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Edge of Narco-Terrorism

FARQaeda—A Real Threat or a Matter of Circumstantial Evidence?

February 15th 2010

Latin American Topics - FARC

Over the past several months, a number of reports have circulated that address the subject of drug trafficking ties between South American narcotics trafficking interests and terrorist organizations, principally Al Qaeda and its smaller affiliates now known to be based in Northern Africa. These assessments have cited evidence pointing to a disturbing ring, an “unholy alliance,” which reflects alarming links between FARC exporters and Al Qaeda distributors according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s Jay Bergman.

This expanding nexus involves transporting drugs from South America to Africa and, once there, smuggling them over established land routes to EU countries. The stakes are too high to ignore, especially if the charges turn out to be true, and the consequences of this operation could further destabilize impoverished and relatively lawless regions of Africa. However, upon closer examination, much of the evidence cited in these articles turns out to be circumstantial at best.

The Evidence

On January 11, 2010 the German magazine Der Spiegel published an article titled, “Lebanese drug rings active in Germany said to have funded terrorism,” in which it accused Hezbollah (which is classified as a terrorist organization by United States authorities) of using immigrant rings based in Speyer, Germany as a money-laundering conduit for the illegal sale and distribution of cocaine. Der Spiegel speculates that these same rings may have channeled at least some of their profits to support Hezbollah terrorist activities in Lebanon.
Previously, on January 4, 2010, Reuters reported that the DEA had established that a drug-trafficking alliance existed between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and Al Qaeda. Details in the article were rapidly disseminated by various media channels, inspiring both shock and disbelief.
Read more ..


The Edge of Archaeology

Earliest Known Hebrew Script found at Excavations in Israel at Khirbet Qeiyafa

February 8th 2010

Archaeology Topics - Bible pottery sherd

Scientists have discovered the earliest known Hebrew writing - an inscription dating from the 10th century B.C., during the period of King David's reign. The breakthrough could mean that portions of the Bible were written centuries earlier than previously thought. (The Bible's Old Testament is thought to have been first written down in an ancient form of Hebrew.) Until now, many scholars have held that the Hebrew Bible originated in the 6th century B.C., because Hebrew writing was thought to stretch back no further. But the newly deciphered Hebrew text is about four centuries older, scientists announced this month. Read more ..


Turkey on the Edge

No Women, No Europe

February 1st 2010

Islamic Topics - Muslim Woman

The first president of the European Union, Herman Van Rompuy, is a known opponent of Turkey's EU membership. Mr. Van Rompuy may find it easy to stick to his position: seven years after the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, rose to power in Ankara, Turkey is sliding away from European liberal democratic norms, including gender equality. Under the AKP, Turkish women are barred from power and are nonexistent in the executive levels of the bureaucracy.

The AKP is rooted in Turkey's Islamist opposition; specifically the Welfare Party, or RP, which was shut down in 1998 by the country's Constitutional Court for violating the secular and democratic principles in the Turkish Constitution. The AKP was born out of the RP's ashes, with RP cadres bringing that party's organizational and financial network to the AKP.

The AKP rejects the Islamist epithet, though, describing itself as a conservative and democratic movement. Conservative as it might be, the AKP does not appear to be a democratic movement. Negative trends in women's empowerment in Turkey since 2002 demonstrate, as noted by Caroline Glick, that the AKP does not practice democracy as a “system of laws and practices that engender liberal egalitarianism.” Read more ..


Religious Freedom

Coptic Christians Demand Australian Government Intervention to End Persecution in Egypt

January 25th 2010

Christian Topics - Coptic Girl

An Egyptian in Australia lives in fear of a backlash against his family because of his conversion from Islam to Christianity. "Mina," 36, is afraid for the safety of his family in Australia and in Egypt, for defying the police and fleeing the country after he converted to the Coptic Orthodox Church. He had been arrested and beaten numerous times, according to media reports.

His lawyer Jimmy Morcos said that after one arrest, "Mina" was thrown in a room with Islamic radical prisoners who were encouraged to beat him.

Mina is one of 70,000 Coptic Orthodox Christians who have fled persecution in Egypt and resettled in Australia since 1971, according to Coptic Orthodox Bishop Suriel. He is also one of 12,000 who marched on the Egyptian consulate in Melbourne to protest over the killing of six Coptic Orthodox Christians in a drive-by shooting in Egypt on December 6 during the Coptic observance of the birth of Jesus. Read more ..


Edge of Economic Recovery

Should Money Store Value?

January 18th 2010

Economy - Money Money Money

A series of powerfully written articles by Charles Eisenstein at Reality Sandwich has renewed my interest in money alternatives, in particular a money-type which by design does a poor job of storing value. This money contains a built-in “rotting speed” in the form of negative interest, or demurrage. Demurrage would mean a money that acted as a very poor store of value, as compared with, say, income-generating entities such as farms or property or corporations. Not storing money to secure against future want would speed up its movement through the economy, thereby improving employment and, hopefully, community bonds. It would help turn money into a medium of exchange pure and simple, not something to stuff under the mattress. A money suffering negative interest was conceived to reflect the fact that value decays over time, like grain and meat for example. So the theory.

At first I was attracted by the idea of demurrage, but more thinking on it has led me to doubt its potential efficacy long-term. Any money, no matter its design, is based on the presumption of insoluble scarcity. If everyone just knows scarcity is insoluble, they will hoard to protect against want. With a money that decays, all that would change would be that which is hoarded. Read more ..


The Ancient Edge

Islamists Erase Jewish Identity from Ezekiel’s Tomb in Iraq

January 11th 2010

Jewish Topics - Ezkiel
Ezekiel´s Tomb

The Iraqi news agency Ur news has revived fears that under pressure from Islamic political parties, the original Hebrew inscriptions and ornamentation on the walls around the tomb of Ezekiel are being (or have been) removed, this under the pretext of restoring the site. According to sources, the Antiquities and Heritage Authority in Iraq has been pressured by Islamists to historically cleanse all evidence of a Jewish connection to Iraq—a land where Jews had lived for over a thousand years before the advent of Islam.

Four months ago a German-based Iraqi journalist tipped off the Association of Jewish Academics from Iraq in Israel that plans were afoot to build a mosque on the site of the shrine of the Jewish prophet Ezekiel at al-Kifl, this was first reported on the “Point of No Return” news blog. Read more ..


