was found in northern Guatemala on May 24, just one day after he had been abducted. The victim, Allan Stowlinsky Vidaurre, is presumed to have been murdered by Los Zetas - a Mexican criminal organization that has become increasingly powerful and violent as it seeks further control of the narcotics trade in Guatemala. The same narcoterrorist organization has been blamed for the mass murder of 27 persons on May 15 in a region of Guatemala bordering Mexico.

According to official sources, "the murdered individual is Assistant Prosecutor Allan Stowlinsky Vidaurre who was abducted yesterday (May 23). He partcipated in the investigations into capturing the presumed leader of the Zetas, Hugo Gomez - a.k.a. El Comandante Bruja (Commander Witch)." Read more ..


Edge of Terrorism

Two Somali Pirates Plead Guilty in Lethal Yacht Hijacking

May 25th 2011

Piracy - Somali Pirates Land

Two Somali men have pleaded guilty to piracy for their roles in a yacht hijacking in February that left four Americans dead.

Abdi Jama Aqid and Said Abdi Fooley entered guilty pleas on May 23 in a federal court in Norfolk, Virginia. These are the latest of seven Somalis to enter guilty pleas in connection with the incident.

According to court documents, Aqid served as a spotter and identified potential targets  for hijacking among the many vessels passing by Somalia's lawless shores. Aqid believed he could earn as much as $80,000 as his share of ransom. Fooley admitted to bringing a semi-automatic weapon on board the yacht, the S/V Quest, owned by Jean and Scott Adam of California. The pirate said that he was stationed at the front of the yacht as a guard. Read more ..


Iran’s Nukes

US Widens Sanctions on Iran Amid Nuclear Impasse

May 25th 2011

Iran - Ahmadinejad Nuclear

The United States has announced sanctions against seven foreign entities, including Venezuela’s state oil company, for engaging in trade with Iran in violation of U.S. law. It is part of an effort to prompt Iran to return to big-power talks over its nuclear program.

The Obama administration is stepping up its sanctions against foreign companies aiding Iran’s energy sector following a disappointing Iranian response to the latest big-power offer to return to nuclear talks.

A State Department announcement said seven companies, among them the Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, will face varying penalties for helping deliver refined oil products to Iran.

The others cited under the 1996 Iran Sanctions Act from the U.S. Congress are two firms based in the United Arab Emirates, and one each in Britain, Singapore, Monaco and Israel. Read more ..


Israel and America

Netanyahu Speaks to AIPAC on Common Fate of Israel and the United States

May 25th 2011

Israel Topics - Bibi at Podium

Speaking in Washington D.C. on May 23 to a conference of the American-Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC), Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu used the occasion to defend Israel's insistence on retaining the borders it has had since 1967 that came about as a result of war started by its enemies. It came just a day before Netanyahu is to make an address to a Joint Session of the U.S. Congress, the second in his career, in an atmosphere where foreign policy towards the Mideast and North Africa under the Obama administration appears to have taken a sharply divergent turn from preceding administrations. President Barack Obama spoke on May 19 at the State Department and set out a vision of reconciliation between Israel and Palestinians where he suggested a return to pre-1967 borders for Israel as the price for peace. Netanyahu immediately issued a statement following the speech, and has since reiterated, that Israel will not return to what he termed to be those "indefensible" borders. Here follows the text of Netanyahu's speech to AIPAC:

My friends, before I talk about things about Israel, I want to say something about the scenes on television that I saw today and you have been seeing as well. When tragedy strikes America, Israel—Israel feels an immediate identification. And tragedy has struck America. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

US, EU Warn: New Steps against Syria Soon

May 20th 2011

Syrian Issues - Clinton (US) Ashton (EU) al-Assad (Syria)
Secretary Clinton; Lady Ashton; President al-Assad

The United States and European Union are warning of new action against the Syrian government in the coming days if it does not halt its crackdown against protesters. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton discussed Syria and efforts to get Iran back to big-power nuclear talks.

Clinton and Ashton made clear they are losing patience with Syrian leaders and their reform promises, and are indicating that new sanctions or other punitive steps against Damascus are imminent.

Meeting reporters after talks at the State Department, the two expressed alarm about reports this week of mounting casualties in clashes between Syrian security forces and demonstrators. Read more ..


The Battle for Afghanistan

Violent Protests Erupt in Afghanistan after Disputed NATO Raid

May 19th 2011

Afghan Topics - Afghanis protest after NATO raid

Authorities in Afghanistan report that at least 11 people have been killed and at least 50 injured in violent protests against a NATO raid in northern Afghanistan that left four people dead.

