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Saturday, January 01, 2011

MyWay:

Without ambassadors, US-Venezuela tensions grow
Jan 1, 2:32 PM (ET)
By IAN JAMES

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - The United States and Venezuela are starting the year without ambassadors in Caracas and Washington due to an intensifying diplomatic dispute that is likely to persist and boost President Hugo Chavez's long-standing antagonism.

Both sides have shown firmly entrenched stances and no willingness to compromise in the past week as the U.S. government revoked the Venezuelan ambassador's visa in response to Chavez's refusal to accept the chosen U.S. envoy.

"They thought we were going to back down. Anything negative that happens will be the responsibility of the United States," veteran Venezuelan diplomat Roy Chaderton told the Caracas-based television channel Telesur on Thursday.

Chaderton, a close Chavez ally and former foreign minister, said the Venezuelan government is "studying the case with sensitivity ... and will make the respective decisions."

Chavez skipped an opportunity to respond during a three-hour speech Thursday night, saying nothing about the U.S. government's decision to revoke the visa of his ambassador, Bernardo Alvarez. President Barack Obama's administration took that step in response to Chavez's rejection of Larry Palmer, the White House nominee for ambassador who has been awaiting Senate confirmation.

It is unclear what concrete effects those actions could have on U.S.-Venezuela relations. Diplomats from the two countries have already long had reduced contacts due to tensions fed both by Chavez's condemnations of the U.S. and also by the State Department's criticisms of deteriorating democracy in Venezuela.

"Much of the cooperation between the United States and Venezuela in recent years has involved lower-level and lower-profile individuals and agencies than the ambassadors, so the immediate fallout will be limited," said Shannon O'Neil, a fellow for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

"But this latest round of escalating tensions ends any hope for calmer relations or more expansive cooperation. Demonizing the United States remains too important a political foil for Chavez," O'Neil said.

Palmer angered Chavez by suggesting earlier this year - in written responses to questions from Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana - that morale is low in Venezuela's military and that he is concerned Colombian rebels are finding refuge in Venezuela.

Chavez has accused Palmer of dishonoring the Venezuelan government by expressing concerns on several sensitive subjects - including 2008 accusations by the U.S. Treasury Department that three members of Chavez's inner circle helped Colombian rebels by supplying arms and aiding drug-trafficking operations.

"This outcome was predictable from the moment Palmer's comments were made public by Senator Lugar in July," said Miguel Tinker Salas, a Latin American studies professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California. "For the State Department to allow this predictable outcome to develop shows that they had no interest in improving relations with Venezuela."

Chavez had vowed not to back down in his opposition to Palmer and dared the U.S. government to expel Alvarez before diplomats confirmed on Wednesday that his visa was revoked. Alvarez was outside the United States when the action was taken, preventing his return.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said earlier this week that the United States hopes to improve strained relations with Venezuela. "We believe it is precisely because there are tensions in the relationship that it is important to maintain diplomatic communications at the highest level," Toner said.

The U.S. Embassy has been without an ambassador since Patrick Duddy finished his assignment and left in July.

A previous dispute prompted similar expulsions of ambassadors at the end of President George W. Bush's administration. In September 2008, Chavez expelled Duddy and withdrew his own envoy, saying it was in solidarity with Bolivia after President Evo Morales ordered out the U.S. ambassador and accused him of helping the opposition incite violence. The Bush administration denied it and reacted by expelling the envoys of Venezuela and Bolivia.

After more than nine months, in June 2009, the Obama administration and Chavez's government announced they were restoring their ambassadors.

Since then, the relationship has again grown more hostile.

In the past month, the U.S. State Department has strongly criticized decree powers granted to Chavez in the waning days of an outgoing congress firmly controlled by his allies. A new National Assembly takes office Jan. 5 with a bigger opposition contingent, and the decree powers will allow Chavez to bypass congress and enact laws in a range of areas for the next year and a half.

Despite such friction, the two countries are linked by deep trade ties. Chavez's economy relies heavily on oil sales to the U.S., and also imports large quantities of consumer goods from the United States. Oil sales to the U.S. have declined in recent years as Chavez has sought to diversify his oil market, selling more to allied countries such as China.

Chavez, whose anti-U.S. position has been a defining feature of his 12-year presidency, is likely to use the latest dispute to step up his criticism and rally supporters.

Larry Birns, director of the Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs, said the stances of both sides make for a volatile situation, and that if their "rhetoric becomes more shrill, the situation can deteriorate faster than either side originally intended."

Some in the U.S. Congress, meanwhile, are calling for the U.S. to take a hard line against Chavez.

Republican Rep. Connie Mack of Florida said this week that the United States "has looked the other way for far too long as Hugo Chavez destroyed democratic institutions." Mack accused the Obama administration of taking a passive approach toward Venezuela.

"Chavez is harming the future of his country and breeding insecurity in the region and he will have to face direct consequences for his decisions," Mack said. "One day the United States and Venezuela will once again have a strong, mutually beneficial diplomatic relationship, but unfortunately, it does not appear that this will be possible under the leadership of Hugo Chavez."

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Violence as Pakistan strikes over blasphemy law
by Hasan Mansoor Hasan Mansoor – Fri Dec 31

KARACHI, Pakistan (AFP) – Violence flared Friday as police and protesters clashed during a mass protest strike that closed businesses across Pakistan over a bid to end the death penalty for blasphemy.

Police said protesters near the home of unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari in the financial hub of Karachi pelted stones as they shouted slogans including "We'll sacrifice our lives -- we'll save the sanctity of the Prophet".

Teargas shells were fired to disperse them, while normally busy town centres turned quiet across the Muslim country, AFP reporters said, following a move to amend a law which permits death sentences for those found to have blasphemed.

Conservative religious groups called for a national strike after thousands of Islamists rallied in major cities last week against any change to the law, which rights campaigners say encourages Islamist extremism.

The strike went ahead despite a categorical announcement by deputy information minister Samsam Bokhari on Thursday that the government had no intention of amending the controversial law.

AFP reporters said markets were closed on Friday and roads deserted in the otherwise bustling cities of Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad and its neighbouring garrison town of Rawalpindi.

Demonstrators said their goal was to defend the honour of the Prophet Mohammed.

"We will start a civil disobedience movement if the government makes any amendment to the law," the chairman of influential Muslim grouping the Sunni Ittehad Council, Sahebzada Fazal Karim, told AFP.

Former Information Minister Sherry Rehman, from the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), sparked fury when he lodged a private member's bill seeking to abolish the death penalty for blasphemy.

The country had provoked international condemnation after a death sentence was handed to a Christian woman found guilty of defaming the Prophet Mohammed.

Pope Benedict XVI has called for the release of mother-of-five Asia Bibi, who is now in jail pending an appeal.

Samsam Bokhari disassociated the government from the bill to amend the law, saying it was not policy.

"As far as the party is concerned, the law is not being amended, nor does the government intend to bring any change in it," he said.

Protest rallies were held across Pakistan, and in Karachi police fired around a dozen teargas shells to disperse about 100 demonstrators who wanted to walk past Zardari's house.

