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Oil Addiction

How Landrieu's Desperate Keystone gambit Died in the Senate

November 21st 2014

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Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) told reporters on Monday night that she had the 60 votes she needed to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. But secretly, she knew she was one short. Behind the scenes, Landrieu furiously lobbied Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), hoping he’d become her 60th vote. She also targeted Sen. Angus King, the independent from Vermont, and the Democratic senators due to retire at the end of the year, Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), according to lawmakers familiar with the negotiations. She hoped a member of the Senate Democratic leadership, most likely Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), would cross the party’s base and cast a yes vote that could save her Senate career.

It was a big gamble. Getting enough votes to advance Keystone would give her a victory to talk about in the run-up to her Dec. 6 runoff election against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). Read more ..

The Oil Addiction

Proud Mary Landrieu Keeps on Rolling to Defeat over Keystone XL

November 19th 2014

Legislation to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline failed in the Senate on Tuesday, delivering what could be a fatal blow to Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) reelection campaign. The measure was defeated 59-41, falling a single vote short of the supermajority necessary for passage. All of the “no” votes came from Democrats, and they included all of the Senate Democratic leadership.

That raised immediate questions about why Democrats had decided to grant Landrieu her wish for a vote on the Keystone legislation in the first place, because its defeat by one vote will likely be used by Rep. Bill Cassidy (La.), her GOP opponent, in television advertisements in the weeks-long campaign ahead of their Dec. 6 runoff.

Landrieu expressed disappointment after the vote but didn’t point her finger at leadership for the defeat. “There is no blame, only joy in the fight. Where I come from we just never talk about quitting,” she said. Read more ..

Israel and Palestine

Heroic Israeli Druze Cop Succumbs to Wounds Inflicted by Terrorists

November 19th 2014

Druze Israeli Police officer Zidan Sayif, 27, died of his wounds late Tuesday, hours after a terror attack at a Jerusalem synagogue.

Family and friends at his bedside said they were proud he was the first on the scene to end the terrorist slaughter, Israel’s NRG News reported earlier in the day.

Two Palestinian terrorists entered the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue on Shimon Agassi St. in the city’s religious Har Nof neighborhood at about 07:00 a.m., opened fire with a weapon and struck worshipers with a meat cleaver and knives.

Zidan and another police officer were able to shoot and kill the assailants shortly after the attack on the religious complex, located at the western edge of the capital.

His family – a clan from the western Galilee village of Yanuh-Jatt said they are filled with pride for their heroic relative who helped stop the carnage which killed four rabbis, and wounded eight other worshipers. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Congressional Democrats Get Cold Feet over Obama's Immigration Action

November 18th 2014

President Obama has a tough decision to make on the timing of an executive order to freeze deportations of illegal immigrants.

Senate Democrats want him to wait to give them time to pass an omnibus spending bill and other legislative priorities in the lame-duck session that is just now ramping up.

But delaying the action, even for a few weeks, could make Obama look weak and inflame immigration advocates who are already furious with him for holding back until after the midterm elections.

“You have growing anxiety amongst the immigrant community that’s losing faith that the president is going to do as he said he would do,” said Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens. “I really think he’ll lose support from the Latino community if he continues to wait.” Read more ..

Israel and Palestine

Palestinians Selling Land to Jews Receive Bloodcurdling Death Threats

November 15th 2014

Sultan Abu Al-'Einein, an adviser to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, says that Palestinians who sell land to Jews should be hung from electric poles. Image: MEMRI Screenshot

A prominent official of the Palestinian Fatah movement who is also an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has issued a bloodcurdling threat to “Palestinians who sell land to Jews” – and it’s far from being the first time that this same official has engaged in violent, incendiary rhetoric. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Don't Back Down on Immigration, say Democrats to Obama

November 13th 2014

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Wary that President Obama might back away from vows to ease deportations unilaterally, House Democrats on Wednesday sought to hold the president’s feet to the fire.

On the first day of Congress’s return to Washington after the midterm elections, the lawmakers pressed Obama to act swiftly and decisively to reduce deportations, even in the face of Republican warnings that sidestepping Congress could undermine immigration reform legislation and sink the confirmation of Obama’s pick for attorney general.

The Democrats aren’t mincing words.

