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The Battle for Libya

Libyan Rebels using Unmanned Micro-Helicopters Made in Canada

August 25th 2011

Technology - Aeryon Labs Scout

Unmanned aerial vehicles are nothing new to the U.S. military, which has used them extensively for reconnaissance and combat in the Mideast and Central Asia. Larger UAVs, piloted remotely from the U.S., have condeucted reconnaissance overflights as well as missile attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, for example. U.S. military personnel in theatre are also using smaller versions.

But until recently no such technology was available to the rebels fighting to overthrow the four-decades-long dictator of Muammar Gadhafi of Libya. Aeryon Labs, a firm based in Canada, has provided their UAVs that are flying high over the oil-rich country and contributing to the eventual downfall of the dictator. Units of the Libyan rebels received training from Aeryon and have been using them to gather intelligence the positions of Libyan government forces and coordinate resistance efforts. Read more ..

The Battle for Libya

Libyan Rebels’ Immediate Security Concerns

August 23rd 2011

Libya - Rebels Advancing on Tripoli

Since Libyan National Transitional Council forces entered the capital city, the council’s two top officials have issued statements to remind the rebels that victory is not assured. Though the rebel council has announced the end of the Moammar Gadhafi era, it also continues to warn that areas of Tripoli remain unpacified, loyalist strongholds remain in the cities of Sirte and Sabha, and some loyalist forces could be on their way to the capital from the city of Zlitan.


Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, head of Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC), and the other top-ranking NTC official, Mahmoud Jibril, have issued several statements since NTC forces entered the city of Tripoli on Aug. 21. The leaders’ statements were meant to temper the behavior of the rebels, who feel victory is at hand, and allay international concerns that Libya could soon descend into chaos. The NTC also wants to assure residents of areas that were until recently under Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s control that NTC forces mean them no harm. Re-establishing security is the NTC’s main goal, but obstacles remain. Read more ..

Edge on Politics

US Post Offices Targeted for Closure are in GOP Congressional Districts

August 22nd 2011

Social Topics - Post Office closed

A large majority of post offices that have been targeted for closure are in Republican districts.

More than 2,500 of these post offices are in GOP districts, while about 1,000 are in districts represented by Democrats, according to a review by The Hill. There were fewer than 100 stores where the district could not be determined because the zip code is represented by lawmakers in both parties.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has stressed that politics played no role in determining which sites to shutter, noting that it adhered to a strict methodology for choosing them. USPS used a computer program to select the offices on a range of factors, including revenue and workload.

The closures would save about $200 million annually for the ailing USPS, which has urged the end of its Saturday service. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Approval Rating for Congress Hits an All-Time Low

August 22nd 2011

Politics - US Capital Day

Americans' approval of Congress tied an all-time low in a new Gallup poll released on August 16, underscoring the sour opinion facing lawmakers during their August recess. Just 13 percent of U.S. adults said they approve of the way Congress is handling its job, tying a previous low point set in December of 2010, during the lame-duck session.

Disapproval of Congress hit an all-time high of 84 percent, eclipsing by one point the 83 percent disapproval rating that lawmakers were given in that same December edition of the poll.

The new Gallup results are in keeping with a series of negative indicators for lawmakers since they completed their work earlier this month and left town after hashing out a last-minute compromise to avoid defaulting on the nation's debt.

Approval of Congress slipped to 21 percent in the immediate aftermath of the debt deal, and just 24 percent of Americans said that most members of Congress deserved reelection. (Fifty-six percent said their own representative deserved reelection, not an all-time low, but still a dismal number relative to past levels.) Read more ..

Inside the Mideast

Americans Eager to Fight for Israel

August 22nd 2011

Israeli Military - Israeli recruits

On August 16, hundreds of Americans emigrating to Israel landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. Of the 360 arrivals, an unprecedented 104 came to enlist in the Israeli defense forces. Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister, the Chief Education Officer, was among a delegation of officials on hand to greet the 18 to 22 year-olds volunteers. "It's an honor to have you join the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) and the Israeli nation," the brigadier said. "There are no words to describe my appreciation for you, your courage and the Zionistic values you hold. The State of Israel is coping with security threats every day and defending its security is the main goal of the IDF."

