All of us, every single man, woman, and child on the face of the Earth were born with the same unalienable rights; to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And, if the governments of the world can't get that through their thick skulls, then, regime change will be necessary.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
ARRESTING THREE MUSLIMS, GERMANS FOIL MUMBAI-STYLE AL QAEDA ATTACKNYTIMES:
The German police arrested three men suspected of being members of Al Qaeda on Friday, saying they represented “a concrete and imminent danger” to the nation and had been planning an attack using explosives.ACTUALLY, THE ENTIRE NON-DHIMMI/NON-MUSLIM WORLD IS IN THE CROSS-HAIRS OF GLOBAL JIHAD.The German authorities presented the bare outlines of a terrorism plot that they said involved at least one person trained at a militant camp in Afghanistan or Pakistan and a cache of material for producing explosives. The men had been under surveillance for seven months, but the authorities said they decided to move fast when the three began preparations for testing an explosive device.“We succeeded in preventing a concrete and imminent danger,” the interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, said in a statement that acknowledged assistance from foreign investigators. “This proves that Germany continues to be in the cross hairs of international terrorists, and we need to remain vigilant.”
UPDATE: THEY PLANNED A MUMBAI STYLE ATTACK.
Reliapundit has more.
Crosby and Nash Live BBC TV Special 1970
Song With No Words/Teach Your Children
Traction In The Rain
Once Outlawed Muslim Brotherhood Has Political Plans In Egypt
CAIRO – The once outlawed Muslim Brotherhood says it will contest half of the seats in Egypt's parliamentary elections in September, revealing plans to become a major force in the country's post-revolution politics.
The elections will be the first since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak by a popular uprising in February.
The Brotherhood remained Egypt's best organized opposition group despite a campaign by Mubarak's regime to suppress it. It successfully fielded candidates in previous parliamentary elections as independents.
At a news conference Saturday, the Brotherhood named the leaders of its new Freedom and Justice party.
The party will test to what extent the Brotherhood is willing to moderate its rigid religious discourse to try to win broader political support.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's ousted President Hosni Mubarak would face the death penalty if convicted of ordering the shooting of protesters during the uprisings that brought him down, the country's new justice minister said Saturday.
Mohammed el-Guindi told the daily Al-Ahram Saturday that Mubarak, his two sons and wife are also facing allegations of corruption, which he said the former president had made the chief "discourse" of his government.
Mubarak, 82, stepped down Feb. 11 after 18 days of sustained protests. He was later placed under arrest after being hospitalized in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh for heart problems. At least 846 protesters were killed during the uprising.
"Certainly, if convicted for the crime of killing protesters, it could result in the death sentence," said el-Guindi.
He added that the key to the case was whether former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, also under investigation, would testify that Mubarak had given the order to open fire on the protesters.
"The only one capable of pardoning Mubarak ... would be the new president," said el-Guindi. "If I were the president, I will not pardon him for killing 800 martyrs."
Egypt will hold new presidential elections in November.
The minister also blamed Mubarak for engendering a culture of corruption in the government and he said the former president's wealth came from gas exports to Israel, through a company owned by a personal friend, and arms deals.
Suzanne Mubarak, the former first lady, will also be investigated, the minister added, with the first questioning to take place in the next few days at the Sharm el-Sheikh Hospital where the former president is convalescing.
Mubarak's wife, who was involved in a number of high profile charitable ventures, is suspected of illegally amassing wealth through her non-governmental organizations.
From Will at The Other News:
(BigGovernment).Sources have told the Chicago Tribune that Google’s Eric Schmidt was seen dining with Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign manager Jim Messina at Café Spiaggia in Chicago last week providing further evidence of Google incestuous relationship with the Administration.
Democratic sources told the Tribune that the dinner was “part of the Obama team wooing and coordinating with the tech world.” In the case of Google, we are confident it was more about coordinating than wooing.Google and the president are well beyond the wooing stage of a relationship.
Schmidt has been named a potential nominee to fill the vacated Secretary of Commerce position. Such a nomination would cement Google’s influence over the Administration – a relationship that has put the company in a position to steer policy and taxpayer funded contracts back into the pockets of Google executives who have funded the president since his initial foray into the presidential arena in 2007.
In 2008, Politico detailed the relationship between the newly elected president and the company. “’ From the staff attorney all the way up the line, everybody now knows that Google is close to Obama,’” Politico reported. “And that could subtly affect the policy playing field in Google’s favor.” Subtly was an understatement.
The group Consumer Watchdog has detailed some of the way Google has benefited from their relationship with the Obama Administration, including how NASA’s Moffett Airfield has been turned into a subsidized private airport for Google executives. But that is just crumbs off the government largess table. Google has received contracts from NASA, the NSA and other government agencies. At the same time, they have placed key people in policy positions in the White House.
Conservatives have little qualm with companies that are successful, hence some reservation about efforts to call for anti-trust review of the behemoth. However, Google isn’t running away from the government – it is running to the government with arms wide open. They are seeking contracts, policy bailouts and taxpayer support to help beef up their bottom line. This spigot of taxpayer support for the company needs to be cut off and conservatives need to lead the charge.
Dictatorship or Democracy"?Who would have computers powerfull enough to influence the election computers in 2012,in case dear leader is loosing?
Read the full story here.
Justice Dept. Attorney: Obama Administration May Sue States to Stop Them From Banning Sharia Law…
(RFT) — U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri Richard Callahan visited the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis last night to address the fears and frustrations of Muslim Americans who worry they are being racially profiled and wiretapped — and to assure them that the Missouri Legislature’s attempts to ban Sharia law from being considered in state courts here could face Constitutional challenges.
Seated in front of a large Muslim audience during a town hall-style meeting at the Ballwin mosque, Callahan anchored a panel that included fellow federal attorneys (one of whom was Muslim American), as well as three members of the FBI.
