The Iranian Threat
|Isi Leibler||April 15th 2015|
The announcement of the Lausanne joint statement concerning the framework of the U.S. deal with Iran highlighted the extent of President Barack Obama’s subterfuge and deception. We also witnessed the blatant contempt of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who rejected key components of the “agreements” and referred to America’s “devilish” objectives while his audience chanted “Death to America.” Yet Obama continued insisting that a genuine framework for a deal had been achieved and dismissed Khamenei’s remarks as merely for “domestic consumption.” He reiterated that Iran would not become a nuclear power “under his watch.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now no longer a voice in the wilderness. There has been a surge of condemnations from wide sections of the media, including many liberal and even Obama stalwarts who, ironically, effectively vindicated Netanyahu’s congressional critique of the deal — which they had previously mocked. Read more ..
|Armstrong Williams||April 13th 2015|
As if the Islamic Republic of Iran's determined pursuit of nuclear weapons, track record of bloody terrorism, aggressive geopolitical power grabs, abhorrent human rights violations and history of lies were not enough – President Obama’s recent interview should prove to everyone just how dangerous the framework agreement announced in Lausanne really is.
In an interview with Tom Friedman, President Obama said, "I’ve been very clear that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch."
That last bit bears repeating: "Iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch." This confirms what many of us have suspected all along: the framework agreement will enable Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon; the mullahs in Tehran will just have to wait a little while. Read more ..
The Iranian Threat
|Ari Morgenstern||April 12th 2015|
Pastor Saeed Abedini, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, and former Marine Corps Sgt. Amir Hekmati represent the essence of what makes America American — yet today all three are unjustly imprisoned in Iran.
That these individuals languish in jail while their captors repeatedly dine with America's secretary of state is of course repugnant. But such commentary would be rejected as shortsighted by the defenders of the Obama administration's negotiations with Tehran. They would no doubt tell us to look at the bigger picture and approach international diplomacy with the detached realism that necessitates sacrificing a few for the many.
But given the values they represent, might the unjust incarceration of these three American citizens — a pastor, a journalist and a Marine — inform our larger understanding of striking a deal with the Islamic Republic? Read more ..
|Mark Hyman||April 10th 2015|
Behind the Headlines
You can find papers on just about every side of a topic. Think tanks, advocacy groups, and activists churn out reports arguing their side of a contested issue. Some are authoritative. Others should be read with skepticism. Case in point. A British medical association recently published this report that claimed to have reviewed fracking “through a comprehensive public health lens.” The report prompted several prominent British doctors to publicly oppose fracking on health grounds.
Then it was reported several of the paper’s claims were not accurate. Some of the report was written by an anti-fracking activist who had no medical training, whatsoever. Some papers are indeed sketchy. On the other hand, much credibility is given to peer-reviewed studies. There are considered near-pure science. Read more ..
Behind The Headlines
In 2013, an internal audit found irregularities totaling $200,000 in the expense reports of Polycom CEO Andrew Miller. He immediately resigned from the company.
Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Miller with fraud. And Polycom agreed to pay a $750,000 fine.
This is an example of accountability. Accountability to the company, to the shareholders, and compliance with government regulations.
Here’s a contrast.
My computer map program says it’s about 150 miles between the Veterans Administration headquarters in Washington, DC and the V.A. regional office in Philadelphia. About a three-hour drive. A whistleblower reported the Veterans Administration doled out nearly $300,000 to V.A. executive Diana Rubens to cover her transfer expenses from the DC office to Philadelphia. Two-hundred and eighty-eight thousand and change to be more precise. Read more ..
Obama and Israel
|Hana Levi Julian||April 7th 2015|
Jewish leaders in the United States are starting to rethink the instinctive ties the community has had with the Democratic Party from time immemorial.
The change of heart comes in the wake of the deal signed last week with Tehran allowing it to pursue nuclear technology development and research.
Last week, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough met with a group of Jewish Democratic Congress members to discuss the issue. According to a source who was present at the meeting, McDonough was told that to help “sell a very unpopular deal to our constituents…” President Barack Obama would have to “increase his popularity with our constituents,” Fox News reported.
