News for November 22, 2008
Facts About Tax: Socialism, Christianity, and Taxation By Steven F. Hotze, M.D. www.AmericanVision.org Zola Levitt Newsletter (December 2008) - There are two competing worldviews in the United States: socialism and Christianity.
Socialism is a system where the State controls capital and production, plans the economy and redistributes wealth from producers to non-producers. It breeds a welfare environment where citizens become dependent upon the State for their daily bread. Individual liberties are replaced with the “common good,” decided by bureaucrats. In socialism, the State claims to be the sovereign authority, demanding people’s homage. Socialistic States are secular and have great disdain for Christianity which rejects this philosophy. Socialism is a de facto secular religious system which elevates the State to the position of God. Remember, the Romans proclaimed, “Vox populi, Vox Dei,” meaning “The voice of the people is the voice of God.”
Christianity acknowledges the sovereignty of God revealed in the Bible and through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christianity proclaims liberty under law. It encourages personal responsibility and initiative. Proverbs instructs that, “The hand of the diligent shall prosper.” The concept of private property is firmly established by the 8th Commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” Christianity teaches that all government authority is established by God and that civil rulers must govern according to a higher law. This was the perspective of our founding fathers. George Washington wrote, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” Yet politicians increasingly choose socialism over our Christian heritage. Nowhere is this more evident than in taxation. The Bible teaches tithing ten percent of your income to the Church and Christian ministries as acknowledgment that all that we have comes from God’s providential hand.
The socialist State claims ownership over citizens and their possessions by taxing their income and property. Even after you have paid off your mortgage, if you stop paying property taxes, you will find out who really owns your home. The United States has adopted a socalled “progressive” income tax policy. As income increases, the percentage of income subject to taxes rises. Those who earn the most pay the highest percentage of their income in taxes. According to the Congressional Budget Office the top 1% of income earners pays nearly 40% of the total income taxes collected by the federal government. The top 10% of income earners pay nearly 70% of the total income taxes collected. The top 40% of income earners pay 99% of all income taxes.
This means 60% of the people pay no income tax. Yet the socialists reward them with government programs. What is progressive about a system which penalizes individuals who strive to be successful? If you tax productivity, you get less of it. If you subsidize laziness, you get more of it. The socialists promote organized theft of the producers—under the guise of good government—and redistribute their money to buy the votes of the nonproductive, disincentivizing both groups.
We have a critical choice to make: Follow socialism and lose our liberty
and property, or return to our nation’s Christian heritage.
See also: Socialism, Capitalism and Christianity
Iran, Syria tauten grip on Lebanon, Tehran woos Christian president DEBKAfile (November 22, 2008) - Tehran and Damascus are going all out to get their hooks into Lebanon’s Christian politicians and wean them away from their’ traditional ties with the West. President Michel Suleiman this week accepted an Iranian invitation to visit Tehran this month, while another Lebanese Christian leader, Hizballah’s ally Gen. Michel Aoun, arranged to visit Damascus.
DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report that the Iranians are forging ahead with a campaign to bind the region’s Christian minorities to their Shiite wagon for challenging Sunni domination. Their first quarry is Lebanon’s powerful community. Arrangements were finalized Monday with the Iranian ambassador in Beirut Reza Shibani for president Suleiman to spend two days in Tehran on Nov. 24-25. Aoun will visit Damascus at the same time. Their country is meanwhile encircled by Syrian military forces, a factual pointer to Bashar Assad’s real intentions regarding peace.
Although these developments bode ill for Israel too, they were left out of the sweeping 2009 prognosis which the Israeli Military Intelligence chief Maj. Amos Yadlin delivered in Tel Aviv Monday, Nov. 17. Neither did he look ahead to the likelihood that Iran would be able to assemble a nuclear weapon next year, notwithstanding more than a decade of international diplomacy and sanctions.
Senior Israeli intelligence circles commented that the evaluations heard from Yadlin Monday were less attuned to reality than to the estimated positions of the incoming US president Barack Obama’s Middle East team and Olmert-Livni policies. Like them, he omitted to address the agendas which Tehran and Damascus are actively pursuing. Tehran launched its pursuit of Christian minorities by inviting the Lebanese Maronite leader Aoun to Tehran on Oct. 13, through Hizballah’s good offices.
The gambit worked: The Lebanese leader returned home proclaiming Iran the strongest world power between the Persian Gulf and China and predicting that his trip would bear fruit in six months. In the first week of November, Tehran heaped full honors on the Lebanon’s ex-president, the pro-Syrian Christian Emil Lahoud, when he arrived with a 60-man retinue. Michel Sleiman can expect no less.
The assumption in Israeli ruling circles that Syria as peace partner
will deliver a “Lebanese dowry” is therefore fallacious. Assad plans to
squeeze whatever he can from Israel and the new US administration in the
coin of territory and backing for his regime, while not giving up an iota
of his schemes with Tehran. For now, no one is paying attention to the Syrian-Iranian
jaws snapping shut on Lebanon.
Clinton would be well seen abroad as US top diplomat: Solana EU Business (November 22, 2008) - If US president-elect Barack Obama names Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state, it will be "very well taken" in Europe, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Friday. "It would be very well taken, if it were the case," Solana told reporters during a visit to Washington where he met with Obama representative Madeleine Albright. "She is a strong personality. She is an appropriate person, capable, with experience, well known. I think it would be very well taken by the majority of people," Solana said.
An aide to Obama said the president-elect is "on track" to nominate his former bitter foe to the prize post of secretary of state after next week's Thanksgiving holiday. The nomination, the subject of intense speculation since Clinton flew to Chicago to meet Obama last week, moved forward after financial disclosure issues were worked out with her husband, former president Bill Clinton. There will be no formal announcement before the holiday break which starts on Thursday November 27, the Obama aide said on condition of anonymity, adding the president-elect was still firming up his national security line-up.
New York Senator Clinton and Obama, who slugged it out during an acrimonious six-month Democratic primary campaign, were having substantive discussions about her future role, the aide said.
Signs the Clinton nomination could be firming up followed conflicting
reports, some suggesting the Obama team was frustrated with the Clinton
camp, others saying Clinton was agonizing over whether to give up her Senate
seat. But details of the nominating process have been tightly held by both
sides and it was unclear if any or all of the unnamed sources were speaking
with authority for the two protagonists.
Hillary Clinton accepts post as Secretary of State Telegraph UK (November 22, 2008) - Senator Hillary Clinton has accepted Barack Obama's offer to become US Secretary of State, as the president-elect moved at rapid speed to assemble an all-star cabinet amid steep challenges at home and overseas.
Friends of the former First Lady told American news organisations that she had firmly decided to give up her seat as a senator for New York and become the international face of the man who thwarted her presidential ambitions in a long and sometimes bitter battle for the Democratic Party's nomination.
Other reports said Mr Obama will nominate Timothy Geithner, 47, as his Treasury Secretary. As head of the New York federal reserve bank he has been involved with the $700 billion bail-out of Wall Street, which he will take charge of if confirmed. As a former treasury official, Mr Geithner has invaluable Washington experience and will be considered a wise choice. Stocks soared as news of his appointment reached Wall Street. He will probably be joined around the cabinet table by Bill Richardson, the New Mexico governor, who has been reportedly selected as commerce secretary after losing out to Mrs Clinton as secretary of state, the most prestigious job beneath the presidency.
With Mr Obama likely to name his economic team in full within a few days, and Mrs Clinton's decision clearing the way for other foreign policy posts to be filled, he is set to complete many of the most important slots in his administration at uncommonly early stage. His choices for the positions of health secretary, attorney general and homeland security are Tom Daschle, Eric Holder, and Janet Napolitano, respectively, though they remain subject to approval by his vetting team.
Though news about some appointments has leaked out, to the frustration of the Obama camp, his transition from winning candidate to president is proceeding at a pace and with a smoothness that has impressed political observers. Mr Obama and his aides have understood that with the financial markets very jittery and economic confidence subsiding a calm and orderly changeover was paramount.
His administration will feature veterans of the Bill Clinton administration and politicians rewarded for their early support of during the primaries, such as Mr Richardson, Janet Napolitano, the Arizona governor tipped to become head the Homeland Security Department and Tom Daschle, who will run health.
His recruitment of Mrs Clinton in particular honours Mr Obama's pledge to appoint an all-star cabinet, or a "team of rivals", of strong personalities who will speak their minds and provide contrasting views. But some have criticised her management skills – her new department has 19,000 employees – and questioned her foreign policy experience at a time when the country is conducting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and facing growing pressure from Russia, Iran and China.
Obama supporters have also raised concerns that a politician with such a large power base would happily follow anyone else's orders. Some have been unable to forgive Mrs Clinton for her strong criticism of Mr Obama during the primaries, when she launched an advertisement questioning whether the nation would want such an inexperienced politician answering the White House hotline at 3am. Mrs Clinton, 61, evidently had her own doubts, and was uncertain if she should give up her Senate seat from heavily Democratic New York, which she could most likely have occupied for the rest of her career.
The only hesitation about her within the Obama camp was removed after Mr Clinton co-operated fully with the vetting team's investigation of his network of overseas donors to his global charity. The former president is understood to have promised not to conduct speaking engagements or seek funds from sources that might present a conflict of interest with the foreign policy his wife would be pursuing.
Obama’s team: Confirmed White House positions
| America |
A Plan for Action: Managing Global Insecurity 42-page pdf at Brookings.edu (November 21, 2008) - The Managing Global Insecurity (MGI) Project seeks to build international support for global institutions and partnerships that can foster international peace and security—and the prosperity they enable—for the next 50 years. MGI is a joint initiative among the Brookings Institution, the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, and the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.
Since its launch in the spring of 2007, MGI has sought to develop its recommendations and conduct its work in a manner best suited to address today’s most urgent global challenges—namely, by fostering a global dialogue. In a world where 21st century transnational threats—from climate change to nuclear proliferation and terrorism—require joint solutions, discussions on these solutions must take place both inside and outside American borders. As MGI launched this ambitious but urgent agenda, the Project convened two advisory groups—one American and bipartisan, and one international. MGI’s advisors are experienced leaders with diverse visions for how the international security system must be transformed. They are also skilled politicians who understand the political momentum that must power substantive recommendations.
MGI brought these groups together for meetings in Washington D.C., New York, Ditchley Park (UK), Singapore, and Berlin. With their assistance, MGI also conducted consultations with government officials, policymakers and non-governmental organizations across Europe and in Delhi, Beijing, Tokyo, Doha, and Mexico City. MGI held meetings at the United Nations, and with African and Latin American officials in Washington D.C. and New York. On the domestic front, MGI met with Congressional and Administration officials as well as foreign policy advisors to the U.S. Presidential campaigns. Ideas generated in international consultations were tested on U.S. constituencies; ideas generated among U.S. policymakers were sounded out for their resonance internationally. American and international leaders were brought together to consider draft proposals. Through this global dialogue, the Project sought a shared path forward.
MGI’s findings also derive from extensive research and analysis of current global security threats and the performance of international institutions. MGI solicited case studies from leading regional and subject experts that evaluated the successes and failures of international responses to the “hard cases”—from the North Korean nuclear threat to instability in Pakistan and state collapse in Iraq. Both in the United States and internationally, MGI convened experts to review the Project’s threat-specific analyses and proposals.
Financial support for the MGI project has also been robustly international. In addition to the Bertelsmann Stiftung, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Ditchley Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and UN Foundation, MGI has received funding and in-kind support from the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. A number of think tanks and other institutions in Japan, China and India hosted workshops to debate the Project’s findings. MGI is indebted to its diverse supporters.
MGI’s research and consultations provide the foundation for the following
Plan for Action, a series of policy briefs, and MGI’s book, Power and Responsibility:
International Order in an Era of Transnational Threats (forthcoming, Brookings
Press 2009). The authors are solely responsible for the following analysis
and recommendations. Based on MGI’s consultations, however, they are confident
this is a historic opportunity for the United States to forge new partnerships
to tackle the most pressing problems of this century. more...
“The aim of the MGI [Managing Global Insecurity] project is ambitious and urgent: to launch a new reform effort for the global security system in 2009 … for the global system is in serious trouble. It is simply not capable of solving the challenges of today. You all know the list: terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change, pandemics, failing states … None can be solved by a single government alone.” | Javier Solana, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, European Union; MGI Advisory Group Member
I think it is worthwhile to note that the snowball is already rolling down the hill and there are many things that can happen to advance or delay plans in the global arena. If there were a threat large enough to further the cause of the globalists, then much like the ready-fire-fire-fire-aim approach to the global financial crisis, fear could be used to get people to take immediate action not yet fully defined in the timelines already determined. Of course I believe there are some using the fear with a definite plan of action for a common goal whether they realize what they are doing or not. I believe the mystery of iniquity is well at work in the world today.
I'm brought back to the Lisbon Treaty, the new European Constitution, and the powers that will be given to the foreign minister even before it is enacted. And now polling is showing that Ireland, who previously rejected the Lisbon Treaty in their referendum, is now having second thoughts on the matter. Could these often discussed "global tests" of leadership help the birth pangs to the new global order along? Keep watching!