“There is a worse kind of Muslim hatred recently,” said Adil Imdad, one of the event’s organizers. “Especially in the last two years, Islamophobia and fear-mongering have been spreading like wildfire, and it’s causing a lot of stress for our youth.”
The problem is now hitting a little closer to home, said Imdad, pointing to three bills currently circulating through the state legislature that seek to limit Sharia law (Islamic law) in Missouri courts. Sharia law could come into play in rulings considering child custody or prisoner rights for Muslims. As we’ve reported, the bills have become a source of controversy.
Callahan responded by hinting that, should anti-Sharia legislation get passed by the Missouri Legislature, it could be overturned by the federal courts. “The Department of Justice has a good history of challenging laws passed by state legislatures,” he said. “If some laws are passed, I think you will see challenges by the federal government on the constitutionality of them.”
THIRD PALESTINIAN INTIFADA: All Arabs to March on Israel on May 15th
“With those powerful political storms rolling up the Middle East, and with this unstoppable and unpredictable domino effect of popular uprisings, how long before we watch the Israeli domino piece fall down”
“And if dictatorships are not tolerated in the Arab world anymore, why the Israeli quasi-dictatorship over the Palestinians should be any exception”
Dr. Ashraf Ezzat
All of The popular uprisings that swept through the Arab world have been preplanned and officially launched on facebook pages weeks in advance.
Pro-Israel lobbying. An Israeli Cabinet minister, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and a massive American-Zionist campaign have succeeded in pressuring Facebook into removing the “third Intifada” page, which clearly calls for an all-Arab uprising against Israel.
According to the facebook “cause” page, the plan for the intifada would go as follows;
Friday, May 13th
In Egypt, the epicenter of the Arab world, the biggest Arab country and from Tahrir square at the heart of Cairo where the whole Arab spring has sprung and gained fervent momentum, this massive Arab intifada will be launched.
Millions will gather once again in Tahrir square at the heart of Cairo but this time to call for all Arab-march toward Israel.
This mass protest will come two days prior to the actual march, as a clear message to Israel and the rest of the world that liberating Palestine is the core cause for every Arab in the Middle East. And that restoring Jerusalem is all Arab’s sacred mission
Sunday, May 15th
To commemorate the Palestinian exodus day 1948 ( Nakba) when well over 750000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled out of their home land by Israel, similar number of Thousands angry Arab protesters from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon along with their Palestinian brothers from Gaza and the occupied west bank will advance toward Israel in what they call, the third intifada
In their march they will be denouncing the ongoing Zionist occupation of the Arabic land of Palestine and calling for internationally recognized independent Palestinian state over its legitimate pre-1967 borders with Eastern Jerusalem as its capital.
Those fair Palestinian demands have been begged for by all ways known to diplomacy over the last 60 years. But since diplomacy has utterly failed the Arabs of Palestine and since politicians have granted them nothing except despair and Diaspora, they thought it was time they put their life into their own hands.
And what could be more timely than this Arab spring, which a lot of Arabs could not see or rather imagine approaching its full bloom without Palestine included.
This revolutionary plan that has been publicly posted on a facebook “cause” page and given the daring title “the third Palestinian Intifada” as there has been two Palestinian Intifada- uprisings- before. The first was sparked in 1987 and the second or what is known as the Aq’sa intifada in 2000, during both uprisings, Israel had to live through years of domestic unrest and worldwide condemnation of its apartheid and oppressive policy toward the Palestinians.
But as this “cause” page managed to attract almost 300000 fans and incredibly growing number of visitors in just few days Israel grew restlessly nervous about it. And nervously restless Israel acted in response.
What was worrying Tel Aviv is the fact that, so far, all Arab uprisings have been kicked off on facebook pages. So, under the boiling situation in the Arab world this facebook call couldn’t be underrated nor neglected.
IBA -- Enlightened Rogues
The Allman Brothers Band
from Enlightened Rogues
From Will at The Other News:
(ClickonDetroid) DEARBORN, Mich. -- Florida pastor Terry Jones was outside Dearborn's City Hall for his planned 5 p.m. protest, drawing a crowd of hundreds.
"We're glad to be back," he told reporters. "We're going to talk about a number of issues. Of course Sharia, jihad, what happened last week and we're even going to be talking about president Obama's reelection."
Counter-protesters lined Michigan Avenue across the street from City Hall. About an hour into the protest, the crowds broke the barricades and a police line. They rushed the street but were quickly contained by riot police crews.
The crowd was throwing water bottles and shoes at supporters of Jones screaming "Fuck you,fuck you" even one 'person' shouting 'kill the motherfucker'.Police worked to push the crowd back across Michigan Avenue.
Dearborn Muslim protesters waving.....The Lebanon Flag???
Read and see the full story here.
Video report here
I Was There
Friday, April 29, 2011
Excuse me, but, being against 'affirmative action' is not racist
Today I saw a rainstorm of accusations that Donald Trump was a racist and I had no idea why.
Then I read Whoopi.
ET CETERA ET CETERA ET CETERA
It seems that Mr. Trump’s, frankly, buffoon like, most recent dredging for Mr. Obama’s undergraduate records, apparently some kind of attempt to ferret out if he has substandard entrance grades for Harvard Law, is racist in some quarters.
The USA, is a meritocracy. We believe in results. So if the USA had a choice between a substandard achievement which FOR WHATEVER reason received some beneficent, merciful, treatment out of scale compared to others, and someone whose record indicated unquestioned competence we would choose the latter.
So I understand where Mr Trump is combing from.
IT AIN’T RACIST
IT IS RIDICULOUS
Obama has a (horrific) record to run against. If he had a 2.2, and Harvard said ‘we need one more black guy’ (can you imagine?), WHO CARES?
