Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Since the financial collapse of 2008, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government have taken unprecedented steps to stimulate the economy. But even with all of those efforts, we are still living in an economic wasteland.
So what is going to happen when the next wave of the economic crisis hits?
During one recent interview, Peter Schiff made the following statement....
If you look at the economic relapse that’s going on right now, look at Friday’s abysmal job numbers, look at the housing numbers, understand that all of this is taking place with record monetary and fiscal stimulus. What happens if we remove those supports?
At the end of June, the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program is slated to end. The U.S. Congress and state legislatures from coast to coast are talking about budget cuts. The amount of borrowing and spending that has been going on is clearly unsustainable, but will the U.S. economy start shrinking again once the current "financial sugar high" has worn off?
Already, all sorts of bad economic news has been coming out and all kinds of economic indicators are turning south. The American people are becoming increasingly restless. One new poll has found that 59 percent of the American people disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy (which is a new high). According to another recent poll, 63% of Americans say that they feel "not good" or "bad" about how the U.S. economy is performing.
If most Americans had good jobs, could afford their mortgages and could pay their bills, the economy would not be such a big issue.
Unfortunately, times are really tough for American families right now and they are about to get a lot tougher.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Syrian President Bashar Assad's security machine is creaking judging by its failure to raise thousands of Palestinian and Syrian volunteers to brave the Israeli troops manning the Golan Sunday, June 5 - three weeks after his success in staging the first mass border incursion. debkafile's intelligence sources reveal that even the few hundred willing to turn out demanded a fee: $1,000 for every demonstrator who managed to cut a piece of razor wire from the Israeli border fence – and exorbitant fee in Syrian terms - and $10,000 for the families of volunteers shot by Israeli troops before they reached their goal.
Syrian state TV reported 20 killed and 277 injured in clashes with Israeli border troops - figures which are not reliably confirmed.
Assad's home front is sinking fast, which was why he tried to stage a piece of nation-cementing drama on the Israeli border. He hoped the Golan dead would outnumber the many hundreds killed in his three-month crackdown on the protest movement against his regime and is therefore likely to keep on trying.
Sunday alone, scores died in Syrian tank-backed attacks on protesters in northwest Syria who are now using live fire against his troops. debkafile' sources report that Syrian security agents captured by protesters were hanged in broad daylight from electricity poles on city high streets Sunday, June 5, causing troops and police to flee in panic.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Day-long clashes Sunday, June 5, escalated towards evening between Israeli troops ordered to prevent border incursions and hundreds of Syrian-Palestinians throwing rocks and attempting to break through. A mass sit-on the border was threatened after Syrian children were toward the Israeli border and Sunday night, Majd al-Shams youth began stoning Israeli troops from the rear. Israel's border contingents remained on alert Sunday night for further disturbances from Syria.
Two breaches of the fence occurred during the day at Majd al Shams and Kuneitra on the Golan but the marchers refrained from stepping across into Israel. The breaches occurred during a ceasefire requested by the Red Cross to evacuate wounded.
Later Sunday, many more casualties were reported from a powerful anti-tank mine explosion some 3 kilometers inside Syria. Ambulances were seen heading for Kuneitra hospital.
debkafile reported earlier Sunday:
Israeli troops opened fire during the day when the Syrian advance was not stopped by tear gas, shots in the air, firing aimed at legs and loudspeaker warnings in Arabic that they approached the border on pain of death.
The soldiers used sniper fire against pinpointed targets of individuals trying to damage the fence and two armed men sighted in near the Kuneitra border. The reinforced contingents were ordered to act firmly and with restraint to prevent a recurrence of the mass breaches of Israel's Syrian, Lebanese, Gaza Strip and West Bank borders on May 15.
The Israel-Syrian fence was repaired and strengthened with coiled razor wire, ditches were dug and signs warning of minefields put up. The IDF declared the entire Golan a closed military zone.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Fatah has never recognized Israel’s right to exist and will never do so, according to Azzam al-Ahmed, a member of the Fatah Central Committee who is closely associated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Ahmed, who is also head of the Fatah negotiating team with Hamas, said PA security forces in the West Bank were arresting Hamas supporters to protect them from being targeted by the IDF.
Ahmed’s remarks were made in an interview with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al- Youm.
Asked whether Fatah had spoken with Hamas about recognizing Israel, the senior Fatah official said, “Fatah has not recognized Israel. I challenge anyone who says that the case is otherwise, whether it’s Hamas or others. Neither Fatah nor Hamas is required to recognize Israel. Only governments and states extend recognition. It was the Palestinian government that recognized Israel, just as the Israeli government recognized us.”
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Damascus is humming in anticipation of the victory speech Syrian President Bashar Assad is about to deliver in the coming hours with the announcement that the 10-week popular uprising against his regime has been defeated, debkafile's military sources report. In advance of the speech, Assad Tuesday, May 31 declared a general amnesty "for all members of political movements including the Muslim Brotherhood" (membership of which is punishable by death in Syria.)
It is not clear how many of the 10,000 protesters impirsoned will benefit from the amnesty - or how genuine it is. The Syrian ruler may only be pretending to release all political prisoners to show he is meeting one of the protesters' key demands without meaning to carry out his promise.
Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz reported Tuesday to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee that according to his information the death toll from Assad's brutal crackdown had shot up to 1,200.