Police official Naseer Tanoli told AFP the protesters were going to join the main rally in the town but had tried to pass the President's home en route.

"We asked them to use a different route we had assigned for it. But they refused and pelted stones on the police, which forced us to use teargas," Tanoli said, adding that the demonstrators had dispersed.

Around 5,000 people rallied in the city, carrying placards and banners inscribed with anti-government and anti-US slogans with some chanting "Death to America".

Shopping centres, colleges and universities were closed, and examinations scheduled for Friday in Karachi were postponed.

The president of Karachi's local transport association, Irshad Bokhari, told AFP that public transport would remain off the road as part of the strike.

Chairman of the All Karachi Traders Unity Atiq Mir said: "All markets and business centres are closed because the protection of Prophet Mohammed's honour is supreme to us."

Shops and business centres were also shut in the capital Islamabad and the northwestern city of Peshawar.

More than 2,500 activists from different religious parties held three protest rallies in Multan city in central Punjab province, where a shutter-down strike was observed and markets and bazaars were closed, an AFP reporter said.

Hundreds of protesters rallied in other main cities of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southern Baluchistan provinces.

In the eastern city of Lahore, some 1,500 people participated in four separate protest demonstrations, an AFP reporter said.

Only around three percent of Pakistan's population of 167 million are thought to be non-Muslim, and minorities complain of discrimination.

Pakistan has yet to execute anyone for blasphemy. Most of those given the death penalty have their sentences overturned or commuted on appeal through the courts.

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Haaretz:

Report: U.S. in secret talks with Syria over peace accord with Israel
Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai reports U.S. believes Syria ready to distance itself from Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas.

By DPA

The United States has been in secret contact with Syrian officials in the hopes of realizing a comprehensive Israel-Syrian peace treaty, the Kuwaiti al-Rai newspaper reported Saturday.

The past few weeks had witnessed an "unprecedented Syrian cooperation" in the peace process, prompting Washington to talk with Syrian officials to reach a peace agreement between Syria and Israel, informed sources told al-Rai.

Sources said Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem had sent positive signals to the U.S. showing that "the Syrians are ready to re-engage in dialogue with the Israelis to reach peace".

President Barack Obama's administration believes that an Israeli-Syrian peace agreement will be "a breakthrough in the peace process as a whole to achieve peace in the Palestinian territories."

Sources said that Obama adviser Dennis Ross told the U.S. administration that he found "Syria ready to move away from Iran and reduce relations with Hezbollah and Hamas, and work with the United States in the fight against terrorism."

Israel, for its part, apparently expressed a willingness to return the Golan Heights to Syria, reach an agreement on water rights, and normalize relations with Damascus.

Syrian demands the return of the Golan, a strategic plateau overlooking northern Israel, as a prerequisite for any peace deal.

Israel captured the Golan in the 1967 Six Day War, and in 1981 parliament passed a law applying Israeli "laws, jurisdiction and administration" to the territory, in effect annexing it. The annexation was not recognized internationally.

Direct Israeli-Syrian peace talks fell apart in 2000, over a dispute over Syrian access to the Sea of Galilee, as per the de facto border which existed prior to the 1967 war.

Turkish mediated Israeli-Syrian talks also failed to produce any breakthrough.

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Three dead and scores injured after passenger plane explodes in fireball on Russian runway after emergency landing - Plane was carrying 124 people 
A Russian passenger jet carrying 124 people caught fire as it taxied down a snowy runway in Siberia and then exploded on Saturday, killing three people and injuring 43, including six who were badly burned, officials said.

Most of the passengers and crew were evacuated before the explosion, though people on board described a chaotic scene as as the burning plane filled up with thick, black smoke and panicked passengers rushed through flames to escape.

Emergency services spokesman Vadim Grebennikov said the fire, which began in one of the engines as the plane taxied for takeoff, caused a powerful blast that destroyed the Tu-154 aircraft and spread flames across 1,000 square meters (11,000 square feet).Grebennikov said 10 people were seriously injured, including six who were badly burned and four who suffered broken bones or other trauma. Most of the other injured passengers sought treatment for poisoning after inhaling toxic fumes.

The plane, which belonged to the regional Kogalymavia airline, was flying from the western Siberian town of Surgut to Moscow.Among the passengers were members of the Russian pop group Na-Na, who described the panic on board the plane.

He added that flight attendants tried to calm the passengers, but the flames began to spread, especially after one of the passengers opened an emergency exit and air rushed in.The plane quickly filled up with smoke that was black and acrid from burning plastic, Rymarev said.

Another member of the group, Vladimir Politov, said some people were so desperate to get out that they ran right through the flames, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

He said all the members of the pop group, which was popular in Russia in the 1990s, got out through an emergency exit over a wing and none of them was hurt.

All three engines on the Tu-154 are located in the back of the aircraft. The fire on Saturday appeared to have started in the engine mounted over the rear of the plane.

The Tu-154 has been the workhorse of the Soviet and post-Soviet civilian aviation industry, first entering service in the 1970s. Read the full story here,more here.
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A Look Back At 2010: Year Of Bowing To Islam

Sobering and cumulative.

From Creeping Sharia, citing Patrick Poole's essay at Pajamas Media:
Appeasement and outreach are no match for the enemy’s civilizational jihad.

At the end of last year I reflected here at Pajamas Media that 2009 represented a “tipping point for domestic terror.” Grimly, that assessment has borne out — recall the terror attacks aimed at New York City’s Times Square and Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Baltimore recruiting station bomber, and the virtual host of homegrown terror arrests racked up this year.

While the domestic terror trend has continued unabated, elements of pre-violent, or rather stealth, jihad are taking firm root in our government, military, judicial, and educational institutions, without the slightest opposition from the Obama administration and our homeland security agencies. In fact, if we’ve seen anything this year, it has been the willingness of government officials to lend their support to aid this stealth jihad.

The failure to recognize the “civilizational jihad” being waged against us is a bipartisan problem. Driven mainly by Muslim Brotherhood front groups and pushed by non-violent Islamist organizations in the West, the threat remains badly underrated by our national security establishment. But it was placed front and center by the report titled “Shariah: The Threat to America,” issued by the Team B II panel of national security experts including former CIA Director Jim Woolsey and former DIA Director Lt. Gen. Ed Soyster.

I was honored to participate in Team B II. To my dismay, this past year we have had an onslaught of examples demonstrating how far the stealth jihad outlined by Team B II has advanced:...

[...]

This list is not exhaustive. Certainly more examples could be cited. The Obama administration’s failure to understand the problem of Islamic radicalization and terrorism is fundamental, fueled with an outreach-to-anyone-at-any-cost policy that is perhaps best typified by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden’s July statements that his foremost mission was to improve relations with the Muslim world. What these twelve examples demonstrate is that our national security, intelligence, law enforcement, and diplomatic establishment are utterly defenseless before the stealth jihad that is attacking the heart of our Western society....
Read the whole thing.

We here at IBA covered most, if not all, of the material. But seeing all that dhimmitude in one essay is sobering.

And most of America appears to sleep on. For how long can Americans and the rest of the West slumber?