Donald Trump, while raising issues others were afraid to mention, such as Oil, China, yadda, provided a valuable service.
Which has now ended.
Even though you are NOT a racist.
- MSNBC’s Ed Schultz: ‘I Think Donald Trump is a Racist’ (mediaite.com)
- Donald Trump Bristles at Racism Allegations, Tries to Downplay Obama Comments(thehollywoodgossip.com)
- Why You Can’t Deny That Donald Trump Is A Racist (hellobeautiful.com)
- Bob Schieffer Accuses Donald Trump of Racism (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- More Backlash: David Letterman Considers Banning Trump For His ‘Racist’ Comments (mediaite.com)
HAMAS DEMANDS FATAH RESCIND RECOGNITION OF ISRAEL; CARTER HAILS HAMAS-FATAH RECONCILIATIONFrom Reliapundit at the Astute Blogger:
HAMAS HAS CALLED FOR THE PLO TO RESCIND ITS RECOGNITION OF ISRAEL.
DESPITE THIS, CARTER HAS PRAISED THE FATAH-HAMAS DEAL. IT'S JUST MORE PROOF THAT CARTER IS EVIL.
Meaty, Beaty, Big, and Bouncy
From Will at The Other News:
(WashingtonTimes) Islamists are targeting Western Muslim porn stars. This is how far the West has fallen: The porn star versus the Koran. Sila Sahin, a daytime TV soap-opera star, has sparked a public firestorm in Germany.
The 25-year-old actress appears topless on the current cover of the German edition of Playboy. By Western standards, Ms. Sahin’s behavior is typical, even tame.
She is an amoral celebrity hoping to cash in on her fame by baring it all. Been there, done that. Marilyn Monroe, Drew Barrymore, Daryl Hannah - the list goes on of celebrities who have posed for Playboy. Yet Ms. Sahin is Muslim. Raised in Germany by conservative Turkish parents, she is casting her actions as a form of personal liberation, a brave rebellion against the strict moral standards and repressive sexual norms of her traditional religious upbringing.
“For years I subordinated myself to various societal constraints,” Ms. Sahin said in Britain’s Sun newspaper. “The Playboy photo shoot was a total act of liberation.”She added: “What I want to say with these photos is, ‘Girls, we don’t have to live according to the rules imposed upon us.’ “I am woman, watch me pose. Ms. Sahin is the new darling of European feminism, while she is despised by Germany’s burgeoning Islamic community. It is calling upon the country’s 3 million Muslims to boycott Ms. Sahin. She has been branded a “Western slut” and “whore.”
Her father reportedly is ashamed and shocked by her behavior. Her mother is no longer speaking to her. Many Europeans are simply baffled: Why would any self-respecting parent object to their daughter being in Playboy? Isn’t that the goal of every young woman?
Ms. Sahin is its latest victim and a symbol of the West’s decadence. Yet Germans are now waking up to another horror - that many of their fellow Muslims want the actress to be killed.
Islamic websites have posted threats. “She must pay,” one said. “She needs to be very careful,” another warned. German TV crews then asked some ordinary Muslims on the street what they thought of Ms. Sahin’s actions. To their shock, some openly espoused the right to honor killing.
A kebab shop owner vowed that if she were his daughter, “I would kill her. I really mean that. That doesn’t fit with my culture."
"The religion of Peace".
Read the full story here.
Wal-Mart brings back gun sales
The move is just the latest sign that executives are returning to the company's roots after recent failed efforts to appear more upscale.
By InvestorPlace on Fri, Apr 29, 2011 8:19 AM
By Jeff Reeves, editor of InvestorPlace.com
Wal-Mart (WMT) may be the world's biggest retailer, but that doesn't mean it has given up on growing. From planned grocery deliveries to inner-city residents to its recent purchase of a social-media company, there always seems to be something new in store.
The latest news, according to The Wall Street Journal, is that Wal-Mart will reload gun sales by cutting back on electronics floor space to make room for rifles, shotguns and ammunition at hundreds of U.S. stores.
But unlike previous failed efforts and some recent quirky initiatives, the return of guns and ammo is a return to Wal-Mart's roots -- something the company may sorely need.
Before you go making gun sales at Wal-Mart a political issue, remember that the bottom line is always the bottom line for the King of Retail. And that bottom line hasn't been very impressive lately. The company's stock is down slightly over the past 12 months, while the S&P 500 has tacked on 11%. This is no surprise, given seven straight quarters of same-store-sales declines in the U.S.
Wal-Mart stopped selling guns and ammo at most of its U.S. stores five years ago but is now stocking up on firearms and nearly half of its 3,600 U.S. locations. Spin doctors at the corporation claim this is part of a larger focus on "heritage categories" -- fishing rods and bolts of sewing fabric that were cut out of aisles as the discounter tried to appear more upscale.
Upscale obviously didn't work. A few of years ago, Wal-Mart eliminated thousands of items to de-clutter its stores, but it suffered more customer complaints than anything else. In September, managers made an about-face and began restocking the shelves as Wal-Mart added thousands of new products. And just a few weeks ago, it announced an ad campaign in which Wal-Mart reasserts its low-price roots. That, essentially, leaves the company right back where it started a few years ago.
That isn't a very heartening sign for shareholders. After all, businesses are meant to grow and seize more opportunities, not just put it in neutral.
But in Wal-Mart's case, it may be wise to simplify and return to the mission that made this store a retail powerhouse. Sprawling rural and suburban SuperCenters offering guns and ammo and cheap clothes, food and furnishings made the franchise what it is today. Why tinker with the model if it was so darn profitable?
In Wal-Mart's case, a return to previous business success could be the best move, especially after some new ideas that have fallen flat.