Are we about to see a repeat of 2008 (or something even worse)? Suddenly all kinds of people are coming out of the woodwork and warning that we could be on the verge of the next major financial collapse. Of course many economists and financial pundits just enjoy hearing themselves talk, and sometimes they will make outrageous claims just to get attention, but when so many ominous warnings come out all at once it does tend to make one sit up and take notice. The truth is that global financial markets are even more vulnerable today than they were in 2008, and all over the globe we are seeing trouble signs. Japan is trying to recover from the worst natural disaster that they have ever seen and they are dealing with a nuclear crisis that never seems to end. The Europeans are trying to put another bailout package for Greece together and about a half dozen more European nations that are drowning in debt will need bailouts after that. In the U.S., there are all kinds of signs pointing to the collapse of the economy and the politicians in Washington D.C. continue to "kick the can down the road" and hope that our economic problems will somehow fix themselves. Oil prices are incredibly high and turmoil is sweeping the globe. Conditions are certainly developing that could bring about a "perfect storm" and cause another global financial collapse.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
According to updates reaching debkafile's military sources, the number of missiles Hamas has managed to stockpile in Gaza passed the 10,000 mark in early May – despite Israel's partial blockade of the Gaza Strip. It is growing at the rate of some 30 new projectiles of many types smuggled in every two weeks. On April 9, the Palestinian fundamentalists shot 133 rockets at seven Israeli cities before Israel granted a ceasefire in lieu of an operation for smashing this arsenal.
Firing at the rate of 150 missiles a day, Hamas is currently capable of keeping southern Israel under constant attack for 66 days running.
When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee May 30 about the Palestinian Hamas's expanding control of Egyptian Sinai, he omitted to mention the arms smuggling tunnels which openly flout Israel's blockade. The interaction between the Gaza Strip and Sinai and the effect it has of undermining Egypt's sovereign control of the strategic peninsula, which he also mentioned, is an old story going back years.
What has changed since Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February is that the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoot Hamas have both gained traction in Egypt proper.
But Israel and its military continue to hold back from stemming the arms flow, now including anti-tank and anti-air missiles, into the Gaza Strip, just as they never interfered with Hizballah's acquisition of thousands of advanced rockets from Iran and Syria.
There are a whole host of events that can bring the world as we know it today to its knees. From a hyperinflationary economic collapse to an electro magnetic pulse originating from the sun or a nuclear weapon , there exists a real and present danger that our system may, in the near future, experience unrecoverable shocks to the power grid and clean water infrastructure, a halt to just-in-time agricultural transportation systems and a collapse of the currency exchange mechanisms that make the economy function.
US Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), lived through the great depression, so he’s seen how bad things can get. In a new documentary, Mr. Bartlett and others discuss the dangers posed to those living in cities and ways that your family can survive if the worst were to ever happen.
We could have events in the future where the power grid will go down and it’s not, in any reasonable time, coming back up. For instance, if when the power grid went down some of our large transformers were destroyed, damaged beyond use, we don’t make any of those in this country. They’re made overseas and you order one and 18 months to two years later they will deliver it. Our power grid is very vulnerable. It’s very much on edge. Our military knows that.
There are a number of events that could create a situation in the cities where civil unrest would be a very high probability. And, I think that those who can, and those who understand, need to take advantage of the opportunity when these winds of strife are not blowing to move their families out of the city.
Friday, May 27, 2011
There will be no sustainable housing recovery until the shadow inventory is cleared out. As of April with the latest data close to 6.4 million loans are delinquent or in foreclosure. This is a massive number of homes. What is downright disturbing of the 2.2 million homes in foreclosure you have 675,000 homes (31 percent of the pool) that have not made a payment in over two years.
That is right, two full years. Apparently one-third of the bank’s strategy in dealing with foreclosures is simply to ignore missed payments. Glad it took them giant bailouts and four years to figure that one out. The housing crisis strategy is really a banking-centric one and that is why nothing has really been resolved since the crisis started. Banks are dictating the movement going forward so the idea of keeping prices inflated is simply one to protect banking interests. Since the market has very little desire for inflated real estate, banks just slip it under the rug for another day. Keep in mind that many Americans are seeing lower wages so lower home prices are actually good for their bottom line since it eats away less of their hard earned income.
Plus, one-third own their home outright and another 30 percent rent. So this idea of keeping home prices high just for the sake of keeping them high is a ploy that comes out of the suspension of mark-to-market logic.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
American journalist Clare Morgana Gillis, who was reporting for the U.S. newspaper USA Today in Libya when she was captured on April 5, 2011 along with three other foreign correspondents by forces of Libyan leader Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi, was released after 44 days of imprisonment. A May 25 USA Today article on her experiences during her captivity linked to the following previously released MEMRI TV clip of an April 13 Libyan television show, "The Call of Libya," on Al-Libiya TV; in the show, Ms. Gillis' passport and other belongings were displayed, and it was stated that she was an American spy:
Show host Dr. Hamza Al-Tohami: "Is it conceivable that any people would agree to become an instrument in the hands of Western colonialism?!
"You will be amazed by this catastrophe. Here we go. You have these things in front of you. Zoom in on this, my dear producer. People, you are about to witness a catastrophe… Later, we will show specific pages… Gentlemen, this belongs to an American spy. This is her passport. Look, gentlemen. Please, dear producer, show them the cover. This is the cover. United States of America… Our viewers who have been led astray are invited to look. If you think this is not a colonialist game, take a look.
"This is the passport of the American woman… These are the pages of this passport. You can see the design of a U.S. passport. Note that there isn't a single visa stamp on it. There isn't a single stamp. This is the Statue of Liberty. American visa… There isn't a single stamp here. Here is a ship. This is a U.S. passport, for those familiar with it. This is not a forgery. We did not manufacture it. This woman is named Gillis Clare Morgana. This is Gillis Clare Morgana. She is an American spy.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
The vehicle was stuck in a traffic queue in the town of Zuara, sixty miles west of Tripoli, when it was stormed by a crowd of about 50 civilians apparently angered about growing petrol shortages.
Only the intervention of Libyan security forces saved the journalists from being injured or killed.