Shermeister told the new immigrants he is proud that the IDF "is an army that focuses on educating the youth and building Israeli society. Those of you who will soon be soldiers, I promise you: there is a special place for every single one of you in the IDF." Also on hand was the Minister of Immigrant Absorption, Sofa Landver, who also welcomed the new recruits. "Young people coming to Israel to enlist in the army strengthen not only the country's defense but also the national strength," she said. Read more ..

America's Economy on Edge

FitchRatings Affirms US Credit is Still A-OK

August 16th 2011

Economy - Filthy Lucre

The United States is still a solid AAA country in the eyes of FitchRatings, as the credit rating agency affirmed the nation's top rating on August 16.

Notably, the rater also assigned a stable outlook on that rating over the long-term, setting itself apart as relatively optimistic about the nation's overall fiscal picture.

However, it did offer its own warnings to the freshly minted congressional "supercommittee." It warned that if the group of 12 lawmakers fail to find at least $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts as charged by their mandate, or if the nation's economy falters more than expected, the AAA rating could be given a negative outlook. Such a designation would mean Fitch would be likely to downgrade the nation's rating within two years.

It noted that while its economy beats all its peers, its fiscal picture is also worse than most of its fellow AAA-rated nations. Fitch said America's fiscal health has "deteriorated sharply." Read more ..

Tunisia After the Revolt

Justice is Elusive in Tunisia, where the Arab Spring was Sprung

August 16th 2011

Arab Topics - Tunisia wailing woman
Umm Zine Nceri, mother of Adel Hammami.

The central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid is considered the birthplace of the North African country's historic January revolution, which triggered copycat protests across the Arab world. But as Tunisia prepares for its first democratic elections in October, discontent remains high. A July demonstration in Sidi Bouzid turned violent, killing a young boy.

There isn't much to see in Sidi Bouzid... a few government buildings, a small market where men sell fruit and Tunisia's strong, sweet red tea.

And a taxi stand that 41-year-old resident Ridha Bargougui shows visitors. It was here where an angry, 26-year-old vegetable seller, Mohammed Bouazizi, set himself on fire. His act triggered Tunisia's uprising that kicked out long-time dictator Zine el-Abidine ben Ali - and the broader Arab Spring uprising that followed. Read more ..

Inside the Mideast

Palestinian Journalist held by Israel over Activities in Afghanistan

August 16th 2011

Palestine Topics - Samer Allawi

A journalist for Al-Jazeera TV appeared before an Israeli tribunal on August 16. Samer Allawi, the network's bureau chief in Kabul, had been visiting his hometown in the West Bank region. The Arabic-language network says Israel arrested Samer Allawi on August 10 as he was trying to cross into Jordan at the Allenby gate. He had been vacationing in the Palestinian village of Sebastia for three weeks prior to his arrest. He is being held at the Betah Tekva facility. Allawi bears a Jordanian passport.

The journalist's family told his employer that Israel informed them his arrest was “security-related.” According to VOA, the Committee to Protect Journalists says Israel arrested Allawi without providing any justification. The advocacy group is calling on Israel's government to clarify the reasons for the journalist's arrest.

There was no immediate comment from Israeli authorities on the matter.

"Israel must clarify why it continues to hold Samer Allawi," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, of the New York-based CPJ. "Our concern for Allawi's well-being and his legal rights is amplified with every passing day that he is held without due process." The advocacy group has written to Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak saying it is "alarmed by a recent spate of press freedom violations ... including detentions, censorship, harassment, and physical attacks by Israeli soldiers." Read more ..

The Battle for Libya

Libyan Rebels Tighten the Noose around Gadhafi's Regime

August 16th 2011

Libya Topics - Libyan freedom fighter
Libyan anti-Gadhafi rebel

Just a day after dictator Muammar Gadhafi launched a SCUD missile into the Libyan desert, rebels in the oil-rich country were threatening to isolate the capital, Tripoli, on August 16 as they captured key towns to the south and west of the city and work to cut off supply routes in their bid to oust the decades-old regime. The rebels claim to control most of Zawiya, a strategic town 50 kilometers west of Gadhafi's power base in Tripoli.