He was also advised to suggest the president tone down his war with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – or at least avoid “getting into a daily argument” with him, as one person at the meeting reportedly put it. Read more ..
Christianity on Edge
|Star Parker||April 4th 2015|
Columnist George Will points out that Apple’s openly gay CEO, Tim Cook, “...thinks Indiana is a terrible place. (But) He opened marketing and retail operations in Saudi Arabia two months before a man was sentenced to 450 lashes for being gay.”
Will was commenting on Cook’s recent Washington Post op-ed protesting Indiana’s new, now amended, Religious Freedom Restoration Act and similar initiatives around the country.
World Magazine reports that Cook has recently been in the United Arab Emirates negotiating on behalf of Apple, where homosexuality is against the law and the penalty is death.
Cook’s duplicity is not just in deeds, but also in words.
The Indiana law was passed to protect religious freedom, mirroring existing federal law and law in 31 states around the nation. Our Declaration of Independence notes our inalienable rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." But for Cook, who purports in his op-ed to care about freedom, protection of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" for a Christian is an act of aggression against gays. Read more ..
|Edwin Black||April 3rd 2015|
At the moment, the world remains profoundly unsure about the deal now emerging from recent negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Iran's R-265 spheroidal three-stage warheads are almost ready to load into Teheran’s Shahab-3 missile nosecones. The Shabab-3 missiles, remonikered from their North Korean origin, are designed to airburst at a height of approximately 650 meters over Tel Aviv replicating the atomic explosion over Hiroshima. To complete the circuit, Iran is only missing the 25 to 27 kg of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) — the so-called "significant quantity" — each bomb needs to detonate into a mushroom cloud. That “significant quantity” is, at this moment, being distilled from uranium, gram by gram, in Iran’s long rows of ever-whirring centrifuges. The incremental process relies on intermediate levels of 5 percent and 20 percent, which respectively achieves some 75 percent and 90 percent of the target enrichment, according to nuclear experts.
While the world’s diplomats are focused on the two key fuels, uranium and plutonium, one ancient fuel drives this entire process. That ancient fuel is oil.
Petrodollars have been financing Iran’s nuclear program for almost two decades. So, while the International Atomic Energy Agency is struggling to embed its monitors deep inside Iran’s infrastructure, the average person can help slow the centrifuges simply by reducing their household’s demand for oil.
Even though Iranian oil has been proscribed by international sanctions, all oil is fungible. When oil consumption is measurably reduced in America and elsewhere, it very quickly lowers the value of the global supply. That cheapens the value of Iran’s oil, the financial furnace of its nuclear program. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Ilya Feoktistov & Charles Jacobs||March 31st 2015|
The Boston Marathon bombers’ mosque, the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB), employs an intensive radicalizing program aimed at Boston’s historically moderate Muslim community, especially at its youth. It’s called “Tarbiya,” which is Arabic for “growth and refinement.” It is not something that is practiced as part of classical mainstream Islam.
APT has obtained several curriculum documents created by ISB-affiliated groups, which describe exactly what is taught and when, with assignments detailed down to book and page number. We are making the most detailed and traceable of these documents available here and here. We will focus in this article on a particular Tarbiya program called “Young Muslims,” which was explicitly endorsed by Suhaib Webb, the Imam of the ISB’s mega-mosque in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. It lists books that all participants must read, and even includes page numbers for specific assignments (the document was formerly available at the program’s website, and can still be accessed through an archived version of the site). Read more ..
The 2016 Vote
|Jonathan Easley||March 22nd 2015|
As Hillary Clinton readies her campaign, Ready for Hillary is getting ready to step aside.
Founded to convince the former secretary of State to run for office, the organization is planning to dissolve as soon as possible after Clinton formally announces.
Their parting gift to her: A list of more than 3.6 million supporters they’ll push to sign on with Clinton's official campaign, leaving her with a huge pool of potential donors and volunteers as she enters the race.
