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Archive for November 2016

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The Battle for Syria

Syrian Forces Seize More Rebel-Held Districts In Aleppo As Assault Gains Momentum

November 30th 2016

Syria fighting injured baby

Syrian government forces seized full control of northeast Aleppo on Monday, overrunning a third of what remained of the rebel enclave and sending thousands of civilians into panicked flight.

The area’s recapture brings President Bashar al-Assad’s troops closer than ever to realizing their biggest victory of the five-year-old civil war: retaking full control of what was once Syria’s commercial capital.

The reconquered neighborhoods in Aleppo had been among the first to throw off government control in 2012. On Nov. 15, government forces launched a final push to take them back, supported by Russian warplanes and Iranian-backed troops. Read more ..


Media on Edge

When Fake News is the Real News

November 30th 2016

Newspapers

There’s a call to crack-down on fake news. Whatever that is.

Here’s what’s happening behind the headlines.

It started with a claim that fake news got more attention on Facebook than real news. Facebook’s reputation has already taken a hit for censoring conservative-leaning users. But what exactly is fake news?

How about New York Times Moscow Bureau Chief Walter Duranty’s false reports that covered-up the genocide of millions of Ukrainians by the Soviet Union in the 1930s. The Times’ Jayson Blair wrote one bogus story after another. There was The New Republic’s Stephen Glass. A Hollywood movie detailed his months of untrue news stories. There was the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning story about an 8-year old heroin addict. The story was a colossal hoax. Read more ..


The Race for Cold Fusion

Do Cold Fusion Experiments Create Energy When None Should Exist?

November 30th 2016

superconducting fibers

Howard J. Wilk is a long-term unemployed synthetic organic chemist living in Philadelphia. Like many pharmaceutical researchers, he has suffered through the drug industry’s R&D downsizing in recent years and now is underemployed in a nonscience job. With extra time on his hands, Wilk has been tracking the progress of a New Jersey-based company called Brilliant Light Power (BLP).

The company is one of several that are developing processes that collectively fall into the category of new energy technologies. This movement is largely a reincarnation of cold fusion, the short-lived, quickly dismissed phenomenon from the late 1980s of achieving nuclear fusion in a simple benchtop electrolysis device.

In 1991, BLP’s founder, Randell L. Mills, announced at a press conference in Lancaster, Pa., that he had devised a theory in which the electron in hydrogen could transition from its normal ground energy state to previously unknown lower and more stable states, liberating copious amount of energy in the process. Mills named this curious new type of shrunken hydrogen the hydrino, and he has been at work ever since to develop a commercial device to harness its power and make it available to the world.

Read more ..

Environment on Edge

Tuna’s Declining Mercury Contamination Linked to U.S. Shift Away from Coal

November 30th 2016

School of tuna

Levels of highly toxic mercury contamination in Atlantic bluefin tuna are rapidly declining, according to a new study. That trend does not affect recommended limits on consumption of canned tuna, which comes mainly from other tuna species. Nor does it reflect trends in other ocean basins. But it does represent a major break in the long-standing, scary connection between tuna and mercury, a source of public concern since 1970, when a chemistry professor in New York City found excess levels of mercury in a can of tuna and spurred a nationwide recall. Tuna consumption continues to be the source of about 40 percent of the mercury contamination in the American diet. And mercury exposure from all sources remains an important issue, because it causes cognitive impairment in an estimated 300,000 to 600,000 babies born in this country each year.

Read more ..

Democrats in Disarray

In Private Fundraiser, Ellison Blasted Israeli Influence Over U.S. Policy

November 30th 2016

boycott Israel t-shirt

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison's announcement earlier this month that he wants to be the Democratic National Committee's next chairman drew quick support from several key lawmakers, including Jewish senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders.

Ellison backers also have defended him against claims he may hold anti-Semitic views in addition to being anti-Israel. A column in Israel's liberal daily Haaretz quotes two rabbis praising Ellison, D-Minn., as "the best of our constitutional democracy and the best of America" and "an extraordinary leader. Anyone who would associate him with any kind of hatred hasn't met him and certainly hasn't worked with him."

A 2010 audio of Ellison speaking at a private fundraiser obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism calls such praise into question. In a fairly intimate setting, Ellison lashed out at what he sees as Israel's disproportionate influence in American foreign policy. That will change, he promised, as more Muslims gained political influence: Read more ..


Effort for Peoria War Memorials

November 29th 2016

Peoria County has two War Memorials: a Soldiers and Sailors monument, commemorating the Civil War, and a War Memorial dedicated to World Wars I & II (with approximately 1,000 engraved granite brick pavers surrounding it).  We are in the process of building our third War Memorial (named our Final Salute) dedicated to all conflicts involving the U.S. Military after World War II.  We have raised the money and 'broke ground' on the monument, itself.  We are still raising money to pay for the statues, the concept of which is a soldier evocative of each era (Korea, Vietnam, and the War on Terror) will be in the center of the greenery at the courthouse, returning to their bunker...appropriate called "Soldiers on Patrol".  There is some question as to how, or even if, we can put a sandbag wall at the back of the memorial - we would like to, but concrete is too susceptible to decay - and we want this monument to last.  We have the funds raised for two of the statues, still raising capital for the third.