"We’re begging the president — there’s urgency to this — you said you were going to do it. Go big!” Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) said Wednesday during a press briefing outside the Capitol.
Citing Tuesday’s observance of Veterans Day, Vargas urged Obama to help military families in particular — “families that have been divided because you haven’t acted yet,” he charged. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Obama is 'Looking Forward' to his Executive Order on Immigration

November 11th 2014

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Immigrant minors held in federal government facility

President Obama is “looking forward” to taking executive action on immigration, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in an interview published Tuesday.

“The president is disappointed that this legislative solution won’t be achieved, but the president is looking forward to taking executive action on his own, to solve as many of these problems as he can,” Earnest told Fusion.

The president’s vow to act unilaterally has emerged as a major sticking point between the White House and congressional Republicans, who say last week’s election results show voters do not want the president to act without Congress. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

GOP Ponders Impeachment over Possible Obama Immigration Amnesty

November 10th 2014

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said in a video posted Monday that impeaching President Obama "would be a consideration" if he moves forward with executive action on immigration.

"Impeachment is indicting in the House and that’s a possibility," Barton said on Newsmax TV. "But you still have to convict in the Senate and that takes a two-thirds vote. But impeachment would be a consideration, yes sir.”
Republicans and Obama are clashing over the president's planned executive actions on immigration. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has in the past dismissed talk of impeachment as a Democratic "scam" fueled by Democrats to boost fundraising. Read more ..

Ukraine on Edge

Tensions Spike in Eastern Europe as Russian Troops and Armor Enter Ukraine

November 10th 2014

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More heavily armed convoys have been spotted in Donetsk, the area in eastern Ukraine which saw heavy fighting over the November 8-9 weekend. Columns of unmarked vehicles, troops, and heavy weaponry such as howitzers, anti-aircraft guns and mobile radar were spotted, sparking concern in Kyiv, Brussels, Washington, and from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko condemned the Russian incursion in statements made on November 7.

Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) director Valentyn Nalyvaychenko has said that Ukraine's former counterintelligence chief, Volodymyr Bik, was arrested on suspicion of having helped "a foreign country to prepare saboteur activities in Ukraine." Bik had served during the government of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Read more ..

Ukraine on Edge

Secretary Kerry Talks while Putin Takes Action in Ukraine

November 8th 2014

John Kerry

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said on November 7 that DoD has "no independent operational reporting" to confirm that Russia sent an armored column into eastern Ukraine on November 6. He said, however, that there is "a continued presence " of Russian battalion tactical groups "right across the border" in Russia that is "doing nothing to decrease the tension in the region." Speaking for Ukraine, Andriy Lysenko said that a Russian column armed with 32 Russian tanks, 16 howitzer artillery pieces, and 30 trucks of ammunition and soldiers, crossed into eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk region on November 6. He added that yet another column of trucks and mobile radar stations crossed into Ukraine at a nearby border point.

"Supplies of military equipment and enemy fighters from the Russian Federation are continuing," Lysenko told a briefing in Kiev. He said five Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in the past 24 hours even though Kiev has denied that it is launching a new military offensive. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Public Health Advocates Seek Action from Lame Duck Obama

November 7th 2014

Pro-regulation advocates are pushing President Obama to spend his next two years in office passing rules to protect public health, preserve the environment and keep workers and consumers safe.

The Center for Progressive Reform issued a report Friday detailing 13 regulatory actions coming from the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor and the Department of Transportation, that it’d like to see on the books by mid-2016.

“All are now years overdue, particularly considering the very serious health, safety and environmental effects they address,” CPR said in its report. “Each day, people get ill and too many die because earlier administrations dragged their feet on these problems.” Read more ..

The 2014 Vote

Outgoing Majority Leader Reid Looks to His Future in the Senate

November 7th 2014

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hopes to confirm 50 of President Obama’s nominees and move an omnibus spending bill in a last hurrah before Democrats give up power in the Senate.

The nominees are part of a packed lame-duck schedule that Reid is furiously planning, and that will be a topic at Friday’s White House lunch meeting between Obama and congressional leaders.

Reid also wants to move a package of expiring tax provisions, the annual Defense Department authorization bill and an extension of a tax moratorium on Internet purchases in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

That will be a challenge not only because of the tight schedule, but because of expected clashes between Democrats over what should be prioritized before Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) takes over the Senate’s agenda in January. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Obama Unapologetic for Losses in Senate

November 6th 2014

An unrepentant President Obama said he had one major concession to the Republican Party that stormed to big majorities in the Senate and House in Tuesday’s midterm elections: He plans to listen more.

