Giffords Proposed 5% Pay CUT for All Members of Congress
TUCSON, Ariz. – Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head Saturday and an unknown number of others were wounded when an assailant opened fire in an area where the lawmaker was meeting with constituents, officials said.
There were varying accounts on Giffords' condition, but a hospital spokesman said the Democrat was in critical condition. An aide to the Democrat was killed. An unknown number of others was injured, officials officials said, including additional aides to the lawmaker.
Congressional officials said one of the victims died soon after the attack, and others were taken to a nearby hospital. The officials said the wounded included some of Gifford's aides who were with her at the time.
One official added the attack was carried out with an automatic weapon. The officials who described the events did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not permitted to comment publicly.
"I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff," newly elected House Speaker John Boehner said. "An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. Our prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, all who were injured, and their families. This is a sad day for our country."
They said the FBI and local law enforcement were investigating the attack, which took place while Giffords was greeting constituents outside a grocery store.
Giffords, 40, was re-elected to her third term last November. She was a member of the Arizona House and Senate before coming to Washington.
Giffords was elected to Congress amid a wave of Democratic victories in the 2006 election. The former state lawmaker won a narrow victory against a tea party favorite in the 2010 election.
The shooting comes amid a highly charged political environment that has seen several dangerous threats against lawmakers but nothing that reached the point of actual violence.
A San Francisco man upset with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's support of health care reform pleaded guilty to threatening the Democratic congresswoman and her family, calling her directly on March 25 and threatening to destroy her Northern California home if she voted for health care reform.
In July, a California man known for his anger over left-leaning politics engaged in a shootout with highway patrol officers after planning an attack on the ACLU and another nonprofit group. The man said he wanted to "start a revolution" by killing people at the ACLU and the Tides Foundation.
Giffords herself has drawn the ire of the right, especially for her support of the health care bill.
Her Tucson office was vandlized a few hours after the House vote to approve the health care law in March, with someone either kicking or shooting out a glass door and window.
HRW’s treatment of Mauritania’s black slaves cinches our case. The Islamic Republic of Mauritania has more slaves per capita than any other nation on Earth. It abolished slavery in 1905, 1961 and 1980; the country criminalized it in 2007, but the UN, the US State Department, and Amnesty International report that slavery continues. According to UN reports – confirmed by our Mauritanian abolitionist allies – slaves in Mauritania are the wholly owned property of masters, passed on through their estates, like furniture or cattle. Slave girls are given as wedding gifts.
You might think black slaves would be a top priority for an American rights champion. But there’s a problem. While the slaves are African, their masters are not white Europeans; they are Arab-Berber Muslims.
HRW knows all this but won’t tell anybody. Its reports have mentioned slavery in Mauritania only four times since 1994. Why? Because there is no political gain, no expiation, no dollars – or dinars.
A leading Muslim advocacy group is calling on Indiana legislators to reject a proposal a bill that would deny recognition of the Islamic legal systemin the state.
The of Terre Haute reports that Republican state Rep. Bruce Borders of Jasonville plans to introduce a bill saying the state "does not recognize Sharia law."
said Tuesday that it has written all members of the , urging them not to consider such a bill.
The group says the proposal is a "fear-mongering" attack on Islam and "un-American to its core." It says Sharia is a guide to Islamic religious practice and is similar to those in other religious traditions.
you all seem to be forgetting that dolphins are the superior race as they get 6-8 more bitches than whales and 1.3 times the number of bitches the average human gets.
they also live in diamond covered mansions and they stack paper to the ceiling for fun.
dolphins are way more pimpin than humans.
also malcolm x was the coolest person ever bitches so don't diss islam. it is a peaceful religion and anybody who thinks otherwise is mentally retarded.
not just mentally retarded, like the kind of guy that believes that a guy who offers to inspect his wallet is being truthful. like honest to god IQ 24 kind of person.
so bitches maybe you shouldn't be such bitches.
Political Correctness: "Allah Akbar!" cheered Egyptian Muslims while trampling the remains of dozens of Christians eviscerated in last Friday's suicide bombing. Yet we're assured that the phrase has nothing to do with Islam.
Video taken at the gruesome scene outside a church in Alexandria, Egypt, clearly shows local rubberneckers whooping it up as they shout "Allah Akbar!" — Arabic for "Allah is greatest!" We heard the same celebratory chant from Palestinians and other Muslims around the world as the Twin Towers burned.
The list of Islamic terrorists heard shouting the phrase before launching attacks is long. The 9/11 hijackers themselves screamed "Allah Akbar!" before crashing their planes. More recently, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was heard crying "Allah Akbar!" before massacring 13 fellow soldiers at Fort Hood.