Security forces brace as settlers arrive in droves to Hebron YNet News (November 21, 2008) - Security forces deployed throughout Hebron on Thursday evening in anticipation of another night of public disturbances in the West Bank city by extreme-right activists. Although the High Court's ruling on the evacuation of the disputed house near the Tomb of the Patriarchs has not yet been carried out, tensions between Jewish settlers and law enforcement are at a boiling point.
The IDF, Border Guard and the police have all reinforced their men on the ground in preparation for the arrival of some 20,000 people to Hebron ahead of the reading of the 'Chayei Sarah' weekly portion (lit. 'The Life of Sarah,' Genesis 23:1-25:18).
The army spread out in advance following the events of Wednesday night. Throughout the day several isolated incidents were noted, and in the evening settlers claimed a policeman had assaulted a boy in the Givat Avot neighborhood after charging the latter was in violation of a house arrest. Police confirmed a youth was detained for questioning after he insulted a policeman.
Business as usual?
But despite the apparent tensions Noam Arnon, a spokesman for Hebron's Jewish community, said there was hope the night would progress calmly. The Shabbat of 'Chayei Sarah' is one of ten days in the Jewish year when Jews are allowed into Isaac's Hall, the largest and most important chamber of those comprising the Tomb of the Patriarchs. For most of the year Jews are forbidden to enter it. Due to the rarity of the occasion, the city often sees an influx of tens of thousands during this time. "We expect about 20,000 people to come to Hebron, and we're preparing of that as we do every year. Every family will host several dozen guests and the schools and public institutions will also be filled with guests, and there are public mess halls and hostels that open up," said Arnon.
Although most of those who come to Hebron to pray will leave with the conclusion of the Sabbath, Arnon realizes that some, mostly teenagers, will choose to stay and join numerous others at the disputed house in an attempt to prevent its evacuation. Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter pledged on Thursday that the High Court's ruling on the matter of the disputed house would be carried precisely as it was written. Dichter told Ynet that, as determined in the ruling, the house "will be evacuated within 30 days' time and guardianship of the property would be assumed by the state."
Rioting caught on video
A video sent to Ynet of the events of Wednesday night showcases just how far the situation has deteriorated, with extreme-right activists attacking military vehicles and rioting in the streets.
An IDF soldier was lightly wounded in the mob assault, after he was doused with turpentine near the disputed house. In the video, shot with a video provided by the B'Tselem human rights organization, right-wing activists are seen swarming military cars and clashing with soldiers. Several military and police vehicles sustained varying degrees of damage.
Thursday saw IDF soldiers spending several long hours painting over graffiti, hate slogans aimed at Muslims, from the walls of a local mosque. Settlers also desecrated a Muslim graveyard on Wednesday evening. Security officials issued a harsh condemnation of the events, and pledged they would throw the book at the perpetrators. However no suspects have been arrested thus far.
Earlier this week the High Court of Justice upheld the state's decision
to evacuate the four-storey building near the Tomb of the Patriarchs until
the dispute over its ownership clears up. Settlers claim they lawfully purchased
the property, but the state says it suspects the documents of being forged.
Meanwhile right-wing activists continue to pour into the house, and have
vowed to make their stand there.
Secret 'peace talks' exposed WorldNet Daily (November 20, 2008) - Despite media reports painting a dismal picture of negotiation prospects, Israel and the Palestinian Authority are still quietly working to conclude a major agreement before President Bush leaves office in January, informed Israeli and Palestinian sources told WND. The sources, including a senior Palestinian negotiator, said the aim is to reach a series of understandings to be guaranteed by the U.S. that would result in an eventual Israeli withdrawal from the vast majority of the West Bank. The understandings would also grant the PA permission to open official institutions in Jerusalem but would postpone talks on the future status of the capital city until new Israeli and U.S. governments are installed next year.
The original plan, initiated at last November's U.S.-sponsored Annapolis summit, was to create a Palestinian state, at least on paper, by January. The summit launched talks aimed at concluding a final status agreement on all core issues – borders, the status of Jerusalem and the future of so-called Palestinian refugees.
But a final agreement has been hampered by several recent events here, most notably Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision to resign amid corruption charges, leading to general elections scheduled for February that will see a new prime minister elected. The candidate for office from Olmert's Kadima party, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, is said to oppose reaching a deal on Jerusalem or refugees ahead of elections, fearing it will harm her prospects among center-right voters. Livni is Olmert's chief negotiator with the Palestinians.
In spite of the upcoming elections and the Israeli government's subsequent political instability, teams of Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have been quietly meeting regularly the past few weeks in hope of concluding a series of understandings on key issues. Informed sources said any understandings reached will be backed up by Bush in an official letter. It is unclear how much weight such a letter will carry under a new U.S. administration.
According to the sources, neither side expects to conclude any deal on
the status of Jerusalem or Palestinian "refugees" before January,
putting aside those issues for future talks. Instead, negotiations are focused
on reaching an agreement emphasizing borders, particularly a pledged Israeli
evacuation of the vast majority of the strategic West Bank, which borders
central Israeli population centers. more...
Anarchy Has Come News With Views (November 20, 2008) - President Bush reportedly said that the Constitution was “just a G—D—n piece of paper.” It is hard to believe that the report is true, but you would have to admit that recent happenings in this once-great Constitutional Republic reflect the opinions of many in power in the nation’s capital.
Despite what you might hear on the news, or out of the mouth of our elected officials, America is not a Democracy. In fact, according to our Founders, a democracy was the worst form of all governments. Listen to what some wise men have said.
“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” | Ben Franklin
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” | Winston Churchill
“Democracy is the road to socialism.” | Karl Marx
According to Webster’s unabridged Dictionary, a republic is “A form of government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law." I don’t have the time or the space to go over it for you. Please just read this commentary that I wrote two-years ago if you need it explained further.
Socialism is coming at us faster than a locomotive and we can’t even hear the train whistle. If we don’t rise up soon and DEMAND that government stay within the restrictions that the Founders put in place we will never pass to the next generation the “blessings of liberty” that our fathers passed to us.
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Without it, America is a lawless nation and those in power are the boldest criminals. Please remember this; we have no Constitutional Rights, we have God-granted rights. The purpose of the Constitution was to restrain government. The Bill of Rights should actually be called the Bill of Government Limitations. Individual citizens cannot violate the Constitution. Only governments can. I am doing my best to write this commentary without my usual hyperbole. As Joe Friday would say, “Just the facts.”
Our ‘elected officials” swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. None of them do and we let them get away with it. The Courts are the worst. The “domestic enemies” use the courts to subvert this nation and hardly a peep is heard as judges arbitrarily rewrite the Constitution. Marbury v Madison was the source of the decree that “All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void.” Marbury vs. Madison 5 US (2 Cranch) 137, 174, 176, (1803). We must reclaim the Constitution if the Republic is to be saved. Look at how far we have fallen.
Most of these freedoms are under assault as courts determine when and where they can be exercised. The fairness doctrine, public prayer, freedom of assembly, and hate speech legislation are all eviscerating the restraints on government.
The new administration promises “change”. Those who are awake know that one of those changes will be government restriction on the God-given right to own guns. That’s why gun sales are through the roof with the election of Obama.
American soldiers are never to be used against the citizenry. It is call Posse Comitatus which has been suspended by “Executive Order.” The 3rd Infantry is now active on American soil. Of course, they are here to help in “emergencies.”
Ditto. See Patriot Act above
See Habeas corpus above.
Need I go on? So the voters in California determined that marriage shall remain a union between a man and a woman and the anarchists hit the streets. They invade churches, and appeal to the courts to overturn the will of the people.
Anarchy is defined as a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority. Lawless is abounding in America. Bankers openly steal from the people, government hands out money in violation of their oath, voter fraud runs rampant, and our new president may not even be eligible for the office.
America’s Constitution is a “living breathing document” because God’s Word is no longer the rock upon which all law stands. Remove God and you remove His laws. Remove His laws and you remove the pillars. The non-constitutional separation between the church and the state has removed the foundation of all moral law.
If God is gone, then government is god. “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” | John Adams
“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” | James Madison, 1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia
Anarchy has come to America.
Recession fears hit stock markets BBC News (November 20, 2008) - Wall Street shares have fallen steeply for the second day in a row, amid investors' growing fears of a protracted economic downturn. The Dow Jones average tumbled 5.5% after politicians said they could not agree on an immediate $25bn bail-out for the troubled US carmakers. Concerns over a sharp slowdown in US factory activity also added to worries about the strength of the economy. Earlier, European markets all closed sharply lower on recession worries.
US carmakers Ford, General Motors and Chrysler have now been told to come up with their own viable recovery plan by 2 December if they want a $25bn (£17bn) government rescue. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that without such a plan there would be no bail-out. She said there was currently no plan in circulation that could pass both Houses of Congress and win President George W Bush's approval.
At the close the Dow was down 449.99 at 7,552.29. The Nasdaq was down 5%, or 70 points, at 1,316.12. Adding to the gloom, a business survey from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve showed that factory activity covering the key areas of eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware fell by more than forecast in November. The index, which is seen as a key gauge of the future state of US manufacturing, slipped to minus 39.3 from minus 37.5 in October.
And new claims for unemployment benefits leapt last week to their highest in 16 years, according to the US labour department. "The unemployment data was yet another ugly data point in a seemingly never-ending stream of poor economic numbers," said Michael Wittner, global head of oil research at Societe Generale.
The White House indicated on Thursday that Mr Bush would approve legislation to increase unemployment benefits.
Meanwhile, shares in Citigroup tumbled to their lowest level in more than 15 years, despite news that Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a long-time investor in the bank, was increasing his stake from less than 4% to 5%.
The deepening global recession is being felt in a number of ways:
In Europe, the London, Paris and Frankfurt markets were all down by more
than 3%. In Asia on Thursday, Japan's Nikkei index ended 6.8% lower and
Hong Kong's main index fell more than 4%.
Cosmic Rays from Mysterious Source Bombarding Earth Universe Today (November 19, 2008) - Scientists have discovered an unidentified source of high-energy cosmic rays bombarding Earth from space. They say it must be close to the solar system and it could be made of dark matter. "This is a big discovery," says John Wefel of Louisiana State University and Principal Investigator for ATIC, Advanced Thin Ionization Calorimeter, a NASA funded balloon-borne instrument high over Antarctica. "It's the first time we've seen a discrete source of accelerated cosmic rays standing out from the general galactic background."
The new results show an unexpected surplus of cosmic ray electrons at very high energy — 300-800 billion electron volts — that must come from a previously unidentified source or from the annihilation of very exotic theoretical particles used to explain dark matter. "This electron excess cannot be explained by the standard model of cosmic ray origin," said Wefel. "There must be another source relatively near us that is producing these additional particles."
According to the research, this source would need to be within about 3,000 light years of the sun. It could be an exotic object such as a pulsar, mini-quasar, supernova remnant or an intermediate mass black hole. "Cosmic ray electrons lose energy during their journey through the galaxy," said Jim Adams, ATIC research lead at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. "These losses increase with the energy of the electrons. At the energies measured by our instrument, these energy losses suppress the flow of particles from distant sources, which helps nearby sources stand out."
The scientists point out, however, that there are few such objects close to our solar system. "These results may be the first indication of a very interesting object near our solar system waiting to be studied by other instruments," Wefel said.
An alternative explanation is that the surplus of high energy electrons might result from the annihilation of very exotic particles put forward to explain dark matter. In recent decades, scientists have learned that the kind of material making up the universe around us only accounts for about five percent of its mass composition. Close to 70 percent of the universe is composed of dark energy (so called because its nature is unknown). The remaining 25 percent of the mass acts gravitationally just like regular matter, but does little else, so it is normally not visible.
The nature of dark matter is not understood, but several theories that describe how gravity works at very small, quantum distances predict exotic particles that could be good dark matter candidates. "The annihilation of these exotic particles with each other would produce normal particles such as electrons, positrons, protons and antiprotons that can be observed by scientists," said Eun-Suk Seo, ATIC lead at the University of Maryland, College Park.
The 4,300-pound ATIC experiment is carried to an altitude of about 124,000
feet above Antarctica using a helium-filled balloon about as large as the
interior of the New Orleans Superdome. The goal of the project is to study
cosmic rays that otherwise would be absorbed into the atmosphere.
Peres Says Peace Is Made by Closing the Eyes Israel National News (November 17, 2008) - President Shimon Peres told Diaspora Jewish leaders Monday, "You have to close your eyes" to make peace. He also reasoned that a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority will encourage Sunni Muslims against Ahmadinejad.
Speaking at the annual General Assembly of the United Jewish Committees, he said that "making peace is a little bit like marriage [and] you have to close your eyes and accept what is possible to accept." His audience laughed and applauded.
He also explained his reasoning why surrendering Judea and Samaria to the PA and establishing a new Arab state in their place would have a domino effect on peace in the Middle East.
Iran is the only regional country that wants to control the Middle East, President Peres stated. He reasoned that a peace pact with the PA would show Sunni Muslims it does not have to accept Shi'ite dominance by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's faction.
