|Martin Barillas||November 30th 2009|
Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent
In the Basque city of Guernica, northern Spain, crewmembers of the fishing vessel Alakrana, which was captured by Somali Muslim pirates in October 2009, testified before a judge investigating the incident. The Spanish Basque fishermen spent 47 days as the prisoners of the pirates after being waylaid near the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. On November 24, eight of the 36 crewmembers of the Alakrana tuna-boat appeared in a Guernica court where they recounted the horror of their abduction by pirates. In a press conference, machinist Victor Bilbao said “We were frightened because at any moment they might have shot us.” Bilbao also criticized Spanish President Jose Rodriguez Zapatero for mishandling the management of the crisis.
The Alakrana and crew were freed on November 17 following the payment of a $4 million ransom. They were captured in early October, and had repelled a similar attack in September. Since the Alakrana incicent, Spain has given permission to its fishing fleets to utilize military armaments by onboard security. President Rodriguez Zapatero defended his government's handling of the incident saying that Spain did what it had to do. Read more ..
|Adam Abrams||November 23rd 2009|
Cutting Edge Mideast Correspondent
|Ali Reza Asgari|
Approximately three years ago, a retired Iranian general and former deputy defense minister disappeared in Turkey amidst claims of defection. Ali Reza Asgari worked in the Iranian reformist government headed by President Muhammad Khatami. There are conflicting reports regarding when Asgari was last seen. Some state December 2006; others claim early 2007.
The Iranian media is now reporting that Asgari was abducted by Mossad and Western intelligence agencies. Furthermore, Iranian media reports claim that Asgari is currently being held in an Israeli prison. These reports were picked up by Israeli Army Radio last week.
Although no sources have been named, Iranian media reports, “Two years of investigations by relevant institutions show that Ali Reza Asgari is kept in the Zionist regime's prison... [Ali Reza Asgari] was kidnapped by Mossad, German and British intelligence agencies and taken to Israel.”
The Israeli government refuted any association with Asgari's disappearance when reports of his defection began circulating in 2007. There is now speculation that Asgari was abducted by Israeli Mossad and Western intelligence agencies in an effort to obtain information regarding missing Israeli Air Force navigator Ron Arad and the Iranian nuclear program. Read more ..
The Edge of Terror
|Martin Barillas||November 16th 2009|
Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent
A Greek Orthodox priest was severely beaten by a U.S. Marine Reservist in Tampa Florida in an apparent if not bizarre case of mistaken identity. Lance Cpl. Jasen D. Bruce, 28, was arrested on a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon after chasing and beating a man he thought was a terrorist.
On the evening of October 9, Father Alexios Marakis, 29, was visiting the Greek community and an ailing fellow priest in Tampa. Father Alexios ot lost while driving northbound on Interstate 275 and wandered into downtown Tampa. Exiting his car at the Seaport Channelside Apartment complex, he asked Bruce for directions. Instead of providing assistance, Bruce allegedly beat the Orthodox priest in the head with a tire iron.
The Greek Orthodox priest then fled on foot with Bruce in pursuit while the Marine phoned 911 emergency services to report that he was going to "take an Arab" into custody. When police finally arrived, Bruce allegedly declared that the priest was actually a terrorist. According to Tampa police, Bruce claimed that the priest had shouted “God is great!” in Arabic. The bearded priest speaks Greek and was wearing a black cassock at the time of the incident.
Father Alexios was taken to hospital and there a translator helped to unravel his story for police. When police went to Bruce's apartment, he was already lawyered up and would not speak to them. The priest was treated and released from Tampa General Hospital. Alleged assailant Bruce was arrested on the evening of November 9 and released from the Hillsborough County jail at 8 AM on November 10 on a $7500 bond. Read more ..
Ukraine on the Edge
|Sam Orez||November 9th 2009|
|Prime Minister Yuliya Timoshenko of Ukraine|
Ukraine continues to be in a panic about a deadly outbreak of influenza still not confirmed as H1N1 swine flu.
The disease contagion may be showing signs of diminishing. But accounts of young and otherwise healthy victims succumbing continue to circulate, contributing to heightened political tensions in a country that will face a general election on January 17, 2010. The virus has become a pivotal issue. Sentiment within the Central European nation increasingly holds that the country’s medical systems and political leaders were slow to react or inadequate in their response to the outbreak. More than 95 victims have died this year.
Signaling the importance given to a show of concern, in the middle of the night on November 3, Prime Minister Yuliya Timoshenko, the Ukrainian foreign minister and the president’s chief of staff gathered at Kiev’s airport to share solemn words about the arrival of a shipment of Tamiflu, a drug effective against swine flu. Read more ..
|John Chapin||November 9th 2009|
Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah
Ron Scott, head of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, said on November 2 that he is concerned about the killing of the Muslim prayer leader, Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah on October 28. Abdullah, formerly known as Christopher Thomas, had led the Masjid Al-Haqq mosque in Detroit. Abdullah was shot dead by FBI agents in the suburban Detroit locale of Dearborn after he allegedly fired at and killed a police dog. A federal affidavit described Abdullah, his son, and accomplices as Islamic extremists wanted for numerous violations of federal law, as well as operating a theft ring. According to Scott, “We’re concerned about the excessive force,” adding “We want to see an independent investigation.” See affidavit here.