Never mind all that, say apologists intent on separating Islam from terror. The expression is benign, they insist.
"The guy who gets up on the plane and says 'Allah!' or whatever and then blows the plane up is not making a statement about his faith," American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee head James Zogby said last year, speaking to congressional staffers.
Zogby says it's more an expression of frustration, like Christians blurting out their Savior's name after accidently hammering their thumb. "Somebody says 'Jesus Christ!' they're not making a statement of faith," he explained. "They're saying, I'm really mad right now."
The comparison is absurd.
Muslims say "Allah is greatest" to exalt their God. When Christians mutter "Jesus Christ," they in contrast are taking their Lord's name in vain. There's no corresponding "Jesus Christ is greatest!"
Zogby wins the prize for post-9/11 fig-leafing. He made his remarks in August as a panelist at a little-known Hill forum on the "image of Muslims in America," sponsored by the Congressional Muslim Staff Association, or CMSA. A transcript of the event shows attendees clearly upset over polls showing growing numbers of Americans holding negative views about Islam.
Other panelists included Salam al-Marayati, who was kicked off an anti-terror panel in 1999 by then-House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt for his inflammatory rhetoric. He now watches what he says.
He and other "moderate" Muslim panelists said Americans have it all wrong, that they've been fed "misinformation." They maintained that Islam is "tolerant," that "democracy is at the heart of Islam," and that women who wear the Islamic headscarf are "liberated." They also claimed that the Ground Zero mosque is "actually intended to develop interfaith understanding."
Who's misinforming whom?
The moderator noted at the end of the program that CMSA is run by "Mr. J. Saleh Williams." Turns out the "J" stands for Jihad. Williams is a convert to Islam, and that's the name he chose. Of all the Arabic names, that's the one he picked.
Recent reports reveal that these Muslim staffers over the years have invited a parade of radical Muslims to speak on the Hill, including terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki. Now a fugitive al-Qaida leader, he led prayers and spoke after 9/11 — and after privately counseling some of the "Allah Akbar!"-shouting hijackers.
Such disinformation lulls Americans into a false sense of security about the threat from Islamism. That it is allowed to emanate from Congress is an outrage.
Islamabad (AsiaNews) – An extremist Islamist group calling itself ‘Moaviya’ might be planning a suicide attack against Sheikhupura Prison in order to kill Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, this according to a report by Pakistani intelligence. Ms Bibi has been held in the prison since 2009. Punjab police and prison authorities have tightened security, especially in the wake of the assassination of the provincial governor, Salman Taseer, last Tuesday.
A few days ago, Mgr Lawrence John Saldanha, president of the catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, said, “it is clear that anyone that opposes the blasphemy law is at risk.”
Mgr Rufin Anthony, bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, told AsiaNews that religious fundamentalism and intolerance are spreading in the country.
Increasingly, Muslim religious leaders are actually offering rewards to anyone willing to carry out attacks and violence against those who criticises the blasphemy law.
Between 1990 and 2011, as many as 35 people accused of blasphemy or opposed to the law were murdered in extrajudicial killings or found dead in dubious circumstances.
Such deaths tend to cause rejoicing among some Muslims, as evinced by the demonstrations in favour of Taseer’s murderer, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri.
When he was arraigned in court last Tuesday, dozens of his fans hugged and kissed him, showering him with rose petals.
More than 2,000 people have also joined a Facebook group that backs the murder. Only 70 people have expressed an opinion against him.
According to US-based LifeSiteNews, more than 500 Muslim scholars have praised Qadri’s deed.
“It is shocking that the murderer of a governor is being honoured,” said Fr Daniel Habib, a Lahore priest. “Hundreds of lawyers are proudly presenting themselves to save Qadri; this is
A reported increase in the spotting problem is one reason the federal government will announce Friday it plans to lower the recommended levels for fluoride in water supplies — the first such change in nearly 50 years.
About 2 out of 5 adolescents have tooth streaking or spottiness because of too much fluoride, a surprising government study found recently. In some extreme cases, teeth can even be pitted by the mineral — though many cases are so mild only dentists notice it. The problem is generally considered cosmetic.
Health officials note that most communities have fluoride in their water supplies, and toothpaste has it too. Some kids are even given fluoride supplements.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is announcing a proposal to change the recommended fluoride level to 0.7 milligrams per liter of water. And the Environmental Protection Agency will review whether the maximum cutoff of 4 milligrams per liter is too high.
The standard since 1962 has been a range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the splotchy tooth condition, fluorosis, is unexpectedly common in kids ages 12 through 15. And it appears to have grown much more common since the 1980s.