"When she announces a decision, our work will be complete," Ready for Hillary Executive Director Adam Parkhomenko told The Hill. “My number one goal is to identify as many supporters as possible and if she announces she's running to transition as many of them over to the campaign.” Read more ..
Obama and Israel
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly criticized President Barack Obama for appointing veteran anti-Israel diplomat, Robert Malley, as White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region. Malley is an Israel-basher, an advocate of U.S. recognition of major, unreconstructed terrorist groups Hamas and Hizballah, and a proponent of the containment of Iran (i.e., not preventing them from attaining nuclear weapons).
Robert Malley's record includes the following:
Served as a Special Assistant dealing with Middle Eastern and South Asian issues under President Bill Clinton during 1998-2001 and was one of President Obama's closest advisers for Middle East issues until his affinity for negotiating with Hamas became public in 2008. Read more ..
The World on Edge
|Sol W. Sanders||February 10th 2015|
Historians cheat. Mostly, they reconstruct the story of our past as a straightforward narrative with a beginning, middle, and sometimes even an end.
What they don't usually tell us is that a great deal more was going on than that single narrative of events--and, sometimes they have to flip back and pick up another strand instead to straighten it out.
That's why, at the moment, there is little that the historians can do to help us sort out the enormous chain of events that is deciding the future of the world and of the U.S. For the world is in the throes of vast developments, as perhaps it always is, which will profoundly affect the future of all of us.
About all we can do is to be as clearheaded as possible about the various candidate strands for our attention.
So here goes: Read more ..
Afghanistan on Edge
|Tarek Fatah||February 7th 2015|
The Toronto Sun
Not since America's humiliating defeat in Vietnam has that country faced such a comprehensive failure of objectives as in Afghanistan, where some weeks ago the NATO flag was lowered to mark the end of a 13-year war.
While the ignominious April 30, 1975 American retreat from Saigon was a public debacle, best captured by the scene of the last U.S. helicopter lifting off from its embassy in the South Vietnamese capital, the withdrawal from Kabul was a quieter but sorry ceremony.
The event marking the end of America's longest war was held in a basketball gym inside NATO headquarters in Kabul. As a brass band played and a colour guard marched, the U.S. commander, Gen. John F. Campbell, uttered words that sounded hollow to many. "Our commitment to Afghanistan endures ... We are not walking away," he said. Read more ..
Turkey on Edge
|Burak Bekdil||February 5th 2015|
Hurriyet Daily News
No doubt, Ahmet Davutoglu the human being is an honest, hard-working and modest man of academia. There are increasing signs that his struggle as head of the Turkish executive will not be against, as he mysteriously puts it, "those [enemies] who envy Turkey's success story in the last 12 years." In reality, Mr. Davutoglu's inner struggle is probably against Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Last Oct. 17, Davutoglu the fair-minded human being said the system of paid exemption from military service would be halted because it was unfair. "[We cannot allow a system] where the poor boy is drafted and the son of the rich man is exempted because he can pay for it," Davutoglu the human being said. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Armstrong Williams||January 29th 2015|
Most of the discussion following President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address pointed to his decision to announce various programs and goals that have no chance of being actually being passed by the Republican-controlled House and Senate. But the most cynical, and probably the most dangerous, collision between reality and rhetoric was when the President spoke about Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program.
Members of Congress who are concerned by the ongoing nuclear progress of the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism are interested in pursuing a bill that would provide a backstop should the talks between Iran and the P5+1 ultimately break down due to Tehran’s unwillingness to dismantle its nuclear arms program.
The bipartisan legislation authored by Sens. Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez would not impose new sanctions on Iran; instead the measure is essentially a diplomatic insurance policy that improves the likelihood that Iran may decide to actually cut a deal rather than face stringent economic consequences.
Read more ..