Abdullah’s family said that he was shot 18 times, while the medical examiner’s office would only say he was shot multiple times. Andrew Arena, special agent in charge of the Detroit FBI office, said agents acted appropriately.
According to a federal affidavit, Abdullah believed he and his followers were soldiers at war against the government and non-Muslims. "He told his followers it is their duty to oppose the FBI and the government and it does not matter if they die," FBI agent Gary Leone said in an affidavit unsealed on October 28, the day of the raid. "He also told the group that they need to plan to do something," apparently, “violent jihad.”
Abdullah and eleven others were charged with conspiring to commit several federal crimes, including illegal possession and sale of firearms, tampering with motor vehicle identification numbers, theft from interstate shipments and mail fraud. Nine of the suspects are currently in federal custody, and two others remain in Canada and are fighting extradition to face justice in the United States. "We're not any fake terrorists, we're the real terrorists," Abdullah once boasted to an undercover informant, according to the affidavit. Read more ..
|Jim Snyder and Silla Brush||November 2nd 2009|
The Hill correspondents
Civil rights groups on Tuesday will lobby for climate legislation as a key Senate panel begins to examine the issue in earnest this week. But some question whether the climate bill itself poses a risk to minority communities.
Supporters of the bill say severe weather patterns some scientists believe to be the result of climate change have a disparate impact on minority and poor communities. But Frank Stewart, the president and chief operating officer of the American Association of Blacks in Energy, believes the legislation could lead to a transfer of wealth from urban communities with large black populations to rural areas that stand to benefit more from “green” jobs created by a carbon cap.
Frustrated by a lack of momentum on Capitol Hill for the issue, groups like the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and other “green” organizations have sought out labor, religious, rural and national security groups in an effort to turn the climate bill into something more. Climate legislation has been lobbied as a way to boost the economy through green jobs and to improve national security by reducing dependence on foreign oil. Read more ..
Inside Latin America
|Eduardo Szklarz and Martin Barillas||October 26th 2009|
Cutting Edge correspondents
|Argentina President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner|
A law passed on October 10, 2009 in Argentina that will place controls on the media has generated suspicions that the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner hopes to actually restrict freedom of the press. The Law on Audiovisual Media came up for a vote in the Argentine Senate amidst widespread accusations of vote buying by the current executive. President Kirchner signed the bill in record time despite howls of protest, especially by the owners of Clarín – a centrist newspaper that also controls television holdings.
Opponents of the legislation affirm that it was approved by Congress in haste and without necessary debate over its merits and whether it would restrict constitutional freedoms. Observers in Buenos Aires claim to see the hand of former president Nestor Kirchner, the husband of the current executive, in the passage of the bill before the new Congress assembles on December 10. The climate of suspicion was heightened in view of the disdain with which the Argentine power-couple treated journalists, and harassment on the part of the government. According to some analysts, the Kirchner’s effort to restrict the media resembles that similarly used by their ally, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. Read more ..
|Jordy Yager ||October 19th 2009|
The Hill correspondent
Republican members of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus said the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has tried to plant "spies" within key national-security committees in order to shape legislative policy.
Reps. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.), John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), Paul Broun (R-Ga.), and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), citing the book Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld that's Conspiring to Islamize America, called for the House sergeant-at-arms to investigate whether CAIR had been successful in placing interns on key panels. The lawmakers are specifically focused on the House Homeland Security Committee, Intelligence Committee and Judiciary Committee.
"If an organization is connected to or supports terrorists [and] is running influence operations or planting spies in key national security-related offices, I think this needs to be made known," said Broun, who sits on the Homeland Security Committee. "So I join my colleagues here today in calling for action."
But the Office of the House sergeant-at-arms said that it has received no such request from any of the four Republicans and declined to speculate on how a request of that nature would be addressed. Read more ..
Pakistan on the Edge
|Martin Barillas||October 12th 2009|
Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent
|Pakistani Nuke on Parade|
Visiting London on a swing through Europe, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton admitted on October 11 her concern that Taliban insurgents in Pakistan are a growing threat to the South Asian country but denied that they are a risk to the its nuclear arsenal. Echoing her British counterpart, Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Secretary Clinton dismissed fears that Pakistan’s nukes could fall into the hands of Islamic militants despite a bold attack on the army headquarters at Rawalpindi.
Secretary Clinton admitted in a press conference that Islamic militants were "increasingly threatening the authority of the state, but we see no evidence that they are going to take over the state. We have confidence in the Pakistani government and military's control over nuclear weapons." Miliband echoed Clinton’s public assurances. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Eduardo Szklarz and Martin Barillas||October 5th 2009|
Cutting Edge Correspondents
|Former Argentine President Carlos Saúl Menem|
Carlos Saúl Menem, an ex-president of Argentina who is currently a senator in the South American republic, was accused on October 1 in Buenos Aires of obstruction of justice charges for his alleged part in covering up the so-called "Syrian connection" and Iranian involvement in the 1994 car-bombing that killed 85 people and injured hundreds more at the Jewish Mutual Association of Argentina (AMIA). Also brought to trial were Menem's brother Munir, police officials Jorge Palacios and Carlos Castañeda, and secret service officers Hugo Anzorreguy and Juan Carlos Anchezar. In addition, the now disgraced judge who heard the original case, José Galeano, was also brought to justice.