In the aftermath, more than 2,000 demonstrators clashed with police in Taloqan, the capital of Takhar province. Shouting slogans against the American and Afghan governments, the protesters carried the body of at least through the streets one of those killed in the raid.

Afghan officials say four civilians were killed during an overnight NATO operation in the town. But the coalition says those killed, including two armed women, were insurgents. NATO says a combined Afghan and coalition force killed four militants who tried to fire on troops during an operation in the Taloqan district. The coalition said it was targeting a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan who had been moving weapons and explosives around Takhar province. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Dem Plan for Millionaire Surtax Intended to Soften GOP

May 18th 2011

Economy - One Million Dollars

Senate Democrats are using their proposal to raise taxes on millionaires as a stalking-horse to force Republicans to accept other tax increases.

Democratic officials privately acknowledge that raising personal income tax rates on the wealthy has little chance of passing this Congress. However, the politically popular idea is a key part of the Democrats’ strategy to attack the deficit and gain concessions from Republicans. Democrats are mulling two proposals to include in their budget plan: ending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for families earning more than $1 million a year or imposing a surtax of 3 percent or 5.4 percent on millionaires and billionaires. Read more ..


After bin Laden

'Ally' May Be Too Strong a Word for Pakistan

May 18th 2011

PakistanTopics - Davis protest

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on Friday delivered a rebuke to Pakistan, hesitating to characterize that country as an "ally" given the questions about its prior knowledge of Osama bin Laden's whereabouts.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) acknowledged that there are serious difficulties plaguing the U.S. relationship with Pakistan.

"I would say Pakistan is an ally," he said in an interview airing Sunday on "60 Minutes" on CBS. "There are challenges, there’s serious challenges there and ‘ally’ may be too strong a word."

The government of Pakistan has come under pressure from lawmakers and even President Obama following the killing of bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan earlier this month. Obama has said that bin Laden enjoyed a "support network" in Pakistan, though his national security adviser last weekend said there was no knowledge of bin Laden's location among Pakistan's most senior political, military or intelligence leadership. Read more ..


Japan After the Quake

Japan's IT Industry Faces Double Dip

May 9th 2011

Computer Topics - Hand on Mouse

Japan's IT market had overcome the negative impact of the global financial crisis and was expected to experience another year of positive growth, but it now looks to be headed for a double dip in 2011. According to a new International Data Corporation (IDC) forecast, the central government, local governments, and corporations will prioritize their recovery efforts and postpone non-essential IT spending.

Meanwhile, the prospect of another period of economic stagnation is hurting corporate and consumer confidence, leading to a decline in capital expenditure and consumption, and to IT expenditure freezes. The disaster has also disrupted supply chains in many industries. Although every effort is being made to restore production levels, there are supply shortages of certain components and materials. Converged mobile devices (such as smartphones) will likely be impacted. IDC believes that Japan's IT market is being constrained not only by declining demand but also by limited components supply. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Gingrich Taps Texan to Manage his GOP Presidential Bid

May 8th 2011

Politics - Newt Gingrich 4_2011
Newt Gingrich

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will tap Rob Johnson to manage his GOP presidential bid.

Rick Tyler, Gingrich’s long time communications aide who will be campaign press secretary, said Johnson will get the top campaign post. Johnson became an adviser to Gingrich about six weeks ago.

The 36-year-old Johnson is well known in Texas GOP circles, but running Gingrich’s presidential drive is likely to be considerably more challenging than his previous experience. Johnson ran Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s successful re-election campaign last year. Earlier he served as campaign manager for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in 2002 and then became his chief of staff.

Tyler said Johnson’s “special strength is how to harness the Internet for modern campaigns. He did that in Texas and he will have the same capability for Gingrich nationally.” Read more ..


Islam's War Against Christianity

Pakistani Christians Flee Muslim Assault in Punjab Region

May 2nd 2011

PakistanTopics - Muslims attack Pakistani Christians

At least 20 people, including police officials, were wounded as 500 Muslim demonstrators attacked the Christian community in Gujranwala city on April 29, Minorities Concern of Pakistan has learned. The attackers, who accused certain members of the Christian community of committing blasphemy, entered a Christian missionary school and broke the furniture there and also attempted to attack a church in Gulzar Colony. Read more ..