Inside Islam

Al-Qaida Connection to Attempted Murder in Denmark

January 4th 2010

Islamic Topics - Little Burka Mermaid
Copenhagen's Little Mermaid in a burka

The assailant who was shot on January 1 by Danish police after battering the door of a celebrated cartoonist has been identified as a native of Somalia. Armed with an axe and a knife and accompanied by two other assailants, the 28-year-old Somalian male entered the home of Kurt Westergaard in the town of Viby.

According to a press statement, the man is accused of entering Westergaard’s home to kill him. Westergaard was at home at the time with his 5-year-old grandchild and managed to elude his attacker by locking himself in his lavatory – bolstered as a safe room.

Westergaard was denounced by Muslims worldwide for his 2005 cartoon that appeared in the Jyllands Posten newspaper that depicted the Prophet Mohammed wearing a turban in the shape of a smoldering bomb. Outrage ensued in the Muslim world. Danish consulates and embassies were attacked and Danish products boycotted by Muslims worldwide. Read more ..


Edge of Archaeology

Minoan-style paintings in Ancient Canaanite Palace Link to Aegean Civilizations

December 28th 2009

Archaeology Topics - Tel Kabri
Tel Kabri

Tel Kabri is the only site in Israel where wall paintings similar in style to those found in the Aegean 3,600 years ago have been found; researchers say this was a conscious decision made by the city rulers to lean toward Mediterranean culture.

The remains of a Minoan-style wall painting, recognizable by a blue background, the first of its kind to be found in Israel, was discovered in the course of the recent excavation season at Tel Kabri. This fresco joins others of Aegean style that have been uncovered during earlier seasons at the Canaanite palace in Kabri. "It was, without doubt, a conscious decision made by the city's rulers who wished to associate with Mediterranean culture and not adopt Syrian and Mesopotamian styles of art like other cities in Canaan did. The Canaanites were living in the Levant and wanted to feel European," explains Dr. Assaf Yasur-Landau of the University of Haifa, who directed the excavations. Read more ..


Inside Mexico

Mexico Mourns Deaths of 5,000 Compatriots Along the US Border

December 21st 2009

Latin American Topics - Rape Tree

More than 5,000 Mexicans have died over the last 15 years while crossing deserts, mountains, and rivers in order to reach the United States, according to a report by the National Committee on Human Rights of Mexico (CNDH). “During 2007 and 2008, the average number of Mexicans who died on that border was three for each two days,” declared the report which was released in observance of the International Migrants Day – December 18.

The CNDH is a government agency that operates in cooperation with the Mexican Office of the Public Defender. It asked that the report not serve only to remember the plight of migrants but to also cause the Mexican government to promote economic development and sustainable growth so as to allow Mexicans to remain at home rather than seek employment in the U.S. Read more ..


The Ancient Edge

Robbing the Cradle

December 14th 2009

Book Covers - Banking on Baghdad

This article is based on the Banking on Baghdad--Inside Iraq's 7,000-Year History of War, Profit, and Conflict (Dialog Press). Buy it here

Mesopotamia—now known as Iraq--enjoyed a 2,000-year head start on Western civilization. What happened?

Part of the answer lays millennia before our current turbulent times. Understanding this pivotal land and its peoples is necessary.

A single ancient people did not monopolize the historic territory between the Tigris and the Euphrates to create one cohesive, shining civilization as a beacon to others. Mesopotamia was in fact a diverse, often contentious, network of competing city-states. At different times, in different centuries BCE, cities such as Uruk, Lagash, and Eridu in the south, and Kish, Nippur, and Sippar in the midsection, as well as Assur, Nineveh, and Nimrud in the north, each flourished and made their mark. These city-states were ruled by their own kings, developed their own gods and cults, spoke their own languages and dialects, and manifested their own distinctive cultures.

A succession of disparate groups came from near and far to conquer the developing prize of Mesopotamia, and each conqueror was in turn conquered. The Semitic Akkadians arose among the original Sumerians, for whom Sumer was named. In the third millennium BCE, the Akkadian king Sargon created history’s first “empire,” extending his political reign, military dominance, and commercial primacy from western Persia, through Syria, to what is now eastern Turkey. But Sargon’s almost 150-year dynasty was overrun by the Guti mountain people. The Guti ruled until the Sumerians regained supremacy, only to be succeeded by Amorites from the west, and then the Elamites from the Zagros Mountains. Other invaders included the Indo-European Hittites from Anatolia and the obscure Hurrians and Kassites.

These invading and pervading groups destroyed and built up the city-states between the two rivers, as well as those in surrounding lands. During Mesopotamia’s golden millennia, each of these dynasties and empires, no matter how transient, purloined or planted something valuable, advancing the ever more complex culture growing atop the ancient Sumerian foundation. Over 3,000 years—perhaps 120 generations—the region became not a cradle but a veritable engine of civilization, energizing the entire Fertile Crescent, that is, the lands from the Nile Valley up through Palestine and Syria into the Tigris-Euphrates valley and beyond. Read more ..


Africa on the Edge

Nigeria's Oil Boom Has Shunted Aside Farmers and Made the Country Dependent on Foreign Food

December 14th 2009

Africa Topics - Nigeria Oil

Large tracts of Nigeria’s fertile land has been abandoned since the oil boom attracted millions into the cities over the past five decades, leaving Africa’s most populous country dependant on food imports.

In her book, “Dinner with Mugabe,” Heidi Holland records events leading up to the “land reform” carried out by the Zimbabwean president, starting in the late 1990s. She reports an interview with a former Agriculture minister, appointed by Mugabe, a White farmer called Denis Norman.

According to Norman, in 1997 the war veterans who helped Mugabe come to power in 1980 complained bitterly that they had won the country’s freedom but had been overlooked, and demanded a large monthly payment, for life. Initially they were 27,000, but the number jumped to almost double.

The British government at this point was not ready to buy the farmers out, as Mugabe had been led to believe. There was not enough money in the Treasury. Mugabe, instead of saying he would introduce legislation for an equitable distribution of land, eventually told the war veterans that they had indeed been promised land, so perhaps they should just take it. Of course they did.  Read more ..


History on the Edge

Japan's Attack on Pearl Harbor - Were They Just Playing Our Game?