Well, at least with the issues they agree on.

Pressed repeatedly during a post-election press conference Wednesday on his role in Democrats’ disastrous election performance, Obama said he didn’t want “to try to read the tea leaves.”

He said the economy remains strong, while pointing out that two-thirds of voters didn’t participate in the midterms — suggesting Republicans lack a mandate. Read more ..

Ukraine on Edge

Russia Confirms Separatist Elections in Eastern Ukraine with Troops and Tanks

November 3rd 2014

While Russian-led separatists in eastern Ukraine held elections on November 2, the Ukrainian government announced that "intensive" troop movements crossing over from Russia have cast doubt over a possible truce. Russia had backed the controversial balloting despite criticism from the West. The vote in the so-called Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic was condemned by authorities in Kiev and the West. The election was intended to provide a veneer of legitimacy to the pro-Russian authorities already in control of the two main rebel-held cities. The truce that was agreed by authorities in Kiev and the rebels appears seriously in doubt.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko denounced the ballot in eastern Ukraine as a "farce that is being conducted under the threat of tanks and guns," while warning Russia not to recognize the result of the ballot. Read more ..

Israel and Palestine

Rocket Fired from Gaza Lands in Israel while Egypt Creates a Buffer Zone

November 2nd 2014

Israeli early warning detection systems picked up a rocket launch from Gaza on Friday night. Originally the rocket was believed to have fallen short on the Gaza side of the border, though it is now understood the rocket made it over the border into Israel.

It is unknown which terror organization fired the missile.

In response to the missile fire, Israel shut down the Keren Shalom and Erez border crossings, and they will remain closed until further notice.

Egypt has also been hard at work dealing with the threat posed by Gaza, and has uncovered and destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels in the Sinai in recent weeks. The Egyptian army claims to have uncovered over 1,600 smuggling tunnels since Mohammed Morsi was deposed by the army on July 3, 2013. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Democrats Seek Help from the Clintons to Save Congressional Majority

November 1st 2014

Democrats are turning to Bill and Hillary Clinton — and not President Obama — to save their majority in the Senate.

The Clintons have crisscrossed the country in recent weeks for Democratic candidates, and will each appear in key states this weekend where races could decide which party controls the upper chamber.

While Obama has been mostly sidelined — he’ll appear at a Michigan rally on Saturday where Democrats believe a Senate seat is safely in hand — the Clintons are traveling to red states where the president is not welcome.
On Saturday, Hillary Clinton will appear alongside Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). She’ll then travel to Kentucky to appear alongside Senate candidate Allison Lundergan Grimes, who is running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY.) Read more ..

The Caliphate

Islamic State Militants Seize Stronghold of Rebels Backed by U.S. and Saudi Arabia

November 1st 2014

The terrorist forces affiliated to Al-Qaida seized the last stronghold of rebels back by Saudi Arabia and Western powers in Idlib – a province in northwestern Syria. This came on November 1 after days of intense fighting. With backing from similarly-minded Islamist groups, the Al-Nusra Front is seeking to exterminate the Syria Revolutionaries’ Front led by a Jamal Maarouf. The latter has been key to armed opposition to Syria’s dictator Bashr al-Assad and has received significant support from the United States and other Western countries. Islamist groups have accused him of corruption, as well as collaboration with the West.

Al-Nusra is the official affiliate of Al-Qaida in the war that has pitted various forces against the Assad regime. Once one of the strongest of the groupings opposed to Assad, it is now overshadowed by the Islamic State which now controls large extents of northern and eastern Syria. Read more ..

The 2014 Vote

Voters Disgruntled with Obama Economy

November 1st 2014

Vote Buttons

Voters are deeply frustrated with the economy as they head to the polls Tuesday for a midterm election Republicans hope will yield them control of the Senate.

While the unemployment rate is dropping, the economy is expanding and gas prices are below $3 per gallon, polls show that most voters feel the recovery has passed them by.

“We find that most people say they’re falling behind or at best staying even,” said Alec Tyson, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center. “Even as the overall employment picture may be improving, people aren’t feeling it in their own wages and day-to-day lives.”

