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The Caliphate

U.S. Investigates Somali-Americans Fighting for the Islamic State

September 17th 2014

President Barack Obama is due to get a briefing today on "operational details" of a military campaign to combat Islamic State militants. The president will meet with General Lloyd Austin, the head of U.S. Central Command, to discuss the ongoing effort to build an international coalition to meet his stated goal of degrading and destroying the Islamic State group that has taken over parts of Iraq and Syria.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is also participating in the meeting, a day after he told a congressional panel that the effort is "complicated" and will take time. He also highlighted the need for "effective partners." Read more ..

The Edge of Tolerance

Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Demanded Removal of Senator Cruz After Pro-Israel Comments at Christian Conference

September 15th 2014

Grand Mufti Ahmed Hassoun (L) and Orthodox patriarch Gregory Laham III

A prominent Syrian cleric threatened to walk out of a conference for Middle Eastern Christians after Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) defended Israel in a speech before demanding that the Texas Republican leave the event on the evening of September 10.

While organizers for the In Defense of Christians summit said that only “a few politically motivated opportunists” disrupted Cruz’s remarks, and that they were “made no longer welcome,” the videotaped tirade indicates that top attendees protested Cruz’s speech.

Patriarch Gregory III Laham of the Antioch Church was one of the six Middle Eastern patriarchs who attended the conference, and part of a small delegation that met with President Barack Obama on September 11. Read more ..

The 2014 Vote

Republicans Rally their Ranks for a Congressional Take-Over

September 15th 2014

Fifty days before the midterm elections, Republican leaders are getting their troops in line as the GOP eyes something it hasn’t had in eight years: Control of both chambers of Congress.

The party’s recruitment of strong candidates has resulted in no serious gaffes and has produced polling leads in several key swing states in the bare-knuckle brawl for the Senate. On Capitol Hill, Tea Party insurgents who forced a government shutdown last year are playing nice with GOP leadership in the campaign’s home stretch in a bid to keep the heat on President Obama and off a sometimes-divided GOP caucus. Read more ..

The Caliphate

Obama Promises Retaliation if Syria Downs U.S. Jets

September 14th 2014

President Obama recently vowed to retaliate against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if Syrian forces shoot at U.S. military planes, according to The New York Times.

In meetings with foreign policy experts, former government officials, journalists and columnists over the last week, Obama reportedly was heard saying that the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) won’t be immediately satisfying.

“This isn’t going to be fireworks over Baghdad,” Obama was quoted as saying by a source, the Times reported. Read more ..

The Caliphate

Arab Muslim Countries Say They will do 'Their Share' to Defeat Islamic State terror

September 14th 2014

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As Washington vows to put together a broad coalition to fight Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, the outlines of the new alliance are beginning to take shape.

Much of the emphasis has been upon finding partners among the Arab states. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on September 11 that 10 Arab states had agreed to "do their share" in the fight. They are Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and six Gulf states: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar. Read more ..

The Caliphate

Prime Minister Cameron Vows to Hunt Down Executioners of British Aid Worker

September 14th 2014

In an emotional statement at 10 Downing Street, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain will hunt down those responsible for the death of British aid worker David Haines.

Speaking after an emergency committee meeting of top military and political officials, Cameron paid tribute to the 44-year-old father of two, who was held hostage and killed by Islamic State militants.

"David Haines was a British hero. The fact that an aid worker was taken, held and brutally murdered at the hands of ISIL sums up what this organization stands for,” Cameron said. 'They are monsters' Read more ..

The Caliphate

Israeli Arabs Rally Against the Islamic State

September 13th 2014

Thousands of Israeli Arabs convened in Umm el-Fahm on Septemer 12 for a rally organized by the Islamic Movement in Israel to express their opposition to the radical Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or Caliphate. Israel Radio cited the leader of the Islamic Movement's hardline northern branch, Sheikh Raed Salah, as stating that he is dead set against the extremist Islamist group that has conquered parts of Syria and Iraq and aims to overun the entire Middle East.

However, Salah noted that he also opposes the coalition led by President Barack Obama, who has pledged to "destroy" the Islamic State with military action, including air strikes in Iraq and Syria. The Arab Muslim leader said that such military action against Islamic State fighters threatens the Arab world. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

September 12th 2014

Koran and prayer beads

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.  The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism.