The Obama Administration has in recent days undertaken a full-fledged assault on the idea, wielding false assertions that seem to reflect desperation by the President and his staff to cut a deal with Iran at all costs—even if that means agreeing to a bad deal. The administration has even gone so far as to solicit an oped from our European allies urging Congress not to put in place the necessary measures to use financial pressure if, and only if, the negotiations fail. These are dangerous games and they send exactly the wrong signal to Iran.
Islam on Edge
|Jay Ogilvy||January 29th 2015|
Read more ..
The Charlie Hebdo attack and its aftermath in the streets and in the press tempt one to dust off Samuel Huntington's 1996 book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Despite the criticisms he provoked with that book and his earlier 1993 article in Foreign Affairs, recent events would seem to be proving him prescient.
Or was he?
While I am not about to deny the importance of religion and culture as drivers of geopolitical dynamics, I will argue that, more important than the clashes among the great civilizations, there is a clash within each of the great civilizations. This is the clash between those who have "made it" (in a sense yet to be defined) and those who have been "left behind" — a phrase that is rich with ironic resonance.
Before I make my argument, I warn that the point I'm trying to make is fairly subtle. So, in the interest of clarity, let me lay out what I'm not saying before I make that point. I am not saying that Islam as a whole is somehow retrograde. I am not agreeing with author Sam Harris' October 2014 remark on "Real Time with Bill Maher" that "Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas." Nor am I saying that all religions are somehow equal, or that culture is unimportant. The essays in the book Culture Matters, which Huntington helped edit, argue that different cultures have different comparative advantages when it comes to economic competitiveness. These essays build on the foundation laid down by Max Weber's 1905 work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. It is only the "sulfuric odor of race," as Harvard historian David Landes writes on the first page of the first essay in Culture Matters, that has kept scholars from exploring the under-researched linkages between culture and economic performance.
The Way We Are
|Peter Finn||January 29th 2015|
After a six-year legal battle, a detainee has given his side of the story of his arrest, rendition and interrogation. It's horrific.
There are many incredible things about the diary recently published by Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi. It contains over 2,500 redactions, and was only published after a six-year legal battle. Its author was cleared for release in 2010 but still languishes in Guantanamo, and is unlikely to be released this year.
Among other outrages, the diary documents how Slahi, after suffering the indignity and abuse that arose from genuine renditions, was subject to a “fake rendition process” designed to make him feel he was “being transferred to some far, faraway secret prison.”
As part of this fake rendition, he was subjected to a beating so severe he was unable to stand, then taken out to sea on a boat for three hours and forced to drink salt water as he feared he would be killed if he refused. Read more ..
The Edge of Tolerance
|Martin Barillas||January 28th 2015|
|Period photo of victim of Armenian genocide|
Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan has invited numerous heads of state to the April 24 commemoration, including Armenian President Serzh Sarkysian. In recent days, the Armenian press published Sarkysian’s reply to Erdogan in which he rejects the invitation. The letter also accused Turkey of seeking to perpetuate its longstanding denial that the mass killing of 1.5 million people by the Ottomans amounted to a genocide.
Turkey has maintained that the genocide is to be blamed on Ottoman authorities who ruled the Anatolian peninsula, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. Sarkysian accused the Turkish government of seeking to distract the world’s attention away from the memory of the genocide.
A bilingual Armenian weekly published in Istanbul, Agos, called the invitation "a dishonest step" on the part of the Turkish leader. Christians living in Turkey say that the commemoration of the battle on the same day on which Armenians will remember the hundreds of thousands of Christian Armenians, Greeks, and others by Ottoman authorities in 1915 is an unnecessary provocation. Read more ..
|Star Parker||January 27th 2015|
This past week, following the nation's celebration of the birthday of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the U.S. Supreme Court heard an important case related to landmark law enacted during the civil rights era – the Fair Housing Law of 1968.
This case highlights how some policies that followed civil rights era legislation – in this case government low-income housing projects – actually have hurt the very communities they were supposed to help.
The Court heard arguments in the case Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v The Inclusive Communities Project, a non-profit defining itself as for “thriving racially and economically inclusive communities.” No one questions the illegality of refusing to sell or rent to someone because of his or her race. But what about policies not intended to be discriminatory, but that may produce results that might be deemed as such? Read more ..