From Will at The Other News:
(NewZeal) Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the far left Institute for Policy Studies, and a member of both Democratic Socialists of America and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.In 2008, Fletcher co-founded Progressives for Obama, with veteran activist Tom Hayden, leftist actor Danny Glover and fellow DSAer Barbara Ehrenreich.
Writing in The Rag Blog, Fletcher explains what “progressives” must do, to secure a victory for Barack Obama in 2008.It is a grass roots vision, taking focus off the President and instead using mass action and the people’s movements to unseat to defeat Republicans and centrist Democrats.It is a revolutionary vision, in that it calls for law breaking, and “masses of people making a situation untenable”.It is an internationalist vision, looking to revolutions abroad, both for inspiration and solidarity.This is a “people’s power” strategy, owing not a little to recent events in the Middle East.Comrade Fletcher says “progressives” must :
We desperately need mass action. Wisconsin was wonderful for many reasons but one important one was the sustained presence in the capitol. A protest movement focused on power needs to be prepared to break the law, not through the actions of a few individuals, but much as happened in Wisconsin, as well as in the Civil Rights movement, with masses of people making a situation untenable.But we also have to develop key strategic targets for our actions where we are clear on what we want them to do. This will largely happen at the local level at first, but it can also happen at the national level, such as through selective boycotts.
While many on the US left express disappointment with Obama, when push comes to shove, they will back their man to the hilt,
The US left understands that 2012 is decisive.If a conservative Republican wins, they know that many of the US left’s hard fought gains will be rolled back.If Obama wins, they know the socialist juggernaut will be virtually unstoppable.Consequently the US left, from Democrats to socialists, to Marxist-Leninists, will throw every thing into this election. Look for mass protests, street violence, intimidation and mass law breaking, as the US left mounts a do or die, last gasp “Thet Offensive” against Middle America and its values.Hmmmm.......The 'ShutszStaffels' are forming?
Read the full story here.
Murder at Basel-Mulhouse Airport - UPDATED AND BUMPED - MAN WITH MUSLIM NAME IS SOUGHT BY POLICE
The murder at EuroAirport is being reported with the identity of the airport tower location at Basel-Mulhouse Airport or Mulhouse Airport.
(DailyMail).An air traffic controller has been found dead in a pool of blood in the control tower of a French airport this morning.
The 34-year-old was found by an airport employee in an office adjoining the control room on the tenth floor of the tower shortly after 8am at the EuroAirport outside Mulhouse, France, near the Swiss and German borders.Police sources said the married father-of-one, who has not been named yet, had been stabbed three times in the throat, lung and chest.
A murder investigation has been launched.
The attack took place in the airport's secure zone only accessible with an identity badge, according to reporters in France.
No one has been arrested yet and know knives or weapons have been recovered. Air traffic at the airport was not affected whilst the investigation got underway.
The victim was a senior controller at the airport and was in charge of the tower. The airport in eastern France serves Basel, Switzerland, Mulhouse, France, and Freiburg, Germany.
Read the full story here.
googlish translation of article identifying murderer
The suspect is a friend of the victim. On Friday, police issued a search warrant against Karim Ouali Aderfi, 34 years old. . .. ON sick leave for three months, Karim - or "Aderfi" as he calls himself - Ouali was seen coming out of rush control tower in which he had entered with his badge of service. . .He had been assigned at his request two years ago at Basel-Mulhouse and was "in training" the time to know the airport platform, detailed the prosecutor of Mulhouse. A period of trainnig that could create tension continues becaue the main suspect is not a novice: he had left his school in 1999-2000. Victim had 8-10 stab wounds.
Syrian security forces open fire on demonstrations
The Associated Press
Date: Friday Apr. 29, 2011 8:49 AM ET
BEIRUT — Syrian security forces opened fire on demonstrations Friday in the capital and the coastal city of Latakia -- the heartland of the ruling elite -- wounding at least five people as thousands took to the streets in several places across the country, witnesses said.
Other demonstrations were reported in the capital, Damascus, along with the coastal city of Banias, the northern city of Raqqa and the northeastern city of Qamishli.
President Bashar Assad's regime has stepped up its deadly crackdown on protesters in recent days by unleashing the army along with snipers and tanks. On Friday, protesters came out in their thousands, defying the crackdown and using it as a rallying cry.
Assad has tried to crush the revolt -- the gravest challenge to his family's 40-year ruling dynasty -- and in the process has drawn international criticism and threats of sanctions from European countries and the United States.
A witness in Latakia said about 1,000 people turned out for an anti-government rally when plainclothes security agents with automatic rifles opened fire. He said he saw at least five people wounded. Like many witnesses contacted by The Associated Press, he asked that his name not be used for fear of reprisal.
Syrian state-run TV said one of its cameramen was injured in Latakia during an attack by an armed gang. The government has blamed the unrest on armed gangs -- not true reform-seekers.
A witness in Daraa -- the southern city at the centre of the revolt -- said residents were staying home Friday. They did not even venture out to mosques for Friday prayers because of snipers.
"We are in our houses but our hearts are in the mosques," the witness said.
In Damascus' central Midan neighbourhood, witnesses said about 500 people marched chanting "God, Syria and freedom only!" in a heavy rain, but security forces opened fire with bullets and tear gas, scattering them. It was not clear if there were injuries.
The government had warned against holding any demonstrations Friday and placed large banners around the capital that read: "We urge the brother citizens to avoid going out of your homes on Friday for your own safety." Syrian state television said the Interior Ministry has not approved any "march, demonstration or sit-in" and that such rallies seek only to harm Syria's security and stability.
Many of the protests were held in solidarity with more than 50 people killed in the last week alone in Daraa. The city has been under military siege since Monday, when thousands of soldiers stormed in backed by tanks and snipers.