Inside the Catholic Church

Outpouring of Polish Pride following Beatification of John Paul II

May 2nd 2011

Christian Topics - Poles commemorate John Paul II

As the late Pope John Paul II was beatified in the Vatican, many in his home country, Poland, were jubilant. But Poland’s attachment to the late Pope stems from more than just national pride, since many credit him with helping to overthrow the communist state.

In the town of Wadowice in southern Poland, John Paul II is everywhere. His face flutters from flags lining the streets, and he beams down on passers by from statues and photographs. Wadowice is the late Pope’s home town. He was born Karol Wojtyla in 1920, in a three-room flat that now houses a museum filled with his personal affairs - his cradle, his skis and a doily made by his mother. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

White House Smacks Rev. Franklin Graham for 'Birther' Talk

April 25th 2011

Presidential - Barack Obama

The White House slammed influential evangelical leader the Rev. Franklin Graham on Monday for questioning President Obama's birthplace.

Graham, a son of the Rev. Billy Graham who has served as a spiritual adviser to several presidents with his father, said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that Obama "has some issues to deal with" when it comes to his birth certificate.

"It's interesting that a minister would [use] Easter Sunday to make preposterous charges," White House press secretary Jay Carney responded Monday.

Graham made the remarks while saying he was open to supporting Donald Trump as a GOP presidential candidate. Trump has questioned whether Obama was born in the U.S., leaping to the top of opinion polls on GOP presidential candidates in the process.

Obama's campaign released his birth certificate in 2008 to prove he was born in Hawaii.

The younger Graham has irked the Obama White House before — the Pentagon revoked his invitation to a prayer ceremony last year after it was revealed he called Islam an "evil" religion in 2001. He also claimed last year that Obama was born a Muslim. Read more ..


Edge of Computing

Production Issues Hit iPad-2 Shipments

April 25th 2011

Computer Topics - iPad 2

Production issues hit iPad 2 shipments Manufacturing problems at Apple Inc., led to a shortfall in iPad 2 shipments in the first quarter, prompting IHS iSuppli to reduce its forecast for 2011.

IHS iSuppli now forecasts Apple will ship 39.7 million units for all models of the iPad this year, down 9.1 percent from the February forecast of 43.7 million. Based on IHS iSuppli’s final estimate of 15.1 million units shipped in 2010, IHS iSuppli now predicts total iPad shipments will rise 163.3 percent in 2011, down from the 189.6 percent predicted in February.

The firm has slightly increased its 2012 forecast for iPad shipments, to 62.6 million units, up from the previous forecast of 61.6 million.

Apple Wednesday posted first quarter results that beat consensus analysts' expectations and said it sold a record number of iPhones during the quarter. But the company reported selling fewer iPads than analysts expected. Read more ..


Earthquakes

Israel to Get Earthquake Alerts by Phone

April 25th 2011

Computer Topics - I-phone

Israelis are to get earthquake and tsunami alerts by mobile phone, television, radio, sirens, pagers, and even their desktop computers courtesy of eVigilo, an Israeli company that has developed an emergency alert platform, IADC (Integrated Alert Distribution Center).

eVigilo developed the IADC, which is operated by the Israeli Home Front Command, to give Israelis advance warning of missile and rocket attacks, but in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister, decided to include earthquake warnings, which are to be sent to the population seconds before an earthquake occurs. Read more ..


The Battle for Bahrain

Bahrain Accuses Iranian's Hezbollah of Fomenting Riots

April 25th 2011

Bahrain Topics - Bahrain enraged protesters

Media reports suggest that Bahrain's government is now accusing the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah of training opposition members who are demanding more freedom and equal rights in the small Gulf nation.

A confidential report sent to the U.N. last week, reportedly saw Bahrain accusing opposition figures as having been trained at Hezbollah camps in Iran and Lebanon.

Details of meetings are laid out, especially between Hezbollah and leaders of Bahrain's opposition movements, including Haq and Wefaq. Read more ..


The Edge of Computing

Study Warns 63% of Chip Fabs in Earthquake Zones

April 25th 2011

Asia Topics - taiwanese semiconductor plant

Nearly two-thirds of the total worldwide semiconductor manufacturing capacity is located in seismically active areas, including more than 90 percent of foundry capacity, according to a report by an industry market research firm.

The report notes that since the early days of chip production in Silicon Valley, the semiconductor industry has always had the bulk of its manufacturing located in seismically active regions. “It appears that, over time, the IC producers and their customers have just come to accept this situation as a fact of life,” said the report. Read more ..



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