The "Syrian connection" is based on evidence about Alberto Jacinto Kanoore Edul, a textile merchant whose Syrian father Kanoore Edul was a donor to Menem's first presidential bid. According to prosecutor Nisman, the son was involved in launching the bombing at the AMIA. Menem himself is of Syrian extraction and his parents were born in Syria.
On July 10, 1994, eight days before the attack, Kanoore Edul phoned Carlos Telleldín about a used Renault van that was to be used in the attack. Among the evidence presented to the court is an entry in Kanoore Edul's datebook that includes the telephone number of Moshen Rabbani—a cultural attaché at the Iranian embassy who has been linked to the bombing. Rabbani received the Renault van in question from Kanoore Edul.
According to a decision by federal judge Ariel Lijo, Menem while in the presidency used his office to influence the Argentine Ministry of Justice and secret services in order to protect a Syrian family involved in the deadly bombing and mislead the investigation. The defendants are accused of misuse of authority, destruction of evidence, repeated lying under oath, as well as the cover-up. Read more ..
|Yaakov Katz||October 5th 2009|
Jerusalem Post correspondent
Israel Defense Forces Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi flew secretly to France on Sunday for meetings with Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin, the chief of the French Defense Staff.
Ashkenazi left Israel early on Sunday morning and flew to Normandy, where he met with Mullen. The two have developed a close relationship since Ashkenazi was appointed chief of General Staff in 2007 and they reportedly speak at least once a week by phone.
Ashkenazi's trip to France came amid continued warnings that senior IDF officers could be arrested in Europe for their involvement in Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in December 2008 and January 2009. Last week, a Palestinian group petitioned a court in London to issue an arrest warrant for Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who was visiting the British capital. Read more ..
|Adam Abrams||September 28th 2009|
In a recent interview with the Daily Beast last week, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Adviser from the Carter administration and erstwhile adviser to President Barack Obama, made a highly contentious statement regarding the U.S.-Israeli alliance. When asked how the U.S. would respond to Israeli jets using Iraqi airspace in order to stage an attack on Iran, Brzezinski was quoted as saying: “We are not exactly impotent little babies. They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch? ... We have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse.”
“A liberty in reverse” is a reference to the controversial encounter between Israeli jets and the American vessel U.S.S. Liberty in 1967 that resulted in the sinking of the U.S. Navy ship.
Brzezinski who is said to have a reputation for such rhetoric, found his calls for “a Liberty in reverse” dimly viewed by many in Jewish leadership.
For example, Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham H Foxman, responded to Brzezinski’s quip with this: “Here is an international legal expert and he doesn't even know that the US does not control sovereignty over Iraqi airspace. Putting that aside, Zbigniew Brzezinski has always had a nasty streak when it came to Israel…. it is better that we can now see it, and it is out in the open.” Read more ..
Coke and Confiscation
|Edwin Black||September 21st 2009|
In a stunning new court filing, Coca-Cola has been accused of near-criminal collusion in Egypt’s program of ethnic cleansing and property seizures targeting Jews during the 1960s.
The long-standing case involves Egyptian Jewish businessman Refael Bigio and his family against his former partner, Coca-Cola in the illicit takeover of the family bottling business and property near Cairo. The conflict was covered extensively last year by The Cutting Edge News in a special report (see April 14, 2008 Page One, “Coca-Cola and Confiscation: On Passover, an Egyptian Jew Battles Coca-Cola in the USA for a Modern Day Injustice”)
The Egyptian government takeover occurred in 1962 during the openly anti-Jewish regime of President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Coca-Cola joined in the process by purchasing the Bigios’seized property for a relative pittance. The process is reminiscent of the Nazi program of Aryanization against German Jewish property during the 1930s. Egypt’s government has long ago ruled its Nasser-era seizure of the Bigio property was illegal, but Coca-Cola refuses to reimburse the Bigios for the factories the company’s overseas operations took over.
Now, after years of international litigation and fruitless negotiation, Bigio’s attorneys have fired a stinging motion for summary judgment, asserting that the uncontradicted facts surrounding Coca-Cola’s actions were so blatant that the court should immediately find the corporation guilty.
“Coca-Cola is not," wrote attorney Nathan Lewin in his motion, “as it likes to portray itself, a trusting and guileless American corporation that in 1994 innocently purchased a 'minority interest' in some remote business entity that utilizes the Bigios’ property. The undisputed evidence, “ he continues, “establishes that Coca-Cola witnessed how the Bigio family – with which it was intimately bound in a mutually profitable business relationship between the 1940s and 1962 – was victimized by Nasser’s ethnic-cleansing policy of taking Jewish property and expelling Jews from Egypt. Read more ..
|Adam Wallace||September 14th 2009|
Cutting Edge London correspondent
|Suspected "Hijackers" taken into custody|
There has been considerable speculation in the media over the last week as to the true course of events surrounding the piracy of the Russian cargo ship Arctic Sea. The ship, officially bound from Finland for Algeria with a cargo of wood was first intercepted in the Baltic Sea on July 24, by eight men dressed as Swedish customs officers, who claimed to be part of an anti-drug trafficking unit. They detained the crew and searched the ship for twelve hours, before supposedly leaving, and allowing the Arctic Sea to resume her voyage. Four days later, on the 28th July the ship had its last radio communication with British coastguard officials as it sailed through the English Channel, before vanishing from radar screens on the 29th, when she was in the Atlantic off the coast of Portugal.