Guy Desmond, a reporter for the Reuters news agency who was on board, said: "We were stopped opposite a petrol queue and the people in the queue were obviously tired and agitated. One guy came and kicked in the door of the bus, saying we'd been filming. Then a crowd of about fifty people tried to get on board. They wanted to drag us out. A soldier with an AK47 from a nearby checkpoint jumped in through the driver's door and tried to hold them back."
About six of the angry crowd, some armed with knives, managed to get past the soldier and on to the vehicle. "A guy with a knife came towards me and was stopped by the soldier. The government minder with us tried quite courageously to put himself between us and the crowd. He was punched and slapped," said Mr Desmond.
One of the men with the knives then got off and used his weapon to slash the tyres of the vehicle, meaning it could not drive. The crowd then tried to smash the windows of the bus and make a fresh attempt to drag out the journalists.
Monday, May 23, 2011
One aspect of a new and improved federal regulatory scheme is the seizure of 401(k) retirement plans and the subsequent government-administered disbursement of the funds.
In Chapter 3 of the Annual Report on the Middle Class released in February by Vice President Biden and the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, the Obama administration calls for enhancing the “retirement options” for the middle class by imposing “new regulations to improve the transparency and adequacy of 401(k) retirement savings.”
The plan, as sketched in the 43-page document, calls for the creation of something called “Guaranteed Retirement Accounts” (GRAs). Biden slyly shifts the onus for the idea through weasel words typical of the federal government: “Some have suggested the creation of Guaranteed Retirement Accounts (GRAs), which would give workers a simple way to invest a portion of their retirement savings in an account that was free of inflation and market risk, and in some versions under discussion, would guarantee a specified real return above the rate of inflation.”
These accounts would be “free of inflation and market risk” because they would be under the direct and absolute control of the federal bureaucracy. There would be no risk because the funds would no longer be moored to the free market and subject to the fluctuations thereof. Rather, the retirement funds of every hard-working American dependent on a 401(k) for their retirement security would be nationalized and made subject to the whims and will of the executive branch.
The current administration is practiced in the erection of such straw men to deflect their own socialistic and absolutist intent. The record is clear, however, and since the day of his inauguration, Barack Obama and his congressional co-conspirators have consistently and unapologetically set out to systematically nationalize the economy of the United States: first the banks; then the insurance companies; then the auto industry; then healthcare; and now the piece de resistance, the private savings accounts of millions of middle-class Americans. This is an unlawful usurpation of power unprecedented in the annals of American political history.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s associates expressed their disappointment with Obama’s speech Thursday, with one aide saying that the US president is detached from regional realities.
The PM’s associates told Ynet early Friday that Netanyahu, who departed to the US Thursday night, is prepared for a confrontation with Obama on vital issues.
Referring to the US president’s Mideast policy speech, a Netanyahu associate said: “He (Obama) didn’t deliver the goods…Obama apparently does not understand the reality in the Mideast.”
The PM’s aides added that Obama’s historic speech lacked many key points and that his address was “bad for Israel.” Netanyahu himself issued a quick response to the speech earlier, demanding that the president reaffirm previous US pledges that Israel will not be asked to withdraw to the 1967 borders in the framework of a peace deal with the Palestinians.
In his Washington speech, Obama said that a Jewish, democratic state must be based on the 1967 borders, with territorial tradeoffs. The president voiced his objection to the Palestinian intention to seek UN recognition of statehood in September, but refrained from addressing the contentious issue of Palestinian refugees.
Obama also refrained from harshly slamming the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement, and reminded Netanyahu that the international community was getting tired of a process that has not culminated in a peace deal.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Egyptian presidential candidate Amr Moussa, the longtime secretary-general of the Arab League, told the Washington Post that Hamas isn’t really a terror group. This is Hamas member and cleric Yunis Al-Astal reportedly declaring, “The [Jews] are brought in droves to Palestine so that the Palestinians – and the Islamic nation behind them – will have the honor of annihilating the evil of this gang.” He also predicts that Palestine will become the capital of the new Islamic caliphate.
Gateway Pundit offers an excerpt of the most disturbing parts (via Memri):
Following are excerpts from an interview with Hamas MP and cleric Yunis Al-Astal, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on May 11, 2011:
Yunis Al-Astal: The [Jews] are brought in droves to Palestine so that the Palestinians – and the Islamic nation behind them – will have the honor of annihilating the evil of this gang.
…All the predators, all the birds of prey, all the dangerous reptiles and insects, and all the lethal bacteria are far less dangerous than the Jews.
…In just a few years, all the Zionists and the settlers will realize that their arrival in Palestine was for the purpose of the great massacre, by means of which Allah wants to relieve humanity of their evil.
…When Palestine is liberated and its people return to it, and the entire region, with the grace of Allah, will have turned into the United States of Islam, the land of Palestine will become the capital of the Islamic Caliphate, and all these countries will turn into states within the Caliphate.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Supreme Court: The end of the 4th Amendment; Police can forcefully enter homes without search warrants
The US Supreme Court Monday upheld the search of a Kentucky man's apartment after police broke in without a search warrant because they said they smelled burning marijuana and heard sounds suggesting he was trying to destroy the evidence. The decision in Kentucky v. King overturned a Kentucky Supreme Court ruling in favor of the apartment resident, Hollis King, who was arrested after police entered his apartment and found drugs.
Fourth Amendment doctrine holds that police must obtain a search warrant to search a residence unless there are "exigent circumstances." In the current case, the exigent circumstance was that, after they knocked on the apartment door, they heard noises they said suggested evidence was being destroyed.
The Kentucky Supreme Court had held that police could not use the exigent circumstances exception because they themselves had created the exigent circumstance by knocking on the door. The US Supreme Court begged to differ.
