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Panetta: Iraq War Was “Worth It”

A day after visiting Iraq, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke to reporters in Turkey on Saturday and said this, according to the DoD’s own site:

“There is no question that the United States was divided going into that war,” he said. “But I think the United States is united coming out of that war. We all recognize the tremendous price that has been paid in lives, in blood. And yet I think we also recognize that those lives were not lost in vain. . . .

“As difficult as was,” and the cost in both American and Iraqi lives, “I think the price has been worth it, to establish a stable government in a very important region of the world,” he added.

The “price” that Panetta believes is “worth it” includes dead civilians in the hundreds of thousands, countless more maimed, millions of Iraqis internally and externally displaced (a huge number who remain so), tens of thousands of American soldiers killed and/or injured, and at least $1 trillion spent, contributing to “austerity” so severe that Panetta himself has been urging cuts to core social programs. That is above and beyond future Saddam-like oppression, tyranny and sectarian strife under the Malaki regime. As the always-insightful military historian and former Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich put it this week: “Recalling that Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to al-Qaeda both turned out to be all but non-existent, a Churchillian verdict on the war might read thusly: Seldom in the course of human history have so many sacrificed so dearly to achieve so little.”



Iraq To Launch Mediation To End Syria Crisis

Iraq's foreign minister will hold talks with the Damascus regime and opposition groups to try to end months of unrest, as deadly clashes raged Sunday between deserters and regular troops.


Iraq is trying to mediate an end to nine months of bloody unrest in Syria where the UN estimates that more than 5,000 people have been killed in a regime crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

On Saturday, Iraqi National Security Adviser Falah al-Fayadh was in Damascus where he said he had "positive" talks with Assad.

He then travelled to Cairo where he met Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi, and emerged sounding upbeat.



COMMENT: Anyone else surprised to learn that Iraq is now a diplomatic 'mediator'?

Newt Gingrich’s Sharia Law Stance Raises Questions

December 16, 2011 10:56 AM EST

If former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's past statements are to be believed, the primary threat facing the U.S. isn't a foreign adversary but the gradual imposition of Islamic Sharia law in America.

Gingrich likes to couch his policy positions in broader ideas, invoking his training as an historian to offer context and clarity. So it went in a 2010 speech to the American Enterprise Institute. He depicted a clash of civilizations and ideologies between western liberalism and radical Islam, which he likened to World War II in its importance and the Cold War in its duration.

Gingrich's View of Sharia's Status in U.S.

But Afghanistan, the current presidential frontrunner asserted at the time, is not the central front in this conflict. It is in the United States, where Gingrich contended Sharia principles were slowly and insidiously taking hold.

"Stealth jihadis use political, cultural, societal, religious, intellectual tools; violent jihadis use violence," Gingrich said. "But in fact they're both engaged in jihad and they're both seeking to impose the same end state, which is to replace Western civilization with a radical imposition of Sharia."



Once Again, Rep. Allen West Compares Democrats to Nazis

Yet again, a prominent Republican has attempted to stick it to Democrats by comparing them to the Nazi Party.

While responding to a question about the U.S. Congress historically low approval rating (LINK) on Thursday, the outspoken U.S. Rep. Allen West of Florida, a Tea Party favorite, replied that Democrats -- with the help of the media -- have managed to shift public sentiment against Republicans by using incredible feats of propaganda that he said would make the infamous Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels "very proud."

"If Joseph Goebbels was around, he'd be very proud of the Democrat Party because they have an incredible propaganda machine," West told reporters in Washington, D.C. "I think that you have, and let's be honest, you know, some of the people in the media are complicit in this, in enabling them to get that type of message out."

West was referring to a poll released by the Pew Research Center on Thursday that found two in three voters favor tossing out most incumbent congressman in 2012.



Spokane Cops Estranged From Community

By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, Associated Press – 1 hour ago

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — It was the salute that shocked Spokane.

About 50 Spokane cops stood and saluted a fellow officer as he left a federal courtroom in custody last month after being convicted of using excessive force in the death of a mentally ill janitor.

That salute was quickly denounced by the mayor and chief of police as insensitive to the victim's family. And critics saw it as yet another sign that Spokane cops are estranged from the citizens they are sworn to protect.

The Spokane Police Department is under fire on many fronts.

The outgoing mayor is asking the federal government to investigate the practices of the department. Efforts to create a citizen ombudsman to hear complaints against police have been stonewalled. Some residents have even suggested the department should be dissolved and merged with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.