After a further week of no contact or sightings of the ship, Russia dispatched a force of warships, led by the frigate Ladny to search for her in the Atlantic. It was at this point that speculation began to grow that pirates had seized her, the first time that such a thing had happened in European waters for well over two hundred years. Read more ..
|Marianne Lavelle||September 7th 2009|
Center for Public Integrity
With its hefty bankroll and polished messaging, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity looked like a juggernaut going into the climate change debate on Capitol Hill. But ever since the House narrowly passed a measure in late June to set the country on a path to addressing global warming — a measure with plenty of concessions to coal but still lacking ACCCE’s support — the advocacy group has been beset by struggles.
First, Bonner & Associates, the lobbying firm ACCCE subcontracted to help stoke its vaunted grassroots network, was found to have forged at least 13 letters to members of Congress purportedly from senior citizen and minority groups opposed to the legislation. Bonner blames a rogue employee and ACCCE has fired Bonner, but a congressional investigation continues.
The large power company Duke Energy, whose chief executive James Rogers has long advocated climate legislation, withdrew from the coal group this week — a story first reported by Energy Daily (subscription required). ACCCE burst on the scene in 2008 with the message that it did support a practical, affordable climate plan — essentially Duke’s position. But Duke said a rift became apparent during the debate over the House bill. “We believe ACCCE is constrained by influential member companies who will not support passing climate change legislation in 2009 or 2010,” the company said in a statement. After the Duke story broke, the blog EnviroKnow confirmed that aluminum maker Alcoa had earlier quit the group. Read more ..
America's Economic Collapse
|John Dunbar ||August 31st 2009|
Center for Public Integrity
Firms that fed off the subprime lending frenzy that devastated the banking system are lining up to collect more than $21 billion in taxpayer funds meant to help bail out borrowers now in trouble on their loans.
The funds come from the federal government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), begun in February by the Obama administration to coax lenders into modifying mortgages that might otherwise result in foreclosure. According to an analysis of public records, of the 25 top participants in the program, at least 21 were heavily involved in the subprime lending industry. Most specialized in servicing subprime loans, but several both serviced and originated the loans.
Among those on the list:
• At least two firms that earlier settled charges of illegal collection practices brought by federal regulators; another was placed under federal supervision before voluntarily surrendering its bank charter;
• A subprime subsidiary of top-bailout recipient American International Group Inc. (AIG);
• Two former subsidiaries of Merrill Lynch & Co. and one former subsidiary of Lehman Brothers, investment banks that helped underwrite the subprime boom, and;
• A subsidiary of the now-sold, former No. 1 subprime lender in the nation, Countrywide Financial Corp. Read more ..
America's Economic Collapse
|Holly Auer||August 24th 2009|
Center for Public Integrity
The nation's home foreclosure epidemic may be taking its toll on Americans' health as well as their wallets. Nearly half of people studied while undergoing foreclosure reported depressive symptoms, and 37 percent met screening criteria for major depression, according to new University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine research published in the American Journal of Public Health. Many also reported an inability to afford prescription drugs, and skipping meals. The authors say their findings should serve as a call for policy makers to tie health interventions into their response to the nation's ongoing housing crisis.
"The foreclosure crisis is also a health crisis," says lead author Craig E. Pollack, MD, MHS, who conducted the research while working as an internist and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at Penn. "We need to do more to ensure that if people lose their homes, they don't also lose their health." Read more ..
Iran on the Edge
|Mehdi Khalaji||August 17th 2009|
Washington Instiute correspondent
|Public Execution in Iran|
Widespread reports suggest that Sadeq Larijani, a young and inexperienced cleric with close ties to Iran's military and intelligence agencies, will officially replace Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi as head of the Iranian judiciary on August 16. This appointment is particularly significant, since the judiciary in Iran wields considerable power -- albeit through the approval of Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- and has a great deal of latitude to make decisions without reference to law or Islamic concepts, especially when "safeguarding the interests of the regime" is deemed necessary.
Who is Sadeq Larijani?
Born in 1960 in Najaf, Iraq, Sadeq Larijani is the son of Grand Ayatollah Hashem Amoli and the son-in-law of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Vahid Khorasani, currently one of the most widely followed marjas, "sources of emulation" whose rulings are regarded as binding by devout Shiite believers. Read more ..
Oil and Terrorism
|Walid Phares ||August 10th 2009|
The renewal of violence in the northern provinces of Nigeria brings this oil producing country to the brink of "Talibanization," threatening not only the precarious ethnic and religious makeup of the most populous African state but also the entire region, from Chad to Senegal.