Rebel fighters entered Zawiya on August 13 in their closest approach to the capital since government forces crushed Zawiya's rebel movement in the early weeks of the uprising. Gadhafi’s forces exchanged fire with rebels in Zawiya on August 15, trying to push them back from the town center. Read more ..

The Computing Edge

New Internet Anti-Censorship Scheme Makes the Blocking of Websites Impossible

August 13th 2011

Computer Topics - Shadowy Computer User

A radical new approach to thwarting Internet censorship would essentially turn the whole web into a proxy server, making it virtually impossible for a censoring government to block individual sites.

The system is called Telex, and it is the brainchild of computer science researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Waterloo in Canada. It was presented at the USENIX Security Symposium held in San Francisco earlier this month.

"This has the potential to shift the arms race regarding censorship to be in favor of free and open communication," said J. Alex Halderman, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at U-Michigan and one of Telex's developers. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Assad Unleashes Deadly new Attacks on Civilians

August 7th 2011

Syrian Issues - Syria - bombardment of Hama
Artillery fire strikes Hama

Syria's military has launched an offensive against the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, even as international pressure builds on the government to end its crackdown on a popular uprising. There has also been violence in Houleh in Homs province. Activists say at least 55 people have been killed in the unrest across Syria on Sunday. These casualty reports have not been confirmed because independent journalists are not allowed to go into the region.

Deir el-Zour

Tanks and troops moved into Deir el-Zour before dawn on August 7, and witnesses say gunfire and blasts can be heard across the city. Read more ..

America's Economic Edge

Fixing America's Credit Rating May Take Nearly two Decades--says S&P

August 7th 2011

Economy - John Chambers, S & P
John Chambers, S & P Chairman

John Chambers, the chairman of Standard & Poor’s sovereign debt ratings, estimated that it could take between 9 and 18 years for the nation to regain its AAA credit rating. Speaking on August 7, Chambers said the credit agency could further downgrade the national rating depending on whether President Obama and congressional leaders can agree on reducing the deficit. He put the chances of another drop in credit rating at one in three.

Chambers said if the nation’s fiscal scenario worsens or political gridlock becomes more entrenched, “that could lead to a downgrade.” Read more ..

The Race for Solar

White House Budget Office Raised Risk on Big Solar Loan Guarantee

August 2nd 2011

Energy Topics - solyndra HQ

The White House budget office raised flags about the first energy loan guarantee awarded under the Obama administration, adding another layer of questions to the taxpayer backed financing now at the center of a House investigation.

In 2009, as the Department of Energy pushed to close the $535 million loan guarantee to California solar panel maker Solyndra Inc., the Office of Management and Budget concluded the financing was a greater risk to taxpayers than did DOE. That higher risk rating, in turn, forced the government to set aside more money in case the company defaults on payments.

The Department of Energy pressed ahead, formally approving the deal in September 2009 while portraying the Solyndra loan guarantee as a symbol of President Obama’s quest to spread green energy projects with government backing. Read more ..

Egypt After Mubarak

Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists appear to Agree on Islamic state in Egypt

August 2nd 2011

Egypt - Egypt riot police clear Tahrir

Egyptian military and police on August 1 forcibly cleared Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the place where the revolution was played out against former dictator Hosni Mubarak. Hundreds of people were arrested in the affray. Demonstrators had camped for days in the streets demanding justice for those responsible for killings during the protests in January and February. Mubarak is to stand trial on August 3. The clean sweep followed a massive rally by Islamists following Friday prayers on July 29. Muslims around the world are now observing a period of fasting known as Ramadan.

Civilians joined riot police backed by military and armoured vehicles to dismantled the tents and temporary structures in Tahrir Square where pro-democracy protesters had been encamped for weeks. Police fired shots in the area and used electrified clubs on protesters who were swept from the place were thousands had demanded the ouster of Mubarak during the early months of the year. The April 6 movement and other pro-democracy advocates, along with the families of protesters killed this year, were far outnumbered in the square by Islamists. Read more ..