In his opinion for the 8-1 majority, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that people have no obligation to answer the door when police knock or to allow them to come in if they have opened the door. In such cases, police would have to persuade a judge to issue a search warrant.
But that's not what King and fellow apartment residents did. They started scuttling around suspiciously upon hearing police announce their presence. "Occupants who choose not to stand on their constitutional rights but instead elect to attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame," Alito wrote.
Only Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, arguing that in ruling for the police, the court was giving them a way to get around the search warrant requirement in drug cases. "Police officers may now knock, listen, then break the door down, never mind that they had ample time to obtain a warrant," she wrote.
Monday, May 16, 2011
From the Islamic Republic News Agency:
Tehran -- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that the unity of Palestinian main political groups, Hamas and Fatah, should result in eradication of Zionists. He made the remark in a televised exclusive interview with IRIB's channel two television
President Ahmadinejad termed the Zionist regime as cancerous for the entire Middle East region.
Referring to the death of eight demonstrators and injury of about 230 Palestinians on Sunday, he said that the Zionist regime showed its true nature by killing the innocent Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank on the occasion.
Israel on Sunday killed eight and wounded several hundred Palestinian demonstrators marking anniversary of Nakba on border areas of Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and Ramallah, the West Bank.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
There were widespread protests throughout the Palestinian territories on Sunday, as fears that the annual Nakba Day commemorations would spiral into violence seemed to be realized as reports emerged of repeated clashes and arrests. Nakba Day is a Palestinian day to mourn the creation of the State of Israel.
Israel fired two tank shells and several rounds from machine guns as dozens of Palestinian protesters approached the heavily fortified border in the Gaza Strip over the course of the day, wounding at least 45 people, a Palestinian health official said.
On Sunday afternoon, IDF forces fired on a suspect planting an explosive device along the border in the northern Gaza Strip. A hit was identified, the IDF said.
Across the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets, waving flags and holding old keys to symbolize their dreams of reclaiming property they lost when Israel was created on May 15, 1948.
Friday, May 13, 2011
The Obama administration is stepping up its engagement with forces fighting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, inviting opposition leaders to meet with U.S. officials at the White House Friday, while stopping short of recognizing their council as Libya's legitimate government.
France and Italy are among the nations that recognize the Council as Libya's legitimate government. But White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that while the U.S. would continue consulting and assisting the opposition, giving the Council political legitimacy would be "premature."
Still, the U.S. has been boosting its support for the opposition over the past month, including Obama's authorization of $25 million in non-lethal assistance to the rebels. The first shipment of that aid — 10,000 meals ready to eat from Pentagon stocks — arrived in the rebel stronghold city of Benghazi this week. The U.S. has also supplied some $53 million in humanitarian aid.
In addition, the administration has begun working with Congress to free up a portion of the more than $30 billion in frozen Gadhafi regime assets in U.S. banks so it can be spent to help the Libyan people. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who met with Jibril this week, said Wednesday he was drafting legislation at the request of the White House that would allow that to happen.
The rebels have said they need up to $3 billion in the coming months for military salaries, food, medicine and other supplies in order to keep fighting Gadhafi's forces.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
A group of Pakistani politicians including a former minister hijacked proceedings in parliament to offer prayers for the death of Osama bin Laden, little more than a week after he was killed in a US Navy Seal raid.
Their actions will heighten suspicions that parts of the Islamabad government or the powerful military establishment sympathized with the al-Qaeda leader, and may have sheltered him from justice.
"Bin Laden was an international figure and above all a Muslim ... I took it as my religious duty to offer prayers for him," said Maulvi Asmatullah, an independent Member of the National Assembly who led the prayers on Tuesday.
The deputy speaker of the house tried to silence the prayers, warning the MNAs that they did not have permission Mr Asmatullah was joined by two members of the Jamaat Ulema-e-Islam party, the country's biggest Islamic party which was part of the governing coalition until late 2010.
Atta-ur-Rehman, a federal minister until his party withdrew from government, was among them.
Their controversial actions underscore Pakistan's complex relationship with Islamist militants.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Tripoli was shaken early Tuesday, May 10, by five huge blasts which flattened another set of mostly empty government buildings in Muammar Qaddafi's capital, but aroused little interest, even among Western journalists.It is common knowledge that the ruler, his family and top lieutenants abandoned the city after May 1 when NATO missiles struck a Qaddafi family residence, missing him but killing his son and grandchildren.
It is now suspected in Washington and NATO headquarters in Brussels that advanced electronic counter-measures imported recently to one of the foreign embassies in Tripoli tipped him off to the incoming missile attack and gave him just enough time to get away.
debkafile's intelligence sources report that since those devices were activated two weeks ago, NATO finds itself increasingly targeting empty government buildings and abandoned military installations.
Hence the comment by NATO Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen Sunday, May 8: After repeating, "The game is over for Qaddafi" and denying the war had reached a stalemate, he added there was "no military solution for the civil war in Libya."
Our military sources sum up the balance of the two-month NATO operation backing the Libyan rebellion:
The combined coalition campaign has failed to loosen Qaddafi's grip on power, dent his army's fighting spirit and combat ability, divide Libya's main tribes against him or shake the loyalty of his high commanders and government heads.
The fundamental fact that without substantial American military intervention, NATO powers lack the air, sea and missile resources for overcoming Qaddafi has remained unchanged ever since the US handed the campaign's command role over the NATO on April 4.
Hundreds of Christians and Muslims hurled stones at each other in downtown Cairo on Sunday, hours after Muslim mobs set fire to a church and a Christian-owned apartment building in a frenzy of violence that killed 12 people and injured more than 200.
The deepening religious clashes in military-ruled Egypt is exacerbating the lawlessness and disorder of the country’s bumpy transition to democracy, after three decades of autocratic rule under former President Hosni Mubarak was brought to an end in February.
