Wednesday, December 30, 2015

From Ian:

US spied on Netanyahu during Iran deal talks, WSJ reports
The U.S. administration continued to spy on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even after U.S. President Barack Obama announced two years ago he would curtail the National Security Agency's eavesdropping program on friendly heads of state, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
The NSA's foreign eavesdropping included phone conversations between top Israeli officials and U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing current and former U.S. officials.
White House officials believed the intercepted information could be valuable to counter Netanyahu's campaign against the nuclear deal with Iran, according to the unnamed officials cited by the Journal.
According to the report, NSA eavesdropping suggested to the White House that Netanyahu and his advisers had leaked details of the U.S.-Iran negotiations, which they learned through Israeli spying operations.
The Journal reported that the NSA's "targeting of Israeli leaders and officials also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups."
Asked for comment on the Journal report, a White House National Security Council spokesman said: "We do not conduct any foreign intelligence surveillance activities unless there is a specific and validated national security purpose. This applies to ordinary citizens and world leaders alike."
Israel: We don’t spy on US, and expect US not to spy on us
Intelligence and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz on Wednesday maintained that Israel does not spy on the US and said it expects Washington to uphold the same standards.
The Likud minister was responding to a report in The Wall Street Journal that said the White House instructed US spies to eavesdrop on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials earlier this year in an effort to counter campaigning against the Iran nuclear deal, despite having promised to curtail listening in on foreign leaders.
The National Security Agency’s spying dragnet was cast so wide it caught conversations Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders had with US officials and Jewish American leaders. This led to what one source called an “oh shit moment,” because of fears that “the executive branch would be accused of spying on Congress,” according to the report.
“Israel does not spy on the US, and we expect that our great friend, the US, will treat us in a similar fashion,” Katz told the Ynet news website. “If the information on the subject turns out to be true, Israel must file a formal protest with the American government and demand it stop all activities of this kind.”
Nonetheless, Israel’s former ambassador the US Michael Oren said Wednesday that Israel assumes that the US, and others, attempt to spy on it. “It’s not very nice, but that is the assumption,” Oren, now a Kulanu MK, said on Channel 2.
If he had something absolutely confidential that he had to convey to the prime minister, Oren added, “I got on a plane.”
LISTENING IN: Congress reportedly caught up in NSA spying on Israelis
According to the paper, the enhanced monitoring of Netanyahu began, with the assent of lawmakers from both parties, late in Obama's first term out of concerns that the Israeli leader would pursue a preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
The sweeping up of conversations between Israeli officials and U.S. lawmakers began in earnest earlier this year, ahead of a March visit to Capitol Hill by Netanyahu to speak out against the developing Iran nuclear deal, and continued through this past September, when the deadline for Congress to block the deal passed.
The Journal, citing U.S. officials, reported that Netanyahu's office repeatedly attempted to learn details about changes in U.S. positions during the sensitive nuclear talks. Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Ron Derner, was described as coaching unnamed Jewish- American groups to press members of Congress, especially Democrats, to oppose the deal.

Israel will submit official protest if reports of US spying are true
White House does not deny the Wall Street Journal's report that US spied on Netanyahu
Israel's Intelligence Minister reacted Wednesday to claims by the Wall Street Journal that the White House authorized monitoring of Prime Minister's Benjamin Netanyahu's communications and that Israel had attempted to spy on the US.
"Israel does not spy in the US and we expect the same from our great friend. If the reports turn out to be true, Israel must submit and official protest to the US and demand to cease such activity," said Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz.
Contacted by AFP, the White House did not deny the Wall Street Journal's report, which cites several serving and former US officials, but stressed the importance of its ongoing close ties with Israel.
Fearing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was working to derail the nuclear deal with Iran, the White House authorized the National Security Agency to monitor the leader's communications, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
PreOccupiedTerritory: White House Staff Report Obama Keeps Seeing Ghost Of Nixon (satire)
Aides to the president expressed concern for his mental health this week, saying that Barack Obama keeps asking others in the White House if they can also see the ghost of disgraced former President Richard Nixon moving about the place.