We are selling engraved granite bricks to help with raising the money. Any dollars left over after the monument is completed will go into a special, dedicated fund for the maintenance of the monument. Those making a donation (not buying a brick) will be listed on a plaque at the site of the monument (turned so it does not take away from the engraved names of those who died in service on the walls of the monument.  Different amounts apply, the minimum is $1,000.  The area available is much less than the WWI&II monument; therefore the number of pavers is considerably reduced.  Cost for a paver is $150 for a 4x8" (3 lines, 21 characters/spaces per line) and $500 for a 12x12" (9 lines, 21 characters/spaces per line).  All engravings must be appropriate - no advertisements.  Many who do not have anyone particular they wish to honor have specified something such as "Honor and Gratitude" and their name.

A certificate, suitable for framing, will be created immediately and sent to the purchaser for review and authorization.  The certificate will have a light background of the planned memorial with, on the left, the exact phrasing for the brick as specified.  On the right the names of the contributor/s.  We have found families like to send a certificate, (brick purchased amongst family members with all names listed [up to nine]) and send the certificate to a Veteran (perhaps in a nursing home in Florida).  The Veteran receives the gift, can hang on a wall.  Upon the finalization of the brick, a postcard is sent to the buyer (1) with a photo of the memorial on the back of the card, with an 'x' marking the approximate location of the engraved brick.

This has been a labor of love for our large committee.  Our hope is the memorial will be completed in 2017.


The US and China

China vs America-- Competing Economic Superpowers

November 29th 2016

Bank of China

Depending on how one crunches the numbers, China’s economy has either already surpassed, in size, that of the United States, or will do so in a within a couple of years.  According to data from the World Bank, it is the former, China’s nominal GDP was $19.3 trillion in 2015, while U.S. GDP came in at $17.9 trillion.  One difficulty in comparing national economies is calculating each country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in a common currency—usually in U.S. dollars.  A second is adjusting the GDP numbers to take into account purchasing power parity (PPP).

Whether or not China’s economy is larger than the U.S., the former’s economic growth over the past three decades is nothing if not incredible.  In turn, it has created some angst among Americans.  Mike Patton writes in Forbes:  “China’s economy will become more significant than America’s.  How is this possible?  Is the golden era of “Made in America” in our rearview mirror?  Is China entering a modern-day economic dynasty?”  Based solely on the dollar size of GDP, yes China is projected to far surpass the U.S. in the coming years. Read more ..


Film Review

"Hate Space" Leaves No Room for Doubt

November 29th 2016

boycott Israel t-shirt

Hate Spaces: The Politics of Intolerance on Campus, 110 minutes. APT.

There is a brand-new documentary that focuses on the relationship between American universities and their Jewish students, particularly those who support Israel. The movie is called “Hate Spaces” and that gives you an idea of how those Jewish students are treated.

Of course the name is a play on the current ridiculous yet widespread notion that American college students need “safe spaces”  – sometimes equipped with crayons or puppies or soft pillows – from any ideas that might make them even a teensy bit uncomfortable.

This film is a must-see. “Hate Spaces” is so chock-full of important facts, details and examples that it could easily provide the basis for a full semester course, yet it has been masterfully edited down to a mere 110 minutes long.

Another reason why this film is so useful is that it interweaves current examples and interviews with a historic progression of the problem on American campuses. Read more ..


Lebanon on Edge

Lebanon Walls in Palestinian Camp

November 29th 2016

Beirut Hizbollah Street Violence

It is no secret that Arab countries have long mistreated their Palestinian brothers and sisters, governing them with inhumane laws and imposing severe restrictions on their public freedoms and basic rights. Building a wall around a Palestinian community to prevent terrorists from entering or leaving, however, has raised the bar on such infringements.

This is precisely what is happening in Lebanon these days. The construction of a security wall around Ain al-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp (with a population of nearly 120,000), has drawn sharp criticism from Palestinians and revived memories of the abuse they regularly receive at the hands of their Arab brethren.

Read more ..

The Iranian Threat

Iranian Navy to Escort Tankers Through Red Sea

November 28th 2016

Iranian oil tanker

In response to a rising threat of piracy and terrorism, Iran's Navy will be escorting all Iranian tankers in the waters off Somalia, in the the Bab al-Mandeb Strait and in the Red Sea.

Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, the commander of the Islamic Republic Navy, told state-owned media that the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) had requested the heightened naval security presence. Sayyari said that the service would extend to other merchant vessels as well, including the vessels of other nations. 