The persistent dissatisfaction in year six of President Obama’s term is an ominous sign for Democrats, and could foreshadow major losses for the party on Election Day.

While Obama has increasingly tried to trumpet positive news about the economy, polling shows the message hasn’t resonated with voters. That’s party because wages aren’t outpacing inflation, according to Josh Bivens, research and policy director at the Economic Policy Institute. Read more ..

Financing the Flames

U.S. Judge Shields Palestinian Terrorists from Scrutiny

October 29th 2014

Palestinian Liberation Organization with Arafat

Three investigative journalists have filed legal papers to intervene and unseal documents in a U.S. District Court case involving the Palestine Liberation Organization. The Washington Free Beacon broke the story reported by its senior writer Adam Kredo.

Journalists Sharyl Attkisson, Steve Emerson, and Edwin Black, according to court filings, have filed a motion "to publicly disclose secret documents that are believed to provide new details about payments made to terrorists by the Palestinian government," Kredo's article reports. 

The article states, "Lawyers have been fighting for months to force a U.S. District Court in New York to unseal scores of documents and testimony that allegedly detail how the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has been paying salaries to convicted terrorists. The sealed documents were submitted to the court as part of a 2004 lawsuit brought by terrorism victims seeking damages from the PLO as a result of their attacks on Israel."

The case is Sokolow v. PLO. A memorandum at law states, "This is a motion by three world renowned investigative journalists to intervene in this action bearing on issues of critical public interest for the limited purpose of vindicating the
public’s presumptive legal right of access to records that have been filed under seal or heavily redacted.
The intervenors respectfully submit that, under well-established law, much of it established by this Court
there is no legal basis for maintaining a cloak of secrecy over the contents of public filings in this litigation to which the press and public are presumptively entitled access." Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Democrats Express Concern over Obama's Treatment of Immigrant Mothers and Children in Detention

October 29th 2014

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House Democrats are expressing new concerns about how the Obama administration is handling immigrant mothers and children who were among the thousands detained at the southern border this past summer.

In a letter to President Obama, 32 House Democrats decried the government’s construction of new centers to handle the surge of immigrants, and questioned whether people were being held unnecessarily.

"At the current rates, within one year this Administration will have increased capacity to detain immigrant women and children by more than 4,000 percent,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who was behind Tuesday's letter, said in a statement.

“As the law requires, there needs to be a better assessment in place to appropriately screen and assess these women and children, many of whom are fleeing violence, torture or persecution in Central America,” she said. Read more ..

Israel on Edge

Jerusalem Police Bring In One Thousand More Police and Border Guards As Reinforcement Against Riots

October 26th 2014

Palestinian Rock Attackers

Since the murder of 3 month old infant Chaya Zissel Braun by a Hamas terrorist driving into a train station crowd Wednesday evening, Palestinians across East Jerusalem have been rioting in various locations. Silwan, A-tur, Beit Hanina, Shuafat, and the Arab Quarter of the Old City have seen near-continuous rioting. Masked teens and young adults have been throwing rocks, fireworks, and Molotov Cocktails at police, passing cars, buildings, and people. The use of fireworks as a weapon is a recent phenomenon; since they are explosive and easy to obtain, they are becoming a staple of rioters' arsenal in targeting civilians and police. 

Tombstones and monuments in the Har HaZeitim (Mount of Olives) cemetery were defaced and destroyed. The light rail and some buses were attacked, causing damage but no injuries. Read more ..

America on Edge

Ebola and ISIS Contagion Dominates Sunday Political Talk Shows

October 26th 2014

Growing concerns over the spread of Ebola and the imminent threat posed by ISIS will be the focus of the Sunday morning political talk shows.

Hoping to reassure the public about efforts to contain the deadly virus in the U.S., Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will again make the rounds Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, Rick Sacra, the American doctor who has been cured of Ebola, will also hit the airwaves. Sacra contracted the deadly virus while working in Liberia before being flown back to the U.S. for treatment.
In a recent interview with MSNBC, Sacra says, "I would go back to Liberia. You know, it's my second home. I've lived there for 15 years of my life." Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

U.S.-Israeli Relations are in 'Crisis' Mode

October 25th 2014

"There is a crisis with the Americans and it needs to be addressed as a crisis," said Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid on October 25. His remarks followed reports that Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon was prevented from meeting with senior Obama administration officials during his current US visit. "We mustn't pretend there isn't a crisis," Lapid told a crowd in Tel Aviv. "Our relations with the US are vital and everything that can be done must be done to end this crisis."