The All Dulles Area Muslim Society outside Washington is known for its efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and increase understanding about Islam.

Imam Mohamed Magid says U.S. Muslims are deeply disturbed by the barbaric violence Islamic State militants are responsible for in the Middle East.

“Muslim Americans are very troubled by the images they have seen of beheading innocent people, especially our fellow Americans," said Imam Magid.

U.S. Muslim leaders have been quick to condemn videos like this one released by IS. Rizwan Jaka says Islamic State fighters are terrorists. “We condemn terrorism and extremism and we pray for the safety of our country.  And we pray for the safety and peace around the world," said Jaka.

American Muslims object to the name Islamic State - saying it is an effort to hijack their religion. Nihad Awad of the group Council on American-Islamic Relations: “They exploit my faith and this is very offensive to all Muslims and we speak against it," said Awad. Read more ..

The Nuclear Edge

US, Russia to Discuss Alleged Nuclear Treaty Violations

September 11th 2014

Misslle in Silo

The State Department is leading a U.S. delegation that will meet with Russian officials in Moscow Thursday to discuss Russia's alleged violation of provisions in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces accord.

The United States says Russia has conducted tests involving ground-based intermediate-range missiles.

The move would violate provisions of the 1987 INF Treaty, which is considered the cornerstone of the U.S.-Russian nuclear disarmament agreement.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the U.S. is going to make every effort to resolve concerns and ensure the continued viability of the treaty.“The goal, of course, is for Russia to return to compliance with its obligations under the INF,” said Harf.

President Barack Obama's administration formally alleged that Russia was in violation of the treaty in July, but Stephen Blank of the American Foreign Policy Council thinks getting Russia to admit to a violation will be tough. “I don't think Russia will acknowledge that this took place. I think the Russians will accuse us of violating this treaty or some other treaty. It's standard operating procedure for Moscow,” said Blank. Read more ..

The 2014 Vote

Following the Primaries, Republicans Dodge to the Left

September 9th 2014

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With primary season over, the GOP is beginning to inch back to the center.

Republican Senate and House candidates have begun to loudly embrace more moderate policies such as an increase in the minimum wage and over-the-counter birth control in an effort to win over swing voters and soften their image.

GOP strategists say the battle between now and Election Day to decide control of the Senate and the size of Republicans’ House majority will focus on that sliver of voters in the middle.

"We're starting to hear more about [these issues] than before because the voters who are at the ideological ends of the spectrum are already accounted for this election. So the moderate middle, generally, are the voters that are up for grabs," said Neil Newhouse, a Republican pollster who’s done work this cycle on appealing to female and swing voters. Read more ..

Islam's War Against Christianity

Nigerian Muslim Terrorists Kill 1,000 Christians in One Day

September 9th 2014

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Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram

Tens of thousands of Christians are fleeing northeastern Nigeria, in the wake of mass killings and the destruction of several churches by the Boko Haram Muslim sect. According to Fr . Patrick Tor Alumuku, Social Communications officer of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, "I spoke to priests in Maiduguri (Ed. note: the capital of Borno State in northeastern Nigeria where Boko Haram is most active) who speak of terrifying happenings." According to the priest, "Boko Haram is determined to eliminate every sign of Christian presence and many churches have been destroyed or torched. Last week in a village in the area of Maiduguri, Boko Haram took over the parish for its local headquarters."

Catholic Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of Maiduguri, "in areas where Boko Haram is active Christians are fleeing by the thousands." He reported that at least 90,000 Catholics are now displaced by the Islamist rebels who are challenging the sovereignty of the Nigerian government. Read more ..

The 2014 Vote

The Return of Terror as a Political Football in Mid-Term Elections

September 8th 2014

The politics of terrorism have returned with a vengeance for the midterm elections. National security dominated the first election cycles after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with Democrats fearful of being labeled unpatriotic if they criticized then-President George W. Bush.

The Republican advantage eroded years later as public opinion soured against the Iraq War. By the time President Obama sought reelection in 2012, he was able to tout the killing of Osama bin Laden to portray Democrats as the party of strength in foreign policy. But now, with the 13th anniversary of 9/11 just days away, Obama and the Democrats are back on the defensive. Read more ..