Sayyari pointed to the service's eight-year track record in defending Iran's commercial vessels off Somalia: over the course of 3,800 escort transits, there have been no negative outcomes, he said.  Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Iran May Seek Naval Bases In Yemen Or Syria: Chief Of Staff

November 28th 2016

Iranian navy ship and guard

Iran may seek to set up naval bases in Yemen or Syria in the future, the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces said in remarks published on Sunday.

His comments, likely to be of concern to Shi'ite Iran's Sunni regional rival Saudi Arabia and its allies, raised the prospect of distant footholds perhaps being more valuable militarily to Tehran than nuclear technology.

"We need distant bases, and it may become possible one day to have bases on the shores of Yemen or Syria, or bases on islands or floating (bases)," said General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, quoted by the Shargh daily newspaper.

"Is having distant bases less than nuclear technology? I say it is worth dozens of times more," added Baqeri, who was speaking at a gathering of naval commanders.

Read more ..

Islam on Edge

Indonesian Woman Flogged for Close Proximity with a Man

November 28th 2016

Burqa Muslim woman

An Indonesian woman screamed in agony Monday as she was caned in Aceh, the latest in a growing number of women to be publicly flogged for breaking the province's strict Islamic laws.

Aceh is the only province in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes sharia law. People can face floggings for a range of offences -- from gambling, to drinking alcohol, to gay sex.

In the latest caning, five people -- two women and three men -- were flogged in front of a cheering crowd at a mosque in the provincial capital Banda Aceh.

The 34-year-old woman who yelled in pain had been found guilty of spending time in close proximity with a man who was not her husband in contravention of Aceh's Islamic regulations. Read more ..


The Race for Batteries

Recycling EV Batteries for Home Storage Probably 'Nonsensical,'

November 28th 2016

Lead batteries dump

The economics of reusing batteries from plug-in vehicles for home energy storage don’t make sense, says a new report from Lux Research.

Up to 65 GWh of second-life batteries are poised to enter the market by 2035 with the retirement of the first generation of plug-in vehicles, but reusing them for home storage is not economic says the report, “Reuse or Recycle: The Billion-dollar Battery Question,” from the Lux Research Energy Storage Intelligence service.

Reuse of batteries from electric vehicles will deliver questionable returns on account of reduced performance, limiting them to application with less frequent and shallower depth of discharge cycles. For example, an oversized 11.2 kWh residential system from second-life batteries will cost just over $4,600, compared with nearly $6,000 for a new 7 kWh system. The reduced efficiency and cycle life make residential units and other daily cycling applications a poor fit compared to some others.

Read more ..

Pleased with the Possibility of Mattis

November 28th 2016
We are pleased with the array of highly qualified candidates that President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly considering for Secretary of Defense. The Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) - an organization dedicated to a robust U.S. national security posture and a strong U.S.-Israel security relationship - does not and will not endorse any candidate for this or any other government position. However, we feel compelled to convey that characterizations of one candidate, General James N. Mattis, USMC (ret.), as anti-Israel are ill-founded and unfair.
 
The criticism revolves around extemporaneous remarks General Mattis made at the Aspen Institute in July 2013 on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. They were made shortly following his retirement after a very distinguished four-decade-long career in the U.S. military, with his last position as Commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), where his area of responsibility covered much of the Middle East and Central Asia (excluding Israel).
 
We understand and share many of the objections to his remarks, including that he seemed to blame mostly Israel for the impasse, despite the critical challenges it faces in lacking a stable, moderate Palestinian partner that genuinely seeks a durable peace with the Jewish state. Some American Jews and even Israelis make the same mistake. In any case, he has not repeated those remarks.
 
On the larger U.S. military and strategic issues related to the Middle East, which a Secretary of Defense will have to address early on, General Mattis has notably and indisputably distinguished himself in advocating for a more robust U.S. military posture to counter, contain and deter Iran, even at the peril of his military career, and its importance to American security and the restoration of America's position in the Middle East - views JINSA has strongly propounded. Along similar lines, he has stressed the need to stand by our longstanding regional friends.
 
General Mattis' outlook on these issues aligns perfectly with Israel's, which considers an aggressive Iran its greatest strategic threat, and a nuclear Iran to be an existential threat. Israel also seeks a strong U.S. presence in the Middle East. General Mattis has noted this alignment of views with Israel, and correctly explained the synchronization of Israeli and Arab outlooks on these subjects. This should be heartening to the overwhelming majority of Americans who believe that a strong State of Israel is necessary for its own sake and important for a strong America.
 
JINSA's experiences with General Mattis have been very positive, including many private discussions in the last few years on the Middle East. We recently consulted several notable Israelis and Americans in the civic and military spheres who also have interacted with him and they share our confidence in his support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
 
Were General Mattis to become Secretary of Defense, and work more closely with Israel in that position, an opportunity he lacked at CENTCOM, we believe he will become an even closer friend of the State of Israel.