The fight between the now-called "Nigerian Taliban" and the governmental forces took place recently within a country whose borders are 300 miles from where President Barack Obama stood inside the Ghana Parliament to address Africa's "problems." Unfortunately,when the president recently spoke, he didn't mention words such as Taliban, jihadists, Shariah, salafists, or any term indicating that Nigeria and 10 other African countries are suffering from a real invasion, fueled by a totalitarian ideology. That was a miss that came back to haunt the international public opinion as dramatic pictures of the bloodshed were disseminated by the news agencies. Read more ..
|John Chapin||August 3rd 2009|
Urged on by calls from their mullahs, Muslim mobs burned down more than 50 homes of the Christian community in a village of the province of Punjab. A house of worship of the Anglican-affiliated Church of Pakistan, as well as another belonging to the New Apostolic Church, were both put to the torch in the evening hours of July 30 following a reaction to a supposed desecration of the Koran. Around 1000 Muslim believers, bearing firearms and explosives, also attacked numerous Christian homes and burned them. The village of Kolyat, where the first attacks occured, is home to some 100 Christian families who had been living there for several decades. As the attacks widened, Christian men, women and children fled the onslaught and hid themselves in nearby fields. On the following day, in another village, Muslim incendiaries burned six Christians to death in their homes; among them was a 7-year-old child.
According to eyewitnesses, the attackers burned everything belonging to the Christians, including clothes, food, utensils, beds, school books and Bibles in the houses. Even their animals were consumed by the blaze. There are reports that in some cases marauders stole some of Christians’ livestock as well.
The problem arose following a dispute between Muslim and Christian boys. Even while Christian and Muslim elders of the village settled the issue, some relatives of Muslim boys decided to pursue the matter. They spread a rumor that a Christian, Talib Masih, had burned pages of Koran during a wedding ceremony on July 29. The Christians of the area said that this was a false accusation. However, tensions rose, according to the Daily Times, after pages of an Islamist book were found outside a Christian house on July 26. Read more ..
|Joseph K. Grieboski||July 27th 2009|
Cutting Edge Foreign Desk
|North Korean Christians|
A 33-year-old Christian mother of three, Ri Hyon Ok, was publicly executed on June 16 by the North Korean regime for the crime of distributing the Bible, a book banned in repressive North Korea, the South Korean Investigative Commission on Crime Against Humanity reports.
Ri was also accused of spying for South Korea and the United States and of organizing dissidents, the Commission said, citing documents obtained from the North. The Commission’s report also stated that her husband, children and parents were sent to a political prison the day after her execution.
The claim could not be independently verified, and there has been no mention by the North's official Korean Central News Agency of her case. However, a copy of Ri's government-issued photo ID was provided by the activists. North Korea is well known for its crackdown on unofficial religions and for its overwhelming human rights abuses. Read more ..
Iran's Voter Revolt
|John Chapin||July 20th 2009|
|LA Metro Rail Car Manufactured by Siemens |
Siemens could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in a pending Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) rail car deal because its Nokia subsidiary sold the Iranian regime the equipment used to monitor dissidents and suppress its voter revolt, according to details reported exclusively by Washington Times correspondent Eli Lake.
Siemens Nokia was exposed as a prime cuplrit enabling the Iranian regime crack down on internet access, cell phone use, and Twitter accounts of protesters and dissidents. Now, Iranian human rights advocates in California are pressing local politicians and government executives with veto power over contract awards to punish the giant German company, according to Lake. In the coming days, a key contract for Metro rail cars for Los Angeles County is up for a vote, according to Lake. Read more ..
The Health Edge
|Lily Fesler ||July 13th 2009|
|Chalk River Reactor|
With the temporary shutdown of the nuclear research-reactor at Chalk River, Ontario, Canada’s medical isotope industry has fallen into crisis, threatening health services across North America. The National Research Universal (NRU) reactor, as it is called, produced a third of the world’s molybdenum-99 (Mo 99), a medical isotope that decays into technetium-99 (Tc 99), which can be used to diagnose and treat cancer and other diseases.
North America’s main suppliers of medical isotopes, Covidien and Lantheus, are desperately trying to meet demand for Mo 99 by increasing the supply coming from other reactors. However, there are only five medical isotope producers worldwide, including Chalk River, and the other four do not have sufficient capabilities to fill the gaping hole the NRU shutdown has left in Mo 99 production. Read more ..
|Yaakov Katz ||July 6th 2009|
Jerusalem Post Correspondent
An IDF Navy Dolphin-class submarine that participated in maneuvers off the Eilat coast last week returned to Israel via the Suez Canal on Sunday, according to witnesses' reports.
The submarine was spotted returning through the waterway along with an Israeli missile boat.
However, an Israeli defense official told Reuters there would be no permanent deployment in Eilat of the German-made submarines, of which the Navy has three, with two more on order.
"If anything, we are scaling down our naval operations in Eilat," the official was quoted as saying on Sunday.
A senior naval source explained that the "submarines need the open water, and that's just not available at Eilat."
"Also, the navy cannot take on the logistical burden of setting up two bases, with all the specialized needs in terms of equipment, maintenance crews and security safeguards, for a submarine fleet that, at most, will comprise five Dolphins," he told the news agency. Read more ..