He wants "to run the Middle East, in the name of religion",
the octogenarian president continued. "The Persians in Iran are, all
told, 35 million people. The Iranians are 70 million, half of them minorities,
and half are Persians. And it is the Persians who are the producers of the
ayatollahs and the fanatic people. They want to control 350 million people
[of the Middle East], 90 percent of whom are Sunni."
Irish voters may back Lisbon treaty, poll reveals EU Observer (November 17, 2008) - A fresh poll has suggested the Irish could back the EU's Lisbon treaty in a second attempt, repeating the same scenario as with the vote on the previous EU institutional reform. The survey published in Irish Times on Monday (17 November) indicates there has been a change of mood among Ireland's voters since the June referendum, as 43 percent of respondents say they would vote for the Lisbon treaty against 39 percent who would vote No and 18 percent who have no opinion.
The poll asked people if they would vote for a modified document which would allow Dublin to keep a national commissioner in the EU executive. Under the existing version of Lisbon, the 27-strong commission should be reduced so that from 2014, two thirds of member states would rotate in being represented in the EU's key law-proposing body.
The other modification suggested by the authors of the poll was that the Irish would get clear confirmation of their neutrality and their right to rule on issues such as abortions or taxation, in a document attached to the treaty - an idea already supported by several EU leaders as a way to enable a second ballot in Ireland.
The Irish Times pointed out that when the "don't knows" are excluded this gives the Yes side 52.5 percent, with the No side on 47.5 percent, which compares to the referendum result in June of 53.4 percent No and 46.6 percent Yes.
The Irish government is due to decide on whether to hold a second vote in early December. "We will make that decision in advance of the December meeting," Irish foreign minister Micheal Martin told RTE television on late Sunday (16 November), referring to the EU summit of heads of states and governments to be held in Brussels on 11-12 December. "We have looked at a variety of alternatives," Mr Martin added in the TV interview, noting that the research carried out by the government "has shown up a range of issues people were concerned about."
A similar scenario as suggested by the Irish Times poll was followed
in October 2002 when the Irish voted on the EU's currently-applicable Treaty
of Nice for the second time, after rejecting it in a referendum held in
June 2001. Back then, the government of Bertie Ahern received a so-called
Seville Declaration on Ireland's policy of military neutrality from the
European Council, the gathering of EU leaders.
Japanese economy now in recession BBC (November 17, 2008) - Japan's economy has entered its first recession since 2001 after shrinking by 0.1% in the third quarter. The world's second-biggest economy had previous shrunk by 0.9% in the April to June quarter. "The downtrend in the economy will continue for the time being as global growth slows," said Japanese Economy Minister Kaoru Yosano.
The eurozone officially slipped into recession last week, and the US is expected to follow. "We need to bear in mind that economic conditions could worsen further as the US and European financial crisis deepens, worries of economic downturn heighten and stock and foreign exchange markets make big swings," Mr Yosano added. The benchmark Nikkei share index fell on opening after the growth data was released, but it later rebounded and closed up 0.7%. The Nikkei has lost a quarter of its value since the beginning of October.
Growth in Japan has been hit by the global economic slowdown which has
curbed demand for Japanese exports. "The risk of Japan posting a third
or fourth straight quarterly contraction is growing, given the fact that
we can no longer rely on exports," said Takeshi Minami, chief economist
at Norinchukin Research Institute. Japan's economy had experienced its longest
period of economic growth since World War II until the sub-prime crisis
started a year ago.
Indonesia Issues Tsunami Warning after Strong 7.7 Mag Earthquake Times Online (November 16, 2008) - Indonesia issued a tsunami warning today after a strong earthquake struck in the area of northern Sulawesi, but rapidly downgraded the threat. The quake had a magnitude of 7.7 and struck in the Gorontalo area of Sulawesi island at a shallow depth of 10 km (6.2 miles).
Indonesia had launched its early warning system only last week in order to prevent a repeat of the tsunami disaster of 2004 when waves caused by an undersea earthquake killed a quarter of a million people across Asia. The $130 million (£84 million) Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System, built with German technology and funded by five foreign governments, is designed to broadcast tsunami warnings within minutes of such an earthquake, using seabed sensors, land-based seismometers and satellite positioning equipment.
However, only two of the ten necessary buoys are in place and 22 will
be needed to make the most of the system. About 170,000 of the victims on
Boxing Day 2004 were in Indonesia’s Aceh province, parts of which were inundated
within 15 minutes of the earthquake. Its victims received no warning. Today's
alert came after an initial report from the US Geological Survey.
Obama transition tangled in ties to lobbying New York Times (November 14, 2008) - President-elect Barack Obama has imposed stricter conflict-of-interest restrictions on his White House transition team than any president before him. But a list of transition team members that his office made public on Friday includes a complicated tangle of ties to private influence-seekers.
Among the full roster of about 150 staff members being assigned to government agencies between now and Inauguration Day are dozens of former lobbyists and some who were registered as recently as this year. Many more are executives and partners at firms that pay lobbyists, and former government officials who work as consultants or advisers to those seeking influence.
After campaigning on promises to end the influence of lobbyists in the White House, Mr. Obama has imposed rules that bar officials on his transition team from handling any issues in areas of policy where they have lobbied over the last 12 months or from seeking to influence the same agencies for the next 12 months. The rules also bar officials from working on matters where family members or recent business associates may have a direct conflict of interest. In cases where there is even an “appearance of conflict,” officials must seek a waiver from the transition’s executive director, an Obama Senate aide and law school classmate, Christopher Lu.
At least one official initially involved in the transition appears to have been reassigned because of concern about his lobbying or legal work. Henry Rivera, a former Democratic commissioner on the Federal Communication Commission who was involved in planning for the agency’s transition, has dropped out of that role because he had represented clients on communications policy in the last year, the newsletter Communications Daily reported Friday. Instead, on the list that was made public on Friday, Mr. Rivera was listed on the team handling science, technology, space and the arts. The rules permit people who have lobbied in one area to join an Obama transition team in another. (With Mr. Rivera is Jim Kohlenberger, executive director of an advocacy group for Internet companies.) Representatives of the transition team declined to comment on the assignment, and Mr. Rivera did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Transition officials said that their policy went further than any previous White House to avoid self-dealing or influence-trading in the formation of the new administration, and that in the modern Washington it would be foolish to try to eliminate anyone who had worked in public policy for a private interest — or who had a family member in that business — from contributing to the transition. Stephanie Cutter, a transition spokeswoman, said in a written statement that the transition team reflected what she called Mr. Obama’s “commitment to change the way Washington does business and curb the influence of lobbyists on our government.” “While these rules disqualify many well-qualified professionals from participating in the transition as a result, they also put in place the right safeguards to prevent any potential conflicts of interest,” Ms. Cutter said.
Some appear to skirt the edges of the ban on working in areas of the transition where they have recently lobbied. Handling some Interior Department issues is Keith Harper, who lobbied earlier this year for Native American tribes. Overseeing the Consumer Products Safety Commission is Pamela Gilbert, a former executive director of the agency who as recently as two years ago lobbied for a consumer advocacy group. Within the last year she has lobbied for the company Barr Laboratories, for an investor group, and for an antitrust enforcement group.
Among the group handling the Justice Department and civil rights areas of the transition is Theodore Shaw, a litigator for an arm of the N.A.A.C.P. He has registered as a lobbyist for the group in the past, but N.A.A.C.P. officials say he has not lobbied in the past 12 months.
David J. Hayes, part of the 12-member group overseeing the transition and co-head of the team handling the areas of energy and natural resources, is the chairman of the environmental practice at the law and lobbying firm Latham & Watkins. He was personally registered as a lobbyist as recently as 2006, for clients including San Diego Gas and Electric.
Sally Katzen, another member of the supervisory group who is also on teams for the office of the president and government operations, was registered last year to lobby for the pharmaceutical company Amgen on Medicare reimbursements. Louisa Terrell, another member of the top working group, is on leave from the public policy office of the Internet company Yahoo! Tom Wheeler, another of the 12, is on leave from a firm that invests in technology companies and before 2004 lobbied for the cable television and wireless industries.
John L. White, a former Clinton official charged with overseeing the new Defense Department, is a partner in a firm that invests in defense contractors. Michael Warren, charged with overseeing Treasury, is chief operating officer of a firm that lobbies for clients including the U.S.-India Business Council.
Several of the officials have ties to the Fannie Mae, the government-backed
mortgage firm whose implosion this fall contributed to the financial meltdown.
Thomas Donilon, overseeing the State Department, is a partner in the law
and lobbying firm O’Melveny and Myers who until three years ago lobbied
for Fannie Mae. Wendy R. Sherman, the other official charged with reviewing
the State Department, once headed Fannie Mae’s charitable foundation. And
James Johnson, a former top officer of Fannie Mae, is on the economics and
international trade team, charged with reviewing the Commodities Futures
Trading Commission. more...
Eurozone officially in recession BBC (November 14, 2008) - The eurozone has officially slipped into recession after EU figures showed that the economy shrank by 0.2% in the third quarter. This follows a 0.2% contraction in the 15-nation area in the previous quarter from April to June. Two quarters of negative growth define a technical recession. The news was widely anticipated and follows data showing that Germany and Italy, two of the biggest eurozone economies, are already in recession.
BBC Berlin correspondent Steve Rosenberg said the figures were not a surprise. "The Germans had their gloomy economic news [on Thursday] and as Germany is the dynamo of the European economy, when there are problems there, it drags the rest of the region down with it," he said. It is the first recession the region has seen since the euro's creation in 1999.
But analysts forecast worse to come for the countries that use the euro. "Looking ahead, we can expect further quarters of negative GDP growth, until the third quarter of 2009, simply because so far we have not had in the GDP figures the full impact of the credit market crisis," said Gilles Moec, senior economist, Bank of America. "We also haven't yet seen the full impact of unemployment on consumer spending," he added, forecasting that the eurozone region will shrink by 1% next year.
The gloomy forecasts are being fuelled by the uncertainty relating to the financial panic and slowing exports exacerbated by the strengthening euro against the dollar and pound. Carmakers - major European employers - are suffering particularly badly with data from the European carmakers' association, Acea, showing car sales down 14.5% in October for the sixth month in a row.
The sharp decline in exports has winded Germany - one of the world's largest economies - with data out on Thursday showing it had shrunk 0.5% in the third quarter, following a 0.4% drop in the second quarter. The Italian and Spanish economies followed suit, also shrinking in the third quarter. For Spain, it was the first such drop since 1993. Analysts are now convinced that a slump in household spending and a property crisis are likely to push the Spanish economy into recession as well, in the next quarter.
Much to the surprise of most analysts, France's economy bucked the trend and expanded in the third quarter, supported by consumer spending and company investment. Official data showed that the French economy grew by 0.1% in the June to September period.
More interest rate cuts?
The European Central Bank this month lowered its key interest rate to 3.25% to kick-start the eurozone's flagging economy and more cuts are expected as it becomes clearer that inflation risks are now retreating. The Eurostat statistics agency said that annual inflation had come down to 3.2% in October from 3.6% in September, as oil prices have more than halved since reaching a peak above $147 a barrel in July. Some analysts are predicting they could go as low as 2% - the same level they stood when the eurozone was formed in 1999.
Meanwhile, the wider European Union (EU), made up of 27 countries, is also in danger of slipping into a recession with the region's output shrinking by 0.2% in the third quarter, after flat growth in the previous three months. The UK is expected to join the roll-call of European countries in recession with a bleak Bank of England forecast earlier this week suggesting that Britain is already there.
Despite a week's worth of grim data, European stock markets rose. The UK's FTSE 100 climbed as much as 3.6% before paring earlier gains to close up 1.5% at 4,233 while the German Dax and the French Cac also posted modest gains.
The member states of the eurozone are France, Italy, Germany, Belgium,
the Irish Republic, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia,
Malta, Greece, Austria, Finland and Cyprus.
German economy falls into recession Associated Press (November 13, 2008) - The German economy, Europe's biggest, tipped into recession in the third quarter as weakening exports fueled a bigger-than-expected fall in national output, government figures showed Thursday. Gross domestic product contracted by 0.5 percent in the July-September period compared with the previous quarter, the Federal Statistical Office said — a much sharper fall than the roughly 0.2 percent decline economists had expected. That followed a 0.4 percent fall in GDP in the second quarter, which was the first decline since late 2004, and a 1.4 percent growth rate in the first quarter.
A technical recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. The statistical office said a slight increase in consumer and government spending in the third quarter, during which the global financial crisis gathered pace, was offset by falling exports and a large increase in imports. Exports are a mainstay of the German economy and largely powered its stronger performance over recent years.
Holger Schmieding, chief European economist at Bank of America, said the third-quarter economic decline may be "just the beginning." "Late 2008 and early 2009 could well be worse," he said. "Germany — and the euro zone — have to get ready for a serious recession."
Economists said the bigger-than-expected fall was partly explained by upward revisions to the first- and second-quarter figures — previously reported as a 1.3 percent rise and 0.5 percent decline. In addition, the euro reached record levels against the U.S. dollar during the quarter and oil prices hit all-time highs. Both have since retreated. Still, Thursday's figures pointed to more trouble ahead. Schmieding forecast that the German economy would shrink by 0.6 percent in both the current quarter and next year's first quarter.