Why wasn't 9/11 enough to jolt America to her senses about the gravest threat to her liberty in this 21st Century?

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THE FIRE THIS TIME

Christian protester, hurls object during clashes


He Is Us
A Coptic protester, left, hurls an object at riot police during clashes between Coptic youths and riot police, who opened fire with rubber bullets and tear gas, in the streets outside the Saints Church and a neighboring hospital, in Alexandria, Egypt, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011. A powerful bomb, possibly from a suicide attacker, exploded in front of a Coptic Christian church as a crowd of worshippers emerged from a New Years Mass early Saturday, killing at least 21 people and wounding nearly 80 others in an attack that raised suspicions of an al-Qaida role.
 Looks like I'm not the only one:

New Year slaughter of Christians in Egypt shows we’re all in it together against Islamism
It will be interesting to observe the international response following last night’s slaughter of at least 21 Christians by Islamists outside a Church in Alexandria, Egypt.

If it had been the other way around (heaven forfend that it had been carried out by Jews) there would have been mass protests around the world, condemnations from leading politicians and, given that this comes on the heels of other such massacres, could well have ended up with a resolution at the United Nations.

But don’t hold your breath. The politically correct multi-culturalism that holds sway across Europe and increasing sections of the United States (I hardly need mention the UN) dictates that we must always beware of enflaming Muslim sensitivities. The great diversionary spectre of “Islamophobia” silences all that go before it. 
Read the full story here.
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Happy New Year Infidels!

In this neck of Infidelphia there is only ONE parade to watch New Year's Day.











Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some pork and sauerkraut to attend to.

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The Blaze:

Frances Fox Piven Rings in The New Year By Calling for Violent Revolution
Posted on December 31, 2010 at 4:33pm by Jonathon M. Seidl

She’s considered by many as the grandmother of using the American welfare state to implement revolution. Make people dependent on the government, overload the government rolls, and once government services become unsustainable, the people will rise up, overthrow the oppressive capitalist system, and finally create income equality. Collapse the system and create a new one. That‘s the simplified version of Frances Fox Piven’s philosophy originally put forth in the pages of The Nation in the 60s.

Now, as the new year ball drops, Piven is at it again, ringing in 2011 with renewed calls for revolution.

In a chilling and almost unbelievable editorial again in The Nation (”Mobilizing the Jobless,” January 10/17, 2011 edition), she calls on the jobless to rise up in a violent show of solidarity and force. As before, those calls are dripping with language of class struggle. Language she and her late husband Richard Cloward made popular in the 60s.

“So where are the angry crowds, the demonstrations, sit-ins and unruly mobs?” she writes. “After all, the injustice is apparent. Working people are losing their homes and their pensions while robber-baron CEOs report renewed profits and windfall bonuses. Shouldn’t the unemployed be on the march? Why aren’t they demanding enhanced safety net protections and big initiatives to generate jobs?” [Emphasis added]

Those are the questions that frame what can best be called a roadmap for revolution. And it’s not long before those questions give way to directions. The first instruction: get angry.

“[B]efore people can mobilize for collective action, they have to develop a proud and angry identity and a set of claims that go with that identity,” she writes. “They have to go from being hurt and ashamed to being angry and indignant.”

And along with anger must come a denunciation of personal responsibility. Instead, workers must realize that others have put them in their current, uneasy situation: “[T]he out-of-work have to stop blaming themselves for their hard times and turn their anger on the bosses, the bureaucrats or the politicians who are in fact responsible.”

Only then, once their rage has been properly stoked, can the angry take action. And when they do, sh says, the “protesters need targets.”

For Piven, the best “targets” are the people or organizations “capable of making some kind of response to angry demands.” Regular demands, notice, just won’t do. No, people must be fired up and not easily deterred. Angry and not quickly placated. It’s a concoction Piven has seen recently in other countries — countries such as England and Greece, which she uses as models for American unrest:


An effective movement of the unemployed will have to look something like the
strikes and riots that have spread across Greece in response to the austerity
measures forced on the Greek government by the European Union, or like the
student protests that recently spread with lightning speed across England in
response to the prospect of greatly increased school fees.
What exactly do those strikes and riots look like? They’re violent and bloody, like this one in Greece, where rioters firebombed police and beat bloody a former government official:



In England they look like this, where a mob of angry students attacked the future British King and his wife and shouted “Off with their heads!” while jabbing the Duchess with a stick:



“What she is calling for is nothing less than the chaos and violence engulfing Europe,” writes Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Ron Radosh on his blog. “Disgruntled leftist unionists, students who expect an education without cost, and citizens of social-democratic states cannot accept that the old terms of the social contract they thought would last forever have worn out their welcome. The European welfare-state governments can no longer function with the kind of social programs that now far exceed their nation’s budgets and hence are moving their countries to the precipice of total collapse.”

But violence has always been Piven’s preferred method of collapse. In 2004, she admitted as much, saying that violence is condoned as long as it is part of a grand plan



What may be new is the brazen way in which Piven is now making her intentions known. No longer do her and people like her have to hide in the shadows. Now, they feel comfortable enough with the political climate to espouse their views openly, freely, unabashedly. It’s a phenomenon Radosh believes has to do with the current administration: leftists see a renewed opportunity now that Obama is in power.



“Now, as President Barack Obama is beginning the mid-point of his first and possibly only term in office, the Left is again trying to advance a new form of the old strategy,” he writes. And “as our national economy and many state and city budgets again are at the breaking point,” he adds, “Frances Fox Piven has issued a new call to repeat and build upon the ruinous strategies that she and her late husband advanced decades ago.”

In 1966 when Cloward and Piven published their first manifesto in The Nation, Americans were spell bound — especially poorer Americans who sucked up the couple’s call like a dying desert cactus. The New Republic’s John McWhorter writes:


But when Piven and Cloward published a manifesto in The Nation, there were
30,000 reprint requests. One thousand neighborhood service centers nationwide
encouraged people to go on welfare who would not have otherwise. In the ’60s,
one-third of the people whose incomes made them eligible for AFDC were on the
rolls. By 1971, 90 percent were.

An old strategy for a new year. Let‘s hope it doesn’t have the same effect.

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UAE: Court Rules Male Worth More Than Female, Even In Womb  

 The UAE Supreme Court has ruled that the blood money to compensate the death of a foetus in a road accident be calculated as if the newborn would have been a girl baby.While the blood money compensation for a man is Dh200,000, the amount is Dh100,000 for a woman.

The landmark ruling made on Wednesday was in response to an appeal in a case where a Fujairah woman was hit by a lorry in 2007, reports The National.While she suffered serious injuries, the baby she was carrying in her womb died.

While upholding the lower court’s verdict that asked the insurance company to pay Dh1.2 million in damages, the apex court however ruled that the compensation must include Dh100,000 as blood money. The blood money for a foetus dead in a road accident is calculated at 10 per cent of that of an adult woman – which would be Dh10,000. 

Some eight months ago, the President of the Federal Supreme Court Dr Abdul Wahab Abdul had called for reforms in the blood money laws to make it same for males and females.