After the Holocaust
“Russia is showing its contempt and disdain for international law, the American judicial system, and basic principles of fairness and justice,” said Nathan Lewin, attorney for the world-wide Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
The remark was in response to Russia’s surprise announcement, filed with the federal court in Washington, D.C. in recent days. In an epic legal and diplomatic contest that dates back to the World War I, Russia is defiantly refusing to release some 381 spiritual manuscripts, 12,000 rare books and 25,000 handwritten archival documents plundered from East Europe from the charismatic Jewish Chabad-Lubavitch movement. The collection handed down from generation to generation constitutes “the central wisdom, comprehension and knowledge” of the Chabad movement. Without those documents, Chabad is without its spiritual soul, it says. Indeed, the word “Chabad” itself is an acronym for the Hebrew words for “central wisdom, comprehension and knowledge.”
Deadlocked in litigation for years, and international pressure for decades, Russian authorities, declared this week that the Putin government would not “further participate” in the case. This was done as legal scholars predicted the courts would grant the Chabad movement a stunning victory in its epic effort to reclaim its papers. Chabad’s legal team is headed by the Washington law firm of Lewin and Lewin, LLP. Known for championing Jewish causes— Nathan Lewin and Alyza Lewin -- sometimes called “attorneys for the Tribe,” worked together with attorneys from Howrey LLP and Bingham McCutchen LLP to obtain a rare federal court decision earlier this year commanding Moscow to preserve the books and documents and instructing Russia to provide the Court with a written description of the steps it is taking to preserve the books and manuscripts. A court-ordered handover seemed imminent according to legal scholars watching the case. Read more ..
Inside Central America
|Martin Barillas||June 29th 2009|
Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has threatened to intervene on the North American continent following a military coup in Honduras, just two hours by airliner from Miami. President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras was ousted from power and forcibly taken to Costa Rica when members of the country’s armed forces stormed the national palace and removed him in his pajamas. As for President Chavez, he said that there are reports that his ambassador to Honduras was beaten and left on the side of the road, and that if his ambassador has been killed or his embassy violated "that military junta would be entering a de facto state of war. We would have to act militarily ... I have put the armed forces of Venezuela on alert."
The Congress of Honduras removed President Manuel Zelaya from office, having accused him of “numerous violations” of the Central American country’s constitution, as well as other laws and court findings. Zelaya, an ally of President Chavez, was arrested during the early morning hours on June 28 by Honduras’ armed forces and taken under guard to Costa Rica where he is currently in exile. Roberto Micheletti, who had been president of the national legislature, was named interim president. The Congress published what was purported to be a June 25 letter from Zelaya announcing his “irrevocable” decision to resign. Armored vehicles and soldiers are guarding strategic points throughout the capital city, and radio and televisions blacked out, in scenes reminiscent of Latin America of the past. The capital remains quiet, even while there were protests at the national palace with President Zelaya’s detractors outnumbering his supporters. Read more ..
Iran's Voter Revolt
|Joseph K. Grieboski||June 22nd 2009|
Cutting Edge Foreign Desk
Austrian Green Party security spokesman Peter Pilz alleged today that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was part of a death squad that killed three Kurds in Austria on July 13, 1989.
According to Pilz, Ahmadinejad had been involved in the killings in Vienna and may have actually shot one of the trio. "I have no doubt he was involved.”
New eye-witnesses have come forward identifying Ahmadinejad as being involved in the assassination of Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran chief Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, his deputy Abdullah Ghaderi-Azar and Austria-born Fadel Rasoul.
The Austrian Times reports that Pilz claimed the involvement of two Iranian teams in the assassinations: a negotiations team and an execution team. Pilz said Ahmadinejad had been responsible for gathering and preparing the weapons used and had been a member of the execution team. Read more ..
Edge on Taliban Terror
|Aftab Mughal||June 22nd 2009|
The Pakistani Taliban have issued letters to Christians and Shia Muslims (a minority sect) across the country threatening them with death should they not conform to the Taliban's Sunni Islam.
On June 10, a letter was sent to Rabita Manzil, of the National Catholic Office for Social Communications in Lahore, the second biggest city of Pakistan. It was given to a Christian woman, who lives near the office, by two masked men. The letter stated “We know you are Christian. We warn you to leave this area, embrace Islam, pay 1,500,000 rupees (US$18,500) as jizya, or be ready to die in a suicide attack.”
Christians have received similar threats in various parts of the country as fighting between government troops and the Taliban militants continues to rage in the country's northwest. Sacred Heart Cathedral, several Catholic schools in Lahore, and various pastors have received threatening notes telling them to convert to Islam. Moreover, Peshawar Bishop Mano Rumalshah of the Anglican Church of Pakistan said the churches in his diocese continue to receive threatening letters which say either become a Muslim, leave, or be killed. Read more ..