About 100 In Mich. Protest Lowe’s Pulling Of Ads From Muslim TV Show, But Supporters Show Too

By Associated Press,

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — About 100 people are at a Michigan Lowe’s store protesting the home improvement chain’s decision to pull ads from a reality TV show about U.S. Muslims.

The protesters in Allen Park showed up in response to a call from a coalition of Christian, Muslim and civil rights groups and are chanting “God Bless America and shame on Lowe’s.” Protesters say they want people to boycott the chain.

But 15 to 20 counter-protesters also showed up Saturday morning, saying they came to support Lowe’s.

Executives of the Mooresville, N.C.-based company say TLC’s “All-American Muslim” became a “lightning rod” for complaints. They acted after complaints from the conservative Christian group the Florida Family Association.



Iran Intelligence ‘Arrests CIA Spy’

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tehran has arrested an alleged US Central Intelligence Agency spy of Iranian origin before he could complete his mission of infiltrating the intelligence ministry, media quoted the ministry as saying on Saturday.

“Based on the scenario, he was supposed to infiltrate the intelligence ministry … and feed it deceptive information on a large scale and spy on it,” said a statement reported by the ISNA news agency.

“The Iranian-origin CIA agent received complex training, had worked as an analyst and also worked with the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the statement added, without identifying him.

The man was first identified at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and arrested in Iran, the statement said, without identifying the man or saying when he was seized.



Secret EU Paper Aims To Tackle Israel's Treatment Of Arab Minority

The European Union should consider Israel's treatment of its Arab population a "core issue, not second tier to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," according to a classified working paper produced by European embassies in Israel, parts of which were obtained by Haaretz.

This is an unprecedented document in that it deals with internal Israeli issues. According to European diplomats and senior Foreign Ministry officials, it was written and sent to EU headquarters in Brussels behind the back of the Israeli government.

Other issues the document deals with include the lack of progress in the peace process, the continued occupation of the territories, Israel's definition of itself as Jewish and democratic, and the influence of the Israeli Arab population.

The original document also included suggestions for action the EU should take, but these were removed from the final version at the insistence of several countries.



New Research Demonstrates Lean Beef is Good for Heart Health

CENTENNIAL, Colo., Dec. 15, 2011 --

As Part of a Heart-Healthy Diet, Eating Lean Beef Daily Can Help Lower Cholesterol

CENTENNIAL, Colo., Dec. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new study published in the January 2012 edition of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that beef can play a role in a cholesterol-lowering diet, despite commonly held beliefs. The study found that diets including lean beef every day are as effective in lowering total and LDL "bad" cholesterol as the "gold standard" of heart-healthy diets (DASH, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).

The Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD) clinical study (Effects on Lipids, Lipoproteins and Apolipoproteins),(1) conducted by The Pennsylvania State University (PSU) researchers, evaluated adults with moderately elevated cholesterol levels, measuring the impact of diets including varying amounts of lean beef on total and LDL cholesterol levels. Study participants experienced a 10 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol from the start of the study, while consuming diets containing 4.0 and 5.4 oz. of lean beef daily.

"This research sheds new light on evidence supporting lean beef's role in a heart-healthy diet. Study participants ate lean beef every day and still met targets for saturated fat intake," says Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, distinguished professor of nutrition at PSU and the study's principal investigator. "This study shows that nutrient-rich lean beef can be included as part of a heart-healthy diet that improves risk factors for cardiovascular disease."

The Research The study used a rigorously designed Randomized Controlled Clinical Intervention Study to investigate the effects of cholesterol-lowering diets with varying amounts of lean beef. Thirty-six participants (adults ages 30-65 with moderately elevated cholesterol) were randomly assigned to a treatment order and consumed a total of four diets for five weeks each. The cross-over design allowed each participant to serve as his or her own control, reducing any errors associated with biological variation.

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/12/15/4124732/new-research-demonstrates-lean.html#ixzz1giy1hA4v

Feds: 'Excessive Force' By Seattle Cops Must Stop

SEATTLE - An 11-month investigation by the U.S. Justice Department has found the Seattle Police Department "engages in a pattern of unnecessary and excessive force" in "violation of the Fourth Amendment," federal officials announced Friday.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, who heads the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, flew to Seattle on Thursday to announce the findings at a news conference alongside U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan.

According to the Justice Department report, Seattle police use force in an "unconstitutional manner nearly 20 percent of the time."

The investigation was launched last spring following the deadly shooting of a homeless Native American woodcarver and other incidents of force used against minority suspects.


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