"One of the things that we're most concerned about is exactly that," said an administration official who was not authorized to speak publicly before the release of the report. The official described the government's plans in an interview with The Associated Press.
But there are other concerns, too. A scientific report five years ago said that people who consume a lifetime of too much fluoride — an amount over EPA's limit of 4 milligrams — can lead to crippling bone abnormalities and brittleness.
That and other research issued Friday by the EPA about health effects of fluoride are sure to re-energize groups that still oppose adding it to water supplies.
The American Dental Association released a statement applauding the government announcement to change fluoride guidance.
Fluoride is a mineral that exists naturally in water and soil. About 70 years ago, scientists discovered that people whose supplies naturally had more fluoride also had fewer cavities. Some locales have naturally occurring fluoridation levels above 1.2. Today, most public drinking water is fluoridated, especially in larger cities. An estimated 64 percent of Americans drink fluoridated water.
Portland, Ore., is one of the largest cities that doesn't fluoridate its water.
Bill Zepp of the Oregon Dental Association said the city's anti-fluoridation activists will embrace the recommended fluoride changes "as some type of win."
Maryland is the most fluoridated state, with nearly every resident on a fluoridated system. In contrast, only about 11 percent of Hawaii residents are on fluoridated water, according to government statistics.
Fluoridation has been fought for decades by people who worried about its effects, including conspiracy theorists who feared it was a plot to make people submissive to government power.
Those battles continue.
"It's amazing that people have been so convinced that this is an OK thing to do," said Deborah Catrow said Friday. She successfully fought a ballot proposal in 2005 that would have added fluoride to drinking water in Springfield, Ohio.
Reducing fluoride would be a good start, but she hopes it will be eliminated altogether from municipal water supplies.
Catrow said it was hard standing up to City Hall, the American Dental Association and the state health department. "Anybody who was anti-fluoride was considered crazy at the time," she said.
In New York, the village of Cobleskill in Schoharie County — west of Albany — stopped adding fluoride to its drinking water in 2007 after the longtime water superintendent became convinced the additive was contributing to his knee problems. Two years later, the village reversed the move after dentists and doctors complained.
In March, 2006, the National Academy of Sciences released a report recommending that the EPA lower its maximum standard for fluoride in drinking water to below 4 milligrams. The report warned severe fluorosis could occur at 2 milligrams. Also, a majority of the report's authors said a lifetime of drinking water with fluoride at 4 milligrams or higher could raise the risk of broken bones.
Late last year, lawyers for the Fluoride Action Network, Beyond Pesticides, and Environmental Working Group threatened legal action if the EPA did not lower its ceiling on fluoride.
In Europe, fluoride is rarely added to water supplies. In Britain, only about 10 percent of the population has fluoridated water. It's been a controversial issue there, with critics arguing people shouldn't be forced to have "medical treatment" forced on them. In recent years, the UK has tried to add fluoride to communities with the worst dental health but there's still considerable opposition.
In the early years of fluoridation in the United States, the range of levels was created because people in warmer climates drank more water, therefore getting more fluoride than cooler regions. Over time, that difference leveled out with air conditioning, the senior administration official said.
Fluorosis has generally been seen as the primary down side of fluoride.
According to the CDC, nearly 23 percent of children ages 12-15 had fluorosis in a study done in 1986 and 1987. That rose to 41 percent in the more recent study, which covered the years 1999 through 2004.
"We're not necessarily surprised to see this slow rise in mild fluorosis," Dr. William Kohn, director of the CDC's division of oral health, said in a recent interview.
Health officials have hesitated to call it a problem, however. In most kids, it's barely noticeable; even dentists have trouble seeing it, and sometimes don't bother to tell their unknowing patients.
Meanwhile, the U.S. prevalence of tooth decay in at least one tooth among teens has declined from about 90 percent to 60 percent. Health officials call water fluoridation one of the 10 greatest public health accomplishments of the last century.
"One of water fluoridation's biggest advantages is that it benefits all residents of a community — at home, work, school, or play. And fluoridation's effectiveness in preventing tooth decay is not limited to children, but extends throughout life, resulting in improved oral health," said HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh, in a statement.
Indeed, many health leaders continue to be worried about cavities, particularly among poor families with kids who eat a lot of sweets but don't get much dental care.
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius could make a final decision on details of the changes within a few months, the administration official said.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., took to the House floor on Thursday and
repeated her frequent call for a rapid and complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. But one of the rationales she gave on this occasion was that “the Taliban is strong” – the implication apparently being that the U.S. is no match for the brutal Islamist fundamentalist former rulers of the country.
Her reasoning on conceding a war to a jihadist organization that helped the 9/11 hijackers kill thousands of Americans is likely to attract new attention to Woolsey’s much-noted hostility toward a legislative measure honoring Christianity – while voting in favor of such a measure honoring Islam.