On five separate occasions, say presidential mansion workers and staff members, the president has gone pale, swallowed, and looked in agitated fashion around the room. In hushed tones, Obama would then ask the nearest staffer, “Did you see that? Did you see that? I could swear it looked like Nixon. But he’s dead. It can’t be . It can’t be.” First Lady Michelle Obama has also noted that in recent months, the president has repeated, “It can’t be” and “Bibi” in his sleep many times.
Nixon, a Republican, was forced to resign the presidency in 1974 after years of attempting to cover up his administration’s illegal activities against political opponents. The Watergate Scandal, as it came to be known, began with the arrest of five men who broke into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, in 1972. Tenacious investigative journalism and a well-placed anonymous source in the FBI eventually led Congress toward impeaching Nixon over his obstruction of justice, and he resigned before an all-but-certain conviction vote by the Senate could take place. The burglary, approved by Nixon’s reelection committee, was the second break-in at the complex, aimed at tapping the phones of senior Democratic operatives. Obama, it is reported, has been jumping at the sound of Nixon’s name, and issued an order yesterday that the thirty-seventh president is not to be mentioned in his presence.
Matti Friedman: A Walk in Jerusalem
Much that is important in Jerusalem right now was visible during a short walk I took around the Old City on a rainy Tuesday in November: Four Border Police officers in riot gear, two men and two women, eyeing their smartphones and Arab passers-by with the same casual interest. Muslim women coming from the al-Aqsa Mosque, eyeing the officers. A blue-and-white flag on a wall declaring one apartment to be a Jewish island inside the Muslim Quarter. A gleaming Arabic sign announcing a new Israeli health clinic serving Palestinian clientele. Palestinian men at a traffic light outside the walls, crossing the invisible line between east and west Jerusalem on their way to work.
I waited at the light-rail stop outside Damascus Gate and boarded a train of Jewish and Arab passengers, fewer of both than usual. I got off downtown, and within an hour there had been a Palestinian stabbing attack on another train and a second attack at Damascus Gate.
The city of Jerusalem is subject to great and contradictory forces, some pulling its 830,000 residents apart and some pushing them together. The forces of disintegration have been evident in the spate of stabbing attacks against Israeli civilians and policemen this fall. In the six weeks beginning October 1 there were two dozen attacks or attempted attacks by Palestinians in Jerusalem alone, most involving knives. They persist, in Jerusalem and elsewhere, as I write. Jerusalem in crisis mode doesn’t resemble an American city during or after a race riot, for example, or a natural disaster. There aren’t burned-out neighborhoods or looted streets. There is no large-scale breakdown of public order. Instead there are small incidents of murderous violence, some localized rioting, and a cloud of unease.
Hebron stabbing victim dies of wounds weeks after attack near Cave of Patriarchs
Gennady Kaufman, the 41-year-old victim of terrorist stabbing attack at the beginning of the month in Hebron, died of his wounds at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning.
The hospital said it struggled to save Kaufman's life for nearly three-and-a-half weeks who was critically injured in the attack that took place near the Cave of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city.
Kaufman, a resident of Kiryat Arba, was married to Veronica with whom he had two children, 19-year-old David, a soldier in the navy and Michal, 9. He worked as a security guard and gardener in Kiryat Arba.
"Gennady is another victim of the Oslo Accords and the creation of the Palestinian terror authority," the Jewish Community of Hebron said on Wednesday in reference to the Palestinian Authority.
"The State of Israel should liberate Hebron from the talons of the 'terror authority' and begin to rule as an enlightened regime for the security of the residents of Israel," the community's statement read.
Netanyahu: We've been in Hebron, Cave of the Patriarchs for 4 millennia, we will not be moved
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences to the family of Gennady Kaufman, the Israeli who was stabbed by a terrorist in the West Bank near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron earlier this month and who died of his wounds on Wednesday morning.
