Thursday, February 02, 2017

Well done to the EU.

February 2, 2017
By Martha van der Wolf

Brussels -  A migrant deal (click here) between the European Union and Libya seems closer after leaders of the EU institutions met with the Libyan prime minister on Thursday. Details of the deal, proposed by the EU last week, were discussed ahead of Friday's informal EU summit in Malta.

The main discussion point at the summit will be how to control migration from North Africa into Europe, before spring approaches, when the numbers are expected to increase.

The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, will propose “additional concrete and operational measures” to EU heads of states on Friday to stop the trafficking and smuggling networks. Tusk says a deal between the EU and Libya is within reach....

UN report states war crimes in Yemen.

February 1, 2017
By NY Staff

The Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen and Houthi Shiite rebels (click here) might have committed war crimes in the conflict that is wracking the Middle East’s poorest nation with no end in sight, United Nations (UN) experts said in a new report.

The report to the UN security council, obtained on Monday by The Associated Press, said after nearly two years of conflict, Yemen is “in danger of fracturing beyond the point of no return.”

Another Syria on the way.

The experts said “an outright military victory by any one side is no longer a realistic possibility in the near term.”

The panel examined 10 coalition airstrikes targeting houses, markets, factories, a hospital and a funeral hall that led to at least 292 civilian fatalities, including at least 100 women and children. The experts said they are “almost certain” the coalition violated international humanitarian law requiring proportionality and precautions in attacks, and added that some of the airstrikes “may amount to war crimes.”

A call to Saudi Arabia’s UN Mission seeking comment was not answered....

...The panel said it has not seen sufficient evidence to confirm any direct large-scale supply of arms from Iran “although there are indicators that anti-tank guided weapons being supplied to the Houthi or Saleh forces are of Iranian manufacture.”...       

Iran is an emerging economy. It is developing ties with Western economies to expand it's initiatives...

Iran doesn't need warnings. It needs to be sure the new jets it ordered are clear of radar before the testing begins. Tourists get nervous.

2 February 2017

Iran has censured (click here) recent claims by a top adviser to US President Donald Trump about the Islamic Republic’s missile program as “baseless,” "repetitive," and “provocative.”

In a statement released on Wednesday, White House national security adviser, Michael Flynn, claimed that Iran’s recent missile tests breached UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which was adopted in July 2015 to endorse a nuclear agreement between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries.

Flynn added that Washington was “officially putting Iran on notice.”

Resolution 2231 urges Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi rejected Flynn’s claims as “baseless, repetitive and provocative,” and said “none of the missiles have been designed to carry nuclear warheads.”

The Iranian official further emphasized that Iran’s missile tests are not in contradiction to Resolution 2231, adding that the country’s “legitimate defense policy complies with international regulations, and is under no circumstances negotiable.”

He added that such remarks “come while the Islamic Republic of Iran’s efforts to fight terror groups in the Middle East are not hidden to anyone; groups which enjoy direct or indirect financial, logistical and intelligence support of the US and its allies.”...

I happen to agree. If it is weren't for Iran, Iraq would be in terrible trouble. Iran stemmed the Daesh front in Iraq before it effected the Shia.

...Had it not been for Iran’s sincere cooperation with legitimate governments and nations in the region in their battles against terror groups such as Daesh, some capital cities in regional states would have fallen to terrorists, he added....

Our ally, Australia is magnificent. It has been working with Indonesia, a Muslim country for a long time.

Donald Trump is a jerk with a capital J. Australia is a continent and not only a country. It has the most impressive display of democracy than most other countries. The people are magnificent and the USA is lucky to have them as allies. They stood by the USA in every effort to control terrorism and now Australia is a leader. It is impressive. Indonesia is never discussed as a financial center, but, it is a huge global financial center. 

Australia puts the USA to shame in working with Muslim countries to bring about peace to the southern hemisphere. The USA should be taking example.

2 February 2017

Indonesia and Australia (click here) have reached an agreement to fight terrorist groups by blocking their financial resources amid concerns in both countries that supporters of Daesh may be planning new terror attacks there.

During a Thursday meeting in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, senior officials from the two countries vowed to halt the flow of money used to fund terror attacks and inked an agreement in that regard.

“We know that one of the most effective ways to combat the surge of terrorism is to attack the funding and the movement of money,” Australian Attorney-General George Brandis told reporters after holding talks with Indonesian Chief Security Minister Wiranto.