The Caliphate

Arab League Meets with Arab Foreign Ministers to Discuss the Caliphate

September 7th 2014

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby called for broad-based action to confront the growing threat of Islamic State militants, as he met with Arab foreign ministers to discuss the growing list of conflicts across the Arab world during their annual September session Sunday in Cairo.

Elaraby said the number of threats facing the Arab world were unprecedented and of an existential nature.

He said the threats include social and economic troubles, revolutions, and armed insurgencies with extremist and terrorist ideologies that threaten the unity of nations and their political, social and economic orders. Read more ..

The Edge of Health

Israeli Company Reports It is Ready to Mass-Produce Ebola Cure for All of Africa

September 7th 2014

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Professor Yoseph Shaaltiel, Protalix Executive VP Research and Development stated that his company can immediately begin producing the experimental anti-Ebola ZMapp drug, the only drug that has proven to be an effective Ebola cure. Dr. Kent Brantly, the American doctor who contracted the disease while treating Ebola patients in Liberia made a rapid recovery after being given the drug.  Unfortunately the drug is still in an experimental stage, and experiments done after Dr. Brantly was treated exhausted supplies. The manufacturer, Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., a small San Diego based biotech company requires several months before they can manufacture a new batch of the drug. Protalix, located in the northern Israeli town of Karmiel has developed biological agents effective in combatting Gauchr disease and Fabry disease.  Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Obama Says 'Rapid-Reaction' Force is Ready to Go to Ukraine

September 6th 2014

President Barack Obama said Friday that the creation of a NATO "rapid-reaction" force will serve as a signal to Russia to avoid any future potential aggression similar to the ongoing fighting in Ukraine. The force, which will consist of several thousand ground troops, with naval, air and special forces units in support, will be staffed on a rotating basis by member countries, and will be ready to deploy on a few days’ notice.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said earlier the force would be designed in particular to bolster the security of the former Soviet satellite states that are now part of the 28-member alliance, such as Poland or the three Baltic nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Read more ..

America on Edge

NORAD Shadows Unresponsive Aircraft

September 5th 2014

F-15E Refuels

As of 11:30 a.m. EDT today, September 5, 2014, two F-15 fighter jets under the direction of North American Aerospace Defense Command launched to investigate an unresponsive aircraft currently flying over the Atlantic Ocean. The Socata TBM-700 light business and utility aircraft departed Rochester, NY with a flight plan filed to land in Naples, FL, however the plane’s occupants did not respond to attempts to communicate.

The aircraft continues to be followed by NORAD jets. NORAD continues to monitor the situation in close coordination with the FAA. More information will be made available as it emerges. NORAD's mission – in close collaboration with homeland defense, security, and law enforcement partners – is to prevent air attacks against North America, safeguard the sovereign airspaces of the United States and Canada by responding to unknown, unwanted and unauthorized air activity approaching and operating within these airspaces, and provide aerospace and maritime warning for North America.


Obama's Second Term

Republican Paul Ryan Dares Obama to use Veto Power

September 5th 2014

Republicans plan to test President Obama’s willingness to use the veto pen if they capture control of the Senate in November, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in an interview with The Hill.

The Budget Committee chairman and 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee said Obama hasn't had to make tough decisions on vetoing legislation because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has shelved most of the bills sent over by the GOP-led House.

“Right now, Harry Reid is protecting the president from making difficult decisions,” Ryan said Thursday, “and I believe that we can unblock a number of things that should at least get to the president’s desk and make him make a decision.” Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Al-Qaeda Leader Announces New India Branch

September 5th 2014

Ayman al-Zawahiri

In a new video, al-Qaeda announced the establishment of Qaedat al-Jihad or al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent. The new organization comes as rival Islamist groups, including Islamic State (IS), have gained attention from graphically violent operations in Iraq and Syria. Analysts say al-Qaeda is trying to remain relevant as IS makes territorial advances and has released video of the executions of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. In the hour-long al Qaeda video, current leader Ayman al-Zawahri said the terrorist organization would take back land "occupied" by unbelievers.