"Gennady was the gardener at the Cave of the Patriarchs. He was stabbed in a murderous attack a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, he was not able to recover," Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.
The Cave of the Patriarchs is the most ancient Jewish shrine in the world and the second holiest site of pilgrimage in Judaism, while also revered by Muslims. It is believed to be the burial place of the biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and of the matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Leah.
Netanyahu stressed the historical connection to the site and said that Israel would not be moved from it.
"This morning, I say to all those who wish to uproot us from the Cave of the Patriarchs: with the exception of a few years in the previous century, we have been there close to 4,000 years," Netanyahu said.
"And there we will stay forever. You cannot defeat us," he added.
PMW: Fatah to kids: Water the ground "with blood"
With Palestinians committing stabbing attacks against Israelis almost daily, the PA and Fatah have chosen to glorify and promote the 'blood' and Martyrdom motifs.
The Facebook page of official spokesman of the PA Security Forces Adnan Al-Damiri, posted a message from Fatah Shabiba youth movement to children that the way to succeed in "revolution" against Israel is to "water it with blood":
"Teach your children to love the land
Teach them that we live a life of suffering
Teach them that there is a seed in the ground
If they water it with blood, a revolution will flower

Teach them that Fatah is the eternal revolution
That the 'Storm'
Is the blade of the intifada
And that the Shabiba are the knights of the rocks."

[Facebook page of official spokesman of the PA Security Forces, Adnan Al-Damiri on Dec. 21, 2015]
In addition, the post celebrated the first Fatah attack against Israel in 1965.
MEMRI: PA Commemorates Perpetrators Of Stabbing Attacks
The Palestinian Authority (PA) regards stabbing attacks as part of the "National Awakening," a general term for the clashes and violent incidents that have been taking place since early October 2015. As a rule, the PA does not condemn these attacks but rather justifies and even glorifies them. Stabbers who were killed by Israeli security forces or civilians in the course of the stabbing are considered martyrs executed in cold blood. Recently the PA commemorated some of these stabbers, especially Muhannad Al-Halabi, who on October 3, 2015, carried out in Jerusalem the first stabbing attack of the current wave. In addition, the PA holds rallies of solidarity with stabbers who survived, such as the boy Ahmad Manasra who stabbed an Israeli boy in Jerusalem on October 12, 2015.
The commemoration of and solidarity with the terrorists is expressed inter alia by naming a street and erecting an official monument in honor of Muhannad Al-Halabi in his home town; in holding sports competitions in his honor and in the honor of other terrorists, which are sponsored by PA or Fatah institutions and officials and covered by the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida; and holding various ceremonies, including in schools, in memory of the martyrs and in solidarity with their families, which are likewise sponsored by PA institutions and attended by officials.
Below are examples of acts of commemoration and expressions of solidarity initiated or sponsored by the PA or Fatah:
In Europe, Jew-stabbers are heroes
La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, the two most popular newspapers in Italian, didn’t run the word “terrorist” anywhere but wrote about “150 people” killed so far in this Third Intifada, putting together attackers and attacked, the Palestinian Arab terrorists and the Israeli civilians, in a sort of hideous moral equivalence.
La Repubblica even ran a picture where you see Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem to deliver Jesus, stopped by the “wall” built by Israel. A great anti-Semitic Christmas classic.
Day after day, for three months, the Western media has obscured the true story of this war on the Israelis: 170 attacks against Israel, 25 deaths and 270 seriously injured. 127 Palestinians killed, but 88 of them terrorists and the others in clashes with the Israeli army.
According to data published by the Israel Trauma Coalition, 8,000 Israelis are under medical treatment for developing “PTSD”, the post-traumatic stress syndrome. For every Israeli killed, 27 witnesses of the attack must undergo physical and psychological rehabilitation. There are Israelis so traumatized that they now go out with a bullet-proof vest.
After the carnage in Paris, President Francois Hollande refused to include Jerusalem in the list of cities hit by terrorists. A deliberate anti-Semitic choice.