It may also highlight her political alliances with Congress’ first and only Muslim member and onetime Louis Farrakhan supporter, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, of which Woolsey is a member.
In December, 2007, Woolsey was one of a handful of nine House members, all Democrats, including self-professed atheist Rep. Fortney Stark of California, to vote against a congressional resolution “recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith.”
Yet in September, 2007, Woolsey, Stark and all but one of the others also voted in favor of a resolution “recognizing the commencement of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, and commending Muslims in the United States and throughout the world for their faith.” The resolution, of which Keith Ellison was one of the chief sponsors, bemoaned post-9/11 “threats and incidents of violence” against “law-abiding, patriotic Americans of African, Arab, and South Asian descent, particularly members of the Islamic faith.”
One of the measure’s stated purposes was to “demonstrate solidarity with and support for members of the community of Islam in the United States and
throughout the world.”
Woolsey’s rhetoric in calling for a full and immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan was explosive. “This war represents an epic failure, a national embarrassment and a moral blight on our nation,” she said in her brief floor statement.
In November, the San Francisco Bay area congresswoman was chief signer of a letter from 62 members of Congress to President Obama complaining that he wasn’t exiting Afghanistan fast enough.
“Any delay or deceleration in the pace of redeployment is unacceptable,” Woolsey’s letter warned. Rather than a repeat of President Bush’s and Gen. David Petraeus’ successful Iraq military “surge,” it stated that “It is our hope that we can work together to provide for a humanitarian and diplomatic ‘surge’ that will ensure the security and prosperity of the Afghan people.”
Woolsey and the others, which included Rep. Ellison, concluded, “We remain absolutely opposed to extending our military presence because we believe there is no military solution to the situation in Afghanistan.”
In April, 2009 she and Ellison and three other House members were arrested outside the Embassy of Sudan after crossing a police line during a demonstration against genocide in Darfur against the non-Arab Muslim Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa tribes.
The congresswoman voted against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and in 2005 received the Edward F. Snyder Award for National Legislative Leadership in Advancing Disarmament and Building Peace, from the extreme pacifist Quaker Lobby. Her “outspoken voice for reductions in military spending, pursuit of arms control and disarmament” was cited by the Quakers’ Friends Committee on National Legislation. The award is named after the longtime Quaker Washington lobbyist.
In 2006, Woolsey brought anti-war agitator Cindy Sheehan to attend
President Bush’s State of the Union address, during which Sheehan was
arrested in the House gallery for refusing to conceal an anti-war slogan emblazed on her T-shirt.
Rep. Woolsey has represented the strongly liberal 6th congressional
district for 18 years, succeeding Sen. Barbara Boxer. Her constituency gave Barack Obama 76 percent of the vote in 2008. She claims to be “the first former welfare mother to serve in Congress” and runs on the slogan, “Woolsey Works! For You. For Families. For the Planet. For Peace.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s unemployment rate dropped to 9.4 percent last month, its lowest level in 19 months. That was because more people found jobs, but also because some people gave up on their job searches.
The Labor Department says employers added 103,000 jobs in December, an improvement from November’s revised total of 71,000 but far below most analysts’ expectations.
Private employers added a net total of 113,000 jobs last month. Government shed 10,000.
The drop in the unemployment rate was partly influenced because the government no longer counts people as unemployed when they stop looking for work.
Through all of 2010, the nation added 1.1 million jobs, or an average of 94,000 jobs a month.
Economists expect hiring will ramp up this year, with some predicting double last year’s total of jobs or more. A tax cut package enacted last month should boost consumer and business spending.
More people were hired in previous months than the government first estimated. The economy added 210,000 jobs in October, above the previous figure of 172,000. November’s total was revised up from 39,000.
Fewer people said they were out of work last month. The number of unemployed fell by more than 500,000 to just under 14.5 million.
Still, the unemployment rate has topped 9 percent for 20 months, the longest such streak on record. And even with last year’s job gains, the unemployment rate fell only from 9.7 percent to 9.4 percent.
The economy needs to generate about 125,000 jobs a month just to keep up with population growth and prevent the unemployment rate from rising. More than double that amount is needed to reduce the rate.
John Galt sees it differently and calls bullshit:
By John Galt
January 6, 2011
This morning’s report only validated what many in the blogosphere have been saying:
It is not getting any better, but getting worse.