Al-Zawahri also explained that "This entity was not established today, but it is the fruit of a blessed effort for more than two years to gather the mujahideen in the Indian subcontinent into a single entity to be with the main group," suggesting extremists have already established roots in the region. Read more ..

Palestinians on Edge

Abbas Reportedly Tells Emir of Qatar: Hamas Tunnelers Tried to Assassinate Me

September 3rd 2014

Meshaal and Abbas

At a recent Qatari-hosted summit, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly asserted that rival group Hamas has attempted to assassinate him in the past, Israel’s NRG News said on Monday.

“In 2006, they tried to take my life, placing a bomb on the route I was supposed to have traveled – they tried to blow me up,” he claimed. “They dug a tunnel that reached beneath my residence in Gaza – I have photographic proof!” Abbas contended, suggesting that the evidence was on a CD he held.

The embarrassing newly leaked details of the August 21st summit between Fatah and Hamas leaders hint at the sour state of relations behind the “Palestinian Unity Government,” NRG said. Read more ..

The 2016 Vote

Will His Father's Bribery Scandal Dim Rand Paul's Presidential Prospects?

September 3rd 2014

The bribery scandal surrounding former Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-Texas) 2012 presidential bid is threatening to damage his son’s 2016 White House prospects.

The saga took down Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) likely campaign manager, Jesse Benton, who was running Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) reelection bid. And the implications of wrongdoing two years ago could still further trickle down and hobble the younger Paul’s developing presidential campaign apparatus.

Benton, a longtime aide to both Pauls, resigned Friday from the GOP Senate leader’s campaign amid controversy sparked by former Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson’s admission in court that he accepted tens of thousands of dollars from representatives associated with Paul’s and Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) campaigns for his endorsement. Read more ..

The Caliphate

ISIS Militant Vows to Return Home to 'Conquer' Spain

September 2nd 2014

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Calling himself Abu Tasnim al-Magribi, a combatant fighting for the Islamic State says he is ready to return to Spain in order to “conquer it.” According to ABC, a Spanish daily, the young man is originally from Ceuta – one of the two cities controlled by Spain on the Mediterranean shore of north Africa. Also known as Kokito Castillejos, the Muslim terrorist was married by proxy to a young Muslim women who, reportedly, asked for a suicide explosive belt as part of her wedding endowment.

The 28-year-old Muslim has shared his exploits on various social media. In one of his most recent appearances on social media, he is seen photographing a smiling boy who holds a head of a decapitated victim for all to see. Read more ..

The Caliphate

Islamic State Terrorists Behead Another American

September 2nd 2014

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Members of the Islamic State or Caliphate, also known as ISIS and ISIL, have reportedly beheaded another American. The latest victim is believed to be U.S. reporter Steven Sotloff. A video that emerged on September 2 on the internet appears to show Sotloff's beheading by the Muslim group.

When asked by the press corps, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that he had no information about the incident. The mutiliation is believed to have turned up the pressure for President Barack Obama to take more military action in the Mideast where, in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State holds sway.

Before his mutilation by the knife-wielding masked man in the video, Sotloff was heard to address Obama directly. In the video, Sotloff said, "I’m sure you know exactly who I am by now and why I am appearing. Obama, your foreign policy of intervention in Iraq was supposed to be for preservation of American lives and interests, so why is it that I am paying the price of your interference with my life?" He had been missing since August 2013. Read more ..

The Battle for Ukraine

Russia Says No 'Military Intervention' Foreseen in Ukraine Despite NATO Fears

September 1st 2014

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on September 1 that the Russian military would not intervene in Ukraine, something Kyiv and the West say it has already done. Lavrov told students and teachers at Russia's premier international affairs university that there would be no "military intervention" in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists have been fighting Ukrainian government forces since April in a conflict the UN says has killed more than 2,600 people.

NATO said last week it believed more than 1,000 Russian soldiers had entered Ukraine in what U.S. President Barack Obama called an "ongoing incursion" by Moscow.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on September 1 that the events of the past few days show Russia has launched a "direct and open aggression" against Ukraine. He suggested a shake-up of the Ukrainan military leadership could be imminent. Read more ..