Several experts had argued for parity on the grounds that the traditional justification for lesser compensation for women does not apply in the modern world where members of both sexes are equal. 

Imam Rauf "Sharia Law is the same as the Constitution" 

Source.
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The Last Crusade:

MUSLIM RECONQUEST OF SPAIN NEARS COMPLETION
Posted on December 31st, 2010
EL CID, WHERE ART THOU?

الاسترداد
2001: “ISLAMO-CHRISTIAN” EUROPE EMERGES
SPANISH TAXPAYERS NOW PAY FOR MASSIVE MOSQUE CONSTRUCTIONS

thelastcrusade.org
Proof that history repeats itself comes with the news that Muslims have initiated their re-conquest of Spain.

The number of Muslims in Spain has climbed from 100,000 in 1990 to over 1.5 million in 2010.

Mosques are being constructed on a grand scale throughout the country.

The city of Barcelona, widely known as a European Mecca of anti-clerical postmodernism, has agreed to shell out nearly $30 million in public funds for the construction of an official mega-mosque with a capacity for thousands of Muslim worshipers.

The new structure in Barcelona will rival the massive Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid, currently the biggest mosque in Spain. An official in the office of the Mayor of Barcelona says the objective is to increase the visibility of Muslims in Spain, as well as to promote the “common values between Islam and Europe.”

In the past decade, more than 1,000 mosques and Islamic prayer centers have sprouted up throughout the once devoutly Catholic country.

Twelve new masjids are scheduled to open in northeastern Spain within the next three months.

The construction of new mosques comes at a time when municipalities linked to the Socialist Party have closed dozens of Christian churches across Spain by the enactment of new zoning laws.

The Barcelona mosque project was announced during a weeklong seminar titled “Muslims and European Values,” sponsored by the European Council of Moroccan Ulemas and the Union of Islamic Cultural Centers in Catalonia.

A representative of the Barcelona mayor’s office who attended the conference told the Madrid-based El País newspaper that the municipality would get involved in the mosque project because “although religion pertains to the private realm, this does not mean it does not have a public role.”

The idea to build a mega-mosque funded by Spanish taxpayers comes after Noureddine Ziani, a Barcelona-based Moroccan imam, said the construction of big mosques would be the best way to fight Islamic fundamentalism in Spain. “It is easier to disseminate fundamentalist ideas in small mosques set up in garages where only the members of the congregation attend, than in large mosques that are open to everyone, with prayer rooms, cafes and meeting areas,” Ziani told the Spanish news agency EFE.

Ziani also said European governments should pay for the training of imams, which would be “a useful formula to avoid radical positions.”

The Barcelona mosque is unique because it is a public project funded by Spanish taxpayers. Saudi Arabia built the “great mosques” in the Spanish cities of Madrid, Malaga, Marbella and Fuengirola, has been accused of using the mosques and Islamic cultural centers in Spain to promote the Wahhabi sect of Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism rejects all non-Wahhabi Islam, any dialogue with other religions and any opening up to other cultures. By definition, Wahhabism also rejects the integration of Muslim immigrants into Spanish society.

Not surprisingly, the Saudi government officially supports the Alliance of Civilizations, an initiative sponsored by Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, which borrows heavily from the Dialogue of Civilizations concept promoted by Islamic radicals in Iran in the 1990s — an the initiative calls for the West to negotiate a truce with Islamic terrorists on terms set by the terrorists.

In December 2000, the Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid was expelled from the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities (FEERI) to “frustrate the attempts of Saudi Arabia to control Islam in Spain.” Most Muslim immigrants in Spain are from the Maghreb (especially Morocco and Algeria) or Pakistan; analysts say their low standards of living and low levels of education make them particularly susceptible to the Islamist propaganda promoted by Saudi Arabia.

Elsewhere in Spain, residents of the Basque city of Bilbao were recently surprised to find their mailboxes stuffed with flyers in Spanish and Arabic from the Islamic Community of Bilbao asking them for money to build a 650 square meter mosque costing $750,000. Their website for this Islamic community says: “We were expelled [from Spain] as Moriscos in 1609, really not that long ago. … The echo of Al-Andalus still resonates in all the valley of the Ebro [ie Spain]. We are back to stay, Insha’Allah [if Allah wills it].”

Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to the parts of Spain ruled by Muslim conquerors from 711 and 1492. Many Muslims believe that the territories they lost during the Spanish Reconquista still belong to them, and that they have a right to return and establish their rule there – a belief based on the Islamic precept that territories once occupied by Muslims must forever remain under Muslim domination.

The Moriscos, descendants of the Muslim population that converted to Christianity under threat of exile in 1502, were ultimately expelled from Spain by King Philip III in 1609. Muslim leaders say Spain could right the wrong by offering Spanish citizenship to the Muslim descendants of the Moriscos as an “apology and acknowledgement of mistakes” made during the Spanish Inquisition.

In Córdoba, Muslims are demanding that the Spanish government allow them to worship in the main cathedral, which had been a mosque during the medieval Islamic kingdom of Al-Andalus and is now a World Heritage Site. Muslims hope to recreate the ancient city of Córdoba as a pilgrimage site for Muslims throughout Europe. Funds for the project to turn “Córdoba into the Mecca of the West” are being sought from the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and Muslim organizations in Morocco and Egypt.

In Granada, a city in southern Spain that was the last Muslim stronghold of Al-Andalus to capitulate to the Roman Catholic kings in 1492, a muezzin now calls Muslims to prayer at the first mosque to be opened in the city since the Spanish Reconquista. The Great Mosque of Granada “is a symbol of a return to Islam among the Spanish people and among indigenous Europeans,” says Abdel Haqq Salaberria, a spokesman for the mosque. “It will act as a focal point for the Islamic revival in Europe,” he says. It was paid for by Libya, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

In Lleida, a town in northeastern Spain where 29,000 Muslims make up 20% of the population, the local Islamic association Watani recently asked Moroccan King Mohammad VI for money to build a mosque in the center of town. Local Muslims are incensed that the municipality gave them land to build a mosque on the outskirts of town and not in the city center. Although the municipality gave the land more than three years ago, the local Muslim community has refused to apply for a formal license: it is demanding a more “dignified location for the Muslim community to worship.”

In Zaragoza, the fifth-largest city in Spain, the 22,000-strong Islamic community has been negotiating the purchase of an abandoned Roman Catholic grade school for €3 million. In September, however, a group of 200 teenage anarchist squatters took over the property (a seemingly normal occurrence in Spain), but a local judge has refused to remove them for “security” reasons. The local imam is now demanding a “big and visible location” for a mosque: many Muslims view the city as “theirs” and they want a way to show it.

Meanwhile, the Madrid-based ABC newspaper reports that more than 100 mosques in Spain have radical imams preaching to the faithful each Friday. The newspaper says some imams have established religious police that harass and attack those who do not comply with Islamic law. ABC also reports that during 2010, more than 10 Salafist conferences were held in Spain, compared to only one in 2008.

Salafism is a branch of revivalist Islam that calls for restoring past Muslim glory by re-establishing an Islamic empire across the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Europe. Salafists view Spain as a Muslim state that must be reconquered for Islam.