According to Ynet, the Obama administration refused Ya'alon's request to meet with top officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and National Security Advisor Susan Rice. Reports have contended that White House officials tried to prevent Ya'alon from meeting with the Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the United Nations. However, Ya'alon did finally meet with Powers and discussed US objections to the construction of Jewish settlements. Read more ..

The Edge of Terror

Canada on Lock-Down Following Terrorist Attack in Ottawa

October 23rd 2014

Canada's premier said his country will never be intimidated by terrorists, after a gunman killed a soldier in Ottawa and then stormed Parliament before he was shot dead. In a televised address on the evening of October 22, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the attack committed that day in Ottawa, along with another incident this week in Quebec that led to a soldier's death, are grim reminders that Canada is not immune to terrorism.

The prime minister spoke hours after dozens of gunshots rang out in Canada's parliament buildings in Ottawa when a gunman shot and killed a soldier guarding the nearby Canadian National War Memorial. The fallen soldier has been identified as Army Corporal Nathan Cirillo. The diseased was armed with a ceremonial weapon, which was not loaded, as he guarded the memorial to the fallen Canadians of the First World War. Read more ..

The Caliphate

Kurds Retain Tenuous Control of Key Border Town in Fight with ISIS Forces

October 22nd 2014

The U.S. Defense Department said that while the situation in the Syrian border town of Kobani remains tenuous, Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State militants remain in control of most of the city. Coalition airstrikes are also supporting Kurdish forces defending the Mosul Dam complex in Iraq, as well as Iraqi security forces trying to push back IS fighters in Anbar province.

U.S. Central Command said seven airstrikes were carried out Monday and Tuesday, with four targeting IS fighting positions, a building and an IS unit near Kobani in northern Syria. Three in Iraq destroyed an IS fighting position south of the Baiji oil refinery, an IS fighting position south of the Mosul Dam and suppressed an IS attack north of Fallujah.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby acknowledged the situation in Kobani remains fragile as Kurdish defenders continue to battle IS fighters: Read more ..

The 2014 Vote

'Clinton Democrats' Falling Flat with Mid-Term Voters

October 20th 2014

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Self-proclaimed Clinton Democrats are struggling this election cycle, and not even their powerful namesakes may be enough to save them.

Both Bill and Hillary Clinton have tried to turn on their charms to help centrist Democrats in Kentucky and Arkansas. But as candidates in both states are slipping, help from the party’s preeminent power couple is falling short.

In Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes has clung tightly to the Clintons as she tries to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R).

The former president has already campaigned with the Democratic hopeful twice and will head to the Bluegrass State again next week. The former secretary of State held a rally with Grimes on Wednesday, as Grimes kept emphasizing she was a "Clinton Democrat through and through” after flatly refusing to say whether she voted for President Obama. Read more ..

The 2014 Vote

Senate Republican Leader Pays Volunteers for 'Enthusiastic Atmosphere'

October 20th 2014

The Kentucky Republican Party is offering volunteers all-expenses-paid trips to join Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) campaign bus tour and "contribute to an enthusiastic atmosphere" at his events.

In an email sent earlier this month and obtained by The Hill, Taylor Bumgardner, a Kentucky Republican Party regional political director, offers volunteers the opportunity to join McConnell on his tour, which launched Monday. Meals, lodging and transportation are included in the trip.

"Senator McConnell is seeking volunteers to join him on a 3-day campaign bus tour around the state on October 20-22 to show our support for Kentucky coal. You would join local supporters in contributing to an enthusiastic atmosphere at each of his events," she wrote. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Obama Huddles with Staff to Consider Ebola Disaster

October 19th 2014

President Obama on Saturday evening met with members of his national security and public health teams for an update on the administration's response to the Ebola outbreak.

The president's advisers briefed him on the contact tracing process to identify and monitor individuals who may have come in contact with the two Dallas patients who've contracted the virus, according to a White House readout of the meeting.

Obama's team also reviewed measures to ensure that Dallas has resources to diagnose any additional cases safely and effectively.