The Battle for Ukraine

Russian Armored Units Battle Ukrainian Forces for Control of Eastern Ukraine

September 1st 2014

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Troops loyal to the Ukrainian government battled Russian tanks in Lugansk, a city in the eastern part of the country that is the apple of discord between Ukraine and Russia. Ukrainian military spokesman Leonid Matyukhin declared on his Facebook page on September 1, "The battle between Ukrainian paratroopers and a reinforced tank battalion of the Russian armed forces is continuing with the goal of controlling the Lugansk airfield.”

Defense Ministery Valeriy Geletey said that Russian troops are advancing towards other towns and cities in the disputed region, including Donetsk. "We are fighting Russia and it is Russia which is deciding what will happen in Donbass," he said on television on the evening of August 31. Donbass is the informal name of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. "We are holding talks not with terrorists but with representatives of the Kremlin," he added. Read more ..

Operation Protective Edge

Israel Downs UAV from Syria and is now 'Ready for Any Scenario

August 31st 2014

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The Israeli Air Force’s downing of a UAV from Syria that strayed into its airspace over the Golan Heights on Sunday underlined remarks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Jewish State was “ready for any scenario both in [the Gaza region] and in others including – of course – the Golan Heights.”

Speaking at the outset of the weekly Cabinet session, held in rocket-battered Ashkelon in identification with its residents, Netanyahu said Israeli forces had “struck Hamas very hard,” during the 50-days of Operation Protective Edge, meant to foil both rocket fire and terror tunnels into Israeli territory.

“The IDF and the ISA (Israel Security Agency – the Shin Bet) killed almost 1,000 terrorists, struck at the heads of the organizations, and struck at their network of tunnels and their terrorist high-rises. We foiled their rocket attacks, and their aggression from land, sea and air. We hit their command centers and delivered blows that Hamas has not experienced since it was founded. At the same time, Hamas withdrew from all of its demands for a ceasefire, with neither time constraints nor other conditions,” Netanyahu said. Read more ..

The Caliphate

U.S. Airstrikes Hit Islamic State Combatants Near Iraq's Mosul Dam

August 31st 2014

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The U.S. military says fighter aircraft and unmanned drones have struck Islamic State militants near Iraq's Mosul Dam.

In a statement issued on August 30, U.S. Central Command says the five latest U.S. air strikes were in support of operations conducted by Iraqi security forces. Officials say the air strikes destroyed an armed vehicle, a fighting position, and weapons and heavily damaged an Islamic State building. Central Command says it has conducted a total of 115 air strikes across Iraq.

Elsewhere, Iraqi army and Kurdish forces closed in on Islamic State fighters on August in a push to break the Sunni militants' siege of the northern Shi'ite town of Amerli. Read more ..

The Battle for Ukraine

Ukraine Approves of New EU Sanctions on Russia

August 30th 2014

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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says the EU summit in Brussels has agreed to prepare new sanctions on Russia, conditional on progress of his peace plan.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels as EU leaders meet on August 30, he also said he thinks the crisis over Russia's intervention in Ukraine is "very close to the point of no return, [of) full-scale war."

He said he hoped the contact group meeting on September 1 with Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE in Minsk could result in a cease-fire.

Separately, Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier on August 30 in a telephone talk with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka that it was important to organize consultations of the contact group in Minsk with the participation of representatives of Kyiv, of Ukraine's southeastern regions, the OSCE, and Russia. Read more ..

The Battle for Ukraine

EU Offers Strong Words for Putin over Ukraine Imbroglio

August 30th 2014

Russian T 72 tank in Ukraine

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU is ready to take "very strong and clear measures" against Russia over the Ukraine crisis. Barroso told a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Brussels on August 30 that he would propose a broad range of options to member states. "What I can tell you now on behalf of the European Commission is that we have already prepared some options, so we have done our work in case the member states decide to go for further levels of sanctions," he said. Barroso added that the EU was "keeping our doors open to a political solution" and that any tightening of sanctions was intended not to escalate the crisis but to push Moscow to negotiate.

"Sanctions or restrictive measures are just ways, means, or instruments to show to the Russian leadership that the current situation is not acceptable and that we urge them to come to reason, to work constructively," he said. Read more ..