The news media however was so desperate to put a positive spin on this report, they resorted to quoting the four week moving average on a seasonal adjusted basis to convince the sheep that all is well and to reinforce that tomorrow’s numbers will be some of the greatest fiction ever produced since War of the Worlds in the 1930′s. The story today from MSDNC says it all from the Ministry of Truth:
Let’s look at the report first though to get some idea how bad it really was:
For the non-seasonally adjusted number to increase by 52,000 on a 4 day business week with many state offices closed due to the blizzard not only distorted the seasonally adjusted number, but in fact is a warning that next week’s number is going to be one of rude surprises to hit the economy next week. Add in the fact that we have a full week of business to deal with this week and watch out for the economists to start scratching their head again, much like they did during the summer of 2008. The chart reflects the new trend MSDNC highlighted in their headline is NOT the one the economic gurus on Wall Street or D.C. want to see. Perhaps they should leave those towns on occasion and get some fresh air out here with the rest of us.
So I ask you == if it takes 125,000 new jobs a month just to keep up with population growth, and we're only adding 103,000, how is that good news?
And, when Big Ben Says something like
well, it's enough to depress a $190,000,000 lottery winner and have the rest of us through up our hands in despair.
Posted by Ryan Mauro on Jan 7th, 2011
The February 2006 riots following the publication of cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper killed over 100 people and showed the West the danger of offending Muslim sensibilities. New documents obtained by WikiLeaks now show that the Syrian government was actively stoking these flames as a way of frightening its enemies, winning its own credibility in the Muslim world and discouraging the West from promoting democracy in the Middle East.
It was obvious from the beginning that terrorist-sponsoring regimes were trying to promote the outrage. Angry crowds formed in Lebanon, Iran, Gaza City and Damascus that attacked the Danish and Norwegian embassies and burned European flags. As Fox News reported at the time, “few believe the protestors could have pulled off such a brazen act without tacit government consent.” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes, and the world ought to call them on it.” Diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks now reveal that the riots were more of an instigated event than previously acknowledged and was not a spontaneous outburst of Muslim outrage around the world.
In the days leading up to the large demonstrations in Damascus, the Syrian government ordered the country’s Grand Mufti to “issue a strongly worded directive to the imams delivering Friday sermons in the mosques of Damascus.” Ammar Sahloul, a businessman suspected of being an agent of the Syrian government with close ties to the Grand Mufti, began sending out text messages at this time to organize the demonstrations and played an important role in making them happen.
At this time, Iranian state television was describing the publication of the Mohammed cartoons as an insult to Islam by the Danish government. Supreme Leader Khamenei addressed the country to call the cartoons a “Zionist plot” and a top Iranian official said the West had published them to “test” Muslims to see how they’d react. Hezbollah and Hamas likewise told Muslims it was their duty to join the demonstrations and said the punishment for insulting Mohammed is death.
The riots then ended when, according to a Sunni sheikh in Syria, “the message had been delivered.” The source cited in the document says the Assad regime was trying to send two messages, one to the Muslim world and one to the West. “To the Islamic street all over the region, the message was that the SARG [the Syrian government] is protecting the dignity of Islam,” the source says. To the West, it was, “This is what you will have if we allow true democracy and allow Islamists to rule.” The Syrian government was trying to win legitimacy in the eyes of the Islamists, while at the same time using those Islamists to scare the West away from promoting pro-democracy forces in the region.
The Syrian government has long tried to convince the West that it’s only choice is to either accept the secular Assad regime or permit Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood to take over. The regime goes to great lengths to make sure genuinely democratic, anti-Islamist voices are not heard and cannot offer themselves as a third alternative. An example of this is an extremist Syrian cleric named Abu Qaqa, who was assassinated in 2007 and his funeral was attended by Syrian Baath Party officials.
His right-hand man, Abu Ibrahim, believes he was an agent of the regime. Ibrahim says that two weeks after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Qaqa and his followers openly celebrated in the streets. The Syrian security forces briefly arrested and released them. By 2002, anti-American, Islamist rallies led by Qaqa and those like him were openly assembled and even attended by members of the security forces and government officials. He also became involved in efforts backed by the Syrian government to support insurgents and terrorists in Iraq.
One of the Assad regime’s goals in promoting the riots was to discredit the pro-democracy agenda of the United States. The U.S. has been mostly silent on behalf of Syria’s freedom fighters. Assad has gotten what he wanted, guaranteeing that he’ll use such methods in the future.
JERUSALEM - Israel believes Iran will not be able to produce a nuclear bomb before 2015 and a top Israeli official has counselled against pre-emptive military strikes, intelligence assessments published on Friday showed.
Given in a briefing by Mossad director Meir Dagan upon his retirement on Thursday, the assessments pointed to new Israeli confidence in U.S.-led sanctions and covert action designed to discourage or delay Tehran's uranium enrichment programme.