Jewry on Edge

The ADL’s New Bedfellows

November 27th 2016

Campus antizionists

In an interview this week with the Australian media, Jordan’s King Abdullah became the latest Arab leader to express hope that President- elect Donald Trump and his team will lead the world’s to date failed fight against jihadist Islam.

Like his counterparts in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Abdullah effectively ruled out the possibility that President Barack Obama will take any constructive steps to defeat the forces of global jihad in his last months in power. Speaking of the humanitarian disaster in Aleppo for instance, Abdullah said, “I don’t think there’s much we can do until the new administration is in place and a strategy is formulated.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi was among the first Arab leaders to welcome Trump’s victory. Read more ..


The ADL Has Changed - It Is No Longer The Adl We Came To Trust And Support

November 27th 2016

There was a time when the Anti-Defamation League or ADL, under the leadership of Abe Foxman, tried to remain apoltical and stand for the fight against anti-Semitism across the political spectrum. Under the new leadership of Jonathan Greenblatt that is no longer true. Who is Jonathan Greenblatt? Prior to taking over the leadership of the ADL in 2015, Greenblatt held a position in the White House as Special Assistant to Barack Obama and Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. At the same time, he worked for the billionaire, George Soros, at the Aspen Institute, a self-styled social justice organization. Much has been written about George Soros and his hate war against Israel, but it can be concisely summarized as follows:
 

"But perhaps the archetype of Israel-hating is billionaire, George Soros. Mr. Soros spends millions of his own money each year to support anti-Israel organizations and pressures the American government to support the supposed “victims” of Israel."


Before his stint with the Obama administration and with the Soros funded Aspen Institute, Greenblatt was an aide in the Clinton White House, and in 1992, he worked on Bill Clinton's first Presidential campaign. All of which would not matter if Greenblatt was capable of avoiding partisanship and steering the ADL on a straight and narrow, non-partisan course. But that's not what he is doing, and if allowed to stay in this position, he will destroy the ADL as we have come to know it. 

Two issues illustrate the partisanship Greenblatt has adopted for the ADL's agenda.

First, a movement arose this year in many states to pass legislation that would have barred government contracts with groups supporting BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel. It is important to understand that these laws did not prevent the anti-Israel and usually anti-Semitic BDS campaigners from exercising their First Amendment rights and continuing their campaigns to attack Israel. BDS activities themselves were not banned or criminalized. But the proposed laws restricted state government agencies from indirectly supporting BDS groups by preventing government agencies from bestowing government contracts upon them. There was nothing wrong with such legislation, yet the ADL publicly opposed it. Many former ADL supporters were stunned by the ADL's perfidy in acting to help those attacking Israel. This article in Frontpage magazine illustrates Greenblatt's protection of the BDS movement and other left wing groups that attack Israel, such as J Street.

Second, a most recent example of Greenblatt's partisan transformation of ADL is its praise of Representative Keith Ellison, a leading candidate to chair the Democratic National Committee. Ellison, a Muslim congressman from Minnesota, has a long history of anti-Israel advocacy. He has labeled Israel a proponent of Apartheid, blamed Israel for causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, defended the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case involving the funneling of funds to Hamas, and voted against the bill to provide $225 million in funding for Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system. But perhaps most egregious is Ellison's 9 year association with Louis Farrakhan and his notoriously anti-Semitic Nation of Islam organization. Ellison in the past wrote under the names "Keith E. Hakim, in which he spoke respectfully of Farrakhan and defended the NOI's national spokesman and Farrakhan's right-hand man, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, notorious for his anti-white, anti-Jewish, and anti-gay opinions. Elsewhere, Ellison used other pseudonyms, including Keith X Ellison and Keith Ellison Muhammad." Ellison appeared on stage with Khalid Abdul Muhammad at a rally in which Muhammad proclaimed "If words were swords, the chests of Jews, gays and whites would be pierced." Two years earlier Muhammad "described Jews as 'hook-nosed, bagel-eatin', lox-eatin' impostors...." http://www.meforum.org/2756/keith-ellison-stealth-jihad

You can read the ADL's statement of support for Ellison here , and you can read criticism of the ADL's position and Ellison's anti-Israel past in this Algemeiner article and this article from Tablet Magazine.

Although it has only been a short period of time since Greenblatt took over at the ADL, another change in leadership is needed to avoid the destruction of the reputation it earned over many years.


Turkey and Israel

Turkey’s Erdoğan: the Insult and the Fury

November 25th 2016

Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was at his repellent best when he was interviewed by Israeli television journalist Ilana Dayan this week.

