Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nicholas Kristof has an excellant discussion about the new Egypt and the Islamic influence in the elections.

It is my belief the Islamic influence within the Egyptian elections will not result in a violent nation that victimizes its people.  The Islamist parties will bring oppression of women's rights, but, they will also bring relief for the profoundly poor.

The Brotherhood and others have been serving the poor in Egypt for a long time.  They know the territory and can make changes that just may benefit those citizens.  If they do and people are better provided for with an economy that may even see growth, then everything the Egyptian people have hoped for will result.

The Islamists have survived for decades in oppression and have been violent to regimes in the past, but, that occurs even in the streets of London when oppression is overwhelming and people have no hope.  I am sincerely not worried about it.  It will be upto the new leadership to act as an ally to those that have stood by them as the transition occurs.  The new government will be exactly that and will have a new experience in leadership, but, the real test will be the benevolence they exhibit to their people and the purpose of their leadership to improve their quality of life.

President Mubarak was an ally.  Maybe he was more of ally than President.  That may have resulted for many reasons. 

The leaders in the Middle East are calling for a nuclear free Middle East.  That means they are not interested in overwhelming power, but, peace and prosperity.  I believe the people are simply happier now for having hope for themselves.  Women will be valued and no different than Saudi Arabia, it took a long time to win the right to have a driver's license, but, it happened. 

The most important measure of the new Egypt is the benevolence it brings to its populous.  Time will tell.

...The first clue (click title to entry - thank you) to the success of the Brotherhood: its offices are social service agencies. Citizens dropped in to ask for blankets for the winter, and the party handed them out — along with campaign brochures. Several people asked for help paying medical bills, and they got it. In the evening, women arrived to take a free class about science.

“They do good social work,” acknowledged Ahmed Kenawi, himself a social worker who hasn’t yet decided whom to vote for.

Islamic parties get money for these social services partly from religious tithing by pious Muslims. Supporters of secular parties don’t seem as generous with their cash. Likewise, the Salafi parties are ubiquitous in the back alleys in a way secular parties aren’t....

Saudi woman set to conquer Antarctica (click here)


RIYADH: Sahar Al-Shamrani from the Eastern Province is preparing to be the first Saudi woman to travel to the South Pole, Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper reported Monday.

“The objective of this trip is to contribute in projects to save planet Earth,” she said.

Scientists and environment experts, including British scientist Robert Swan, will accompany Al-Shamrani.
She said she was prompted to take the risk by the words of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah who has always encouraged Saudi women to undertake their role in society.

A woman from the United Arab Emirates, who had taken the trip before, also encouraged her. “I am very concerned with environmental issues and the ecological changes, which started to have their impact on Mother Earth,” she said....

The House bill just passed that incorporates corruption with tax cuts is unconstitutional.

Speaker of the House John Boner (click title to entry - thank you) speaks with members of the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill Dec. 13, 2011. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

The Executive Branch of the USA, namely the State Department and EPA are seeking a better and uncorrupt assessment of the Pipeline which provided conflict of interest in the prior assessments.

President Obama has alerted the Congress to that reality and in spite of the corruption involved the House has passed a pathetic tax cut legislation that attempts to override the authority of the Executive Branch.

The USA's Republican leadership is pitifully corrupt.

Well, how about that Boner showed up after his outing today.

...To bring Republicans to the table, Democrats have slow-walked an unrelated year-end spending bill that is needed to keep the government running, preventing the GOP-led House from finishing its work and leaving town for the holidays.

Such a strategy is risky, as Congress must approve the funding bill or the federal government will shutdown on Friday. But the leverage proved irresistible. Obama, in strategizing with Reid over the weekend, insisted the bills be linked. Obama said that "nothing gets done until everything gets done," according to a senior administration official.

Republicans were caught off guard by the move, and thought they had a handshake agreement with Democrats on the spending bill. But Democrats said unresolved issues remained  – including provisions on abortion, travel to Cuba and funding levels for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which plays a role in Wall Street regulation....

It looks like another Russian oligarch will be running for President of Russia, but, this time he is a Wall Street oligarch.

President Dmitry Medvedev (click title to entry - thank you) called Tuesday for an easing of “accumulated restraints” in Russian political life, saying this was needed to avert serious divisions in society.
“We need to take new decisions, to take real and more decisive steps to eliminate accumulated restraints on political activity,” Medvedev said in a meeting with the leaders of the four parties that secured seats in parliament in recent elections.
His comments came three days after tens of thousands of people held a mass protest in Moscow against alleged cheating in legislative elections on December 4 won by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.

Forever?  The Ukraine now has permanent political detentions? 

KIEV, December 9 - RAPSI. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was arrested on Thursday in a new criminal case related to her activities at United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU) for an indefinite period, her attorney Serhiy Vlasenko said at a news conference on Friday.
A Kiev district court placed Tymoshenko under arrest on Thursday as part of a criminal case dealing with her activity at UESU.
"Yesterday I deliberately misled journalists, saying Tymoshenko was placed under arrest for two months. Actually, it is not true. I deliberately misinformed them because I did not have the text of the court's judgment at the time. Tymoshenko has been arrested for an indefinite term," Vlasenko said.
He read out the court order on Tymoshenko's arrest, which did not specify the term of the arrest.
"Tymoshenko has been arrested forever," Vlasenko said....