The War on Terror
|Newt Gingrich||January 19th 2015|
The United States has been at war with radical Islamist terrorism for at least 35 years, starting with the November 1979 Iranian seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and taking of 52 American hostages. President Jimmy Carter , in his State of the Union address two months later, declared the American captives “innocent victims of terrorism.”
For the next two decades, radical Islamist terrorism grew more powerful and more sophisticated. On Sept. 11, 2001, a remarkably sophisticated effort by Islamist terrorists killed nearly 3,000 Americans in New York City, Washington, D.C., and western Pennsylvania.
In response to the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor, President George W. Bush told a joint session of Congress: “Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.” Read more ..
Islam's War Against Hinduism
|Phyllis Chesler||January 15th 2015|
On January 11, 2015, Anjali Devi, 57, was brutally murdered by a group of young men associated with Jamayat-e-Islami.
She was a Hindu, living in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, an honored teacher of nursing at a medical college, a nurse who was concerned with proper hygiene for nurses.
But the Islamist group Jamayat-e-Islami had issued a fatwa demanding that nurses wear hijab. By definition, doing so increases the risk of a nurse carrying a disease from one patient to another and violates operating room procedures. Bangladeshi daily newspaper The Independent reports that police are refusing to officially tie the attack to the group—“We are not pretty sure who the real assassin is, and the motive behind it (murder) is not clear yet.”—but witnesses noted Devi’s opposition to the hijab as the most likely reason for the murder. Read more ..
|Mark Hyman||January 14th 2015|
Behind the Headlines
Last summer, more than 1,000 pages were released from a FOIA lawsuit. While Hillary Clinton was the Secretary, the State Department approved more than 200 speeches given by Bill Clinton to several countries including China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Turkey. Clinton’s speaking fees were an astonishing 48 million dollars. When then-President-elect Barack Obama was negotiating with Hillary over the Secretary of State post Clinton promised there wouldn’t be “even the appearance of a conflict of interest.”
215 times ethics determinations were made on Bill Clinton speaking engagements that netted millions from countries while his wife was running foreign policy. Every single time the State Department found no potential conflict. Hillary's chief of staff was routinely copied on these determinations.
Most neutral observers would probably find some conflict of interest or possibly unethical behavior existed. As to why this other journalist never heard of the story. According to a Lexis-Nexis search, the total number of stories carried by the cable news channels, TV networks, major newspapers, and the Associated Press from last summer thru December 31st is zero. Read more ..
The Edge of Tolerance
|Ben Cohen||January 13th 2015|
The openly anti-Semitic mayor of Ankara, the capital of Turkey, has engaged in another ugly tirade against Jews, blaming the Israeli intelligence service Mossad for last week’s deadly terrorist attacks in France.
Ibrahim Melih Gökçek, a member of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, told a youth congress on Sunday that Israel was angry with France for having voted in favor of Palestinian statehood resolution at a United Nations Security Council meeting last month.
“Israel certainly doesn’t want this sentiment to expand in Europe. That’s why it is certain that Mossad is behind these kinds of incidents. Mossad inflames Islamophobia by causing such incidents,” Gökçek said, according a report in the Turkish newspaper Zaman. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Zalmi Unsdorfer||January 11th 2015|
Cutting Edge contributor
Today’s mass rally in Paris is a spectacular event for the French people and guaranteed to leave them aglow and refreshed after a most traumatic week.
It’s also a useful PR boost for Francois Hollande who has probably been the most inept and farcical figure ever to have occupied the Elysee Palace. As for the other visiting dignitaries, the photo-ops won’t do Netanyahu any harm in his upcoming election and, as for the King and Queen of Jordan, Paris shopping will be a welcome distraction from ISIS forces knocking on their door back home.
Mahmoud Abbas is also making an appearance – doubtless in gratitude for Hollande’s support of his UN bid for PLO statehood. Welcoming such a man to this celebration of tolerance and harmony is like inviting the grim reaper to a shiva.
