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Home country: USA
Current location: nice place
Member since: Thu May 15, 2008, 03:37 PM
Number of posts: 27,052
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Sunday 12 April 2015
World View: Al-Qaeda-type movements are gaining land and power, and there is only one way to stop them
The ghost of Osama bin Laden will have been chuckling this month as he watches the movements he inspired conquer swathes of the Middle East. He will be particularly gratified to see fighters from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) storm into Al Mukalla, the capital of Yemen’s eastern province of Hadhramaut from which the bin Laden family originated before making their fortune in Saudi Arabia.
As happened in Mosul, Iraq last summer when the Iraqi army fled before a jihadi attack, Yemeni government soldiers abandoned their bases in Al Mukalla leaving US Humvees and other military equipment. Earlier, AQAP had seized the central prison in the city and freed 300 prisoners, including Khaled Batarfi, one of the most important jihadi leaders in Yemen.
It is a measure of the severity of the multiple crises engulfing the region that AQAP, previously said by the United States to be the most dangerous branch of al-Qaeda, can capture a provincial capital without attracting more than cursory attention in the outside world. How different it was on 2 May 2011 when President Obama and much of his administration had themselves pictured watching the helicopter raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan where bin Laden was killed. The grandstanding gave the impression that his death meant that the perpetrators of 9/11 had finally been defeated.
But look at the map today as unitary Muslim states dissolve or weaken from the north-west frontier of Pakistan to the north-east corner of Nigeria. The beneficiaries are al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda inspired groups which are growing in power and influence. The US and its allies recognise this, but cannot work out how to prevent it.
in full: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/in-the-middle-east-our-enemys-enemy-must-be-our-friend-10169984.html
Posted by Jefferson23 | Sat Apr 11, 2015, 08:56 PM (3 replies)
By William K. Black
Quito: April 7, 2015
My April 4, 2015 column discussed the Wall Street Journal’s express endorsement of a right of merchants to discriminate against groups they detest. I explained that the WSJ was adopting the position of Richard Epstein and quoted Epstein about the policy question he found to be a “very hard question.” That question was “voluntary” hereditary slavery – he’s in favor of it as a “right” essential to “liberty.” But he admits that he finds it “very hard” to justify the impact of the “voluntary” contract of slavery on the “externalities” – and yes, he is talking about children as commodities. I quoted the passage from Epstein’s famous defense of discrimination in his book Forbidden Grounds to show how zany the policy views are that emerge like mold spores as soon as one endorses discrimination by merchants against groups they despise as a means of increasing “liberty.”
I also noted that, according to conservatives, every leading candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for the presidency rushed to embrace the right of merchants to discriminate in the Indiana Act as originally passed. I stressed that the Indiana’s Act allowed merchants to discriminate against any group – blacks, Jews, women wearing “immodest” dress, LBGT, or Latinos as long as the merchant phrased his bigotry as a product of his personal religious views. Republican Party strategists try valiantly every couple years to wean the Party from hostility to women and minorities, but the fear of losing in the Republican primary to someone to ultra-right has so terrorized every major Republican candidate for the presidential nomination that they keep on taking symbolic and substantive actions that constitute “revealed prejudices.” That same dynamic explains the Indiana legislature’s Republican members’ votes and Governor Mike Pence’s original enthusiastic support for authorizing merchants to discriminate on the basis of factors such as race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. It is odd that a law that would allow a merchant to discriminate against customers on the basis of their religious beliefs could be labeled a bill protecting religious freedom. One might hope the media would point this out in their articles and on radio and television rather than parroting the original Indiana Act’s oxymoronic title.
I explained that this fear of the primary opponent from the ultra-right was acute in Indiana because the most respected Republican Senator, “Dick” Lugar, was annihilated in the primary by a loon. The loon was so extreme (describing women who were impregnated by their rapists as receiving a “gift” from G-d), that he lost in the general election even though Indiana is an infra-red state. The true “gift” that keeps on giving in terms of U.S. presidential elections is the Republican Party’s palpable hostility to enormous numbers of Americans. Mitt Romney even gave these people a number – he said that it was his job if elected not to represent the 47% of Americans.