Edge of Justice

Americans' Right to List Israel as Place of Birth Reaches Supreme Court

August 1st 2011

Politics - Federal Court Building

The renowned law firm of Lewin & Lewin filed a brief on July 29 in the case of Menachem Zivotofsky v. Secretary of State Clinton (No. 10-699) which will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in November. At issue is the right of an American citizen, born in Jerusalem to self-identify as being born in "lsrael" on his or her U.S. passport and and birth certificate.

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 such documents for American citizens who so request it. 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." Read more ..

Egypt after Mubarak

Militants Attack Sinai Gas Pipeline Supplying Israel and Jordan

July 30th 2011

Egypt - Hijab and flag

Gunmen destroyed a natural gas facility along a pipeline leading from Egypt to Israel on July 30 in northern Sinai Peninsula. The attack occurred at Sheikh Zuayed near El-Arish, the terminal which is the main liquefying station for gas exported to Israel and Jordan from Egypt. This is the third such attack on the same pipeline this month and the fifth since the 18-day uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February. No gas has been flowing through the pipeline since the last attack on the pipeline on July 12.

The attack came a day after a huge demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square where thousands of ultraconservative Salafist Muslims and members of the Muslim Brotherhood far outnumbered other Egyptian groups. Chants calling for the imposition of Islamic law, known as Shariah, were evident as opposed to the calls for democracy heard during February’s demonstrations.

Egyptian authorities said that insurgents destroyed the gas terminal in al-Shulaq, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip. It is the last terminal before the pipeline enters the sea on its way to Israel. The attackers arrived in a truck, fired rocket-propelled grenades at the terminal and then detonated dynamite on the inside. Security at the terminal was minimal, which contained no gas, and no injuries were reported. No explosions or flame was reported. Read more ..

Edge on Terrorism

Thwarted Terrorist Attack at Fort Hood TX

July 28th 2011

Military - Naser Jason Abdo

An AWOL U.S. soldier was arrested the evening of July 27 on an outstanding child pornography warrant in Killeen, Texas, and is suspected to have been plotting an attack on Fort Hood. The suspect, Pfc. Nasser Jason Abdo from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was reportedly arrested by the Killeen Police Department after an alert citizen noticed he was acting suspiciously and called police. Local TV station KCEN said explosives were found in his car, and FOX News is reporting two other U.S. military personnel have been arrested and that weapons and explosives were also found in their possession. According to sources in the U.S. law enforcement community, a reported plot by three U.S. military personnel to attack Fort Hood was in the advanced stages of planning. Read more ..

Tibet on Edge

The Free Tibet Lobby is Hardly Cheap

July 25th 2011

Asia Topics - tibet govt in exile emblem

Free Tibet isn’t cheap: China criticized President Barack Obama recently for meeting with the Dalai Lama, the prominent Tibetan spiritual leader who is visiting the United States. China has occupied Tibet since the 1949 Communist revolution, attracting international criticism and numerous public relations efforts on the part of the Chinese government. The Himalayan region, however, has had a longstanding effort in Washington to lobby the U.S. government for support in the form of the International Campaign for Tibet.

The group, which spent $160,000 on lobbying in 2009 and $145,000 in 2010, advocates for assistance to Tibet on a number of different issues. The group’s first-quarter report shows it spent $50,000 during the first three months of the year and was represented by lobbyist Todd Stein. Stein has lobbied for assistance to Tibetan refugees and Tibetan communities within Tibet. He’s also lobbied for Tibetan Fulbright scholarships, broadcasting entities, and exchange programs, according to lobbying records. Read more ..

The Race for Solar

OMB Dodges Subpoena on Solyndra Solar Investigation

July 25th 2011

Economy - solyndra plant groundbreaking
Solyndra plant groundbreaking, 2009 (credit: Solyndra)

The Obama administration’s budget office dodged a deadline Friday to hand over subpoenaed documents sought as part of a congressional investigation into a politically-connected solar panel manufacturer.