At the same time, Noureddine Ziani, the Moroccan imam, says it is absolutely necessary to accept Islamic values as European values. He also says that from now on, Europeans should replace the term “Judeo-Christian” with term “Islamo-Christian” when describing Western Civilization.

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CNSNews:

2010 Was By Far the Deadliest Year for U.S. Troops in Afghanistan—One American Killed Every 18 Hours
Friday, December 31, 2010
By Edwin Mora

(CNSNews.com) - With 496 casualties, 2010 was by far the deadliest year for U.S. troops fighting a war in Afghanistan that has now entered its tenth year, according to casualty reports issued by the Department of Defense and tracked in a comprehensive database of war casualties maintained by CNSNews.com.

There were 303 U.S. casualties in the Afghanistan war in 2009, making 2009 the second deadliest year of the war.

Almost 17 times as many U.S. troops were killed in the Afghanistan war in 2010 as were killed in 2002, the first full calendar year of the war. In the past year, U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan were killed at a rate of about one every 18 hours.

Thus far, 1,357 U.S. armed services personnel have lost their lives in the war in Afghanistan. The year-by-year casualty count is as follows:

Year Casualties

2001 5

2002 30

2003 31

2004 49

2005 94

2006 87

2007 111

2008 151

2009 303

2010 496

Of these 1,357 casualties, 1,344 were U.S. service personnel who died from fatal wounds received in Afghanistan or from accidents that occurred there during the war. The other 13 Afghanistan war casualties include one person who was killed in the Arabian Gulf in 2010 while supporting military operations in Afghanistan and 12 who were killed in Pakistan (2 in 2001, 7 in 2002 and 3 in 2010) while supporting military action in Afghanistan.

Of the 496 U.S. casualties in the Afghanistan war in 2010, 469 were combat-related deaths.

Since President Barack Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009, the U.S. has suffered 788 casualties in the Afghanistan war, which is 58 percent of the total casualties the U.S. has suffered in the war since it began in October 2001.

After arguing in his presidential campaign that President Bush had wrongly shifted the focus in the war on terror from Afghanistan to Iraq, Obama announced in December 2009 that he was escalating the U.S. deployment in Afghanistan by sending an additional 30,000 troops there.

Four of the five deadliest months for U.S. troops in Afghanistan have taken place since then. The five deadliest months since the start of the war in October 2001 have been:

Month Casualties

1. July 2010 65

2. June 2010 60

3. Oct. 2009 58

4. Aug. 2010 55

5. Nov. 2010 53

Historically, most of the heavy fighting and thus most of the casualties, in Afghanistan has taken place during the summer months of June to September. In 2010, however, November ended up being one of the deadliest months of the war.

CNSNews.com’s casualty database is derived primarily from official Defense Department casualty reports, but it also includes information gleaned from news media outlets.

This year, President Obama and military officials have indicated that the process of withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan and transitioning the security lead over to Afghan forces is expected to last more than three years, and will begin in July 2011.

The commander of the U.S.-led NATO training mission in Afghanistan told CNSNews.com that coalition troops will remain in support of Afghan forces beyond 2014, but it remains uncertain how many U.S.-led NATO troops will remain in Afghanistan beyond then.

Nevertheless, Vice-President Joe Biden said on Dec. 19 that U.S. troops would exit Afghanistan by 2014 "come hell or high water."

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Caroline Glick:

Hizbullah and the information war
December 31, 2010, 7:28 AM

On January 15 the UN's Special Tribunal for Lebanon is scheduled to issue indictments against a number of Hizbullah operatives for the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005. All of Lebanon and much of the region is waiting in suspense that grows with each passing day.

The news that Hizbullah would be fingered by the prosecutors was first made public in July. Since then, Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah has threatened repeatedly to set fire to Lebanon and perhaps Israel if Daniel Bellemare, the chief prosecutor dares to go forward. Given Hizbullah's track record of war, murder and intimidation, no one doubts that the Iranian-proxy force will keep its promise if it comes to that.

Almost immediately after Hizbullah was named as the central suspect in Hariri's assassination, Hizbullah's ally Syria began negotiating a deal with Saudi Arabia, which serves as the patron of Lebanon's Sunni community. The goal of these talks is to get Hizbullah off the hook, "in order to preserve stability."

Bellemare made clear this week that he will not be influenced by politics in dispatching his duties to the law. If he is true to his word, then Hizbullah members will certainly be indicted for assassinating Hariri next month.

What this means is that the most attractive option for Hizbullah and its allies right now is to discredit the tribunal. To this end, Hizbullah has repeatedly characterized the UN tribunal as an Israeli and American plot. Syria has insisted that the Lebanese who testified before the tribunal gave false testimony.

While these allegations may have convinced their supporters, both Syria and Hizbullah know that the only effective way to discredit the tribunal is to coerce Hariri's son, Prime Minister Saad Hariri to disavow the tribunal and withdraw Lebanese governmental support for its proceedings.
Although such a move would probably have little impact on the tribunal's ultimate judgment, it might reduce the political impact of the indictments for Hizbullah in Lebanon.

And so according to Ha'aretz, Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and Saudi King Abdullah reached a deal in which Hariri Jr. will disavow the tribunal. In exchange, Hizbullah will agree not to murder him.
Read more »

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Muslims and Leftists

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QUESTION: “Why doesn’t Obama just release his birth certificate?”. ANSWER: There is something embarrassing to him politically that’s written on it

His race is listed as Caucasian-Arab on the birth certificate, not as “black” the way he needs it to be to get away with everything he gets away with in life?

From Hill Buzz:
Yesterday, on Hardball, Chris Matthews asked a very obvious, rhetorical question: ”Why doesn’t Obama just release his birth certificate?”.

ANSWER: Because there is something embarrassing on it politically for Obama that he doesn’t want to have to explain to the American people, and the black community in particular.I used to think he was listed as “Muslim” on his birth certificate, but I’ve since been convinced that in 1961, when Obama was born, religion wasn’t recorded on a birth certificate.But, there’s something on his birth certificate he does not want America to see, and it’s now down to a few options as to what that something is: 





Read the rest of the story here.

The REAL mystery of all of this, at the moment, is why on Earth Chris Matthews decided to talk about this last night on MSNBC.
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Friday, December 31, 2010

JJ Cale
The Breeze


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Major natural gas field found off Israeli coast

Here's some good news for us infidels and for the 'Zionist Regime' in particular.  In a welcome development, just in time for the New Year, the Israelis are reporting a major natural gas field off their northern coast.

Gas Field Confirmed Off Coast of Israel

JERUSALEM — Exploratory drilling off Israel’s northern coast this week has confirmed the existence of a major natural gas field — one of the world’s largest offshore gas finds of the past decade — leading the country’s infrastructure minister to call it “the most important energy news since the founding of the state.”

Houston-based Noble Energy, which is working with several Israeli partner companies, said that the field, named Leviathan, whose existence was suspected months ago, has at least 16 trillion cubic feet of gas at a likely market value of tens of billions of dollars and should turn Israel into an energy exporter.