Daniel Pipes: The danger of partial no-go zones
Partial no-go zones in majority-Muslim areas are a part of the urban landscape from the Mediterranean to the Baltic, with the French government alone counting 751 of them. This shirking of responsibility foreshadows catastrophe and calls for immediate reversal.
I call the bad parts of Europe’s cities partial no-go zones because ordinary people in ordinary clothing at ordinary times can enter and leave them without trouble. But they are no-go zones in the sense that representatives of the state — police especially, but also firefighters, meter-readers, ambulance attendants and social workers — can only enter with massed power for temporary periods of time. If they disobey this basic rule (as I learned first-hand in Marseille), they are likely to be swarmed, insulted, threatened and even attacked.
This situation needs not exist. Host societies can say no to the poor, crime-ridden, violent and rebellious areas emerging in their midst. But if governments need not abdicate control, why do they do so? Because of a fervent, slightly desperate hope to avoid confrontation. Multicultural policies offer the illusion of sidestepping anything that might be construed as “racist” or “Islamophobic.”
This abandonment is no minor aberration but a decision with grave consequences — consequences far deeper than, say, not controlling a crime-ridden American city like East St. Louis. That’s because Muslim quasi-no-go zones fit into a far larger political context, with dual Western and Islamic dimensions.
Muslim biker gang planned Belgium New Year's attack
A senior Belgian counterterror official revealed on Wednesday that the two men arrested the day before for planning terror attacks on "emblematic sites" in Brussels during New Year's celebrations are members of a Muslim biker gang.
The official told CNN on condition of anonymity that the two are part of the Kamikaze Riders gang, and spoke about attacking Grand Place square in the capital, along with other sites where crowds celebrate the New Year, in addition to police and military facilities.
According to the official, the planned attacks were not directed by the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group, but rather were inspired by it.
Police arrested the two while searching several locations in the Brussels environs, along with the surrounding province of Flemish Brabant and the city of Liege in eastern Belgium. In the search, computer equipment, military training outfits and ISIS propaganda were seized.
The two Kamikaze Riders members were based in Brussels and Vilvoorde and had criminal records from involvement in robberies and other crimes, according to the official.
They had easy access to weapons, which caused police to act quickly after they discussed the terror plans.
Couple found guilty of plotting a terror attack in London
A husband and wife were on Tuesday found guilty of plotting a terror attack in London ahead of the 10th anniversary of the July 7 bombings, the BBC reported.
Mohammed Rehman, 25, discussed targeting the London Underground and Westfield shopping center on social media under the name "Silent Bomber" and chemicals for bomb making were found at his Reading home.
He and his wife Sana Ahmed Khan were convicted of preparing terrorist acts. They will be sentenced on Wednesday, according to the BBC.
Rehman, who was also convicted of possessing an article for terrorist purposes, used Twitter in May to ask for suggestions on which target in London to choose.
With money supplied by his 24-year-old wife, he stockpiled the chemicals needed to make a huge bomb at his family home in Reading and even filmed himself setting off a small explosion in his back garden, the network revealed.
During his trial, jurors heard a tweet sent from Rehman's account which said, "I've rigged my house to blow at the push of a button by my bedside if the popo [police] try to raid man. Nobody gets in the way of my jihad."
Turkey arrests 2 IS suspects, foils New Year’s bombing plot
Turkish police on Wednesday detained two Islamic State suspects accused of plotting a suicide bomb attack on New Year’s Eve celebrations in the capital Ankara.
Officials said the pair, whose nationality was not disclosed, were planning to strike an area in the center of the city that is expected to be packed with revelers on the night of December 31.
“They are suspected of being affiliated with the Islamic State and were planning an attack on the New Year in Ankara,” a Turkish official told AFP said, asking not to be named.
Turkey is on a high security alert after 103 people were killed on October 10 when two suicide bombers ripped through a crowd of peace activists in Ankara, the worst attack in modern Turkey’s history.