Timo Klein, an economist at IHS Global Insight in Frankfurt, said that "net exports will stay on a weakening trend for most of 2009, due to faltering euro zone and indeed global demand." The euro's decline against the dollar "will offset this only partially, as the pace of growth in foreign countries is a much more important variable for German exports than the exchange rate," he added.
Klein said declining oil prices and inflation could support private consumption, but fears over jobs could hold back consumer spending. The government is predicting growth of 1.7 percent for the whole of 2008, but forecasts the economy will slow to 0.2 percent next year. On Wednesday, its independent panel of economic advisers offered a gloomier outlook, forecasting zero growth in 2009.
In an effort to reduce the impact of the economic crisis, the government
is pushing through a stimulus package ranging from tax breaks on new cars
to credit assistance for companies. It is aimed at triggering investments
of up to 50 billion euros ($63 billion).
Ex-Hitler youth's warning to America WorldNet Daily (November 13, 2008) - Because it has abandoned moral absolutes and its historic Christian faith, the U.S. is moving closer to a Nazi-style totalitarianism, warns a former German member of the Hitler Youth in a new book. "Every day brings this nation closer to a Nazi-style totalitarian abyss," writes Hilmar von Campe, now a U.S. citizen, and author of "Defeating the Totalitarian Lie: A Former Hitler Youth Warns America."
Von Campe has founded the national Institute for Truth and Freedom to fight for a return to constitutional government in the U.S. – a key, he believes, to keeping America free. "I lived the Nazi nightmare, and, as the old saying goes, 'A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument,'" writes von Campe. "Everything I write is based on my personal experience in Nazi Germany. There is nothing theoretical about my description of what happens when a nation throws God out of government and society, and Christians become religious bystanders. I don't want to see a repetition. The role of God in human society is the decisive issue for this generation. My writing is part of my life of restitution for the crimes of a godless government, of the evil of which I was a part."
Von Campe grew up under the Nazis, served in the Hitler Youth and fought against the Red Army in the Yugoslavian theater as a tank gunner in the German army. He was captured at the end of the war and escaped five months later from a prisoner of war camp in Communist Yugoslavia. "It took me a long time to understand and define the nature of National Socialism," says von Campe. "And, unfortunately, their philosophy continues to flourish under different labels remaining a menace to America and free human society."
He writes: "The most painful part of defining National Socialism was to recognize my own moral responsibility for the Nazi disaster and their crimes against humanity. It boiled down to accepting the truth that 'as I am, so is my nation,' and realizing that if every German was like me, it was no wonder that the nation became a cesspool of gangsters. This realization is as valid today for any person in any nation as it was then, and it is true for America and every American now."
Von Campe's message is that political freedom and democratic rules alone are not sufficient to govern humanity justly. "Democratic procedures can be subverted and dishonest politicians are like sand in the gearbox, abundant, everywhere and destructive," he writes. "What I see in America today is people painting their cabins while the ship goes down. Today in America we are witnessing a repeat performance of the tragedy of 1933 when an entire nation let itself be led like a lamb to the Socialist slaughterhouse. This time, the end of freedom is inevitable unless America rises to her mission and destiny."
Von Campe says he sees spiritual parallels among Americans and his childhood Germany. "The silence from our pulpits regarding the moral collapse of American society from within is not very different from the silence that echoed from the pulpits in Germany toward Nazi policies," he explains. "Our family lived through the Nazi years in Germany, an experience typical of millions of Europeans regardless of what side they were on. We paid a high price for the moral perversions of a German government, which excluded God and His Commandments from their policies. America must not continue following the same path to destruction, but instead heed the lessons of history and the warning I am giving."
Specifically, von Campe warns Americans their political leaders are on
the wrong footing, "denying our cultural and traditional roots based
on our unique Constitution and Christian orientation as a nation. Christians
don't understand their mission."
'Gay fascists' storm church, attack members One News Now (November 13, 2008) - Homosexual activists recently attacked a Michigan church during its worship service. The attack occurred at Mount Hope Church in Lansing, Michigan, by a group of self-described homosexual anarchists called "Bash Back!" Susan Fani of the Catholic League describes what happened.
"Outside they were chanting 'Jesus was a homo' on a megaphone. They were beating on buckets, presumably to drown out what the pastor was saying inside the church, and carrying an upside-down pink cross," she explains. "They set off the fire alarm. They unfurled this big banner because they apparently were hiding in an unused part of the church, like the balcony area." A Catholic League article also notes the "gay fascists" stormed the pulpit and shouted obscenities at church members. The protesters carried a banner that read, "It's okay to be gay! Bash Back!"
Fani contends the group's activities were illegal. "The police did show up and, as far as we can tell, no one was arrested, which we also don't understand because apparently most of the 30 or so people in this group fled before the police got there, but some were still there," she adds.
President of the Catholic League Bill Donahue laments the refusal of
the biased, mainstream media to report on what he calls one of the most
disturbing events this year. "If an organized group of gay bashers
stormed a gay church, there is not a single sentient person in the United
States who wouldn't know about it." The league is contacting Mike Cox,
Michigan's attorney general, for an investigation.
Liberals clinically mad, concludes top psychiatrist WorldNet Daily (November 12, 2008) - Just when liberals thought it was safe to start identifying themselves as such, an acclaimed, veteran psychiatrist is making the case that the ideology motivating them is actually a mental disorder. "Based on strikingly irrational beliefs and emotions, modern liberals relentlessly undermine the most important principles on which our freedoms were founded," says Dr. Lyle Rossiter, author of the new book, "The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness." "Like spoiled, angry children, they rebel against the normal responsibilities of adulthood and demand that a parental government meet their needs from cradle to grave."
While political activists on the other side of the spectrum have made similar observations, Rossiter boasts professional credentials and a life virtually free of activism and links to "the vast right-wing conspiracy." For more than 35 years he has diagnosed and treated more than 1,500 patients as a board-certified clinical psychiatrist and examined more than 2,700 civil and criminal cases as a board-certified forensic psychiatrist. He received his medical and psychiatric training at the University of Chicago.
Rossiter says the kind of liberalism being displayed by both Barack Obama and his Democratic primary opponent Hillary Clinton can only be understood as a psychological disorder. "A social scientist who understands human nature will not dismiss the vital roles of free choice, voluntary cooperation and moral integrity – as liberals do," he says. "A political leader who understands human nature will not ignore individual differences in talent, drive, personal appeal and work ethic, and then try to impose economic and social equality on the population – as liberals do. And a legislator who understands human nature will not create an environment of rules which over-regulates and over-taxes the nation's citizens, corrupts their character and reduces them to wards of the state – as liberals do."
Dr. Rossiter says the liberal agenda preys on weakness and feelings of inferiority in the population by:
"The roots of liberalism – and its associated madness – can be clearly
identified by understanding how children develop from infancy to adulthood
and how distorted development produces the irrational beliefs of the liberal
mind," he says. "When the modern liberal mind whines about imaginary
victims, rages against imaginary villains and seeks above all else to run
the lives of persons competent to run their own lives, the neurosis of the
liberal mind becomes painfully obvious."
With Dr. Ron Paul McAlvany Weekly Commentary
(November 12, 2008) - Congressman Ron Paul
of Texas enjoys a national reputation as the premier advocate for liberty
in politics today. Dr. Paul is the leading spokesman in Washington for limited
constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound
monetary policies based on commodity-backed currency. He is known among
both his colleagues in Congress and his constituents for his consistent
voting record in the House of Representatives: Dr. Paul never votes for
legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution.
In the words of former Treasury Secretary William Simon, Dr. Paul is the
“one exception to the Gang of 535″ on Capitol Hill.
Has the U.N. Found the Smoking Gun in the Syrian ‘Nuclear’ Incident?
The Media Line (November
11, 2008) - There are widespread reports in the international media
that the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) inspectors found traces
of weapons-grade uranium at a site in Syria, which Israel is believed to
have destroyed in an air strike a year ago. The reports suggest the uranium
was discovered in June, but the story has only just been leaked to the media.
Confirmation is expected to come from the IAEA’s head Muhammad Al-Barade’i
when the United Nations’ watchdog meets at the end of this month. Since
the bombing, Syria has insisted the site was used for agricultural purposes,
but media reports have persisted about North Korean involvement, as well
as links to Iran’s nuclear program.
Russia to Sell Heavy Arms to Lebanon Israel National News (November 10, 2008) - Following a meeting last week between leading Lebanese legislator Sa'ad Hariri and Russian leaders, Hariri was quoted by Russian media this weekend as saying Russia will sell heavy weaponry to Lebanon. Previously, Hariri said that he hoped Russia would help Lebanon claim Mt. Dov from Israel. Russia is expecting Lebanon to recognize the independence of the breakaway Georgian districts of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Hariri, the son of the assassinated popular former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, represents the Western-backed majority in the Lebanese parliament. Russia will "help the Lebanese army," the Vremia Novosti newspaper quoted Hariri as saying, "which needs heavy weapons" such as tanks and artillery. American military aid, Hariri told Russian media, only consists of light arms.
Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr is to visit Moscow in coming weeks, when the details of the arms deal will be finalized. The Russian state arms export firm, Rosoboronexport, has been boycotted by the United States government for arms deals with Iran, North Korea and Syria.
In early October, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and urged him not to approve the sale of weapons to Iran and Syria. It was imperative, he told the Russian leader, to "prevent weapons from Syria from reaching extremist elements in Lebanon, such as Hizbullah."
Mt. Dov and Abkhazia-S. Ossetia - Quid Pro Quo?
Last week, during an official visit to Moscow by Hariri and other legislators, Lebanese media strongly emphasized Hariri's expression of his appreciation for Russia's role in working towards an Israeli withdrawal from the Mt. Dov area (called "Shab'a Farms" in Lebanon) along the Israeli border with Lebanon. A report published by the Beirut-based English-language Daily Star was entitled, "Hariri Looks to Russia to Help Liberate Shab'a Farms", although the article itself did not present any direct quote on the matter from Lebanese or Russian officials.
After his meeting with Hariri, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia was against foreign interference in Lebanese domestic affairs. It was not clear if he was referring to actions by Syria, Israel or other foreign interventions.
The Iran-controlled Lebanese terrorist organization Hizbullah, in the meantime, said recently that an Israeli withdrawal from Mt. Dov would only be a start. The group claims seven Arab villages in northern Israel are actually Lebanese. In any event, both Iran and Hizbullah have repeatedly made it clear that they do not believe Israel should exist at all, regardless of border demarcations. A Hizbullah spokesman said last week that the group would not give up it arms until Lebanon had another force capable of confronting Israel.
Touching on Lebanese policy towards matters in the Slavic states, Hariri
was quoted as saying that Lebanon may well recognize the independence of
the breakaway Georgian districts of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Russian
Vremya Novostei newspaper quoted Hariri as saying, "We will fine tune
contacts with South Ossetia and Abkhazia now. For example, delegations of
[Lebanese] businessmen will be leaving for there soon." Russia has
backed the secession of the regions from Georgia, including launching a
war in their defense in August of this year.
Council on Foreign Relations president predicts coups, genocide and terrorism to test Obama Current (November 9, 2008) - Echoing Vice President-Elect Joe Biden's promise of a generated crisis and Colin Powell's revelation of a crisis that will happen on January 21 or 22, we now have the president of the Council on Foreign Relations and Biderberger Richard Haas' similar predictions of doom and gloom scheduled for President-Elect Obama.
"While foreign leaders may or may not choose to test Obama, "the one thing I'm sure of is, events will test him," Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haass said. "There will be coups. ... There will be genocide. ... There will be terrorism."
In 74 days, President-elect Barack Obama will assume responsibility for
guiding the nation out of two wars and through a daunting array of real
and potential global crises. Obama is likely to benefit from initial goodwill
across much of the planet, where there's profound relief that the Bush years
are ending. Still, the new president — untested in foreign affairs — faces
what may be the most unsettled global scene since the 1930s and '40s."
Russia: A Future Radical Muslim Superpower? Front Page Magazine (November 9, 2008) - Frontpage Interview's guest today is Ilshat Alsayef, one of the founding members of Muslims Against Sharia. He was born in of the Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. A military officer for most of his adult life, Mr. Alsayef started his military career as a Second Lieutenant during the Soviet-Afghan war and retired as a Lieutenant-Colonel after the First Chechen War.
FP: Ilshat Alsayef, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Alsayef: Thank you very much for having me here.
FP: Tell us about the state of radicalization of Muslims in Russia and other ex-Soviet republics.
Alsayef: There were two waves of radicalization of the ex-Soviet Muslims. The first wave started after the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. After the fall of communism, former Soviet Asian republics, now independent countries (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) as well as autonomous regions of Russia (Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia), experienced a resurgence of religious freedom.
Not being able to freely practice their religion for a few generations, some of the local Muslims went overboard. Salafi groups like Hizb-ut-Tahrir, and later al Qaeda, became popular among newly-minted religious zealots. While the conflicts in Asian countries were mostly religious vs. secular, the Chechen conflict also had the independence element.