December 7th 2009

Book Covers - Imperial Cruise

This article is based on the New York Times bestselling The Imperial Cruise (Little Brown Dialog Press). Buy it here

Sixty-eight years ago, Japan attacked America’s naval base at Pearl Harbor. Millions of soldiers and civilians were killed in the brutal Pacific war that would follow. My father — one of the famous flag raisers on Iwo Jima — was among the brave, young men who went off to the Pacific to fight for his country. So naturally, the war fascinated me. But I always wondered: why did we fight in the Pacific? Yes, there was Pearl Harbor, but why did the Japanese attack us in the first place?

In search of an answer, I read deeply into the diplomatic history of the 1930s, about President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s policy on Asia, and his preparation — or lack thereof — for a major conflict there. But I discovered that I was studying the wrong President Roosevelt. The one who had the greater effect on Japan’s behavior was Theodore Roosevelt — whose efforts to end the war between Japan and Russia earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.

When Theodore Roosevelt was president, three decades before World War II, the world was focused on the bloody Russo-Japanese War, a contest for control of North Asia. President Roosevelt was no fan of the Russians: “No human beings, black, yellow or white, could be quite as untruthful, as insincere, as arrogant — in short, as untrustworthy in every way — as the Russians,” he wrote in August 1905, near the end of the Russo-Japanese War. The Japanese, on the other hand, were “a wonderful and civilized people,” Roosevelt wrote, “entitled to stand on an absolute equality with all the other peoples of the civilized world.”

Roosevelt knew that Japan coveted the Korean Peninsula as a springboard to its Asian expansion. Back in 1900, when he was still vice president, Roosevelt had written, “I should like to see Japan have Korea.” When, in February 1904, Japan broke off relations with Russia, President Roosevelt said publicly that he would “maintain the strictest neutrality,” but privately he wrote, “The sympathies of the United States are entirely on Japan’s side.”
Read more ..


Arab World Elections

Iraq's Elections Challenge: A Shifting Political Landscape

November 30th 2009

Arab Topics - Iraqi Election

On November 18, Iraqi vice president Tariq al-Hashimi vetoed an elections law passed by parliament just ten days earlier, likely delaying elections that had previously been slated for January 2010. Such elections are a factor in the planned U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, with U.S. military officials stating that they will gauge the pace of the troop withdrawal after the national polls.

When the elections take place, they will test the durability of several political trends manifested by the January 2009 provincial elections, including the modest shift toward cross-sectarian political coalitions and the emergence of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as the nation's dominant politician.

The Vetoed Elections Law

In creating new elections legislation, the Iraqi parliament amended law number 16 of 2005, which compelled Iraqis to vote for lists—rather than individuals—chosen by party leaders in a non-transparent process. Under the new provisions, the election would be based on a modified open-list system, in which voters would have the choice of voting for an individual or for a list, creating greater accountability on the part of elected officials and lessening the influence of unelected party functionaries. Read more ..


Coke and Confiscation

Coca-Cola Claims Nasser Regime Persection of Jews Was Legal--Coke Plant Seizure OK

November 23rd 2009

Jewish Topics - Coke Poster

In a downtown Manhattan courtroom, where the lawyers and clients up front outnumbered the observers seated in the back, where a forgotten Jewish Egyptian victim challenged an omnipresent multibillion dollar multinational, in a case where history itself was both on trial and being made, the Coca-Cola Company was publicly accused of being criminally enriched following the Nasser regime’s Nazi-style expropriation of Jewish property. More than that, Coca-Cola was accused of obstructing, belittling and stonewalling a decades-long effort to obtain justice, and indeed trying to create a new revisionism that questions whether anti-Jewish persecution actually took place in Egypt in 1950s and 1960s.

On November 10, 2009, Refael Bigio, exiled from Egypt, drove down from Montreal, his attorneys Nathan Lewin and Sherrie Savett trained in from Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, Coca-Cola’s chief of litigation John Lewis flew up from Atlanta and the company’s defense counsel, Richard Cirillo, only needed to make a short trip from midtown to argue whether the Coca-Cola Company quietly but consciously benefitted when the Nasser regime nationalized Jewish property. The Bigios’s property had long been leased by Coca-Cola and their bottle cap factory made the caps for Coke’s products. This factory, the property, and related business ultimately became a multimillion dollar asset in the giant Atlanta beverage conglomerate’s overseas portfolio.

The Egyptian government takeover of the Bigio family bottle cap and tin plating factory occurred in 1962 during the openly anti-Jewish regime of President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Egypt’s government subsequently ruled its Nasser-era seizure of the Bigio property was indeed illegal. Later, however, over the Bigio’s objections, Coca-Cola entered into a joint venture to operate what is now the Coca Cola Bottling Company of Egypt on the Bigios’s seized property, without compensating the Bigios, according to court papers. The Bigios claim that Coke is and has been trespassing on stolen property. Read more ..


Argentina on the Edge

Argentina and the "Vulture Funds"

November 16th 2009

Environment Topics - Vulture

The Argentine government recently announced a plan to offer a debt swap to investors still holding $20 billion (plus interest) in unpaid bonds from the country’s 2001 debt default. Economy Minister Amado Boudou stated on November 7 that a proposal would be made within 30 days, which, once accepted, will likely enable the Argentine government to begin to access vital international capital markets of which it has been excluded since that year.

While three banks, Barclays, Citigroup, and Deutsche Bank, representing roughly $10 billion of the remaining defaulted bondholders, appear ready to accept this deal, a group of “vulture funds” continues to render negotiations difficult by pushing to receive the full face value of the bonds that they bought on secondary markets for pennies on the dollar. These organizations, the majority of which are based offshore of the U.S. beyond effective regulation and taxation, have been using U.S. courts and unremitting Congressional pressure to compel the Argentine government to pay the full face value of these bonds.  Read more ..


Inside Saudi Succession

The Next Generation of Saudi Princes--Who Are They?

November 9th 2009

Arab Topics - King Abdullah2
King Abdullah

Who are the candidates for succession to Saudi throne once King Abdullah passes? Many of the grandsons of Ibn Saud are already grandfathers; some have years of government experience. But which line should be favored in this next generation is among the most contentious aspects of the Saudi succession.