A devastating picture was emerging from the city -- which is largely sealed off, without electricity and telephones -- as residents flee to neighbouring countries.
At the Jordanian side of the Syrian border, several Daraa residents who had just crossed over said there is blood on the streets of the city.
"Gunfire is heard across the city all the time," one man said, asking that his name not be used for fear of retribution. "People are getting killed in the streets by snipers if they leave their homes."
An AP reporter at the border heard gunfire and saw smoke rising from different areas just across the frontier. Residents said the gunfire has been constant for three weeks.
Since the uprising in Syria began in mid-March, inspired by revolts across the Arab world, more than 450 people have been killed nationwide, activists say.
The Muslim Brotherhood urged Syrians to demonstrate Friday against Assad in the first time the outlawed group has openly encouraged the protests in Syria. The Brotherhood was crushed by Assad's father, Hafez, after staging an uprising against his regime in 1982.
"You were born free, so don't let a tyrant enslave you," said the statement, issued by the Brotherhood's exiled leadership.
Assad has said the protests -- the gravest challenge to his family's 40-year ruling dynasty -- are a foreign conspiracy carried out by extremist forces and armed thugs.
But he has acknowledged the need for reforms, offering overtures of change in recent weeks while brutally cracking down on demonstrations.
Last week, Syria's Cabinet abolished the state of emergency, in place for decades, and approved a new law allowing the right to stage peaceful protests with the permission of the Interior Ministry.
But the protesters, enraged by the mounting death toll, no longer appear satisfied with the changes and are increasingly seeking the regime's downfall.
"The people want the downfall of the regime," said an activist in the coastal city of Banias -- echoing the cries heard during the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions.
Syria has banned nearly all foreign media and restricted access to trouble spots since the uprising began, making it almost impossible to verify the dramatic events shaking one of the most authoritarian, anti-Western regimes in the Arab world.
Witnesses and human rights groups said Syrian army units clashed with each other over following Assad's orders to crack down on protesters in Daraa, where the uprising started.
While the troops' infighting in Daraa does not indicate any decisive splits in the military, it is significant because Assad's army has always been the regime's fiercest defender.
It is the latest sign that cracks -- however small -- are developing in Assad's base of support that would have been unimaginable just weeks ago. Also, about 200 mostly low-level members of Syria's ruling Baath Party have resigned over Assad's brutal crackdown.
Meanwhile, diplomats say the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency is setting the stage for potential U.N. Security Council action on Syria as it prepares a report assessing that a Syrian target bombed by Israeli warplanes in 2007 was likely a secretly built nuclear reactor meant to produce plutonium.
Such a conclusion would back intelligence produced by Israel and the United States. Syria says the nearly finished building had no nuclear uses. It has repeatedly turned down requests by the International Atomic Energy Agency to revisit the site after allowing an initial 2008 inspection that found evidence of possible nuclear activities.
Three diplomats and a senior U.N. official said such an assessment -- drawn up by IAEA chief Yukiya Amano -- would be the basis of a Western-sponsored resolution at a meeting of the 35-nation IAEA board that condemns Syria's refusal to co-operate with the agency and kicks the issue to the U.N. Security Council. All spoke on condition of anonymity because the information they discussed was confidential.
Separately, the United States and the European Union urged the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate possible abuses in Syria and insist that Assad allow in foreign journalists and ease Internet restrictions. Diplomats from Nigeria and China, however, warned that any council action could be interpreted as meddling.
The U.S. and Western diplomats also plan to rally opposition to Syria's unopposed candidacy to join the 47-nation council.
Obama Administration punishes reporter for using multimedia
The hip, transparent and social media-loving Obama administration is showing its analog roots. And maybe even some hypocrisy highlights.
White House officials have banished one of the best political reporters in the country from the approved pool of journalists covering presidential visits to the Bay Area for using now-standard multimedia tools to gather the news.
The Chronicle's Carla Marinucci - who, like many contemporary reporters, has a phone with video capabilities on her at all times -shot some protesters interrupting an Obama fundraiser at the St. Regis Hotel.
She was part of a "print pool" - a limited number of journalists at an event who represent their bigger hoard colleagues - which White House press officials still refer to quaintly as "pen and pad" reporting.
But that's a pretty Flintstones concept of journalism for an administration that presents itself as the Jetsons. Video is every bit a part of any journalist's tool kit these days as a functioning pen that doesn't leak through your pocket.
In fact, Carla and her reporting colleague, Joe Garofoli, founded something called "Shaky Hand Productions" - the semi-pro, sometimes vertiginous use of a Flip or phone camera by Hearst reporters to catch more impromptu or urgent moments during last year's California gubernatorial race that might otherwise be missed by TV.
The name has become its own brand; often politicians even ask if anyone from Shaky Hand will show at their event. For Carla, Joe and reporters at other Hearst newsrooms where Shaky Hand has taken hold, this was an appropriate dive into use of other media by traditional journalists catering to audiences who expect their news delivered in all modes and manners.
That's the world we live in and the President of the United States claims to be one of its biggest advocates.
Just the day before Carla's Stone Age infraction, Mr. Obama was at Facebook seated next to its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and may as well have been wearing an "I'm With Mark" t-shirt for all the mutual admiration going back and forth.
"The main reason we wanted to do this is," Obama said of his appearance, "first of all, because more and more people, especially young people, are getting their information through different media. And historically, part of what makes for a healthy democracy, what is good politics, is when you've got citizens who are informed, who are engaged."
Informed, in other words, through social and other digital media where videos of news are posted.
The President and his staffers deftly used social media like Twitter and Facebook in his election campaign and continue to extol the virtues and value. Except, apparently, when it comes to the press.
So what's up with the White House? We can't say because neither Press Secretary Jay Carney nor anyone from his staff would speak on the record.