Wiranto said the two officials’ discussions had focused on “how we can choke off funding routes” to terrorists.

The neighboring countries have been hit by a series of terrorist attacks. Both have also foiled plans inspired the Takfiri Daesh group, mainly active in Iraq and Syria.

Some of the Daesh militants, especially those hailing from Indonesia, are suspected of sending money home to finance terrorist activities.

Meanwhile, there have been indications that money to fund terrorist activities has been flowing between Indonesia and Australia....

This is from "Iran Daily."

Ready or not some leaders believe the same as Trump.

2 February 2017

After US President Donald Trump’s executive order (click here) banning seven Muslim-majority countries last Friday, the Kuwaiti government has told would-be migrants from the five banned nations to not apply for visas, as it is worried about the possible migration of radical Islamic terrorists, reported.

Kuwait was the only nation to prohibit the entry of Syrian nationals prior to Trump’s executive action. Kuwait City previously issued a suspension of visas for all Syrians in 2011.

A group of militants bombed a Shia mosque in 2015, killing 27 Kuwaiti nationals. A 2016 survey conducted by Expat Insider ranked Kuwait one of the worst nations in the world for expatriates, primarily due to its strict cultural laws.

As a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Kuwait has become embroiled in escalated tensions between the GCC and Iran. Washington has been a guarantor of GCC security since the early 1990s, according to a Congressional Research Service brief.

Observers have pointed out that most of the nations on Trump’s list have substantial Muslim populations and are experiencing some form of economic or military conflict....

Trump is a bunch of hot air. Any aggression toward Iran, I would not be surprised if NATO along with Russia opposes Trump.

Trump is a jerk with a capital J.

February 2, 2017
By Jim Michaels

President Trump's stern warning (click here) after an Iranian ballistic missile test that the country has been "put on notice" risks drawing the United States into a conflict or making Trump look weak if it doesn’t follow through with some retaliation should Iran take another provocative action, foreign policy analysts said.

Even those experts who welcome a robust response to a country many in the Trump administration view as one of the most dangerous threats cautioned that the new president needs options ready to respond if Iran tests his resolve.

“If you’re going to make a threat, you need to be prepared to carry through with it,” said Fred Kagan, an analyst with the American Enterprise Institute. “The question is: Are they prepared to do carry through with it.”

Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, said Wednesday that the United States was “officially putting Iran on notice” after Iran launched a ballistic missile on Sunday and an Iranian-backed militia in Yemen attacked a Saudi naval vessel....

Donald Trump has many tricks in his verbal repertoire. Let me ask, when one thinks the house is on fire how well does cognition work so much as react. Donald Trump is causing violence to break out everywhere. Either be a puppet or don't listen and wait for some real diplomacy if the Trump administration can actually produce it.

Human memory is a peculiar thing, (click here) at once astonishing in its scope and power and dismaying in its fallibility. There's much we don't know about how memory works, but suffice it to say it isn't perfect. Particularly vexing is the phenomenon of false memories, erroneous or unconsciously fabricated recollections of past events that feel so real and true that people who experience them refuse to accept evidence to the contrary.

Psychologists call the phenomenon confabulation. The term is used clinically to refer to memory defects experienced by patients with brain damage, and also to describe everyday phenomena like embellishing the truth when recounting events and inventing facts on the fly to fill in gaps in memory. We've all done these things at one time or another, though we're rarely conscious of it when we do....

The facts please, just the facts. There is no place for hatred or perceived hatred anywhere on Berkeley's campus. Enough!

Does Donald Trump have nothing to do all day except Tweet? Really!

This is ridiculous. It is usually called a news conference. He does not know his job, he complicates every aspect of American life and the allies as well. I would think he would  have better things to do besides HARASS THE WORLD.

Every state and local government needs to get used to the idea there are going to be very hard and deep funding cuts. He is going to pass legislation that gives a ton of money to his buddies on Wall Street and will cut every aspect of help the citizens get. GOT THAT.

Make plans to self fund and find alternative methods of funding. Look, the federal education budget is nice, but, it is only 15% of any state's budget. There are other ways of funding.

Eventually, cities and towns will have to invoke "The Ferguson Strategy" of it's citizens and build bigger jails.