Meanwhile, the government warned that it will not tolerate religious violence, which is seen as a threat to national security.
Authorities will “strike with an iron hand all those who seek to tamper with the nation’s security,” Justice Minister Abdel Aziz al-Gindi told reporters after Cabinet-level crisis talks Sunday.
On the streets of the capital, Muslim youths attacked a large crowd of Coptic Christian protesters, marching from the headquarters of Egypt’s general prosecutor to the state television building overlooking the Nile, Christian activist Bishoy Tamri said.
TV images showed both sides furiously throwing stones, including one Christian who held a large wooden cross in one hand while flinging rocks with the other.
Scores were injured, but an army unit that was securing the TV building did nothing to stop the violence, Mr. Tamri said.
Hours earlier, mobs of ultra-conservative Muslims attacked the Virgin Mary Church in the slum of Imbaba on the other side of the Nile. The attack was fueled by rumors that a Christian woman married to a Muslim man had been abducted by the church.
Residents said a separate mob of youths armed with knives, machetes and firebombs attacked an apartment building several blocks away.
“People were scared to come near them,” said resident Adel Mohammed, 29, who lives near the Virgin Mary Church. “They looked scary. They threw their firebombs at the church and set parts of it ablaze.”
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Pakistan: No plans to demolish OBL Compound:
US efforts to prevent a shrine to Osama bin Laden were under threat Thursday as several hundred sightseers flocked to the house where the world's most notorious terrorist met his death.
Pakistan officials said the compound in Abbottabad where bin Laden was shot dead Sunday already became a tourist attraction and that there were no plans to destroy the building.
"I can tell you for a fact that it will become a place of tourism," said Dr. Muhammad Azfar Nisar, the deputy civil chief of the city. "People are already coming here from as far away as Lahore to see the house, so why should we destroy the building? The more revenue, the better."
Nisar said the city might even expand to accommodate tourist demand. "I am sure some hotels will be constructed nearby the house if the military allow it," he added.
The site, No. 254, was temporarily put off-limits early Wednesday by police who secured it for a visit by military intelligence and Pakistan's secret service, but by mid-afternoon, the scene was reopened -- and crowds of civilians gathered outside.
"I've come here today to see a piece of our history," said Ahmed, 24, who brought his 11-month-old daughter with him. "Osama was a good Muslim who fought for Islam. He was a hero to us. I expect in time to see all sorts of tourists here, even Japanese and Americans."
However, others were not as impressed by the relatively-Westernized lifestyle of the al Qaeda leader.
"I had thought he would be living in a cave like a proper rebel outlaw," said 25-year-old Zulqurnain. "But instead they say he was hiding here, in a nice residential area. I'm a bit disappointed and can't believe it. Even so, I will come to visit again. Osama was our lion."
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Gaza has six fortified villas just like bin Laden's Pakistani compound to house other Al Qaeda operatives
Like Iran and its surrogates, the late Osama bin Laden's organization has established networks around Israel's borders in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egyptian Sinai. In the Gaza Strip, harbored by Hamas, al Qaeda operatives have built six villas on the model of Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. All the same, Mahmoud Abbas will join Hamas Wednesday in signing a Palestinian unity accord that opens the West Bank door not only to Hamas terror but to its al Qaeda partners enjoying sanctuary in Gaza.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden's most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed's successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.
The news is sure to reignite debate over whether the now-closed interrogation and detention program was successful. Former president George W. Bush authorized the CIA to use the harshest interrogation tactics in U.S. history. President Barack Obama closed the prison system.
Just hours after American Navy Seals shot dead Osama bin Laden in a compound in Pakistan on Sunday, US President Obama shot down the Pakistani security establishment's attempt to claim joint credit for the operation.
In a ten-minute television address, Obama left no doubt that US personnel alone were involved in the action that brought bin Laden to justice. ''Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan,'' Obama said, adding, ''A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability.''
While Obama said ''It's important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding,'' he made no mention of any Pakistani military role in the operation. US officials in background briefing made it clear that no country, much less Pakistan, was informed of the operation.
In fact, there was not even a word of thanks for Pakistan. Instead, Obama said: ''Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al-Qaida and its affiliates.''
The finger of suspicion is now pointing squarely at the Pakistani military and intelligence for sheltering and protecting Osama bin Laden before US forces hunted him down and put a bullet in his head in the wee hours of Sunday. The coordinates of the action and sequence of events indicate that the al-Qaida fugitive may have been killed in an ISI safehouse.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
A 12-year-old suicide bomber has killed four people a crowded market in eastern Afghanistan, in one of several attacks on the first day of a Taliban spring offensive.
In a separate attack in in southern Ghazni Province, a gunman opened fire at a police checkpoint, killing two police officers and two civilians. And a bicycle bomb near Ghazni City's police station wounded 13 civilians, BBC reports.
In Logar Province militants ambushed a convoy of NATO troops, starting a firefight in which three children were killed by Taliban fire, district governor Mohammad Rahim Amin told Agence France-Presse. The dead children were aged between eight and 14 years old, Amin said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing on behalf of the group and all other Sunday attacks except that in Logar Province, AFP reports.
The attacks followed a Taliban declaration Saturday that its spring military operations would focus on attacks against military bases, air bases, convoys, heads of foreign and local companies, and members of the local government.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Marine instructor Maj. Daryl Desimone stood before an auditorium filled with fatigue-clad troops, carrying an unequivocal message: It's OK to disagree with letting gays serve openly in the military. It's not OK to disobey orders.
He explained that the impending repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" is an order, one heard by generals and rank-and-file alike as the military tries to change the culture of a traditionally conservative institution.
Only a few of the roughly 150 Marines stepped up to ask questions.