“If it acts correctly, levelheadedly and responsibly, Israel can enjoy not only the benefit of using the gas, but it can also turn into a gas supplier in the Mediterranean region,” the infrastructure minister, Uzi Landau, said in a statement.

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This Week On The Gathering Storm

Listen to The Gathering Storm Radio Show, hosted by WC and Always On Watch. The show broadcasts live every Friday beginning at noon, Pacific Time.

The call-in number is 646-915-9870.

Callers welcome!

Our scheduled guest this week is "Warchick" Resa LaRu Kirkland.

Listen to the December 31, 2010 edition of The Gathering Storm Radio Show, live or later, by CLICKING HERE.

UPCOMING SHOWS
January 7: Mark Alexander
January 14: Guest to be announced.
January 21: Midnight Rider
January 28: Guest to be announced.

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John Mayer & Eric Clapton
Crossroads

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Trout Fishing in America
Proper Cup of Coffee


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Katie Couric: “We Need a Muslim Version of The Cosby Show” to Change Americans Attitudes Towards Islam

Stone the Lesbians to death, or throw them off a cliff

Katie Couric: 2010 in Review- CBS News
I also think sort of the chasm, between, or the bigotry expressed against Muslims in this country has been one of the most disturbing stories to surface this year. Of course, a lot of noise was made about the Islamic Center, mosque, down near the World Trade Center, but I think there wasn’t enough sort of careful analysis and evaluation of where this bigotry toward 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, and how this seething hatred many people feel for all Muslims, which I think is so misdirected, and so wrong — and so disappointing.
Maybe we need a Muslim version of The Cosby Show.
I know that sounds crazy, I know that sounds crazy. But The Cosby Show did so much to change attitudes about African-Americans in this country, and I think sometimes people are afraid of what they don’t understand.
Video here>>>

Muslim Crosby family..great idea! (from Brooks William Kelley's Facebook page.)

Family outing

Group photo of daddy muslim with mummy muslim and mummy muslim and mummy muslim and his two daughters


Mummy and daddy having fun in the pool

Daddy and mummy working things out

Mummy and daughter having fun

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Lost Icon

MSNBC:

Geraldine Doyle, inspiration for 'Rosie the Riveter,' dies at 86

By Elizabeth Chuck

With a red and white bandana in her hair and factory worker uniform sleeves rolled up to reveal her bulging biceps, Rosie the Riveter was painted on a World War II recruitment poster in 1942. But for four decades, the real Rosie the Riveter had no idea she was the woman who inspired it.

Perhaps it was because Geraldine Doyle left her factory job after two weeks – or because she didn’t actually have bulging biceps – that Doyle, who died at 86 years old on Sunday in Lansing, Mich., didn’t know for so long that she was the model for what would became a symbol of women’s empowerment.

Doyle was 17 in 1942 and had been hired as a metal presser at a factory close to her home in Inkster, Mich., to help the war effort, her daughter Stephanie Gregg told the New York Times. One day, a United Press International photographer came to the steelworks factory and took a picture of Doyle leaning over machinery, a red and white polka-dot bandana covering her hair (see the original photo here). Later that year, the government commissioned artist J. Howard Miller to produce morale-boosting posters that would motivate workers and recruit women to join the war workforce. The UPI photo of Doyle, a slender brunette that her daughter calls “a glamour girl,” caught his eye.

Meanwhile, Doyle – a cellist – learned that a worker had injured her hands at the factory, and decided to get a safer job at a soda fountain and bookshop in Ann Arbor, according to the Washington Post.

In 1984, married to a dentist and a mother to five children, Doyle came across an article in former AARP publication Modern Maturity magazine that connected her photo with the wartime poster, which she hadn’t seen before.

“The arched eyebrows, the beautiful lips, the shape of the face – that’s her,” daughter Gregg told the Times. But, she said, “she didn’t have those big muscles. She was busy playing cello.”

Nonetheless, when she saw it, she said, “This is me!” Gregg told the Lansing State Journal.

Rosie the Riveter became a lasting emblem. In the early 1940s, Red Evans and John Jacob Loeb wrote a song named after her. In 1943, the Saturday Evening Post put a Norman Rockwell illustration of another female worker with the name “Rosie” painted on her lunch pail. In 1999, the U.S. Postal Service created a “We Can Do It!” stamp.

For years, Doyle signed Rosie the Riveter t-shirts, posters, and more. While many profited from her image, she never charged a penny to fans, her daughter said.

"She would say that she was the 'We Can Do It!' girl," Gregg told the Lansing State Journal. "She never wanted to take anything away from the other Rosies."


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Pakistan makes two nuclear weapons available to Saudi Arabia

From Debka via Will at The Other News:

With an eye on the nuclear arms race led by its neighbor Iran, Saudi Arabia has arranged to have available for its use two Pakistani nuclear bombs or guided missile warheads, debkafile's military and intelligence sources reveal. They are most probably held in Pakistan's nuclear air base at Kamra in the northern district of Attock.  
Pakistan has already sent the desert kingdom its latest version of the Ghauri-II missile after extending its range to 2,300 kilometers. Those missiles are tucked away in silos built in the underground city of Al-Sulaiyil, south of the capital Riyadh.

At least two giant Saudi transport planes sporting civilian colors and no insignia are parked permanently at Pakistan's Kamra base with air crews on standby. They will fly the nuclear weapons home upon receipt of a double coded signal from King Abdullah and the Director of General Intelligence Prince Muqrin bin Abdel Aziz.

The only detail known to our Gulf sources is that the Saudi bombs are lodged in separate heavily-guarded stores apart from the rest of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

This secret was partially blown by Riyadh itself. In recent weeks, Saudi officials close to their intelligence establishment have been going around security forums in the West and dropping word that the kingdom no longer needs to build its own nuclear arsenal because it has acquired a source of readymade arms to be available on demand. This broad hint was clearly put about under guidelines from the highest levels of the monarchy.

Partial nuclear transparency was approved by Riyadh as part of a campaign to impress on the outside world that Saudi Arabia was in control of its affairs: The succession struggle had been brought under control; the Saudi regime had set its feet on a clearly defined political and military path; and the hawks of the royal house had gained the hand and were now setting the pace.

Hmmmmm.....Well IF true the Saudis won't be able anymore to point the finger to Israel when it comes to nuclear weapons,and what's the US role in this "deal"?

Letter and phone calls to the king?

 Read the full story here.
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Rasmussen: Ground Zero Mosque Is Biggest Story of The Year


(Rasmussen)- American Adults shared two of the chief concerns of Likely Voters in 2010, the Gulf oil leak’s impact on the economy and plans for a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City.
Rasmussen Reports conducts two separate national tracking surveys, one of both Adults and one of Likely Voters. The latter are generally surveyed on political issues in the news, while adults are asked more often about timely economic and social issues. After all, if it’s in the news, it’s in our polls.
In both tracking polls, we ask respondents how closely they have followed recent news stories about the topic we’re asking about – Very Closely, Somewhat Closely, Not Very Closely, Not At All Closely, Not Sure.
The story most closely followed by all Adults last year in Rasmussen Reports economic surveys was about plans to build a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center.
In mid-August, 58% were following that story Very Closely, with another 27% following somewhat closely. This story attracted little attention until President Obama commented upon it and made it a national issue.
But four of the stories in the Top 10 economic surveys for the year, including #2, 3 and 4, were about the disastrous oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico caused by the April 20 explosion of a deepwater drilling platform.
By mid-June, 54% were following stories about the oil leak Very Closely. Over the next month, similar majorities continued to monitor developments in that story as possible UN involvement with the cleanup was considered and as the impact on the overall U.S. economy became clearer.
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Hats Off

The Gin Blossoms spent their Thanksgiving vacation playing a series of concerts for our troops in Iraq.