But beyond all these ulterior motives and the feelgood factor for the citizens of France, this will not change anything where it counts. The crowds will drift away and life will go on, down the slippery slope to dhimmitude. Read more ..
The War on Terror
|Lawrence A. Franklin||January 11th 2015|
|Grand Synagogue of Paris|
What did the shoppers in a Jewish supermarket, four of whom were slaughtered, have to do with the cartoon images of Mohammad?
In light of all the expressed concern about possible anti-Muslim incidents, claims on television that "Muslims are the most persecuted people" seemed jarring and wrong.
Perhaps they should have spent a little time reporting on the anti-Jewish rioting that took place in the heavily Muslim neighborhood of Trappes, a suburb of Paris?
A seemingly required inclusion in most reports on the recent mass murder in Paris was the rhetorical question posed by reporters has been: "Will these events invite a wave of anti-Muslim incidents"? Since these Islam-inspired murders, however, there have been only a few anti-Muslim actions -- all against property. Read more ..
The Edge of Intolerance
|Ben Cohen||January 9th 2015|
The anti-Semitism at the heart of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel was again laid bare on January 8, as prominent activists from the campaign took to social media to advance the conspiracy theory that the terrorist attack against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was carried out by the Mossad.
Leading the charge was Greta Berlin, a spokesperson for the Free Gaza movement, an organization that has been closely involved with attempts to break Israel’s blockade against the Hamas regime in Gaza.
In a Facebook posting, Berlin declared, “MOSSAD just hit the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo in a clumsy false flag designed to damage the accord between Palestine and France…Here’s hoping the French police will be able to tell a well executed hit by a well trained Israeli intelligence service and not assume the Muslims would be likely to attack France when France is their freind (sic.) Israel did tell France there would be grave consequences if they voted with Palestine. A four year old could see who is responsible for this terrible attack.” Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Rachel Ehrenfeld||January 8th 2015|
President Obama is wrong. Free expression and a free press are clearly not "universal values," as he asserted in his condemnation of the attack on Charlie Hebdo's office in Paris. The terrorist attack today was merely an enforcement of decades-long Islamist intimidation and terrorism campaigns against the West.
The leading Islamist terrorist group, the PLO, has pioneered the use of libel suit as threats against me and the Wall Street Journal and the National Review who published my documentation of the terrorist nature of the Hamas affiliated Holy-land Foundation in the late 1980s, and in the early 1990s, they threaten to sue me and the Wall Street Journal for publishing a detailed expose of Yassar Arrafat's corruption. But they could scare us.
Al Qaeda's 9/11 attacks on America, marked the increase of Islamist intimidation of free expression. At first, it was in the form of economic warfare, by filing expensive libel suits against those who exposed the funders of al Qaeda. London became the "libel Capital" of the world and the British Bar was paid well to abandon its pride. Read more ..
Faith and Reason
|Kevin Cirilli||January 3rd 2015|
Pope Francis is increasingly driving a wedge between conservatives and the Catholic Church.
The magnetic pope has sparked new enthusiasm around the world for the church and has flexed his political muscles internationally, most recently by helping to engineer a new relationship between the United States and Cuba.
But Francis’s agenda, which also includes calls to address income inequality and limit climate change, is putting him at odds with Republicans, including GOP Catholics in the United States.
Hours after President Obama announced moves to ease trade and travel restrictions to Cuba, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a practicing Catholic and potential 2016 presidential candidate, criticized the deal and Francis's role in it.
“I would also ask His Holiness to take up the cause of freedom and democracy, which is critical for a free people, for a people to truly be free,” Rubio told reporters. Read more ..
The Arab World on Edge
|Mordechai Kedar||January 1st 2015|
2014 was a year in which we witnessed the continued deterioration of the modern Arab state, while in contrast, two older poitical frameworks rose in popularity.