Edge of Narco-Terrorism
|Joseph K. Grieboski||June 15th 2009|
Cutting Edge Foreign Desk
Iran has opened six embassies in Latin America during the past five years and is promoting Islamic activities throughout the region, according to Pentagon spokesperson Donna Miles. She emphasized the Pentagon’s rising concern about the increasing presence of Iran in Latin America, and Hezbollah’s inroads in drug trafficking in Colombia, as part of an event with the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
According to Jim Kouri of the Law Enforcement Examiner, Navy Admiral James G. Stavridis told the House Armed Services Committee that he shares the concerns of Defense Secretary Robert Gates about Iranian activity in Central and South America.
"That is of concern, principally because of the connection between the government of Iran, which is a state sponsor of terrorism, and Hezbollah," Stavridis told the committee. “We see a great deal of Hezbollah activity throughout South America, in particular," he said. Read more ..
Pakistan on the Edge
|Aftab Mughal||June 8th 2009|
Cutting Edge Contributor
The Bara-based Lashkar-e-Islam (LI, an Islamic militant group) has imposed jizya, an Islamic tax, on the non-Muslim communities, including Sikhs, Hindus and Christians living in the Khyber Agency, a tribal region of North West Frontier Post (NWFP) near Afghanistan’s border and which is substantially under the control of militants.
“Sources said LI had asked the non-Muslim communities in Bara, Chora, Karamna, Bazaar Zakhakhel and Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency to pay jizya or leave the agency,” reported The News on June 3. The sources said the warning came from LI on May 31 following which the community agreed to pay the tax instead of leaving the area, where they have been living for decades.
The minority communities had many meetings with the local militant group, but LI was not ready to give any concessions to the minority community. They were told that they are not Muslim so they have to pay jizya. Read more ..
|Joseph K. Grieboski||June 1st 2009|
Cutting Edge Foreign Desk
|Iranian warships |
In a troubling sign of a growing regional hegemony, Iranian has dispatched six warships to the Gulf of Aden and "international waters.”
According to Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, Commander of the Iranian Navy, “Iran has dispatched six warships to international waters and the Gulf of Aden region in an historically unprecedented move by the Iranian Navy. This is indicative of the country's high military capability in confronting any foreign threat on the country's shores." This voyage – allegedly sent on the orders of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei – marks the first time in modern history that the Islamic republic has projected its military might beyond its regional sphere of interest. Read more ..
Jerusalem Post correspondent
|Iranian Sejil-2 missile|
Iran is in the midst of a multi-year plan that it hopes will culminate in the production of several hundred missile launchers and over 1,000 long-range ballistic missiles within the next six years, according to estimates in the Israeli defense establishment.
Teheran is believed to currently have an arsenal of 100-200 long-range Shihab missiles that have a range of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) and carry up to one-ton warheads.
In recent days, Iran successfully fired the Sejil-2, a missile with a range of at least 2,000 kilometers.
In addition, the Iranians last year test-fired a missile called Ashura believed to have recently entered production, the goal being to eventually replace the Shihab. The Ashura is a solid-fuel missile, giving it a long shelf-life. Unlike the Shihab, it does not need to be fueled shortly before launching. Read more ..
The Edge of Jihad
|Joseph K. Grieboski||May 25th 2009|
Cutting Edge Foreign Desk
Somalia’s Islamist rebels have launched a major offensive against the central government, reviving long-standing concerns that the country could fall entirely to militants with alleged ties to al-Qaeda.
The situation is exacerbated by Eritrea’s support for the Islamists. The U.N. Security Council expressed anxiety over reports that Eritrea has been supplying arms to Islamist militants intent on toppling Somalia's new government and condemned the recent violence. The council insisted that Somali Islamist extremist groups immediately end the violence and join reconciliation efforts
"The Security Council ... expresses its concern over reports that Eritrea has supplied arms to those opposing the (government of) Somalia in breach of the UN arms embargo," the statement said.
While Eritrea rejects accusations that it sends weapons to the al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants fighting Somalia's government, Somalia's government said earlier this month that Asmara continues to support al Shabaab militants with planeloads of AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons. The accusation was backed by diplomats and security experts. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Eduardo Szklarz and Martin Barillas||May 25th 2009|
Cutting Edge Correspondents
|Wanted: Salman El Reda|
Salman El Reda, a Colombian national and key figure in Argentina, has been linked to the terrorist attack on the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) in 1994 that claimed 85 deaths. This was the finding by Argentina’s chief prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who issued an international warrant for El Reda's arrest on May 20.
In a press conference, Nisman said that El Reda participated in the “preparations and consummation of the attack” that, according to the prosecutor, was on the orders of the government of Iran and organized by Hezbollah—the pro-Iran terrorist organization.
United States Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne in Buenos Aires noted Nisman’s arrest warrant saying “We applaud and support all efforts directed at bringing to justice those responsible for the international terrorist attack on the AMIA that killed 85 people in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994.”
The arrest order has complicated Argentina’s already strained relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2006, Argentina presented an international arrest warrants for Mohsen Rabbani and seven other Iranian operatives for their alleged participation in the 1994 attack. Among those being called to justice are former Iranian president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, former foreign minister Ali AkbarVelavati and former information and security minister Ali Fallahijan, as well as former Revolutionary Guard commandant Mohsen Rezai. Argentina has also accused Iran of organizing the St. Patrick’s Day massacre in 1992, which took the lives of 29 people at the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. Read more ..