Allison Road



Hey Jealousy



Learning The Hard Way

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Sharia Justice

The Daily Mail:

An eye for an eye: Iranian court orders man to lose an eye and an ear after acid attack on student, 22, outside college

A court in Iran has ordered a man to lose an eye and an ear as punishment for blinding another man and burning his ear in an acid attack.

The accused, identified only as Hamid, was also ordered to pay blood money after he was found guilty of the attack five years ago.

Hamid claimed he had mistaken his victim – identified only as Davoud – for a former classmate who had bullied him at college, reports Iran's semi-official Fars news agency.

'In college, some of the classmates bullied me so much that we had to move from the city I was living in to another one. This was carved in my mind and I couldn't get over it,' he said, according to Fars.

'I bought acid and went back to my former college and waited for some of the classmates to come out. When he [Davoud] came out, I followed him and threw acid on him and I also injured my own legs by doing so.'

Victim Davoud was 22 at the time of the attack and denied ever meeting Hamid - and he claimed that the two-year age gap between them meant they could never have been in the same class.

In Iran citizens are supposed to obey Sharia law, a penal code that hands out what are perceived to be harsh punishments by Western culture for crimes, transgressions, curtailing civil rights, and violating human rights.

The eye-for-an-eye, or tooth-for-a-tooth, punishment is legal under the Sharia code of gisas, which allow retribution for violent crimes – hence why there are a number of public hangings for alleged murderers.

In November 2008 Majid Movahedi was sentenced to lose both eyes in a similar case, having been found guilty of throwing acid at Ameneh Bahramia, a woman who refused to marry him.

It is unclear whether the sentence has yet been carried out.

In October, however, Iranian authorities chopped off the hand of a convicted thief at a prison in the central city of Yazd.

In recent weeks Iran has been criticised for sentencing Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, to be stoned to death for adultery.

She has so far escaped the sentence because of the international outcry surrounding her case.

Iran has executed at least 200 people in the past 10 months, according the human rights website rahana.org

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Anti-Israel propaganda becomes mainstream entertainment

Israel Today discovered a new movie set for release called "Miral" which, while it may not be the first hostile to Israel movie released in mainstream (for all I know, the Little Drummer Girl might've preceded it), it's certainly unfortunate that it may get that kind of distribution:
Scheduled for a March 2011 release, the new feature film “Miral” follows the turbulent life of a young Palestinian Arab girl who becomes involved in terrorism against Israel. It unabashedly demands sympathy for this girl and other Palestinian terrorists in their battle with a Jewish state that is portrayed as arbitrarily cruel and barbaric.

There is little surprise there, since the film is an adaptation of a book written by director Julian Schnabel’s new Palestinian Arab girlfriend, Rula Jabreal. In a series of interviews following screening of “Miral” at the Toronto and Venice film festivals, Schnabel, who is Jewish, acknowledged that it was not the film’s intent to give a comprehensive background to the conflict or present a “balanced” view.

Further evidence that the film is, as Schnable himself hinted, aimed at promoting the Palestinian narrative of the conflict is the fact that Vanessa Redgrave is given a cameo. Redgrave is famous for denouncing the “Zionist hoodlums” during a 1978 Academy Awards acceptance speech. Despite Redgrave’s minor role, her presence in the film is being used as part of the marketing campaign.
Ugh. Redgrave - even in a cameo - is enough to discourage me from wasting time. Fortunately, the following writer for the National Post has understood why this is bad news. And not only that, he tells who is producing this junk:
Miral, the film he brought to the Toronto International Film Festival this week, scheduled for theatrical release in December by the Weinstein Company, is a piece of blatant propaganda that does all it can to denigrate Israel and arouse sympathy for radical Palestinians. It’s a chronicle of history without a trace of fairness: All Israelis are brutes; almost all Palestinians are angels and victims.
Besides informing about the anti-Israeli bent, he tells that Bob and Harvey Weinstein are the company behind this. What's wrong with them? Well, in 1998, they produced a movie called A Price Above Rubies, which was very hostile to Hasidic Jews, depicting males within the community as possessive, biased, among other absurd and insulting screeds. I remember that even Ed Koch, NYC's former mayor, disliked the movie. If the Weinsteins were going to associate themselves with that kind of badness, it isn't too surprising this time round, and only makes me lose all the more respect for them, as it does for Schnabel. Miramax, in retrospect, was no biggie as a studio, and I don't feel sorry for them for losing it. While as for their new company, I think it's best left unaided.
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Washington Examiner:

President and family on multi-million dollar Christmas vacation in Hawaii
By: Mark Tapscott 12/29/10 5:04 PM
Editorial Page Editor

President Obama and his family are enjoying a delightful Christmas vacation with friends and family in the chief executive's home state of Hawaii.

Nobody questions a president's right or need to take take away from the White House, but an investigation by Hawaii Reporter has turned up some eye-opening information about the costs and other aspects of the Obama get-away.

Just consider these estimates on part of the costs of the latest Obama Hawaii trip:

* Mrs. Obama’s early flight to Hawaii: $63,000 (White House Dossier)

* Obama’s round trip flight to Hawaii: $1 million (GAO estimates)

* Housing in beachfront homes for Secret Service and Seals in Kailua ($1,200 a day for 14 days): $16,800

* Costs for White House staff staying at Moana Hotel: $134,400 ($400 per day for 24 staff) – excluding meals and other room costs

* Police overtime: $250,000 (2009 costs reported by Honolulu Police Department)

* Ambulance: $10,000 (City Spokesperson)

TOTAL COST: $1,474,200

But that $1.47 million figure leaves out a number of signficant costs that simply could not be calculated by Hawaii Reporter:

* Rental of office building in Kailua on canal

* Security upgrades and additional phone lines.

* Costs for car rentals and fuel for White House staff staying at Moana Hotel (Secret Service imports most of the cars used here to escort the president).

* Surveillance before the president arrives.

* Travel costs for Secret Service and White House staff traveling ahead of the President.

White House spokesmen insist Obama's vacation expenses are in line with those of previous presidents, which may well be true, but, since the government refuses to disclose many important details about any presidential journey, nobody can know for sure.

There appear to be reasons to suspect the Obamas' trip could have been done for less, according to Hawaii Reporter.

"They could have chosen a less expensive and more secure place to stay such as a
beachfront home on the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station – just a two-minute
drive away from the Kailuana Place property where they are now," according to
Hawaii Reporter.