My April 4 column was responding to the WSJ’s claim that such discrimination by merchants represented “dissent” and that “liberals” (by which they meant often conservative major business leaders) were acting outrageously because they did not “tolerate” such “dissent.” The great thing about the modern WSJ is that it only takes a few hours to start crazy and then spin into full zany. Sure enough, by April 6, 2015, William McGurn (WSJ alum gone even wackier as the New York Post’s editor), had written in the WSJ calling for libertarians to go full-Epstein and endorse merchants’ “right” to discriminate against groups they despise.
in full: http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2015/04/the-libertarian-plea-to-bring-back-jim-crow-an-oxymoron-by-a-regular-moron.html
Posted by Jefferson23 | Fri Apr 10, 2015, 09:24 AM (2 replies)
Landmark research proves that the US-led ‘war on terror’ has killed as many as 2 million people, but this is a fraction of Western responsibility for deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two decades.
Last month, the Washington DC-based Physicians for Social Responsibility (PRS) released a landmark study concluding that the death toll from 10 years of the “War on Terror” since the 9/11 attacks is at least 1.3 million, and could be as high as 2 million.
The 97-page report by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning doctors’ group is the first to tally up the total number of civilian casualties from US-led counter-terrorism interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The PSR report is authored by an interdisciplinary team of leading public health experts, including Dr. Robert Gould, director of health professional outreach and education at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, and Professor Tim Takaro of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University.
Yet it has been almost completely blacked out by the English-language media, despite being the first effort by a world-leading public health organisation to produce a scientifically robust calculation of the number of people killed by the US-UK-led “war on terror”.
in full: http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/unworthy-victims-western-wars-have-killed-four-million-muslims-1990-39149394
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Posted by Jefferson23 | Fri Apr 10, 2015, 06:54 AM (12 replies)
Posted on Apr 7, 2015
By Jamie Stern-Weiner
How can the Palestine solidarity movement win? What demands should it make in order to achieve the maximum amount of justice within the constraints of what is politically feasible? And how should it frame those demands in order to reach a broad public?
These are questions of political judgment rather than science. But sound political judgment will be rooted, so far as possible, in a clear-eyed assessment of current (or incipient) public opinion. A movement that wants to persuade a mainstream audience will position itself within or just beyond the spectrum of mainstream public opinion, taking care not to isolate itself by adopting language and demands that lack political resonance.
What in the end matters is not merely public opinion but public opinion mobilized and expressed in the realm of formal politics.
The Swedish government’s decision in October 2014 to unilaterally recognize the state of Palestine triggered a succession of European parliamentary motions urging governments to follow suit. Lawmakers in the United Kingdom, France and Ireland called for immediate recognition while members of Portugal’s Parliament urged recognition “in coordination with the European Union.” Weaker motions were passed in Spain,1, Belgium2 and Italy while, in Denmark, a resolution calling for immediate recognition was rejected.
in full: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_struggle_for_palestine_whats_winnable_whats_not_20150407
Posted by Jefferson23 | Tue Apr 7, 2015, 07:48 PM (0 replies)
Hezbollah leader says accord would prevent conflict as 'Israeli enemy was always threatening to bomb Iranian facilities that would definitely lead to regional war.'
By Laila Bassam and Oliver Holmes Apr. 7, 2015
REUTERS - The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah said on Monday that a framework nuclear agreement that Iran reached with world powers last week rules out the specter of regional war.
"There is no doubt that the Iranian nuclear deal will be big and important to the region," Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview with Syria's al-Ikhbariya television.
"The agreement, God willing, rules out the specter of regional war and world war," he said.
The tentative accord, struck on Thursday after eight days of talks in Switzerland, clears the way for a settlement to allay Western fears that Iran could build an atomic bomb, with economic sanctions on Tehran being lifted in return.