The Office of Budget and Management didn’t send over the requested documents—internal emails, memos and letters from OMB and anything in their possession from other offices—demanded in the subpoena from a House energy subcommittee on July 14 . But OMB promised to make a “substantial” number of internal documents and emails available for committee staff to review, said OMB spokesman Kenneth Baer. Read more ..

Edge on Terrorism

Norway Not Taking any Chances Even Though Killer Says He Acted Alone

July 24th 2011

Europe Topics - Anders Breivik action hero
Anders Breivik

Norwegians mourned at church services throughout the Scandinavian country, marking the death of the at least 93 killed at the hands of Anders Behring Breivik, a 32 year-old Norwegian in dual attack on July 22. A further 86 were wounded by Breivik, who allegedly set a fertilizer-fuelled carbomb that detonated at approximately 3:45 pm on a Friday afternoon, devastating a central Oslo building that housed the offices of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and government agencies.

This was followed soon after by a killing spree on Utoya island, some twenty miles from Oslo, where young members of the ruling Labor Party were on a camp out. It was there that Breivik, disguised as a policeman, opened fire and killed scores of young people, some of whom were felled by bullets as they attempted to swim to safety. A special police unit was hampered in arriving on the scene, blaming the lack of adequate boats for the 90 minute delay in arresting the culprit. Read more ..

Edge of Terrorism

Terrorists Claim the Lives of at Least 10 Children in Norway, in addition to Deadly Bomb Blast in Oslo

July 22nd 2011

Terrorism - Norwegian terrorism victim

Norwegian police have found an explosive device on the secluded island of Utoya, northeast of Oslo, where earlier on July 22 a gunman now identified as an ethnic Norwegian killed at least 10 young campers according to police. Fortunately, the device did not detonate. The attack on the island was the second terrorist attack in Norway that very day.

Described as blond and approximately 6 feet tall, the assailant was dressed in a police uniform and claimed that he was on official business. He proceeded to shoot innocent campers and staff. Police are still combing the waters around the island and seek to find the corpses of other victims as fears that the death toll will rise. Read more ..

Edge on Terror

Libya is Feared to be New Source of Weapons for Palestine

July 22nd 2011

Israeli Military - Moshe Yaalon
Moshe Yaalon

Israel's Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said on July 21 that Libya has become a new source of smuggled weaponry for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Speaking to foreign correspondents, Yaalon said, "Weapons are available in Libya as a result of the unstable situation there, and Hamas has exploited it to buy weapons from Libyan smugglers," he told foreign journalists in a briefing. The official did not specific what sort of munitions or materiel are involved.

With Libya largely divided between dictator Muammar Gaddaffi on the west and rebels on the east, armaments flowed back and forth over the eastern frontier with Egypt to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, said Yaalon - a former defense minister. As of yet, the Hamas terrorist organization has not commented on Yaalon’s charges.

Israeli concerns over the smuggling of armaments spurred the interdiction of the so-called Gaza Flotilla, which brought vessels from several countries this month to attempt a breach of the Israeli naval blockade. Most of the flotilla was held in Greece, including one U.S. flag vessel, while another boat was halted on the high seas by Israeli naval vessels and brought into the Ashdod port in Israel before it could land in the Hamas-controlled territory. Israel allows food, medicine, and other non-military goods to enter Gaza along already established land routes. Read more ..

Religious Tolerance

Muslim Leader Calls for Death of Muslim-Christian Married Couple

July 22nd 2011

PakistanTopics - Anti blasphemy protest

Intolerance for differences as to religion continues unabated in Pakistan. The latest case to stir up sectarian passions is that of Muslim woman and a Christian man who were forced to flee for their lives in the face of Muslim retribution.

Asthma Zubaida, a Muslim woman, and Basharat Masih, a Christian man, fell in love in the town of Gujranwala where Zubaida was a teacher in a local public school. Masih was an official in public school administration. Following their marriage in September 2010, they soon began to receive ever more frequent death threats, which caused them to flee. They now go from place to place to avoid punishment. Read more ..