Seems as though the best of relations does not exist between the Ukraine and Russia, perhaps Russia might be predisposed to leverage a release of former Prime Minister Tymoshenko?  Such a release brokered by Prime Minister Putin may be a clear message to Russians the current administration sincerely wants to change their practices both domestically and abroad.  Just a thought.

...A week earlier, (click here) Ukraine's Energy Ministry said it expected to seal a deal with Russia by the end of this month.
Ukraine depends heavily on Russian gas imports and the government subsidises gas and heating prices for households, a policy which contributes significantly to budget deficit and which the International Monetary Fund wants Kiev to abandon.
Analysts say losses of state energy firm Naftogaz, incurred mostly through such subsidies, could reach $2.3 billion or 1.4 percent of gross domestic product this year.
Facing payment arrears in addition to losses, Naftogaz borrowed $550 million from Gazprom's banking arm to pay for supplies last month and has since negotiated a longer delay for monthly payments.
Under its 2010 agreement with the IMF Ukraine pledged to balance Naftogaz' budget this year by eliminating energy subsidies. But the government has kept them in place, prompting the Fund to halt lending....

Is there no place for a Syrian refugee to go.

Most of Syria is Arab, but, there is a small demographic of Kurd and Armenian, too.  It would seem as though the minorities are finding it difficult to find shelter from the violence in Syria.  Lebanon is also experiencing a spill over of these minorities demonstrating in Lebanon. 

...But according to Mohamad Saleh Nader, (click title to entry - thank you) a Syrian Kurdish asylum seeker in Lebanon who represents the Kurdish parties in the Syrian Revolution Coordination Committee, it is the community he is part of that the authorities are targeting. “The numbers of Syrian Kurds protesting against Assad in front of the Syrian Embassy in Beirut grew lately,” he told Now Lebanon. “Last Sunday 70 to 80 people gathered under the bridge in Bourj Hammoud, and then we took the bus to go to Hamra [where the Syrian Embassy is located]. When we got back from the protest, the same afternoon, things started to become tense,” he said.

“It was Sunday evening. A young Kurd was passing by, and six or seven Armenian young men attacked him. He had a knife and he stabbed one of them. They shot at him, and he was wounded in his leg. The army showed up and took the two wounded people to the hospital,” said Nader. But then the situation escalated.

“The security forces arrested 22 Syrian Kurds living in a building on the same street. And the Syrian Kurd who had been wounded disappeared from the hospital,” Nader said. “Moreover, the same night, at around 4 a.m., a cell phone store belonging to two Syrian Kurds in Bourj Hammoud was shot at,” he added

“We had no problem living together before we started the [anti-Assad] demonstrations,” Nader said. Last Sunday was also the first time the men actually gathered inside Bourj Hammoud and went toward the Syrian Embassy, and Nader says he thinks that is why the Tashnaq political leaders, who are allied with the pro-Syrian March 8 coalition, summoned their supporters to “handle the problem.”....

The attacks are moving toward the border of Syria.  The chance of the violence spilling over to neighboring countries is increasing.

...The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (click here) said Tuesday another 26 people were injured in the shootings in two villages on Monday in the restive province of Idlib, which borders Turkey.

In a separate incident in Idlib, Syria’s state-run media reported that border guards prevented 15 gunmen from infiltrating from Turkey on Monday. The report said that two infiltrators were killed....

I believe some of what is happening is ethnic cleansing.  Gunman from Turkey usually mean the PKK. 

...In October, Russia and China vetoed (click here) a Security Council resolution condemning Syria. The draft, introduced by France and the UK, was supported by other Western countries.
On Tuesday Mr Lavrov defended an alternative text drafted by Russia and China which urges both sides in the conflict to refrain from violence.

He described as "immoral" the position of "those who refuse to exert pressure on the armed, extremist, part of the opposition and at the same time accuse us of blocking the work of the Security Council".

Mr Lavrov said opposition forces in Homs had attacked hospitals and schools.
He added: "To me it is clear that the purpose is to provoke a humanitarian catastrophe, to get a pretext to demand external interference into this conflict."...

Lavrov has a point.  Syria is turning into a blood bath.  If Lavrov would look to Libya as a comparison, the fact that is rarely talked about is the controversial number of civilian dead in Libya.  The figures go from 2000 to 20,000 with 50,000 wounded, many seriously or fatally wounded.  The accounting seems to be better in Syria, but, the numbers of dead and wounded can get to be much higher if this is a civil war that will continue until Assad is gone.  It was reported the Libyans were assisting the Syrian resistence with munitions in sympathy of their goals.

I value the US Post Office for privacy. E-mail can't do that.