Report: Son of slain Hezbollah commander was CIA, Israeli mole
In potentially humiliating news for Hezbollah, Lebanese and Syrian news outlets reported on Tuesday that the Shiite terrorist organization's counterintelligence apparatus was investigating whether Mustafa Mughniyeh, the youngest son of the group's former operations commander Imad Mughniyeh, worked as a mole for the CIA and Israeli intelligence.
Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated in Damascus in 2008. His other son, Jihad, was assassinated in January 2015 when, according to foreign reports, a missile fired by an Israeli helicopter struck his convoy on the Syrian Golan Heights.
The revelation, if true, could be devastating for Hezbollah.
Hezbollah Fighters Are Fed Up With Fighting Syria’s War
In Beirut’s largely Shia southern suburbs, Hezbollah’s flags wave and defiant pictures of its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, hang on walls next to posters of martyrs who fell in Syria. The working class community here is the party’s base, but while residents embrace Hezbollah as their guardians and protectors, there is also a sense of frustration.
Abu Ahmed, who fears retribution, if named, brings his young son with him to a meeting with The Daily Beast in the bustling neighborhood of Dahiya. The child is shy and stoic and his father says that the boy cried every night during his multiple tours in Syria. Under pressure from his family to stop fighting and a growing resentment of the war, he stopped going to Syria last year.
“In my case, I love my wife and kids more than I love Syria and Palestine,” says the veteran of campaigns against the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon and the 2006 war with Israel. He joined Hezbollah in the mid-1990s and, now in his forties, he has lost his job and all his family benefits since he refused to return to Syria.
“They used to give me work and now they don’t, I feel like I’ve lost everything,” says Abu Ahmed, trying to control the anger in his voice.
He is not only disillusioned with the war, which he calls “a contest of superpowers,” but has also resigned himself to a cynical sectarian outlook on the region. “Let the Sunnis liberate Palestine,” he says, rejecting the pan-Arab solidarity that inspired him to take up arms in the first place.
London, New York to Recreate Palmyra Arch Destroyed by Islamic State
Replicas of an arch, which is reportedly among the last remaining parts of the 2,000 year-old Temple of Bel in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra that was razed by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), will stand in London’s Trafalgar Square and New York’s Times Square.
“The temple has been systematically razed, with the 50-foot-tall arch among the few remaining elements of the building still standing,” reports United Press International (UPI). “The temple, dedicated in 32 A.D. to the Mesopotamian god Bel, attracted 150,000 tourists per year until 2011, when the civil war in Syria began.”
Meanwhile, BBC reports that “the 2,000-year-old arch is all that remains of the Temple of Bel, part of the Syrian Unesco World Heritage site, captured by militants in May.”
The full-scale replicas, currently under construction in China, will be reportedly recreated from photographs, using a 3D printer. They are expected to stand in London’s Trafalgar Square and New York’s Times Square during World Heritage Week in April 2016.
Obama Boldly Demands Apology from ISIS (satire)
In response to calls for a more aggressive strategy to combat ISIS, President Obama, this week, gathered the courage to send an open letter to Islamic State leaders, demanding an apology for the terror and unrest they have caused.
“I, Barack “Yes We Can” Obama, denounce your acts of terror and demand an immediate apology,” the letter read.
“We, for our part, apologize for any harm we’ve caused you in the past, and we vow to immediately cease all airstrikes, end all military presence in the Middle East, and provide you with instant ownership of the city of Jerusalem, in exchange for a heartfelt apology for your past misconduct. Why am I willing to offer up all of these things? Because that’s how this president rolls!”
The President was strong in his request for an apology and threatened to collect enough petition signatures from United States citizens to force the Islamic State to apologize, if they did not oblige.
Obama then extended an invitation to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to visit the White House in order to “work out our differences in person, and find a way for our relationship to be more mutually beneficial moving forward.”
Experts: 'Iran has achieved a major victory'
Experts dealing with the Iranian nuclear file told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that Iran’s shipment of more than 25,000 pounds of low-enriched uranium to Russia on Monday is not very significant in the big picture.