U.S. Omits Iran and Hezbollah From Terror Threat List
By Jack Moore 3/16/15
Posted by Jefferson23 | Mon Apr 6, 2015, 10:18 PM (5 replies)
Madawi Al-Rasheed says the Saudis contend with ISIS to be the leaders of the Sunni world, but their interests converge as both regard Iran and the Shia as their enemy - April 5, 2015
Madawi Al-Rasheed is Visiting Professor at the Middle East Centre at The London School of Economics and Political Science. She is originally from Saudi Arabia and currently lives in London. Her research focuses on history, society, religion and politics in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. Her recent publications include A History of Saudi Arabia and A Most Masculine State .
ISIS and What's at Stake for Saudi Arabia? (2/3)PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay.
Continuing our series of discussions, Madawi al-Rasheed. She joins us, again, from London. Thanks for joining us, Madawi.
MADAWI AL-RASHEED, PROF. MIDDLE EAST CENTER, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Thank you.
JAY: Once again, Madawi's a visiting professor at the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
So in part one of this interview series, we talked about the Saudi stakes in Yemen. But as most countries, domestic politics sometimes is the most important determining factor about external policy. So today we're going to talk a little bit more about the situation in Saudi Arabia.
First of all, let's talk about the Shia in Saudi Arabia. First of all, as you mentioned in part one, the Saudis have incurred a couple of times actually in Bahrain to help the Bahraini monarchy suppress the rebellion there, or protests. There's a large minority Shia population in Saudi Arabia, and it happens to be very strategically located right where most of the oil is. Incurring this, the Yemen incursion, as the Houthis are Shia, how does this play out, in terms of Saudi domestic politics?
AL-RASHEED: I think the Saudi Shia started a kind of uprising protest movement. But they were suppressed. And until sort of recently, they continued to stage very small demonstrations in their villages in the Eastern province where the oil installations are, and the oil fields. But they failed to create any kind of cross-sectarian solidarities.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Mon Apr 6, 2015, 07:18 AM (3 replies)
Sunday April 5, 2015
World View: As the US and Iran reach accord, Saudi Arabia endangers the status quo in the Middle East
A succession of crucially important military and diplomatic events are convulsing the political landscape of the Middle East. The most significant development is the understanding between the US and five other world powers with Iran on limiting Iran’s nuclear programme in return for an easing of sanctions. But the muting of hostility between the US and Iran, a destabilising feature of Middle East politics since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, may not do much to stem the momentum towards ever greater violence in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
In any case, the benefits of a US-Iran agreement may be slow to come, if they come at all, as the Republicans in Congress, the Saudis and Israel try to torpedo it. And even if an accord is ratified and implemented, President Obama could be hedged in by its opponents from further co-operation with Iran in other parts of the Middle East. In contrast to this snail’s pace rapprochement, the crises in Yemen and Syria are getting worse by the day and, in Iraq, for all the government’s claims to have captured Tikrit, its forces are still only nibbling at the outer defences of Islamic State (Isis).
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies have the greatest self-interest in maintaining the status quo in the region, something they have been fairly successful in doing in the past. Who would have predicted in the late 1950s that Arab nationalist and socialist movements would pass away but Saudi Arabia would remain the theocratic absolute monarchy it has always been? What is striking about developments in the past few weeks is that it is Saudi Arabia that is seeking radical change in the region and is prepared to use military force to secure it. In Yemen, it has launched a devastating air war and, in Syria, it is collaborating with Turkey to support extreme jihadi movements led by Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate that last week captured its first provincial capital.
The Saudis are abandoning their tradition of pursuing extremely cautious policies, using their vast wealth to buy influence, working through proxies and keeping close to the US. In Yemen, it is the Saudi air force that is bombarding the Houthis, along with Yemeni army units still loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh who was once seen as the Saudis’ and Americans’ man in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital. As with many other air campaigns, the Saudis and their Gulf Co-operation Council allies are finding that air strikes without a reliable military partner on the ground do not get you very far. But if Saudi ground forces are deployed in Yemen they will be entering a country that has been just as much of a quagmire as Afghanistan and Iraq.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Sun Apr 5, 2015, 09:25 AM (0 replies)
*An exceptionally good day for the whole world
WASHINGTON — The new deal between Iran, the United States and its allies Thursday is a "historic understanding" that paves the way for a final agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from making nuclear weapons, President Obama said.