Other sources confirmed that Carla was vanquished, including Chronicle editor Ward Bushee, who said he was "informed that Carla was removed as a pool reporter." Which shouldn't be a secret in any case because it's a fact that affects the newsgathering of our largest regional paper (and sfgate)and how local citizens get their information.
What's worse: more than a few journalists familiar with this story are aware of some implied threats from the White House of additional and wider punishment if Carla's spanking became public. Really? That's a heavy hand usually reserved for places other than the land of the free.
But bravery is a challenge, in particular for White House correspondents, most of whom are seasoned and capable journalists. They live a little bit in a gilded cage where they have access to the most powerful man in the world but must obey the rules whether they make sense or not.
CBS News reporter, Mark Knoller, has publicly protested the limited press access to Obama fundraisers, calling the policy "inconsistent." "It's no way to do business," wrote Politico's Julie Mason, "especially [for] a candidate who prides himself on transparency."
A 2009 blog by the White House Director of New Media states that "President Obama is committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history."
Not last week.
Mason referred to the San Francisco St. Regis protest as "a highly newsworthy event" where "reporters had to rely on written pool reports..."
Except, thanks to Carla's quick action with her camera, they didn't.
I get that all powerful people and institutions want to control their image and their message. That's part of their job, to create a mythology that allows them to continue being powerful.
But part of the press' job is to do the opposite, to strip away the cloaks and veneers. By banning her, and by not acknowledging how contemporary media works, the White House did not just put Carla in a cage but more like one of those stifling pens reserved for calves on their way to being veal.
Carla cannot do her job to the best of her ability if she can't use all the tools available to her as a journalist. The public still sees the videos posted by protesters and other St. Regis attendees, because the technology is ubiquitous. But the Obama Administration apparently wants to give the distinct advantage to citizen witnesses at the expense of professionals.
Why? Well, they won't tell us.
Some White House reporters are grumbling almost as much as the Administration about Carla's "breaking the rules." I can understand how they'd be irritated. If you didn't get the video because you understood you weren't supposed to, why should someone else get it who isn't following the longstanding civilized table manners?
The White House Press Correspondents' Association pool reporting guidelines warn about "no hoarding" of information and also say, "pool reports must be filed before any online story or blog." While uploading her video probably was the best way to file her report, Carla may have technically busted the letter of that law.
But the guidelines also say, "Print poolers can snap pictures or take video. They are not obliged to share these pictures...but can make them available if they so choose."
Then what guidelines is the White House applying here? Again, we don't know.
What the Administration should have done is to use this incident to precipitate a reasonable conversation about changing their 1950's policies into rules more suited to 2011. Dwight Eisenhower was the last President who let some new media air into the room when he lifted the ban on cameras at press conferences in 1952.
"We've come full circle here," Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Foundation's Project for Excellence in Journalism told me today. "A newspaper reporter is being punished because she took pictures with a moving camera. We live in a world where there are no longer distinctions. The White House is trying to live by 20th century distinctions."
The President's practice not just with transparency but in other dealings with the press has not been tracking his words, despite the cool glamour and easy conversation that makes him seem so much more open than the last guy.
It was his administration that decided to go after New York Times reporter James Risen to get at his source in a book he wrote about the CIA. For us here in SF who went through the BALCO case and other fisticuffs with the George W. Bush Attorney General's prosecutors, this is deja vu.
Late today, there were hints that the White House might be backing off the Carla Fatwa.
Barack Obama sold himself successfully as a fresh wind for the 21st century. In important matters of communication, technology, openness and the press, it's not too late for him to demonstrate that.
Nothing wrong with her. . .
Feds sting Amish farmer selling raw milk locally
Cite interstate commerce violation
A yearlong sting operation, including aliases, a 5 a.m. surprise inspection and surreptitious purchases from an Amish farm in Pennsylvania, culminated in the federal government announcing this week that it has gone to court to stop Rainbow Acres Farm from selling its contraband to willing customers in the Washington area.
The product in question: unpasteurized milk.
It’s a battle that’s been going on behind the scenes for years, with natural foods advocates arguing that raw milk, as it’s also known, is healthier than the pasteurized product, while the Food and Drug Administration says raw milk can carry harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria.
“It is the FDA’s position that raw milk should never be consumed,” said Tamara N. Ward, spokeswoman for the FDA, whose investigators have been looking into Rainbow Acres for months, and who finally last week filed a 10-page complaint in federal court in Pennsylvania seeking an order to stop the farm from shipping across state lines any more raw milk or dairy products made from it.
The farm’s owner, Dan Allgyer, didn’t respond to a message seeking comment, but his customers in the District of Columbia and Maryland were furious at what they said was government overreach.
“I look at this as the FDA is in cahoots with the large milk producers,” said Karin Edgett, a D.C. resident who buys directly from Rainbow Acres. “I don’t want the FDA and my tax dollars to go to shut down a farm that hasn’t had any complaints against it. They’re producing good food, and the consumers are extremely happy with it.”
The FDA’s actions stand in contrast to other areas where the Obama administration has said it will take a hands-off approach to violations of the law, including the use of medical marijuana in states that have approved it, and illegal-immigrant students and youths, whom the administration said recently will not be targets of their enforcement efforts.
Raw-milk devotees say pasteurization, the process of heating food to kill harmful organisms, eliminates good bacteria as well, and changes the taste and health benefits of the milk. Many raw-milk drinkers say they feel much healthier after changing over to it, and insist they should have the freedom of choice regarding their food.
One defense group says there are as many as 10 million raw-milk consumers in the country. Sales are perfectly legal in 10 states but illegal in 11 states and the District, with the other states having varying restrictions on purchase or consumption.