Participants included Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shaun Donovan, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Counselor to the President Neil Eggleston, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thomas Frieden, Deputy National Security Advisor Antony Blinken, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco among others.

Ebola Pandemic

White House and Congress Clash over Ebola Response

October 16th 2014

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Debate over banning travel from West Africa dominated a House hearing on Ebola Thursday as Republicans clashed with federal health officials on the need to suspend flights.

"Administration officials still refuse to consider any travel restrictions for the more than 1,000 travelers a week entering the U.S. from Ebola hot zones," said Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

"Screening and self-reporting at airports have been a demonstrated failure, yet the administration continues to advance a contradictory reason for this failed policy that frankly doesn't make sense." Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

An Ebola Anchor Weighs Down a Sinking Obama Administration

October 16th 2014

The Ebola crisis in the United States has become an anchor threatening to sink the Obama presidency.

Already under fire from critics who saw the federal response to the outbreak as disorganized and timid, things went from bad to worse on Wednesday when it was revealed a second nurse had contracted the disease while treating a Liberian man at a Dallas-area hospital.

More alarmingly, the diagnosis was made just hours after the nurse, 29-year-old Amber Vinson, had flown from Cleveland to Dallas on a commercial airliner, despite reporting to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that she had a fever. Read more ..

After Fukushima

Tritium Up Tenfold in Fukushima Groundwater after Typhoon Phanfone

October 15th 2014

Rad monitor Japan

The radioactive water woes at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant got worse over the weekend after the tritium concentration in a groundwater sample surged more than tenfold this month. A spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday that heavy rain caused by Typhoon Phanfone probably affected the groundwater after the storm whipped through Japan last week. Some 150,000 becquerels of tritium per liter were measured in a groundwater sample taken Thursday from a well east of the No. 2 reactor. The figure is a record for the well and over 10 times the level measured the previous week.

In addition, materials that emit beta rays, such as strontium-90, which causes bone cancer, also shattered records with a reading of 1.2 million becquerels, the utility said of the sample. The well is close to the plant’s port in the Pacific. Read more ..

The Edge of Terororism

Suicide Bomber Kills Five People at Peace Meeting in Khyber District of Pakistan

October 15th 2014

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In Pakistan, local officials said at least five people were killed and seven wounded in a suicide attack that targeted a peace committee meeting in a restive mountainous tribal area. The bombing took place in Pir Mela village of the Khyber district, some 100 kilometers southwest of Peshawar on October 15.

The officials said a suicide bomber blew himself up killing and wounding tribesmen attending a meeting of anti-Taliban elders. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attack.

Khyber is located in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt near the Afghan border. Militant groups linked to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have a strong presence in the area and stage attacks both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Read more ..

The Caliphate

ISIS within 8 miles of Baghdad Airport Armed with MANPADS

October 13th 2014

IS with Missile

Islamic State’s offensive on the Iraqi capital intensified as the jihadist fighters advanced as far as Abu Ghraib, a suburb only 8 miles away from Baghdad’s international airport. The outer suburb of Abu Ghraib is also the site of the infamous prison the US military used to humiliate and torture Iraqi detainees.

There are reports by the Iraqi military that the militants are in possession of MANPAD anti-aircraft missiles. The short-range, shoulder-fired missiles can shoot down airplanes within a range of 15,000 feet.

The Iraqi military, aided by US military personnel, have so far failed in foiling the advance toward Baghdad of the Islamic State militia (also known as ISIS, or ISIL), which has expanded its control of huge swathes of Iraq and Syria despite the increase in US-led airstrikes. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Obama Takes Fire from Left Flank for 'Protecting' Wall Street

October 12th 2014

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) accused President Obama and his team of protecting Wall Street in the aftermath of the financial collapse.

In an interview with Salon, Warren said the administration repeatedly favored Wall Street when it came time to draft rules and punish wrongdoers.

“He picked his economic team and when the going got tough, his economic team picked Wall Street,” she said. “They protected Wall Street. Not families who were losing their homes. Not people who lost their jobs…And it happened over and over and over.” Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Top Democrat Unsatisfied by White House Explanation of Prostitution Scandal

October 11th 2014

The top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee is accusing the Obama administration of conducting a cursory investigation into the prostitution scandal surrounding the president's visit to Colombia in 2012.