Syria is undergoing a long and bloody process of disintegration. Assad controls about a quarter of the country, including Damascus, part of Haleb in the north, the coastal strip and the Ansari mountains where the Allawites, his non-Muslim brothers, are to be found. Two new frameworks arose on the ruins of Syria: an independent Kurdish area in the northeast and Islamic State on about 30% of Syrian land. The Kurds feel a strong connection to their Iraqi brothers and have no intentions of being under Arab domination ever again. Read more ..
|Shiryn Ghermezian||December 29th 2014|
Israeli journalist Itai Anghel said in a radio interview last week that it was “horrifying” to hear about terrorist tactics and their graphic details described to him by captured ISIS fighters he spoke with while in Iraq and Syria.
Anghel spent a week in each country, staying in the Kurdish-held territories to report on ISIS for the Israeli television show Uvdah. He interviewed ISIS fighters captured by Kurdish forces about acts they committed as members of the terrorist group, including beheadings, as well as their stance on Jews and Israel. Some of the captives were blindfolded during their interviews with Anghel and none of them knew that the reporter was Israeli. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Paul Miller||December 24th 2014|
When Ismaaiyl Brinsley set out to murder two New York City police officers, his motive may have been more than revenge for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, the two men killed by police. Brinsley appears to have been influenced by Islamic extremism.
On his Instagram account several months ago, Brinsley revealed he was planning to visit “Al-Farooq Tomorrow inshallah.” This appears to be a reference to Masjid Al-Farooq in Brooklyn, a mosque with a history of hosting terror sympathizers and allegedly raising funds for al-Qaeda.
Images from Brinsley’s Facebook page (now removed) captured by the website Jihad Watch, reveal he posted one of the most controversial quotes from the Quran (8:60) in March:
And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know (but) whom Allah knows. And whatever you spend in the cause of Allah will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged. Read more ..
Israel and Palestine
|Bernie Quigley||December 22nd 2014|
"In a place where there are no worthy men, strive to be worthy." — Ethics of the Father
Today, as Palestinians stage a pro-Hamas rally at Temple Mount, as a deputy speaker in the Swedish parliament calls on Jews to abandon their religious identity, the better to become proper Swedes, as Jews here and everywhere light a candle against the darkness, today, in an essay titled "The Embattled Dream of Palestine," The New York Times celebrates its "vision of two separate states, with Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace," as "[having] been at the core of years of arduous negotiations to solve the Middle East conflict."
But the "Embattled Dream" was not Israel's dream; it was America's. It was Jimmy Carter's (who identifies himself today as a world "elder"), Bill Clinton's, George W. Bush's and Barack Obama's. The "two-state solution" they longed so long for is "no closer to reality than it was decades ago." Read more ..
|Rebecca Shabad||December 18th 2014|
The $1.1 trillion spending bill approved by the Senate Saturday includes emergency funding and dozens of policy riders that will affect policy throughout the government.
The main purpose of the bill is to keep the government funded, and the so-called “cromnibus” includes 11 appropriations bill that will fund most of the government through September 2015. It also includes a continuing resolution (CR) that funds the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 27. This is to answer GOP critics of President Obama's immigration executive actions, who had pushed to defund the agency.
Here's a look at some of the key riders in the bill:
Wall Street un-reform
The bill includes language repealing part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law that will allow banks covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to directly engage in derivatives trading. Read more ..
|Soeren Kern||December 17th 2014|
The Internet giant Google has announced that it is shutting down its Google News service in Spain. The move came in response to a new copyright law in Spain that would require Google and other news aggregators to pay Spanish publishers for linking to their content. The Spanish law follows similar legislation in other parts of the European Union, where politicians are increasingly lashing out at Google over a host of complaints about antitrust, privacy and taxation issues.
Google has accommodated critics in some countries, but with Spain, the government appears to have completely overreached: Spain's ailing newspaper industry, which is utterly dependent upon Google News to drive traffic and revenues, is now at risk.
Spain's new Intellectual Property Law (Ley de Propiedad Intelectual) was approved in February 2014 and enters into effect on January 1, 2015. Also known as the "Google Tax" (tasa Google), the purpose of the new law is to force predominately American internet content aggregators to pay for the rejuvenation of digital media in Spain. Read more ..