Many food safety researchers say pasteurization, which became widespread in the 1920s and 1930s, dramatically reduced instances of milk-transmitted diseases such as typhoid fever and diphtheria. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no health benefit from raw milk that cannot be obtained from pasteurized milk.
Acting on those conclusions, the FDA uses its regulatory powers over food safety to ban interstate sales of raw milk and has warned several farms to change their practices.
According to the complaint the FDA filed in court, the agency began to look into Mr. Allgyer’s farm in late 2009, when an investigator in their Baltimore office used aliases to sign up for a Yahoo user group for Rainbow Acres’ customers, and began to place orders under the assumed names for unpasteurized milk.
The orders were delivered to private residences in Maryland, where the investigator, whose name was not disclosed in the documents, would pick them up. By crossing state lines the milk became part of interstate commerce, thus subject to the FDA’s ban on interstate sales of raw milk. The court papers note that the jugs of milk were not labeled - another violation of FDA regulations.
Armed with that information, investigators visited the farm in February 2010, but Mr. Allgyer turned them away. They returned two months later with a warrant, U.S. marshals and a state police trooper, arriving at 5 a.m. for what Mr. Allgyer’s backers called a “raid,” but the FDA said was a lawful inspection.
The investigators said they saw coolers labeled with Maryland town names, and the coolers appeared to contain dairy products. The inspection led to an April 20, 2010, letter from FDA telling Mr. Allgyer to stop selling across state lines.
He instead formed a club and had customers sign an agreement stating they supported his operation, weren’t trying to entrap the owners, and that they would be shareholders in the farm’s produce, paying only for the farmer’s labor.
Customers hoped that would get around the FDA’s definition of “commerce,” putting the exchange outside of the federal government’s purview.
The FDA investigators continued to take shipments, though, and last week went to court to stop the operation.
Ms. Ward, the FDA spokeswoman, didn’t say exactly why they targeted Mr. Allgyer’s farm, but that violations generally are determined either by FDA investigations or by state-obtained evidence.
Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, said undercover stings are not unheard of.
“It happens quite a bit. It’s almost like they treat raw milk as crack. It’s happened in a number of states, and at the federal level,” he said.
His organization has sued to try to halt FDA enforcement, and the case is pending in federal court in Iowa.
Mr. Allgyer’s customers declined to talk about the operations, and when asked whether they knew what would happen to the farm’s distribution, they said they would have to wait and see.
One of those customers, Liz Reitzig, president of the Maryland Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, said she started looking for raw milk when her oldest daughter began to show signs of not being able to tolerate pasteurized milk.
She first did what’s called cow sharing, which is when a group of people buy shares in owning a cow, and pay a farmer to board and milk the cow. But Maryland outlawed that practice and she was forced to look elsewhere for raw milk, and turned to Mr. Allgyer’s farm.
“We like the way they farm, we love their product, it’s super-high-quality, they’re wonderful. It’s just a wonderful arrangement,” she said.
“FDA really has no idea what they’re talking about when they’re talking about fresh milk. They have no concept - they really don’t understand what it’s like for people like me who have friends and family who can’t drink conventional milk,” Ms. Reitzig said.
Until It Happens To You. . .
CBS Reporter Recounts a ‘Merciless’ Assault
By BRIAN STELTER
Published: April 28, 2011
Lara Logan thought she was going to die in Tahrir Square when she was sexually assaulted by a mob on the night that Hosni Mubarak’s government fell in Cairo.
Ms. Logan, a CBS News correspondent, was in the square preparing a report for “60 Minutes” on Feb. 11 when the celebratory mood suddenly turned threatening. She was ripped away from her producer and bodyguard by a group of men who tore at her clothes and groped and beat her body. “For an extended period of time, they raped me with their hands,” Ms. Logan said in an interview with The New York Times. She estimated that the attack involved 200 to 300 men.
Ms. Logan, who returned to work this month, is expected to speak at length about the assault on the CBS News program “60 Minutes” on Sunday night.
Her experience in Cairo underscored the fact that female journalists often face a different kind of violence. While other forms of physical violence affecting journalists are widely covered — the traumatic brain injury ’suffered by the ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff in Iraq in 2006 was a front-page story at that time — sexual threats against women are rarely talked about within journalistic circles or in the news media.
With sexual violence, “you only have your word,” Ms. Logan said in the interview. “The physical wounds heal. You don’t carry around the evidence the way you would if you had lost your leg or your arm in Afghanistan.”
Little research has been conducted about the prevalence of sexual violence affecting journalists in conflict zones. But in the weeks following Ms. Logan’s assault, other women recounted being harassed and assaulted while working overseas, and groups like the Committee to Protect Journalists said they would revise their handbooks to better address sexual assault.
Jeff Fager, the chairman of CBS News and the executive producer of “60 Minutes,” said that the segment about the assault on Ms. Logan would raise awareness of the issue. “There’s a code of silence about it that I think is in Lara’s interest and in our interest to break,” he said.
Until now the only public comment about the assault came four days after it took place, when Ms. Logan was still in the hospital. She and Mr. Fager drafted a short statement that she had “suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating.”
That statement, Ms. Logan said, “didn’t leave me to carry the burden alone, like my dirty little secret, something that I had to be ashamed of.”
The assault happened the day that Ms. Logan returned to Cairo, having left a week earlier after being detained and interrogated by Egyptian forces. “The city was on fire with celebration” over Mr. Mubarak’s exit, she said, comparing it to a Super Bowl party. She and a camera crew traversed Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the celebrations, interviewing Egyptians and posing for photographs with people who wanted to be seen with an American journalist.
“There was a moment that everything went wrong,” she recalled.
As the cameraman, Richard Butler, was swapping out a battery, Egyptian colleagues who were accompanying the camera crew heard men nearby talking about wanting to take Ms. Logan’s pants off. She said: “Our local people with us said, ‘We’ve gotta get out of here.’ That was literally the moment the mob set on me.”