They were also in line with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's circumspection -- echoing misgivings voiced more publicly by the Obama administration -- about resorting to force against Iran, which denies seeking nuclear arms and has vowed to retaliate against Israel and U.S. interests for any such attack.
"Iran will not achieve a nuclear bomb before 2015, if that," Dagan said, according to a transcript obtained by Reuters.
Dagan, who in June 2009 told Israeli lawmakers that Iran could have its first nuclear warhead by 2014, attributed his valedictory timeline to a variety of factors including domestic ferment in Iran and the bite of international sanctions.
Iran's enrichment drive has also suffered technical setbacks, possibly a sign of foreign sabotage in incidents such as the apparent corruption of some Iranian nuclear machinery by the Stuxnet computer worm.
Western intelligence agencies similarly say Iran could make a bomb by the middle of the decade, should it choose to enrich uranium to higher levels and master weaponisation techniques.
Iran says it is refining uranium only to the lower level of fissile purity suitable for electricity and medical isotopes.
Dagan, a former general whose eight-year tenure as spymaster was widely seen as having escalated Mossad shadow wars, said any Israeli military action against Iran should be last-ditch only.
Such attacks could spur Iran to pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and pursue its programme entirely free of U.N. inspections, he said. Iran's past secrecy over some of its projects stirred suspicions of undeclared military designs.
"Israel should not hasten to attack Iran, doing so only when the sword is upon its neck," Dagan said. His briefing was reported on prominently by Israeli newspapers and broadcasters.
Gerald Steinberg, chief scholar at the Programme of Conflict Management and Negotiation at Israel's Bar-Ilan University, noted that Israel, like the United States, had not formally ruled out the military option for dealing with Iran.
"But the immediacy, the need, the concern that 2009 or 2010 would be the last opportunity has clearly been shown to not be the case, and my guess is from listening to the statements that have been made, that up to 2015 there is not likely to be a need for using military force," he told Reuters Television.
Israel is widely assumed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal but many analysts say its air force is too small to take on Iran's distant, dispersed and fortified sites alone.
Israel is also wary of drawing reprisals from Iran or its allies in Syria and among Lebanese and Palestinian guerrilla groups. Washington has said it does not want a new regional war.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday that "the time is still one of diplomacy" for resolving the Iran crisis.
"What is required is much harsher sanctions than today's," he said in a speech. "Only such paralysing sanctions have a chance of putting the Iranian will to the test."
DC comics did not respond to an AFP request for an interview with David Hine, the writer of the album featuring Nightrunner, and declined to comment on the controversy.Now, the reasons for his doing this are becoming clearer: Hine hails from that isle of madness the French nicknamed Londonistan, because of how they allowed their country to serve as a hub for terrorist cells. A country overrun with bias, prejudice, and other horrific anti-Americanism and anti-Israelism, and, as Melanie Phillips, one of the few sane voices in the UK says, also suffers from obsession with multiculturalism. Robert Spencer once asked early in his official career if Britain will convert to Islam. One can only wonder if that will end up happening. I'm guessing they still don't have many regrets over their slaughter of Joan of Arc during the 100 Years War either.
But the British-born author told a US website that he had tried to "come up with the kind of hero I would want to see in a comic book if I were French."
A group of House Republicans introduced a bill on Wednesday to rein in the various "czars" in the Obama administration.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and 28 other House Republicans introduced legislation to do away with the informal, paid advisers President Obama has employed over the past two years.
The legislation, which was introduced in the last Congress but was not allowed to advance under Democratic control, would do away with the 39 czars Obama has employed during his administration.
The bill defines a czar as "a head of any task force, council, policy office within the Executive Office of the President, or similar office established by or at the direction of the President" who is appointed to a position that would otherwise require Senate confirmation.
Republicans had complained about the president's use of czars to help advance his agenda in Congress.
Passengers aboard a Turkish Airlines flight from Oslo over-powered a would-be hijacker who tried to storm the cockpit claiming he had a bomb.
The Boeing 737-800, which was carrying 60 passengers, including a child, and seven crew members, was en route from the Norwegian capital to Istanbul.
The man, identified as 40-year-old Cumar Yasar, put on a ski mask and began shouting 'I have a bomb' before two passengers were able to restrain him.
When police in Istanbul entered the plane to arrest Yasar they found one of the passengers sitting on him.
Officers said the man was a Turk who had demanded that the plane return to Norway.
'I was sitting at the front end of the plane and I heard voices at the back of the plane around 30 minutes before we landed," said Lelya Kilic, another of the passengers.
'I saw a fight between passengers and a man with a mask, carrying a device that looked like a radio handset.'
The hijacker was identified a Turkish national from a Kurdish village in the southeastern region of Anatolia.