Under the nuclear accord, certain US, EU and UN sanctions are to be removed in exchange for Iran accepting long-term curbs on a nuclear program that the West has long suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.
“Iran has achieved a major victory by trading away easily- reversible nuclear concessions like enriched uranium and first-generation centrifuges that all can be easily reconstituted,” Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank in Washington, told the Post.
“Rather than permanently blocking Iran’s nuclear weapons pathways, the deal opens a patient path to a nuclear weapon,” said Dubowitz.
“Tehran simply has to follow the deal to emerge in 10 to 15 years as a much more dangerous adversary with a massive nuclear program, an advanced centrifuge-powered rapid path to a bomb, intercontinental ballistic missiles, regional dominance and its economy immunized against future sanctions,” he added.
When Deals Override Principles
These are heady days for supporters of the Iran deal. The news that Iran is fulfilling its obligation to transfer of its low-enriched uranium to Russia is being hailed by the Obama administration. Along with the dismantling of some of its centrifuges, these moves are touted by Secretary of State John Kerry and other supporters of the pact as proof that it is working to, as the administration claims, close off its path to Iran becoming a nuclear power. But as has been apparent since the pact was first announced, that is not true. Nor is the attempt by cheerleaders for the president’s push for détente with Iran to distract the country from indications that the Islamist regime won’t honor the agreement and continues to support terrorism a valid reason to lift sanctions.
In so far as implementation of the deal, the Iranians are doing what it requires in terms of transferring enriched uranium and shutting down part of their nuclear infrastructure. For Kerry, these moves are, in and of themselves, evidence the deal is working as well as of Iran’s good will as the process moves toward “implementation day” and the end of international sanctions on Tehran. That enables him to continue trumpeting the pact as “truly one of our more important accomplishments of 2015” and to express pride in the negotiating skills of the U.S. team that was able to conclude the deal.
But his boasting tells us nothing about whether what is happening now will actually forestall an Iranian bomb in the long run. Far from closing the door to nuclear peril, all Kerry and his team have done is to kick the can down the road a very few years into the future with no assurances that Iran is being prevented from continuing work toward their nuclear ambition or even any firm knowledge of how far away from a bomb it is today.
Iran Receives Large Delivery of ‘Yellow Cake’ Uranium Powder From Russia
An Iranian official confirmed that his country had received a large delivery of “yellow cake” from Russia, state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported on Tuesday.
Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said that Tehran had received nearly 197 tons of of uranium concentrate powder needed for the enrichment process, in exchange for 11 tons of low enriched uranium (LEU).
Salehi said that Iran had carried out the exchange with Russia in accordance with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s letter regarding compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Protocol of Action (JCPOA), which instructed that Iran first take delivery of the yellow cake before exporting the LEU.
Norway says 60 tons of raw uranium transported to Iran under nuclear deal
Norway says it has helped verify a shipment of 60 tons of raw uranium to Iran as part of an international deal on Tehran's nuclear program.
The Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that experts from the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority "verified and controlled the transportation" of the uranium from Kazakhstan to Iran on Dec. 27.
Iran is receiving raw uranium in exchange for sending most of its low-enriched uranium to Russia under the July 14 nuclear agreement.
The deal aims to reduce Iran's ability to make nuclear weapons — something Tehran says it has no interest in doing. (h/t RobGinChicago)
Iran Executes Three Iranians Every Day; The West Rewards It.
"Death sentences in Iran are particularly disturbing because they are invariably imposed by courts that are completely lacking in independence and impartiality. They are imposed either for vaguely worded or overly broad offences, or for acts that should not be criminalized at all, let alone attract the death penalty. Trials in Iran are deeply flawed, detainees are often denied access to lawyers in the investigative stage, and there are inadequate procedures for appeal, pardon and commutation" -- From a July 2015 Amnesty International report.
How ironic that Europeans have no problem stuffing themselves with syrupy Iranian dates exported by this regime, knowing full well that there are thousands of prisoners are being tortured in Iran while awaiting their executions.