Although the interview was pegged to the restoration of Turkish-Israeli bilateral ties this past summer, Erdoğan used the occasion to spit his usual invective against Israel and Jews more generally. Many of Erdoğan's favorite topics—the supposed symbiosis between Nazi Germany and the Jewish state, Israel's insulting intransigence in the face of his personal attempts to negotiate a solution to the Palestinian question, Israel's alleged desire to change the religious status of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount (known to Muslims as Al-Haram al-Sharif)—arose in the conversation, and he addressed them in the fanatical, embittered tone that has come to symbolize his ascendance as a Turkish dictator.

Read more ..

The Edge of Health

'Medical' Marijuana -- A Con

November 25th 2016

exploding cigaret

As the former Drug Czar under President Ronald Reagan, with an extensive background in marijuana research, I thought I should share some of my thoughts about 'medical' marijuana.
From 1970 to 1981, I held various positions at the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy at the University of Mississippi. During this time, I published over 100 original papers, chapters in books, patents, and two large Marijuana Bibliographies covering marijuana research starting in the 1880s. I also served as the Director of the federal government's Marijuana Project.
Read more ..

The Edge of Medicine

World’s First Blood Test To Aid Diagnosis Of Parkinson’s

November 25th 2016

walking-cane

Doctors diagnose as many as 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s disease (PD) every year in the United States. Yet diagnosing PD with certainty can take years — long after early signs and symptoms have appeared.

The Israeli startup BioShai has a game-changing product on the horizon: PDx, the world’s first simple blood test for the early diagnosis of PD.

The test results can be combined with clinical data, providing a more accurate diagnosis to help physicians decide on the best course of treatment at a much earlier stage.

More than 10 million people worldwide are living with this chronic and progressive movement disorder caused by the malfunction and death of neurons that produce dopamine, a chemical that coordinates the brain’s control of movement and coordination.

“Having a diagnosis at an earlier stage can lead to a more precise treatment and a higher quality of life for the patient,” says BioShai CEO Jennifer Yarden, who has a PhD in medical science and formerly was responsible for clinical and commercial development of diagnostic assays and kits at Glycominds. Yarden is also CEO and cofounder of Curewize Health.

Read more ..

The Race for Hi-Speed Rail

California Hits the Brakes on High-Speed Rail Fiasco

November 24th 2016

Shinkansen bullet train

California's high-speed rail project increasingly looks like an expensive social science experiment to test just how long interest groups can keep money flowing to a doomed endeavor before elected officials finally decide to cancel it. What combination of sweet-sounding scenarios, streamlined mockups, ever-changing and mind-numbing technical detail, and audacious spin will keep the dream alive?

Sold to the public in 2008 as a visionary plan to whisk riders along at 220 miles an hour, making the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a little over two and a half hours, the project promised to attract most of the necessary billions from private investors, to operate without ongoing subsidies and to charge fares low enough to make it competitive with cheap flights. With those assurances, 53.7 percent of voters said yes to a $9.95 billion bond referendum to get the project started. But the assurances were at best wishful thinking, at worst an elaborate con. Read more ..


Obama and Israel

As Trump Charts New Mideast Policy, White House Contemplates Sabotage

November 23rd 2016

Stop using--Obama pensive

After their first meeting, with cameras broadcasting their every word across the globe, President Obama turned to Donald Trump and pledged "to do everything we can to help you succeed." Media outlets across the spectrum fawned over his magnanimity.

Guess again. Washington DC insiders widely expect the president to launch a bold effort to constrain the president-elect's options in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by supporting unilateral international recognition of Palestinian statehood, possibly in the UN Security Council.

U.S. policy has long maintained that a Palestinian state should be established in conjunction with a comprehensive peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Read more ..


The Weapon's Edge

The Stealthy Gallium War

November 23rd 2016

F-35

War is going on over special integrated circuits based on a material called Gallium Nitrite. Winning this war will effect not only the United States national security, but also its ability to protect key global partners in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
Unfortunately the battle for Gallium Nitrite is very complicated, because the material has extensive commercial as well as military application.

But perhaps the single most important use for Gallium Nitrite is for detecting stealth aircraft and defeating long range weapons including so-called Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles launched from aircraft.

The United States is totally committed to stealth as the game changing technology of the present and future.  So deeply is the United States committed, that the only air superiority multi-mission aircraft being produced today is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).  The JSF is hugely costly and less stealthy than its big brother the F-22, but the F-22 was sacrificed so the JSF program could be financed, so mostly everything going forward hangs on this single airplane.
Read more ..

Turkey on Edge

Turkey's Erdoğan Continues Harsh Repression of Political Opponents

November 23rd 2016

Erdogan

Turkey's Islamist president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, appears as the sole person in his country's politics who knows what he wants. Erdoğan seeks absolute power and acts against all obstacles to his ambitions. He is eager to identify new "enemies" whose purported conspiracies he believes justify his harsh rule.