The White House defended its handling of the incident this week after a new Washington Post report suggested that a member of the White House advance team – and not just members of the Secret Service – hired a prostitute ahead of Obama's visit to the Colombian city of Cartagena.

But Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said Friday that the probe was insufficient. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Satellite Images Detect Damage at the Military Research Complex at Parchin

October 9th 2014

Iran Nuclear Equipment centrifuges

Some 24 hours after the reports from Iran regarding a mysterious explosion at the military compound in Parchin, evidence has been received that refutes the denials of the Iranian government. Satellite images of the Parchin area, to the east of Tehran, prove: the explosion reported by the Iranian media had, indeed, occurred inside the military compound in Parchin, where, according to western intelligence agencies, trials are being conducted on nuclear missile fuzes. Satellite images obtained by Israel Defense clearly show damage consistent with an attack against bunkers in a central locality within the military research complex at the Parchin military compound.
The locality in question is situated at the center of the compound, adjacent to another installation where, according to intelligence sources, the trials being conducted involve controlled detonation of fuzes intended to serve as triggers for nuclear devices. The locality consists of a sizable testing center and what appears to be an area with bunker-shaped structures. "Before and after" images indicate that a complete section of structures was simply eliminated by an unexplained explosion.

Iran's Nukes

Massive Explosion Rocks Iranian Nuke Site on Eve of Inspectors' Visit

October 6th 2014

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The Iranian Students News Agency reported today that detonations were witnessed at an explosive material production unit at the Parchin nuclear facility near Tehran. The facility is not far from the Iranian capital. According to Sahamnews – a news site opposed to the Islamist regime – the explosion occurred on the evening of October 5, and was so intense that windows of buildings nine miles away were shattered. According to the BBC, "The glare from the blast could also be seen from a great distance." ISNA, quoting defense sources, reported that two workers lost their lives in the incident.

For a number of years, Israel has alleged that the Parchin military base is used by Iran for testing technology to be used for detonating a nuclear weapon. Israel has frequently criticized negotiations conducted by the U.S. and other major powers, citing fears that the Islamic Republic is merely trying to buy time in order to develop enough nuclear know-how to develop a weapon and thus obviate the need for negotiation. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Democrat says Secret Service Shortcomings 'Alarm all Americans'

October 5th 2014

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Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on Sunday said a series of security breaches by the Secret Service should “alarm all Americans.”

“I think it’s very bad. And I think there’s culture that has developed, the culture of complacency – we see it with these security breaches,” Cummings said on CBS's "Face the Nation." “Morale is down. And we’ve had a series of events ... that should alarm all Americans. And certainly the question has become: Is this the Secret Service that we all thought it was? And I’m beginning to wonder about that.”
Cummings, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, said the agency’s problems have been slow to develop. Read more ..

Ebola Pandemic

Ebola-Quarantined Family in Dallas Now Under Armed Guard

October 3rd 2014

The four-member family that hosted the Dallas Ebola patient is now under armed quarantine after disobeying a request from authorities not to leave their home.

Crews have yet to decontaminate the apartment due to inadequate permitting, according to the Associated Press.

"We didn't have the confidence we would have been able to monitor them the way that we needed to," Texas State Health Commissioner David Lakey said about the need for the unusual order.

The family — including a woman, her 13-year-old son and two nephews in their 20s — were ordered Wednesday to stay in their apartment for 21 days, the incubation period for Ebola, unless local or state health officials approved them to leave, USA Today reports. Read more ..

The Caliphate

Despite Airstrikes, IS One Hour from Baghdad

October 1st 2014

Iraq ISIL double file of militants

The Iraqi army, plagued by corruption, absenteeism and supply failures, has little chance against Islamist fanatics using suicide bombings and fluid tactics. And US air strikes are making little difference. US air strikes are failing to drive back Isis in Iraq where its forces are still within an hour’s drive of Baghdad.

Three and a half months since the Iraqi army was spectacularly routed in northern Iraq by a far inferior force of Isis fighters, it is still seeing bases overrun because it fails to supply them with ammunition, food and water. The selection of a new Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, to replace Nouri al-Maliki last month was supposed to introduce a more conciliatory government that would appeal to Iraq’s Sunni minority from which Isis draws its support.


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