In discussing the younger generation, it is worth noting that sons of past kings are usually not considered worthy of mention. The respect accorded them and the extent to which they have a leadership claim seem to diminish upon the death of their fathers. Crucially, without their fathers' backing, most seem to fall out of contention. The largest single group of second-generation princes are the sons of Saud, numbered at more than fifty (and a similar number of daughters), only a few of whom have any public role.

The sons of King Faisal—Saud, Khalid, and Turki—are recognized as being able, certainly by foreign ambassadors, but they are said to be regarded unfavorably within the al-Saud because of their perceived airs of intellectual superiority. (A 1985 British Ministry of Defense briefing paper referred to Saud as "[v]ery bright but perhaps not so bright as he thinks.") As long-serving foreign minister, Saud is well known abroad and generally respected. But he suffers from both a bad back and Parkinson's disease, and so he would probably rule himself out on health grounds. He also displays little interest in the role, having never been noted for holding a majlis, the forum where he can listen to ordinary people's complaints and also be judged as a good and generous host. Read more ..


Religious Freedom

The Secret Rescue Flight of Yemen's Jews to Freedom

November 2nd 2009

Jewish Topics - Yemeni Jews

In November 2007, Ninwe Al Naeti, a  young Yemenite Jewish woman was allegedly kidnapped and converted to Islam against her will in Yemen, home to the oldest Jewish community in the world. As the U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, it was my obligation to discover more about this incident and whether it was isolated or part of a larger pattern of harassment and anti-Semitism in Yemen.

After initial investigation and fact finding, I traveled to Saana, Yemen’s capital, in December to examine the situation first hand. What I discovered there was a country beset with strife. A fundamentalist rebellion in the north has been launched by the Al-Houti Shiite. They had nailed a note on the door of a Jewish family in Saada in February 2007, threatening them if they did not leave within days. I also found a government, steeped in ancient tribal structure and boundaries, not fully in control of its own territory.

When I asked to visit the main Jewish community in the northern town of Raida, I was told that the government could not guarantee our safety and therefore, even with government troops, we could not venture up that far into the country. We lacked any tribal permission to enter certain areas. We eventually did travel to the provincial capital of Amran province, accompanied by troops driving a gun-mounted jeep. Read more ..


Obama Edge

A Curtain Call for the Domino Theory as Obama's Afghan Strategy Emerges?

October 26th 2009

TCEN Motifs - Domino Effect

News leaked recently that President Obama had called a group of historians to the White House a few months ago to educate him on the thinking of President Lyndon Johnson in late 1964 as Johnson weighed the possibility of ordering a major military escalation in Vietnam.
As we know, that fateful escalation came in 1965. Are we to conclude that Obama has Vietnam in mind as he considers sending more troops to Afghanistan? Most likely.

Experts will argue forever about whether the Vietnam War was a lost cause. But there was little doubt at the time that Johnson and his advisers would opt for escalation. Less clear cut was the question of his ability to keep the public on board.

Johnson failed to do this and was demonized for that failure. Obama surely must keep the public message front and center. Unfortunately, Johnson's legacy provides him with mixed guidance. Read more ..


The Genetic Edge

Woman, Man, or Neither? The Predicament of a World-Class Runner

October 19th 2009

Sports Topics - Caster Semenya
Caster Semenya

Caster Semenya, the South African runner who won the women's 800-meter race at the World Track Championships in Berlin last month, has been unofficially declared intersexed. If she is, it means that she was born with some discrepancy between her external genitals, internal sex anatomy (ovaries or testes and her hormones and chromosomes.
 
The International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) will not make its official ruling as to whether it considers Semenya a woman until November, but an increasing number of news outlets around the world have reported that she's "a hermaphrodite." What does this mean, exactly? The media's terminology itself reflects the ignorance and confusion surrounding intersex. Doctors and informed lay people no longer use the word hermaphrodite because it is vague, demeaning and sensationalistic. "Hermaphrodite" continues to conjure images of mythical creatures, perhaps even monsters and freaks. It's thus not surprising that most have rejected the label. Read more ..


The Ancient Edge

Iraq--The Cradle of Civilization was Actually the Cradle of Commerce

October 12th 2009

Book Covers - Banking on Baghdad

This article is based on the Banking on Baghdad--Inside Iraq's 7,000-Year History of War, Profit, and Conflict (Dialog Press). Buy it here

When the last Ice Age receded, some 10,000 years ago, some peoples migrated to the marshy plain between the Tigris and the Euphrates. This land, later known as Mesopotamia—or “the land between the two rivers”—is now modern Iraq. It became precious to the world as “the cradle of civilization.”

Of course, the very term cradle of civilization is imbued with the values of an advanced society determined to categorize primitive and ancient people in its own image. But what qualifies ancient Iraq as the cradle of civilization may speak volumes about its enduring relationship to the larger world and how our society still views that nation.

Disagreeing archaeologists incessantly push back their dates, resculpt their assessments and guesswork, and acrimoniously debate the facts depending on the latest dig and carbon dating. But this much seems settled: other groups and societies, predating ancient Mesopotamia by thousands of years, have displayed the ingredients of civilization.

Cave dwellers in South Africa, 70,000 years ago, recorded symbolic concepts with geometric designs engraved on ochre stones, revealing organized expression and abstract thinking.

The sensitive artisans of Lascaux, France, who 15,000 years ago painted some 600 sacred animal sketches on grotto walls and engraved nearly 1,500 more, are classed as “prehistoric.” Traveling deep into remote chambers of their grotto, the people of Lascaux carried inventive contrivances for illumination. By the flicker of torches and Stone Age lamps, these people created enduring works of exquisite cave art. Their complex works feature background hues of red, yellow, black, and brown, probably mouth-sprayed or blown through a hollowed bone. Delicately brushed and painted atop the backgrounds, animals are depicted in kinetic perspective and are anatomically correct. The artistry of the Lascaux people has become a gift for all time.

Their message, although undecipherable, has survived as long as any that followed. Similar cave art groups in the region date back 30,000 years. Little is known about the culture of French cave dwellers. But these societies do not qualify as civilizations, as the world sees it.
Read more ..


Edge of Archaeology

Large Cache of Coins from Historic Bar-Kokhba Revolt Uncovered

October 5th 2009

Israel Topics - Bar Kochba coins

The largest cache of rare coins ever found in a scientific excavation from the period of the Bar-Kokhba revolt of the Jews against the Romans has been discovered in a cave by researchers from the Hebrew University and Bar-Ilan University.