One stood up from a back row and demanded to know why his religious beliefs were being "put aside" in favor of gays, forcing him to "basically grit my teeth and bear it."
"It's not really open to discussion," Desimone said. "Nobody's trying to change your mind."
Sexual orientation will now be a private matter, just like religion or politics, he said.
Sgt. Jay Milinichik of Tulsa, Okla., stood up to ask what would happen if a Marine refused gay roommates.
Marines won't have separate barracks or showers based on sexual orientation, Desimone said. He added that signing up for the Marines comes with an expectation of less privacy.
There is nothing wrong with "hanging around" a gay bar, the training materials state.
The officer who witnesses the loud locker-room banter aimed at gays and lesbians should remind the Marines any discrimination or harassment is inappropriate.
If a Marine spots two men in his battalion kissing off-duty at a shopping mall, he should react as if he were seeing a man and woman, according to the training materials.
Twenty-one percent (21%) of Likely U.S. Voters say the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey taken the week ending Sunday, April 24. It's the fourth week in a row that the measurement has gone down, with confidence in the nation's course now reaching the lowest point of the Obama presidency.
Prior to this past week, the number saying the country is headed in the right direction has ranged from a low of 22% to a high of 35% since President Obama's inauguration in January 2009.
Seventy-one percent (71%) of voters now say the country is heading down the wrong track. Since January 2009, pessimism about the country's direction has ranged from 57% to 72%.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
President Obama continues to avoid direct action against Bashar Assad's increasingly savage crackdown on dissidents by cultivating a partnership with Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan. After talking on the phone early Tuesday April 26, the two leaders voiced "deep concern over the unacceptable use of violence" in Syria and went on to say: "The leaders agreed that the Syrian government must end the use of violence now and promptly enact meaningful reforms that respect the democratic aspirations of Syrian citizens."
There was no condemnation of Bashar Assad, his brother Maher Assad or their use of tank artillery and troops to pound entire city blocks, shoot civilians at random or mass arrests. Early Tuesday, Washington recalled nonessential US embassy staff and diplomats' families from Damascus.
These actions, rather than reining in the Syrian ruler, will have told him he has at another 48-72 hours at least to use the army for polishing off his violent purge of protesters in towns where they have swept up entire districts. In the coming hours, those towns will be condemned to the same fate as the southern city of Daraa, the first to rise up against the Assad regime last month, where Monday, tanks and snipers began massacring the population after shutting down its electricity and telephone communications with the outside world.
According to debkafile's intelligence sources President Obama knew the Syrian ruler was about to deploy his entire army against the protest movement. He could have tried to hold his hand with a stern official warning of serious consequences, even without Erdogan. But the US president chose to cement his partnership with the Turkish prime minister rather than try seriously to stem the violence against Syria's pro-democratic movement.
Monday, April 25, 2011
More than half of all Egyptians would like to see the 1979 peace treaty with Israel annulled, according to results of a poll conducted by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center released Monday.
According to the poll results, only 36 percent of Egyptians are in favor of maintaining the treaty, compared with 54 percent who would like to see it scrapped.
The poll highlights the deep unpopularity of the three-decade-old treaty, which was scrupulously adhered to by former President Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted February 11.
The poll, based on interviews with 1,000 Egyptians around the country, was conducted between March 24 and April 7 as part of the Spring 2011 Pew Global. Attitudes survey that was conducted in 22 countries. The poll has a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Opinions varied according to income, with 60 percent of lower income Egyptians supporting the treaty's cancellation while only 45 percent of the wealthier classes thinking it should be done away with.
At a small fundraiser Thursday night attended by Hollywood's elite -- Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Will Ferrell, and others -- President Obama delivered a re-election pitch that assumed he will in fact win a second term in the Oval Office.
"What we've done has been historic," Obama said, "and we're only a quarter of the way through." Obama has served a little more than half of his term in office; he would be "a quarter of the way through" only if he wins a second term.
Obama made the comment after gently mocking the enthusiasms of some of his most devoted supporters among the Hollywood left. "There have been times I’m sure during the past two and a half years where you’re reading the papers or you’re watching TV and you’re saying, oh, Obama -- why is he compromising with the Republicans?" the president said. "Or, oh, why did health care take so long? And I want a single-payer plan anyway. And golly, if he was just as good a communicator as George Clooney, then I’m sure the American people would understand exactly what needs to be done. Gosh."
The Clooney line "cracked the room up," according to a White House pool report. The fundraiser, which was attended by about 60 people who have donated the legal maximum of $35,800 to the Obama re-election campaign, was held at Tavern Restaurant in Los Angeles' tony Brentwood neighborhood.
Bashar Assad has launched all-out war on his people. Tanks firing artillery, APCs, infantry units, commandos and snipers were deployed for the first time at daybreak Monday, April 25 in cities across Syria for the most brutal assault on any Arab anti-government protest in the four-month uprising.
In the first few hours, hundreds are estimated to have been massacred (over and above the 350 shot dead in the last three days) and thousands injured. Denied medical attention, they are left in the streets to die.
debkafile's military sources report that protest centers in cities with populations of 2-3 million have been stormed by Syrian troops backed by tanks firing automatic 120-mm guns at random, commandos dropped by helicopter and snipers.
Friday, April 22, 2011
More and more, I am finding stories produced by the mainstream media where the headline doesn’t jibe with the actual story that follows. A USA Today (newspaper) story from the “Money” section yesterday is a great example of what I am talking about. The headline read “Rising home sales point to a recovery.” On the very next line, just under the headline, the sub-headline read “Prices expected to keep falling 5% to 7% this year.” So we have a recovery but prices are falling? What kind of a recovery is that? The story goes on to say, “Sales of existing homes rose slightly in March but prices fell as the U.S. housing market continues to struggle.” (Click here to read the complete USA Today story.) What are the writer and editor at USA Today thinking or even trying to say? This sounds like a story about a struggling real estate market and, in fact, all the evidence says the market is struggling. It is certainly not recovering.