Iran’s Nukes

Iran, Venezuela, Argentina Possibly Cooperating on Nuclear Projects

July 20th 2011

Latin American Topics - kirchner chavez ahmadinejad
Presidents Kirchner (Argentina), Chavez (Venezuela), and Ahmadinejad (Iran)

A number of Congressmen have requested an investigation of possible nuclear cooperation between Venezuela, Iran, and Argentina. Suspicions of such connections are based on information made available by the State Department.

According to sources, Iran is interested in a program of modernization of the Argentine nuclear plants. Argentina maintained a nuclear cooperation agreement with Iran that was suspended in the early 1990s by the Argentinean government. Then, tensions between the two countries deteriorated as a result of the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and the Jewish Community Center in 1994. Read more ..

The Edge of Hate

Distinguished Senator Resigns from Belgian University board over Anti-Semitic Incidents

July 19th 2011

Jewish Topics - Jacques Brotchi
Jacques Brotchi

After denouncing several grave anti-Semitic incidents at the Free University of Brussels (ULB), Dr. Jacques Brotchi – a member of Belgium’s Senate and an internationally renowned neurosurgeon – resigned from the UCB board. Brotchi, who also holds an honorary professorship at the Brussels-based institution, told EJP on-line news "I resigned from the Board of the University Foundation which collects funds for research because I deeply deplored the absence of a strong and appropriate reaction from the university authorities to a succession of anti-Semitic incidents."

In his May 5 letter of resignation, Brotchi wrote, "I don’t feel at home anymore at ULB." He added, "I asked if the university of free-examination has not become the university of free anti-Semitism." Brotchi said he is saddened by the lack of an adequate response on the part of the university. He likened the current climate to the years just prior to the Second World War when Nazi Germany was just beginning the Holocaust. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Candidate Cain says he Would Not 'Sit Back' Should Iran attack Israel

July 19th 2011

Politics - Herman Cain
Herman Cain

Outspoken Republican presidential contender Herman Cain said in an interview with the Washington Times that if he were in President Obama’s place, he would not “sit back and wait” for United Nations permission to retaliate in case of an attack by Iran upon Israel.

A Baptist minister and businessman, Cain spoke with the Washington Times on July 18 and described his “Cain Doctrine” with regard to the United States’ stance as to Israel. Cain answered affirmatively when asked whether he agreed with a comment made by John Bolton—a former US ambassador to the UN—that a preemptive strike against Iran was the only option to prevent the Islamic Republic from advancing its nuclear weapons program in view of years of failed diplomatic initiatives.

While saying that he would want all necessary information before making a decision, Cain “My first option would be to make it crystal clear, and to use the words that I've used previously, if you mess with Israel, you're messing with the United States of America.” If Iran or any other nation failed to heed his eponymous foreign policy, Cain said, “They already know what plan B is.” Read more ..

Flotilla to Hamas

Israel Intercepts Another Gaza-bound Vessel

July 19th 2011

Palestine Topics - Dignite AlKarama

The Israeli navy boarded and seized a French vessel during the early morning hours of July 19 that was ferrying pro-Palestine activists bound for the Gaza Strip.A spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces stated that the vessel was forced to go to Israel’s Ashdod port. There were no reports of resistance to the Israeli marines who boarded the Dignite AlKarama in the eastern Mediterranean. An IDF spokeswoman said “I can confirm that the yacht has been boarded and that everything went smoothly, there were no casualties,” the spokeswoman said. Chief military spokesman Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai averred that passengers were transferred from the small yacht to one of the Israeli warships and were sailing to Ashdod. Read more ..

Liberia on Edge

Univ. of Maryland Professor embroiled in Pre-Electoral Scandal in Liberia

July 18th 2011

Africa Topics - Larry Gibson and display
Larry Gibson, University of Maryland

The American professor at the center of what is becoming a pre-election scandal in Liberia says he played no role in preparing a pre-election analysis for the ruling Unity Party of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The Online Liberian publication FrontPage Africa reported over the July 9-10 weekend that Larry Gibson, a law professor at the University of Maryland prepared a pre-election analysis in which he advised the ruling party that it faces a tall order in the coming October elections and that the party should keep its connections at the National Elections Commission.