Mr. Butler, Ms. Logan’s producer, Max McClellan, and two locally hired drivers were “helpless,” Mr. Fager said, “because the mob was just so powerful.” A bodyguard who had been hired to accompany the team was able to stay with Ms. Logan for a brief period of time. “For Max to see the bodyguard come out of the pile without her, that was one of the worst parts,” Mr. Fager said. He said Ms. Logan “described how her hand was sore for days after — and the she realized it was from holding on so tight” to the bodyguard’s hand.
They estimated that they were separated from her for about 25 minutes.
“My clothes were torn to pieces,” Ms. Logan said.
She declined to go into more detail about the assault but said: “What really struck me was how merciless they were. They really enjoyed my pain and suffering. It incited them to more violence.”
After being rescued by a group of civilians and Egyptian soldiers, she was swiftly flown back to the United States. “She was quite traumatized, as you can imagine, for a period of time,” Mr. Fager said. Ms. Logan said she decided almost immediately that she would speak out about sexual violence both on behalf of other journalists and on behalf of “millions of voiceless women who are subjected to attacks like this and worse.”
More than a dozen journalists have been detained in Libya in the past two months, including four who were working for The Times. One of the Times journalists, Lynsey Addario, said she was repeatedly groped and harassed by her Libyan captors.
For Ms. Logan, learning about Ms. Addario’s experience was a “setback” in her recovery. While Ms. Logan, CBS’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, said she would definitely return to Afghanistan and other conflict zones, she said she had decided — for the moment — not to report from the Middle Eastern countries where protests were widespread. “The very nature of what we do — communicating information — is what’s undoing these regimes,” she said. “It makes us the enemy, whether we like it or not.”
Before the assault, Ms. Logan said, she did not know about the levels of harassment and abuse that women in Egypt and other countries regularly experienced. “I would have paid more attention to it if I had had any sense of it,” she said. “When women are harassed and subjected to this in society, they’re denied an equal place in that society. Public spaces don’t belong to them. Men control it. It reaffirms the oppressive role of men in the society.”
After the “60 Minutes” segment is broadcast, though, she does not intend to give other interviews on the subject. “I don’t want this to define me,” she said.
She said that the kindness and support shown by Mr. Fager and others at CBS and by strangers — like the high school class in Texas and the group of women at ABC News who wrote letters to her — was a “very big part of picking myself up and restoring my dignity and my self-worth.”
Among the letters she received, she said, was one from a woman who lives in Canada who was raped in the back of a taxi in Cairo in early February, amid the protests there. “That poor woman had to go into the airport begging people to help her,” Ms. Logan recalled. When she returned home, “her family told her not to talk about it.”
Ms. Logan said that as she read the letter, she started to sob. “It was a reminder to me of how fortunate I was,” she said.
Muslim Brotherhood Backs Syria Protests, Toll Rises
Thursday, 28 Apr 2011 08:07 PM
Friday another test for Assad, democratic opposition
* Death toll in Deraa rises to 50 - group
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
DAMASCUS, April 28 (Reuters) - The Muslim Brotherhood called on Syrians to take to the streets ahead of Friday prayers and help the besieged city of Deraa, where a rights group said civilian deaths from a tank-backed army attack rose to 50.
It was the first time that the Brotherhood, ruthlessly crushed along with secular leftist movements under the rule of late President Hafez al-Assad, had called directly for protests in Syria since pro-democracy demonstrations against Assad's son, President Bashar al-Assad, erupted six weeks ago.
A declaration by the Brotherhood, sent to Reuters by its leadership in exile on Thursday, said: "Do not let the regime besiege your compatriots. Chant with one voice for freedom and dignity. Do not allow the tyrant to enslave you. God is great."
The protests have drawn a cross section of Syrian society, which has been under Baath Party rule for the last 48 years. The younger Assad kept intact the autocratic political system he inherited in 2000 while the family expanded its control over Syria's struggling economy.
The Brotherhood said accusations by the authorities that militant Islamists were behind the unrest were aimed at fomenting civil war and undermining nationwide demands for political freedoms and an end to corruption.
But Friday, the Muslim day of rest and prayers, has been the main opportunity for protesters to gather, challenging repeated warnings by the authorities not to demonstrate.
Security forces shot dead at least 120 protesters last Friday, said Syrian human rights organisation Sawasiah, in the biggest demonstrations Syria has seen since the democratic uprising erupted in Deraa on March 18, with pro-democracy protests spreading to regions across the rest of Syria.
Three days later the Fourth Mechanised Division, under the control of Assad brother's Maher stormed Deraa, echoing their his father's 1982 attack on the city of Hama to crush a revolt led by the Muslim Brotherhood, killing anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 people.
Assad tightened the security grip in and around Damascus on Thursday, with various security forces and secret police units deploying in the nearby towns, Erbin and Tel and in the Damascus district of Barzeh and the suburbs of Douma and Daraya, rights activists and witnesses said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack on Deraa has killed at least 50 civilians, with essential supplies in the city running law.
The offensive helped intensify criticism against Assad in the West, which took steps to rehabilitate the Syrian ruler in the last three years. The United States says it is considering tightening sanctions.
Ambassadors of European Union governments to Brussels plan to meet on Friday to discuss the possibility of imposing sanctions against Syria, which could include asset freezes and travel restrictions on key officials.
One EU diplomat said it may be too early for the bloc to make a binding decision on Friday but governments could send a message signalling sanctions were on the table.
"I'd expect a political signal towards sanctions but maybe not a decision yet," the diplomat said.
Other EU measures against Syria could include freezing financial aid, which amounts to 43 million euros ($64 million) a year.
The Last Goodbye