The coins were discovered in three batches in a deep cavern located in a nature reserve in the Judean hills. The treasure includes gold, silver and bronze coins, as well as some pottery and weapons. See video here.

The discovery was made in the framework of a comprehensive cave research and mapping project being carried out by Boaz Langford and Prof. Amos Frumkin of the Cave Research Unit in the Department of Geography at the Hebrew University, along with Dr. Boaz Zissu and Prof. Hanan Eshel of the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University, and with the support of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

The some 120 coins were discovered within a cave that has a "hidden wing," the slippery and dangerous approach to which is possible only via a narrow opening discovered many years ago by Dr. Gideon Mann, a physician who is one of the early cave explorers in modern Israel. The opening led to a small chamber which in turn opens into a hall that served as a hiding place for the Jewish fighters of Bar-Kokhba. Read more ..


Confronting the Transfer Agreement

The Transfer Agreement- Why Zionists Made the Deal with the Nazis

September 28th 2009

Book Covers - The Transfer Agreement

On the afternoon of August 7, 1933, at 76 Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin, on a day when well-dressed Jews in Germany could not step into the street without fear, when laboring kibbutzniks in Palestine proudly swept the midday perspiration from their foreheads, when anxious German businessmen worried the next telegram would cancel yet another order for increasingly unsellable Reich goods, when Nazi organizers throughout Europe gleefully reviewed statistics on Jewish populations and Jewish assets within their midst, when Polish blackshirts viciously beat Jews in town squares, when ordinary jobless Germans wondered where they could find enough money for the next meal, when young Jewish boys in German schools were forced to stand painfully before their classmates as examples of detestable vermin, when defiant Jews across America and England raised their fists in anger proliferating their punishing anti-German boycott, when Jewish Palestinian exporters wondered nervously whether their biggest customer Germany would retaliate, when thousands of homeless German Jews existed as refugees and some in concentration camps, when the prospects for Jewry in Europe seemed over, on this fateful day in the first summer of the Hitler regime, an official delegation of four German and Palestinian Zionists and one independent Palestinian business man were ushered into an Economics Ministry conference room. The Jews had been authorized by a combine of Jewish and Zionist bodies to negotiate with the Third Reich.

After hours of wrangled debate, Hans Hartenstein, Director of the Reich Office of Currency Control, was about to call the meeting to an inconclusive close when a messenger from Deutsche Reichpost delivered a telegram from the German Consul in Tel Aviv. The telegram advised Hartenstein that a coalition of official and commercial Zionist interests in Palestine was the best way to break the growing Jewish-led worldwide anti-Nazi boycott that was crippling the Hitler regime in its first months. A deal with the Zionists would be necessary.

And so it was done. The Transfer Agreement was created. Read more ..


The Caribbean Edge

The U.S. Military’s Presence in the Greater Caribbean Basin: Is it Trade Strategy and Ideology or Drugs?

September 28th 2009

Military - Joint Task Force Bravo in Action
Joint Task Force Bravo in Action

Washington’s initiative to have access to at least seven Colombian military facilities has been criticized as an extension of the controversial Plan Colombia and as a breach of fealty to its sister republics. Suspicion also has surfaced that the base deal was fundamentally a move against Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, and would prove a recurring obstacle to fulfillment of U.S. policy goals in the region. Two of the facilities soon to be available to the U.S. are located in the Caribbean region – the military port in Cartagena and the air base in Malambo – and will serve the needs of the U.S. Navy.

The new Caribbean coast facilities will join an array of existing U.S. military establishments in the region dating back to 1903. Until now, the official raison d’etre for a U.S. presence in the Caribbean was to combat drug trafficking.

However, the proliferation of security threats, in particular developments possibly against the interests of Chávez’s Venezuela, has led some to argue that no matter how much Washington’s officials deny it, an unspoken reason for the U.S. deployment to Colombia is to keep Chavez under check. With the Washington-Bogotá decision, it is necessary to discuss the relationship between masking anti-narcotics efforts as a cover for a variety of U.S. security concerns and aspirations throughout Latin America, especially in the coming trade war over commodities. Read more ..


The Edge of Lobbying

Lobbyists Crowded into Washington for Climate Legislation

September 21st 2009

Politics - Capitol Building at night

More than 460 new businesses and interest groups jumped into lobbying Congress on global warming in the weeks before the House neared its historic vote on climate change legislation, an analysis of lobbying records shows.

The surge in the 12 weeks leading up to the June 26 vote meant that about 1,150 different companies and advocacy organizations were promoting their vision of how the nation should tackle climate change, a more than 30 percent cumulative jump over the 880 companies and associations that were storming Capitol Hill on the issue as the year began. Some 190 of the interest groups that were lobbying in the first quarter of the year did not continue their lobbying in the April-June time period.

It’s impossible to say with certainty how much money was spent on lobbying the climate bill, since businesses don’t have to detail expenses for separate issues they are pushing in Congress — like climate, health care, the economic stimulus, or taxes. But so many groups were lobbying climate that even if the issue consumed only 10 percent of their efforts, the cost would have been more than $27 million in just the second quarter-from April through June. Read more ..


America's History

Henry Hudson: The Man, the Mystery, the Mission

September 14th 2009

History American - Henry Hudson
Henry Hudson

Three of the most noteworthy bodies of water in North America—the Hudson River, Hudson Strait, and Hudson Bay—take their names from the English explorer Henry Hudson. No other explorer earned as much notice from mapmakers, not even Christopher Columbus. This raises a significant question: was Hudson worthy of the honor?

Yet much of Hudson’s life remains a mystery. He was probably about forty years old when he entered the historical record in 1607 as the captain of an English ship called the Hopewell. He sailed from London in search of a quick route to the Spice Islands of the South Sea, the modern Pacific Ocean. After studying his maps he realized that the best course would take him across the North Pole and then into the Pacific. This was no fool’s quest. Contemporary cartographers believed that the sun melted the ice at the pole during the summer, which meant a ship could get through the region frozen the rest of the year.