Through the end of October and most of November, Erdoğan has carried out a spree of enhanced repressive measures. This latest onslaught reflects his current fixation on a referendum, proposed for spring 2017, to ratify or reject constitutional amendments that would provide a dramatic increase in his presidential powers. Read more ..


Japan on Edge

All Tsunami Alerts Lifted After 7.4 Quake Rocks Northern Japan

November 22nd 2016

sunset in japan

Japan lifted all tsunami alerts after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake off the coast of Fukushima, home to the nuclear power plant crippled in the March 2011 triple disaster.

The temblor, an aftershock of the magnitude 9 quake five years ago, briefly knocked offline a cooling system for spent nuclear fuel at a separate Fukushima plant, and prompted authorities to issue the highest tsunami warnings for five years.

It struck at 5:59 a.m. local time Tuesday at a depth of 25 kilometers (15.5 miles), according to the Japan Meteorological Agency, causing a tsunami of more than 1 meter on the coast of Miyagi prefecture and smaller waves elsewhere. Read more ..


Egypt and Israel

Egypt-Israel Relations 'At Highest Level' Ever

November 22nd 2016

General Al-Sisi

Almost four decades since former Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat extended a hand of peace to Israel, the two governments have reached "full partnership and unbreakable alliance", analysts say.

Although many Egyptians continue to regard Israel as a threat and sympathise with the Palestinian cause, the relationship between the two countries has become markedly explicit under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. 

"Egyptian-Israeli relations are today at their highest level in history," said Nathan Thrall, a Jerusalem-based senior analyst for the International Crisis Group (ICG), a research NGO.  And it certainly appears so.

In 2016, Egyptian foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, visited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a much-publicised meeting at the latter's home in Jerusalem. It was the first visit by any Egyptian FM in close to a decade. Netanyahu said the two "made time to watch the Euro 2016 final" football game together.  Read more ..


Obama and Israel

Bolton Warns Obama on Israel Action at UN

November 22nd 2016

Obama and Israel

Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton warned Sunday that President Obama should not take any actions before leaving office that could hurt Israel at the U.N.

Bolton said during an interview with radio host John Catsimatidis that there is "a lot of speculation over in Turtle Bay at U.N. headquarters about resolutions that recognize a Palestinian state or that try and set a boundary for Israel based on the 1967 ceasefire lines."

"I think that’d be very inadvisable for the president to do that," he said. Obama said during his final speech as president at the U.N. General Assembly that Israel would be in a better position if it did not “permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land" and Palestinians would be better off if they were to “reject incitement," according to the Jerusalem Post.

Read more ..

The Edge of Terror

Paris Jihadist Manages to Grow More Radical in Prison

November 22nd 2016

Prison bars

One year after jihadist commandos massacred 130 people in coordinated attacks across Paris, France remains under a state of emergency. Heavily armed gendarmes patrol the city streets, prepared for the next attack that even politicians admit is sure to come. And the one jihadist who survived the Nov. 13 attacks, Salah Abdeslam, rests in French prison, becoming more radicalized than ever.

This, at least, is what his former lawyer, Sven Mary, told Dutch newspaper the Volkskrant in a recent interview. "He has a beard now," Mary said. "He has become a real fundamentalist Muslim. He had been just a street kid with Nikes." Read more ..


Palestinians on Edge

Infighting Clouds Upcoming Palestinian Leadership Gathering

November 21st 2016

Palestinian Authority police

Hatem Abu Riziq used to prowl the narrow alleyways of the West Bank's largest refugee camp battling the Israeli army. But these days he is turning his gun's barrel toward the Palestinian leadership.

With the long-ruling Palestinian Fatah faction torn by rivalries, fierce shootouts between Palestinian security forces and Fatah-aligned gunmen have erupted in recent months, plunging the Balata camp into unrest and lawlessness.

The violence, much of it directed at a Fatah leadership seen as corrupt and out of touch, comes as the movement prepares to hold an overdue leadership conference at the end of the month and reflects a combustible power struggle between the faction's aging leader, President Mahmoud Abbas, and exiled rival Mohammed Dahlan, a former top aide who has the backing of some gunmen and disaffected Fatah activists. Read more ..


Palestinians on Edge

Lebanon Begins Building 'Security Wall' Around Palestinian Refugee Camp

November 21st 2016

Hezbollah

The first blocks of an isolation wall were erected around the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon this week, as a plan to build 'security' cordons and watchtowers around Ain al-Hilweh came into effect.

The security wall forms part of an agreement between Palestinian factions and the authorities in Lebanon in attempt to contain recent confrontations between Palestinians inside the camp and the Lebanese army, Lebanese and Palestinian officials claim.

The isolation wall is set to be completed within the next 15 months, according to a report by Lebanon-based al-Modon news site

"Four towers will be constructed," Ain al-Hilweh's Hamas official Abu Ahmad Faysal earlier this month told Lebanon's Daily Star.