'A person in the back of the plane put on a mask and threatened to blow up the plane in the air,' passenger Salim Tahar told Norwegian television network TV2.
'The man spoke Turkish and demanded the plane return to Oslo.'
He told TV2 that the man appeared to be holding something but it was not clear what.
'We were 50 minutes away from touchdown when I heard a lot of noise at the back of the plane,' he said of the timing.
He added that the crew moved the other passengers to the front of the plane, while the would-be hijacker remained at the back.
A Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft just like this one was the plane targeted in the attempted hijack. It was carrying 60 passengers and seven crew
When the aircraft landed in Istanbul, Turkish police entered the plane and arrested the man. The bomb was found to be a fake.
The hijacker was identified a Turkish national from a Kurdish village in the southeastern region of Anatolia.
The Anatolia news agency reported that police who interrogated Yasar found he suffers from psychological problems.
It has also been reported that he was carrying a card identifying him as a disabled man.
There were no reports of anyone being hurt in the incident.
BEIJING—The first clear pictures of what appears to be a Chinese stealth fighter prototype have been published online, highlighting China's military buildup just days before U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates heads to Beijing to try to repair defense ties.
The photographs, published on several unofficial Chinese and foreign defense-related websites, appear to show a J-20 prototype making a high-speed taxi test—usually one of the last steps before an aircraft makes its first flight—according to experts on aviation and China's military.
The exact origin of the photographs is unclear, although they appear to have been taken by Chinese enthusiasts from the grounds of or around the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute in western China, where the J-20 is in development. A few experts have suggested that the pictured aircraft is a mock-up, rather than a functioning prototype of a stealth fighter—so-called because it is designed to evade detection by radar and infrared sensors.
But many more experts say they believe the pictures and the aircraft are authentic, giving the strongest indication yet that Beijing is making faster-than-expected progress in developing a rival to the U.S. F-22—the world's only fully operational stealth fighter.
China's defense ministry and air force couldn't be reached to comment on the latest photos. Even without official confirmation, however, the photographs are likely to bolster concerns among U.S. officials and politicians about China's military modernization, which also includes the imminent deployment of its first aircraft carrier and "carrier-killer" antiship ballistic missiles.
Such weapons systems would significantly enhance China's ability to hinder U.S. intervention in a conflict over Taiwan, and challenge U.S. naval supremacy in the Asia-Pacific region.
Gen. He Weirong, deputy head of China's Air Force, announced in 2009 that China's first stealth fighters were about to undergo test flights and would be deployed in "eight or 10 years." But there was no clear physical evidence of their existence until the latest photographs emerged.
Chinese authorities who monitor Internet traffic in the country appear not to have tried to block the J-20 pictures.
"The photos I've seen look genuine," said Gareth Jennings, aviation desk editor at Jane's Defence Weekly.
"It's pretty far down the line," he said. "The fact that its nose wheel is off the ground in one picture suggest this was a high-speed taxi test—that usually means a test flight very soon afterwards. All the talk we've heard is that this could happen some time in the next few weeks."
U.S. officials played down Chinese advances on the plane, which American intelligence agencies believe will likely be operational around 2018. "We are aware that the Chinese have recently been conducting taxi tests and there are photos of it," said Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan. "We know they are working on a fifth-generation fighter but progress appears to be uneven."
Col. Lapan said it appears the Chinese are still seeking engines for a fourth-generation fighter from Russia, an indication that they are "still encountering problems" with development work toward the fifth-generation aircraft, the J-20.
But the 2018 estimate suggests U.S. officials believe China's development of the fifth-generation fighter has accelerated. In 2009, Mr. Gates predicted that China wouldn't deploy a fifth-generation fighter until 2020. U.S. officials said the latest disclosures wouldn't affect any U.S. aircraft-development programs.
China has made rapid progress in developing a capability to produce advanced weapons, also including unmanned aerial vehicles, after decades of importing and reverse engineering Russian arms. The photographs throw a fresh spotlight on the sensitive issue of China's military modernization just as Washington and Beijing try to improve relations following a series of public disputes in 2010.
Defense Secretary Gates is due to begin a long-delayed visit to Beijing on Sunday—almost exactly a year after China suspended military ties in protest over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
China's President Hu Jintao is then due to begin a state visit to the U.S. on Jan. 19. President Barack Obama joined in preparatory talks at the White House on Tuesday between his national security adviser, Tom Donilon, and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. During the meeting, Mr. Obama said he was committed to building a bilateral relationship that is "cooperative in nature," the White House said.
The two countries clashed last year over issues including the value of the Chinese currency, China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and vocal U.S. support for a jailed Chinese dissident who won the Nobel Peace Prize.