Venezuela on Edge
|Frederick B. Mills||December 12th 2014|
Led by Senators Robert Menendez and Marco Rubio, the U.S. Senate passed the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act on December 8. The House is expected to vote tonight on the bill. The new legislation hatched by the hard right wing of the Upper House will place targeted sanctions on Venezuelan officials “planning, facilitating, or perpetrating gross human rights violations against peaceful demonstrators, journalists, and other members of civil society in Venezuela.”
Such sanctions include travel restrictions and the freezing of assets of those found culpable of the offenses. On May 28, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill with similar sanctions against Venezuela, but at that time, former democratic Senator Mary Landrieu from Louisiana, fiercely opposed it. Similarly, the White House did not support the measure, arguing that it could jeopardize discussions between the government and the opposition. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Ben Kamisar ||December 8th 2014|
The Supreme Court could have an outsized impact on President Obama’s agenda next year.
The court has been a mixed bag for Obama during his presidency. He’s had big wins, including rulings affirming the Affordable Care Act and striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. But there have been losses too, including a challenge to ObamaCare’s contraceptive mandate and the elimination of part of the Voting Rights Act.
With challenges on issues including ObamaCare, EPA regulations and potentially gay marriage, here are five ways that the Supreme Court could impact Obama’s agenda in the twilight of his presidency. Read more ..
|Bernie Becker||December 7th 2014|
The NAACP president said Sunday that full-scale changes need to be made to battle what he called a “pandemic of police misconduct.”
Cornell William Brooks, speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” said that more and more citizens want to make broad changes to police culture in the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y.
“We have to change the model of policing,” Brooks said after grand juries in both Missouri and New York declined to indict police officers involved in the Brown and Garner cases.
“So in other words where we have police fulfilling the role, or serving the role as an occupying army, as opposed to using a community policing model, that's where we have to go.” Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Mariella Sala||December 6th 2014|
In 1995, then-President Alberto Fujimori met with Peruvian feminists at the UN Women’s Conference in Beijing and announced he would liberalize Peru’s strict laws on contraception by allowing women to have their tubes tied without getting their husbands’ permission. For Peruvian feminists, who had been fighting for more reproductive rights against powerful opposition from the Catholic Church and Opus Dei, this was a victory. They had no idea that the Fujimori government would use the new law to forcibly sterilize three hundred thousand indigenous women in the Andes between 1995 - 2000.
There are many historical instances of forced sterilization, which is currently being practised on HIV-positive women in Namibia, for purposes of population control in Uzbekistan, and against the Roma in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It is among the offenses listed as crimes against humanity by the Rome Statute of 2005: “Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity.” Read more ..
Edge of Tolerance
|Thekla Hritz||December 1st 2014|
Pope Francis and the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians have called for peace in Ukraine and appealed to all sides to pursue dialogue based on international law to resolve the conflict.
Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I issued a joint declaration on November 30 in Istanbul at the end of a lengthy liturgy to mark the feast of St. Andrew, an important feast in the Orthodox Church.
In the statement, the two Christian leaders said they were praying for peace in Ukraine "while we call upon all parties involved to pursue the path of dialogue and of respect for international law in order to bring an end to the conflict and allow all Ukrainians to live in harmony."
The celebration was the main reason for Francis's three-day visit to Turkey. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Elise Vliebeck||November 29th 2014|
The Obama administration is facing a slew of healthcare challenges as the winter holidays approach.
While this fall has been a far cry from last year, when HealthCare.gov was melting down, 2014 has brought wholly unexpected problems to the fore for federal health officials and the White House.
Take the conflict surrounding Jonathan Gruber, the ObamaCare consultant whose suggestion that a "lack of transparency" and voters' "stupidity" helped the law pass, went viral.
Though Democrats have sought to distance themselves from Gruber, his remarks have become a new flashpoint in debate over healthcare reform, invigorating GOP critics as the party prepares to take control of the Senate. Read more ..
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