For evidence of a struggling real estate market, I look no further than the USA Today story. It said, “Yet median prices in March dropped 5.9% from March 2010 to $159,600. Distressed homes accounted for 40% of sales, up from 35% a year ago, the NAR says. Distressed homes, such as those in foreclosure, typically sell at a 20% discount and pull down market prices.” Let me get this straight, “median prices in March dropped 5.9% from March 2010,” and the USA Today story is projecting prices will fall another “5% to 7% this year.” How is this a recovery in real estate? On top of that, the “Rising home sales” are comprised of “40% distressed homes.” That’s up “35%” from last year. That means 4 out of every 10 home sales are a foreclosure, and that seems to account for much of the increase in sales. This is a recovery?
Warning: World has only 50% chance of surviving to 2100 without suffering man-made or cosmic catastrophe
The end of the world is nigh. That's what top astronomers will claim during a debate to end the 2011 Edinburgh International Science Festival.
Lord Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, believes civilisation has only a 50 per cent chance of surviving to 2100 without suffering a man-made catastrophe.
And the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Professor John Brown, has an equally bleak outlook, fearing a random event from outer space is the most likely cause of our demise.
They will take to the stage to put forward their stark predictions in the discussion "Fire in the Sky: Cosmic Threats to Earth".
Despite having widely differing views, these two titans of astronomy between them offer global warming, over-population, terrorism, an asteroid falling to earth and a solar blast as potential reasons to panic.
Prof Brown told the Scotsman: "The threats Lord Rees and myself will be talking about are dangerous in different ways.
"Asteroids fall to earth on average 10-100 million years apart. It's been 65 million years since the last one, so one could happen next week to 60 million years from now.
"The probability in our lifetime is very small, making it low risk, high consequence.
"There's more risk of a solar blast than an giant asteroid falling, but it would not have such high consequences."
Lord Rees said: "We can't rule out by mid-century a global political realignment heading to a stand-off between new superpowers, that could be handled less well or less luckily than the Cuban missile crisis was.
"Moreover, al-Qaeda-style terrorists might some day acquire a nuclear weapon.
"If they did, they would willingly detonate it in a city, killing tens of thousands of along with themselves, and millions would acclaim them as heroes."
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Violent uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa, coupled by strained relations between the Untied States and Pakistan, are overwhelming American counterterrorism efforts aimed at al Qaeda, giving the terrorist organization breathing room to plan attacks on the West, intelligence analysts and military officials say.
Upheaval in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and other Muslim nations has dislodged or distracted some of the U.S. allies who once helped the intelligence community, from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to his counterpart in Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official who headed the Obama administration's Afghanistan-Pakistan review last year, said, "in the short term the upheavals in the Arab world are a big setback for counterterrorism against al Qaeda and its allies."
Riedel said deposed or endangered officials like ex-Vice President of Egypt Omar Sulaiman, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's defected Foreign Minister Musa Kusa and embattled President Saleh of Yemen and Syrian leader Bashar Assad "fought al Qaeda ruthlessly," said Riedel, who is now a senior analyst at the Brookings Institution.
"Now they are gone or going," he added. "Who ever replaces them will not be as effective, at least at first. Al Qaeda has in its own words 'great expectations' that it can exploit this opening."
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Pro Gaddafi Soldiers who surrender have been executed by "rebels" in cold blood. Blindfolded, hog-tied, beat, Executed, Hung, beheaded, put on fire, had their bodies mutilated, and in one documented case a Soldier had his heart cut out of his chest when he proclaimed that his "heart is for Gaddafi" and the rebel took a bite out of the heart. In Misrata the Rebels burned some soldiers and then waved and danced around with the charred remains of their corpses.
This is incredible but true facts of the kind of people that comprise the bulk of the benghazi terror gangs, aka "Opposition" forces.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
After giving up on the US ever confronting Iran, Saudi Arabia has gone out on a limb against the Obama administration to place itself at the forefront of an independent Gulf campaign for cutting down the Islamic Republic's drive for a nuclear bomb and its expansionist meddling in Arab countries, debkafile's Middle East sources report.
Two US emissaries sent to intercede with Saudi King Abdullah – US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on April 6 and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, who arrived in Riyadh six days later – were told that Saudi Arabia had reached a parting-of-the ways with Washington, followed actively by Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.
Abdullah said he could not forgive the Americans for throwing former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to the wolves in Cairo and for the unrest they were promoting against Arab regimes.
Saudi Arabia was therefore determined to lead the Gulf region on the road to a confrontation with Iran – up to and including military action if necessary – to defend the oil emirates against Iranian conspiracies in the pursuit of which the king accused US-led diplomacy of giving Tehran a clear field.
Monday, April 18, the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, asked the UN Security Council to take action for stopping Iran's "provocative interference in their countries' domestic affairs." This "flagrant interference" posed a "grave security to, and risked flaring up sectarian strike, in the GCC countries."
The resolution went on to state: "The GCC will not hesitate to adopt whatever measures and policies they deem necessary vis-à-vis the foreign interferences in their internal affairs."
The phrase "measures and policies deemed necessary" is diplomatic parlance for a military threat. It implies that Saudi Arabia and the rest of the regional group are confident that together, they command the strategic resources and assets necessary for a military strike against Iran. Our military sources report that the Saudis are convinced that their combined missile, air force and naval strength is fully capable of inflicting in-depth damage on mainland Iran. Their message to Washington is that the Gulf nations are now making their own decisions.