The U.S. was also frustrated by China's refusal to condemn two North Korean attacks on South Korea, while Beijing was angered by a U.S. decision to respond to the second attack, the shelling of a South Korean island in November, by sending an aircraft carrier to take part in joint naval exercises with Seoul near China's coast.
The U.S. and its Asian allies have also been alarmed by China's naval maneuvers and more forceful stance on territorial issues, while China's military strategists have accused the U.S. of trying to "contain" China—most recently by sending two more aircraft carriers to the region in December.
"The U.S. wants to retain its global hegemony and also preserve its regional interests. It is not comfortable with China's military rise," Senior Col. Han Xudong, a professor at China's National Defense University, was quoted as saying in the Global Times newspaper Tuesday.
Experts who said they thought the photographs were authentic included Andrei Chang of the Canadian-based Kanwa Asian Defence Monthly, and Richard Fisher, an expert on the Chinese military at the International Strategy and Assessment Center in Washington.
Several experts said the prototype's body appeared to borrow from the F-22 and other U.S. stealth aircraft, but they couldn't tell from the photographs how advanced it was in terms of avionics, composite materials or other key aspects of stealth technology.
They said that China was probably several years behind Russia, whose first stealth fighter, the Sukhoi T-50, made its first flight in January 2010, but that Beijing was catching up faster than expected.
The U.S. cut funding for the F-22 in 2009 in favor of the F-35, a smaller, cheaper stealth fighter that made its first test flight in 2006 and is expected to be fully deployed by around 2014. The F-22 has mainly been used for exercises and operations around U.S. airspace, but some have been deployed to Guam and Okinawa to help maintain the U.S. security umbrella in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Chinese prototype looks like it has "the potential to be a competitor with the F-22 and to be decisively superior to the F-35," said Mr. Fisher. The J-20 has two engines, like the F-22, and is about the same size, while the F-35 is smaller and has only one engine.
China's stealth-fighter program has implications also for Japan, which is considering buying F-35s, and for India, which last month firmed up a deal with Russia to jointly develop and manufacture a stealth fighter.
DEVELOPING: Iranian authorities have detained a 55-year-old American woman on spying charges, a state-owned newspaper reported Thursday.
The daily IRAN said the woman had spying equipment hidden on her body when customs authorities detained her in the border town of Nordouz, 370 miles northwest of the capital Tehran. The report said the woman arrived in Iran from neighboring Armenia without a visa. It did not say when she was detained.
The paper identified the woman in Farsi as Hal Talaian and said she was found to have "a microphone" between her teeth. It did not say when she was detained.
But Iran's semiofficial Fars news agency quoted an unnamed official as saying the woman was taken into custody "about one week ago."
Armenian authorities had no immediate comment on the reported arrest. The U.S. Embassy in Armenia's capital Yerevan was closed for the Orthodox Christmas and officials could not be reached. U.S. State Department officials could not immediately confirm the report early Thursday.
If the woman's arrest is confirmed, Talaian would be the fourth American Iran has arrested and accused of spying in less than two years.
In July 2009, Iran detained three Americans who were initially accused of crossing the border illegally from northern Iraq and later accused of spying.
The U.S. has dismissed the spying charges and says the three are innocent hikers. Their families have said if they crossed the border at all, it was inadvertent.
One of the three, Sarah Shourd, was released in September on compassionate grounds. Her fiance, Shane Bauer, and friend Josh Fattal remain in prison and could go on trial next month.
Iran has suggested in the past that the Americans in its custody could be traded for Iranians held in the U.S., raising concerns that the Americans are to be used as bargaining chips as the two countries face off over issues like Iran's disputed nuclear program.
The U.S. and its allies fear Iran aims to develop atomic weapons. Tehran denies the allegations, and says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Of the 35 major cities surveyed, property prices in eleven including Beijing and Shanghai were between 30 and 50 per cent above their market value, the China Daily said, citing the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Prices in Fuzhou, capital of the southeastern province of Fujian, had the worst property bubble with average house prices more than 70 per cent higher than their market value…Read the rest at Always On Watch.
According to research carried out by Time magazine, fixed-asset investment in the Asian country accounted for more than 90 per cent of its overall growth — with residential and commercial real estate investment making up nearly a quarter of that. Regional governments across China have been building massive real estate projects, including Kangbashi in Inner Mongolia and Zhengzhou New District, which have remained empty…
Regional governments across China have been building massive real estate projects…Kangbashi, which was built in just five years, was meant to be the urban centre for Ordos City — a wealthy coal-mining hub home to 1.5 million people. It was filled with office towers, administrative centres, museums, theatres and sports facilities as well as thousands of homes, but remains virtually deserted.