Berkeley is absolutely correct to refuse to allow the speech. There are buildings burning, does Berkeley need more of this? According to Trump there aren't federal monies coming anyway! This level of disruption causes problems in the function of the university to educate their students. Enough! Trump's endorsement of the speaker is cultural bigotry. It is up to the campus to maintain it's integrity and supporting Muslim students at a time of such hatred from the White House is the best thing Berkeley can do.

February 2, 2017
By Greg Toppo

President Donald Trump’s threat (click here) early Thursday to pull federal funding from the University of California’s flagship Berkeley campus over violent protests against a controversial speaker may sound serious, but it is essentially toothless, experts said.

Protests erupted on campus late Wednesday and the university canceled a scheduled speech by conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos a self-proclaimed "troll" and editor for the conservative Breitbart News.

In response, Trump tweeted: "If U.C Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”...         

Religious bigotry in the USA exists and now it will have a political platform all it's own.

The Catholic Church takes itself seriously. They do not take kindly to the removal of religious freedom in the USA.

January 31, 2017

Washington—On January 27, 2017, (click here) President Donald J. Trump issued an executive order that, among other things: suspends issuance of visas and other immigration benefits to nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days; indefinitely suspends resettlement of refugees from Syria, which is also predominantly Muslim, subject to a possible exception for those who are "religious minorities" in their home countries and facing religious persecution; and suspends virtually the entire U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days, also subject to a possible exception for such "religious minorities."

Most Reverend Mitchell T. Rozanski, Bishop of Springfield and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Most Reverend William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore and Chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and Most Reverend Oscar Cantú, Bishop of Las Cruces and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, jointly issued the following statement in response to this action:

"We recognize that Friday evening's Executive Order has generated fear and untold anxiety among refugees, immigrants, and others throughout the faith community in the United States. In response to the Order, we join with other faith leaders to stand in solidarity again with those affected by this order, especially our Muslim sisters and brothers. We also express our firm resolution that the Order's stated preference for "religious minorities" should be applied to protect not only Christians where they are a minority, but all religious minorities who suffer persecution, which includes Yazidis, Shia Muslims in majority Sunni areas, and vice versa. While we also recognize that the United States government has a duty to protect the security of its people, we must nevertheless employ means that respect both religious liberty for all, and the urgency of protecting the lives of those who desperately flee violence and persecution. It is our conviction as followers of the Lord Jesus that welcoming the stranger and protecting the vulnerable lie at the core of the Christian life. And so, to our Muslim brothers and sisters and all people of faith, we stand with you and welcome you."

I would anticipate the Catholic Church' priests will begin to talk about religious oppression to their congregations. I would expect the conversations during this administration in Washington to include the harsh treatment of people in Muslim countries around the world.

2 February 2017

Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. Political decisions should be taken at a local level if possible, rather than by a central authority.

All of the Catholics caring and realizing the exceptional power and equity of a local government and local economy are in step with Pope Francis. 


WASHINGTON — In a letter issued yesterday congratulating Secretary Rex Tillerson on his confirmation as Secretary of State, Bishop Oscar Cantú, chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), called on the Secretary to work for peace in Israel and Palestine.

Bishop Cantú, who recently participated in a solidarity visit to Israel and Palestine, enclosed a joint communiqué by bishops from Europe, Canada, South Africa and the United States. The bishop notes that “2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of a crippling occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, crippling for both peoples.”  Quoting the joint communiqué of the bishops, he goes on to state that “[t]he occupation violates ‘the human dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis.’  Settlement expansion on occupied Palestinian lands undermines a two-state solution, destroying the homes and the livelihoods of Palestinians as well as the long-term security and future of Israelis.”

Decrying “egregious injustices and random acts of violence,” Bishop Cantú expressed the opposition of U.S. and international bishops to Israeli settlement expansion and confiscation of Palestinian lands. In addition, he implored the Secretary to maintain the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. He wrote, “Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would erode the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution, and is a threat to pursuing peace and ending conflict. Its impact would incite and destabilize the area, compromising U.S. security. As Pope Francis declares, ‘the two-state solution must become a reality and not merely a dream.’”...

No further a wall between church and state in the USA. The slow march to a theocratic Protestant country. Quite a gift to those that line his cabinet.

February 2, 2017
By Gregory Korte

President Trump (click here) promised faith leaders Thursday that he would "totally destroy" the law that prohibits churches from engaging in political activity, a move that would upend 63 years of settled tax law.