Amnesty International reports that in the fall of 2015, cartoonist Atena Farghadani was forced to undergo a "virginity and pregnancy test" prior to her trial. The charge? "Illegitimate sexual relations," for having shaken hands with her lawyer.
Iran nevertheless won a top seat on the U.N.'s Commission on the Status of Women in April 2014. Not a single UN member, not even the US, objected.
CLOSE CALL: Iran fires rocket within 1,500 yards of US Navy aircraft carrier
Iranian rockets passed within 1,500 yards of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz last week, a senior defense official confirmed Tuesday to Fox News.
Cmdr. Kyle Raines, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, said in a statement to the Associated Press early Wednesday that Iranian Revolutionary Guard naval vessels fired "several unguided rockets" after giving only 23 minutes' notice over maritime radio that a live-fire exercise would be carried out. The incident was first reported by NBC News.
Raines described the Iranian fleet's actions as "highly provocative".
"Firing weapons so close to passing coalition ships and commercial traffic within an internationally recognized maritime traffic lane is unsafe, unprofessional and inconsistent with international maritime law," the spokesman said.
While the United States has complained previously about other Iranian war games and maneuvers there, Saturday's incident comes after a series of weapons tests and other moves by Tehran following this past summer's nuclear deal.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Deploys Precision Ballistic Missile System
Iranian military officials say they are deploying a sophisticated new guidance system for ballistic missiles with a range of more than 1,000 miles.
The Emad missile system is in the hands of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, Brigadier General Hossein Salami said in a state-controlled Fars News report. It may be used in pending war games, Salami said.
Tests on the Emad missiles in October may have violated United Nations Security Council resolutions. The system is touted for its precision, and is described as “steerable” until just before impact. While they are intended primarily for conventional warheads, the missiles can carry nuclear warheads.
Despite that, Iranian officials say the system is defensive in nature.
“We don’t ask for anyone’s permission for boosting our defense and missile power,” Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said in October.
Khamenei: The Americans are trying to destroy Islam
The United States is seeking to destroy Islamic civilization and Iranians should be aware of that, the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned on Tuesday.
"One of the main tools used by the enemies to prevent the birth of modern Islamic civilization is through creating divisions among Muslims," he told a meeting of Muslim scholars, thinkers and political figures in Tehran, according to the semiofficial Fars news agency.
Khamenei said that the Americans are against the principles of Islam and no one should be deceived by their statements in support of some sects, citing "the statements of the former president (George W. Bush) who after the September 11 spoke about the war of the crusades, in fact, indicated the war between the arrogant world and Islam."
The Supreme Leader then cited statements of by current U.S. officials who claim to be in agreement with Islam and blasted them as untrue.
"The present U.S. officials are against the principles of Islam and unlike their statements they are after fomenting differences among Muslims and its example is creating terrorist groups like Daesh (the Arabic word for the Islamic State or ISIS) and other groups that have been created through the funding of the U.S. affiliates and their political aids; they (the American officials) have caused the recent tragedies in the Muslim world," he charged.
INSS: Russian Nuclear Diplomacy in the Middle East
Israel cannot ignore the procurement of advanced Russian weapons systems by its neighbors, or their accelerated entry into the nuclear field; these plans are liable to serve as a basis for obtaining greater know-how and as a cover for building nuclear weapons capability, certainly if the transfer of know-how includes enrichment capability. For its part, Russia is being careful to maintain positive relations with Israel, which it regards as an important regional player. Israel also regards Russia as a key player in the region, and the two countries are coordinating their moves in order to prevent a clash between their military forces in Syrian territory. At the same time, Israel expects Russia to take its security interests into consideration. The two countries seemingly are willing to engage in dialogue that will address their spheres of interest, but it is doubtful whether Israel will be able to convince Russia in its agreements with the countries in the region seeking nuclear reactors to include restrictive clauses. Furthermore, even if Israel is able to influence Moscow to some extent, it is highly doubtful whether some of these countries, which have hitherto rejected American demands that they accept conditions and restrictions, will accept such demands from Russia.