The second wave of radicalization started at the turn of the century. Some people claim that it was a result of the American War on Terror, which many Muslims interpret as the American War on Islam, but in reality the reason is skyrocketing oil revenues of Wahhabi states.
Centuries-old local mosques are being replaced by modern, Wahhabi-built mosques. Old imams who survived the communists are being replaced by Wahhabi clerics. This is not only true for predominantly Muslim countries like Tajikistan, but also for autonomous regions inside of Russia like Bashkiria and Tatarstan, where most people consider themselves more Russian than Muslim. You can see similar developments in former Yugoslavia, where moderate imams with little financial backing are being replaced by radicals with virtually unlimited financing.
If current demographic trends hold, Muslims in Russia may become a majority by the mid-century. And if current radicalization trends hold, Russia may become a war theatre comparable to Chechnya or Lebanon, but on a much larger scale.
FP: Expand for us a bit please on the demographic trends in Russia. Muslims may be the majority in Russia by mid-century? What will this mean?
Alsayef: The native Russian population is on the decline. About a year ago, the government started to provide a special subsidy for a second child; 250,000 rubles, which is about two average yearly salaries. Attracted by the economic opportunities, there is a steady stream of Muslims from the former Soviet republics and predominantly Muslim parts of the Russian Caucasus. Those Muslims tend to have much larger families than native Russian Muslims. Small Muslim communities of Moscow and St. Petersburg that comprised less 1% of the population 20 years ago have increased more than ten-fold.
The new generation of Muslims is more religious. Unfortunately, since most of the mosques are either completely or partially funded by the Wahhabis, the new generation is also more radical. 20 years ago, Russian Muslims were completely assimilated, both culturally and linguistically. The new generation tends to create its own communities. Those "enclaves" are easier radicalized.
If the trends of isolation and radicalization continue along with current demographic trends and rising oil prices, it is quite possible that by mid-century Russia will become a radical Muslim superpower.
FP: How can the current radicalization trend be stopped? The key is to stop skyrocketing oil revenues for Wahhabi states, yes? But how?
Alsayef: I could never understand why America spends a quarter of a trillion dollars a year on Persian Gulf oil while not using its own oil resources. Especially when some of this money goes to finance radical Islam worldwide (including in America itself) and the American economy suffers from high fuels prices.
Luckily, Russia does not have oil dependency. The long-term solution to stop the flow of petro-dollars to the Wahhabis is to create a non-petroleum energy solution. It will probably not happen in our lifetime, but it doesn't mean that it shouldn't be worked on today. The short-term solution is to combat radical Islam inside every democratic country. One part is to enact legislation to criminalize the spread of radical Islam. It is not an easy task, especially in America where Freedom of Speech is the cornerstone of the Constitution. However, some of the speech could be criminalized, i.e., a death threat to an individual. Advocating Sharia is a death threat to Democratic society. If you can protect an individual, you should be able to protect the society as a whole.
The other needed step is to empower moderate Muslims to combat Islamism in the public square. Unfortunately, neither the Russian nor the American government seems to distinguish between moderate Muslims and 'soft' Jihadis. In fact, Putin went so far as to condemn the publication of Prophet Mohammed cartoons.
While Russia is empowering Iran, America is empowering Saudi Arabia, which is even worse. On top of that, America is legitimizing 'soft' Jihadis and advance of Sharia by putting them in charge of government and academic programs and inviting them to major political events.
FP: Where exactly does Russia stand in the War on Terror? There is, for instance, much evidence that the Putin regime is in league with Islamists on many levels. (Click here to see Pavel Stroilov interview.)
Alsayef: I wouldn't call this evidence. When someone portrays that "FSB blew up four apartment blocks in Russia, and then were caught red-handed attempting to blow-up the fifth" as a fact, the rest of his "facts" must be taken with a grain of salt.
Did the FSB have the ability to blow up four buildings in Moscow? Absolutely. Would the FSB blow up those buildings? I find it highly improbable. Could the FSB get caught red-handed attempting to blow-up the fifth building? Absolutely not. Who would they get caught by? The cops? The cops can't touch them. By the FSB itself? Not bloody likely.
The "fact" that the FSB blew up those buildings is as much of a fact as the "fact" that the CIA blew up the Twin Towers. It is nothing more than a conspiracy theory, and Mr. Stroilov should know better than present it as a fact. The claim that "The Putin-Medvedev regime is doomed" shows that Mr. Stroilov seems to prefer wishful thinking to reality. Barring an act of God, Putin will rule Russia for a long time, no matter what title he comes up with, president, prime minister, or Tzar.
FP: Well, the connection between the FSB and the blow up of four buildings in Moscow appears to me to be pretty solid in terms of what I have studied, and the Twin Towers conspiracy theory analogy doesn’t match in anyway. But we’ll leave this for another forum. Pavel Stroilov is welcome to contribute to our pages on this issue if he wishes. Let’s get to Putin and the tie to Islamists.
Alsayef: In terms of the tie between Putin to the Islamists, first, and pretty much the only one, is Bushehr. Everybody knows that the Iranian nuclear program, euphemistically speaking, goes beyond energy. The Russians know that. The Americans know that. Even the IAEA knows that. What the Russians don't seem to understand, or maybe simply don't care about, is that an Iranian-made nuke could be detonated in Moscow just as easily as it could be detonated in Washington.
Since I'm not privy to the Russian-Iranian nuclear deal, I might not be aware of some safeguards. For example, the Russians might control the weaponized nuclear material production and would be able to match the bomb signature to the reactor. However it is unlikely for Iranians to use a nuclear weapon without plausible deniability, therefore it probably will be given to a third party. This third party most likely would be a radical Islamic group that might ignore the wishes of its masters and detonate the bomb anywhere.
Second is Syria. Syria is a Muslim country and it has a fascist regime, but it is secular. However, Syria-Iranian proxy Hizballah is an Islamist group and weapons sold to Syria have been known to turn up in Hizballah arsenal.
Third is Venezuela. Again, Venezuela's government is hardly Islamist, but Chavez offered Venezuelan passports to radical Muslims who want to go to the United States. As for al-Zawahiri, being the FSB secret agent, that's just another unsubstantiated and highly improbable rumor.
FP: Russia’s stance on the War on Terror?
Alsayef: If the terror is within Russian borders, Russia is very forcefully against it. The famous Putin's phrase about the terrorists is "budem mochit' v sortire" which roughly translates into "we'll whack them in the toilet." But if the terror is outside of Russia and it ties up American resources, then we have a different story. After all, Putin still sees America as Russia’s main rival; the fact that the feelings are not mutual, is somewhat of an insult to him. Russia doesn't mind that much. However, the biggest threat to Russia is not America, it is radicalizing Muslim population within its own borders as well as in Russia's former satellites. Putin is focusing on America while overlooking a growing Islamist threat at home. As the last decades show, radicalization of Muslims always translates into bloodshed, but Putin's government seems to think that it is immune.
FP: Ilshat Alsayef, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
Obama's Council on Foreign Relations Crew Global Research (November 9, 2008) - Meet some of president elect Obama’s leading foreign and domestic policy advisors and likely administration members, every one of them a prominent member of the Council On Foreign Relations. Will these people bring about "change" or will they continue to hold up the same entrenched system forged by the corporate elite for decades?
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Of course, had John McCain become president, being a member of the CFR himself, his administration would have been replete with CFR representatives also. Max Boot, Lawrence Eagleburger and Henry Kissinger, to name but a few, are all CFR members and were all advisors to the McCain campaign.
Please do your own research and add more names in the comments section
of this report. It is important to document how these people are a part
of the engine of global elitism and do not represent change. Only with this
understanding will others wake up to the false left-right paradigm and be
able to create the environment for real political change.
Who are the Architects of Economic Collapse? Will an Obama Administration Reverse the Tide? Global Research (November 9, 2008)
Most Serious Economic Crisis in Modern History
The October 2008 financial meltdown is not the result of a cyclical economic phenomenon. It is the deliberate result of US government policy instrumented through the Treasury and the US Federal Reserve Board. This is the most serious economic crisis in World history.
The "bailout" proposed by the US Treasury does not constitute a "solution" to the crisis. In fact quite the opposite: it is the cause of further collapse. It triggers an unprecedented concentration of wealth, which in turn contributes to widening economic and social inequalities both within and between nations.
The levels of indebtedness have skyrocketed. Industrial corporations are driven into bankruptcy, taken over by the global financial institutions. Credit, namely the supply of loanable funds, which constitutes the lifeline of production and investment, is controlled by a handful of financial conglomerates.
With the "bailout", the public debt has spiraled. America is the most indebted country on earth. Prior to the "bailout", the US public debt was of the order of 10 trillion dollars. This US dollar denominated debt is composed of outstanding treasury bills and government bonds held by individuals, foreign governments, corporations and financial institutions.
"The Bailout": The US Administration is Financing its Own Indebtedness
Ironically, the Wall Street banks --which are the recipients of the bailout money-- are also the brokers and underwriters of the US public debt. Although the banks hold only a portion of the public debt, they transact and trade in US dollar denominated public debt instruments Worldwide.
In a bitter twist, the banks are the recipients of a 700+ billion dollar handout and at the same time they act as creditors of the US government. We are dealing with an absurd circular relationship: To finance the bailout, Washington must borrow from the banks, which are the recipients of the bailout.
The US administration is financing its own indebtedness. Federal, State and municipal governments are increasingly in a straightjacket, under the tight control of the global financial conglomerates. Increasingly, the creditors call the shots on government reform. The bailout is conducive to the consolidation and centralization of banking power, which in turn backlashes on real economic activity, leading to a string of bankruptcies and mass unemployment.
Will an Obama Administration Reverse the Tide?
The financial crisis is the outcome of a deregulated financial architecture. Obama has stated unequivocally his resolve to address the policy failures of the Bush administration and "democratize" the US financial system. President-Elect Barack Obama says that he is committed to reversing the tide:
The Democrats casually blame the Bush administration for the October financial meltdown. Obama says that he will be introducing an entirely different policy agenda which responds to the interests of Main Street:
Is Obama committed to "taming Wall Street" and "disarming financial markets"? Ironically, it was under the Clinton administration that these policies of "greed and irresponsibility" were adopted.
The 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act (FSMA) was conducive to the the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. A pillar of President Roosevelt’s "New Deal", the Glass-Steagall Act was put in place in response to the climate of corruption, financial manipulation and "insider trading" which resulted in more than 5,000 bank failures in the years following the 1929 Wall Street crash.
Bill Clinton signs into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act, November 12, 1999. Under the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act, effective control over the entire US financial services industry (including insurance companies, pension funds, securities companies, etc.) had been transferred to a handful of financial conglomerates and their associated hedge funds.
The Engineers of Financial Disaster
Who are the architects of this debacle? In a bitter irony, the engineers of financial disaster are now being considered by President-Elect Barack Obama's Transition Team for the position Treasury Secretary:
At the time of writing, Obama's favorite is Larry Summers, front-runner for the position of Treasury Secretary. [Timothy Geithner appears to be the front-runner for the position of Treasury Secretary see above] Harvard University Economics Professor Lawrence Summers served as Chief Economist for the World Bank (1991–1993). He contributed to shaping the macro-economic reforms imposed on numerous indebted developing countries. The social and economic impact of these reforms under the IMF-World Bank sponsored structural adjustment program (SAP) were devastating, resulting in mass poverty. Larry Summer's stint at the World Bank coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the imposition of the IMF-World Bank's deadly "economic medicine" on Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics and the Balkans.
In 1993, Summers moved to the US Treasury. He initially held the position of Undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs and later Deputy Secretary. In liaison with his former colleagues at the IMF and the World Bank, he played a key role in crafting the economic "shock treatment" reform packages imposed at the height of the 1997 Asian crisis on South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia.
The bailout agreements negotiated with these three countries were coordinated through Summers office at the Treasury in liaison with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Washington based Bretton Woods institutions. Summers worked closely with IMF Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer, who was later appointed Governor of the Central Bank of Israel.
Larry Summers became Treasury Secretary in July 1999. He is a protégé of David Rockefeller. He was among the main architects of the infamous Financial Services Modernization Act, which provided legitimacy to inside trading and outright financial manipulation.
"Putting the Fox in Charge of the Chicken Coop"
Summers is currently a Consultant to Goldman Sachs and managing director of a Hedge fund, the D.E. Shaw Group, As a Hedge Fund manager, his contacts at the Treasury and on Wall Street provide him with valuable inside information on the movement of financial markets. Putting a Hedge Fund manager (with links to the Wall Street financial establishment) in charge of the Treasury is tantamount to putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop.
The Washington Consensus
Summers, Geithner, Corzine, Volker, Fischer, Phil Gramm, Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Rubin, not to mention Alan Greenspan, al al. are buddies; they play golf together; they have links to the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg; they act concurrently in accordance with the interests of Wall Street; they meet behind closed doors; they are on the same wave length; they are Democrats and Republicans.
While they may disagree on some issues, they are firmly committed to the Washington-Wall Street Consensus. They are utterly ruthless in their management of economic and financial processes. Their actions are profit driven. Outside of their narrow interest in the "efficiency" of "markets", they have little concern for "living human beings." How are people's lives affected by the deadly gamut of macro-economic and financial reforms, which is spearheading entire sectors of economic activity into bankruptcy.