Read more ..

The Trump Era

Bernie Marcus, Home Depot Founder/Pro-Israel Philanthropist Defends Bannon

November 17th 2016

Donald Trump Laconia NM Michael Vadon Jul 16 2015 03

The Republican Jewish Coalition is defending Breitbart News chairman and newly-named chief White House strategist Steve Bannon from charges of anti-Semitism.

“I have been shocked and saddened to see the recent personal attacks on Steve,” RJC board member Bernie Marcus said in a Tuesday statement to Time. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

President-elect Donald Trump drew criticism on Monday by granting Bannon a senior role in his administration despite Breitbart’s prominent role in promoting the anti-Semitic alt-right. The Anti-Defamation League said that “he & his alt right are so hostile to core American values,” while the Southern Poverty Law Center pointed outthat Bannon’s appointment was met with cheers from white supremacist websites. Read more ..


The Trump Era

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Defends Bannon

November 17th 2016

Donald Trump Laconia NM Michael Vadon Jul 16 2015 03

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach writes an open letter to Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, to defend former Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon against accusations of anti-Semitism — which erupted after president-elect Donald Trump announced that Bannon would serve as White House Chief Strategist.

**************************

Dear Jonathan,

You know I’m a fan and I consider you a warm friend. One of the highlights of my public life over the last year was delivering the keynote speech to the renowned Iranian-Jewish community of Great Neck, New York, where your wife, Marjan Keypour Greenblatt, was honored for her outstanding work in founding and serving as director of the Alliance for Rights of All Minorities (ARAM), which promotes human rights and especially protects women and LGBT persons in Iran, one of the world’s most oppressive and brutal regimes. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Hamas Money Drying Up

November 15th 2016

Hamas head

Hamas in Gaza is facing an acute financial crisis as its overseas cash sources dry up. This is forcing the Islamist regime and its armed terrorist wing, the Izzadin Al-Qassam Brigades, to resort to increasingly desperate measures, such as using international aid organizations to funnel cash away from Gazan civilians.

Hamas's dire financial situation has multiple causes. Egypt has effectively blocked off many smuggling tunnels linking Gaza to Sinai, which previously were used to transfer money into Gaza from Hamas donors.

Additionally, Hamas finds itself without a clear international backer these days. Not only is Egypt under the rule of President Sisi decidedly hostile, but relations between Hamas and Iran are unstable, rising and falling periodically due to disagreement over conflict raging in Syria. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Europe's Terror Challenges: The Returnee Threat

November 14th 2016

Syrian Rebel w/SAW

Another week, another barrage of headlines illustrating the depth of Europe's terror threat. The following examples came during a 24 hour window earlier this month: "Schiphol Airport Was Possibly A Target Of Terror Cell That Attacked Paris;" "Police In Brussels Stabbed In Possible Terror Attack;" and "MI5 Missed Chance To Foil Paris And Brussels Attacks."

It is news to no one that Islamic terrorism is everywhere now, and principally in Northern and Central Europe. But the three news stories, and the Schiphol and MI5 revelations in particular, demonstrate the enormity of the challenges now facing European counterterrorism officials. Read more ..


Poland on Edge

A Museum Becomes a Battlefield Over Poland’s History

November 12th 2016

Holocaust cattle cars

Conceived nearly a decade ago in a moment of pan-European 
optimism, the Museum of the Second World War here seeks to tell a story of 
devastation that transcended national boundaries. Its collection includes 
Soviet and American tanks; keys to the homes of Jews murdered by their Polish 
neighbors in the village of Jedwabne; flags from the Polish Home Army, which 
fought the Nazis; and an Enigma encoding machine.

But today, this state-financed museum’s fate is uncertain, caught up in the 
country’s cultural and political battles. After five years of construction, at 
a cost of 449 million zlotys (about $114 million), the museum may not open in 
January, as scheduled. Even if it does, the government may starve it of 
funding.

Piotr Glinski, the culture minister of Poland’s conservative government, has 
criticized the museum’s expansive approach and says it should focus more on the 
Polish experience. In a move that would oust the museum’s director, the 
minister has called for the museum to merge with another museum, which exists 
only in name. That institution is dedicated to the Battle of Westerplatte, the 
first battle of the war in September 1939, when Polish forces fended off the 
Nazis before surrendering — an event he regards as more symbolic of heroic 
Polish self-defense.
Read more ..

The Trump Era

Obamacare’s Days May be Numbered

November 12th 2016

Medical bag

Obamacare’s days may be numbered. The Affordable Care Act has survived dozens of recall attempts by the House of Representatives and two challenges brought to the U.S. Supreme Court.  But with a Donald Trump presidency and a new Republican-led House and Senate, the bill—or at least certain key provisions—is almost certainly headed for the chopping block.