"The president visits the military base daily to workout, bowl with his kids or enjoy the more private beach there. He also could have stayed at a home 15 minutes away on the beach fronting Bellows Air Force Base as President Bill Clinton did."
But Obama and friends opted instead to secure use of three luxury beachfront places, including the “Winter White House” – or Kailua home that the president rents two weeks a year.

That facility, Hawaii Reporter, noted, normally rents for an estimated $3,500 a day or $75,000 a month, according to the web site Gadling.com.

The latter describes the place as a “7,000 square foot home [that] features 5 bedrooms, 5 ½ bathrooms, a media room with surround sound, a kitchen suited for a master chef, a dining room and great room, a secluded lagoon-style pool with tropical waterfalls and a lavish island spa. The ocean lanai and garden lanai showcase ornate landscaping and stunning views of Kailua Bay and Mount Olomana.”

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This Blog Kills Fascists

Woody Guthrie

Very Rare Live footage including John Henry




All You Fascists Bound To Lose




Hard Travelin'




Railroad Blues




My wife tells me her father used to sing these to her often

Roll on Columbia




Hobo's Lullaby



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Even On Vacation Uncle Barry's Just Pissin' In Everybody's Cornflakes

Jerusalem Post:

Obama bypasses Senate, appoints envoy to Syria
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
12/30/2010 03:20

Robert Ford to become first US ambassador to Damascus since 2005; opponents say move rewards Syrian regime for bad behavior.

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama has bypassed the US Senate and directly appointed four new ambassadors, including Robert Ford, who will become the first US envoy to Syria since 2005.

Specific senators had blocked or refused to consider the confirmations of the nominees for various reasons, including questions about their qualifications. But in the most high-profile case, that of the new envoy to Syria, a number of senators objected because they believed sending an ambassador to the country would reward it for bad behavior.

"Making undeserved concessions to Syria tells the regime in Damascus that it can continue to pursue its dangerous agenda and not face any consequences from the US," Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the incoming chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. "That is the wrong message to be sending to a regime which continues to harm and threaten US interests and those of such critical allies as Israel."



The administration had argued that returning an ambassador to Syria after a five-year absence would help persuade Syria to change its policies regarding Israel, Lebanon and Iraq as well as its willingness to support extremist groups. Syria is designated a "state sponsor of terrorism" by the State Department.

Former President George W. Bush's administration withdrew a full-time ambassador from Syria in 2005 after terrorism accusations and to protest the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, killed in a Beirut truck bombing that his supporters blamed on Syria. Syria denied involvement.

Obama nominated Ford, a career diplomat and a former ambassador to Algeria, to the post in February but his nomination stalled after his confirmation hearings and was never voted on.

The White House announced Wednesday that Obama would use his power to make recess appointments to fill envoy posts to Azerbaijan, Syria and NATO allies Turkey and the Czech Republic.

Recess appointments are made when the Senate is not in session and last only until the end of the next session of Congress. They are frequently used when Senate confirmation is not possible.

The other Obama nominees announced Wednesday are Matthew Bryza for Azerbaijan, Norman Eisen for the Czech Republic and Francis Ricciardone for Turkey.

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Gotta Love Peter King

The Hill:

Rep. King: Obama recess appointment at Justice Dept. 'absolutely shocking'
By Susan Crabtree - 12/30/10 09:32 AM ET

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the incoming chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, has angrily denounced President Obama’s recess appointment of James Cole as deputy attorney general.

King called Cole’s appointment “absolutely shocking” and said it might be one of the worst appointments Obama will make during his presidency.

“I strongly oppose the recess appointment of James Cole to lead the national security team at the Department of Justice,” King said in a statement. “The appointment indicates that the Obama Administration continues to try to implement its dangerous policies of treating Islamic terrorism as a criminal matter.”

The harsh words demonstrate the deep divisions that exist between some of the president’s policies and Republican positions on terrorism issues and serve as a harbinger of the inevitable clashes to come between the GOP chairmen of key national security committees and the administration.

Cole has advocated for the use of civilian trials in prosecuting terrorism suspects, and King views the appointment as a sign of the administration’s intent to continue to try detainees through the criminal justice system rather than through military tribunals, which most Republicans prefer.

King said that Cole’s appointment is exactly the wrong message to be sending to U.S. citizens, especially after the public pushback on Obama’s attempts to close the Guantanamo Bay prison facility in Cuba. During the lame-duck session, Congress attached language to the $1.1 trillion spending resolution to keep the government funded next year that would prevent Obama from spending any funds to try terrorism suspects in civilian court instead of military commissions.

The resolution essentially prevents the closing of the facility in Guantanamo Bay. Several New York Democrats, along with a vocal group of GOP lawmakers, earlier this year also expressed deep concern about Justice Department plans to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-declared 9/11 mastermind, in federal civilian court in New York.

“After the American people, and the Democratic Congress, unequivocally rejected President Obama’s plans to close Guantanamo and transfer admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed to the United States for trial in federal civilian court, I find it absolutely shocking that President Obama would appoint someone who has diminished the 9/11 terrorist attacks by comparing them to the drug trade and who believes that a civilian courtroom is the appropriate venue for 9/11 trials,” King continued.

“This may be one of the worst appointments by President Obama during his presidency,” King added, referring to Cole as a “left-wing ideologue who places terrorists in the same categories as drug peddlers."

King was referring to an op-ed Cole penned for the Legal Times on Sept. 9, 2002, in which Cole said 9/11 should be treated as a criminal act of terrorism against a civilian population instead of as an act of war requiring military tribunals.

“[T]he attorney general is not a member of the military fighting a war — he is a prosecutor fighting crime,” Cole wrote. “For all the rhetoric about war, the Sept. 11 attacks were criminal acts of terrorism against a civilian population, much like the terrorist acts of Timothy McVeigh in blowing up the federal building in Oklahoma City, or of Omar Abdel-Rahman in the first effort to blow up the World Trade Center.

“The criminals responsible for these horrible acts were successfully tried and convicted under our criminal justice system, without the need for special procedures that altered traditional due process rights.”

The editorial also compared the attacks to the drug trade, organized crimes, rape, child abuse and murder, saying all are horrible.

“Our country has faced many forms of devastating crime, including the scourge of the drug trade, the reign of organized crime, and countless acts of rape, child abuse, and murder,” he wrote. “The acts of Sept. 11 were horrible, but so are these other things.”

Cole’s nomination to the second-ranking post at the Department of Justice had been held up over objections from Republicans, who also raised concerns over his tenure as an independent monitor of insurance giant AIG between 2005 and 2009. The federal government bailed out the company in 2008.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attempted to confirm Cole by unanimous consent during the lame-duck session, but GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) objected.

While the recess appointment allows Obama to fill a key spot at the Department of Justice, Cole will have to be nominated again and confirmed by the end of the next session of Congress. That could be tougher, given the larger GOP minority in the next Senate.

Cole is a partner at the firm Bryan Cave LLP and previously served as a Justice Department official between 1979 and 1992. He worked on former President Bill Clinton's transition team in 1992.

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