Not surprisingly, ice blocked Hudson’s way and forced him to return home. But his determination to reach the East Indies drove him to try again the next year, this time aiming the Hopewell towards the Northeast Passage, which purportedly ran north of Russia. Again, ice blocked his path so he sailed back to London. In 1609, the Dutch East India Company hired Hudson to make yet another  effort to go through the Northeast Passage. When ice again blocked the Halve Maen he followed a tip he had received from Captain John Smith, who had learned from the Powhatans of a water route somewhere north of the Chesapeake that cut through North America. Read more ..


Brazil on the Edge

Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Rio’s Slum Solution

September 7th 2009

Environment Topics - Brazilian Slums
Brazilian slums

The postcard images of Rio de Janeiro present a study in contrast. The sprawling city is caught between the Atlantic Ocean and the vast Atlantic Forest region, where world-famous beaches and steep mountains abruptly collide with a growing population and a growing amount of pavement. Rio evokes images of two distinct worlds. One is the luxurious resort city famous for Carnaval, supermodels, and beautiful beaches. But recently, the conception of Rio as a dangerous city plagued by poverty, violence, and drugs has entered mainstream discussion, partially as a result of such popular films as City of God and Elite Squad.

The pattern of segregation by financial status within the city has been longstanding, though largely unknown abroad. From the early 1800s on, Rio’s rich lived starkly separate lives away from its poor, but all resided in the same central area of the city. When slavery was abolished in 1888, the first favelas, a term coined to describe a Brazilian slum, were created as newly emancipated slaves migrated to the urban centers seeking jobs. Read more ..


Haiti on the Edge

As Family Planning Goes Global, Haiti Becomes a Case in Point

August 31st 2009

Caribbean - Dirt Biscuits in Haiti
Preparing Biscuits Made of Dirt in Impoverished Haiti

In 1994, delegates from 179 nations met in Cairo to redefine the international policy regarding population growth. During this convention, the participating countries adopted a 20-year plan which emphasized the rights and aspirations of those countries to regulate population growth in order to achieve demographic and development targets. The result of the meeting, which would eventually become known as the Cairo Consensus, was the “first international document to recognize the interconnections between reproductive health, a sustainable environment, and economic development.”

These interconnections highlighted the necessity of increased family planning initiatives, which can prolong lives, improve health (especially for children), reduce the need for abortions, promote economic growth, expand life choices for women, decrease the spread of HIV/AIDS, and constrain the consumption of natural resources and the many environmental problems associated with the usage of such resources. Read more ..


Eugenics in America

Government Death Panels and Mass Murder was Always an Option in 20th Century America's War Against the Weak

August 24th 2009

Book Covers - War Against the Weak

This article is based on the award-winning bestseller War Against the Weak--Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race  (Dialog Press). Buy it here

The summer of 2009 has been rife with misplaced fears about government death panels arising from proposed insurance reform. These fears are not based on anything in the proposed legislation. But government death panels and mass euthanasia were always a public option during the first decades of the twentieth century. This campaign to exterminate all those deemed socially or medically unworthy was not conducted by the worst segments of our society but by the elite of the American establishment. They saw themselves as liberals, progressive, do-gooders—and even utopians— trying to create a more perfect society.

The mission: eliminate the existence of the poor, immigrants, those of mixed parentage, and indeed anyone who did not approximate the blond-haired blue-eyed ideal they idealized. This racial type was termed Nordic, and it was socially deified by a broad movement of esteemed university professors, doctors, legislators, judges and writers. They called themselves eugenicists. This widely accepted extremist movement was virtually created and funded by millions in corporate philanthropy from the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman railroad fortune through a complex of pseudoscientific institutions and population tracking offices at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island. From there, leading academics supported by big money lead a termite-like proliferation of eugenics into the laws, social policies and curricula of the nation. During these turbulent decades, eugenics enjoyed the active support of the government, especially the U.S. Department of Agriculture which wanted to breed men the way they bred cattle, and many state and county offices.

Indeed, Eugenics was enacted into law in some 27 states during the first decades of the twentieth century, and then exalted as the law of the land by the U. S. Supreme Court. In a famous 1927 opinion, revered jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes compared social undesirables to bacteria to be wiped out. The sanctioned methods to be used were nothing less than a combination of pseudoscientific raceology, social engineering, ethnic cleansing and abject race law, designed to eliminate millions in an organized fashion. More specifically, the American eugenics movement sought to continually subtract the so-called “bottom tenth” of America. These were to include Blacks, Native Americans, Southern Italians, East Europeans, Jews, Hispanics, the poor, criminals, the intellectually unaccepted, the so-called “shiftless,” and many others. The drive for perfection even included excising the existence of Appalachians with brown hair, frequently rounded up by county officials for confinement. When this effort began in the early twentieth century, some fourteen million Americans were targeted for elimination. Read more ..


Edge on the Media

Modern Times and the Decline of Traditional Media

August 24th 2009

Social Topics - Newspapers

The new social media -- blogging, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and YouTube are current faves -- revolutionising the publishing world, for better and worse. Let's look at both the better and the worse in perspective.

The current tsunami of personal choices in communication is slowly draining the profit from mainstream media. These media traditionally depend on huge audiences who all live in one region and mostly want the same things (the football scores, the crossword, the TV Guide, etc.). But that is all available now on the Internet, all around the world, all the time.

One outcome is a death watch on many newspapers, including famous ones like the Boston Globe. As journalist Paul Gillin noted recently: "The newspaper model scales up very well, but it scales down very badly. It costs a newspaper nearly as much to deliver 25,000 copies as it does to deliver 50,000 copies. Readership has been in decline for 30 years and the decline shows no signs of abating. Meanwhile, new competition has sprung up online with a vastly superior cost structure and an interactive format that appeals to the new generation of readers." Read more ..


Inside Latin America

Brazil and Paraguay Adopt a “Good Neighbor” Policy in Bilateral Energy Deal

August 17th 2009

Latin American Topics - Itaipu Dam

July 25, 2009 marked the passage of a landmark piece of reform that was brokered between Brazil and Paraguay. The agreement, signed in Asunción, finally resolved a decade long disagreement between the two governments regarding the Itaipú dam. The revisions in the Itaipú treaty had far reaching implications for the national standing of Paraguay’s President Fernando Lugo and Brazil’s President Luíz Inacio Lula da Silva as well for Brazil’s leadership role in Latin America. It is also expected to bring about a series of new prospects for energy initiatives in the region. The agreement represents a historic turnaround on the part of Brazil, which had been vehemently opposed to tariff concessions for decades. Analysts believe that the new agreement is indicative of the “good neighbor” policy that Lula has recently advocated in the region, as Brazil attempts to solidify its leadership role and shore up a base of moderate democratic support for its foreign policy initiatives. Read more ..