The Battle for Ukraine

NATO Chief Demands Cessation of Russian Activity in Ukraine

August 29th 2014

Russian tank in Ukraine

NATO has called on Russia to cease its "illegal military operations" in eastern Ukraine, which it says are aimed at destabilizing the country.

The comments by NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Friday followed an emergency meeting in Brussels to discuss the worsening crisis.

Rasmussen, referencing satellite images released by his organization Thursday, said it is now clear that Russian troops and equipment have illegally crossed the border into eastern Ukraine. He said this is not an isolated incident, but part of a pattern over many months to destabilize Ukraine as a sovereign nation. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Paycheck for Terrorism: $5,300 for Suicide Attack

August 29th 2014

Money Bands=Happiness

For the first time, startling details are being made public about the millions of dollars funneled from Middle East charities to Islamic terrorists and their families. The money was used to reward terrorists and their families after attacks on Israelis and U.S. nationals visiting Israel between 2000 and 2005 during the second intifada or Palestinian uprising.

The evidence was presented today in a landmark case in New York federal court. Three hundred U.S. nationals claim Arab Bank knowingly provided financial services to terrorists and their financiers in violation of the U.S. anti-terrorism law. Arab Bank contends it did not knowingly serve terrorists.

Bank documents reveal an elaborate system for which Amman, Jordan-based Arab Bank served as the center point. Some Israelis refer to the bank as the “Grand Central Station of terrorist financing.” Read more ..

The Battle for Baghdad

U.S. Forms Coalition Against the Islamic State and Investigates Reports of Second American KIA

August 28th 2014

The United States Wednesday said it is seeking to build an international coalition to confront the threat posed by Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and Iraq. U.S. officials are also trying to determine whether a second American fighting alongside jihadists in Syria has been killed.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States is working to put together a coalition of countries in Europe, the Arab world and beyond who might contribute to taking on the threat posed by IS Sunni militants. She said there are many ways for nations to contribute. Read more ..

Ebola Outbreak

CDC Director Friedan Says Ebola Outbreak is Getting Worse

August 28th 2014

According to Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa will get worse before it gets better, needing an "unprecedented" response to bring it under control.

Dr. Frieden met Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on August 27 to discuss ways to fight the disease. "The cases are increasing. I wish I did not have to say this, but it is going to get worse before it gets better," he admitted.

"The world has never seen an outbreak of Ebola like this. Consequently, not only are the numbers large, but we know there are many more cases than has been diagnosed and reported," he said. Read more ..

The Way We Are

Bus Fever is Spreading

August 27th 2014

On the bus

Until recently, John Alday either drove or flew the 200-mile trip between his company’s headquarters in Dallas and its satellite office in Austin.

But too many times, he said, when he flew it ended up taking far longer than he planned, whether it was a problem in getting to the airport or checking in, or a weather delay. Now he has switched to a simpler and, he says, more reliable means of transportation — a bus, specifically an executive coach.

“It’s more luxurious than any first-class seat I’ve ever been in,” said Mr. Alday, the chief executive of the Cima Solutions Group, an information technology company. The Vonlane bus Mr. Alday rides has 16 reclining leather seats, Wi-Fi, an attendant who serves meals and beverages, a wireless printer, office supplies and a conference table with additional seating. Read more ..

Operation Protective Edge

Israel and Hamas Trade Blows on 50th Day of Operation Protective Edge

August 26th 2014

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Israeli missiles hit one of the tallest buildings in Gaza early Tuesday, wounding at least 20 Palestinians.

The missiles struck the 13-story office and apartment tower after dark following Israeli warnings that an attack was coming.

Israeli airstrikes killed at least eight people Monday while the army said 80 Hamas rockets fell on Israeli territory, causing no casualties.

Egypt, which led failed peace talks earlier this month, is again appealing to Israel and Hamas to call a truce and reopen negotiations.

Cairo is proposing opening key crossings into Gaza to let in humanitarian aid and material to repair damaged buildings.

On Monday, Palestinian officials appeared to accept the Egyptian proposal. There was no word from the Israelis.

Nearly two months of Israeli airstrikes in response to Hamas has killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including close to 500 children. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and four civilians have been killed. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Obama Authorizes Drone Flights over Syria

August 26th 2014

A senior White House official says President Barack Obama has authorized surveillance flights over Syria.