America and Israel
In the wake of the recent meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, four senators have circulated an letter to colleagues urging Obama to support the Jewish State's efforts to achieve peace.
Read the letter here.
At press time, seventy-six senators have signed the letter. The House version bears almost 195 signatures and is at 195, as of press time. The letter, crafted April 30 before the summit is designed to send a clear message to the White House about Israel’s security, its determination to control its own Palestinian negotiations as it confronts an Iranian nuclear threat. The notion that Obama was linking Jerusalem's negotiations with Palestinians to its ability to thwart nuclear annihilation rankled many in the Jewish and non-Jewish Israel support community. In a word, Israel has gone over the president’s head and appealed directly to the Congress. Read more ..
The Edge of Energy Independence
The European Union has signed an agreement with four nations to move ahead on creating new gas pipelines to reduce its energy dependence on Russia.
The European Union signed the new energy deal during a summit in Prague with four countries: Egypt, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The agreement aims to help pave the way toward creating a series of gas pipelines from central Asia and the Middle East through Turkey and into Europe.
Two of the countries which signed the deal, Azerbaijan and Egypt, are gas rich. Two others, Turkey and Georgia, would host the pipelines carrying the gas. Europe hopes that one of the planned pipelines, known as Nabucco, will be up and running by 2014.
At a press conference in Prague, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso hailed the agreement. Read more ..
The Legal Edge
The persistent, years-long efforts of the National High School Mock Trial Championship to ignore the scheduling needs of orthodox Jewish student teams has once again been ruled out of order.
Stubbornly impervious to the demands of a condemning resolution unanimously adopted by the House of Representatives, refusals to obey by the New Jersey Bar Association and the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, admonitions from the attorney general of Georgia and the Anti-Defamation League, resignations by prestigious members of its own organization, and rebukes by a host of eminent legal personalities, the National High School Mock Trial Championship has clung to its policy of not permitting scheduling changes for the orthodox Jewish teams. Orthodox school teams that observe the Friday sundown to Saturday sundown Sabbath need to compete during the Thursday, daytime Friday, Saturday night and Sunday sessions as opposed to the sessions on the Sabbath. Religious school teams in increasing numbers—from the Jesuit High School in Louisiana to the Christian Heritage Academy in Oklahoma—compete in the national mock trial championships. Read more ..
Pakistan on the Edge
|Aftab Mughal||May 11th 2009|
Taliban forces have seized the homes and businesses of Sikhs living in the Northwestern Frontier Province of Pakistan. Infidels must pay a head tax. Many Sikh families have been forced to leave their homes in the Orakzai area of Pakistan.
Sikhs constitute a tiny religious minority in Pakistan. The latest Sikh nightmare began when Pakistan’s parliament passed the Sharia law for the Malakand Division of the Northwestern Frontier Province. On the very next day, April 14, 2009, the Taliban imposed a prodigious multi-million rupee Jazia (an Islamic tax to non-Muslims) on the Sikh community.
The Taliban said Sikhs are an unwanted minority and must pay the head tax in exchange for living in the area under the rule of Sharia. Following the Taliban’s threat, many Sikh families of the Feroze Khel area of Merozai in Lower Orakzai Agency simply fled.
The Taliban had also forcibly occupied shops of two Sikh businessmen and houses of several Sikhs to force them to pay the Jazia. Some families paid as much as 20 million rupees to Taliban forces to avoid further retaliation. After receiving Jazia tax, the Taliban released Sikh leader Sardar Saiwang Singh and vacated the occupied homes. Read more ..
Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and the move to stop Iran’s nuclear program took center stage at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Annual Policy Conference just concluded in Washington D.C. Arguably, the premier constituent event of the year, the conference hosted nearly 7,000 interdenominational supporters of Israel and approximately half the nation’s Senators and Congresspersons in a precision multimedia spectacle of public policy regarding the Jewish State.
Amid a multiplicity of topics and political heavyweights from Israeli President Shimon Peres to Vice president Joe Biden, the rising star on the pivotal issue seemed to be Rep. Kirk who is among the leading sponsors of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA). Read more ..
Update May 6. Under orders from a Fulton County judge and after a warning from the Department of Justice, the State Bar of Georgia has reversed itself and abandoned allegedly discriminatory scheduling practices by National High School Mock Trial Championship. See coming related story in News.
Pressure is mounting on the State Bar Georgia Bar Association in the wake of detailed revelations that the National High School Mock Trial Championship was preparing to repeat its years-long policy of allegedly discriminatory scheduling practices against Orthodox Jewish. The controversial practice in question revolves around the National High School Mock Trial Championship refusal to reschedule Saturday rounds for the increasing number of students from Orthodox Jewish schools that compete at the national level.
Now, the Civil Rights division of the Department of Justice on Friday May 1, 2009 has sent a detailed written warning to the director of the Administrative Office of the Courts of Georgia admonishing that any participation in the Mock Trial Championship must not violate the Safe Street Acts of 1968. The implementing regulation of the Safe Streets Act prohibits recipients of federal funds from engaging in programs that have the effect of discriminating on the basis of religion. Read more ..
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