December 12, 2011
By John Nichols
Occupy Wall Street protesters (click title to entry - thank you) hit a bull's eye when they invaded a National Press Club briefing where Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe - who makes like a corporate executive and refers to himself as "Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Postal Service" - was giving a speech about the need to close post offices, lay off workers, and, though this was unspoken, take steps that will lead to the privatization one of the country's greatest public assets.

Postmasters general do not usually become targets of passionate opposition, but the protesters were chanting, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donahoe has got to go."

And rightly so. Last week, Donahoe laid out a plan that would destroy the Postal Service as most Americans know it. And the destruction would be not out of necessity, but to perpetuate an austerity lie. The supposed financial crisis facing the Postal Service is a fantasy.

The agency - which continues to provide vital services to 150 million households and business a day, sustains rural and urban communities across the country as a Main Street mainstay, employs hundreds of thousands of Americans, and has a history of being in the forefront of technological and societal progress - is not in trouble because of competition from the Internet or changing letter-writing patterns. It is in trouble because Congress forced it to pay roughly $5.5 billion a year into a trust fund for future retiree pensions....

There are all sorts of rants about online piracy, but, the invasion of privacy with email has been an issue, including problems like sexting of minors.  While the House bill is understandable, the misuse of this technology in our society has resulted in tragic results.  The innocense of children have been exploited as if a joke along with a media mogul that finds hacking into cell phones a marketable skill. 

I use the US Postal Service because I can write letters to friends and relatives.  They have something physical to hold in their hands to read and enjoy and cherish.  There is absolutely nothing endearing of an email print out. 

The rapid responses possible on the internet destroy lives.  The internet obviously has a purpose in my life, but, using it as the only means of communication is lax and dangeruous.  Compromising one's standards for personal safety and security means evaluating the use of 'online' services and realizing there is a purpose for the US Postal Service.  The US Postal Service employs people and does not eliminate jobs.

...A House Judiciary Committee (click here) markup for Stop Online Piracy, or SOPA, is scheduled for 10 a.m. Eastern Time Thursday. Representative Lamar Smith, the committee chairman and main sponsor of the bill, will offer a wide-ranging amendment to the bill,  his spokeswoman said.
Smith and the Judiciary Committee staff have been working closely with lawmakers and interested groups for the past few weeks "to strengthen the bill and address legitimate concerns from groups who are interested in working with Congress to combat foreign rogue websites," said the spokeswoman for Smith, a Texas Republican.
In a markup, lawmakers have the opportunity to debate and amend a bill. If the Judiciary Committee votes to approve SOPA, the next step would be for the full House to vote on it. Smith introduced SOPA on Oct. 26....

Speaker Boner is hiding today as the House votes on the hideous bill that won't be signed into law regarding the Payroll Tax Extention.

He excused himself from being Speaker Pro Tempore for the day.  He sincerely does not come across as a person endorsing another House folly.

Senator Jon Tester needs to pay attention to their constituents, including the #Occupy Montana members who recently paid Washington, DC a visit to let their representatives a visit to remind them whom they are working for rather than positioning them politically.

The video about the #Occupy Montana (click here) movement begins at time point 00:46 - 01:30.  The #Occupy Movement is not interested in pandering to Wall Street, but, finding sustainable jobs that are not harmful to the environment and the existing jobs that already exist.

The current unemployment rate in Montana is 7.6% (click here) which is below the national average.  The passage of the Payroll Tax Cut will insure the jobs currently existing are maintained with an expansion of the tax cut, it will create more jobs.  I sincerely doubt Montanans want jobs while endangering clean water and/or farm land.

Martin Dempsey needs to walk back his Air Force directives.

Fully armed MQ-9 Reaper (click title to entry - thank you)  unmanned aerial vehicle taxis down the runway (file photo) 
A U.S. drone aircraft has crashed at an airport in the Seychelles.

The U.S. Embassy in nearby Mauritius says the remote-controlled MQ-9 aircraft crashed Tuesday while trying to land at the Seychelles International airport on the island of Mahe.

An embassy statement says no one was injured....

The embassy did not comment on the plane's mission and said the cause of the crash was unknown....

First is was the two military unites in Pakistan, then the drone crash in Iran and now another drone crash in Syechelles.  I don't think so!  The odds of all this occuring in such a short period of time doesn't exist.  The air strikes are too extreme and the military operating these missions are showing the extent at which it can control the outcomes.  There is something very wrong here and the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Martin Dempsey needs to review the escalation is US LOSS that exists now that didn't before.

...Gen Dempsey (click here) said it was unclear the latest steps taken by EU leaders would be enough to hold the eurozone together, adding that a break-up could have consequences for the Pentagon.
Twenty-six of the 27 EU countries have agreed to forge a tighter fiscal union.
Only the UK refused to sign up to a new treaty, citing national interest.
Gen Dempsey, who is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an event hosted by the Atlantic Council, a Washington think-tank: "The eurozone is at great risk."...

Is this a NATO thing, because I thought Secretary Geithner was just in Europe to meet with EU leaders.

...The F-35 program (click here) is now feeling the threat of an issue from across the pond with European partner nations feeling the economic pinch that could result in reduced purchases of the F-35....

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