In an appearance at the annual National Prayer Breakfast, Trump said he would make good on his promise to overturn the so-called Johnson Amendment, which bans public charities — including churches — from campaigning for or against a candidate for for elected office. Those who do risk losing their tax exemption.

"Among those freedoms is the right to worship according to our own beliefs. That is why I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution," Trump said. "I will do that, remember."
The statement was met by enthusiastic applause from the religious leaders.
The 1954 law is named for its author, then-senator Lyndon Johnson. Because it's in the tax code, any change would have to come from Congress....

Pope Francis held a multi-religious service at the 911 Memorial. It was to strength all religions to fight the prejudice, hatred and victimization of people.

Mr. Trump will find little welcome to his particular brand of hatred.

Pope Francis’ Speech at 9/11 Memorial Museum

I feel many different emotions (click here) standing here at Ground Zero, where thousands of lives were taken in a senseless act of destruction. Here grief is palpable. The water we see flowing towards that empty pit reminds us of all those lives which fell prey to those who think that destruction, tearing down, is the only way to settle conflicts. It is the silent cry of those who were victims of a mindset which knows only violence, hatred and revenge. A mindset which can only cause pain, suffering, destruction and tears....

Pope Francis (L) listens during a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 25, 2015 in New York City.

This image of the standard of inclusion set that day was recorded by Reuters.

January 30, 2017
By David Leonhardt

Let’s not mince words. (click here) President Trump’s recent actions are an attempt to move the United States away from being the religiously free country that the founders created — and toward becoming an aggressively Christian country hostile to other religions.

On Friday, his White House deliberately excluded mention of Jews from its statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day. A Trump aide, Hope Hicks, explained that mentioning Jews would have been unfair to the Holocaust’s other victims — a line that happens to be a longtime trope of anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers in Europe.

“The Holocaust was about the Jews,” former Reagan speechwriter John Podhoretz wrote in Commentary this weekend, “There is no ‘proud’ way to offer a remembrance of the Holocaust that does not reflect that simple, awful, world-historical fact.”...

Indeed. There are more protestant voters in the USA than any other individual religion, however, there are more religious voters in the USA than protestant voters. The Southern Baptist Convention is where most African Americans can be found when it comes to religious practices. Will they stand aside from their white counter part if the bigotry continues?

Perhaps. Just perhaps the bigotry that currently exists is enough!

Will Pagans be allowed to have a religious political platform as well.

June 29, 2014

...A person (click here) should not have to pretend to be Christian to be treated like everybody else. The area he lives in is 75 percent Christian, but according to the U.S. Constitution, that does not mean that the remaining 25 percent have no rights. Yet, according to the Religious Right, that is exactly the case, an example of the so-called “excesses of democracy” the Constitution was written to prevent. The Founders feared that exactly this would result if the rights of minorities were not protected.

They cannot say he does not represent the community when he is part of that community, and a government is supposed to represent all its people, not just the majority view....

The United States of America was built and maintained by Americans of all faiths and backgrounds. This administration is trampling their honor.
January 25, 2017
By Phil Plait

...This may be true. BuzzFeed and the Associated Press, (click here) however, obtained internal emails from the EPA and USDA that indicate the new administration is gagging people at the two government agencies, forbidding them from tweeting, going on any social media, or issuing press releases about their science. The only news they are allowed to issue must be vetted first. Also, in the case of the EPA, a Trump administration order has frozen grants and any new business. Note that the EPA has been under heavy attack by the GOP for years.

Frozen grants will prevent new business. Those monies are spent. They generate commerce. The more agencies are deprived their funding the economy will be effected.

RESEARCH equates to NEW BUSINESS! In case no one in the Trump White House recognizes the word, research is the same thing as R&D. C students at the Warton School of Economics (click here) (a division of the PUBLIC university; "University of Pennsylvania"), may have missed that part of their education.

For what it’s worth, the USDA has disavowed the order … kind of. They say, “This internal email was released without Departmental direction, and prior to Departmental guidance being issued. ARS [Agricultural Research Service] will be providing updated direction to its staff." So they’re not saying it wasn’t true or wasn’t issued, they’re just saying that it wasn’t issued officially. We’ll see soon how this will play out. Update, Jan. 25, 2017, at 16:30 UTC: After the public outcry, the USDA has rescinded the gag order. BuzzFeed has the story.