Edge of Archaeology

Could 19th Century Cannon Balls Really Sink Ships?

August 11th 2009

Science - Cannon Balls Israel

A joint experiment by researchers at the University of Haifa and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. succeeded in solving the riddle: Could cannon balls from the early 19th century sink warships?

At first glance, the hull of the warship that sank off the coast of Acre seemed strong; but a unique experiment indicated that the thick timbers could not withstand the cannon balls.

The joint experiment carried out by researchers from the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa and staff of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. has solved the riddle that has been puzzling researchers ever since they first observed the thick wooden sides of the sunken ship opposite the shore of Acre: could cannon fire have penetrated the hull?

The ship was discovered in 1966, but only since University of Haifa researchers began examining it about three years ago have its mysteries been exposed. The initial matters of interest related to the ship's origins, date and the reason why it sank. A map drawn up by a British officer in 1799, during Napoleon's siege of Acre, led the researchers to assume that this was a blockship sunk by the British to bar French vessels from entering the port. Read more ..


America's Economic Collapse

Appraisers with Revoked Licenses Still Profit in Real Estate Industry

August 10th 2009

Economy - Home Foreclosure

In 2007, a mortgage lender flagged the work of veteran Florida home appraiser Jerome Woolf for review, a process that often leads to an appraiser losing a lender’s business — a potentially disastrous financial hit for a small businessman like Woolf.

The review paperwork confused Woolf. His signature was on the original appraisal, but the home was in St. Lucie County. Woolf never worked that far north on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Woolf suspected Serge R. Wainer. A year before, Wainer had worked for Woolf as an appraisal trainee. Woolf described his former apprentice as a middle-aged man who bristled under his oversight, often performing incomplete and inaccurate appraisals.

Convinced Wainer swiped his digitally scanned signature and fixed it on the appraisal, Woolf reported the incident to the police and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Read more ..


Inside Islam

Sudan Under New Scrutiny For Flogging Women who Wear Pants

August 3rd 2009

Islamic Topics - Lubna Hussein
Lubna Hussein to be flogged for wear pants

The Islamist regime governing the Sudan has recently gained international attention for ordering the flogging of fourteen women for wearing trousers. According the regime’s ultra-orthodox interpretation of Islamic sharia law, the women have been charged with “immodesty,” for which the mandatory sentence under Sudan’s criminal code is either a fine or a flogging of forty lashes, administered publicly. Although the Sudanese government states that although it is true such sentences are open to viewing by the public, they are normally carried out in the courtyard of a police station. Court-ordered flogging of women is routine in Sudan, and would not normally be considered newsworthy by the international media. The facts of this case have proven to be anything but routine, and are once again forcing the world—and both the government and citizens of Sudan—to confront the reality of sharia justice, especially as applied to women.

Except for an act of coincidence, and another of personal bravery, this would have been a story of yet another routine raid by Khartoum’s public order police, followed by swiftly administered summary justice leaving whipped and frightened women to weep for desiring what women the world over want: to appear beautiful. This time, when the public order police, the regime’s enforcers of Sharia law in public places, decided to raid a Khartoum café known to be popular among journalists and foreigners, it just so happened that among the fourteen women they arrested was Lubna Hussein, a prominent Sudanese journalist, critic of the regime, and public information officer working for the U.N. Mission in Sudan. Read more ..


Arabs and the West

Original Mideast Peace Plan Recognized Jewish State in Return for Arab Nation in Syria

July 27th 2009

Book Covers - Banking on Baghdad

This article is based on the Banking on Baghdad--Inside Iraq's 7,000-Year History of War, Profit, and Conflict (Dialog Press). Buy it here

Every day, politicians and pundits talk of another chance at Mideast peace missed, delayed or subverted. The focus is always on Palestinians and Israelis as the keystone to a global settlement with the West and across the region. But in the original peace arrangement between the Jews, Arabs and the Western powers, it was not settlements and Jerusalem that were at the heart of the problem. In fact, the Arabs originally agreed to a Jewish state complete with massive Jewish immigration. For Arabs, the prize was not Palestine, it was Syria.

This is the story of how the original Middle East Peace Plan crafted among all sides in the aftermath of World War I was subverted—not by Jews or Zionists, but by the French.

It begins at the Paris Peace Conference, on January 1919, in a flag-bedecked, battle-scarred—but victorious—Paris. There, the great top-hatted Allied men of vision and illusion gathered to remake the world and invent the post-Ottoman Middle East. At those fateful meetings, the Arabs and Jews formally agreed to mutually endorse both their national aspirations and live in peace.

This was the deal: The Jews could have an unrestricted Zionist state in Palestine. The British could have Iraq and its fabulous, albeit still undrilled, oil. The Arabs only wanted Syria and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in the Arabian Peninsula.

During the first days of the League of Nation’s Paris Peace Conference, Faisal, accompanied by T.E. Lawrence, widely dubbed "Lawrence of Arabia," met in Paris with Zionist Organization president Chaim Weizmann. Following up on meetings the two leaders had held the previous June in Aqaba, Faisal signed an enlightened and tolerant nine-point agreement endorsing the Balfour Declaration and inviting the Zionists to coexist in Palestine. The text includes great specificity about mutual national aspirations. But the chief goal of the Arabs for an Arab national state at that time was not Palestine—but Syria. The text: Read more ..


Inside Latin America

An End to Kirchnerism in Argentina as the Tango Nation Faces Uncertainty

July 27th 2009

Latin American Topics - Kirchners
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina has now been in office one year and a half and is facing enormous challenges from within and without. Domestically, her call for national dialogue has been received cautiously by her opponents and the business sector, while her hard-core supporters appear to be flagging.

The Kirchner administration has been accused of corruption and manipulation of economic statistics, as well as putting pressures on both judges and the media. Industrial output dropped by nearly 11 percent this May with respect to the same period in 2008, according to the Argentine Industrial Union – a pro-business group. The annual rate of inflation has now surpassed 15 percent. Swine flu has now caused more than 165 deaths, according to official figures, but could actually be more, while official statistics have been called into question. World-renowned for its range-fed beef, Argentina may actually have to import beef this year because of the current impasse between the government and the private sector. Importing beef is something that just a short time ago would have seemed beyond comprehension.