The economic reasoning underlying neoliberal economic discourse is often cynical and contemptuous. In this regard, Lawrence Summers' economic discourse stands out. He is known among environmentalists for having proposed the dumping of toxic waste in Third World countries, because people in poor countries have shorter lives and the costs of labor are abysmally low, which essentially means that the market value of people in the Third World is much lower. According to Summers, this makes it far more "cost effective" to export toxic materials to impoverished countries. A controversial 1991 World Bank memo signed by of Chief Economist Larry Summers reads as follows (excerpts, emphasis added):
Summers stance on the export of pollution to developing countries had a marked impact on US environmental policy:
The 1997 Asian Crisis: Dress Rehearsal for Things to Come
In the course of 1997, currency speculation instrumented by major financial institutions directed against Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea was conducive to the collapse of national currencies and the transfer of billions of dollars of central bank reserves into private financial hands. Several observers pointed to the deliberate manipulation of equity and currency markets by investment banks and brokerage firms.
While the Asian bailout agreements were formally negotiated with the IMF, the major Wall Street commercial banks (including Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and J. P. Morgan) as well as the "big five" merchant banks (Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and Salomon Smith Barney) were "consulted" on the clauses to be included in the Asian bail-out agreements. [Note: These are 1997 denominations of major financial institutions]
The US Treasury in liaison with Wall Street and the Bretton Woods institutions played a central role in negotiating the bailout agreements. Both Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner, were actively involved on behalf of the US Treasury in the 1997 bailout of South Korea:
What happened in Korea under advice from Deputy Treasury Secretary Summers et al, had nothing to do with "financial aid."
The country was literally ransacked. Undersecretary of the Treasury David Lipton was sent to Seoul in early December 1997. Secret negotiations were initiated. Washington had demanded the firing of the Korean Finance Minister and the unconditional acceptance of the IMF "bailout."
A new finance minister, who happened to be former IMF and World Bank official, was appointed and immediately rushed off to Washington for "consultations" with his former IMF colleague Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer.
"Strong economic medicine" is the prescription of the Washington Consensus. "Short term pain for long term gain" was the motto at the World Bank during Lawrence Summers term of as World Bank Chief Economist. (See IMF, World Bank Reforms Leave Poor Behind, Bank Economist Finds, Bloomberg, November 7, 2000)
What we dealing with is an entire " old boys network" of officials and advisers at the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the IMF, World Bank, the Washington Think Tanks, who are in permanent liaison with leading financiers on Wall Street. Whoever is chosen by Obama's Transition team will belong to the Washington Consensus.
The 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act
What happened in October 1999 is crucial. In the wake of lengthy negotiations behind closed doors, in the Wall Street boardrooms, in which Larry Summers played a central role, the regulatory restraints on Wall Street’s powerful banking conglomerates were revoked "with a stroke of the pen".
Larry Summers worked closely with Senator Phil Gramm (1985-2002),chairman of the Senate Banking committee, who was the legislative architect of the the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act, signed into law on November 12, 1999 (See Group Photo above). (For Complete text click US Congress: Pub.L. 106-102). As Texas Senator, Phil Gramm was closely associated with Enron.
In December 2000 at the very end of the Clinton mandate, Gramm introduced a second piece of legislation, the so-called Gramm-Lugar Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which paved the way for the speculative onslaught in primary commodities including oil and food staples.
Phil Gramm was McCain's first choice for Secretary of the Treasury. Under the FSMA new rules – ratified by the US Senate in October 1999 and approved by President Clinton – commercial banks, brokerage firms, hedge funds, institutional investors, pension funds and insurance companies could freely invest in each others businesses as well as fully integrate their financial operations.
A "global financial supermarket" had been created, setting the stage for a massive concentration of financial power. One of the key figures behind this project was Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, in liaison with David Rockefeller. Summers described the FSMA as "the legislative foundation of the financial system of the 21th century". That legislative foundation is among the main causes of the 2008 financial meltdown.
There can be no meaningful solution to the crisis, unless there is a major reform in the financial architecture, implying inter alia the freezing of speculative trade and the "disarming of financial markets". The project of disarming financial markets was first proposed by John Maynard Keynes in the 1940s as a means to the establishment of a multipolar international monetary system. (See J.M. Keynes, Activities 1940-1944, Shaping the Post-War World: The Clearing Union, The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, Royal Economic Society, Macmillan and Cambridge University Press, Vol. XXV, London 1980, p. 57).
Main Street versus Wall Street
Where are Obama's "Main Street appointees"? Namely individuals who respond to the interests of people across America. There are no labor or community leaders on Obama's list for key positions. The President-elect is appointing the architects of financial deregulation. Meaningful financial reform cannot be adopted by officials appointed by Wall Street and who act on behalf of Wall Street. Those who set the financial system ablaze in 1999, have been called back to turn out the fire. The proposed "solution" to the crisis under the "bailout" is the cause of further economic collapse. There are no policy solutions on the horizon.
The banking conglomerates call the shots. They decide on the composition of the Obama Cabinet. They also decide on the agenda of the Washington Financial Summit (November 15, 2008) which is slated to lay the groundwork for the establishment of a new "global financial architecture."
The Wall Street blueprint has already been discussed behind closed doors: the hidden agenda is to establish a unipolar international monetary system, dominated by US financial power, which in turn would be protected and secured by US military superiority.
Neoliberalism with a "Human Face"
There is no indication that Obama will break his ties to his Wall Street sponsors, who largely funded his election campaign. Goldman Sachs, J. P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Bill Gates' Microsoft are among his main campaign contributors. Warren Buffett, among the the world's richest individuals, not only supported Barak Obama's election campaign, he is a member of his transition team, which plays a key role deciding the composition of Obama's cabinet.
Unless there is a major upheaval in the system of political appointments to key positions, an alternative Obama economic agenda geared towards poverty alleviation and employment creation is highly unlikely. What we are witnessing is continuity. Obama provides a "human face" to the status quo. This human face serves to mislead Americans on the nature of the economic and political process. The neoliberal economic reforms remain intact.
The substance of these reforms including the "bailout" of America's
largest financial institutions ultimately destroys the real economy, while
spearheading entire areas of manufacturing and the services economy into
Iran Challenges Obama by Hiking Tensions on Israel’s Borders DEBKAfile (November 8, 2008) - The strategy the Islamic regime has charted for the new US president hinges on fanning tensions on Israel’s northern and southern borders while putting a damper on the various Middle East peace initiatives. Syria was therefore discouraged from returning to its indirect peace track with Israel and Hamas ordered to boycott Egypt’s bid to patch up the quarrel between the Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah.
Tehran’s object is to show Barack Obama who holds the whip hand in the Middle East and force him to seek urgent talks to defuse rising tensions.
At his first news conference as president elect, Obama said Friday, Nov. 7, that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons was “unacceptable” and its support for terrorist organizations “must cease.” He ducked a reporter’s question about whether he had read the letter of congratulation sent him by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and when he would answer. But Iran had already laid out its strategy for the incoming president, jumping in the day before the US presidential election.
Foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki arrived in Damascus on Nov. 3 with a briefing for Syrian president Bashar Assad. According to our Middle East sources, Mottaki said Tehran would enter into dialogue with the new US president only from a position of political and military strength and did not propose to await Obama’s convenience until he took office in the White House on Jan. 20.
Iran’s rulers want to force the new US president to seek them out for a back-door channel of communications, in the same way as Ronald Reagan did while Jimmy Carter was still president to solve the 1980 hostage crisis in Tehran. They plan to make him come to them by raising tensions to crisis level.
While avoiding an explicit order to halt the Syrian-Israel talks, Mottaki gave Assad to understand that he must keep Tehran in the picture on their progress and goals. Better they should lead nowhere. This would fit in with Iran’s intention of putting on the table an impressive crisis package including Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians and so force the new US administration to accept the Islamic republic as the prime power in the region.
To drive this home, they are stirring the pot wherever they can.
DEBKAfile’s Exclusive military sources disclose that Iranian agents, aided by Hizballah, are enlisting Palestinian militias in the big Lebanese Ain Hilwa refugee camp near Sidon and other camps for terrorist missions on Israel’s northern border.
The Israeli government has watched what was going on but done nothing. But US military and intelligence were concerned enough to warn Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that he had better act fast before his Fatah faction lost Ain Hilwa. This happened shortly before US Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice departed for the Middle East Quartet’s Sharm el-Sheikh meeting Sunday, Nov. 9.
Abbas reacted by sacking Sultan Abu Al Aynayn, the veteran Fatah chief for all the refugee camps in Lebanon, and appointing the Palestinian general Kemal Midhath in his stead. But our counter-terror sources strongly doubt that the new man can stem the defections of Palestinian militias from Fatah and halt Iran’s and Hizballah’s takeover of the Ain Hilwa camp – especially since, according to the latest US intelligence information, Col. Al Aynayn had already been bought.
In Gaza, Israeli forces last week pre-empted in the nick of time a Hamas cross-border kidnap operation by means of a tunnel leading under the border fence. Hizballah’s abduction of two Israeli soldiers, the late Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev in July 2006 triggered a full-scale war with Israel. The tunnel was destroyed but Hamas and Jihad Islami have maintained a four-day missile barrage against Israel.
In the diplomatic arena, Saturday, Nov. 8, Hamas suddenly announced a boycott of the oft-postponed Egyptian bid. It had been finally scheduled to take place in Cairo Monday, Nov. 9, to bring Hamas and Fatah together in Cairo for a power-sharing deal to bury the hatchet after three years.
This event was also intended to demonstrate to the Middle East Quartet that Egypt was back at center stage in the Middle East and had succeeded in drawing Hamas out of the radical Iranian orbit to embrace Palestinian unity and give the Quartet’s peace effort a major boost.
But Tehran was ahead of Cairo. Last Tuesday, Hamas leaders, including Khaled Meshaal, were given their orders from the Iranian foreign minister to boycott the Cairo talks. Following his script, a smiling Meshaal told a Sky interviewer: “If the new US president wants a role in the Middle East, he has no choice but to talk to us because we are the real force on the ground.”
By Saturday, Nov. 8, therefore, with missiles already flying from Gaza,
Tehran had managed to spoil the last Middle East journey to be undertaken
by Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, and tip over Egypt’s Palestinian
mediation bid and the prospects of Syrian-Israel talks. Still to come is
a Lebanese-Israeli border flare-up - for which Tehran has already enlisted
Hizballah and Lebanese Palestinian militias.
Big Pharma May be Handed Blanket Immunity for All Drug Side Effects, Deaths Natural News (November 3, 2008) - The Supreme Court may rule that pharmaceutical companies cannot be sued for dangerous or even deadly side effects from their drugs if those side effects arise from an FDA-approved use. Under a legal argument known as "pre-emption," the FDA's approval of a drug absolves companies of any responsibility if that drug later turns out to be dangerous, even if information was concealed from the FDA during the approval process. While courts have rejected this argument for decades, the winds appear to be shifting.
In February, the Supreme Court ruled that makers of medical devices were indeed immune from state lawsuits if their devices had received FDA approval. But that decision hinged on the specific wording of the law that gives the FDA authority over medical devices, and the laws relating to drug regulation are not worded the same way. Even so, the Bush administration has been actively urging the courts to apply the same principle to drugs. The administration argues that only the FDA is equipped to regulate drugs and decide whether a product is safe, and that judges or juries are not able to make informed decisions on those matters.
The FDA has also recently thrown its support behind pre-emption, reversing a longstanding, de-facto policy of viewing lawsuits as an extra layer of oversight to make up for the agency's time and budget constraints. Now the agency says that lawsuits over drug side effects could lead to a confusing state-by-state regulatory patchwork that would cause hardship to drug companies and discourage patients from taking certain medications.
Drug companies are using the pre-emption argument as a legal defense in a wide variety of lawsuits, and the Supreme Court is expected to hear such a case, concerning the company Wyeth, in the fall. Before that, however, a lower federal court is expected to rule on whether pre-emption can be used to dismiss lawsuits by more than 3,000 women who claim that they were injured by using Johnson & Johnson's OrthoEvra birth control patch according to the instructions on the label. more...
Obama and Ahmadinejad Forbes (October 26, 2008) - Is Barack Obama the "promised warrior" coming to help the Hidden Imam of Shiite Muslims conquer the world? The question has made the rounds in Iran since last month, when a pro-government Web site published a Hadith (or tradition) from a Shiite text of the 17th century. The tradition comes from Bahar al-Anvar (meaning Oceans of Light) by Mullah Majlisi, a magnum opus in 132 volumes and the basis of modern Shiite Islam.
According to the tradition, Imam Ali Ibn Abi-Talib (the prophet's cousin and son-in-law) prophesied that at the End of Times and just before the return of the Mahdi, the Ultimate Saviour, a "tall black man will assume the reins of government in the West." Commanding "the strongest army on earth," the new ruler in the West will carry "a clear sign" from the third imam, whose name was Hussein Ibn Ali. The tradition concludes: "Shiites should have no doubt that he is with us."