Israel concerned IS making inroads among Bedouins
Israeli security forces are reportedly concerned about increased Islamic State activity among Bedouins in the Negev and fear that members of the group — who are Israeli citizens — will carry out terror attacks.
According to a report in the Haaretz daily on Wednesday, the Shin Bet security service is more worried about the threat posed by Israeli terror cells aligned with the Islamic State than by the jihadi groups in the Sinai Peninsula and on the Syrian Golan Heights.
Last week, the Shin Bet busted a Hamas cell that planned to carry out suicide and car bombings against Israelis. One of the cell members, Fahdi Daoud Muhammad Abu Qaian, a 19-year-old Bedouin Israeli from the Negev, agreed to actually carry out an attack, the Shin Bet said.
During Abu Qaian’s interrogation he revealed to officers that he agreed in October to either carry out a suicide bombing with an explosive vest or drive a car packed with explosives into some Israeli target. According to Haaretz, Abu Qaian admitted that apart from his Hamas membership, he supported the Islamic State and was linked to Salafist groups in the Bedouin village of Hura.
Jordan arrests man for desecrating Israeli flag
Jordanian security services reportedly arrested a shop owner in the northern city of Irbid who painted an Israeli flag on the floor of his store in support of the recent wave of Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis. The idea was that customers would tread on the flag as an expression of hostility to Israel.
The man’s son, Qusai Ja’roun, was quoted by the news site “Arabic 21” as saying that his father, who was not named in the report, was held on charges of disrupting relations with a friendly country.
He was released on a bail of 3,000 Jordanian dinars ($4,200), and after promising not to repeat the stunt.
Officials ordered the man to remove the flag.
Hamas releases new details of Gilad Schalit abduction
According to the information released by the armed wing of Hamas, Izaddin Kassam, all five members of Hamas who were holding Schalit in the Gaza Strip after his abduction have died.
Hamas named the five men as Sami Al-Hamaydi, Abdullah Ali Labad, Khaled Abu Bakra, Mohamed Rashid Daoud and Abdel Rahman Al-Mubasher.
The Palestinian terror group that runs Gaza said that all five were responsible for Schalit during his five-year incarceration in the Strip.
Hamas described the five men as “martyrs.” It said that Al-Mubasher was the last to die in a collapse of a smuggling tunnel along the border with Egypt earlier this week.
Hamas did not say how the remaining four died. However, sources in the Gaza Strip said the four were killed by the IDF over the past few years.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Gaza Chef Wonders If Beef Fillet Was This Tough In Auschwitz (satire)
The culinary chief and manager of Masri, a gourmet restaurant in this Mediterranean city, laments the limited availability of quality beef cuts there and wonders if conditions were similar in other concentration camps, as the Gaza Strip has been described.
Ahmad Sudri, 38, says he struggles to obtain proper filet mignon and porterhouse cuts, among others, which must be imported through Israel because the border with Egypt is almost always closed, and the smuggling tunnels under that border have been mostly destroyed by the Egyptian military. Given the relatively low demand for such quality beef in Gaza, the chef complains that he must either pay a premium to secure cuts that would otherwise go to the burgeoning Israeli market, or make do with meat of a less consistent quality. Sudri expresses curiosity as to whether the inmates at Auschwitz, for example, faced such obstacles to proper living.
“It’s unconscionable that I only have access to quality cuts of beef some of the time,” he avers. “My customers know good beef and good cuisine, and the Zionist siege makes it exceedingly hard for me to provide what they’re willing to pay for – and I suffer if I can’t serve what’s on the menu. They will simply take their business elsewhere, or settle for the less-profitable items I prepare. Our leaders and allies are not kidding when they call Gaza the world’s largest concentration camp.” He wondered aloud whether the Nazis similar restricted imports into the camps, allowing in only civilian goods of all kinds, and limiting only items that also have a military use.

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 18 years and 38,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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