Update, Jan. 25, 2017, at 22:00 UTC: The Trump administration has told EPA employees to "stand down" and not take down the climate change pages. This is potentially great news, but I will take it with a grain of salt: Doug Ericksen, a Washington state senator and climate change denier, is part of the transition team for the EPA and has been quoted as saying, "We’re looking at scrubbing [the climate section of the EPA site] up a bit, putting a little freshener on it, and getting it back up to the public." Given that Erickson doubts climate change even exists, that statement fills me with little confidence....

I agree with Reuters. Reuters is one of the few international media organizations that all others rely on. It also respected as an accurate media service that brings information to USA intelligence and military contractors. Reuters doesn't mess around, it has a job to do and it will carry it out in a way that is effective and reliable.

There are many, many lies put forth by the Trump White House on a daily if not hourly basis. The intention is to steer inflammatory statements away from the operations of this administration and it's majority Congress.

February 1, 2017
By Lizzie Dearden

One of the world’s largest news agencies (click here) has instructed its journalists to "practice skills learned" in hostile countries and warzones while reporting on the Trump administration.

In a message to thousands of Reuters reporters and photographers, its editor-in-chief offered advice on how to address the many “challenges” raised by Donald Trump’s presidency.

“It’s not every day that a US President calls journalists ‘among the most dishonest human beings on earth’ or that his chief strategist dubs the media ‘the opposition party’,” Steve Adler wrote.

“We don’t know yet how sharp the Trump administration’s attacks will be over time or to what extent those attacks will be accompanied by legal restrictions on our news-gathering.”...                   

Ending Hamas' rockets is not a measure to peace. It takes courage to realize that.

Hamas use of rockets can be easily viewed as a defense against genocide.

May 25, 2011
By Ronit Avni

...We can begin (click here) by encouraging the incoming Obama administration to take into account the needs of both peoples - not just one side - in the interest of long-term peace; we can demand that they exhaust all diplomatic channels to end this conflict. We can call on the Israeli government to negotiate a halt to settlement expansion so that Palestinians feel the dividends of diplomacy. We can continue to condemn the indiscriminate bombing of civilians in southern Israel by Hamas so that people like my colleague, Anat, can stop spending time in bomb shelters with their children. We can demand a ceasefire in Gaza that, in JStreet‘s words, “ends all military operations, stops the rockets aimed at Israel, institutes an effective mechanism to prevent weapons smuggling into Gaza, and lifts the blockade,” so that Gazans like Alaa Hajjaj, after days huddled with his 40-member extended family in a home with no water or electricity, can once again see daylight. We can invite journalists to feature the voices of bridge-builders on an ongoing basis so that their calls don’t get drowned out by extremists. We can discourage our fellow Americans from becoming settlers or from buying settlement properties. To curb incitement, instead of using sticks, we can reintroduce carrots into the negotiation process. We can support only those leaders that see no good way forward but peace.

Clearly, numerous choices remain.... 

Anyone can pick up guns, kill indiscriminately, roll bulldozers into neighborhoods and send drones to spy and kill, but, to harness the real essence of peace is the real definition of strength under fire.

21 August 2016
By Yonah Jeremy Bob

...Despite targeting Hamas, (click here) the IDF declined to identify who was responsible for firing the rockets, but Palestinian reports indicated that it was the Abu Alu Mustafa Brigades, the “military” arm of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine....

When the goal is to take all the land currently Palestine and even beyond Palestine, who cares who dies the politics are more important.

The United States was not interested in displacing a highly qualified candidate for President. Trump was Russia's choice because he is a weak president.

Kaspersky is a highly regarded security firm in the USA. The civilian arrested in Russia should be returned to the USA.

February 1, 2017
By Svetlana Reiter

Russian authorities (click here) have charged two officers in the Federal Security Service and an employee of cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab with committing treason in the interests of the United States, a lawyer representing one of the three said.

Ivan Pavlov identified the three as Ruslan Stoyanov, head of Kaspersky's computer incidents investigation team, and two officers working for the FSB's Information Security Centre, Sergei Mikhailov and Dmitry Dokuchayev.

"My client, along with the others, has been charged with state treason and cooperating with U.S. intelligence services," Ivan Pavlov told Reuters.

The arrests were made at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow after U.S. intelligence officials accused Russian hackers of sabotaging last year's U.S. election in favour of President Donald Trump....