In a curious coincidence Obama's first and second names--Barack Hussein--mean "the blessing of Hussein" in Arabic and Persian. His family name, Obama, written in the Persian alphabet, reads O Ba Ma, which means "he is with us," the magic formula in Majlisi's tradition.
Mystical reasons aside, the Khomeinist establishment sees Obama's rise as another sign of the West's decline and the triumph of Islam. Obama's promise to seek unconditional talks with the Islamic Republic is cited as a sign that the U.S. is ready to admit defeat. Obama's position could mean abandoning three resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council setting conditions that Iran should meet to avoid sanctions. Seeking unconditional talks with the Khomeinists also means an admission of moral equivalence between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic. It would imply an end to the description by the U.S. of the regime as a "systematic violator of human rights."
Obama has abandoned claims by all U.S. administrations in the past 30 years that Iran is "a state sponsor of terrorism." Instead, he uses the term "violent groups" to describe Iran-financed outfits such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
Obama has also promised to attend a summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference within the first 100 days of his presidency. Such a move would please the mullahs, who have always demanded that Islam be treated differently, and that Muslim nations act as a bloc in dealings with Infidel nations.
Obama's election would boost President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's chances of winning a second term next June. Ahmadinejad's entourage claim that his "steadfastness in resisting the American Great Satan" was a factor in helping Obama defeat "hardliners" such as Hillary Clinton and, later, it hopes, John McCain.
"President Ahmadinejad has taught Americans a lesson," says Hassan Abbasi, a "strategic adviser" to the Iranian president. "This is why they are now choosing someone who understands Iran's power." The Iranian leader's entourage also point out that Obama copied his campaign slogan "Yes, We Can" from Ahmadinejad's "We Can," used four years ago.
A number of Khomeinist officials have indicated their preference for Obama over McCain, who is regarded as an "enemy of Islam." A Foreign Ministry spokesman says Iran does not wish to dictate the choice of the Americans but finds Obama "a better choice for everyone." Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Islamic Majlis, Iran's ersatz parliament, has gone further by saying the Islamic Republic "prefers to see Barack Obama in the White House" next year.
Tehran's penchant for Obama, reflected in the official media, increased when the Illinois senator chose Joseph Biden as his vice-presidential running mate. Biden was an early supporter of the Khomeinist revolution in 1978-1979 and, for the past 30 years, has been a consistent advocate of recognizing the Islamic Republic as a regional power. He has close ties with Khomeinist lobbyists in the U.S. and has always voted against sanctions on Iran.
Ahmadinejad has described the U.S. as a "sunset" (ofuli) power as opposed to Islam, which he says is a "sunrise" (toluee) power. Last summer, he inaugurated an international conference called World Without America--attended by anti-Americans from all over the world, including the U.S.
Seen from Tehran, Obama's election would demoralize the U.S. armed forces by casting doubt on their victories in Iraq and Afghanistan, if not actually transforming them into defeat. American retreat from the Middle East under Obama would enable the Islamic Republic to pursue hegemony of the region. Tehran is especially interested in dominating Iraq, thus consolidating a new position that extends its power to the Mediterranean through Syria and Lebanon.
During the World Without America conference, several speakers speculated that Obama would show "understanding of Muslim grievances" with regard to Palestine. Ahmadinejad hopes to persuade a future President Obama to adopt the "Iranian solution for Palestine," which aims at creating a single state in which Jews would quickly become a minority.
Judging by anecdotal evidence and the buzz among Iranian bloggers, while
the ruling Khomeinists favor Obama, the mass of Iranians regard (and dislike)
the Democrat candidate as an appeaser of the mullahs. Iran, along with Israel,
is the only country in the Middle East where the United States remains popular.
An Obama presidency, perceived as friendly to the oppressive regime in Tehran,
may change that.
This is interesting in light of my study of the False Prophet of scripture and my belief that he will be the 12th Imam. This is also interesting in light of past comments by Ahmadinejad regarding Jesus coming with the 12th Imam.
According to scripture (Revelation 13) there is a false Christ, an antichrist, who is the man of sin. He will present himself as the savior of humanity that should be worshipped, although I don't think he will actually claim to be Jesus. I think that the New Agey idea of "Christ consciousness" will be used instead and through his policies, an appearance of peace will be created...for those who accept him and participate. I believe that the 12th Mahdi/Imam may be that beast from the earth (comes up from a well) and the political head of the Revived Roman Empire in the West is the beast from the sea. Keep watching.
The Story Of Our Generation The Jewish Press (April 23, 2008) - We are in the month of Nissan, the month of Redemption. How we yearn for the geulah. As our Exile becomes more painful and our hearts ache with sorrow, grief and fear, many of us find ourselves crying out to our Father in Heaven:
"Tati, we can't take it any more. We cannot cry another tear. We have none left. We're willing to give up all the toys of Exile: the cars, the cell phones, the entertainment, the 'good life' we have learned to pursue ... all of it! Just bring us back to our Holy Land in peace and harmony. Let us immerse ourselves in Your Holy Torah. That's all we want. It is enough!"
Nissan is the month in which Redemption becomes reality. But how do we bring it about? What can we do? On April 8, 2009, a little less than a year from now, we will recite Birkas haChama, the Blessing on the Sun. Our rabbis have instituted this prayer to be said every twenty-eight years when the sun returns to the exact position it occupied relative to the earth at the moment of original Creation. But that's not all. Occasionally, a few times throughout history, Birkas haChama has fallen on the 14th of Nissan, the day before Passover. One of those times was directly before Yetzias Mitzraim, the Exodus from Egypt. Another time was directly before the original miracle of Purim. The next time will be ... next year.
According to the Kadosh Elyon, the Ostrovster Admor, this will be the very last time in history that Birkas haChama can fall on the day before Passover and that, "shortly afterward, the Redemption must come." That's right - the cosmic event that preceded the two greatest Salvations in the history of the world will take place again next year.
We know the Children of Israel are chosen by God to be His emissaries in the world, to live by His Torah in the Holy Land. Why is it that we are universally hated, reviled, cursed and attacked? Why are we the universal scapegoat? Why is the entire world shooting words, bullets and missiles at us? Why? Because the world's peoples are trying to kill God Himself, trying to free themselves from moral restraints in order to carry on their depraved lifestyles. They can't reach God, however, so they attack His emissaries.
But we seem so helpless, so weak, so powerless. What can we do? Look at the events of Passover. The Children of Israel were subjugated and enslaved, victims of the "superpower" Egypt. No one could challenge the "mighty" Pharaoh. Then came a man named Moses, a servant of the Almighty. God ruled that Egypt must fall, and Egypt came down like a pile of matchsticks or a house constructed of playing cards. The mighty nation disintegrated before anyone knew what was happening. What had seemed the ultimate power, a civilization that would never end, blew away like a puff of smoke.
We must not be blind to the signs that are before our eyes. Did we not see the World Trade Center topple in seconds? Did we not witness the mighty economic structure of Bear Stearns falling apart before our eyes? Did not the powerful governor of one of our great states fall in the blink of an eye? These were mighty structures and mighty men.
I am not casting aspersions on any man nor making any moral judgments. There but for the grace of God go any of us. Yet we must know that to assume the invincibility of anything but Almighty God and His Torah is to depend upon straw. Egypt became a shambles and its great army drowned in the Red Sea. The nations of the world who strut in today's sunlight are ephemeral creations in the Eternity of God's Reality.
We must know that God is preparing great acts that, with His mercy, we will see in our lifetime. Cosmic events greater than the power of any man to control are unfolding. We cannot stop them, but, if we stick like glue to God and His Torah, we will live through them and enter a new existence so great as to be the stuff of our dreams.
Not even the mightiest of men could stop the collapse of the mighty fortress of Egypt, and no one can stop this process. When God desires to liberate His children, no man or nation can stand in the way. Whoever believes the Muslim or Western nations are strong is incorrect. They are twigs that will soon blow away in the mighty wind God is preparing.
When the Blessing on the Sun occurs on the 14th of Nissan, not only does the sun return to its original position relative to the earth; in addition, the moon is full. Both Great Lights are in the position they occupied at the very moment of their Creation.
Every month we say the following Kiddush Levana prayer: "May it be Your will, my God and the God of my forefathers, to fill the flaw of the moon that there be no diminution in it. May the light of the moon be like the light of the sun and like the light of the seven days of creation, as it was before it was diminished, as it is said, 'The two great luminaries.' And may there be fulfilled upon us the verse that is written: They shall seek God, their God and David, their king. Amen."
When the blessing of the sun occurs on the 14th of Nissan, the universe is in exactly the same alignment as at the moment when God created this world. Then the earth was new and pure, untouched by corruption, a world of perfect sanctity, perfect law, perfect alignment between man and his Creator. This was the moment of original redemption, when God created perfect order out of chaos.
Nations of the world that dare to torture God 's chosen emissaries and
challenge our eternal right to dwell in our Holy Land in peace, beware -
the fate of Egypt will be yours. Soon we will see the invincible power and
the salvations of God. The story of Egypt is the story of our generation.
The Putin-Osama Connection Front Page Magazine (January 16, 2008) - Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Pavel Stroilov, a Russian exile in London and the editor and translator of Alexander Litvinenko’s book, Allegations. He was a friend of Litvinenko’s.FP: Pavel Stroilov, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Stroilov: I am very honoured, though I would have much preferred to see the author of the book, Alexander Litvinenko, here in my place. Alas, he cannot speak for himself anymore, so our sad duty is to act as his posthumous spokesmen.
While Alexander was still alive, he made a number of extremely important allegations. If nothing else, his horrible death itself proves that those allegations should be taken very seriously and investigated most thoroughly.
FP: Our thoughts and prayers are with Alexander and with his family. Against all odds, let us hope that his killers will one day be brought to justice. Let’s start our discussion with the FSB’s (Federal Security Service) links to Al-Qaeda.
Stroilov: Alexander revealed, in his articles and interviews included in the Allegations, that at least two notorious Al Qaeda terrorists are secret agents of the FSB – one of whom, Aiman al Zawahiri, is bin Laden’s second-in-command.
As the former leader of the terrorist organisation Egyptian Islamic Jihad, al Zawahiri was on international lists of most wanted terrorists for many years. In 1997, he suddenly re-surfaced in Russia, where he undertook a special training course at a secret FSB base in Dagestan. After that, he was sent to Afghanistan, and joined Al Qaeda as bin Laden’s number two. Meanwhile, the FSB officers who had supervised him in Dagestan were promoted and re-assigned to Moscow. It was from them that Alexander learned about al Zawahiri.
These and other facts of FSB involvement in international terrorism, revealed by Alexander, have tremendous implications. Contrary to the view of many in the US, Russia is anything but a reliable ally of yours in the ‘war on terror’. The Kremlin is playing a treacherous double game: while enjoying the West’s support as ally, it secretly supports and manipulates the Al Qaeda through FSB agents of influence.
As Alexander writes: “It is possible to destroy the whole international terrorism tomorrow, along with Russian Mafia. All you need to do is disband the Russian special services.”
FP: Ok just a second. Alexander states that, “It is possible to destroy the whole international terrorism tomorrow, along with Russian Mafia. All you need to do is disband the Russian special services.” His point is well taken. The FSB does a lot to bolster Islamo-Fascism. And the FSB’s involvement here is significant, dangerous and reprehensible -- and we must be honest about it. But to imply that the threat of radical Islam toward the West would dissipate if the Russian special services were disbanded is a bit of an exaggeration, don’t you think? Alexander is making a strong point with a bit of hyperbole, correct?
Stroilov: Yes, in a sense he is. I don’t think that terrorism would disappear immediately if you just close down the Kremlin and Lubyanka. However, that would certainly do the terrorists more damage than anything you have done yet, and that would open you the way to a final victory.
Indeed, that would be much more than just cutting the enemy supplies. For the war against terrorism is all about intelligence: the most horrible terrorist is absolutely toothless without secrecy. Overthrowing the KGB regime in Russia would mean investigation of its crimes which, in turn, would give you such intelligence about the international terrorist networks which you could never obtain elsewhere. Litvinenko, an FSB officer who was not even involved in supervision of international terrorists, revealed information of tremendous importance about leaders of Al Qaeda. Can you imagine how much more information you would have if only you could interrogate those directly responsible, and search in their secret archives? If, as Alexander wrote, the ‘Kremlin is the centre of world terrorism’, taking over the Kremlin would mean capturing the enemy headquarters. You would know everything: names, chains of commands, communication channels, supply channels, hiding places, etc, etc.
On the other hand, imagine what would happen if the truth about Moscow’s hand in organisations like Al Qaeda is made public. It is hardly a very fresh idea that ‘winning hearts and minds’ of the Muslims is the key to victory in the whole ‘war on terror’. To put it mildly, I strongly doubt that revelations about Al Qaeda leaders’ intimate relations with Moscow would boost their popularity. Rather than being ‘lions of Allah’, as they call each other, they would be exposed as moles of Putin. After that, suicide bombers would probably think twice before obeying their orders. But thinking twice is no good in suicide bombers’ profession.