As far as international affairs are concerned, Argentina appears to be more and more isolated. While its revenue appears to be in freefall, Argentina has no access to international financial markets even while it continues its feud with the International Monetary Fund. Recently, President Barack Obama placed Brazil and Chile at the forefront as examples of countries enjoying good relations with the United States. He failed to mention Argentina. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Meeting with Barack Obama—the Atmospherics As I Saw Them

July 20th 2009

Jewish Topics - Obama -Jewish Meeting 0347 lo-res
Barack Obama Meets with 16 Jewish Leaders

Last Monday afternoon, I was called to represent Hadassah at a small meeting at the White House with President Obama and 16 representatives of several American Jewish organizations. Here are the “fly-on-the-wall” details. 

The President spent nearly an hour with us, and also in attendance were several senior White House and policy staff including Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, Tina Tchen, Susan Sher, Dan Shapiro, and Danielle Borrin. 

The President entered the Roosevelt Room—just across from the Oval Office—without fan-fare at exactly at 3 pm and personally greeted each attendee, and hugged Lee Rosenberg (President-elect of AIPAC.) On my way to my seat I almost collided with the President when I went around the table to my seat and Obama suddenly entered thru a door in my path.

The President sat mid-table (with Emanuel to his left) and began by saying that Israel is an incredibly important ally; that the long term effect of the economic crisis has unfavorably impacted charities just as we are being called upon to deliver more services, and that reforming health care is an important priority for the future. Read more ..


Latin America on the Edge

Guatemalan Democracy: Hanging on By its Fingernails

July 13th 2009

Latin American Topics - Guatemala Protest
Guatemalan Protestors

In a country where an average of 17 murders are committed each day and 98 percent of criminal cases remain unsolved, the May 10, 2009 assassination of prominent Guatemalan lawyer, Rodrigo Rosenberg, could easily have been dismissed along with thousands of other ill-handled and heavily manipulated political murder investigations. Instead, the dramatic elements of a video recording shown at the attorney’s funeral, in which Rosenberg forewarns the viewers of his own death as a result of the alleged plotting of President Álvaro Colom, his wife Sandra Torres, and Colom’s chief of staff Gustavo Alejos, has brought Rosenberg’s murder to the height of national attention.

In light of the recent sharp protests that erupted in the aftermath of the video’s release, the political divides of Guatemala’s economically and culturally conflicted society are even more obvious now than before the garish Rosenberg murder. The government bussed thousands of Colom’s supporters from the country’s rural area to the capital to counter the protests of equally large numbers of urban middle and upper class residents using the event as a wedge to call for Colom’s immediate resignation. Read more ..


America’s Economic Collapse

Mortgage Confession: How I Helped Ruin the Economy for Ten Bucks an Hour

July 6th 2009

Economy - Money Money Money

The following recounts my experiences working for the Loan Delivery Department of a large multinational bank (hereafter known as The Bank) in Western New York during the hyper-inflated housing market. Almost all economists see the bursting housing bubble as a primary cause of the current global financial crisis. While there are many factors and actors to blame for the current crisis, my story highlights the impact securitization—the packaging and reselling of pools of mortgage loans—had on bank behavior.

Specifically, since the majority of profits for many banks were being generated by fees from loans, and as quickly as new loans were made, they were put into pools and sold to investment banks—who then manipulated these into more exotic financial instruments to sell to global investors—the banks’ incentive was to generate as many loans as possible, risk be damned! Everyone up and down the mortgage loan food chain was making money hand over fist, and no one wanted the gravy train to stop. But, as you will soon see, it required the complicit fraudulent behavior of banks (and others) to maintain it. Finally, while most analyses on the cause of the crisis have rightfully been directed at so-called “sub-prime loans,” my experience shows that fraudulent behavior was endemic, as the loans I dealt with were all classified as “prime mortgages.” Read more ..


The Edge of Ecology

Amazon Rainforest is Worth the Worldwide Crusade

June 29th 2009

Environment Topics - Amazon rainforest

Brazil is home to one-third of the world’s rainforest and half of the Amazon. Between its vast rainforests and bodies of water, Brazil hit the planet’s natural resource jackpot, although both are rapidly disappearing habitats. Despite its ecological wealth, Brazil has stated that international climate change is a burden that should be shouldered by both the developed and developing worlds. It also shortsightedly contends that each nation should take environmental action based solely on an inventory of its own needs. Among the world’s top ten largest emitters of greenhouse gases, Brazil needs to step up its actions in order to counteract deforestation and climate change. Moreover, this is an international issue that the rest of the world cannot sit idly by and wait for Brazil to join in and do its share in coping with the problem.

Recent Flooding a Wake-up Call to Climate Change
Increasingly severe weather irregularities are making Brazil’s environmental issues of more pressing importance to national and global policies. The existence of climate change no longer appears to be much of a debate for Brazil, in light of the unusual and frightfully destructive flooding in the north this May that killed forty-four people and left more than 180,000 homeless. Read more ..


Edge of Crime

The Montenegro Connection: Love, Tobacco, and the Mafia

June 22nd 2009

Investigation - Montenegro Cigarette Destruction
Montenegrin Customs Officer Destroys Smuggled Cigarettes

“My little cat... I'm going crazy without you.... You have repeatedly betrayed me, I think.... Little cat, when are you coming? ... I love you, little cat.”

On Jan. 4, 2001, Dusanka Pesic Jeknic, representative of the Montenegrin trade mission in Milan, Italy, was speaking on the phone at her home in the southwest of the city. Milo Djukanovic, at that time president of Montenegro, was calling from the capital Podgorica. Billions of people around the world had just hailed the New Millennium. Dusanka, nicknamed “Duska,” the beautiful 41-year-old widow of the late foreign minister of Montenegro, was alone, far from her country. And she spoke out freely about everything: love, tobacco, and crime.

Eight years after Jeknic's loving conversation with her president, transcripts of her phone calls, wiretapped by the Italian police for 20 months, are attached to hundreds of thousands of court records filed by the prosecutor's office in Bari, in southern Italy. Read more ..



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