The question now is what provisions may survive and when the death knell of the others will sound.

President-elect Trump campaigned on repealing the law and its requirement for Americans to carry health insurance. Trump says the private market should step in with the sale of insurance plans across state lines to help drive down costs through competition. He has said he will dismantle Medicaid and transform it into a system of state grants to provide assistance for low-income residents.

Read more ..

The Trump Era

Did CAIR Leader Just Call for Overthrow of the U.S. Government

November 11th 2016

Daniel Pipes bw

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) successfully presents itself to the media as a benign civil rights organization, comparable to the NAACP or the ADL, a description that conservatives ineffectively rail against. In this light, perhaps a tweet sent out just after midnight EST on Nov. 9 by Hussam Ayloush, long-time head of CAIR's Los Angeles office, will help awaken the press to CAIR's true Islamist identity.

Ayloush wrote:

Ok, repeat after me:
Al-Shaab yureed isqat al-nizaam.
(Arab Spring chant)

That second line is Arabic ("الشعب يريد إسقاط النظام‎‎") for "The people wants to bring down the regime."

In other words, Ayloush unambiguously and directly called for the overthrow of the U.S. government.

Comments: (1) Ayloush may be the most vicious of the CAIR leaders. So far as I know, for example, he's the only one of them to bandy about the term "Zionazi," as evidenced in his e-mail below, dated March 18, 2002.

(2) Ayloush is not a marginal figure but someone with access to the heights of American power, including the White House.

According to an Investigative Project on Terrorism analysis in 2012, he

was a delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. [and] ... attended at least two White House meetings. The logs show Ayloush met with Paul Monteiro, associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement on July 8, 2011 and Amanda Brown, assistant to the White House director of political affairs Patrick Gaspard, on June 6, 2009. According to reliable sources, Monteiro was White House liaison for secret contacts with CAIR, especially with Ayloush.

Read more ..

The Iranian Threat

Netanyahu To Russian PM: Red Line Needed On Iranian Nukes, Bases In Syria

November 11th 2016

Iran Nuclear Equipment centrifuges

Israeli PM spoke against the dangers facing Israel and the Middle East, with a focus on Iran, ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism
Iran must be prevented from producing nuclear weapons and from placing military bases in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian counterpart, Dimitry Medvedev, on Thursday.

Netanyahu spoke about the dangers facing Israel and the Middle East, with a focus on Iran, ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism, during an afternoon meeting with Medvedev in his Jerusalem office.

The Russian prime minister is in Israel for a brief visit as part of a year of events marking the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The desire for increased cooperation comes as Israel and Russia have stepped up coordination of military activities, particularly with respect to operation of their respective air forces in Syria. Read more ..


The Trump Era

Social media promotes false narrative of attacks on Muslimscrime

November 11th 2016

Facebook page

Online media and newspapers were quick to pick up a story that Muslim female student in Louisiana was assaulted by two white men wearing Donald Trump clothing who allegedly stole her headscarf and wallet. The assault supposedly took place just hours after President-elect Trump’s electoral victory.

The female student at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette alleged that she was walking on campus at 11:00 a.m. on November 10 when two white men descended from a grey four-door sedan and struck her with the metal object and knocked her to the ground, according to local reports. The men allegedly tore off the student’s headscarf and stole her wallet. She claimed that they kicked her as well. She told police that one of the men was wearing a white cap that had the word “Trump” on it. While local authorities did not say whether the alleged victim is Muslim, they did describe her headscarf as a “hijab,” a garment worn by Muslim women. Read more ..


Fighting BDS

BDS and Radioactivity: Alumni Confront Anti-Israel Rhetoric on Campus

November 11th 2016

New York Jews against Israel

You may remember the story of Alexander Litvinenko, the ex-KGB officer who fled Russia for asylum in Great Britain. In 2006, while living in England, Litvinenko was hospitalized with acute radiation syndrome and died shortly afterwards, murdered from polonium-210 poisoning.

Litvinenko was silenced for his political views.

The power of labels

Most American college campuses are not places of politically based violence, at least not yet. Nevertheless, students are being effectively silenced by poisoned language. Read more ..


The Trump Era

A Time to Heal and Get Real

November 10th 2016

Vote Buttons

Now that all the media, the pollsters and the prognosticators have been proven woefully wrong, and as the reality sets in that the United States actually elected Donald Trump as its 45th President, we need to come together and begin to heal the deep wounds that emerged during this epic battle for the heart and soul of America.  Contrary to mainstream media belief Clinton was not a shoe-in against Trump, and a silent majority does exist among the American electorate.  But it was silent, not because it wasn’t clamoring to be heard – as the massive crowds and impassioned voters who appeared at dozens of Trump rallies attests to.  It was silent because we in the media, even in the conservative media, refused to hear them.
Read more ..


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