If you are serious about the global war, let us try and think strategically. The most important strategic target in that war is the Kremlin. That is not only the best way to start winning it, but, as far as I can see, the only way. Paraphrasing Alexander, we can say it is impossible to destroy the international terrorism even in a century unless you disband the Russian secret services first.
FP: Russian special services are aiding international terrorism. But Islamist terror is also, on some realms, targeting Russia – and has also hit Russia. How do we make sense of all this?
Stroilov: It is not the first time when Russian people and Russian special services find themselves on opposite sides. In fact, Russia is exactly the place where the FSB hand in terrorism, Islamist or otherwise, can be seen most clearly. The ‘Nord-Ost’ story is only one example, and not the brightest one. In 1999, the FSB blew up four apartment blocks in Russia, and then were caught red-handed attempting to blow-up the fifth. After that, they announced that the bomb was a fake (the expert technicians simply mistook sugar for an explosive mixture), and the whole operation was a training exercise. Before that, in mid-1990s, one FSB officer was killed trying to blow up a railroad bridge, and another one was convicted by court for blowing up a bus in Moscow.
Alexander Litvinenko was well-known precisely for his investigation of the FSB terrorism in Russia, particularly the 1999 apartment blocks explosions. A big part of the Allegations is about it, and even more details are given in Blowing-up Russia. Terror from within by Litvinenko and Yuri Felshtinsky. The FSB is at war with Russian citizens, and that is more than just a figure of speech. They resort to any means in that war. They have created the terrorist threat in Russia, and then ‘defended’ us from it – in exchange for our obedience.
FP: Tell us about the Prime Minister of Italy, Romano Prodi (also former President of the European Commission) and his relations with the KGB.
Stroilov: Romano Prodi was described to Alexander by a senior KGB/FSB colleague, three star General Trofimov, as ‘our man in Italy’. He told Alexander that Prodi had ‘collaborated with the KGB’ and ‘carried out KGB missions’. Moreover, after 1996 the FSB had restored its relations with the old KGB agents of influence in the West. So, Gen. Trofimov and Alexander himself reckoned that Prodi might still be dangerous.
In February 2006, Alexander was interviewed about that by Mario Scaramella, a consultant to the Guzzanti Commission of Italian Parliament, which investigated the KGB’s activities in Italy. The video-record of that interview was kept secret at the time, and intended only for a closed-doors parliamentary investigation. (After Alexander’s death it was made public, and the transcript of it is included in the Allegations.)
However, two months later Alexander encouraged Gerard Batten, Member of European Parliament for London, to make his accusation against Prodi public. Gerard did that on 3 April 2006 in his speech to the European Parliament. The Parliament declined to investigate the matter, as Gerard insisted it should do; nor did Prodi himself ever comment on it as long as Alexander was alive. However, just eight days after Litvinenko’s death, Italian left-wing newspapers ‘revealed’ how Sen. Guzzanti and Scaramella were ‘plotting’ to discredit Prodi by alleging he had links to the KGB. Prodi himself, in a clumsy imitation of fury, announced he would instruct his lawyers to take legal action over these allegations. In event, no such legal action was taken.
Mario Scaramella was arrested as soon as he returned to Italy on Christmas of the same year. He is still kept in prison without a trial, and may stay there for the rest of his life. For the Italian legal system enables the prosecution to keep him in jail for three months on some particular charges, then drop those charges, put forward some new ones, and jail him for another three months. So it goes on and on for a year now, against the background of a perpetual propaganda campaign against Scaramella. Indeed, he is one of the first political prisoners in the emerging Gulag of the EUSSR.
FP: Can you talk a bit about the political prisoners in Russia today?
Stroilov: There are dozens. We know this much, although there is no commonly accepted list, as different human rights organisations have different criteria to distinguish political prisoners from other victims of Russia’s perverted ‘justice’.
However, at least one Penal Code article, introduced under Putin, is used only to persecute dissenters: ‘instigation to extremism’. Boris Stomakhin, a journalist who edited a small on-line newsletter, is now imprisoned for his critical writings, which were ruled to constitute that ill-defined ‘crime’. Trying to get away from the FSB gangsters who came to arrest him, Stomakhin jumped out of the window, and broke his spine and leg. Being practically handicapped, he is now denied any decent treatment in the harsh conditions of what we call PutLAG.
Some others are those who went dangerously close to the Kremlin’s darkest secrets. Thus, Col. Yevgeny Taratorin, a police detective, was imprisoned in a notorious corruption trial. However, Alexander Litvinenko argued that the corruption charges against Taratorin were fabricated, while the real reasons for his imprisonment was his investigation of the 2002 ‘Nord-Ost’ theatre hostage-taking. Apparently Taratorin had gone too close to uncovering the FSB role in that crime.
Then there is over a dozen of political prisoners persecuted in the notorious YUKOS case, for their association with the once uncontrollable oil company. There is also a number of academics, such as Igor Sutyagin and Valentin Danilov, imprisoned in the course of Putin’s spy-mania campaign for their collaboration with foreign colleagues.
There are ethnic Chechens, such as Zara Murtazaliyeva or Zaurbek Talkhigov, who were deemed ‘terrorists’ and imprisoned only for their Chechen origins.
Apart from that, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Chechen POWs and civilians captured in North Caucasus and kept in the so-called filtration camps there. About them, we simply know very little or nothing. It is also possible that many political prisoners in Russia itself remain unknown.
FP: The FSB role in that the 2002 ‘Nord-Ost’ theatre hostage-taking? What role are you exactly alluding to and what would the FSB want to cover up in this instance?
Stroilov: The publisher would probably want me to answer by recommending to read Chapter 2 of Allegations, but I shall briefly re-tell the story now. At least two of the ‘Nord-Ost’ terrorists were FSB agents-provocateurs, and both of them miraculously survived the FSB assault on the building.
One of them, Khanpasha Terkibayev, suddenly emerged in Strasbourg a few months later, accompanying Russian official delegation to Council of Europe. There he was recognised and interviewed by Anna Politkovskaya, and admitted he had been in the theatre during the siege. Russian prosecutors were not interested, but because a US citizen had been killed in ‘Nord-Ost’, the FBI also investigated it. So, the FBI said they wanted to interrogate Terkibayev, but a few days later he was killed in a car accident in Chechnya.
Apparently, it had been Terkibayev who provided the hostage-takers with all the necessary logistics in Moscow. If not for him, they would not be able to capture the theatre at all.
Another agent-provocateur, Abubakar, was identified by Mikhail Trepashkin. Many years before that, FSB detective Trepashkin investigated Abubakar as a gangster and arms dealer – and discovered that Abubakar enjoyed FSB protection. More details of that story are given in the book. Better still, Trepashkin himself has been released from the PutLAG a few weeks ago, so you can ask him.
As for Col. Taratorin, I understand that he tried to trace the explosives, and the traces also led him too close to the FSB.
FP: Your thoughts on the situation in Chechnya ?
Stroilov: Like Alexander, I approach the situation in Chechen Republic of Ichkeria from a strictly legal viewpoint. Russia has recognised Chechnya as an independent state in the 1997 Peace Treaty. The subsequent invasion and the present Russian occupation are totally illegal. The only legitimate government of Chechnya is the one supported by its last democratically elected Parliament, i.e. the government-in-exile led by Ahmed Zakayev. Indeed, none of those ‘elections’ and ‘referenda’ which Russia held in Chechnya after the 1999 invasion were recognised by independent observers. Anyway, no fair vote is possible under a military occupation.
Another important thing to understand is that the war is by far not over. The Kremlin propaganda about peace and prosperity finally coming to Chechnya under the excellent occupational administration is as false as the 100% turnout at the last ‘elections’ and 99% support for Putin’s regime. In reality, the war and genocide are still going on; people on both sides are being killed every day. Moreover, this war has now spread all over North Caucasus.
Alexander’s book is as much about Chechnya as it is about Russia. He reveals lots of details about the dirty tactics which FSB uses in this war: from terrorism and agents-provocateurs to zachistkas and assassination squads.
FP: Who killed Alexander Litvinenko? How exactly did they do it and why?
Stroilov: On his deathbed, Alexander himself named Vladimir Putin as the murderer. Moreover, as is revealed in the Allegations’ last chapter, Putin had been trying to kill him for all those years.
In July 2006, extra-judicial murders of people like Alexander were openly made an official policy of Russian regime. A law was passed, authorising the president to use Russian special forces to assassinate his enemies all over the world – and there was little doubt that Alexander’s name was high on the hit list. As Alexander himself commented prophetically in a Radio Liberty interview: ‘If they listen to me now, let them know: I hire no bodyguards to protect myself, and I never hide anywhere. I live very openly, all the journalists know where to find me. So, gentlemen, if you come to Britain to kill me, you will have to do that openly.’
But the most crucial piece of evidence against Putin is the poison, the Polonium-210, which is a very rare substance, precisely traceable to its source in Russia. And indeed it was traced down to a state-controlled, top security nuclear establishment. The use of Polonium to poison Alexander could only be authorised from the very top. Of course, Putin and his accomplices never expected the poison to be identified. That was why, immediately after Alexander’s death, Putin betrayed himself by publicly claiming there was no evidence of violent death.
The actual assassination was perpetrated by a team of at least three people: Andrei Lugovoi, Dmitry Kovtun, and someone who used several false identities and whose real name is unknown. Apparently, Kovtun was responsible for the transportation of the Polonium, Lugovoi – for approaching the target, whom he knew personally, and the third one actually put the poison in Alexander’s cup.
Putin probably had several motives to murder Alexander, the most obvious of which is this. Litvinenko knew too much and, worse still, he tried to let the public know too much. If you pretend to be a valiant fighter against terrorism, and there is a man who knows and talks about your covert links with Al Qaeda, what else would you do? And the Al Qaeda business is only one of the secrets which Alexander knew and revealed.
FP: What interests does Putin have in helping Al Qaeda and other jihadi terror groups?
Stroilov: To stir up trouble, in the world in general and in the Middle East in particular. The most obvious consequence of that are sky-high oil prices, which are both the source of KGB junta’s wealth and the salvation for their regime.
Apart from that economic interest, this is a similar scheme to the one used against Russian citizens. We must stay united in front of the grave terrorist threat, right? It is not the time to reproach Putin for murders, tortures, political prisoners or genocide, is it? We must be realists: we cannot afford a new Cold War against Russia in a situation like that, can we? That is the reaction they want from you, and regrettably, they have not been quite unsuccessful.
FP: What would your advice be to the U.S. and to the West in general in terms of its policy toward Putin?
Stroilov: It is no good arguing if the Second Cold War is good or bad for us, for it has already started. What we should think about is how to win it as quickly and painlessly as possible.
In my view, it would be wise to set the following immediate objectives in your policy towards Putin (and his future successor):
1. Total isolation: throw him out of the G7, Council of Europe, WTO and wherever else you’ve made him a member or observer. Oddly enough, they are rather sensitive about such things. Cut the number and level of meetings with Russian officials, starting from summits and ministerial ones. The KGB people don’t see these meetings like you do: for them, every meeting is a stage in your virtual recruitment. They cannot be your partners, they can only be your case officers.
2. Support all those who are already fighting them, from democratic opposition inside Russia to those neighbouring countries, such as Georgia or East European states, which resist Kremlin’s pressure.
I even think it is time to establish relations, in an appropriate form, with the Chechen government-in-exile. I don’t think that you follow the Chechen politics very carefully, so perhaps your readers are unaware of the recent crisis, when Islamic fundamentalists unsuccessfully tried to take over the leadership of the Resistance. Instead, it resulted in the formation of Ahmed Zakayev’s government, which is pro-democracy, pro-independence, and has explicitly dissociated itself from the so-called jihadism. The West will hardly ever find a better kind of partners in the Muslim world.
If you support Zakayev, that would be a very strong blow on the Kremlin. In a situation when Putin covertly supports Al Qaeda, what could be a better response than demonstration of your solidarity with his own worst enemies, whom he slanders as terrorists, who represent the small nation suffering from FSB genocide, and who abide by the laws of war even in their desperate situation? Besides, if you support a Muslim nation in its war against Kremlin’s tyranny, that may win you plenty of Muslim ‘hearts and minds’ elsewhere.
3. Do everything you can to make oil prices drop. Persuade the Saudis, develop your own oil production, do anything you can think of. Every dollar-per-barrel down means a blow on the KGB regime, and perhaps many human lives saved.
FP: Your thoughts on Time making Putin the person of the year?
Stroilov: Well done. They’ve found a worthy successor to Hitler, Stalin, and Khomeini.
FP: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of Russia in general?
Stroilov: Optimistic (though I don’t like the word). The Putin-Medvedev regime is doomed, and whatever will replace it, it cannot be worse. Even if the country collapses into dozens of realms, as it very well may, in many of them things will certainly get better than the present state. But of course, it is very important to do everything possible to help democratic opposition to develop in Russia, so as to have a force able to ensure stability after the KGB downfall.
FP: Pavel Stroilov, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
“Be not overcome
of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work herein is archived under fair use without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in reviewing the included information for personal use, non-profit research and educational purposes only. Ref.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work herein is archived under fair use without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in reviewing the included information for personal use, non-profit research and educational purposes only. Ref.