Iran has taken two steps in response to the Saudi-led Gulf challenge: Thousands of Iranian students, mobilized by the Revolutionary Guards and Basijj voluntary corps have laid the Saudi embassy in Tehran to siege for most of the past week, launching stone and firebomb assaults from time to time, but so far making no attempt to invade the building.
Then, Saturday, April 16, the Iranian foreign ministry summoned the Pakistani chargé d'affaires to warn him sternly against allowing Saud Arabia and Bahrain to continue conscripting Pakistani military personnel. Tehran claims that by offering exorbitant paychecks, Riyadh has raised 1,000 Pakistani recruits for its military operation in support of the Bahraini king and another 1,500 are on their way to the Gulf.
The media and the cyber-world are all abuzz this week over the Palestinian-perpetrated murder of an Italian communist and cheerleader for terrorism. An accomplice to Islamist terrorism, the “victim” was one Vittorio Arrigoni. He evidently found himself in the middle of a turf war between Hamas and another genocidal Islamist organization. The rival terrorist group is being described by the media alternatively as an al-Qaeda branch or as “Salafists,” meaning Islamist fundamentalists led by Saudi Arabian Wahhabis. But I think it is more likely they are simply a front for the “Islamist Jihad” Palestinian terror group.
Arrigoni was sent to Gaza to assist the Islamist terrorists by the pro-terror International Solidarity Movement or ISM, the same group that once sent Rachel Corrie into Gaza to collaborate with terrorists and obstruct Israeli anti-terror operations. One of the more amusing pastimes this week has been watching radical leftist groups try to “make sense” of the “senseless” murder of Arrigoni. Many of these folks simply blame Israel and Jews, reverting to their knee-jerk anti-Semitic instincts. Others just whine and wring their hands over the “tragedy.”
So just why did the Islamists murder Arrigoni? The answer is simple: These fanatics believe that everyone who is not a Muslim, and especially not a Muslim of their own particular fundamentalist genre, is an infidel, an enemy, someone deserving death. It does not matter in the least that the infidel in question has come to Gaza to assist the terrorists. In the case of Arrigoni, it did not even matter that he had tattoos on his body endorsing their terrorism. The “bewilderment” being expressed by the ISM and its amen chorus, along with Arrigoni’s Stalinist Italian groupies, is simply further indicative of how little these people know about the Middle East.
For Arrigoni is just one among many Western fellow-travelers who have suffered brutal fates at the hands of the Palestinians. The verbal and physical abuse of Western women at the hands of the Palestinian “freedom fighters” they came to support have been reported before. A series of articles in the left-wing pro-Palestinian Ha’aretz documented the rapes of Western solidarity supporters by the terrorists they came to serve. Acording to Haaretz: “One of the more prominent Umm Salmuna activists – a village south of Bethlehem, long entrenched in a battle against the West Bank separation fence – is suspected of the attempted rape of an American peace activist who had been residing in the village as part of her support of the local protest.” Local Palestinians then tried to cover up the incident and threatened the victim. A local terrorist named Omar Alladin (that is his real name) raped and molested a series of American women, including one who was a Muslem American. Curiously, one of the few anti-Israel groups to report the incident was a blog run by Arab lesbians.
Numerous other leftist Western women who have come to the West Bank to protest Israel’s security fence and to confront Israeli soldiers and police have also been sexually abused and molested by the very Palestinians they came to support. A leftist local blogger reports that these Western women are raped by the Palestinians “day after day, night after night.”
Monday, April 18, 2011
The IDF’s multi-year plan, unveiled to the press this week, was for the most part a continuation of the last plan, Tefen, initiated in 2007 under former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi.
Then, the IDF was reeling from its failures and mistakes following the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and Ashkenazi decided to invest in the ground forces by manufacturing more Merkava tanks, developing a new armored personnel carrier (APC) called the Namer and significantly boosting training.
An emphasis was also put on missile defense, the benefits of which we witnessed last week when the Iron Dome intercepted eight rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.
This has paid off, and the IDF is unquestionably better prepared today for another ground war in Syria, Lebanon or the Gaza Strip.
What are the chances for war? 50-50? 70-30? No one in the IDF will say. If they could, there would be no purpose in maintaining a massive branch in the IDF called Military Intelligence.
The new plan, though, is sophisticated and recognizes that the IDF is already at war on some of its fronts. It is waging a war against Iran’s nuclear program – mostly in the shadows and below the surface – and is also, at the same time, fighting on the high seas against weapons smuggling to Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon – demonstrated by the seizure of Iranian arms on the Victoria cargo ship last month.
Obama on Thursday hosted Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani of Qatar, otherwise known as the Boss of Al-Jazeera, for a meeting in the Oval Office. Obama called him “Your Highness” and “His Highness,” even though the Emir dropped his robes of royalty for a business suit. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani financially sponsors Al-Jazeera and its most famous personality, anti-American and anti-Semitic cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has just returned to Egypt from Qatar to supervise the transformation of that one-time U.S. ally into an Islamic state.
“In addition to our efforts in Libya,” Obama said, “we have a strong relationship between our two countries. It is an economic relationship. It is a military relationship. It is a cultural relationship. And obviously, Qatar has done very well under His Highness’s leadership, but his influence extends beyond his borders. And so we’ve had discussions about how we can continue to promote democracy, human rights, increased freedom and reform throughout the Middle East.”
The influence “beyond his orders” could be a reference to Al-Jazeera, described in one of the WikiLeaks cables from the U.S. as an instrument of foreign policy for the Qatar regime.
The Emir gave an interview to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer the same day he met with Obama, and made the rather absurd comment that although he, and the government of Qatar, finances Al-Jazeera, “it is impossible for me to have influence to tell Al Jazeera what to do. Because they are journalists, and they will understand if the emir of Qatar is interfering in their—in their job. They will not respect the job they are doing. Even internationally, Al Jazeera will not be respected.”