Gibson, who admits he did some work for the 2005 election campaign of then-candidate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said he did not do any poll analysis for the October election. Read more ..

Nigeria on Edge

Nigerian "Elders" Forum Concerned over Military Response to Violent Islamist Sect

July 18th 2011

Nigeria - Nigeria joint military task force

In Nigeria, a leading member of the “Elders Forum” in northern Borno State has expressed concern about a government-backed unit formed to stop violence by the Islamic sect Boko Haram. According to the Nigeria Tribune newspaper, the federal government recently set up the Special Joint Military Task Force with its headquarters in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. The group includes elements of the army, navy, air force, state security and police.

Spokesman Bulama Mali Gubio said the force is ineffective. His group wants it replaced by what he described as seasoned and well-trained police officers. Nigeria’s military makes up most of the task force. “We are not satisfied with the way and manner they are conducting the operation they are carrying out,” said Gubio. “Instead of calming down the situation and bringing it under control, the conflict has escalated. People are fleeing the city and becoming refugees.” Read more ..

Edge on Terrorism

Three Deadly Explosions Rock Mumbai

July 13th 2011

India Topics - Mumbai terror2

Three explosions were reported in Mumbai on July 13 in the crowded Opera House, Zaveri Bazaar and Dadar areas of the city. The explosions began around 7:10 p.m. and occurred within minutes of each other. There are reports that a fourth bomb, likely at the Roxy Theater, failed to detonate. Current casualty estimates indicate five people have been killed and 100 injured thus far.

This marks the first major attack in India since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. Though the magnitude of these explosions has yet to be determined, this attack does not appear to be as sophisticated as the 2008 attacks, which involved an assault team consisting of a number of militants that coordinated 10 shooting and bombing attacks across the city. Read more ..

Guatemala on Edge

Murder of Venerated Argentine Singer puts the Spotlight on Latin American Elites' Indifference to Violence and Bad Governance

July 12th 2011

Argentina Topics - Facundo Cabral
Facundo Cabral

Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian Morales of Guatemala expressed his outrage on July 10 over the murder of famed Argentine singer and activist Facundo Cabral. Cabral, 74, was felled in a hail of automatic fire while on his way to Guatemala’s international airport during the early-morning hours of July 9 to take a flight to Nicaragua. According to some reports, music promoter and businessman Henry Fariña was the intended victim of the assassination. Farinas was injured during the armed attack.

Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom said that there is evidence that organized crime was behind the attack that “definitely indicate that it was directed at Mr. Fariña. There is no indication that Facundo was targeted.” Read more ..

Africa on Edge

Somalian Diaspora Aids in Disastrous Drought in the Horn of Africa

July 12th 2011

Africa Topics - Somalian hungry

A food crisis in the Horn of Africa is affecting millions of people as some areas are hit with the worst drought in 60 years. Abidirashid Duale is CEO of Dahabshiil, which operates in almost 150 countries around the world. The global money transfer company sends more than $1 billion to Somalia every year.

Duale spoke to VOA in London, from where Dahabshiil caters to the growing Somali population in Britain, about how diaspora communities will help the region survive. He said when drought hits, Somalia’s diaspora responds by sending home money.

“Normally when it comes to this kind of season and when there is a crisis, individual people who are in the diaspora will want to send money back home,” Duale said. Read more ..

Healthcare on Edge

House to Hold Hearings on Panel that GOP Claims Will “Ration” Health Care

July 11th 2011

Health/Medicine - medicine and money

House Republicans will make a concerted push this week to shift the healthcare focus back on to President Obama and congressional Democrats—specifically by focusing on a cost-cutting panel in the healthcare law that the GOP charges will “ration” care.

The renewed attacks on the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) will play out in two hearings: first Tuesday in the House Budget Committee, followed by a four-panel marathon the next day in the Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify at both hearings, and she’s expected to defend the IPAB in familiar terms. While critics emphasize that the IPAB’s members will be appointed by the administration, Sebelius has noted that Congress can block the IPAB’s cuts from taking effect, as long as lawmakers find equivalent savings elsewhere in the budget.