The official said late on August 25 that Obama has not approved any military action, but that the U.S. is preparing military options for combating the Islamic State fighters who have taken over large areas in eastern Syria and northern and western Iraq.

U.S. planes have been carrying out airstrikes in Iraq, helping Iraqi and Kurdish forces take back territory from the militants, including a dam in Mosul that is key to providing power to many in Iraq.

Pentagon officials have expressed the need to go after the Islamic State group on both sides of the border. Read more ..

The Shaking Earth

California Declares Disaster Following Worst Quake in 25 Years

August 24th 2014

California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for portions of the state, following the biggest earthquake to shake the San Francisco Bay area in 25 years.

The 6.0 magnitude quake struck in the middle of the night Sunday, jolting people out of bed and knocking merchandise off store shelves.

More than 100 people were reported injured.

The quake was centered between San Francisco and Sacramento. Most of the damage is in and around the town of Napa, in northern California's picturesque wine-making region.

The quake was centered between San Francisco and Sacramento. Most of the damage is in and around the town of Napa, in northern California's picturesque wine-making region. Read more ..

The Battle for Libya

Amidst Renewed Turmoil, Libyan Rebels Claim International Airport

August 24th 2014

Libya is engulfed in new political turmoil, with an Islamist militia openly challenging the legitimacy of the country's elected parliament, after its fighters took control of Tripoli's battered international airport.

After seizing the airport in the Libyan capital, the militia from the coastal city of Misrata called Sunday for the old General National Congress to be reinstated.

It alleged the parliament elected in June was complicit in mysterious airstrikes on Misrati positions at the airport as its militiamen fought rival fighters from the mountainous region of Zintan for six weeks for control of the key facility. Read more ..

The Battle for Baghdad

Suicide Bombings Leave Dozens Dead in Iraq

August 23rd 2014

Bombings across Iraq have left at least 30 people dead, a day after an assault on a Sunni mosque killed at least 60 worshipers as they attended weekly prayers, in the government-controlled village of Bani Wais in Diyala Province, north of Baghdad.

Officials say a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle into an Interior Ministry building in Baghdad on August 23, killing at least eight people and wounding several others. There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack on the ministry's intelligence headquarters.

Iraqi officials say three bombs erupted in Kirkuk, killing at least 18 and wounding more than 100 others. Another bomb rattled the normally quiet city of Irbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan region.

The Reuters news agency also reports a deadly bombing in Tikrit. Read more ..

The Caliphate

Biden: ISIS Can be Defeated Without US Boots on the Ground

August 23rd 2014

Iraq ISIL double file of militants

Vice President Biden expressed confidence that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria could be defeated without U.S. boots on the ground in Iraq, calling the militant group "far from invincible."

In a Washington Post op-ed published Friday, Biden described the threat as a "long-term challenge" but said the United States is prepared to increase its support in the fight.

"ISIL has no legitimate cause or grievance to espouse,” he said, using an alternate name for the group. "And as we saw at the Mosul dam, when its fighting strength is eroded, it can be routed by local forces without U.S. boots on the ground."

The United States launched 60 airstrikes — two-thirds of all U.S. operations — in helping Iraqi and Kurdish forces retake the Mosul dam, which the adminisration said could have been catastrophic if it was breached. Biden called the mission last week the first operation where the Kurdish pesh merga and Iraq security forces worked together. Read more ..

Department of State Denies Partnership with Syrian Dictator Bashr al-Assad

August 22nd 2014

The United States would not consider partnering with the Assad regime to address the threat posed by Islamist militants who have seized areas within Syria and Iraq, the State Department said Friday.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a radical militant group operating across the border, has been fighting both the Syrian and Iraqi governments in a bid to create a radical caliphate carved out of those two countries.

The U.S. has joined with Iraqi and Kurdish forces to target ISIS fighters in Iraq, and vowed to pursue the group more vigorously following the taped execution of American photojournalist James Foley.

But those efforts will not include partnering with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Nearly 200,000 Syrians are estimated to have died in that country's civil war, and the administration has previously said that Assad should be removed from power over his role in that conflict. Read more ..

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