"If this framework leads to a final, comprehensive deal, it will make our country, our allies, and our world safer," Obama said at the White House.
Obama forcefully turned his 18-minute statement in the Rose Garden into a victory lap for his policies on Iran and the Middle East. He pledged to work with Congress and Israel, which are both skeptical of any deal with Iran, and with other nations to create a lasting agreement that negotiators have to reach by June 30.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Thu Apr 2, 2015, 07:06 PM (0 replies)
Source in contact with negotiators tells MEE core issue in nuclear talks remains how and when sanctions will be lifted
Tuesday 31 March 2015 22:18 BST
Tuesday 31 March 2015 22:30 BST
As the P5+1 and Iran agree to continue talks on a possible joint statement past a midnight deadline into Wednesday, the most contentious issue in Lausanne still appears to be how and when sanctions on Iran will be lifted.
Virtually all the details of the negotiating positions of the two sides remain cloaked in secrecy. However, Middle East Eye has learned from an informed source in contact with negotiators in Lausanne that the core issue remaining to be resolved is whether the P5+1 will end some sanctions as soon as Iran has taken what it is calling “irreversible’ actions to implement the agreement.
Iran has already made some significant concessions on the sanctions issue, the source revealed. Iran and the six-nation group, led by the US, have agreed that unilateral US and European sanctions as UN Security Council sanctions that related to Iran’s nuclear programme could be “suspended” rather than being lifted permanently at the beginning of the implementation of the agreement. The Iranian delegation is also not contesting that the UN Security Council resolutions that forbid assistance to Iran’s ballistic missile program and other military programs can stay in place, the source said.
But the remaining bone of contention is that the six-nation group has insisted on maintaining the entire legal system of sanctions in place, even after the sanctions have been suspended, until the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reached the conclusion that Iran’s nuclear programme is entirely for peaceful purposes – a process that it admits could take many years. US and European officials have been telling journalists on background for months that maintaining the sanctions architecture in place is necessary to ensure not only that Iran implements the agreement fully but also that it has no ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons.
in full: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/iran-demands-lifting-sanctions-irreversible-moves-says-insider-1231828480
Posted by Jefferson23 | Tue Mar 31, 2015, 04:06 PM (0 replies)
By Shaun Heasley
March 31, 2015
Developmental disability service providers cannot sue to force state Medicaid programs to raise their reimbursement rates, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled.
In a 5-4 decision Tuesday, the high court ruled against a group of Idaho agencies serving people with developmental disabilities.
The service providers had argued that the state failed to raise Medicaid payments as outlined in a federally-approved formula for years even as such agencies faced rising costs.
But, in a blow to the providers, the Supreme Court ruled that private companies currently lack any right to enforce Medicaid requirements. Rather, it is up to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to ensure that states comply with the program’s rules, the court said.
“Our precedents establish that a private right of action under federal law is not created by mere implication, but must be ‘unambiguously conferred,'” wrote Justice Antonin Scalia for the majority. “Nothing in the Medicaid Act suggests that Congress meant to change that.”
Joining Scalia in the majority were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in her dissent that the decision will have significant consequences.
“Previously, a state that set reimbursement rates so low that providers were unwilling to furnish a covered service for those who need it could be compelled by those affected to respect the obligation imposed by (the Medicaid Act),” Sotomayor wrote. “Now, it must suffice that a federal agency, with many programs to oversee, has authority to address such violations through the drastic and often counterproductive measure of withholding the funds that pay for such services.”
Sotomayor was joined in dissent by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Tue Mar 31, 2015, 02:59 PM (0 replies)