Energy and Commerce has assembled a lengthy roster of witnesses that includes officials from several healthcare provider groups—the stakeholders whose payments the IPAB will have the power to cut. Read more ..

Privacy on Edge

Bluetooth v4.0 Profiles Will Promote Proximity Sensing, Security Features

July 11th 2011

Technology - bluetooth connecting devices

Two new profiles within the latest revision of the Bluetooth specification are expected to enable a new era in proximity sensing and security, according to Nordic Semiconductor. The Bluetooth v4.0 profiles, developed within the Bluetooth SIG PUID (Personal User Interface Device) working group will enable the standards-based functionality.

The Bluetooth low energy Find Me profile targets smartphone applications and will allow users to pair small but commonly misplaced everyday objects with smartphones in order to locate them. One early example will be Bluetooth low energy key fobs that users will be able to use to find a misplaced phone or key fob. Read more ..

Japan After the Quake

Japanese Electronics Industry Expected to Recover by September

July 5th 2011

Japan - Fujitsu locations
Fujitsu Locations

The electronics industry supply chain is expected to be completely recovered from the after effects of the March 11 earthquake in Japan by the end of the third quarter, according to a report by market research firm IHS iSuppli.

Electronics companies with operations near the epicenter of the quake that suffered building and equipment damage are expected to restore full shipments by early September, six months after the quake, IHS said. The restoration will coincide with the peak season for electronics and semiconductor sales in the third quarter, according to the firm.

Many electronics companies have already fully restored operations after they were halted on the day of the quake. In many cases, restart was hindered by infrastructure damage and rolling black outs. Some restarted chip fabs are still working toward recovering full manufacturing capacity. Both Renesas Electronics’ fab in Naka and Texas Instruments’ Miho fab are not expected to recover full production until the end of September. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Koch Industries Fined for Making 12 Illegal Campaign Contributions—That it Self-reported

July 5th 2011

Politics - Koch Industries building

A foreign subsidiary of Koch Industries has been fined $4,700 by the Federal Election Commission for making 12 illegal donations totaling $26,800 to seven non-federal committees over a four-year period.

Invista S.a.r.l., a Koch subsidiary which is registered in Luxembourg but headquartered in Wichita, Kan., came to the FEC voluntarily with information that it made the illegal donations during the years 2005 through 2009.

Under federal election law, foreign companies are barred from making donations to candidates or committees in federal, state or local elections. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Hochul Hauled in Significant Family Cash on One Day

July 5th 2011

Politics - Kathy Hochul D-NY
Rep. Kathy Hochul, D-NY

A supportive family can make a difference in politics. For Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.), it made $50,000 worth of a difference—all in one day.

Hochul witnessed $50,000 in donations pour in on March 4, all from 10 identifiable siblings or people with the surname “Courtney”—her maiden name, research indicates. Hochul defeated Republican Jane Corwin and Independent Jack Davis in a May special election in New York’s 26th District. Read more ..

Mexico's Wars

Three-Way Gun Battle Just South of the Border between Mexican Military and Two Drug Cartels

July 4th 2011

Mexican Topics - Mexican marine infantry

The State of Texas is warning residents to avoid crossing over to Mexican border towns, as Americans celebrate Independence Day on July 4. This advisory bolsters one that was issued by the U.S. Department of State in April 2011 that warned American citizens to be careful as they travel to Mexico, due to the ongoing war between national security forces and the various criminal narcotics organizations, including Los Zetas and the Cartel del Golfo.

A firefight between elements of the Mexican miltiary and police with narcoterrorists claimed the life of a popular Catholic priest, Fr. Marco Antonio Duran Romero, on July 2. The well-known priest and TV personality was killed in cross-fire that ensued from the shoot-out. Sources claim that members of Los Zetas were attempting to enter the Mexican city of Matamoros, which lies across the international border from Brownsville, Texas. Citizens of the two cities were in shock at the news. Read more ..

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 ..

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